Sunday, January 28, 2018

Time Stands Still

Michael Satow &
Eleanor Handley
Bristol Riverside Theatre is presenting the Pulitzer-Prize-winning drama Time Stands Still through February 11 This production gives an outstanding glimpse of both the physical and psychological effects of PTSD.  Usually attributed to soldiers returning home from a tour of duty, post-traumatic stress can also be suffered by journalists and photo-journalists that cover the events. Award-winning playwright Donald Margulies brings home Sara Goodwin (Eleanor Handley) a photo-journalist who was injured in Kabul. She returns to the home she has shared for 8 years with journalist James Dodd (Michael Satow) Both actors give strong performances, without a hint that they are actually married off-stage.  Danny Vaccaro, portraying Richard Ehrlich, Sara’s editor, visits with ingénue Mandy Bloom (Laura Giknis) on his arm. Laura gives a very convincing performance of a young “ditzy” girl who is totally out of her element with this professional group. She gains some inner strength and maturity after she gives birth. A series of blackouts denotes passage of time which enables us to further study the war’s damage to the psyche.  Which is worse to bear? The physical damage suffered by Sara when she suffered broken bones and a coma as a result of a bomb being detonated in front of her or the psychological damage suffered by Jamie when body parts were strewn all over his hair and face? This is not necessarily an easy show to watch but it is an excellent one. The ensemble cast is brilliant and the drama is thought-provoking. For more information of tickets, call 215-785-0100 or visit online at brtstage.org. 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Humans

Mainstage set of The Humans
The Walnut Street Theatre, located at 825 Walnut Street, is presenting the much-acclaimed drama The Humans through March 4th on its main stage. Playwright Stephen Karam set about writing a play that deals with the minutia and the travails of one family during a holiday dinner. The set is ingenious. Urgent visits to the second story bathroom  interrupt uncomfortable conversations. An "elevator" transporting a wheelchair conveniently clears the stage of a few characters for minutes at a time. An Eagles Stadium blanket elicits cheers from the entire audience. The spiral staircase connecting the first and second floor is the perfect spot for characters to pause and listen to conversations on the floor above or below them. Everyone is constantly talking about someone else and no one wants to be left out of the loop.  You will laugh as you watch this for there are some funny lines; you might squirm as well while peering into this family’s most intimate moments. Sharon Alexander’s portrayal of Momo’s ‘bad day’ is outstanding. Jennie Eisenhower lights up any stage she appears on and Mary Martello is always a delight to see (even if her characters are not). It is Alex Keiper, however, who illustrates her phenomenal sense of timing with the zingers and one-liners that she delivers first to her mother (Mary Martello), and then to her father (Greg Wood) at the dinner table. So effectively are the lines delivered that the audience gasps and then recoups in a moment of silence. This slice of life is offered with a razor sharp blade that is fascinating to observe. For more information or tickets, call 215,574-3550, 800-982-2787, visit online at www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org. or Ticketmaster.

Friday, January 19, 2018

A Doll's House


Nora & Torvald
The Arden Theatre Company is presenting Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House through February 25, 2018. The Arden’s smaller Arcadia Stage has been reconfigured to bring the audience inside the parlor of the … Doll’s House right alongside all the members of its talented ensemble cast. Although most two-act dramas have the majority of the action in the first act, such is not the case in this piece. Act I sets up the life style and relationships of  Torvald (Cody  Nickell) and his wife Nora (Katherine Powell) and their friends Dr. Rank (Scott Greer), Kristine (Betty Chong),and nemesis Krogstad (Akeem Davis). Act II is longer and more intense. Nora’s having helped Kristine get a job with Torvald inadvertently opens herself up to blackmail. Krogstad puts pressure on Nora and gives her an ultimatum she feels she can’t possibly meet. Katherine Powell is phenomenal in the role of Nora. If “a look is worth a thousand words”, she crams five thousand into each agonized facial expression in Act II.  Dr. Rank has agonizing revelations of his own. Even the staid Kristine has a secret passion which ultimately opens the doll house door. For more information or tickets to this timely centuries’ old drama, call 215-922-1122 or visit online www.ardentheatre.org.                      

Wednesday, December 20, 2017



Cameron Mackintosh presents the new production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg's Tony Award®-winning musical phenomenon, Les Misérables, direct from an acclaimed two-and-a-half-year return to Broadway.



This production has new staging and dazzlingly reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo. It has left both audiences and critics awestruck and cheering. Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption – a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. Featuring the thrilling score and beloved songs "Master of the House," "On My Own," "Stars," "Bring Him Home," "One Day More," and many more, this epic and uplifting story has become one of the most celebrated musicals in theatrical history. Seen by more than 70 million people in 44 countries and in 22 languages around the globe, Les Misérables is still the world's most popular musical, breaking box office records everywhere in its 32nd year. Broadway Philadelphia’s Les Misérables, shown collaboratively by the Shubert organization and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, can be seen from Jan 9, 2018 -Jan 21, 2018 at the Academy of Music. For more information or tickets visit www.kimmelcenter.org.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Color Purple

Carla R. Stewart & Adrianna Hicks
The North American Tour of the Tony Award-winning revival of The Color Purple has returned to Philadelphia as part of Broadway Philadelphia, presented collaboratively by the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and The Shubert Organization.  It has an interesting minimalistic set comprised of chairs hanging on wooden columns at the back of the stage of the Forrest Theater and steps around the other sides of the stage. Three incomparable women from the 2016 Broadway revival lead the touring company- Adrianna Hicks as Celie, Carla R. Stewart as Shug Avery and Carrie Compere as Sofia. All three have exceptional talent and each has marvelous stage presence. but Adrianna Hicks steals the show in the second act when she finds “her voice” and the audience roars its appreciation. Gavin Gregory does a first-rate job of portraying the “Mister” you’ll love to hate as he abuses Celie, his 14 year old “ugly wife”. There is a dazzling three-woman chorus who appear intermittently, simultaneously singing, gossiping and chattering away. There are many delightful musical numbers with beautiful harmonies throughout the performance. One of the most effective numbers in the entire musical, however, is the rendition of “Hell No!” led by Carrie Compere as Sofia. It is a great motivation to spur the audience to chime in and chant “Hell No” as well, decrying situations where women allow themselves to be victims of abuse. This phenomenal production of The Color Purple runs evenings through Sunday, December 17, 2017, with additional matinee  performances  both Saturday and Sunday. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Peter Pan

Jo Vito Ramirez & Emilie Krause
The Arden’s Children Theater is presenting a fresh and original version of Peter Pan on its F. Otto Haas Stage through January 21, 2018. A very talented 4-member ensemble cast, playing multiple roles, joins Emilie Krause as Wendy and Jo Vito Ramirez as Peter Pan on an amazing journey from a campground to Neverland and back. Lighting Designer Thom Weaver’s brilliant use of lighting has everyone in an uproar as Peter and his shadow are re-connected after Wendy ”sews” it onto his feet. Children and adults alike are filled with wonder as Tinkerbell flits from Peter to one of the lost boys and back again, all the while whispering in Peter’s ear. Tinkerbell’s speech is provided by the violin engagingly played by ensemble member Eliana Fabiyi. The timing of Tinkerbells’ flight is “spot on” and is accompanied by many “ooos” and “ahhs” in the audience.” This is not your ho-hum Neverland. There are ropes to climb; tunnels to conquer, and a Captain Hook who is deathly afraid of a ticking crocodile. Spoiler alert. There IS a crocodile!  This is a fabulous show with a time-honored story in a brand new setting. Children of all ages are going to love it. For more information or tickets, call 215-922-1122 or visit www.ardentheatre.org

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Kimmel Events in January

The immensely popular Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood LIVE, based on the #1 PBS KIDS TV series, has delighted live audiences on stages across the country for three years. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood LIVE: King For A Day! will be at the Merriam Theater Friday, January 5, 2018 and Saturday and January 6, 2018. Daniel and all of his friends invite people of all ages to enjoy a brand new adventure in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe where Daniel learns what it takes to be King. The characters come alive on stage with new songs, teaching valuable lessons about kindness, helping others and being a friend. 

Les Misérables, part of Broadway Philadelphia’s 2017-18 season, presented collaboratively by the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and the Shubert Organization, will return to Philadelphia for a two-week engagement January 9-21 at the Academy of Music on the Kimmel Center Cultural Campus. Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables, the story of broken dreams, unrequited love, sacrifice and redemption, is still the world’s most popular musical, breaking box office records world-wide in its 32nd year. It has been seen by more than 130 million people in 44 countries. 

Comedic genius Paula Poundstone will make her Kimmel Center debut at the Merriam Theater on Thursday, January 11, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. Ms. Poundstone has recently released her new book, The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness, She is known for her sharp spontaneous wit and smart observational humor and can be heard regularly on NPR’s #1 show, the weekly comedy news quiz “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me!”    Paula Poundstone won an American Comedy Award for Best Female Stand-up Comic and has released three performance CD’s. On July 8, 2017, she launched her own weekly podcast - Live from the Poundstone Institute. The podcast is produced in association with NPR station KPCC and is distributed by NPR. 

Juan de Marcos and the Afro-Cuban All Stars will bring the sounds of Cuba to the Kimmel Center Cultural Campus’ Merriam Theater on January 12, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. A unique orchestra, devoted to promoting the complete story of Cuban music, it incorporates the full spectrum of Latin dance music including salsa, mambo, cha-cha, bolero, and rumba. Beginning in the 1990’s the group has had several European tours.  The Afro-Cuban All Stars have been the subject of several documentaries and have received four Grammy® nominations. Over time, they have incorporated younger performers into the band and the musicians now range in age from 13 to 81.

The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in association with Live Nation welcomes neuroscientist, philosopher, and five-time New York Times best-selling author Sam Harris to the Merriam Theater on Sunday, January 14, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. Harris will discuss topical and thought-provoking subjects during a live recording of his 2017 Webby Award-winning podcast Waking Up.  Harris’ writings and lectures cover a wide range of topics but generally focus on how a growing understanding of ourselves and the world is changing our sense of how we should live. Harris received a degree in philosophy from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA. 
  
The exceptionally funny The Second City improv troupe returns to the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater for performances on Friday, January 19, 2018 and Saturday, January 20, 2018, Their new show, Look Both Ways Before Talking will feature The Second City’s signature improv comedy, audience interaction, and original of-the-moment sketches and songs. The Second City has launched careers of generations of the brightest and funniest comics. Alumni include Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Gilda Radner and Bill Murray. The company now has training centers in Toronto, Chicago and Los Angeles as well as four international touring companies.

Philadelphia rocker David Sweeny creates fun for the whole family with The Johnny Shortcake Show in the SEI Innovation Studio on Saturday, January 27, 2018 and Sunday, 28, 2018. This family-friendly performance is a dance party featuring songs for the young and old alike with original music. Themed around celebrating silliness, the show features soul music for children, teaches important life lessons and is like a big disco party. Johnny Shortcake is the captivating kid-centric personality of David Sweeny, who made a name for himself in the Philadelphia music and arts scene under his other persona – Johnny Showcase. This is a designated BBYO performance.

Philadelphia’s favorite radio DJ, Jerry Blavat, is back for his annual star-studded performance in Verizon Hall, Saturday, January 27, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. entitled Disco, Soul, and Doo Wop. The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts partners with Jerry Blavat every season for a variety show featuring special guests and beloved tunes. Attendees are invited to the Commonwealth Plaza for cocktails and dancing before and after every performance. This year’s show will feature performances by Philly’s Blue Magic; The Intruders; Ray Goodman & Brown; The Moments; The Clovers; Norman Fox & The Rob Roys; Eddie Holman; The Vogues; a special tribute to Jackie Wilson by his son, Bobby Wilson; and more.

International tango superstar German Cornejo and his world-renowned dance troupe, The Tango Fire Company of Buenos Aires will return to the Merriam theater in Tango Fire on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. Choreographer and tango star German Cornejo will be joined by his senuous and passionate partner Gisela Galeassi. An amazing cast will join them, featuring World Champion Tango champions and dancing greats from tango houses in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Conceived in 2005, Tango Fire premiered in Singapore and then toured extensively.