Bike Stop Covid Relief

Bike Stop Covid Relief

From the Bike Stop:

Help Save the Bike Stop

The 2020 year has been more than devastating to the members of our community on a level that is hard to describe. We closed our doors on March 16, 2020 and walked away from a place many of us call home in hopes that as the pandemic raged on we’d take care of our friends and neighbors.

Once we re-opened despite our due-diligence, dedication to COVID compliance, and trying our best to bring you The Bike Stop you know and love but with very limited resources and minimal support from the government we’ve not been able to manage to lose almost a years worth of revenue. While the government must view us as collateral damage this space stands as a stronghold to many members of the LGBTQ community and has worked diligently to preserve our history, evolve with the present, and build collectively towards an intersectional future.

Once gone, leather bars don’t find their way back and we won’t go down without a fight! We just need your help

About Us:

Since its inception in 1982, the Bike Stop has been committed to serving the leather, fetish, and BDSM communities of Philadelphia and beyond. We’ve always known we wanted to be in the business of creating a safe environment, giving back, connecting the line between working hard and playing hard, and keeping it weird because that’s what we do in Philly.

Over our 38 years we’ve :
– Been home bar to countless leather/fetish clubs
– Hosted hundreds of Events Facilitated many fundraisers for many facets of our communities and continue to do so.
– Grown a lineage of amazing Philadelphia Leather Titleholders who constantly keep us proud.

Curious about the ethics of our bar? The answer is simple. Everyone is welcome with a zero-tolerance policy on hate. We do not stand with racists, we support women, trans rights are human rights, and we have space for every pup, bear, otter, and everyone in between. We’ve remained steadfast in being a space that is moving with our intersected communities and not against them.

It doesn’t mean navigating that is always easy but we always find our way back to the core of why we do what we do…….and that’s all of you. So whether it was The Philadelphia Leather Contest, A bar night with the amazing clubs in the Mid-Atlantic/North-East, Phlthy Pups Mosh, Women’s Leather Bar Night, VICE, any of our community lead events, A cigar social, POSE night, An Eagles or Phillies Game, any of the bangers we get to partner with producers to throw from DILF and Bearracuda to CutnPaste and Crankshaft, or RuffHouse or even just a quiet evening to pass a smile and a stiff drink after a long day.

We thank you for many amazing years and can’t wait to have so many more. We’ll make it through this together. We are humbly asking you for funds to help us recover from the devastation that this has caused us and should we be able to exceed our goal, to help propel us forward while navigating what seems like an endless sea of unanswered questions and perpetual fear of our unknowns and the unknowns of all of our extended families. We hope that this call to action finds you in a better position than ours currently, but we understand that most of us are struggling. If you are able to donate to our cause we’d love (most) of you forever! Well, some of you. Ok, we will still love all of you forever. If you aren’t in a position to donate, a share is truly just as good, our true power rests solely in the hearts of our family.

In Love and Leather

The Bike Stop Family

Philly Tech Startup Wins Citizens Bank Award, Pays-It-Forward

Philly Tech Startup Wins Citizens Bank Award, Pays-It-Forward

Digital marketing software startup selected as the first-place winner of Citizens’ Bank Small Business Community Champion $20,000 Grant
Contact: Nathalie Swann, nathalie@tryvitris.com

Philadelphia, PA, June 8, 2020 – Vitris, a local Philadelphia digital marketing software startup, has won the Citizens Bank Small Business Community Champion Award. The first-place selection awards Vitris for their dedication to assisting the small business community of Philadelphia and allots $20,000 in grant funds to help expand their commitment to engaging and strengthening their community and business.

In this difficult time of COVID-19 closures, especially for small businesses, Vitris will utilize this grant to pay it forward by offering free design, hosting, account setup and digital marketing strategy expertise to 10 local businesses. Local, small business owners in the Philadelphia region and beyond will have the opportunity to work with the Vitris team and receive a custom-built website in addition to cutting-edge digital marketing strategies to help them promote their businesses online.

Vitris will use the entirety of the Citizens Bank grant to assist local small businesses that are primarily LGBTQ+, minority, and women owned. The first recipient will be selected & announced this Friday, June 12th, and then every Friday after until 10 grants are awarded.

“We’re ecstatic to be chosen as the recipient of this prestigious award. The grant will allow our team to continue our mission of accelerating the growth of global entrepreneurship” said Jack Perrotta, Co-Founder and CEO of Vitris. “We’ve seen first-hand the impact that entrepreneurship makes on local communities and look forward to helping boost local businesses with our software.”

“We feel it’s more important than ever to support local businesses as the COVID-19 epidemic continues to shake our economy,” said Cameron Spencer, Co-Founder and CTO of Vitris. “We’re excited to play a small part in helping keep entrepreneurs on their feet and looking forward.”

More information about the plan and a submission form to apply for the initiative can be found at https://www.tryvitris.com/apply-pay-it-forward-2020/.

About Vitris
Vitris is a digital marketing software startup dedicated to the promotion of global economic equality through the expansion of entrepreneurship. Vitris utilizes proprietary cutting-edge digital marketing software to invigorate local, small businesses through the development of masterfully crafted web designs and exceptionally targeted marketing efforts.

Shrek The Musical is a fabulous, fun fable for the whole family

Shrek The Musical is a fabulous, fun fable for the whole family

Shrek The Musical is now playing at Philadelphia’s historic Walnut Street Theatre until January 5, 2020. Shrek The Musical is based upon the animated film with book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire with music by Jeanine Tesori. The first thing you will notice when you go – and you must go – is the loving care and attention paid to every detail of this lovely production. From forest to swamp to castle, to prison tower to Duloc, to costumes and special effects, you couldn’t hope for a more beautiful rendering of stage magic.

 

The Creative Team responsible for this sensual opulence begins with Set Designer Robert Kovach, continues with Costume Designer Mary Forlino, Lighting Designer Charlie Morrison, and Puppet Design by Richard Bay. Ed Chapman worked magic with Sound Design. Continuing to give credit where it is due, Chris Burchieri led Music and Vocal Direction, Robbie Rory Choreographed, and Glenn Casale Directed it all.

 

After the startling impression of quality in the production values, we continue to be overwhelmed by the high standard of acting. Leading the troupe is Nichalas L. Parker as Shrek. He gives a truly definitive performance of the noble ogre. Dana Orange is outstanding as Donkey. Mr. Orange can dance, sing, tell jokes, and otherwise caper about while wearing a thick, furry costume with hooves. Julia Udine looks every inch a Princess Fiona and sounds smashingly good to boot. Her Princess Fiona is no one-dimensional cliché, but a fully-formed and sympathetic character. Adam Hoyak is an appropriately annoying Pinocchio who one moment you might want to stick in a pencil sharpener; then, another moment, hug. Evil villain Lord Farquaad is played by the usually sexy Ben Dibble. Here, he is … well, we really can’t say because to do so would ruin the effect. Let us just say he’s altitude challenged. Nevertheless, he is a fine, menacing piece of scruff in the role. As the voice of the Dragon, a magnificent special effect in its own right, is Donnie Hammond. At curtain call she comes out in a fabulous costume to take a bow, which throws many for a loop. Many were heard to inquire, “Who was she?” The illustrious ensemble danced, sang, wore beautifully constructed armor handsomely, cringed when needed, and proved an invaluable asset. Some even appeared as adult tap dancing mice. The Walnut Theatre’s children from their school provided their own special cuteness by being mice, among other sniveling things. Called The Children’s Ensemble, they were separated into Weekday and Weekend Teams. Let’s give a hand to Dance Captain Mark Donaldson, too.

 

The exceptionally fine and large live orchestra made much of the musical numbers, even up to the finale’s “I’m A Believer.”

 

Shrek The Musical can easily join other, more established fare such as The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol as a must-see item on anyone’s list of holiday memories.

 

Shrek The Musical is perfect holiday fare for the whole family, and it conveniently runs until January 5, 2020. Also playing at Independence Studio on 3 is O Henry’s classic tale The Gifts of the Magi until December 22. For information and tickets visit www.walnutstreettheatre.org .

 

Gloria: A Life illumines an era then little appreciated, now largely forgotten

Gloria: A Life illumines an era then little appreciated, now largely forgotten

The McCarter Theatre Center of Princeton, NJ, is now presenting Gloria: A Life at its Berlind Theatre until October 6, 2019. Lincoln Center, Daryl Roth, and American Repertory Theater at Harvard University have all had a hand in bringing Emily Mann’s Gloria: A Life to the McCarter.

This is Artistic Director and Resident Playwright Emily Mann’s 30th and final season at the helm of the McCarter. Gloria: A Life is restaged for the McCarter by its playwright Emily Mann.

Gloria Steinem (born March 25, 1934) is at 85, a political activist, largely known for her work in the American Feminist Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, as co-founder of Ms. Magazine, and recognized with many honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Gloria: A Life is a retelling of her life with a tour-de-force performance by stage, screen, and television actress Mary McDonnell as Gloria Steinem. McDonnell is supported by several notable actresses who bring much life to the largely didactic story. They are Gabrielle Beckford, Mierka Girten, a wonderfully good and versatile Patrena Murray, Erika Stone, Brenda Withers, and Eunice Wong. The Berlind has been reconfigured into a theatre-in-the-round, with Persian carpets and matching floor cushions and fabric-covered storage units, a few occasional tables stacked with books, and little else.

Playwright Mann set herself a daunting assignment: how to tell both a life of a living person while also reviving an era many now see as ancient history. Indeed, much of what happened in the play happened nearly 50 years ago. To her credit, Mann included Steinem’s troubled childhood, her dysfunctional family, her struggles with being a journalist, feminist, and wage-earner without the support of a husband at a time when a woman without a husband was considered to be an incomplete woman. We learn of Steinem’s personal issues, such as having an apartment but never living in it. The moving boxes remained unpacked for 30 years. Her short marriage to David Bale (actor Christian Bale’s father) in 2000, only to have him die three years later. Other emotionally telling moments in the play were when Steinem trusted her audience. In one instance, an episode with Larry King Live had Steinem trapped on camera while a woman caller tore her apart. Some of Steinem’s harshest critics were women, while some of her colleagues from whom she drew inspiration were women. An excellent tribute to Bella Abzug, noted Congresswoman, lawyer, and activist from New York City served to remind many of us of a certain age and to educate those in the audience under 40 that the Feminist Movement took many women many years of hard work to achieve.

Gloria: A Life is ideally suited as a production for high schools and outreach education. It features a short unit lesson on the many feminists of the time and quotes from their speeches and writings to add intellectual rigor to first-person accounts. The letters that readers of the new Ms. Magazine sent were poignantly acted out by the supporting cast.

Gloria: A Life is two hours in length, with no intermission. The final 15 minutes is a talkback of sorts, called here a caucus, harking back to the Indigenous Peoples’ word for discussion in a circle. Several women spoke. This was nowhere for sissies. Two women shared that they were rape victims; another spoke of escaping abuse by fighting back. Another woman mentioned that her daughter recently graduated from college needed to hear about her history. Applause! (Has a college degree replaced snagging a husband?)  One woman said that she was heartened to see that old, white men stayed for the discussion. More applause, even from many of the same accused old, white men. Many of these old, white men attended Pride Night held this evening with some of the women. Once in a production run of a play, the McCarter has an LGBT social mixer before the performance. Although much reduced in scope from previous years, it is a truly worthwhile tradition the McCarter should continue.

Gloria: A Life should be seen by every woman who grew up in the United States 80, 50, or 20 years ago. It is invaluable as a piece of history framed by a life.

The McCarter has a full season of concerts, plays, and much more. Next on stage will be the highly-anticipated production of Frankenstein, October 15-November 3. LGBT Pride Night for Frankenstein will be October 24. For information about all attractions, visit www.mccarter.org  .

Young Frankenstein is a sure-fire crowd pleaser

Young Frankenstein is a sure-fire crowd pleaser

The Walnut Street Theatre is now presenting Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein until October 20.

This Young Frankenstein is a musical retelling of the hit 1974 film with Book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan, with Music and Lyrics by Mel Brooks.

Young Frankenstein was cast from strength, employing several beloved veterans of the house and Philadelphia in general. In the title role, Ben Dibble was the young doctor Frankenstein, Mr. Dibble has played in 22 roles at the Walnut, but many of our readers will no doubt remember him as the omnivorously bisexual, hot-pants-wearing dad from Fun Home. In Young Frankenstein, Dibble is a tousle-haired heterosexual who rather graphically in this production cavorts in the hay (literally), culminating in coitus on the laboratory bench with lab assistant Inga, lusciously played by Alanna J. Smith, another house favorite actor. This all happened where the cadaver was brought to life shortly before. Philadelphia legend Mary Martello was Frau Blucher who exceeded even Mr. Dibble’s 22 roles with her 30. Her Frau Blucher proved to be one of the great comedic characters in the musical. She brought the house down with her rendition of “He Vas My Boyfriend.” Martello channeled Marlene Dietrich, Tallulah Bankhead, and a soupcon of Ethel Merman thrown in for good measure, all while showing off her legs. Walnut Street favorite Fran Prisco took on a double header: Inspector Kemp and The Hermit, giving two wonderful performances to much audience acclaim. Casey Elizabeth Gill’s Elizabeth Benning, Dr. Frankenstein’s fiancée, was vivaciously coquettish and icily prudish simultaneously. Her shining moment was the showpiece, “Please Don’t Touch Me.” Igor, the role made famous by the late, great Marty Feldman, was assumed with comedic relish by Luke Bradt.

Production values were stellar. Every complex element worked like clockwork. The rather large orchestra was thrillingly led by conductor Chris Burcheri at the piano. Scenery and lighting were excellently deployed by Robert Kovach and Charlie Morrison. Sound was excellently balanced by Ed Chapman, and the costumes by Mary Folino were evocative and provocative, as required.

The horses were the most interesting stylized realization since Equus. Choreography was by Mary Jane Houdina. Charles Abbott directed this sprawling cast of characters.

Part of being an audience member is the occasional likelihood that there will be memorable moments not necessarily welcomed during the performance. Nearby audience members often spoke in loud, conversational tones while the actors spoke from the stage. The same couple often stroked their cell phones, offering brilliant flashes of distraction in the darkened house. As they often say, common sense isn’t all that common. Be considerate.

Young Frankenstein opens the Walnut Street Theatre’s season. The theatre was founded in 1809. Think about that. Alexander Hamilton was shot and killed in 1804. Indeed, the Walnut Street Theatre is one of Philadelphia’s great cultural treasures which will soon be even greater in the coming years. Plans are afoot to add a smaller stage in-the-round, while greatly expanding its footprint on Walnut Street. For more information on subscribing, purchasing tickets, or scheduling, visit www.walnutstreettheatre.org .

Always … Patsy Cline brings fun and good times to Bucks County Playhouse

Always … Patsy Cline brings fun and good times to Bucks County Playhouse

The Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, PA, is now presenting Carter Calvert and Sally Struthers in Always …Patsy Cline until September 7.

Playwright Ted Swindley based this play with music on the real-life friendship of famed Country/Western singer Patsy Cline and her Houston, Texas, fan Lousie Seger. Seger went to see Cline perform in 1957 and became fast friends with the down-to-earth Cline. They actually had a friendship which produced dozens of letters between them until Cline’s death in a plane crash in 1963.

Always …Patsy Cline has been seen several times over the past several years hereabouts, first at Bristol Riverside, then at the Walnut Studio on 3. Here at Bucks County Playhouse, Carter Calvert assumes the role of Patsy Cline. A seasoned singing actress in many shows, off Broadway and on, she has performed this role to acclaim many times and it shows: Calvert has the Cline sound totally under her control. The audience this weeknight often went wild in their acclaim for the 27 songs which are part of Always …Patsy Cline. As Lousie Seger, stage and television actress and comedienne Sally Struthers takes up the audience from her very first lines and carries the audience along the Sally Struthers express in a breathless joyride. Struthers clearly relishes the lines given her and far outdoes what may be written with every trick and schtick in the book of theatre. The audience was in the palm of her hand and they loved every minute of it. Credit must be given to the ultra-professional Carter Calvert who was seemingly immune to the shameless upstaging and constant caperings about the stage by Struthers who lost no opportunity to chew the scenery. Indeed, Calvert seemed to be as charmed by the irrepressible Juggernaut Struthers as was everyone else in the house.

The audience was largely composed of people who had grown up and loved Cline during her heyday. Often, moans of appreciation and pleasure welled up from them, especially when “Walkin’After Midnight,” and Willie Nelson’s “Crazy,” received heartfelt and sincere delivery from Ms. Calvert. An integral element of this two-person show, the band often was used for the leads to play off, and they acquitted themselves charmingly in addition to providing excellent musicianship. The orchestra members were: John Daniels, music director and piano; Roger Cohen, drums; Shane Aaserud; Tom Goslin, electic/nylon guitar; and Jay Ansill, fiddle/acoustic guitar.

Some important notes should be mentioned when you do decide to go, see, and enjoy this great show. Owing to Sally Struthers adding so much stage business to the show, it does run nearly two and one-half hours. Parking in New Hope is challenging, to put it mildly. Handicapped parking is nearly non-existent. There is a lot owned by the Playhouse immediately adjacent to the theater, which is mostly valet parking at $20. Cocktails, wine, and beer are available at several bars, also owned by the Playhouse. A cocktail will often be about $20. Tickets are priced at $85 to $60.

The 2019 season continues with the return of The Rocky Horror Show, October 11-27; Once, November 8-30; and the Christmas show December 6-29. The 2020 and 2021 Seasons have also been announced and are available by advance subscription. The 2020 Season will include I’m Not Rappaport; The Addams Family; Dames at Sea; and Avenue Q.

For information about  Always …Patsy Cline performance times and ticket purchase, as well as future shows and subscriptions, visit www.bcptheater.org or call 215-862-2121.

Erotic transcendence and fiery sexuality in Center Valley, PA

Erotic transcendence and fiery sexuality in Center Valley, PA

“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.” – Thomas Merton

William Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra is now onstage at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival in Center Valley, PA, until August 4. A tale of two awe-inspiring world leaders and their tragic downfall, this play was first presented in 1607, shortly after Shakespeare finished Macbeth. Both Cleopatra and Mark Antony are known to most people in the twenty-first century. No mean feat for any historical characters. And what a time in history it was. Julius Caesar was recently murdered in Rome by his friends. Mark Antony, of course, was prominently featured in Julius Caesar, another play by Shakespeare. We meet Antony years later when Octavius Caesar, Julius Caesar’s heir, is joined by Lepidus and Mark Antony to rule the known world. Mark Antony has been neglecting his duties while enjoying for too long the love and caresses of Queen Cleopatra of Egypt. And so the story begins.

Some of our readers may have seen the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 1974 production of Antony and Cleopatra when it was televised. The illustrious South African actress Janet Suzman was Cleopatra. The scholar Harold Bloom wrote at length about it, since he was so smitten by Dame Janet’s portrayal. On this stage today, as luck would have it, another illustrious South African actress is playing Cleopatra.  Nondumiso Tembe embodies the fiercely sexual queen, inspiring men to lose their senses in her presence. Ms. Tembe gives an exhilarating performance bristling with animal energy. Best known for her work in the hit television series True Blood, she is impossible to look away from for even a second while she is onstage. Her performance is fiercely concentrated and seemingly spontaneous, as she is pliant and liquid one moment, then terrifying, even homicidal the next. Her death is incomparably tragic.  O, Ptah, where is thy sting with Ms. Tembe as Cleopatra. When she threatens Antony’s servant Eros with a knife, she very nearly falls upon him with it drawn. Both director Eleanor Holdridge and fight director J. Alex Cordaro have done splendidly by Ms. Tembe and all the cast. The war scenes are piercingly visceral; the rowdy drinking scene aboard Pompey’s ship was enthralling, and the torture of Thidias was cringe-worthy.

As Antony, Neal Bledsoe struck a manly figure in handsome middle age. He was totally believable as a war hero and general who struck fear into the hearts of men. Mr. Bledsoe is well-known as a television actor, with several soap operas and the hit series The Man in the High Castle. His credits include being the commercial face (and body) of an Old Spice Man.

Strong support was provided by Liam Craig as Enobarbus, Justin Mark as a dewy, voluptuous Octavius Caesar, who made the famed remark that he was husband to every wife and wife to every husband in Rome quite believable. It is no wonder that he charmed Julius Caesar to adopt him and make him his heir. Matthew Floyd Miller was a fine Eros, while Talley Gale heightened the incestuous tension between herself and her brother Octavius. Luigi Sottile shone as Pompey the Junior, as well as a strikingly handsome figure as the often shirtless Thidias. Eleanor Handley was cast as a female Agrippa. At first blush, it was an odd choice, since she was referred to by Enobarbus as a woman.  There was a bit of romantic fire between them when Agrippa invited Enobarbus to share her/his hospitality, then awkward moments when they parted. Ms. Handley was a fine actress who assumed the part of Agrippa nobly.

Antony and Cleopatra at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts may be a bit of a drive for most Philadelphians, but it is a richly rewarding experience. Shakespeare created some of his most luscious speeches, created incomparable sexual tension, and thrillingly and devastatingly commented on war, those who hold and keep power, and the power of choices made.

Antony and Cleopatra at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts at DeSales University, Center Valley, PA, until August 4. For more information about this play and the rest of the season, visit www.pashakespeare.org .

Cirque du Soleil’s new extravaganza Amaluna at Oaks, PA

Cirque du Soleil’s new extravaganza Amaluna at Oaks, PA

A fantastic tented structure, The Grand Chapiteau, has landed at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center housing Amaluna until August 25th.

 

You may ask, “Say what?” By now, most people have either seen a Cirque du Soleil performance live, on television, or on YouTube. Amaluna is their newest production in a splendid striped tented structure which has magically appeared in a parking lot at the Expo Center in Oaks, PA.

 

The story loosely follows the plot of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. According to the notes provided, Queen Prospera is readying her daughter Miranda for her coming-of-age festival. Meanwhile, the sassy Miranda is too busy frolicking with an adorable lizard boy with a magnificent, big … tail. Clearly, he replaces the grotesque Caliban. A storm washes up a crew of shipwrecked sailors wearing clothes resembling those of Shakespeare’s time. As a matter of fact, one of the crew looks a bit like the Bard. He whistles, squeaks, and seduces the queen who also traipses about spouting doggerel to comic relief to offset the astounding feats occurring all around the big top. There are Amazon warrior gymnasts who happen to have small tails spurting from their coccyx, who want nothing to do with the shipwrecked sailors; except, perhaps, to eat them. Offsetting these strong women are the rather fey, decorative shipwrecked sailors. They later acquit themselves by performing daredevil leaps forty feet into the air. Other, sturdier lads perform somersaults into the air, landing on shoulders, etc., late in the show. Women spin and do incomparable things in the air, while other aerialists do a variety of thrilling feats. Yes, and there are amazing costumes and effects. The Prince, love interest to Miranda, often tore off his jacket to wild, squealing acclaim from young female members of the audience. His scenes climaxed with a pole dance to the Nth degree.

 

One doesn’t go to a Cirque du Soleil extravaganza for plot; rather, one attends a spectacle, a kaleidoscope of thrills and chills interspersed with striking visual tableaux. This is true of Amaluna. In this intimate setting, one isn’t very far from the stage anywhere one may sit. Parking is free and plentiful. There are concession stands for snacks and beverages as well as a gift shop. For a smashing good time, Amaluna will not disappoint.

 

Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna will be at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, 100 Station Avenue, Oaks, PA, until August 25th. For more information, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com .

 

A magnificent world premiere from Ballet X, The Little Prince


It was a dark and stormy night the evening of July 11, but those who chose to brave the tropical storm were richly rewarded. BalletX is presenting Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s full-length dance, The Little Prince at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia until July 21. The Little Prince is a world premiere created especially for BalletX and for its dancers.

 

Antoine Roger, Comte de Saint Exupery (1900-1944), writer, poet, aviator, aristocrat, and war hero was accorded the Legion of Honor and the Croix de Guerre avec Palme. He wrote the novella The Little Prince which was published in 1943 shortly before his death. The novella presents an aviator who crashes in a desert where he meets an extraterrestrial child, a magic snake and learns important life lessons. The story was inspired no doubt by Saint Exupery’s own plane crash in Libya years before in 1935 where a Bedouin saved his life. Antoine de Saint Exupery’s The Little Prince won The National Book Award and was voted Best Book of the 20th Century in France. Many of our readers no doubt were introduced to this book as children.

 

The Little Prince by choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa is as presented by BalletX, a magnificent full-evening ballet. Every dancer shone in their role, with Stanley Glover as The Snake especially outstanding. To see Stanley Glover dance in this role is to see greatness on the stage. If genetic material from Fred Astaire and Bob Fosse were magically spliced by the Goddess Isis and tossed upon the waters near Chicago, it would produce a genius like Stanley Glover. Costume designer Danielle Truss created a sensuous, incomparable costume for Mr. Glover, which served to heighten our optical pleasure whenever he appeared on stage. Roderick Phifer was unforgettable as The Little Prince. He was another dancer one could not look away from even for a second. Zachary Kapeluck was the handsome, dashing Aviator. Exhibiting effortless grace with style to burn, he was an essential Aviator. In addition to these three dynamic artists, were Francesca Forcella as The Rose and Richard Villaverde as The Fox. Ms. Forcella as The Rose delivered a riveting performance of grace and beauty. Her cloche appeared to magically appear as if it were an especially enchanted Portuguese Man-of-War as she floated away to her exit. Mr. Villaverde as The Fox was poetry in motion as he taught the extraterrestrial child an important lesson, “to see beneath the surface of things,” to see with one’s heart, not merely with one’s eyes. The remaining dancers in the company provided essential and compelling work as The King, The Drunk, airplane parts, rose bushes, and, at one point, using the airplane parts cunningly to resemble a carnivorous flower encapsulating The Aviator. Bravos go to Set Designers Matt Saunders and Petra Floyd for this and many other effects. Peter Salem was Composer and Musician, often within sight of the audience.

 

The Little Prince is a grand story of gay-infused interspecies love among a sexually enchanted snake, an extraterrestrial, and a human aviator. When The Aviator is about to leave, The Little Prince undertakes a transformation, not unlike Isolde, who becomes one with the universe of semen, ghee, and stars when her beloved Tristan shuffles off his mortal coil. The Little Prince is a must-see artwork which will help you see with your heart as well as with your eyes.

 

The Little Prince, a full-evening ballet by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa is presented by BalletX at The Wilma Theater, 265 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, until July 21. For further information and to purchase tickets, visit www.wilmatheater.org or www.balletx.org .

An interview with the multi-talented John Tartaglia


John Tartaglia is an American puppeteer, actor, singer and dancer who hosts a Sunday program on Sirius XM’s On Broadway on channel 72. He is directing the smash musical hit Mamma Mia for the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, PA, which will have its opening night on Sunday, June 30. John took time off a few days before opening night to talk to us about Mamma Mia, his life, career, and so much more. He is as boyishly upbeat and enthusiastic on the phone as he is hosting his Sirius XM Sunday show.

 

Ralph Malachowski: How did directing Mamma Mia happen for you?

 

John Taratglia: Robin Goodman was a producer with Avenue Q which I was a part of for years on Broadway. She is now producing at Bucks County Playhouse, and she asked me if I would be interested in directing Mamma Mia. That was how it began.

 

RM: Do you find the daily commute from New York City to New Hope, PA, a bit challenging?

 

JT: I live in Los Angeles now, and the folks at Bucks County Playhouse are great in that they’ve provided lovely housing for me as well as the rest of the cast in New Hope, so that’s not a problem. We rehearsed in New York City until just the other day. We’re doing a lot of tech work right now here on stage. Believe it or not, I do my Sirius XM show from Los Angeles every week. It’s a technological miracle that we can do our shows from just about anywhere now. I use their studio in Los Angeles for my show when I’m not on the road.

 

RM: Your Wikipedia profile states that you were born in Maple Shade, NJ, and went to high school in Pennsylvania. Is working at the Bucks County Playhouse kind of a homecoming for you?

 

JT: Yes, it really is. It’s great to return to the area after years away. I had forgotten how lovely the area is and it is so nice to get back together with friends from the area. I was born in Maple Shade, NJ, and lived there until age 10. We moved to Upper Dublin, PA, and I went to a nearby high school which was fabulous. It had such a strong performing arts program. Debbie Thompson was one of my great teachers there. I can’t remember a time I wasn’t in or around show business. Both my parents were in the business, with my mother performing onstage, so I was around backstage all the time. I was fascinated by how things worked, like smoke machines, when my mother walked out on stage. I later found myself drawn to performing.

 

RM: Your Wikipedia page states that not only were you nominated for a Tony Award, and worked on a film in addition to your many appearances on stage, but that you also appeared as part of Broadway Bares. (Broadway Bares is an annual fundraising event for Broadway Cares /Equity Fights AIDS) Would you like to elaborate on that?

 

JT: Oh, right! (Laughing) Well, yes, I did and I spent weeks before my appearance eating little more than boiled chicken and brown rice! The film was The Happytime Murders (2018). I also did many other things on stage as well over the years. You know, I forgot about that Wikipedia page. I haven’t looked at it in years. Thanks for reminding me that I need to update it! I’m unsure as to who actually updated it for me. I’ll have to learn how to do it myself pretty fast.

 

RM: after Mamma Mia, what’s next for John Tartaglia? Is a return to New Hope in those plans?

 

JT: After Mamma Mia opens, I’m actually taking a week off before I head to the Saint Louis MUNY to direct Matilda: the Musical at their outdoor, 11,000-seat theatre. Later, I have a show I’m doing for Princess Cruise Lines in the fall of 2019, and a TV show for winter. I am not allowed to say anything about the TV show!  Also top secret is yes, there are plans to return to the Bucks County Playhouse next year, but that is all I can say about that right now.

 

RM: John, do you have anything else that you would like to say in closing about Mamma Mia, or anything else that we’ve touched upon?

 

JT: About Mamma Mia, the reaction I get from almost everyone when they hear that I’m working on it is one of joy and happiness. The show brings forth such good feelings from people. I remember first seeing Mamma Mia weeks after 9/11 in New York City. It provided such relief and escape then when we needed it the most. You could also say the same thing after all these years.  Mamma Mia still offers a magical respite from real life and all the problems we face today. As a gay man, I find it especially wonderful that it addresses the life of a gay male character in the show in a truthful and honest manner.

 

Mamma Mia is at the Bucks County Playhouse, 70 S. Main Street, New Hope, PA, June 28 through August 3. For information, call 215-862-2121 or visit www.bcptheater.org .