As part of their 40th anniversary season celebration, Philadelphia Theatre Company launched a new Theatre Masters Series. This series is a three-part event that celebrates major theatre artists who the Philadelphia Theatre Company has worked with in the past. The first in this series was with Bill Irwin, the second was an onstage interview with Billy Porter, and the last in this series will be with Anna Deavere Smith. I had the opportunity to see the second in this series, a live interview with Billy Porter, and this evening highlighted Mr. Porter’s career and his passion for the Arts.
For those who have never attended an event like this, the Master Series at the Philadelphia Theatre Company is a live interview, which highlights the career of the artist. In the interview with Billy Porter he spoke about his career, where he finds his inspiration and working with Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper. In order for an event like this to work, the interviewer must engage with the artist as well as keep the audiences’ attention. Luckily, John Kenrick has an extensive resume and a true interest in the Arts, especially theatre, so this particular conversation flowed easily and was very engaging.
Kenrick described Billy Porter as “bigger than life.” Porter has an extremely successful career as an actor where his credits range from Grease to Angels in America to Kinky Boots as well as a recording artist, playwright, composer and director. He is a force, who also exhibits elements of genuineness and kindness that people truly respect. Throughout the evening, Porter’s answers were honest and sincere, as well as full of personality. Porter was purely honest when he explained why he had to extract himself from the persona people saw of him after Grease. He said, “I am a human being, and a human with a story and I have a story to tell.” Porter wanted to convey that as grateful as he is for being cast in Grease as Teen Angel, he also wanted to play roles that have meaning for him such as Belize in Angels in America and Lola in Kinky Boots. He stated, “My talent is a gift,” and he wants to respect that gift. Throughout the evening Porter gave fervent answers, but also heartfelt and honest answers that depicted to the audience the engaging story of his life and career.
The next evening in the Theatre Masters series is with Anna Deavere Smith on May 11, 2015. For more information on this series please visit Philadelphia Theatre Company’s website philatheatreco.org or call the box office at 215.985.0420. For more information about Billy Porter, visit his website at billyporter.com.
Kelli Curtin is editor and writer for theatresensation.com. In addition, she is a contributor for the online site broadwayworld.com. Kelli is excited to share her passion about theatre and the Arts with her readers. Kelli can be found on twitter @theatrescribe and on Facebook/theatresensation.
Photos courtesy of Philadelphia Theatre Company