Why don't we put on a show?


Leave it to Philadelphia's enthusiastic stage professionals to plan a rousing encore, now that the region's theatrical boosters' group - the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia - is going out of business.

With the Alliance's departure from the theater scene goes the Barrymore Awards, rightly viewed as an important career-building honor for young and established artists alike. But beyond presenting a challenge to find another way to spotlight center-stage talent, the theatrical service group leaves a gap in terms of providing the region's stages with a unified voice.

So it was encouraging, then, to see the final Barrymores announced Monday at a Kimmel Center gala dubbed "Theatre Philadelphia: A Celebration," and to have that followed the next day by a town hall-style brainstorming session.

Meeting at the Arden Theatre Company, actors, stage managers and others pondered next moves, leaving with a pledge to explore specific strategies to work together on boosting audiences, fund-raising and supporting theater-group operations.

While the arts sector has a strong advocate in Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance (GPCA), that larger umbrella group has a broader agenda to boost the region's entire cultural sector. As head of the 350-member group, Tom Kaiden says their aim is to be a resource for area theater without upstaging anyone or duplicating efforts.

In effect, it's early in the rehearsal process for this discussion. Theater pros will have to explore whether, given an austere funding climate, it would make sense to debut another stand-alone advocacy group like the Theatre Alliance.

What's hopeful is that these efforts come as the region's theater community is enjoying strong support among audiences. It should be easier to play to a crowd that's already on its feet.