Sunday, November 10, 2019



The critically-acclaimed, award-winning THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL will make its Philadelphia premiere at the Forrest Theatre as part of Broadway Philadelphia, presented by the Kimmel Center Cultural Campus and The Shubert Organization. Winner of the 2018 Drama Desk and Outer Critic Circle Desk Awards,  It can be seen at the Forrest Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, December 3, 2019 through   1:00 p.m. Sunday December 15. 2019.

SpongeBob and his friends leap from television to the Forrest Theatre stage in a Broadway blockbuster event featuring original music. Bring the entire family to celebrate friendship and cooperation, and learn the power of unity and inclusion. THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL explodes with energy and features an original pop and rock-infused score by several Grammy® Award-winning songwriters: Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper & Rob Hyman, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s, They Might Be Giants, T.I.Domani & Lil’C and songs by David Bowie & Brian Eno, and by Tom Kenny & Andy Paley. Additional lyrics by Jonathan Coulton. Additional music is by Tom Kitt.

 Led and conceived by visionary director Tina Landau (2018 Tony Award nominee) and a Tony Award®-winning design team, the production brings the spirit of SpongeBob to life with humanity, heart, and pure theatricalityTHE SPONGE BOB MUSICAL features a book by Kyle Jarrow, orchestrations and arrangements by TomKitt, musical supervision by Julie McBride & Tim Hanson, and choreography by Christopher Gattelli. The design team includes scenic and costume design by David Zinn, lighting design by Kevin Adams, projection design by Peter Nigrini, sound design by Walter Trarbach, hair and wig design by Charles G. LaPointe, make-up design by Joe Dulude II

THE SPONGEBOB MUSICAL is a one-of-a-kind musical event with original songs by Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, The Flaming Lips, Lady Antebellum, Cyndi Lauper & Rob Hyman, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s, They Might Be Giants, T.I.Domani & Lil’C and songs by David Bowie & Brian Eno, and by Tom Kenny & Andy Paley. Additional lyrics are by Jonathan Coulton. and  additional music is by Tom Kitt.

The Original Cast Recording is available now from Masterworks Broadway wherever music is sold and streamed. 

SpongeBob SquarePants launched on July 17, 1999, and has reigned as the number-one kids’ animated series on TV for the last 17 years, generating a universe of beloved characters, pop culture catchphrases and memes, theatrical releases, consumer products, a Tony award-winning Broadway musical and a global fan base.  SpongeBob SquarePants is the most widely distributed property in Viacom International Media Networks history, seen in more than 208 countries and territories, translated in 55+ languages, and averaging more than 100 million total viewers every quarter.  SpongeBob SquarePants is created by Stephen Hillenburg and produced by Nickelodeon in Burbank, Calif.  The character-driven cartoon chronicles the nautical and sometimes nonsensical adventures of SpongeBob, an incurable optimist and earnest sea sponge, and his undersea friends.

Tickets can be purchased by calling (212) 239-6200, visiting www.telecharge.com, or in-person at the Forrest Theatre Box Office (1114 Walnut St.). Group sales are available for groups of 10 or more and can be purchased by calling (866) 302-0995 or visit www.broadwayinbound.com.  For more information visit www.kimmelcenter.org.


Sunday, November 3, 2019

Next to Normal

Donna Vivino, Liam Snead
 & Danny Vaccaro

Bristol Riverside Theatre, located at 120 Radcliffe Street is presenting the much-acclaimed rock musical Next to Normal through November 24, 2019. Director Keith Baker’s production is nothing short of brilliant.  Roman Tatorwicz has designed a simplistic yet perfect set with two sets of spiral staircases and a loft overlooking the downstairs living area of the family home. Barrymore Award winner Ryan O’Gara, the associate lighting director for Hamilton, has done outstanding work with this set. The lights that flash on and off the set give the impression of waves of electricity generating throughout the air, mimicking electro-shock therapy. Next to Normal’s strong ensemble cast readily succeeds in showcasing the deterioration of one person’s mental illness  and how it can affect her entire family. Tom Kitt’s music and Bryan Yorkey’s lyrics are beautifully sung and frequently in exquisite harmonies by two or three cast members. Donna Vivino is very convincing as Diana, the confused mother who suffers from various forms of mental illness and cannot seem to find a treatment that works. Danny Vaccaro is Dan, her loyal husband who stands by her. Laura Giknis beautifully portrays Diana’s teenage daughter who gets no attention from her parents.  Gary Lumpkin is new to the professional stage and I look forward to seeing more of him. He was a great foil for Natalie, staying steadfastly by her side. Liam Snead is phenomenal as the spirit of Gabe, particularly during his number, “I’m Alive,” which he performs while singing, dancing and running up and down two sets of staircases. Scott Greer is always synonymous with great and this time is no exception as he portrays two different doctors, trying to help Diana. For more information or tickets to this truly marvelous show, call 215-785-0100 or visit brtstage.org.  .

Thursday, October 24, 2019

A Small Fire

Bebe Neuwirth & John Dossett

A Small Fire by Adam Bock is being presented by the Philadelphia Theatre Company at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, Broad and Lombard Streets through November 10, 2019. This exquisite one-act, starring the talented ensemble cast of Bebe Neuwirth, John Dossett, Oge AguluĂ©, and Sarah Gliko suspends belief and returns it in the play’s innovative ending. John Bridges (John Dossett) becomes the rock in this drama as his wife Emily (Bebe Neuwirth) first loses her sense of smell which is almost disastrous when she cannot smell a gas leak at the construction firm she operates. Loss of smell equates with loss of taste, which is not helpful in choosing items for her daughter Jenny’s wedding. Understandably, perhaps, Emily is cantankerous about these losses. Neuwirth is superb as she undergoes various changes after losing even more senses. Before the wedding, she loses her sight. As she has to lean on her husband, she is appreciative and mellow in her dependence. Hysteria sets in when she realizes she can no longer hear. But John is always by her side as a calming influence as he maintains, “Love isn’t what you get from someone; it’s what you give.” Bebe Neuwirth’s performance as a woman who has lost her sense of smell and taste, sight and hearing, is phenomenal. Her portrayals are not only convincing but a character study as her entire personality changes. Jenny Bridges (Sarah Gliko) is disturbingly believable as she portrays a daughter who is a “daddy’s girl” and has little sympathy for a mother who never liked her husband. Chelsea M. Warren has done an outstanding job with the set design. Backdrops are lowered onto the stage to create new scenes while other sets are behind it. For more information or tickets to this intriguing play, call 215-985-0420 or visit PhilaTheatreco.org.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Beyond My Backyard

Ensemble Cast

Broadway Philadelphia is presenting the Philadelphia Premiere of the Tony Award ® Winning  Come From Away at the Academy of Music through November 3, 2019. This must-see musical has everyone glued to his seat during the performance and standing up giving kudos after. Based on the true story of several planes that were diverted out of US airspace on 9/11 and rerouted to a small town in Newfoundland, Canada and the people who so generously cared for them, the scenes ingeniously alternate between the Newfoundlanders and the passengers and crew on a plane. With the dimming of the lights and shifting of a few chairs, the Town Hall becomes an airplane. As the floor rotates, the plane flies, the lighting changes in this miraculous production, and the audience scarcely realizes that the plane is no longer visible.  The chair alignment has changed and the Newfoundlers are sitting around a bar, listening to news on a radio. The change from one scene to another is seamless with most actors playing dual roles. The story-line is fascinating but the production itself is even more so. The lighting changes are brilliant. The quick chair realignment to indicate a new scene is outstanding. The backdrop which has a hidden door that opens to indicate the inside an airplane is ingenious. And oh the glorious music! Almost all of the cast members are given an opportunity for a solo. Together their music is resplendent.  Don’t miss this show! Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 215-893-1999, visiting www.kimmelcenter.org or at the Kimmel Center Box Office. Group sales are available for ten or more by calling 215-790-5883. More information is available at www.kimmelcenter.org.    

Saturday, October 5, 2019

The Roomate

Jennifer Childs & Grace Gonglewski

1812 Productions, Philadelphia’s only all comedy theatre company, is presenting the Philadelphia premiere of Jen Silverman’s The Roommate through October 20, 2019 at Plays and Players Theater, 17th and Delancey Streets. Starring Jennifer Childs and Grace Gonglewski, the play progressively explores how two very different middle age women can share a home and alter each other’s lives. Jennifer Childs portrays Sharon, a recently divorced woman who describes herself as” retired from my marriage.” Grace Gonglewski portrays Robyn, a woman from the Bronx who has done “this and that.” Jennifer’s facial expressions are phenomenal. When Sharon discovers some of Robyn’s secrets, such as growing pot and then selling it, she is astonished and then wants to be “part of the game”. It is hysterical when she enthusiastically develops a client base among her friends and Robyn has to stop her from recruiting 12 year olds to sell to their friends. Robyn is not altogether thrilled with these new developments as she had moved to Iowa from the Bronx to escape her old life. As Sharon has said repeatedly, “Nothing ever happens in Iowa.” When pressed, Robyn tells Sharon some of her other adventures: scamming people on the phone to get their credit card information, car theft, petty theft…Sharon is delighted and wants to learn how Robyn operates. There are many scene changes indicating a new day. Lighting and music are excellent indicators of the scene change and the costume changes are perfect indicators as well. This is a very humorous play. It is not non-stop gag-lines or fall out of your seat funny as some productions are, but is has many laugh lines and is extraordinarily well done. Both veteran actors Jennifer Childs and Grace Gonglewski deliver their lines with a straight face or, as in Jen’s case, with a startled one, and the audience breaks out in laughter. The story-line is somewhat bittersweet but well worth your while to come and explore it. For more information or tickets, call 215-592-9560 or visit online at 1812 productions.org            

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Ragtime

Ensemble Cast

The phenomenal production of Ragtime, triple Tony Award Winner for Best Score, Best Book and Best Orchestration in 1998 is appearing on the F. Otto Haas stage of the Arden Theatre for an extended run through October 27, 2019. Simultaneously  following the lives of an upper class white family, American immigrants and  black families at the turn of the 20th Century, themes of privilege, discrimination, prejudice,  deportation anxiety, and a desire to make a good life in America which is frequently thwarted are refrains that resonate today  over 100 years later. Ragtime is awash in fantastic choral numbers and musical arrangements.  Dual pianos play in the beginning of the production. Various actors have a turn at one of them. The other is wheeled under the stage where the music director Vince De Mura brilliantly plays the score for the entire musical while directing the other musicians and some of the soloists. The exception is a jazz number, ‘Gett’ Ready Rag,’ when another pianist surreptitiously slips onto the director’s piano bench and begins tickling the ivories. Both Kim Carson, as Mother, and Terran Scott  as Sarah have  remarkable voices that reverberate throughout the Arden’s stage. Set in the round, characters walk on and off from all points and from all angles, including up and down staircases. Scott Greer is outstanding as bigoted tough guy Willie Conklin and Nkrumah Gatling is superb in his role of the educated black musician, Coalhouse Walker who is thwarted at nearly every turn. Lovely Rachael Camp provides some comic relief as Evelyn Nesbit, the girl on the swing. This is an incredible show that shouldn’t be missed, even if you have seen previous iterations of it. I have seen it twice before and I marveled at every moment. For more information or tickets, visit www.ardentheatre.org.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

An Act of God

Kim Wayans (God)

Kim Wayans is starring in the very irreverent An Act of God at the Bristol Riverside Theater, 120 Radcliffe Street, through October 13, 2019. Kim, well known for appearances in the sketch comedy show Living Color, is accompanied by two arch angels: Peter DeLaurier (Gabriel) is well known to Philadelphia theater audiences not only for his acting but also for his directing and playwriting and Benjamin Brown (Michael) who has also appeared in several local theatres but has a history of television appearances as well. As Kim Wayans descends the staircase from heaven she announces her rare appearance in human form and in Bristol, Pennsylvania. And so starts a love affair between the audience and God. Wayans gives a cheeky 90 minute performance refuting many Bible stories. Ridiculing the possibility that two animals of every kind could fit onto Noah’s ark (“It’s a boat, for me’s sake,” she exclaims! "I really said thou shall put 2 puppies onto the ark. They will be good support animals.”) She then proceeds to rewrite and explain most of the 10 Commandments. For example, Wayans tells the audience “Thou shalt Not Take My Name in Vain” “Don’t try to seek a personal relationship with me.” she warns. “I am not a Saints fan or a Lions, fan. I am not even an Eagles fan. I do not care who wins the game and I do not influence the games’ outcome. The same thing is true for celebrities. They try to thank me for their success. I have nothing to do with it. I don’t help one person over another.” Another interesting commandment to be noted is: “Thou shall not tell me what to do.” Wayans opines. “I am tired of hearing: ‘God Bless You,’ ‘God Bless America’, ‘God Forbid’ or ‘God Dammit’.” Angel Michael periodically runs into the audience with questions for God. Kim Wayans ends her extraordinary performance with a final commandment: "Thou Shalt Believe in Thyself." For  more information or tickets to this funny experience, call 215-785-0100 or  visit www.brtstage.org.