Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wanamaker's Pursuit

Discussing painting in Paris

Wanamaker’s Pursuit, a new work commissioned as part of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, can be seen on the Arcadia stage of the Arden Theatre, 40 N. 2nd Street, through May 22, 2011. In 1911 young Nathan Wanamaker, played by Jurgen Hooper, is entrusted by his father to go to Paris to discover new fashions for his family’s department store. Fashion designer Paul Poiret, played by Wilbur Edwin Henry, gives a strong performance. Struggling writer Gertrude Stein, played  by Catherine K. Slusar, gives some much appreciated comic relief. Her brother Leo Stein, played by David Bardeen and Picasso, played by Shawn Fagan join Poiret and Gertrude in immersing Wanamaker in the dazzling world of the artists’ side of Paris. With the unwitting aid of pretty and charming Denise Poiret, fashion inspiration and flirt, played by Genevieve Perrier, Nathan discovers something even more important…himself. The set  is comprised of  a very cleverly designed system of sliding screens which allows the actors to enter and exit the stage A slide of the screen turns a clothing designer’s workshop into Picasso’s apartment and a few flicks of the wrist have the audience inside the Louvre. Jurgen Hooper works well as both Nathan Wanamaker the character and Wanamaker the narrator. This double role is not easy to carry off. The purpose was a bit confusing in the beginning of the first act, but by the play’s end, the growth of Wanamaker’s character is evident and he no longer  needs to rely on his alter ego which ties him to his past. For more information or tickets, call 215-922-1122 or visit online at

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