Philly, this year, isn’t known for winning big. Take the Sixers (I know. It ain’t over) And the Flyers. OK, yes, take the Phillies, too, so far. My guess is that if we had a bowling team, we’d screw that up somehow.
And yet, light unto darkness, bold unto dull, Philadelphia just nailed a Pulitzer Prize from an already award-winning actor, director and writer James Ijames. The recent Metro cover feature artist for his snapshot of great Black theater currently running with Azuka at The Drake, ‘Reverie’, just won the 2022 Pulitzer in Drama for his play, ‘Fat Ham’, which premiered digitally at the Wilma last year, and will soon be staged, live, at Joe’s Pub/the Public Theater, in a co-production with the National Black Theatre, later in May. Of ‘Fat Ham‘, Ijames said, “I have always loved ‘Hamlet’, and I wanted to bring it a little closer to my experience, and to write it in the voice and spirit of my family, who are from the South,” in a statement. A humble winner, Ijames is off to work directing the upcoming ‘Fairview’ at the Wilma rather than chilling or resting on his laurels. That’s how you win, Philly, and stay winning. Never rest. Never bask. Big congrats.
Which reminds me: 76er Joel Embiid is telling people that he’s not mad about losing NBA MVP to Nikola Jokic, and instead wants to focus all of his energy on winning the championship for Philly. The latter devotion is fine – avoid all distraction — but the former emotion is all wrong. Be mad, Mr. Embiid. Use that disgust to fuel the fire.
Which also reminds me, Netflix dropped another trailer for Adam Sandler’s Philly-filmed b-ball flick, “Hustle,” and Sixers such as Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle, Doc Rivers and even a few ex-Sixers (Seth Curry, Boban Marjonovic) are in local director Jeremiah Zagar’s mix.
TikTok hip hop sensation and a favorite of those who saw the film version of ‘Cats’, Jason Derulo and R&B diva Ava Max were announced as co-headliners for Wawa Welcome America’s return to the Parkway while fireworks light the sky over the Philadelphia Art Museum on July 4.
Announced yesterday morning, Philly’s ace rapper Black Thought of The Roots and producer Danger Mouse are releasing a duo album, ‘Cheat Codes’ on Aug. 12, and dropped a first single from their spacey collaboration, “No Gold Teeth,” this Wednesday. And a video. And features A$AP Rocky, Run The Jewels, MF DOOM, Michael Kiwanuka, Joey Bada$$, Russ, Raekwon and Conway the Machine. And is the first hip hop jam that Danger Mouse has done since ‘DANGERDOOM’. And is Black Thought’s newest solo work since his ‘Streams of Thought’ EP trilogy.
There is good and bad along the docks of Philly’s Dock Street Brewery properties. The large, broad brick Dock Street Brewery brewpub in West Philadelphia, home to many drunken nights, is closing at the end of May. Only to have the DSB team open a tasting room in Fishtown, soonish, to go with its 21st and Washington glass front pub. S 50th Street needs love too. Sad days.
Congrats to South Philly tenor singer Joshua Blue who not only made his big time debut with Opera Philadelphia in the company’s return to live staging at the Academy of Music, ‘Rigoletto’, but, in its final performance this week, dropped on one knee and proposed to fellow opera vocalist Ashley Marie Robillard, last seen as part of the OP in Puccini’s ‘La Boheme’. Love and opera is in the air.
Unmasked Philly: Campbell O’Hare
So, this Boldface has more Wilma Theater by the ounce, considering that thespian.
Campbell O’Hare is a member of the Wilma Hothouse company with recent credits in its Chekovian ‘The Cherry Orchard’. Check her credits here, if you doubt me. O’Hare’s newest credit comes courtesy Norristown’s Theatre Horizon with ‘Athena’, a play written by Gracie Gardner and directed by long-time T-Horizon fave Kathryn MacMillan, from May 19 through June 5. What’s cool, for me – a former fencing student, no joke – is that O’Hare will get to parley, literally and figuratively, with great skill and wit. Man, I love this.
The one-time Southern Virginian with three younger sisters “with whom I pretended to be Charlie’s Angels,” she says, played fastpitch softball with the Richmond Ruckus as a kid. “I remember fondly lots of torn-up knees, broken hands, dirt, sweat, one port-o-potty for miles, exhaustion and hustle. I was also a goody two-shoes obsessed with school and was Salutatorian of my graduating class.”
Outside of performing, O’Hare is a runner (“a special gift I got from my dad, as we were involved with the Tri-Cities Road Runners, and we would train and race together), who loves Dungeons and Dragons (“I started playing in a Curse of Strahd campaign about a year ago, and was absolutely blown away by the vulnerability, inventiveness and immersion of my beloved adventuring party”) who now host a D&D podcast, Critical Fayle DM & The Goons: The Strahdcast!
She’s currently reading Irish writer Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad Series at the moment, loves horror movies, (“especially kinda messed-up, beautiful, gory French ones like ‘Inside’) is a major ‘The Last of Us’ video game fan, and has a thing for Crooked Still, the Bluegrass band “with a touch of Irish influence that goes straight to my soul.”
As for memorable personal and professional moment, she’s delighted to be part of Wilma Theater’s Hothouse Acting Company, “the coolest thing that has ever happened to me, the brightest moment being our time in the Poconos in October 2020 capturing our site-specific production of ‘Heroes of the Fourth Turning’ directed by Blanka Zizka in our quarantine bubble building the play together, having coffee together in the morning, cooking dinner, hiking, playing card games, rehearsing in our dining room, looking at the stars and listening to the crickets, and watching Britain’s Best Home Cook.”
And O’Hare quotes Annie Dillard as to how she works and lives: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing” … “I endeavor to spend my days falling in love with the thing that I am doing and the people I am with.”