Today is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.

—Brad Paisley

That shouldn’t be hard for this week’s Portrait — Eric Singel and his alter ego, astrologer Starzina Starfish-Browne.

A versatile writer, actor, comedian and producer, Singel has performed everything from roles in serious shows like “The Crucible” and “Torch Song Trilogy” to the totally zany work of sketch comedy.

The first time I saw the Mummers was of all places on a tennis court. It was when I first moved to Philadelphia and my parents took me to see the Philadelphia Freedoms tennis team. During a change-over, several large men wearing bright clothing covered in sparkles and feathers playing banjos strode onto the tennis court doing some kind of strut. My jaw dropped to the floor as I stammered, “What on earth is that?” Someone looked at me in disbelief and shushed me by saying, “They’re Mummers!”

“Applause? I’d love some!” That’s the way this week’s Portrait, Eric Jaffe, starts his monthly cabaret, “The Eric Jaffe Show.” In addition to his regular performances, the multi-talented Jaffe can soon be seen for one night only in “Oy, to the World,” a dance party for “people of Jewish faith and their allies.” The event will include music by DJ Carl Michaels, comedy and live performances starring Jaffe, the fabulous Brittany Lynn, Satine Harlow and Alexis Michelle from “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” 

Around Christmas, I turn into one of those annoying people who thinks everything is a little better just because it’s holiday time. But for a lot of people, this time of year can lead to depression and isolation. This week’s profile knows the pain of those dark days and now spends a good deal of his time helping others. He poured his story out in his autobiography, “Happiness.”

’Tis the season to be jolly. I don’t know about you, but I love the sounds and smells of the season. I get excited the first time I see the twinkling lights go up at Dilworth Plaza and as I walk through the Christmas Village. Catching the “Charlie Brown” soundtrack as I flip through the dials also gets me in the spirit.

I even get a few flutters seeing the promos for the Nutcracker at the Academy of Music. It’s become a yearly tradition to start the season by watching the amazing dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet fly through the air with their annual spectacular performance. I’ve had the pleasure to profile many of them here in this column. This year I got some fun inside information from the ballet’s company manager, Emily Pratt.

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