Theater Beat: a new recruit for the Barrymore Awards, a play with beer, and more

You are invited, Part 1

The Barrymore Awards bash is right around the corner. Why not go?

Called “the Tonys of Philadelphia,” the Barrymores recognize excellence on our local stages. The awards ceremony kicks off at 7 p.m. Oct. 30 at the Merriam Theater. Flash: It’s open to theatergoers – not just theater industry insiders.

After an opening number, probably hilarious, by Martha Graham Cracker (a.k.a. Dito van Reigersberg), emcee duties will pass among a diverse group “from all facets of the theater world,” says Leigh Goldenberg, executive director of Theatre Philadelphia, which administers the Barrymores.

A $75 ticket includes the raucous after-party (with open bar) at Dorrance Hamilton Hall at the University of the Arts. Tickets: 215-893-1999 or theatrephiladelphia.org.

Media matters

Goldenberg also gets a lot of credit for this next item. A lot of venues take part in the Barrymores, with a few notable holdouts — the Media Theatre having been one. But this year, after a visit from Goldenberg, Terrence J. Nolen of the Arden Theatre Company, and others, the Media decided – after an absence of eight years – to submit its production of Carousel for a Barrymore go.

“We looked at all the changes they are making to the process,” says Media Theatre artistic director Jesse Cline, “and Leigh’s presentation especially was impressive. She’s vibrant and smart, and I was very touched by her dedication to Philly theater.”

Eat, drink, play

This summer, Kathryn MacMillan became artistic director of the doughty Tiny Dynamite company. It does that series “A Play, a Pie, and a Pint,” now in a new home upstairs at Headhouse Cafe, 122 Lombard St. Yep: You get a beer, a slice of ’za, and a play, just as it says.

The season kicks off with the U.S. premiere of The Art of Swimming (Dec. 6-17) by Irish playwright Lynda Radley. (“PPP” honors the Hiberno-British tradition of traveling pub theater.)

MacMillan calls Swimming “both comic and a little magical.” It (partly) concerns Mercedes Gleitze, the first British woman to swim the English Channel. Local actor Lee Minora, fresh from Edinburgh Fringe, is in the lead role.

“We value that convivial element,” MacMillan says, “seeing friends, drinking beer, having a chat.” She promises “plays you’d like to have a beer with.”

You are invited, Part 2

A yearlong theatrical project is about to kick off, and you can participate. The organization Theatrical Trainer is “devoted to bridging the gap between exercise science, wellness, and the performing arts,” says founder Peter Andrew Danzig. They’ve started a project called Body Aesthetic, and they need people to come be a part.

This Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Plays & Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Place, visitors can stop in and have a photo taken holding a sign about their relationship with their bodies. “It can be whatever statement you want,” Danzig says. “It could be I LOVE THIS or THE MAGAZINES MADE ME FEEL THIS. It depends on the person.”

After a year collecting the ideas and feelings of Philadelphians, it’ll all result, Danzig says, in a production at Philadelphia Fringe 2018, “examining body dysmorphia and body image through a theatrical lens. It’s a topic that really does affect everyone.” For more information: peter@theatricaltrainer.com.