Sparkle Hour! at the NY Fringe Festival

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Sparkle Hour!, the one-man show I produced (& choreographed) last fall in Chicago is currently running at the NY Fringe Festival. I knew it was going to be a success, but here are the reviews to help back that up! I am so happy and proud of Philip, Jen, and the show!

From review by Charles C Bales
August 16, 2013

Bolting through the audience and bounding on to the stage with the conviction of a tent revival evangelist, Philip Markle quickly wins over the Sparkle Hour! audience with his enthusiasm. A bildungsroman for geeky gay teens, his one-man musical indeed sparkles with hilarious tales of sex and sexuality, online gaming, and dress up accompanied by a collection of catchy tunes.

Starting off the evening with the unapologetic anthem, "Live Epic," Mr. Markle's sly and knowing smile never leaves his face during the 55-minute piece that flies by effortlessly due to the talent and energy of its star. Whether relaying tales of his own gayer-than-gay version of The Lord of the Rings or his poignant yet uproarious coming out in front of a sanctuary full of Catholics, he exults in his own miseries with a Puck-like glee. Markle's tongue-firmly-in-cheek approach encourages the audience to laugh through the pain of his awkward adolescence and young adulthood.

The younger Philip as described in Sparkle Hour! is a confused gay teen, struggling with his sense of self alongside other similarly disenfranchised loners in the nameless, faceless realm of online gaming. In this marginalized world, Markle finds himself excelling at the role playing make-believe of EverQuest and discovers the power to overcome his insecurities and admit to his nerd community the scariest of truths: he's gay.

Writing and performing Sparkle Hour! is obviously cathartic for Markle. Although much of his reminiscing is sensationally funny, it's nonetheless tinged with heartache. But the show as fluidly directed by Jen Ellison barrels through the pangs of suffering for a laugh a minute so that the atmosphere never teeters into melancholy. Instead of wallowing in the less-than-memorable aspects of losing his virginity, for instance, he jubilantly turns the tale on its end by reimagining this pivotal moment in his sexual awakening as a steamy romantic romp -- acted out with a blow-up sex doll.

SubCulture in NoHo is the perfect venue for this FringeNYC 2013 show -- more like an intimate comedy club, complete with its own bar, than a standard proscenium theater. And Sparkle Hour! has the shape of a zany stand-up comedy routine, including a call-and-response section as well as additional audience interaction.

Mr. Markle brilliantly balances the glittery outrageousness of his performance style with amazing storytelling skills, although the subject matter is decidedly adult. (This is definitely not a show for anyone under the age of 18.) Coming out of his shell with vim and vigor, Markle brings home the message of "Be yourself, love yourself" at the heart of Sparkle Hour! that is as beautiful as the butterflies -- yes, butterflies -- he says turn him on.

From Theatre is Easy:

Sparkle Hour

By Philip Markle; Directed by Jen Ellison

BOTTOM LINE: Sparkle Hour is the reason Fringe festivals were invented.

Everything about Philip Markle and his one-man, one-hour, part original-musical and part sketch, Sparkle Hour is bigger than life, chock-full of laughs, and deliciously naughty. In other words, perfect fare for the NYC Fringe Festival where the show is now running through the end of the festival at the beautiful subCulture space at The Culture Project on Bleecker.

Sparkle Hour follows Markle, who is as puckish as he is engaging, as he recounts his journey from adolescence to adulthood. This includes, among other things, being a master player of the online role-playing-game Everquest, coming out at a Catholic youth retreat, and having a one-night stand, care of the hookup dating service Grindr. All the while, we're treated to a good dose of original music (some of it made up on the spot), lots of (optional) audience participation, way too much personal information about Markle and his turn-ons (one of the funniest moments of the show), and even some free candy. 

While some of Markle's stories are blush-worthy and the delivery given a facade of amateurishness, there is no doubt that we are watching a carefully crafted performance (with help from director Jen Ellison), that vacillates masterfully between tongue-in-cheek and soul-baring honesty. The result is a show with universal appeal, touching on the fear of being different and the power in self-discovery.  

My dictionary defines "sparkle" as "vivacity and wit," and "fringe" as "unconventional." Philip Markle's Sparkle Hour is unconventional, full of vivacity and wit, less than an hour, and a perfect example of what great fringe theatre can be. 

(Sparkle Hour plays at SubCulture, 45 Bleecker St, through August 25th, 2013. The remaining performance is Sunday, August 25 at 3PM. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door and are available at or by calling 866-468-7619. For more information visit


Way to go, Philip!

1 Comment

Aw Erica! thank you for reposting! thank you for helping me create this show! thank you for being magnificent!