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