1812 Productions kicks off 2019 with a red curtain comedy revue Broads, curated by Jennifer Childs and starring Joilet Harris, Mary Elizabeth Scallen, and Jess Conda. From Mae West to Moms Mabley and more, Broads features classic and original material and celebrates the bawdiest, brashest, and funniest ladies from the 1920s through the 1960s. Broads will play for 10 performances only from February 13 thru February 24, 2019. Tickets are $35.
The legacy of women in comedy has been a favorite theme throughout 1812’s history, starting in 2004 with an original two-hander, Always a Lady, that featured a variety of classic material from female performers of the early 20th century. Since then, 1812 has celebrated the works of The Cherry Sisters, in the original musical Cherry Comb, Joan Rivers, and Phyllis Diller in sold-out special events. Broads continues this tradition with material from Ida Cox (The Uncrowned Queen of the Blues), Trixie Friganza (Vaudevillian and suffragette), Belle Barth and Pearl Williams (The Red Hot Mamas), and music from Bessie Smith, Ruth Wallis, Rusty Warren (Bounce Your Boobies, It’s Great to be a Broad), and many more.
“While choosing material for this show, a theme that quickly became apparent was ‘being unafraid.'” says the show’s curator and director, Jennifer Childs. “These women were telling stories that men could laugh at because they were sensational, and that women could laugh at because they were, however outrageous, true—and they were risking career and reputation to do it. They were taking control of their material, being risqué, speaking their minds, and making the kind of comedy they wanted to make.” She continues, “Something that has made this process really special, given the new women’s movement that America is embarking on, is listening to material from performers like Sophie Tucker, Belle Barth, or Fanny Brice, and hearing the connections between their styles and comedians like Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, or Tiffany Haddish. There are these amazing comedy threads that are as hysterical today as they were 70 years ago. As somebody once said, ‘Everyone has a little Mae West in them.'”
Broads features Philadelphia performers Jess Conda, Joilet Harris, and Mary Elizabeth Scallen. All are Barrymore Award-nominated performers and all are making their 1812 Productions debuts in Broads. Ms. Harris has given powerhouse performances in plays, musicals, and cabarets across the region for more than 35 years. Ms. Scallen has been a resident performer at People’s Light in Malvern for the past 28 years. Ms. Conda is a veteran of Philadelphia’s burlesque and cabaret communities, performing with Martha Graham Cracker, Bearded Ladies, and Peek-A-Boo Revue. Ms. Scallen says, “Times may change but a broad’s ‘job’ remains the same; to remind the people around her which game they’re actually playing, who’s winning, who’s losing, and what’s really at stake. Mae West and Moms Mabley and Sophie Tucker, all the broads that came before them, and all the broads that have come after them, continue to violate taboos, break conventions, and highlight hypocrisies. They expose more authentic ways to live in a complex world. Broads help us find our way back to our truest, bravest, frankest selves—and show us how to have a good time along the way.”
Broads is part of the second annual Philly Theatre Week, an initiative of Theater Philadelphia. This region-wide celebration features over 100 unique events from February 7 thru February 17. Information about this and other Philly Theatre Week events can be found at www.phillytheatreweek.com.
Broads will play at Plays & Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Place in Center City from February 13 thru February 24. Press Opening will be Thursday, February 14 at 8:00pm.Tickets and information can be found at www.1812productions.org.