Passage for Passage. On Dec. 31, June Ballinger, guiding light of Passage Theatre in Trenton for 22 years, will set sail for other shores. Artistic pioneer and true believer, June has brought entertaining, challenging, and socially resonant drama to Passage, along with her brilliant smile and energy. A search is on for her successor, who will have a class act to follow. Thank you, June; you are one of the very best.
Barrymore noms coming. At 4 p.m. Monday, Theatre Philadelphia will announce this year's nominations for the Barrymore Awards, the "Tonys of Philadelphia." Yes, it's a competition - but really, it's a celebration of the Philadelphia theater world. The awards will be given out at 7 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Merriam Theater.
If Krissy, then 'Normal.' Hardworking Krissy Fraelich has had a great relationship with the Media Theatre and artistic director Jesse Cline for a couple of years now. She says that when she got the lead role of Elizabeth in If/Then (March 14-April 1, 2018), "I said, 'Oh, Jesse, I would love to do this, oh, thank you so much!' . . . But that was before they also scheduled Next to Normal!"
See, they stuck Next to Normal, the 2010 Pulitzer- winning musical, in front of If/Then, for Jan. 31-Feb. 25. Krissy, could you come in and audition? And, Krissy, could you play the lead? Of course she can; she can do anything.
Two big shows back to back - isn't that, um, hard? Fraelich, calling from the nail shop where she and daughters Zoe and Becca were getting mani-pedis before shoving off for Disney World, says, "No doubt about it, they're two difficult roles, a lot of work. But it's an actor's dream, and I think it'll be a lot of fun." The keys, she says, are to (1) go to Disney World with the fam and enjoy herself; (2) start working up your characters in October; and (3) trust experience: Fraelich has done Normal twice, playing lead role Diana at the Arden and at the Eagle Theatre in Hammonton. There is also (4): "Save your voice. I've learned how, while giving the audience my best always, to keep something always in reserve, emotionally and physically. There's even a correct way to scream, and I'll be doing a bit of that." A skill we all could use.
Yay, female dramatists! In 2018, the South Camden Theatre Company will roll out a four-play celebration of female playwrights. First is the Savannah Sipping Society (Feb. 9-25) by the Jones/Hope/Wooten comedy troika; then we have the world premiere of Artemisia (May 4-20), written and directed by Philadelphia's Lee Kiszonas; the regional premiere of By the Water, by Sharyn Rothstein (Sept. 7-23); and, because you must have Lynn Nottage, her Crumbs from the Table of Joy (Nov. 2-18). Some intriguing work coming to the Waterfront South Theatre.
Can't Wait to See: At least two of the Philadelphia Theatre Company's offerings this fall. Bob Garfield of the WNYC-distributed show On the Media performs Ruggedly Jewish, a one-man multimedia show, at PTC on Sept. 15-16, three shows in two nights. And Kathleen Turner - yep, that Kathleen Turner - will do a cabaret night, two full shows, on Sept. 25. I'm told it's her first foray into cabaret; seems like a natural.