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BPT’s Featured Venue: Connie’s Ric Rac

21 Apr

Wanna hear a great story? It’s about the Tartaglia family from South Philly. For years the father, Joe Tartaglia Sr. worked a stand on 9th and Ellsworth with his sons, Joe Jr. and Frankie, selling everything from Kung Fu movies to Fixodent toothpaste.

The mom, Connie, meanwhile ran a discount electronic appliance shop called “Connies’ Ric-Rac” down the the street at 1132 South 9th Street. Connie’s stayed open for 13 years until the mid-90’s when internet shopping started stealing her walk-in customers, causing her to close the doors of her shop and start using the space as storage for her, now internet-based, mail-order business.

Flash forward to 2006 and the sons, both passionate artists, approach their parents with the idea of turning Connie’s into an arts space. The parents agree and the re-incarnation of Connie’s Ric-Rac begins. A stage is built and the brother’s transform Connie’s from a grungy old storage space to a thriving theater of the arts that hosts everything from the brother’s own band, The Discount Heroes to nationally recognized comedian Todd Barry. Connie recently told me that they’re also hoping to bring “Point Break: the Play” to Connie’s in the future, where the Tartaglia brothers pick an unsuspecting audience member every night to play Johnny Utah, Kenau Reeves’ role in the original 1991 film.

Connie’s has inspired a revival in interest in the lower blocks of 9th Street in South Philly, an area that was struggling to survive a mere decade ago. In 2000 it was so down and out that the City Planning Commission declared the whole area blighted. Now it’s home to hip restaurants and several Mexican-owned businesses. On any given evening you’ll see hipsters mingling with Mexican families and Italian shopkeepers. This is all due, in no small part, to the Tartaglia brothers’ transformation of Connie’s. Way to go guys!

Tartaglia Family

We love to see this sort of scrappy, DIY spirit at work and are proud to ticket Corey Cohen’s Comedy Productions at Connie’s. Here’s a couple up and coming shows:

Comedian Matt McCarthy – Friday, April 22, 2011 Described by The New York Times as a “John Belushi-like madman,” McCarthy is commonly known for having red hair and a beard. You may recognize him from his myriad TV appearances, notably as The Cable Guy in those Verizon FiOs commercials. McCarthy hosts Action Pack Wednesday nights on AMC with Nick Stevens, and has performed standup comedy at Just for Laughs and on television on Season 3 of Live at Gotham and John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show’ on Comedy Central. McCarthy will appear in IFC’s The Whitest Kids U’ Know and with fellow comedian Robert Kelly in the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm on HBO.

Comedian Joe Mande – Friday, April 29, 2011 Joe Mande is coming to Philly! The sly and witty mind of Mr. Mande is truly something to behold. Creator of “Look At This F***ng Hipster” and regular on VH1’s “Best Week Ever,” Joe has been making you laugh for years and you probably didn’t even know it. Be able to say you saw him when, and check him at Connie’s Ric Rac for ONE NIGHT ONLY!!

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Posted by on April 21, 2011 in Comedy, Venues

 

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