Despite the obstacle of not being able to have the typical in-person shows, the Arden Theatre Company located in Old City has opened up tickets for their Spring 2021 season—and as you may have guessed, this lineup looks quite different from years passed. The new season starting in February of next year will highlight some original shows that will feature some of their theater’s most celebrated and well-known actors through a virtual format rather than in their own building.
“We can’t wait to welcome you back to the theatre when it is safe to do so. Until then, we will be offering several projects on our digital stage as a way to stay connected,” said Producing Artistic Director Terrence J. Nolen in a statement. “With these different productions, we will create a wide range of experiences, explore new mediums, and continue to bring great stories to life with inspired and inspiring Philadelphia artists.”
According to a release, the Arden’s previously announced productions of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” the world premiere of R. Eric Thomas’ “Backing Track,” and “Into the Woods” will be moved to the 2021/22 season. Also included in next season will be “School Girls” or “The African Means Girl Play” – a brilliant and hilarious new play by Jocelyn Bioh. The remainder of next season – plus Arden Children’s Theatre – will be announced at a later date pending any updates regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kicking off the digital season for the popular theater company will be Arden favorites Joilet Harris and Mary Martello. The duo is teaming up starting Feb. 8 through the 21 for an evening filled with some of the most popular American tunes in the form of a cabaret extravaganza. Performers will be choosing their own songs and will highlight their own memories from their time performing in the City of Brotherly Love.
The next show comes from a local Philly playwright, and years ago when this show hit the stage at the Arden, it made waves. “74 Seconds… To Judgment” was written by Kash Goins (who also starred in the show) and was directed by Broadway star Amina Robinson. Goins was inspired to write the show during a year when a lot of highly publicized killing of Black men happened that didn’t get resolved, and prosecution mostly from law enforcement with the most notable ones at that time being Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, Eric Garner and then Philando Castile. The latter case, Castile’s, is what really stuck out to the playwright, and even though years have passed, the message of the play resonates during this year of social uprising more than ever.
For the Spring season, both Goins and director Amina Robinson reunited to create a new radio drama version of this timely and provocative play. The show will run from March 8 – 21, 2021.
Another cabaret will also be hitting the screen for the Arden from March 20 to April 11. This go-around of cabaret fun for audiences will feature Broadway veteran Robi Hager. Hager has already had quite the career starring in a variety of Broadway’s biggest shows (“Spring Awakening,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Dr. Zhivago” and “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” just to name a few) but the musical whiz most recently explored the creative digital sphere with his show “Basic Witches” co-written by lyricist John Egan. Hager is well known in the city for his acting abilities in other productions as well as having appeared on a few stages in Philadelphia, including at the Arden Theatre in “Ragtime,” “Next To Normal,” “Parade” and “Fun Home” and at the 11th Hour Theatre Company in “Altar Boyz,” “Children of Eden” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman.”
Lastly, closing out the current Spring season will be the Arden’s digital production of “No Child.” According to the release, diving into the overlooked world of a teaching artist, “No Child” follows playwright Nilaja Sun as she struggles to lead a class in a city public school. This one-person, award-winning show holds nothing back, as Sun challenges the American education system and defends the need for enhanced arts programming for young people. It features Taysha Canales and is directed by Justin Jain.
Streaming tickets for the Spring Digital Season are now on sale. Tickets are $30. One streaming ticket is good for one household to watch one production and tickets can be purchased at ardentheatre.org/springdigitalseason or by calling the theatre at 215.922.1122.