Philly theater shows to check out this spring season

Brennen S. Malone stars in the Wilma Theater’s film of James Ijames’ new play FAT HAM.
Caro Ramirez

Fat Ham 

The Wilma Theater’s own co-artistic director, James Ijames will be presenting the digital world premiere of his contemporary adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ later this spring. The show, which is set in the American South, was filmed on location in Virginia and was directed by his fellow co-artistic director Morgan Green.

“I love Hamlet. I have a fraught relationship with Shakespeare, but I love Hamlet,” said Ijames about his new work in a statement. In creating the play, Ijames asked himself, “What does the Hamlet narrative look like if it’s queered, and if it’s infiltrated and taken over by people of color?” According to a release, the end result is ‘Fat Ham’, which explores big issues, like toxic masculinity and cycles of violence, with a light touch.

The show also features Taysha Marie Canales as Opal, Kimberly S. Fairbanks as Tedra, Jennifer Kidwell as Rabby, Brennen S. Malone as Juicy, Anthony Martinez-Briggs as Tio, Brandon J. Pierce as Larry, and Lindsay Smiling as Rev/Pap. Tickets to Ijames’ new show are available for purchase online on the Wilma’s site. Right now, the show is set for April 29 to May 23 with tickets running to be $37 per household, with discounts available for seniors, students, and WilmaPass holders.

A Doll’s House 20/20

Even with a full year of lockdown behind us, theater is still finding a way, and that’s displayed tenfold through ‘A Doll’s House 20/20.’ The show was made possible through crowdfunding and will be available to stream on March 23, the one-year anniversary of Philadelphia’s stay-at-home order. ‘A Doll’s House’ was shot over a two week period last month, and was produced by Jennifer Summerfield and Kyle Cassidy. This particular production marks the third Ibsen production from the husband and wife team, with Cassidy directing and Summerfield playing Nora’s practical friend Christine Linde. ‘ A Doll’s House 20/20’ was shot remotely on cell phones with each actor controlling their own camera and was then edited by award winning filmmaker Anna Gamarnik with a soundtrack by British singer/songwriter Jo Beth Young.

The 90-minute feature-film-styled theatrical production’s official description reads: “Nora Helmer has a beautiful life and a dreadful secret: She’s $300,000 in debt, possibly going to jail and being blackmailed by one of her husband’s subordinates. On top of it all, she’s quarantined alone at home where her only human interaction comes from friends who drop by on a Zoom-like social media video chat application throughout the day. As Nora’s story unfolds, so do the lives of the people around her: COVID19, desperation, unemployment and power struggles interweave over a Zoom-like environment in this independently funded film which brings Henrik Ibsen’s Victorian masterpiece to lockdown.”


11th Hour Theatre Company’s Spring Concert Series

This spring, 11th Hour Theatre Company will continue adapting its exciting musical programming to the virtual screen in “Society XI Online.” Starting March 20, 11th Hour is offering a spring extension of their virtual membership consisting of three Quarantine Cabarets featuring extraordinary singing duos. These evenings will be filled with stories and songs performed by some of Philadelphia’s most entertaining stars. All events begin at 7:30 p.m., and will be available to stream at your leisure for up to two weeks after the original air date. 

The first show premieres this week on March 20 and features longtime friends Rob Tucker and Billy Bustamante. The University of the Arts graduates will be presenting an evening of music as an ode to some of the greatest Broadway ballads out there, which is right up their alley. The dynamic duo has plenty of experience in the spotlight with Tucker having credits on the stage not just regionally, but also throughout the country and Bustamante as a co-founder of Broadway Barkada, a Filipino cultural organization. The second performance will be premiering in April and will feature Elena Camp and Rajeer Alford, who both have credits at 11th Hour themselves. Camp was in ‘Company’, ‘Urinetown’, and ‘Broadcast’, and even Assistant Directed ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,’ while Alford was last seen as Mitch Mahoney in ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’. The real-life couple’s show on April 24 will feature moving duets, unique interpretations of classical musical theatre pieces and more. 

Lastly, performers Amanda Jill Robinson and Jenna Pinchbeck are bringing you an evening of laughs as their hilarious alter egos: Ruth & Estelle on May 22. Who are they? The official description for their alternate egos reads: On a winter night in 2014, while rehearsing for a holiday cabaret, Amanda Jill Robinson and Jenna Pinchbeck started playing around as two spunky, big-hearted, open-minded broads with a love of cocktails, bagels, and rock n’ roll. They never could have imagined that six years later, these women would not only teach and entertain, but become their method for putting something positive into the world. Whether they’re performing at events, teaching their Masta Class, or hosting their podcast, “Learning Through Laughter”, they are dedicated to creating engaging, joy-filled, inclusive experiences through bold storytelling, humor and heart.

Memberships for 11th Hour are $50 and include access to all three events, while individual tickets are also available for each event separately for $20 per household. Tickets can be purchase online at or by phone at 267-987-9865

Theatre Horizon’s Art House Production 

The Norristown establishment created the innovative Art House series—which partners professional theatre artists with families and households throughout the Greater Philadelphia region—last year. The original performance works are shown on a monthly basis, with this month’s show coming from The Peay Family, who reside in Norristown. This family knows how to get creative. Moe Peay has appeared in Theatre Horizon’s production of ‘Black Nativity’ while his wife, Fallon, and three children, Brooklyn, Cassidy and Prince, use their own talents to add to a recipe of innovation and uniqueness when approaching performances. According to the release, the family’s mentors and inspirations include Mimi G, Kobe Bryant, Steve Jobs, Marianne Williamson, Michael Jackson, Jesus, Jim Carrey, Albert Einstein, and the Buddha. The Peays plan to “aspire to inspire” in this life-affirming exploration of family, love, and art at their home in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

The Peays’ Art Houses program will be directed by Marisol Rosa-Shapiro, and will be available to stream live from their home on the Zoom platform for one performance only on March 20, at 7 p.m. 

The Peay Family.John C Hawthorne