Fall in Philadelphia brings a fresh flurry of locally designed haute fashion, crunchy local apples and bright orange pumpkins, restaurant menu refreshes, fall street festivals and — last but not least — the kick-off of a new performing arts season.
With the successful run of another Philadelphia Fringe Festival ushering local theatergoers out of summer performing arts season, Philadelphia audiences are primed for three months of genius from thespians, dancers and musicians this fall.
Below, we’ve compiled our top picks for fall performing arts in Philadelphia, a primer for seasoned ticket-holders and the uninitiated alike.
• Philadelphia Theatre Company: Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad Street. This season brings five captivating theatrical stage productions from Philadelphia Theatre Company, starting with the Philadelphia premiere of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize-nominated play 4000 Miles by Amy Herzog, running October 11 to November 10. A moving play, 4000 Miles won the OBIE Award for Best New Play in 2012 and was named the number one play of 2012 by Time Magazine.
• The Wilma Theater: 265 S. Broad Street. Known for producing progressive, boundary-pushing theater, The Wilma is set to mount an edgy season, beginning with The Convert. Taking the Avenue of the Arts stage October 9 to November 10, this work is from another Obie Award-winning playwright, Danai Gurira, and takes audiences on a complex journey through post-colonial Southern Africa.
• Arden Theatre Company: Arden Theatre, 40 N. 2nd Street. In Old City, the ever-expanding repertoire of the Arden Theatre Company will engage a wide range of audiences this fall with the powerful musical Parade, on the main stage from September 26 to November 3, followed by a Tony Award-nominated comedy, Stick Fly, on the Arcadia stage October 24 to December 22.
• Walnut Street Theatre: 825 Walnut Street. At the Walnut Street Theatre, which is America’s oldest theater and in its 205th season, kicks off its 2013 season with the blockbuster Broadway musical In the Heights, New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood, on stage through October 20.
• Broadway Philadelphia: Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad Street. The hottest Broadway shows can be seen with ease in Philadelphia, thanks to the touring performances of the Kimmel affiliated Broadway Philadelphia series. A host of more than a dozen shows will make stops at Philadelphia theaters, starting with the Tony Award-winning show Once, which takes the Academy of Music stage October 29 through November 10. Later this season, look out for Flashdance the Musical in November, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess and Mamma Mia in February, and The Book of Mormon next summer.
• Kimmel Center Presents: Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, 300 S. Broad Street. In addition to the Kimmel Center’s housing of incredible resident companies, the center also hosts touring performers in its Kimmel Center Presents series, including comedienne Lisa Lampanelli in the Innovation Studio, October 10-27.
• Lantern Theater Company: St. Stephen’s Theater, 10th and Ludlow Streets. Celebrating its 20th anniversary season in 2013-2014, the Lantern Theater Company stays true to its mission to produce diverse, engaging works. From September 19 to October 27, the words of British novelist Jane Austen come to life on stage in a production of Emma. Then, October 11-15, Austen’s canon is further explored with performances, discussions, readings, demonstrations and experiential events during Regency & Revelry: The Jane Austen Festival.
• 1812 Productions: Plays & Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Street. Philadelphia’s all-comedy theater company, 1812 Productions, kicks off what promises to be another hilarious season with Bunny Bunny playwright Alan Zweibel’s comedy about his relationship with Saturday Night Live star Gilda Radner. Playing from September 19 through October 27, Bunny Bunny is no stranger to Philadelphia — the show had its world premiere right here in 1997 with Philadelphia Theatre Company.
• Pennsylvania Ballet: Academy of Music, Broad and Locust streets. Celebrating 50 years of performing this year, Pennsylvania Ballet starts off its 2013-2014 season with an anniversary gift to the city. On October 20, the company will perform a free show of highlights from the past 50 years in a matinee at the Academy of Music. The performance will be filmed by WHYY in preparation for a national broadcast about Pennsylvania Ballet on PBS. Additionally, look for George Balanchine’s Jewels to come to the Academy stage October 17 to 27.
• BalletX: The Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad Street. BalletX, Philadelphia’s intensely innovative and adventurous ballet company, is gearing up for an exciting Fall Series, November 20-24, with three premiere performances from three talented choreographers.
• Philadanco: Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine Street. On October 5, Philadelphia’s own Philadanco showcases its up-and-coming talents with ‘Danco on ‘Danco, a show of its dance apprentice companies.
Many more performing arts picks, below.
• The Philadelphia Orchestra: Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, 300 S. Broad Street. Superstar conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin kicks off his highly anticipated second season leading the The Philadelphia Orchestra with an all-Tchaikovsky program on September 25, a prelude to the all-Tchaikovsky celebration scheduled for January. Fans will be enchanted by the orchestra’s presentation of Marche Slave, Romeo and Juliet and Anne-Sophie Mutter’s interpretation of Violin Concerto.
• The Philly POPS: Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, 300 S. Broad Street. The Philly POPS debut its 35th season October 11-13 with a lively program and a new conductor at the baton. Now led by Maestro Michael Krajewski, the nation’s largest stand-alone POPS orchestra delivers a Columbus weekend salute to the city’s Italian connections in Viva Philadelphia!, featuring tributes to Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Andrea Bocelli and Philly’s own Mario Lanza, with special guests Eddie Bruce, “Poperazzi” Vocal Trio and The POPS Festival Chorus.
• The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia: Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, 300 S. Broad Street. Conductor Dirk Brossé and piano phenom HJ Lim will join their considerable talents with the The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia for the first concert of the season, September 15-16. On the bill are Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Overture, with works from Beethoven rounding out the program.
• Philadelphia Chamber Music Society: Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, 300 S. Broad Street. With more than 60 chamber music concerts, instrumental and vocal recitals, jazz and special programs, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society offers a roster jam packed with performances by nationally and internationally known guest artists. The season launch on October 18 features the renowned Emerson Quartet, and as with most PCMS concerts, tickets are only $24.
• Curtis Institute of Music: Curtis Institute of Music, 1726 Locust Street. Known as one of the world’s great classical music training programs, the Curtis Institute of Music gives music aficionados a sneak preview of the stars of tomorrow during the Curtis Symphony Orchestra’s performance series. Alumnus Michael Stern and Kensho Watanabe conduct the student orchestra’s season opener, which includes Strauss’ Dance of the Seven Veils, Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances and Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps (The Rites of Spring) on October 20.
• Opera Philadelphia: Academy of Music, Broad and Locust streets. Opera Philadelphia adds a twist to its production of Nabucco, the story of Zaccaria and the Jews, King Nebuchadnezzer and his vengeful daughter Abigaille. As the classical story unfolds on stage September 27, 19th-century opera-goers join the modern-day audience for an opera within an opera. Fans who can’t attend the opening night performance at the Academy of Music can catch it for free during an alfresco replay the following evening, September 28, on the lawn of Independence National Historical Park, which is free, but is registration required.
• Academy of Vocal Arts: Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, 300 S. Broad Street. Opera lovers can get a glimpse into the future headliners on the world’s great opera stages when the Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA) hosts the Giargiari Bel Canto Competition on October 4. The high-stakes competition leads off the season of fully staged operas with the orchestra, one semi-staged opera with piano accompaniment, and a concert series of sacred music presented by the AVA featuring AVA students, who represent some of the most talented singers in the world.
• Curtis Opera Theatre: Curtis Black Box Studio, 1726 Locust Street. Featuring performances by some of the world’s most talented aspiring opera singers, the Curtis Opera Theatre season gets underway October 10-13 with Viktor Ullman’s Der Kaiser von Atlantis (The Emperor of Atlantis) for an evening of intimate drama.