Spotlight Philly: Celebrity news, local gossip and stories about the city you love


Metro Philadelphia’s Spotlight column has often featured the work of this city’s preeminent playwright, James IJames, for his writings at various theaters across town and his collaboration with the Wilma Theatre as one of its four artistic directors. Now, after having recently won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama with his play, ‘Fat Ham’, IJames can now add Broadway playwright to his mantle. ‘Fat Ham’, a wily, queer adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’, begins Broadway performances at the American Airlines Theatre in Manhattan – previews start March 21, 2023 with an opening night of April 12. ‘Fat Ham’ had its Off-Broadway premiere at the Public Theater earlier in 2022, and its Associate Artistic Director, Saheem Ali, and entire cast return for the Broadway production. Philly. Start renting busses for ‘Fat Ham’ visits.

The Italian Market area is readying for Christmas by warmly welcoming the subtly glittering, vintage tile and marble saloon, Grace and Proper, to the block. This one-time, 8th Street corner apothecary was boarded up for decades until given new life by the Hawthorne’s Restaurant Group (the marrieds behind WineDive and Tio Flores) for its Euro-Portuguese-inspired salon this week.

The holidays are not just a time for celebrating family. It’s a good moment, again, to celebrate Emmy-winning actor and recent Rihanna catwalk fashionista Sheryl Lee Ralph, who, with her husband, Pennsylvania State Sen. Vincent Hughes, were feted at Live! Casino Philadelphia for the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia. The party raised $200,000-plus for Philly’s  School District, and was attended by Greater Philadelphia Film Office Exec Director Sharon Pinkenson, Chef Big Rube, WDAS’ Patty Jackson and Joyce Abbott, the real and true namesake for Philly writer/actor Quinta Brunson’s hit ABC comedy series, ‘Abbott Elementary’.

*The Global Philadelphia Association (GPA) just announced its six winners of the 2022 Globy Awards for local leaders who have made a global impact for the benefit of the city. Getting Globys on Dec. 12’s ceremony at the Westin Hotel are bosses such as Susan Jacobson (Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce), Jennifer Rodriguez (Hispanic Chamber of Commerce), Vik Dewan (Philadelphia Zoo), Judee von Seldeneck (Diversified Search), Dr. Donald Guy (Community College of Philadelphia), and David Seltzer (co-founder of CraftNOW).


Local spotlight: Santa Claus

There are a mess of Clauses and St. Nicks around the city this time of year. But only one Claus – Santa Harry – came from the North Pole (all 3,254 miles) to be with the children, parents, and neighbors of Christmas Village all month long.

Santa Harry, the official Santa of Christmas Village in downtown Philadelphia, stopped long enough to answer a few questions until he had to get back to work.

How have the children and parents been at Christmas Village so far, and have you had any visitors from nearby City Hall?

The kids and parents have been great, as always. Santa has not seen the Mayor, or, to his knowledge, any City Council member.

What is the most extravagant gift anyone has requested you deliver?

One teen, who at least got in a picture with Santa as his parents wished, asked for a Bugatti.

What are your personal dos + don’ts of  Santa-ing?

Don’ts – Make no promises. Do’s – Look good and take nice pictures.

Other than working Christmas Village and delivering toys on Dec. 24, what are you doing the other 350 days of the year?

Reindeer bootcamp. Elf training. Cookie baking.

Any hobbies?

Geography. Astronomy. Navigation.

What was your favorite song this year?

“Santa Baby,” by Eartha Kitt. I did not listen to anything new.

What is your personal Santa motto?

Believe! And Merry Christmas.