Arts

In Michael Engler’s feature film debut, two completely different women leave Kansas for New York City, creating a bond that fosters personal transformations. 

Out director Engler has helmed episodes of some of the best-loved TV series in recent years including “Downton Abbey,” “Empire,” “30 Rock,” “Sex and the City” and “Six Feet Under.” His first venture into film is “The Chaperone,” a 1920s coming-of-middle-age story with a queer twist. 

Members of the Pennsylvania Ballet and additional local dance companies raised $157,000 (and counting) for the nonprofit organization that delivers meals to those with life-threatening illnesses.

The PA Ballet’s iconic annual event ­­— in its 27th year — took the stage of the Forrest Theatre on April 13.

The performers again put on an eclectic and anticipated show, all for the benefit of MANNA (Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance), whose nearly 7,000 volunteers provide often-lifesaving nourishment to more than 1,200 clients faced with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other debilitating illnesses.

 When classmates ostracize 17-year-old Roy Black for kissing the high-school quarterback, he changes his identity to Rose, doling out life lessons.

“The characters are high-school kids. They are all lost and confused,” explained Gianna Lozzi Wolf, artistic director and an actor in “Mirror Mirror,” a new stage production in South Philadelphia that juxtaposes fantasy and fairytale with reality.

“They know there is more to who they are and these surface values that are instilled in them by their families,” she added. “It’s interesting to watch the ways they all struggle.”

“Wild Nights with Emily,” opening April 19 at the Landmark Ritz at the Bourse, is a comic look at the relationship between reclusive poet Emily Dickinson (Molly Shannon) and her lover and sister-in-law, Susan (Susan Ziegler), in 1860 Amherst.

The film opens with the two women kissing courteously before embracing far more passionately. Lesbian writer/director Madeleine Olnek — adapting her play — has an agenda to debunk the myth that Dickinson was (as an end title card indicates) “a half-cracked, unloved recluse who was afraid to publish her work.”

In working from this revisionist approach to Dickinson, Olnek’s PG-13 film is deliberately more mild than wild. But it does show Emily’s love affairs as well as her frustrations about not being able to achieve great(er) success as a poet in her lifetime.

 Koresh Dance Company is looking to the world of fine arts for inspiration.

Thus, the world premiere of its production, “La Danse,” is an interpretation of Matisse’s masterpiece of the same name. It will be performed to an original musical composition by John Levis with poetry by Karl Mullen.

Roni Koresh, the company’s artistic director, said the iconic image of five nude dancers was always around — but when he began focusing on it, he found it inspiring.

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