Updated: Thursday, February 8, 2018, 11:51 AM
Philly is a great town for special weeks: Restaurant Week, Beer Week, Tech Week, Design Philadelphia …
And now, thanks to organizers Theatre Philadelphia, here comes Philly Theatre Week, a celebration (Feb. 8-18) of all you can do onstage, from traditional plays and musicals to song, dance, film, panels, cabaret, comedy, from the big theaters to the bars and back.
The idea was born when Leigh Goldenberg, Theatre Philadelphia executive director, learned that Chicago and Washington had theater weeks. “We began thinking,” she says, “about how we could make a Theatre Week even more Philadelphia.”
The answer: accessibility, inclusion, and variety. Almost all shows are either free, $15, or $30. They’re making it easy for you: Even the big halls have set aside tickets at the lower prices. The one-stop shop for tickets is phillytheatreweek.com.
Below is just a taste of what’s up.
Classic, trad, trodding the stage
A bunch of full-run plays are opening their doors to Philly Theatre Week, including Cold Harbor (through Feb. 11, EgoPo Classic Theatre, Christ Church Neighborhood House, 20 N. American St.; $25), the first of a sweeping trilogy by U.S. master playwright John Guare.
Our critics really liked five other shows also joining in: Sensitive Guys (through Feb. 11; InterAct Theatre Company, Proscenium Theatre at the Drake, 302 S. Hicks St.; $25 and up), on gender dynamics between, and even within, people; The Humans (through Feb. 13, Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St.; $30), concerning a family Thanksgiving like no other; Passing Strange (through Feb. 18; Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad St.; $10 and up), an electrifying musical about Youth making his/her/its way, with full rock band; Copenhagen (through Feb. 18; Lantern Theater Company, 923 Ludlow St.; $30), Michael Frayn’s taut drama about war, science, and human unpredictability; and A Doll’s House (through March 4; Arden Theatre Company, 40 N. Second St.; $30), a stunning rendition of Henrik Ibsen’s play about a woman and freedom. But there are many, many more!
How could we not mention Musical Thrones (Feb. 9-10, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad St.; $30), a musical parody of Game of Thrones? How could we not!? Artists giving concerts include Philly-based jazz singer Laurin Talese (8 p.m., Feb. 9, Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St.; $30), Branford Marsalis (8 p.m., Feb. 16, Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St.; $30), and the reunited comedy/music bunch Jawbone Junction (6 p.m., Feb. 11; World Café Live, 3025 Walnut St.; $30). The Kimmel is throwing another sweet Sittin’ In killer jam, combining jazz, hip-hop, and whatever people play that night (9 p.m., Feb. 14; Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St.; free).
Cabarets include Bawdy and Soul (7:30 p.m., Feb. 9; L’Etage, 624 S. Sixth St.; $15), a sexy survey from Cleopatra to Monroe; and An Interactive Bilingual Cabaret performed by La Fábrica (8 p.m., Feb. 17; Tartarepería 18.64, 1204 N. Front St.).
A big, beautiful DJ-driven dance is the ultimate in do-it-yourself, interactive dance for the joy of dancing. So go interact at Dance Explosion (9 p.m., Feb. 17; Maas Building, 1325 N. Randolph St.; free with RSVP).
Eat, drink, love plays.
From its ancient beginnings, theater has had close ties with eats and drinks. From 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. each night, Cibo Ristorante Italiano (227 Walnut St.) offers Dining with Broadway Tunes. Food is 15 percent off for Philly Theatre Week-goers. The bibulous bunch at Juniper Productions have three shows, including Cocktail Plays: What We Talk About, Binders, Distill: A Rally Cry for the American People, and Disclosure (8 p.m., Feb. 18; Stove & Tap, 329 W. Main St., Lansdale, Pa.; $30), which includes four short plays by local playwrights, plus a cocktail, for the price of admission.
Hang out with those fascinating people, the playwrights, at the Philadelphia Dramatists Center Playwrights’ Happy Hour, complete with free food and beer (6 p.m., Feb. 12; Fergie’s Pub, upstairs, 1214 Sansom St.; free). And you cannot beat this: On Feb. 13, The New City Stage Company does a reading of the new political comedy The Ideal Candidate, with an appetizer beforehand, an entrée at intermission, and dessert afterward, all free (6:30 p.m., Adrienne Theatre, 2030 Sansom St.). Tiny Dynamite goes boom with A Play, A Pie and a Pint’s One Night Stands: Three Comedies About Love & Relationships, complete with a beer and a slice (Feb. 14-16, Philadelphia Brewing Company, 2440 Frankford Ave.; $15).
The big tent
It’s reallllly big. Besides plays and a cocktail in Lansdale, there’s Little Shop of Horrors, starring drama’s most famous human-eating plant, by the Players Club of Swarthmore (8 p.m., Feb. 10 and 7:30 p.m., Feb. 15; 614 Fairview Rd., Swarthmore, Pa.; $30). Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play (through Feb. 18; Villanova Theatre, 800 E. Lancaster Ave., Villanova, Pa.; $15) involves postapocalyptic survivors and an episode of The Simpsons. Frank Ferrante in “An Evening with Groucho” (Feb. 14-18, Bucks County Playhouse, 70 S. Main St., New Hope, Pa.; $30) is one very funny man playing another. Time Stands Still (through Feb. 11; Bristol Riverside Theatre, 120 Radcliffe St., Bristol, Pa.: $33 and up) is a moving exploration of love and war. And Savannah Sipping Society (Feb. 9-11 and 16-18; South Camden Theatre Company, Waterfront South Theatre, 400 Jasper St., Camden, N.J.; $15; $5 for Camden residents) is a comedy about four Southern ladies who meet over drinks.
With door wide open, local groups enter with presentations combining different forms of theater, discussion, and interactive performance. Passing Strange and Another Brooklyn (6:30 p.m., Feb. 9; Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad St.; free) mashes up a One Book, One Philadelphia discussion of Jacqueline Woodson’s novel and the musical Passing Strange (see above). The Black Panther Project (7 p.m., Feb. 10 and 3 p.m., Feb. 11; Theatre in the X and Iron Age Theatre, Community Education Center, 3500 Lancaster Ave.; $15), combines oral histories and music of the movement.
Working: A Staged Reading by Students (2:30 p.m. Feb. 10, Room 108, Free Library Parkway Central, 1901 Vine St.; 2:30 p.m., Feb. 17, Community Room, William Penn House, 1919 Chestnut St.; free with RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org) offers readings from Studs Terkel’s oral-history masterpiece plus discussions with folks who are, well, working. Stoop Daze (2:30 p.m., Feb. 17; Klein Theatre at the Church of the Advocate, 2121 Gratz St.; $15) is a play about North Philly viewpoints. And watch for the Renegade Company, doing outdoor pop-up performances of Selections from the Olde Man and the Delaware River (Feb. 13-17; see website for schedule; free), about how we perceive homeless people and people in relation to substance abuse.
More and again more
Go look at the website! Things may leap out at you, such as AND: A Love Story in Verse and Prose (Feb. 9-16; Art Church of West Philadelphia, 5219 Webster St.; free with RSVP), in which the actors of The Word Players weave Shakespeare passages into a story. Or Murder Manor: An Improvised Game of Clue by CZs Philadelphia (7 p.m., Feb. 11; Adrienne Theatre, 2030 Sansom St.; $15). Or Secrets of the Heart: Lusted, Trusted, and Busted (The PlayGround at the Adrienne Theatre, 2030 Sansom St.; $15), in which the lunatics of the Tongue & Groove Spontaneous Theatre Company improvise vignettes according to anonymous audience suggestions.