Phantom, Paul Taylor, and Janis: The Arts provide reasons to give thanks

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

Being ill for a few weeks, I had no opportunity to praise three noteworthy offerings lately seen in and around Philadelphia. There is no better time to give thanks for all that technicians, stagehands, producers, actors, dancers, singers and musicians do for us. The Arts, at their best, provide us with the means to feel and know in a totally different way, and to realize that we are neither powerless nor dumb, and that we have the potential to be great. Find love and joy in the Arts since the Arts bring out the finest qualities within each of us. This holiday season share your joy with your loved ones by taking them to a show, concert, or performance, or by buying them tickets of their own.


The Phantom of the Opera came to Philadelphia November 1 – 12 as part of the Kimmel’s Broadway Philadelphia season. Touted as a brand new production, it was slightly altered and refreshed from the original Broadway production which has been running for years. Derrick Davis as the Phantom brought an African-American to the starring role. Having many Broadway credits, he was an estimable Phantom. Kaitlyn Davis was the evening’s excellent Christine Daae. Scott Ambler choreographed and Laurence Connor directed the spectacle which included special effects using gunpowder (the smell of which was at times pronounced), and searing pillars of fire. The Phantom of the Opera was an exciting reimagining of a tried and true classic.


Next Move Dance presented the Paul Taylor Dance Company November 2 – 5 at the Prince Theatre. Not seen here in years, it was a grateful audience who enjoyed the company’s classics Arden Court, Company B, and Esplanade. What a pleasure it was to see long-time Taylor dancers Robert Kleinendorst and Michael Trusnovec. As fine as the other dancers were, the two gentlemen mentioned superseded even their company members’ expertise, taking their roles as close to excellence as is humanly possible. Both men displayed artistic genius. Born on July 29, 1930, Paul Taylor, a true American genius, continues to astound us with his choreography. We look forward to the Paul Taylor Dance Company’s return.


A Night with Janis Joplin, created, written and directed by Randy Johnson, appeared at the McCarter’s Matthews Theatre October 10-29. A Night with Janis Joplin was just not another jukebox musical. It was a great evening of music delivered with passion and love by a host of musicians. The two leading ladies who took turns portraying Janis Joplin were Kacee Clanton and Kelly McIntyre. No one could tell which was appearing since no credit was given either by announcement or lobby show card. No posting in the program, either. Many thought it odd that the featured performers weren’t given their due. It appeared that just as Janis Joplin needed to fight for recognition, the same fate also befell the two actresses portraying her. Of special note is the fact that Randy Johnson’s name was nearly as large as the title. One can wonder what feminists might make of this situation, when women appeared not to be given their proper credit. In any event, the Janis Joplin seen was excellent in singing and and heartfelt in acting. The four women who played strong supporting roles were also excellent actresses, singers, and musicians. They were Sharon Catherine Brown, Tawny Dolley, Sylvia MacCalla, and Amma Osei. The eight band members provided superlative support throughout the evening. The lighting and design were exciting and added much to the whole experience of A Night with Janis Joplin.


Next at the McCarter will be A Christmas Carol, December 5-31. Visit


Next at the Prince Theater the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus will present their holiday concert, Tinseltown Tidings, November 30 –December 2. Next Move Dance will present Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, A Dance Company, December 14-17.


Among the next Broadway Philadelphia presentations will be The Color Purple, December 12-17 at the Forrest, Stomp at the Merriam, December 26-31, Les Miserables, January 9-21, 2018, Waitress, February 13-18 at the Forrest, followed by Something Rotten, February 27-March 4 at the Academy of Music. Visit





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