By Debra Miller, Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent
If you’re visiting Philadelphia this summer, be sure to catch two must-see shows running in Center City in July and August. From July 17-27, the Wilma Theater, 265 South Broad Street, presents “My Dinner with Dito: A How to be Gay Cabaret,” the latest self-devised offering from experimental cabaret troupe The Bearded Ladies.
Featuring special guest star Dito Van Reigersberg (aka the larger-than-life phenomenon Martha Graham Cracker), along with the Beards’ own John Jarboe and music director Heath Allen, the dinner show offers a surreal serving of saucy courses, with drag, table dancing, and iconic ballads by Judy, Liza, Dolly, and more.
Audience members join the cast in nibbles and drinks courtesy of London Grill and Paris Wine Bar, as they explore and explode the stereotypes of what it means to be gay and offer hilarious explanations of “Why drag?” “Why do so many gay men love musical theater?” and, in full-blown “Mommy Dearest” style, “Why did you adopt me?”
For tickets (Table seating $25; General admission $20), visit http://ticketing.artsphilly.org/tickets/calendar2.aspx?org=wt&month=201307, call the Wilma’s box office at 215.546.7824, or pay at the door (if not sold out). All tickets include a bento box of small bites and an open wine bar, in addition to a fabulous show fusing cabaret, theater, and outrageous artistic invention with the politics of gender identity.
From August 7-25, Mauckingbird Theatre Company stages a gender-bent version of Oscar Wilde’s Victorian farce, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” at the Off-Broad Street Theater, 1636 Sansom Street.
Mauckingbird’s Founding Artistic Director Peter Reynolds directs an impressive cast (including Barrymore Award winner James Ijames, Chancellor Dean, Nancy Boykin, Sarah Doherty, and, in her Mauckingbird debut, Managing Director/Co-Founder Lindsay Mauck) in the company’s most ambitious production to date. Acclaimed costume designer Marie Anne Chiment and scenic designer Andrew Laine provide an appropriate look for the upper-class characters and their elegant locales, and, true to its mission, the company takes a “post-gay” focus that looks beyond its same-sex pairings to the witty dialogue, universal emotions, and onerous social etiquette inherent in Wilde’s comedy of manners.
According to Reynolds, “it doesn’t matter to Lady Bracknell if her son wants to marry a man or marry a woman, as long as their class and status are up to her standards.” Tickets ($25 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $15 for students) are available online at www.mauckingbird.org or through Mauckingbird’s box office at 215.923.8909.