Sunday, December 18, 2011


Tovah Feldshuh as Mama Rose

The Bristol Riverside Theatre, located at 120 Radcliffe Street in Bristol, is presenting Gypsy through January 15. With its 20 member cast, Gypsy is quite possibly the largest production ever undertaken by BRT but the company is certainly up to the task.  Mama Rose is a very demanding role and Ms. Feldshuh brings her heart and soul and her multiple-awarded talent to the part. Not only can she belt out a song, but she can also gently sing one in a harmonious duet or a mournful solo. She dances and cartwheels her way across the stage with verve and vitality.  The facial expressions Ms. Feldshuh brings to this domineering character are wide-ranging.  In short, “Everything’s Coming up Roses” for Tovah.  Local talent is being used for the parts of Baby June and Baby Louise. Both Gaby Bradbury, who portrays Baby June, and Claire O’Neill, who portrays Baby Louise are seasoned and poised young actors. Their dance routine is very well executed. Riley Katner is another local young actress who portrays Baby Louise. Although I didn't see her performance, I'm sure she equals Claire in talent. Lighting Designer Ryan O’Gara must be commended for his outstanding work.  Not only did he design Mama Rose’s lit backdrop and the brightly lit signs on each side of the stage which display the settings for all of Gypsy’s 17 scenes, but he  designed an extraordinary special effect with strobe lights as well.  Without giving too much away, let me merely say that Baby June and Baby Louse and Company age about ten years in a matter of ten seconds.  Brittney Lee Hamilton plays the older June and while her younger counterpart’s forte is tap, Brittney does a lovely en point in her ballet slippers.  She also sings a delightfully animated duet with Amanda Rose who plays the older Louise.  In  Act II, Amanda steals every scene that she is in. The audiences (both real and fictional) love her. This production is a great success because success is demanded of the people who are associated with it.  Some characters are playing as many as five roles and understudying for a sixth.  While this is not a new tale, the approach is fresh. Many performances are sold out.  If you don’t want to miss the buzz, call 215-785-0100 or visit online at

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Private Lives

Amanda and Victor meet 5 years after divorce

 The Lantern Theater Company, located at 10 and Ludlow Streets, is producing Noel Coward's Private Lives through December 31. The stage has been reconfigured for this particular set of performances so don’t wait until the last minute to order tickets since there is seating on only two sides of the stage. Tickets will certainly be selling like hotcakes because this show has all the earmarks of a smash hit. Genevieve Perrier,  who portrays the oh so sophisticated Amanda, belies her youth with her striking panache, her effortless grace and her not so subtle guile. Ben Dibble has the audience believing that he cares for nothing more than triviality as he smoothly portrays Elyot, Amanda’s ex-husband and the newly  married spouse of Sibyl.  K.O. DelMarcelle portrays Elyot’s new, simpering, insecure bride. Leonard C. Haas portrays stuffy, stodgy, Victor, Amanda's husband, thus rounding out the quartet of characters.  Amanda and Victor have booked their honeymoon suite with outdoor patio adjoining the honeymoon suite of Sibyl and Elyot.
When Amanda and Elyot set eyes on each other, they can’t imagine why they ever got divorced .The II Act play has more laughs than straight lines. It is impossible to sit in your seat for five minutes without laughing; the show is just that funny and that well presented. Scenic Designer Meghan Jones is known for her work throughout the region. Kudos must go to her for her foresight for this production. Act I takes place on two adjoining balconies, each equipped with their own flowers, tables, chairs, cocktails and entrances into their rooms The intermission begins  an impressive transformation. Walls  are moved, crown molding added, curtains hung, and the audience is treated to an inside view of an art deco apartment in Paris, fully equipped with a chaise, love seat,  two sets of French doors, paintings, sculptures, wind up gramophone and a piano. Recognition must also be given to J Alex Cordaro, the fight director who choreographed some exciting fight scenes. Fighting notwithstanding, the laughs keep coming and the plot keeps twisting. The more the characters change; the more they stay the same. The surprise is in the ending…What more could you possibly ask of a delightful theater experience?  For tickets call 215-829-0395 or visit online at

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

This Is The Week That Is

ensemble- Oklahoma parody

1812 Productions, Philadelphia’s All Comedy Theatre, is delighting audiences with its sixth annual production of its political comedy This Is The Week That Is. The show can be seen at Plays and Players Theatre, 1712 Delancey Street and is scheduled to run through December 31. Artistic director Jen Childs gives a strong cameo appearance in the show’s opening as she portrays her signature character Patsy from her stoop on Shunk Street in South Philly. Ensemble actress Aime Kelly is perky, vivacious and loaded with charm and personality. I am mad about her performance when she rants about all the things in this country that she is mad about .Show tunes from Oklahoma appear as parodies of our economic woes and include O-o-o-o foreclosure and The Bankers and Busboys Should Be Friends The satire is sharp, biting, and rip-roaring , side splitting hilarious. Dr. Suess and Gilbert and Sullivan also are an integral part of the show. You must be on your toes while you are sitting in the audience.  You could find yourself on the stage.  Two audience members actually become part of the show…one in the first act and one in the second. This cast,  which is also composed of Scott Greer, Dave Jadico, Susan Riley Stevens. Reuben Mitchell, Don Montrey and Tabitha Allen has no shortage of talent. Not only is an audience  member chosen from the audience in the first act, but witty jokes about his name appear in the second act .A guest appearance from “Richard Simmons” is uproarious.  If you have ever seen any of his exercise videos,  your laughter will be out of control when you watch him “demonstrate a CD" he has made for the protesters in Occupy. The show could change from week to week or even from day to day.  As new events appear on the political scene, new scenes will be written into the show. We know that  for years Black Friday has been  accepted  as the busiest shopping day after Thanksgiving. Recently, Cyber Monday has been added to encourage shopping on the internet the Monday after Thanksgiving. It will be interesting to see if anything comes  of  what one cast member mused as a possibility…shoplifter Thursday….This Is The Week That Is  2011 is far and away  the best political satire 1812 Productions has produced. The shows are always satirical; they are always humorous; but this year’s  creation must be seen to be believed. Don’t miss out. Call 215-592-9560 or visit online at

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Whipping Man

James Ijames,Cody Nickell ,Johnnie Hobbs Jr.

The Arden Theatre Company, located at 40 N 2nd Street, is producing The Whipping Man on its Arcadia stage through December 18. Playwright Matthew Lopez has achieved just the right amount of levity to balance an otherwise heavy set of circumstances. Filled with twists and turns and many surprises, The Whipping Man has the audience burst into laughter seconds after being socked in the face with dreadful truths. Cody Nickell portrays Caleb, the Jewish confederate soldier returning home from the Civil War. James IJames is John and Johnnie Hobbs Jr. is Simon, the two freed household slaves who have been raised Jewish in their master’s house. Lopez has written this retelling of the Passover story on several levels and the cast of three men are certainly up to the task of portraying it. The dialogue is gripping. Nickell gives a compelling performance of a forced amputee who later shows his anguish upon learning a secret disclosed by John. John gives a  credible performance of a young man with a big chip on his shoulder who dares anyone to knock it off. Hobbs Jr. is the master of mediation and the rock of patience  until he isn’t. Kudos must go to scenic designer David P Gordon. The circular staircase  with the broken banister looks as if it would have come right out of Tara had it been in better condition.  The chandelier gives the room an appearance of what might have been an elegant antebellum hall. Walls look battle-torn. Kudos must also go to Lighting Designer Thom Weaver. The 19th Century house is lit by candle light. Whenever the candles are lit, the lights get brighter on the stage; the timing is perfect .Lights flashing through windows simulate storms outside.  The production is further enhanced by the work of sound designer Christopher Colucci. Soulful music, screams of agony, explosions of gunfire all heighten the audience’s senses and add to the realism of the production. This is a must see for this theatre season. For tickets call 215-922-1122 or visit online at

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The How and the Why

InterAct Theatre, located at 2030 Sansom Street, begins its season with the Philadelphia premiere of The How and the Why. What happens when a young, intelligent and somewhat fragile evolutionary biologist appears in the office of a woman well established in the field? The drama unfolds to answer this question but you better not blink, for every bit of dialogue is significant. The repartee between the older, more experienced scientist and the younger, but equally serious one is electrifying. You must appreciate the acumen of both scientists as they explore their own personal scientific theories. Part of the brilliance of this piece is the    sprinkling of humor amidst the intense scientific discussions. Victoria Frings portrays Rachel, the young evolutionary biologist with a daring new theory. She is focused throughout and gives a very convincing performance. Janis Dardaris, portraying Zelda, is even more than a counterpart and mentor as she skillfully guides Rachel to discover some important things about herself. Kudos must also be given to Scenic Designer Meghan Jones who did an outstanding job of having a scientist’s office morph into a bar during intermission. Come to learn about the how; come to learn about the why; come to be engrossed in the enticing world of scientific discovery, but don’t forget to come. For tickets, call 215-568-8079 or visit online at

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Stephen Rowe and Haley Joel Osment

The Philadelphia Theatre Company opens its season with the premiere of John Logan’s Tony Award-winning Red. The drama can be seen at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, Broad and Lombard Streets through November 13. Haley Joel Osment portrays Ken, a young artist who eagerly accepts a job with master abstract expressionist Mark Rothko, portrayed by Broadway veteran Stephen Rowe. Over the passage of two years, the audience witnesses the never-ending pomposity of Rothko who ruthlessly states that it is incumbent on artists of the day to step all over outdated ideas, such as cubism. Ken, with his youth, is always trying to understand Rothko’s feelings of self-importance and in a stunning revelation near the end of his tenure in the artists’ studio, helps Rothko come to a realization about his own work. Working together, set designer James Noone and lighting designer Tyler Micoleau create Rothko’s studio which is “hermetically sealed to allow no natural light.” Movable racks, canvases and trays of supplies go far to create the illusion of an actual studio. The work of sound designer and composer Josh Schmidt adds to the mood of this piece. For tickets call 215-985-0420 or visit online at

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Diary of Anne Frank

commemorating Hanukkah

Ego Po classic theater has begun its Festival of Jewish Theater with its production of The Diary of Anne Frank. Staged in the intimate space on the second floor of The Prince Music Theater, located at 1412 Chestnut Street, this classic can be seen through November 6. Making a success of a work that is not new to the stage can be a formidable task. Scenic Designer Matthew Miller and Lighting Designer Matt Sharp not only meet expectations, but exceed them. The two walls to the set which serve as walls in the attic hiding place are  reminiscent of peeling plaster with exposed netting underneath. Action takes paces in six different areas of the set. Each area is alternately lit to highlight a character or a group of characters. At times a few areas are backlit to give a hint of what characters are doing in this small attic space. The audience’s attention constantly shifts to follow the light and herein lies the foundation for some of the excitement  of this piece. Natalie De La Torre, Costume Designer, does her part as well, by having characters wear demure undergarments from the 1940’s and changes of clothes that are appropriate for that time period. Perhaps because of this authenticity, perhaps because of the intimacy of the theater, perhaps because there are seats on two sides of the stage so the characters have to move and face the audience at all times, perhaps for all of these reasons, you nearly forget that you are watching The Diary of Anne Frank. You almost believe that you are in the attic, hiding with the Frank and Van Daan families. Clever props are used to indicate passage of time… the two families light a menorah commemorating Hanukkah; family members wear winter coats in the attic; Anne tells her diary that she has been in the attic for 1 year, 6 months and 25 days; newscasts on the radio tell of German successes, then of the arrival of Allies. The acting of this ensemble cast is masterful under the direction of Lane Savadove.. Sara Yoko Howard, a recent Temple University graduate, portrays a very convincing 13 year old Anne Frank, who is just beginning to discover herself and the stirrings in her body. Rob Kahn, who plays Otto Frank, is dynamic throughout, but his final soliloquy is nothing short of mesmerizing. In short this is a riveting production that you won’t want to miss. For tickets, call 800-595-4TIX or visit online at

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Our Class

Catholics and Jews playing together
The Wilma Theater, located at Broad and Spruce Streets, is producing Our Class through November 13, 2011. This masterpiece is based on a here-to-fore- little known atrocity in which the residents of a small Polish town totally annihilated their Jewish neighbors and consequently laid the blame on the Germans. Director Blanka Zizka traveled to Poland to research the play and has brought a touch of Poland back with her. The audience is introduced to 10 very young characters who enter the stage and take seats in a classroom, and later laugh and enjoy each other as they play childish circle games. Each of the 14 scenes is demarked by the 10 characters standing in a freeze-frame and singing a Capella for 6-10 lines. Within a matter of minutes we are taken to a new year and subtle changes take place; a push here, a shove there, and Jewish students are asked to sit in the back of the classroom while the Catholics pray.. As the behavior of the classmates towards each other borders on incredulity, this fine ensemble cast brings the audience along for a heady if painful ride. No matter how many years pass, no one can escape his troublesome past and you won’t be able to ignore it either. Only Abram, who manages to emigrate to the United Stated shortly after his Bar Mitzvah, remains unchanged. But his litany when he learns of the death of his entire family is heart wrenching.  You’ll be glued to your seat by this breathtaking and mesmerizing production. It’s insufficient to say you must see this piece. WOW!  Call 215-546-7824 or visit for tickets.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Keith Baker and William Selby

Bristol Riverside Theatre, located at 120 Radcliffe Street in Bristol, is opening its 25th season with Barrymore, starring Keith Baker in the title role and William Selby playing the part of his prompter The production will run through October 30th. Baker has the herculean task of humorously portraying John Barrymore, one the greatest American Shakespeare actors of all time as he has hit the lowest point of his career. He is certainly up to the task. His character is at times witty and at others pathetic. The audience laughs but feels little sympathy for a once great man who is sloppy in his drinking. He does evoke some sympathy when he appears lost wandering around the set in a fugue state and he has to ask the prompter, “Where am I?” He wonders of his four ex-wives:”If I can’t pay my alimony next month, can my wives repossess me?" Keith Baker gives a very powerful performance. Set Designer Roman Tatarowicz  has designed a very interesting set which Barrymore claims to be for his “come back” presentation. The additions of sound designer Michael Troncone and lighting designer Deborah Constantine further enhance this fine production. For tickets call 215-785-0100 or visit online at