EARLY WORD: Whore And Piece

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PW: It started on a dare. A totally absurd-sounding dare. “Henry IV: The Musical,” he said to me. “Uh, sure,” I replied, assuming that the idea would disappear within minutes. I’d heard a lot of Ben Kamine’s harebrained schemes years earlier when we were undergrads together at Penn—the kind related from a college freshman at 3 in the morning, the hour when college freshmen believe they have all their most brilliant ideas. “I’ll direct it,” Kamine said. “You’ll write the music. We’ll do it in the Philly Fringe. It’ll be amazing.” The idea was preposterous for any number of reasons: I’d barely ever written any music, let alone a musical. He lived in New York, I in Philly. And the Philly Fringe was just eight months away. But Philly’s isn’t just any fringe fest. As long as you find yourself a venue and pay the very nominal entry fees, you can put on a show in the festival. Got a hankering to do a dramatic reading of the 1929 Philadelphia White Pages while dressed up like Angela Lansbury? Perfect. Think someone will come see you dance the hucklebuck in the Waterworks fountain behind the Art Museum? Start sloshing. Feel a need to strip naked and pantomime the collected congressional testimonies of Bob Brady? Great—shows with nudity tend to do especially well in the festival. All of which is to say that most Philadelphians—yourself included—are much, much closer to being able to put on a Fringe show than they think. I certainly was. And now the Philly Fringe starts this week, with hundreds of shows on tap—including one by my friends and me called Wars & Whores , a musical version of William Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part I . As I got to learn firsthand, getting a show up in the Fringe isn’t just doable—it’s almost too easy. MORE

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