Friday, March 25, 2011

A Midsummer's Night Dream

young lovers

William   Shakespeare’s  A Midsummer’s Night Dream is being showcased  by The Lantern Theater Company, 10th and Ludlow Streets through April 17. This two and a half hour production is a delightful rendition of Shakespeare’s comedy. For those who are unfamiliar with this whimsical tale, suffice it to say that it revolves around the fate of one pair of young lovers who are kept apart by Athenian law and another mismatched pair of young lovers, both of whom dash off to the woods. When some of them are bewitched by a mischievous fairy, the result is uproarious. Charlotte Ford (Hermia), David Sweeny (Lysander), Lee Ann Etzold (Helena), and Bradley K. Wrenn (Demetrius) are the four young lovers who not only excel in their comedic portrayals, but in the physicality of their performances as well. Their chasing each other across the stage and sliding along the floor as one connected entity keeps the audience in stitches. Fortunately for all audience members, the Lantern is in an intimate setting with seats on two sides of the stages so everyone has an equal opportunity to enjoy the facial expressions of these talented young actors. Exaggerated though they might be, they are very effective in eliciting laughter. An equally funny subplot involves the group of men who decide the put on a play for the Prince’s nuptials. Both the costumes and set are very creative. This play is just plain silly so plan to go and have a good time laughing.  On Monday nights most theaters are “dark” but on Monday March 28 and Monday April 7 you can attend a discussion with some of the actors on different themes of the play. The Scholars in Conversation program runs from 7:00PM – 8:30 PM. In March, the topic is SEX- and the panelists will discuss love, power and attraction at the play’s heart. In April the discussion will revolve around how the mayhem of MAGIC drives this production. For more information or tickets, call 215-829-0395 or visit online at 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Let Me Down Easy

3 of many portrayals by Anna Deavere Smith

The Philadelphia Theatre Company, housed in the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, Broad and Lombard Streets, is presenting Let Me Down Easy, conceived, written and performed by Anna Deavere Smith, through April 10. Using the results of over 300 interviews, Ms. Smith has been able to weave a brilliant one-woman show. Appearing to change her nationality, gender and age with little more than a flick of a jacket, hat, facial expression and accent, Ms. Smith convinces the audience that she embodies each individual portrayed as she speaks about the tragedies of the poor during Katrina, health issues and the ultimate issue of death. Large supertitles above the stage light up the name of each character as well as a key phrase of the discussion. The audience was enthralled watching Ms. Smith’s many transformations, among them a rodeo Bull Rider; a super model; Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas; Joel Siegel, Movie Critic for ABC news; Trudy Howell, director  of Chance Orphanage in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist Monk. Philadelphia Theatre Company has created three Meet the Experts post-show talkbacks with special guests to address the themes of health care and public health to enhance the theater experience during its production of Let Me Down Easy. -On Thursday March 24, with Rabbi and Professor Nancy Epstein-On Tuesday March 29 with Dr Jonathon D. Moreno, David and Lyn Silfen University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania and Thursday April 7 with Dr. Natasha J. Davis, Assistant Professor at Temple University College of Health Professions and Social Work.  There will be a variety of other special programs as well. For more information and tickets, call 215-985-0420 or visit online at

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Superior Donuts

The Arden Theatre Company, located at 40 N. 2nd Street in Olde City, Philadelphia, is presenting a truly superior play, Superior Donuts on its Arcadia Stage through April 3. Written by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning playwright, Tracy Letts, this production grabs you before the dialogue even begins with its attention-getting sound effects and doesn’t let you go for a minute, even when you get up for a stretch at intermission. Lighting designer, Michelle Habeck’s and sound designer, Rob Kaplowiotz’s attention to detail are irrefutable.  James IJames is outstanding as college drop-out Franco Wicks. He delivers his many comedic lines with a straight face, but to call Superior Donuts a comedy would be doing it an injustice. Yes, there are many laughs and the timing of each line is very well executed, but the play is so much more than that. While the audience is being entertained by the comedic lines, they are also learning, albeit piecemeal, about the life of the shop’s owner, Arthur Przybszewski, played by Craig Spidle. Spidle does an excellent job ending  his monologues by staring out into space, illustrating with the “freeze frame” technique, that one doesn’t need a curtain to change a scene. By interspersing these monologues with the comedic dialogue of the entire cast, Letts not only enables everyone to acquire information about Arthur’s background and thus have some insight into his present day character, but also presents a work that is both as comedy and a drama in one package. David Mackay, as Max Tarasov, Arthur’s neighbor and nemesis, does a very credible job as someone who is seemingly at odds with Arthur, yet stands by him when he is needed. Each and every cast member engages the audience throughout. this top-notch play. For more information or tickets call 215-922-1122 or visit online at