To Be Famous, or Philly-Famous? That Is the Question

One of the best things about being a reviewer is watching new talent grow. The worst? Losing them. Every once in a while an actor comes along who makes you think, "Okay, I'll be watching him/her a whole lot over the next few years--if they stay." As every regional theater hub besides, maybe, Chicago can attest (and probably Chicago too), that's the problem with not being New York or L.A. 

If you ask some of the fine actors who have made Philly their home why they stayed, they all give the same reasons: there's enough quality work to be had, and they can buy a house and raise a family here on an actor's pay. Not too shabby.

But who can blame the ones that go? Actors don't get into this because they have dreams of becoming Philly-famous. There are some exciting new faces in Philadelphia theater this year--as local drama schools have been turning out top shelf talent at a rate I haven't seen before--but since raising a family and buying an affordable house probably isn't at the top of their list of priorities just yet, who knows if they plan to stick around?

I, for one, will cross my fingers and hope that if they leave, they don't drown in the CSI franchise's lower depths. And if they stay? Well, Fishtown and the Italian Market are a whole lot cheaper than Brooklyn, a Barrymore is a lot more accessible than a Tony, and If you take SEPTA to Trenton and pick up NJ Transit, it's like, what, 20 bucks total to get to Penn Station? I'm just saying.

This season, there have been a couple of young'uns who made my job really, really easy. Here's one of them in my review of Magnetic North from Monday's Inquirer
October 29, 2008 8:59 AM | | Comments (6)


Well, well, well Mr. Chelmsford, look who put on his pretentious panties this morning.

I got the feeling people looted more out of a sense of obligation than commitment. Really, not such a bad night, all things considered.

'Verum usque in praesentem diem multa garriunt inter se Canonici de abscondito quodam istius Abbatis Thomae thesauro, quem saepe, quanquam adhuc incassum

Was on Broad Street today and saw the boarded-up windows in the wake of the Phillies win. Yipes. Not on a level with the Astor Place riot, of course. Not that that's something to aspire to ...

That's a great observation, and certainly true of many of Chicago's massively talented success stories. Here in Philly we haven't been quite as lucky in getting our out-of-town successes back on a regular basis. However, Philly theater hasn't been this vibrant since the Barrymore era, so maybe things are changing. After all, if the Phils can win the World Series, I'm willing to believe just about anything.

It's just in the nature of things that talent will tend to go where it gets paid the most. But don't be too concerned if they get caught in CSI. As it happens, CSI was partially the brainchild of its star, William Petersen, who has left the show to return to Chicago much enriched. He will do two plays there this season and support the companies that gave him his first work when he was a kid. Sometimes (often) the TV stars return to the theatre, bringing their TV fans with them, bringing in new audiences, some of whom discover they actually like the theatre.

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