Arts

 If only Ondi Timoner’s ambitious biopic, “Mapplethorpe,” was as stimulating as the titular artist’s work.

This disappointing film, opening March 8 at Landmark’s Ritz at the Bourse, never quite captures his essence. There is more feeling and emotion in his images of calla lilies and penises — images graciously loaned from the artist’s foundation, and prominently featured throughout the film — than there is in the actual drama that unfolds.

 

When it comes to musical theater with a huge vocal presence, if you’re calling in Michael LaFleur, you must mean business.

The out, live-show theater specialist behind razzle-dazzling large-scale showcases for Disney and Universal theme parks, as well as individual shows for Celine Dion and Sarah Brightman, knows how to transform something intimate into something with wide-scale appeal. He also understands the intricacies of dealing with divas.

To most audiences, LGBTQ or otherwise, long-haired Jonathan Van Ness is an out, style/social-consciousness icon whose talents as a hairdresser and tonsorial-grooming expert on the Netflix series “Queer Eye” — the surprisingly poignant reboot of the Bravo network’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” — are only surpassed by his instincts regarding magnanimity and public spirit. 

Perhaps it is that very same intuition that makes him a dynamic podcaster (à la “Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness”) and universally loved stand-up comedian who came for his first comedy gig in Philadelphia at Upper Darby’s Tower Theatre on Thursday, Feb. 28.

James Ijames is exhausted, and rightly so. 

“If I’m going to do something, I’m putting my heart and soul into it,” he said.

Fatigue is part of the equation of being in theater, and the out Philadelphia performer and playwright understands it all too well as he wraps up one project and gets another underway.

As his play “Youth” completes its run at Villanova University (where he’s also an assistant professor of theater), Ijames has been rehearsing actors at the Arden Theatre Company for his adaptation of August Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean.”

With this week’s start of the Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition “Long Light | Photographs by David Lebe,” the out, New York-to-Philadelphia transplant puts all of his starkly experimental work and its diverse subject matter into one bushel, shakes it up and comes up with this sobering survey. 

Find us on Facebook
Follow Us
Find Us on YouTube
Find Us on Instagram
Sign Up for Our Newsletter