Thursday, January 17, 2019

Betrayal

Gregory Isaac & Jered McLenigan

The Lantern Theater Company, located in the theatre of St. Stephen’s Church at 10th and Ludlow Streets, is presenting Harold Pinter’s unique, muli-layered, and astounding Betrayal through February 17, 2019. Told in reverse chronological order, the saga begins in 1977 and ends in 1968. In the beginning of all  four scenes of each act, super titles are displayed on the wall, denoting date and location. At first glance, the betrayal appears to be that of a wife betraying her husband.  Upon closer look, so cleverly has Pinter written this play, it appears that a case can be made for each of the characters betraying one another.  Pinteresque plays have been noted for their understatement in character’s speech. With this in mind, the audience shouldn’t be too surprised at the lack of emotion displayed in what might otherwise seem to be characters’ indifference. Despite this, the acting is first-rate. Genviève Perrier, (Emma) plays the innocent with her husband, but lathers up a face full of tears as she confesses her betrayal. Gregory Isaac (Robert) is stoic throughout, speaking only in clipped tones to express his displeasure both with his wife and his best friend Jerry. Jered McLenigan (Jerry) is concerned with himself foremost, professing his love for Emma but never taking the relationship out of their rented flat. For more information or tickets for this distinctive presentation, call 215-829-0395 or visit online at www.lanterntheater.org.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

A Christmas Carol

Anthony Lawton

Anthony Lawton, co-creator and storyteller is nothing short of brilliant in his performance of Lantern Theater’s presentation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, performed in the Black Box Theatre at Drexel University's  URBN Center Annex through January 6, 2019. In collaboration with sound designer Christopher Colucci and lighting designer Thom Weaver, Anthony Lawton has devised an adaptation of the classic A Christmas Carol in which he superbly plays all the roles. Entering the stage in a tattered circus ringmaster’s outfit with clown face make-up, Lawton begins relating to the audience with tidbits about Christmas cheer and small magic tricks before describing Scrooge. The Scrooge description isn’t a word or two or even a one or two sentence description. Lawton speaks very slowly and forcefully to the audience as he describes each nasty adjective and his voice gets louder, then softer as he walks all around the small stage, peering into the eyes of the audience members. This is a description of a man everyone can picture. As excellent as Anthony Lawton is throughout his two hour performance - portraying all of the characters in different voices, narrating the sections that have no immediate dialogue, and dancing around the stage with a joie de vie that would make a younger man exhausted - co-collaborators Christopher Colucci and Thom Weaver have made excellent contributions to the show as well. Colucci’s sound effects are marvelous. Thom Weaver never disappoints. The lighting on Anthony Weaver’s face when he portrays Marley and later the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future are fantastic; the ambiance is surreal and the actor appears to be another character altogether. Ring in your holiday with this is exceptional presentation. For more information or tickets, call 215-829-9002 or visit online at www.lanterntheater.org.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Charlotte's Web

Ayana Strutz

The Arden Children Theatre’s production of Charlotte’s Web on its F. Otto Haas mainstage is a smashing success and with its three performances daily has been extended to February 3, 2019. The set is a beautiful two-story barn with sliding doors, a dirt-and-straw floor fit for a pig and rafters fit for a spider. With a barnyard full of animals, many members of this talented ensemble cast play dual roles, in the barnyard and at the County Fair. Philadelphia theatre-goers will be thrilled to see some of their favorite actors in this ensemble; Campbell O’Hare, Alex Bechtel, Alex Keiper, JoVito Ramirez, Brian Anthony Wilson, Emile Krause and J. Hernandez. There is delightful audience participation with the younger audience members as volunteers are asked to walk with the goose and later help with a live “horse race”. As charming as the barnyard animals are, it is Charlotte (Ayana Strutz) who steals the show. She makes an absolutely breathtaking entrance onto the stage as she slides upside down wrapped in silks from the top of the barn to the barn’s floor. Mimicking a spider, with her stomach up and her arms and legs stretched behind her, she scuttles over to Wilber the pig (Adam Howard) to tell him she will be his friend. Trained in a circus college, Ayana flips across the stage and climbs up and down the barn’s rafters with ease. The children in the audience were spellbound and I must admit; I was a bit awed myself. Charlotte’s Web is awesome. From Templeton (J.Hernandez) the rat, to the goose and gander who repeat repeat repeat everything, to Homer Zuckerman (Brian Anthony Wilson) proud owner of some pig, this production has something for everyone no matter the age. For more information or tickets, visit ardentheatre.org.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

This Is The Week That Is

Ensemble Cast

1812 Productions presents their iconic political satire This Is That Week That Is through January 5, 2019. Customary humorous favorites – Patsy on the Stoop, The Man in the Lobby, Audience participation, and the News Desk are interspersed throughout the production and are grist for the traditional theatre-going audience member who looks forward to seeing this show year after year.  The writers and 6-member ensemble cast put a new spin on the annual revue of political highlights and headlines which changes daily. With a salute to well-known Broadway favorites- Traditions, Memories, and Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, cast members dress up in appropriate attire and sing and dance to hysterical satirical lyrics. Adding to the fun and hilarity of the evening, there are several moments when male cast members impersonate women in the news. Melania Trump and Elizabeth Warren were a hoot but Rob Tucker’s impersonation of Oprah had the audience laughing and screaming in appreciation. This Is the Week That Is is a delightful way to ring in your holiday season. For more information or tickets, call 215-592-9560 or visit online at www.1812productions.org.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Heir Apparent

Chris Anthony, Adam Hammet &
Leonard C. Haas

The Lantern Theatre Company, located adjacent to St. Stephen’s Church, 10th and Ludlow Streets, is presenting The Heir Apparent through December 16, 2018. Scenic Designer Lance Kniskern has provided an elegant set, befitting a wealthy codger (Leonard C. as Geronte) who appears to be on the wane. A beleaguered nephew (Chris Anthony) who needs to inherit his uncle’s fortune in order to rid himself of debt and marry his sweetheart is on hand to persuade his uncle to write a will in his favor. Servants Crispin (Dave Johnson) and Lisette (Lee Minora) want to wed as well but also need some money to do so. Mary Martello (Madame Argante) wants to ensure that her daughter Isabelle (Ruby Wolf) marries someone with money. Scruple (Adam Hammet) is the attorney with scruples, trying to ensure a will is written and signed properly. David Ives wrote The Heir Apparent in rhyming couplets, adapting it from a work by French playwright Jean-François Regnard. There is a dichotomy… Against a sophisticated background and well-gilded set, the dialogue is riddled with bathroom humor, and scatological gems. The play is both light-hearted and silly as characters plot to vie for Geronte’s fortune and the audience loves it. Plot after plot goes awry ensuring more excitement from the audience. For more information or tickets to this delightful romp, call 215-829-0395 or visit online at www.lanterntheater.org.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Matilda

Laura Giknis & Ian Merrill Peakes

The Walnut Street Theatre, located at 825 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pa., is presenting Matilda The Musical through January 6th, 2019 on its mainstage.  Winner of 7 Olivier Awards in London and 11 Tony nominations on Broadway, Matilda The Musical at the Walnut is taking  Philadelphia audiences by storm. Jemma Bleu Greenbaum portrayed Matilda in the opening night production. Her remarkable stage presence belies her years. Ellie Biron will portray Matilda on weekend and holiday nights. There are many moving parts to this tale of a child whose parents cannot appreciate the treasure they have in their midst, preferring to believe that a love of books is stupid. There is an ensemble of children who are in Matilda’s class, additional children who are Matilda’s age or younger, and an ensemble of older school children. Thanks to excellent choreography, these children enter and exit the stage seamlessly, gathering in groups small and large to sing and dance throughout the production. It is a joy to watch. Lyn Philistine and Christopher Sutton as Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood are over-the top dullard parents that you love to hate.  While she is portrayed as a dance enthusiast, it is Christopher Sutton who demonstrates incredible moves of his own. Laura Giknis (Miss Honey) is the personification of the perfect kindergarten teacher with a magical, lilting voice. Ian Merrill Peakes' performance as the tyrannical headmistress Miss Trunchbull has everyone in stitches. Not only are the lines inherently humorous, he vamps with the pit orchestra and demonstrates amazing feats of athleticism on the stage floor. There are many reasons to see Matilda The Musical, and none not to. For more information and tickets, call 215-574-3550, 800-892-2787, or visit online at WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.


Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Rivals

Emma Stratton, Erin Mackey &
Harriet Harris

The Bristol Riverside Theatre, located at 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, Pa., is presenting The World Premiere of the musical The Rivals through November 18, 2018. Broadway-bound, the production features an all-star ensemble cast with myriad experiences on Broadway. This is a delightful farce that is entertaining on many levels. It takes the audience on a journey with Lydia Languish (Erin Mackey) who wants to forego her fortune to marry for love but she must deal with her aunt, Mrs. Malaprop (Harriet Harris). The period costumes are marvelous. The scenery changes are clever both in their simplicity as well as the intricacy of their movement. Both the frequency and the tenor of the malapropisms uttered by Mrs. Malaprop are hysterical. The musical lyrics are often ludicrous, causing recurrent belly-laughs to erupt throughout the theatre. Mrs. Malaprop’s “A Young Lady Today” brought the house down as did Faulkland’s “I’m Not Too Sensitive.” There are, however, other beautiful solos and fantastic three and four-part harmonies throughout the production.  The dance routines and the actors’ athleticism on stage are a joy to watch. This is truly a brilliant production. For more information or tickets, call 215-785-0100 or visit online at brtstage.org.