How easy is it for frequent collaborators to get sick of each other? Artistic partners are like marrieds, right, ready to fight or fuck at a moment's notice? In the case of expatriate Philadelphia playwright/composer Michael Ogborn and Arden Theater co-founder and artistic director Terrence J. Nolen, all is truly ducky — especially when you consider that the Ogborn-written, Nolen-directed Tulipomania: The Musical, which premieres at the Arden this week, is the pair's third collaboration. Ogborn, currently readying Baby Case for the New York Musical Festival in July, recalls his first meeting with Nolen as a sing-song-y one: "Sitting next to him on the piano bench, playing any song for him. ... He was as excited as I am about musicals and could instantly see what I was: a kindred spirit and a smart one." Audiences have grown with Ogborn — he's been producing original work in Philly since 1982 — and are willing to follow. That's why he premieres new pieces here: "I know who I am here." The first time playwright and Arden associate Michael Hollinger mentioned the title Tulipomania, Ogborn says, "I saw the play in my head — not fully formed, but the mood and tone were immediate. It was a topic I could spend years exploring and still discover new things." That topic is Holland's tulip craze of the 1630s, the world's first recorded economic bubble — it tracks strangely well onto Wall Street speculation of the modern era. As for getting sick of Nolen or the Arden as his Philly-theater wife, Ogborn laughs, "I think your question should be: Is Terry sick of me? So far we've got three kids — Baby Case, Café Puttanesca and now Tulipomania . ... It's like childbirth, I hear: The pain is forgotten once the baby arrives."
While biking hipsters with a yen for BBQ and craft brews converge on Morgan's Pier, Four Corners Management's now-ancient acquisition of six weeks ago, Ortlieb's Lounge, is undergoing major changes. Gone are the comedy nights and most DJ events: It'll be live-and-local with bookings courtesy Jimbo from R5 Productions to go with Tuesday's jazz jam, Wednesday's funk and Slo-n-Shakey's Thursday blues bash. "Hopefully, those nights will stay scheduled forever," says FCM's Mark Fichera.
Blondell Reynolds Brown — Twitter enthusiast, ex-dancer, proponent of all-night bars — hosts her Old School Dance Party June 1 at the African American Museum. Bet she'll have a fresher rap than Nutter.
Newly minted Philadelphian John Wesley Harding just got an NPR slot for his monthly live mix of comics, musicians and novelists, Cabinet of Wonders. The six-episode show will air on WXPN starting this Tuesday at 8 p.m. More info at cabinetofwonders.npr.org.
On other sites, other wonders: More ice at Critical Mass.