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A theater company grows in Elkins Park

On this podcast, we interview White Pines Productions artistic director Benjamin Lloyd. Lloyd, a B.A. and M.F.A. Yale drama grad, has been a fixture as a Philadelphia actor for decades. He founded White Pines in 2009. The company operated out of the Elkins Park Gilded Age mansion Elkins Estate until 2012.

Benjamin Lloyd participates in White Pines’s long-form improv dinner theater. (Photo via whitepinesproductions.org)

Since then, the company has moved to a storefront in Elkins Park’s bustling business district, where they offer classes to adults, children, and people with special needs; produce original work; host a long- and short-form improv-based dinner theater with a three-course meal; host the Bright Invention improv ensemble; and offer off-site training programs. Here, Lloyd discusses his new model for arts organizations, the role companies like his serve in their neighborhoods, and the guiding philosophy behind White Pines’s “community-based performing arts studio.”

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Walken onstage together

On this podcast, we are joined by Two Walkens: Susanne Collins and Kevin Meehan. We talk about the origins of the devised theater performance duo’s mashup, explore some iconic standouts from Christopher Walken’s expansive body of work, and we even get a sample of the show.

Collins and Meehan just walken around. (Photo by Peter Michael Radocaj)

Two Walkens, a world premiere, takes a few of Walken’s best-known big- and small-screen appearances, and combines them with Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic children’s book The Little Prince to see if this town really is big enough for the both of them. The show asks the timely question “How do we cope when the world outside gets to be too tough to handle?” Pick your weapon of choice.

Collins and Meehan are Philly theater veterans, but this is their first creation together.

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Catching up with Steve Pacek

On this podcast, I chat with Steve Pacek, featured in Theatre Horizon’s production of William Finn and James Lapine’s musical A New Brain. It’s been four years since Pacek won the 2012 F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Philadelphia Theater Artist and the same amount of time has passed since he last chatted with us. Let’s play catch up!

Steve Pacek sings for his life in Theatre Horizon’s ‘A New Brain.’ (Photo by Matthew J Photography)

About A New Brain

Tony Award-winners Finn (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) and Lapine (Into the Woods) based this musical comedy on Finn’s life threatening battle with a deadly diagnosis of arteriovenous malformation. The show, similarly, explores one man’s quest for a second chance at life. After a children’s television songwriter receives a life-changing diagnosis, he struggles to come to terms with his creative ambitions and family relationships. In an unforgettable performance, Pacek leads a cast of Philadelphia’s top vocalists through this gorgeous musical about how we spend the time we are given.

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20 years and five new Barrymores, all in one week

On today’s podcast, we catch up with Theatre Exile producing artistic director Deborah Block to talk about Theatre Exile’s 20th anniversary season. We start off with congratulations on Exile’s 13 Barrymore Award nominations (which Monday night became five wins for their production of Ayad Akhtar’s The Invisible Hand: Production of a Play, Direction of a Play (Matt Pfeiffer), Leading Actor in a Play (Maboud Ebrahimzadeh), Supporting Actor in a Play (J. Paul Nicholas), and Sound Design (Michael Kiley).

Anthony Mustafa Adair and Jenson Titus Lavallee in Theatre Exile’s upcoming ‘Guards at the Taj.’ (Photo by Paola Nogueras)

We also focus on Exile’s next production, Rajiv Joseph’s Guards at the Taj and tease with the rest of the season, which includes John Pollono’s Lost Girls, and Tracey Scott Wilson’s Buzzer, It’s always a pleasure to chat with Deb. I hope you are as excited about their 20th season as I am.

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Trumping the election with comedy

On this episode of the Broad Street Review/REP Radio podcast, we discuss 1812 Productions’ annual political satire This Is the Week That Is (TIWTI). Meet Sean Close and new cast member Nia-Samara Benjamin, both of whom appear in TIWTI‘s “Election Special.” Can you guess what we talked about?

L to r: Justin Jain as Joe Biden, Sean Close as Elizabeth Warren, and Nia-Samara Benjamin as Tim Kaine. (Photo by Mark Garvin)

Why should Saturday Night Live have all the fun this election cycle? Host Darnelle Radford, Benjamin, and Close give you the local lowdown on how to suck up all the year’s dirty politics without getting sick.

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A family affair – Casabuena Cultural Productions

On this week’s podcast, Darnelle Radford interviews Casabuena Cultural Productions founder Mariangela Saavedra about the Mt. Airy company’s inaugural entry into the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. The Church Bells All Were Broken, a world premiere by Philadelphia playwright Dave Ebersole, is a fictitious story inspired by the real Westboro Baptist Church and its members. It challenges the audience to see all sides with the assistance of humor, music, and drama.

L to r: Anna Pysher, Tony McNicol, Pierlisa Chiodo Steo, Adrienne Cascarella, Brian Weiser, Jim Fryer. (Photo by Mariangela Saavedra)

Jeff and Melissa are part of the infamous MacArthur family, a family known to take their religious beliefs to the extreme by picketing funerals with their offensive signs and parodies of pop songs. They take their messages — “God hates fags” and “America is doomed” — all over the country and even to the Supreme Court. But when Jeff decides to come to terms with his sexuality his whole life changes. He tries to maintain his faith while his family makes him an outcast. Will his sister, who loves him dearly, be able to pull him back into the fold, or will she finally see that she is really part of a cult fueled by hate?

Listen here:

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Riding and writing on a slow train to San Francisco

On today’s podcast, we meet Erlina Ortiz. She is a graduate of Temple University and the Resident Playwright of Power Street Theatre Company. We come to know her because she has been selected as one of the 2016 Amtrak Artist Residency recipients. She will travel the country by train and let the beauty of our nation inspire her next piece. Stay Tuned!

Ortiz prepares to ride the rails. (Photo courtesy of Erlina Ortiz)

About Erlina Ortiz

Erlina Ortiz  is a self-defined “everything” artist, and Power Street is the perfect avenue for her to explore all her different passions in the theater. Erlina graduated from Temple University with a B.A. in theater and a concentration in acting. She began dabbling in playwriting and directing when she started working with Power Street. The company produced two of her full-length plays in 2013 and 2014, and her newest work, She Wore Those Shoes, which addresses military rape culture, will receive a full production at the Iron Factory in October, 2016. As an emerging Latina-American playwright, Erlina’s voice is unique and important to the growing landscape of theatre in America and will only continue to become more relevant.

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Pirate burlesque aboard the tall ship Gazela

On today’s podcast, we are joined by Shoshanna Ruth Green and Cubby Altobelli of burlesque troupe The Seven Deadly Seas for a little scripted “yes, and-ing.” We talk about their upcoming production, The Greater of Two Evils, on the barquentine Gazela, which is once more ready to board after a two-year repair hiatus.

The Seven Deadly Seas set sail with (l to r): Kimberlie Cruse, Cubby Altobelli, Shoshanna Green. (Photo by Hope Corse)

The show, a full-length burlesque play, takes a look at present-day politics through the eyes of real-life pirates Calico Jack Rackham, Anne Bonney, and Mary Reed. At this theater-in-the-round and under-the-stars experience, our antiheroes drink, fight, sing, and, yes, strip. The Seven Deadly Seas are an offshoot of the much-loved and dearly departed Cabaret Red Light. Proceeds from this show will help support the Philadelphia Ship Preservation Guild’s efforts to restore and maintain the historic Tall Ship Gazela and Tug Jupiter.

Enjoy this week’s REP Radio podcast.

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Better living through absurdism

In our first podcast with Rep Radio, host Darnelle Radford interviews Tina Brock, artistic director of Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium (IRC), about Into the Absurd, the company’s recent staged reading of Samuel Beckett’s and Harold Pinter’s radio plays. IRC is committed to producing classic absurdist theater, as reflected in their company motto: “We bring good nothingness to life.”

Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium’s Tina Brock, looking not at all ridiculous. (Photo courtesy of IRC)

Into the Absurd featured Beckett’s “Rough for Radio II” and Pinter’s “Family Voices.” In this podcast, Radford and Brock discuss the relevance of a radio play in today’s multimedia-saturated environment. They also look at absurdism in the context of today’s political climate. It should surprise no one that absurdism is still a pretty good fit in 2016.

Enjoy the conversation.

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