Thursday, May 24, 2018

Fun Home

Ensemble cast

The Arden Theatre Company, located at 40 N. 2nd Street, is presenting the unique theatrical experience of Fun Home on its F. Otto Haas main stage through June 17. Winner of 5 Tony Awards, Fun Home explores the memories of cartoonist Allison Bechdel as she reminisces upon the painful and joyful moments in her family history. Mary Tuomanen takes the audience on a journey through her life’s memories. She is sometimes on the sidelines observing as an artist; other times she treats the audience to her powerful voice. Izzy Castaldi portrays college-aged Allison. Her first sexual encounter after she discovers that she is gay is childlike in its amazement; fantastic with wonder and hysterical with the joy of it all. Her comic timing is superb!  Lily Lexer and Kate Bove will alternate in the role of Allison as a young child.  This is perhaps the largest role of all. Lily was on stage opening night. Remember the name because this little package is a bundle of talent. She is brimming with poise and her singing voice got stronger as the show progressed. There are intriguing moments when all three Allisons are on stage singing in three part harmonies.  The effect is stunning.  Ben Dibble gives a very strong performance as Bruce Bechdel, tormented, closeted homosexual and father of Allison and her two siblings. This is a brilliant musical and the Arden does a magnificent job with its production.  For more information or tickets, call 215-922-1122 or visit www.ardentheatre.org.  

Friday, May 4, 2018

hope and gravity

David Ingram, Sean Close
 & Jessica Johnson

1812 Productions, Philadelphia’s all Comedy Theatre Company, is presenting Michael Hollinger’s Hope and Gravity at the Plays and Players Theater, 17th and Delancey Streets, through May 20, 2018. A series of nine vignettes, it features an ensemble cast sensitively playing dual roles. Jorge Cousineau has designed a set that is nothing short of exquisite. Moving geometric projections imitate the schemes of an elevator shaft; each time the projections stop moving, curtains partially open and a new set is revealed on another elevator floor. One would expect a play that is being presented by 1812 Productions to be witty and it certainly is.  The skits become increasing more humorous as the show progresses. The vignette with the two grad students and their college professor is hilarious. Whether this is in recognition that some of the characters’ story lines intersect or it is inherent in the writing, it is difficult to say.  What is not difficult to determine, is a recommendation to get tickets to see Hope and Gravity before tickets are sold out. For more information or tickets call 215- 592-9560 or visit online at www.1812productions.org.




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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Noises Off

Ensemble cast
Noises Off will be performed on Walnut Street Theatre’s mainstage through April 29. Mary Martello is a comic genius. If you have never seen her perform, you need only see the first 5 minutes of her portrayal of Mrs. Clackett, a housekeeper to a very wealthy couple vacationing in Spain, to be convinced.  Ms. Martello is not the only comic actor in the production; there is a very talented ensemble cast of nine who are acting in this play within in a play. This in an absurdly funny farce and things are rarely what they seem in such a scenario. There is the requisite love triangle, the couple on a secret hide-a-way, the not-so-obvious couple, a couple of sheiks, and more rooms than you can keep track of. The script continuously embodies madcap merriment; it is just zany, let-down-your-hair fun. Chuckles and guffaws spew from the audience throughout the entire production. The set is double-sided, with Act 2 beginning back stage. For a sneak peek behind the scenes that you will never forget, get your tickets to Noises Off today. For more information or tickets, call 215-574-3550, 800-982-2787 or visit online at www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org. 
                                             

Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Tempest

Ruby Wolf & Peter DeLaurier

Due to popular demand, The Lantern Theater Company, located at 10th and Ludlow Streets, has extended its run of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest to April 29, 2018.  This production is magical. Think beyond the fantasy that Shakespeare has written on the page. In a confluence rarely seen on the stage, the costume, scenic, lighting, sound and set  designs all work together to provide two wondrous settings that flesh out Shakespeare’s  poetry. The audience is immediately involved in a shipwreck and curious about Prospero (Peter DeLaurier) and his daughter Miranda (Ruby Wolf) on another part of an enchanted island. Other members of this excellent ensemble cast are also making return engagements to the Lantern: Chris Anthony as Ferdinand, J Hernadez as Antonio/Caliban, Dave Johnson as Sebastian/Trinculo, John Lopes as Alonso, and Frank X as Gonzalo/Stephano. Each actor is first rate in his portrayal of a member of the king’s band out to reclaim the island. It is Bi Jean Ngo’s performance as the sprite Ariel; however, that steals the show. She is lithe, nimble on her feet and quick to turn and cast a spell at the behest of her “master”, Prospero. Whether her spells are beautiful acapella chants or a quick flick of her wrist, they work equally well.  Perhaps her most amazing time on stage is her crouching off to one side, sitting on her haunches like a frog and moving her mouth as if she is prepared to catch a fly. Shakespeare would have been proud! The Lantern Company is synonymous with outstanding productions of Shakespearean works. Yearly productions surpass prior performances in excellence and this year’s presentation is no exception.  For more information or tickets, call 215-829-0395 or visit online at www.lanterntheater.org.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Bluest Eye


Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye is appearing on the Arden’s Mainstage at 40 N. 2nd Street in Olde City and its run has been extended to April 8, 2018 due to popular demand. The minimalistic set is impeccable. Locales can be switched with a slide of a screen. The change in seasons can be denoted by the cast members wearing different color smocks and/or flowers sprouting from the “outside”. The ensemble cast is phenomenal. Nicolette Lynch, Renika Williams and Jasmine Ward all give remarkable performances of poor, young, black girls trying to understand why their place in the world is different from that of white girls’. Eliana Fabiyi, Reggie D. White, Damien J. Wallace, Chavez and Soraya Butler round out this outstanding ensemble. Jasmine (Pecola) prays for blue eyes like Shirley Temple or Mary Jane so she, too, can be loved and not ignored. A caveat, issued too late by Soaphead - be careful what you wish for. Toni Morrison’s work is brilliant and raw; alternately filled with moments of humor, shock and horror. You might need to compose yourself at the end of this breath-taking drama, but once you catch your breath you won’t stop talking about it.  This is a mind-blowing tale told by a plethora of incredible performers. For more information or tickets, call 215-922-1122 or visit online at www.ardentheatre.org.  

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Producers

Danny Rutigliano, Fred Inkley & Michael Doherty

The Bristol Riverside Theater, located at 120 Radcliffe Street in Bristol, Pa, is presenting Mel Brooks’ irreverent multiple Tony-Award winning musical, The Producers through April 1. Producer Max Bialystock (Danny Rutigliano) finds his Broadway flop much easier to bear when his accountant (Michael Doherty) discovers that he has actually made some money in the process. Thus a scheme is born - Produce the worst play and make a fortune. Find an awful script, hire the worst director, cast the most horrible actors and the show will certainly close on opening night. Ah, the best laid plans… Brooks’ cheeky play is an equal-opportunity offender. The Producers is satire at its most absurd. Boxing gloves are off and everything is fair game. That said, the cast and crew are marvelous. There is no weak link in this chain. The audience is wowed by Nicole Benoit’s rendition of “When You’ve Got it, Flaunt It’”, Fred Inkley’s demonstration of “Der Guten Tag Hop Clop”, and Danny Rutigliano’s lamentations in “Betrayed”. The ensemble acquits itself flawlessly. There are not only many musical numbers to sing but a wide variety of  dance numbers to perform as well, not the least of which  is a tap routine with walkers.  Michael Doherty’s portrayal of a shy, timid accountant who is afraid of his own shadow is a perfect foil for Danny Rutigliano’s blustery producer Max Bialystock. For more information or tickets for this incredible production, call 215-785-0100 or visit online at brtstage.org.

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 ingĂ©nue 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.