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‘The Johnny Shortcake Show’ Brings the Funk to the Kimmel Center this Weekend

This funny, surreal spectacle is playing January 27 and 28.

“Suppose your nose was where your elbows goes — would you call them smellbows?”


This is just one of the important questions explored by The Johnny Shortcake Show, a funky, surreal performance that arrives at the Kimmel Center this weekend (January 27 — 28). If you and your kids had the pleasure of catching one of Johnny Shortcake’s “PNC Grow Up Great” concerts at the Kimmel Center last year, you’re already familiar with his offbeat brand of kids’ music, but this upcoming show will be bigger and better than ever before.


We caught up with the man behind the Shortcake to find out what to expect this weekend, how the show came to be, and how to make “Cupcake Tuesday” last all week!


With four daytime performances this Saturday and Sunday, The Johnny Shortcake Show is a funky dance party for families with intense musicality and heart that shine through even more intense silliness. You’ll hear bonkers songs like “Cupcake Tuesday” and “Gigi’s Whiskers,” but along the way you’ll learn lessons about friendship, feelings, diversity, and even healthy living — including a musical tooth-brushing lesson (complete with giant toothbrushes a few lucky kids can dance with).


With the bigger production come bigger surprises — we’re told to expect more performers, “lots of streamers,” and even octopuses! The performances will also be BYOB, so even if it’s Sunday morning, go for broke, parents!


To make the magic last even longer, Johnny Shortcake will be debuting a brand new album. It’s the Johnny Shortcake Show! has all your kids’ favorites from the show, and is, to quote Mr. Shortcake himself, “a stone cold, mini-van car ride classic” with music spanning the genres. The album will be available for purchase at the show this weekend, as well as online and on streaming platforms.


The Johnny Shortcake Show was created for kids by local musician David Sweeny (a.k.a. Johnny Showcase, his adult stage persona) during his 2016 residency at the Kimmel Center in collaboration with Philly musicians Ross Bellenoit and Michael Baker. While he was offered the residency to create any kind of music he wanted, he created Johnny Shortcake to explore children’s musical ideas he had built up in everyday life with his kids and family, and “restore some silliness to my creative process.”


Shortcake is not that different from Johnny Showcase, because, as Sweeny explained, “Joy and playfulness is always at the forefront, and always funky ear worms — and that ‘pop magic feel.’ We didn’t water it down, musically. We really just tried to make hit songs — only these were geared towards kids and adults. It’s everybody music that we are making, really.”


Photographs by Laura Swartz.

Contributing Writer