35 episodes

Explorations of plays, performers & the society surrounding them - in one fascinating city

Adventures in Theater History: Philadelphia Peter Schmitz, Christopher Mark Colucci

    • History
    • 4.9 • 9 Ratings

Explorations of plays, performers & the society surrounding them - in one fascinating city

    The Paul Robeson House

    The Paul Robeson House

    This special episode of the podcast goes on a journey to the Paul Robeson House and Museum in Philadelphia. Included is an interview with Janice Sykes-Ross of the West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and a recording of a live tour of the Paul Robeson House with docent Terry Fimiano Guerin.

    For a blog post on our website with additional information, images, and links, go to:
    https://www.aithpodcast.com/blog/the-house-i-live-in/

    The website for the Paul Robeson House and Museum, where you can learn more about its history and the story of Paul Robeson, and how to arrange your own tour, is here.

    A beautiful video on YouTube, that we mention in the episode, tells the story of Paul Robeson, the West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and its founder Frances P. Aulston, and the house where he spent the last 10 years of his life. It was created in conjunction with Scribe Video Center's "Precious Places Community History Project" in Philadelphia.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9TDPvXHeeY

    By the way, there are some mysteries about the Paul Robeson House! Check here for some small problems the staff has encountered recently identifying the provenance or location of certain items.

    The WCPA is a 501c3 non-profit organization, information about how to make donations to their important work can be found here.


    If you enjoyed the show, PLEASE LEAVE US A REVIEW! You can do it easily, right here:
    https://www.aithpodcast.com/reviews/

    If you have any questions, inquiries or additional comments, you can write us at our email address: AITHpodcast@gmail.com

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    • 56 min
    "Good Night Sweet Prince: John Barrymore Comes Home" - Special Episode

    "Good Night Sweet Prince: John Barrymore Comes Home" - Special Episode

    Like the ghost of Hamlet's father, John Barrymore wouldn't stay still and  kept showing up! A chapter about Philadelphia's most famous acting family, from Wicked Philadelphia, a book by Thomas H. Keels

    Wicked Philadelphia: Sin in the City of Brotherly Love by Thomas Keels, is available on Amazon.com. Please visit Tom's website, www.thomaskeels.com, for more information on his other books and upcoming talks and lectures.

    For blog post with images and more thoughts about this topic, go to:
    https://www.aithpodcast.com/blog/alas-poor-yorick/

    To find out more about Mount Vernon Cemetery in North Philadelphia:
    https://www.mountvernoncemetery.org/

    If you enjoyed the show, PLEASE LEAVE US A REVIEW! You can do it easily, right here:
    https://www.aithpodcast.com/reviews/

    If you have any questions, inquiries or additional comments, you can write us at our email address: AITHpodcast@gmail.com

    Or, follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/schmeterpitz
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AITHpodcast
    To become a Patreon Patron of the podcast: https://www.patreon.com/AITHpodcast

    Video of 1963 Orson Welles interview, followed by Barrymore doing Hamlet in 1933:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2jWx4IqgEM

    • 32 min
    Life & Death in the Theater: More 19th Century Stories

    Life & Death in the Theater: More 19th Century Stories

    As an addendum to Season One, here are six more stories of 19th C. Philadelphia theater. We discuss Alexander Reinagle, Joseph Jefferson III, James Murdoch, Matilda Heron, John McCullough - as well as two stagehands at the Walnut Street Theater you likely never heard of before, but may never forget!

    To see images and more information about today's subjects, see the blog post on our podcast's web page:
    https://www.aithpodcast.com/blog/back-to-the-19th-century/

    If you enjoyed the show, PLEASE LEAVE US A REVIEW! You can do it easily, right here:
    https://www.aithpodcast.com/reviews/

    If you have any questions, inquiries or additional comments, you can write us at our email address: AITHpodcast.com

    Or, follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/schmeterpitz
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AITHpodcast
    To become a Patreon Patron of the podcast: https://www.patreon.com/AITHpodcast

    For the music and recordings featured in today's episode (all found easily on YouTube)
    Alexander Reinagle
    "Six Scots Tunes" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meY6-Hkolxc
    "Baroque Americain" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyu811rSB5U
    "Philadelphia Sonata #1" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImEhQvsukJM
    "Federal March" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3I067IuWA8
    "Philadelphia Sonata #2" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3I067IuWA8
    "I Have a Silent Sorrow Here" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngVW6rKaWCc

    Joseph Jefferson
    "Jefferson and Liberty" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAOurpDRyPw&list=PLfw18z0BT49LCohEMD3kBcYcMm7LZgUN8
    "Jump Jim Crow" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8wg1vGucbs
    "Rip Van Winkle" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwiBdrOtGmA

    James E. Murdoch
    "Philadelphia Fireman's Cotillion https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9aw_JDlvXwc
    "Sospiri del Mio Cor" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1TbAwZv1R8&list=PLfw18z0BT49LCohEMD3kBcYcMm7LZgUN8&index=15

    Matilda Heron
    "Traditional Irish Music" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdxGhKbdjxU
    Chopin, Sonata #3 - Op.58, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cy3dmqrn3c&list=PLsiUDYPNEqx2yytIAxpTOrxWtKfByxg2z

    John McCullough
    Tchaikovsky, Music for Hamlet https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2le05k-6ls
    "The Ravings of John McCullough https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoCNprlhvmo

    Saint-Saëns, Danse Macabre https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhKna98GhI4

    • 1 hr 1 min
    Philadelphia's 'Negro Unit' of the Federal Theatre Project: A Conversation

    Philadelphia's 'Negro Unit' of the Federal Theatre Project: A Conversation

    An interview/conversation with Jonathan Shandell, the author of a January 2022 article in the journal Theater History Studies entitled "Caricatured, Marginalized, Betrayed".  The article examines the history of the Philadelphia "Negro Unit" of the Federal Theatre Project in the 1930s - specifically the history of three plays produced by the FTP at the Walnut Street Theatre.

    You can read more about Jonathan on his website: https://jonathan.shandell.us/home

    Also in the conversation in Jerrell Henderson, a  theater director, puppeteer and teacher currently living in Chicago. A native Philadelphian, he has devoted much time to studying and writing about musical theater, especially Black musical theater. He is the curator and creator of black_theatre-vinyl_archive on Instagram.  https://www.jerrell-henderson.com/

    For a blog post on our website, with images from the productions we discuss in the episode:
    https://www.aithpodcast.com/blog/jericho-one-third-of-a-nation-and-prelude-to-swing/

    If you enjoyed the show, PLEASE LEAVE US A REVIEW! You can do it easily, right here:
    https://www.aithpodcast.com/reviews/

    If you have any questions, inquiries or additional comments, you can write us at our email address: AITHpodcast@gmail.com

    Or, follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/schmeterpitz
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AITHpodcast
    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/AITHpodcast

    • 1 hr 4 min
    Interview: Mary B. Robinson

    Interview: Mary B. Robinson

    January 1990: The appointment of Mary B. Robinson as the new Artistic Director of the Philadelphia Drama Guild is announced, taking over from outgoing Artistic Director Gregory Poggi.
    Robinson's tenure at the Drama Guild was slated to begin in August of 1990, so she could move back to Philadelphia and start planning her first season. At a press conference, she stated that she planned to personally direct at least 3 of the 5 shows staged by the Drama Guild, whose current home was in the Zellerbach Theatre on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. . . . 
    In the fall of 2021, Mary Robinson sat down for a talk with Adventures in Theater History. It was also the first time she had sat down and really discussed her four-and-a-half year long tenure at the Drama Guild in since 1995. We also talked about the many shows she subsequently directed at the Philadelphia Theatre Company in years since. The first of a planned series of many interviews with historically important Philadelphia theater artists and scholars, we are proud to bring you this fascinating hour-long recorded conversation. Enjoy!

    For a blog post with some images of productions from Philadelphia Drama Guild in the 1990s, go to:  https://www.aithpodcast.com/blog/photos-of-mary-robinson-and-the-drama-guild/

    If you enjoyed the show, PLEASE LEAVE US A REVIEW! You can do it easily, right here:
    https://www.aithpodcast.com/reviews/

    If you have any questions, inquiries or additional comments, you can write us at our email address: AITHpodcast@gmail.com

    Or, follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/schmeterpitz
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AITHpodcast
    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/AITHpodcast

    • 1 hr 1 min
    The Best of Times

    The Best of Times

    From the 1876 Centennial Exposition to the end of the 19th Century, Philadelphia's experienced a boom in theater construction. New plays, musicals, operettas and vaudeville shows constantly cycled in and out of the city to fill these theaters. By the 1890s, one newspaperman estimated that on average each of Philadelphia's one million people saw five shows a year! It was the best of times.

    In this episode we do our best to describe this productive and significant, but mostly forgotten era of Philadelphia theater history. 

    Music in the episode is mostly from Evangeline; or, The Belle of Acadia an 1874 musical by Edward Rice.

    To see and hear more of this show, as it was recently played and produced in Portland, Maine, see this playlist on YouTube:
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzxddX3RlZft3pSnqdMzU43l4emFzE6TR

    A heartfelt thanks to Mr. Charles Kaufmann and the singers and orchestra of the Longfellow Chorus of Portland Maine, as well as the Charlotte Cushman Foundation of Philadelphia for their generous help, cooperation and support.

    Additional music is from "Fatinitza" and Debussy's "La Soiree dan Grenade", played by the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra.
    For images relating to the episode,  and additional information see our website's blog post and bibliography: https://www.aithpodcast.com/blog/the-best-of-times-blog-post-and-bibliography-for-episode-27/

    Want to know even more great stuff about Philly theater history and can't wait for the next episode? We post stories every day on our Facebook page and our Twitter feed. Follow us there for a daily dose of Philly theater!

    If you enjoyed the show, PLEASE LEAVE US A REVIEW! You can do it easily, right here:
    https://www.aithpodcast.com/reviews/

    If you have any questions, inquiries or additional comments, you can write us at our email address: AITHpodcast@gmail.com

    Or, follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/schmeterpitz
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AITHpodcast
    Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/AITHpodcast

    • 57 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
9 Ratings

9 Ratings

BobSinPhilly ,

Great fun!

Peter's narrations are such fun to listen to. They are like theater history told to you as a bedtime time story by your favorite uncle. They're more than just entertainment, though; they're informative and well researched. Bravo to Mr. Schmitz and his team.

sjmphila ,

Excellent content, very well-produced! Adventures in Theater History: Philadelphia

This is great, little-known content on the very rich history of theater in Philadelphia. The production is excellent: good pacing, great music and audio, pauses that let you rest for a moment, and the narration by host/actor Peter Schmitz is enthusiastic and fun. As a retired college librarian, I enjoy the emphasis on scholarship and research. The blog provides visuals, links, and sources so you can follow along or learn more. Really wonderful. #philadelphia #theater #theaterhistory #earlyamericantheater #philadelphiatheater #theaterpodcasts

SloanR5 ,

Love Me Some Peter Schmitz

Peter's voice is so soothing, and his excitement for the subject is evident. He goes into so much detail, and the show is highly informative. I am new to Philly and an avid theatre history fan, so I jumped into the podcast to get myself acquainted with the city from a different angle. I only gave 4 stars instead of 5 because, honestly, often the podcast feels too quiet, and I have to turn the volume on my device up way past what I would for any other podcasts, videos, music, or phone calls. I'm going on the inaugural AiTH:P Walking Tour this month, and I am so excited to meet the man of many voices himself!

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