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Local arts events feel it when the Phillies are hot

Friday, October 8th, 2010

The Phillies’ dazzling performance in the opening game of the playoffs makes them a formidable challenge, but not just to other baseball teams. Other cultural events in Philadelphia will be competing with the team for audience. The lively arts in particular are digging in for a fight.

When Phillies Fever strikes, it infects everybody. At Johnny Brenda’s, a Fishtown bar that has become a Mecca for indie rock bands, co-owner William Reed advises out-of-town managers to reschedule their acts away from game days. But he says many just don’t get it.

“The bands didn’t really believe that a sports team was going to affect live music – especially an indie band,” he says. “They didn’t think there was going to be a lot of crossover.”

Some theaters try to accommodate baseball fans. The Arden Theater on Second Street opened their production of the Threepenny Opera the same night as the post-season opener. During intermission the artistic director stepped on stage to announce the Phillies won a no-hitter, to grateful applause.

Sean Kelley, the program director of the Eastern State Penitentiary, says the Phillies are both a blessing and a curse. Their success may drain some local patrols, but the national focus on Philadelphia bolsters his haunted house.

“People who are focusing on Philadelphia because of the Phillies were also noticing this flagship haunted house with a national reputation,” he says.

On the other hand, if you’re an arts fan who doesn’t care about baseball, tickets to local performances might be easier to catch.

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