When hearing the name Tony Braithwaite, one associates his name with comedy. Braithwaite is one of the smartest and wittiest comics in the Philadelphia area. Every time I have seen Braithwaite perform he is full of energy, humor and a lot of heart. He is definitely one of the funniest people I have had the pleasure of seeing in the Philadelphia area. This weekend Braithwaite will be performing at the Arden Theatre as part of their cabaret series. The cabaret series at the Arden Theatre is a wonderful way to see amazing Philadelphia artists at a venue in which audience members can get up close and personal with their favorite artists and experience the authentic person behind the performer. Braithwaite’s cabaret is sure to be a treat and is being held this weekend, Friday, June 17 and Saturday, June 18, 2016 at 8pm in the Hamilton Family Arts Center.
Tony Braithwaite is a well-known name in Philadelphia. He has been seen on numerous stages throughout the area such as 1812 Productions, Act II Playhouse, Delaware Theatre Company and the Arden Theatre. In addition, Braithwaite is the Artistic Director of Act II Playhouse as well as the Director of Dramatics at his beloved alma mater, St. Joseph's Prep. I had the pleasure of speaking with Braithwaite about his upcoming cabaret, what audiences can expect, what inspires him and his thoughts on live theatre.
Kelli Curtin: Could you tell me a little about your cabaret? What can audiences look forward to?
Tony Braithwaite: The cabaret at the Arden will be a comedic cabaret. Audiences can expect to see me doing some storytelling, standup comedy and a few songs. Although, there will definitely be more comedy in this particular cabaret than singing.
Kelli: Where do you find your inspiration for the material you are using for your cabaret?
Tony: Personally, I find my inspiration in styles. I find it in people like Martin Short, Johnny Carson and Billy Crystal, and people similar to this vein of comedy. Additionally, I would add John Oliver, Stephen Colbert and James Corden, especially his “Carpool Karaoke” to this list. Watching these individuals informs how I do things.
Where I find my inspiration for my material is in real life. Teaching religion and sex education at St. Joseph’s Prep for twelve years is the best thing I did for my comedy career. The teens I taught kept me on my toes for years, and it sharpened my improv skills. When I get a laugh from a crowd, especially the kids I taught, it feels like I have a homerun.
Kelli: What do you like about performing in a cabaret setting?
Tony: There is an immediate and intimate connection with the audience that I enjoy in this type of setting. Also, this connection with the audience gives me the ability to ad lib and go off the cuff. The cabaret setting is one degree removed from pure stand-up comedy, but it is classier. Doing a comedy in a cabaret setting feels closer to the nightclub comics of the 1950s and 60s instead of the Laugh Factory or The Comedy Store of the 1980s and 90s.
Kelli: What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing your cabaret?
Tony: First and foremost I hope they come away with having a fun evening. Also, I hope it is a reminder of the power and joy of seeing a live performance. I think people will come away with a couple of good stories and one liners that they can repeat the next day. I want people to have a good time while seeing this cabaret at the Arden.
Kelli: Why is the Arden’s Cabaret Series an important addition to the theatre scene in Philly?
Tony: Variety is the spice of life, and the Arden’s Cabaret Series expands options in the best of ways for audiences and performers. It gives the audiences a chance to see something different and it gives the artists a different place to perform. The Arden has a varied resume, they have two spaces and a vibrant children’s theatre. The Arden does well in providing audiences a variety of options of live theatre.
Kelli: Why, in your opinion, is live theatre important?
Tony: Theatre has its origins in religion. For kind of the same reason, theatre is important as religion; there is something powerful and life affirming about people sharing a common experience. In live theatre, people are allowed to come together in a room and over the course of an evening collectively experience the sense of being human.
Tony Braithwaite’s cabaret at the Arden theatre is June 17 and 18, 2016 at 8pm in the Arden’s Hamilton Family Arts Center at 62 N. 2nd Street in Old City, Philadelphia. For more information and tickets visit their website at www.ardentheatre.org or call the box office at 215-922-1122.
Photo 1: Courtesy of Act II Playhouse
Photo 2: Courtesy of The Summer Club. Photo credit: Frank Scott