Sunday, June 5, 2011

My Wonderful Day

Paula apologizing to Winnie

My Wonderful Day is being produced at the Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, through June 19, 2011. A very talented Opal Alladin portrays Laverne, a Caribbean cleaning woman who has wealthy London clients. Laverne has aspirations of saving enough money to return to her native Martinique where the local language is French. She encourages her young daughter, Winnie, artfully played by Philadelphia native Lavita Shaurice, to speak only French on Mardi (Tuesday). You don’t have to understand French to catch all of the nuances of this extremely funny production, but a smattering of French vocabulary is helpful. Winnie accompanies her mother to work, ostensibly because she doesn’t feel well enough to go to school, when in truth; she is worried about her pregnant mother’s health. As an obedient child, she sets about to do her homework assignment-- to write about “My Wonderful Day”. Following her mother’s admonitions to speak French on Mardi, she responds to all the adults in the house in that language.  They therefore make the mistake of assuming she doesn’t speak English nor understand their use of inappropriate language nor references to inappropriate behavior.  As Winnie’s eyes open wide she jots down sentence after sentence in her notebook. And the audience roars. When her mother is taken to the hospital in labor, even more havoc ensues. Lavita Shaurice, a Temple graduate with a BA in theatre, does an outstanding job of convincing everyone that she is an innocent preteen. David Andrew Macdonald, as Kevin, is quite a credible sleaze-bag. He is supported by friend Josh, played by John Zak and girlfriend Tiffany, played by Kelly O’Sullivan. Kate Eastwood Norris is on stage for a short period of time as Paula, Kevin’s wronged wife, but she gives a very strong performance.  Lynne Innerst, voice and dialect coach is to be commended for the first-rate accent mastered by Opal Alladin. Recognition must also be given to set designer Lee Savage. The set is brilliantly conceived and will certainly be given a Barrymore nomination. It not only revolves on a turntable, but also makes partial turns so that characters can be seen in different rooms of the house at the same time. This is a delightful play that will enjoy many wonderful days.  Make sure that you catch one of them. For more information or tickets, call 215-546-7824 or visit online at

Friday, June 3, 2011

In A Daughter's Eyes

Krista Apple and :Lynnette R. Freeman
In A Daughter’s Eyes is a world premiere inspired by Philadelphia history. It is being presented by the InterAct Theatre Company on the main stage of the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, through June 19, 2011.  Mumia Abu-Jamal is an activist who was briefly a Black Panther and has been incarcerated in Pennsylvania prisons for the past thirty years for  the murder of a Philadelphia Police  Officer. There are those who disagree with his guilty verdict and the veracity of the eye witness account and therein lies the basis for the beginning of this riveting saga. Don’t get too comfortable in your seat for you’ll soon be sitting on the edge of it. Lynnette R. Freeman is phenomenal in her role as Rehema Salaam, the sophisticated Stanford educated attorney/cum daughter of the imprisoned Abu Jamal. The impassioned vitality she brings to her character electrifies the stage. Krista Apple layers many dimensions to her role of Kathryn Tinney, daughter of the slain police officer. At times meek and friendly with Rehema, who wants Kathryn to testify on her father’s behalf, she becomes argumentative and belligerent when the two don’t see eye to eye. More than one tragedy befalls these two daughters who cannot seem to escape the destiny of their family’s history. With each calamity their need for each other temporarily overcomes their innate mistrust…until it doesn’t. Hold onto your seats for the ride of your life! For tickets or further information about this superb performance, call 215-568-8079 or visit online at

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Playing Leni

Robert DaPonte and Amanda Grove

Playing Leni is being presented by the Madhouse Theater Company at the Adrienne Theatre Skybox, 2030 Sansom Streets, through June 11, 2011. A result of the collaboration between playwright David Robson and John Stanton, Playing Leni is a fictionalized account of an Allied soldier’s arrest and transport of the Nazi filmmaker and propagandist, Leni Riefenstahl, to a detention camp. Packed with emotion, this story is vividly told.  Leni is brilliantly played by Amanda Grove.  Staunchly denying any culpability for her filmmaking for the Third Reich, she rants at the unnamed solder as he tries to take away her film. She demands that her journey with him be documented on film. With script in hand, she frequently calls, “cut!” and requests a scene be reworked, much to the audience’s amusement. The soldier pipes in with rewrites of his own,  many of which Leni begrudgingly approves. While Leni and the soldier are on their way to the detention camp, the audience is taken back and forth from the past to the present. As seen through Leni’s eyes, the audience sees her past portrayed as that of an innocent who has been caught up in a whirlwind beyond her control. She almost commands empathy until brought back to the present day. Director Seth Reichgott states that “Playing Leni is really about how we all as individuals rewrite and reedit our own memories and our own experiences so that we can live with ourselves and the decisions we’ve made.” Robert DaPonte engages Leni both as her allied captor in the present and as a Nazi soldier in the past. Neither one seems to suit Riefenstahl. The ending is dramatic, but one that is long anticipated. For further information or tickets for this fine performance call 267-271-9623 or visit online at