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 www.InterActTheatre.org.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
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the never-ending pomposity of Rothko who ruthlessly states that it is incumbent on artists of the day to step all over outdated ideas, such as cubism.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 PhiladelphiaTheatreCompany.org.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
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 www.egopo.org
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
|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 wilmatheater.org 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 www.brtstage.org.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Top Girls was an an interesting staged reading by students of UArts which examines what women must endure to be at the top of their field, not matter what the field is. Featuring an ensemble cast of 7 young women, historical figures are portrayed as well as contemporary characters. All of the young women, with the exception of Shannon Remley, who portrays Marlene, play at least two roles and adapt different accents to go along with them. The twist in the piece comes in the second act when the setting reverts back to one year prior to the present time. At various times in this piece, two or three characters are speaking at the same time, interrupting each other until on or more stops and there is ”one left standing.” This was very interesting to observe. It ensures that the audiences concentrate on the dialogue. This was very skillful directing by director Jackson Gay, a University of the Arts alum.
High Fidelity is a high energy contemporary musical with a 14 member cast directed by UArts alum Megan Nicole O’Brien. The largest role was played by Adam Hoyak who portrayed Rob. He’s a junior musical theater major who has performed with both a cabaret and a dance company. He is light on his feet and has a strong voice, which portends well for a career in musical theater. The male ensemble backed up his singing nicely. The five member female ensemble did a great job of singing on their own. The set changes are smoothly done and the “rewind technique" in the second act where the audience gets an opportunity to view three separate scenarios between Rob and his nemesis Ian is most effective. These UArts students do a very professional job with their performances. There are 7 more productions scheduled for their ambitious upcoming year, among them Chicago and Little Women. For tickets and information about their 2011-12 season, call 215-717-6450 or visit online at tickets.uarts.edu.
Friday, October 14, 2011
1812 Productions is opening its 15th season with the Philadelphia premier of Craig Wright’s comedy Mistakes Were Made. The production will run through October 30th at Philadelphia Plays and Players Theatre, located at 1714 Delancey Streets. Scott Greer portrays Felix Artifex, a Broadway producer in this virtually one-man show. Amanda Grove, his secretary, has a small walk on part, but her repeated voice … (“You have calls on lines three, four, five and seven, Mr. Artifex”) has a much larger role. Georgia Schlessman does a very effective behind-the scenes job as a puppeteer for an overfed coy... Felix’s only companion. This play is billed as a comedy and 1812 Productions bills itself as Philadelphia’s All Comedy Theatre Company.. Most of the laugh lines appear in the second half of this ninety minute production,however. Scott Greer portrays a Broadway producer who is on the precipice of his big break. Due to a series of incidents beyond his control, the break comes in the form of a breakdown for Felix. He must simultaneous juggle phone calls from temperamental clients, a nervous Arab, an ex wife, an others who are crying out for is help. It is the way he so expertly demonstrates his world spinning out of control that causes the audience to burst into laughter but the laughter is almost a sign of relief that such events are happening to someone else, for the situations are more awful than they are amusing. Scott puts his all into this piece and if mistakes were made, they certainly were not with his performance. Nor were mistakes made by Shelly Hicklin who did an excellent job with the lighting design, nor by Bob Phillips, who designed an effective set for the producer’s office. Don’t make a mistake and miss this show. For tickets, call 215-592-9560 or visit online at www.1812productions.org.