Both after leaving the bathroom before the show and sitting in my third-row seat as the curtain opened, I eyed the tiny, graying lady sitting to the right and chatting with Havel, the revolutionary who was on hand to watch the premiere. Both times I gave second glances. The first time, I just thought I recognized her and dismissed it as some Philadelphia notable.
The second time, my guess was clear: that woman was the first female Secretary of State and President Bill Clinton top adviser. I dismissed it again — no security, no commotion, no press. Turns out I was right, and, boy, that has to mean something for the future of news, doesn’t it?
A tidy and frail little old man asked me to direct him to the coat rack. To walk him around the corner from the long and elegant main corridor of the nearly 150-year-old Union League of Philadelphia was my first deed.
If nothing else, it made for interesting conversation when I made it to the elaborate second-floor President’s Ballroom, featuring thirty foot ceilings, a spectacular chandelier and portraits of dour looking old white men. For an half-hour or so after 5:30 p.m., I handled a rum and coke and ambled about the pre-event cocktail reception of the Sunday Breakfast Club, a not-quite cloak-and-dagger, invitation-only private society for organization executives.
Perhaps nearly 200 members and guests of the seven decades young group patronized the open bar, chatted and nibbled appetizers. I did the same, more than a handful of times being approached by some degree of interest in the 20-something with a broken brown belt with black shoes.
No ma’am, I’m not lost. I’m on the panel to which you’re here to pay audience.
On Valentine’s Day, Pennsylvania Ballet staff members stood in the Merriam Theater’s lobby handing out coasters that bore what might have seemed a strange suggestion coming from an arts organization: Go to our YouTube channel.
What the mostly graying matinee audience made of the invitation to an online video-sharing site is unclear. What is clear is that the Pennsylvania Ballet is not alone in lusting after online social-network users.
The Kimmel Center has a Flickr photostream. The Curtis Institute of Music is on LinkedIn. The Arden Theatre and the Franklin Institute use Twitter. The Philadelphia Orchestra has a MySpace page.
The Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, the Opera Company of Philadelphia, and just about every other arts organization in the city has a Facebook page. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has an RSS feed of its exhibitions on its Web site, and the Academy of Natural Sciences shares exhibit-construction videos.
The Philadelphia fine-arts scene has gone viral, and no one is hiding the reason.