Friday, February 24, 2012


Terry Burrell as Ethel Waters

 Broadway star Terry Burrell is using Walnut Street Theatre’s Independence Studio on 3 as a vehicle to tell the story of Ethel Waters, the second African American actress ever to be nominated for an Academy Award. The world premiere of ETHEL! will run through March 11. Ethel! is a one woman show written by and starring Terry Burrell. The small 80 seat Independence Studio is the perfect venue to showcase Ms. Burrell’s talents. Recounting over thirty years of Ethel Walters’ life, whether speaking in intimate tones to the audience or screaming to unseen characters in Ethel’s life, requires a wide range of emotions. Terry Burrell never falters.    Her facial expressions and body language seem to invite the audience to share in some private joke. Audience members may know little of Ethel Waters upon entering the theatre, but thanks to the brilliant work of Terry Burrell, they will leave the theatre very happy to have been a part of Ethel’s life if only for an evening. Sound Designer Zachary Brown makes some very interesting contributions to the production. Thanks to Costume Designer Rita Squitiere, Ms. Burrell transforms from an older and impoverished Ethel to a younger and successful version while she is on stage. See this show to hear Ethel Waters’ jokes. See this show to hear Terry Burrell  sing. No matter what your reason is,  see this show. For tickets or more information, call 215-74-3550 or visit online at

Sunday, February 12, 2012

a raw space

all four characters on set

Bristol Riverside Theatre, located at 120 Radcliffe Street in Bristol, Pa. is presenting the world premiere of a raw space by Jon Morans through February 19, 2012. The production is raw in every sense of the word. The performances of the ensemble cast are exceptional. Anette Michelle Sanders portrays Susu Ziegler, a controlling, conniving and manipulative wife and business woman. Keith Baker plays her husband Mark, a quasi-successful architect. Madi Distefano portrays Brenda, Susu’s one-time best friend.  Jack Koenig  portrays Rod Menin, an up and coming architect and husband to Brenda. The setting, currently a raw space, is a luxury Manhattan apartment, among other locales in the city. The set is rare. Big bold columns and the appearance of a slanted floor give the illusion of a huge loft that is aching to be designed. Thanks to lighting designer Ryan O’Gara, there is sometimes the impression of a huge picture window with the skyline of NYC. On other occasions another view appears and still other times the window darkens as if closed. The format  of the performance is singular. Characters speak to each other at opposite ends of the room and then the scene repeats with the characters reversing their positions so that the audience can understand what was only suggested in the rear conversations...a fascinating concept. Frequently during the piece, two characters begin a conversation and then one goes into a freeze frame, while another character enters and is in another time and space with the first character. As the production progresses, so too does the underlying character study of each performer. In spite of everything, the ending is unforeseen. You must make it a point to see this incomparable premiere. It is sure to achieve great success. For tickets or further information, call 215-785-0100 or visit online at

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Clybourne Park

The Arden Theatre, located at 40 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia,  is presenting Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.  The engagement has been extended through March 25 and will head on to Broadway in the spring.  Award winning Lighting Designer Joshua L. Schulman, working in tangent with award winning director Edward Sobel, has successfully created an invisible curtain on Arden’s Arcadia Stage. The briefest of blackouts enables the characters to appear on their mark on stage. Both acts are set in the same house in Chicago. The first act takes place in 1959; the second act 50 years later. There the similarity of the two acts ends. Norris wrote the play to serve as a prequel and sequel of sorts to Raisin in the Sun. Great attention is paid to detail to bring the audience right into a home in the 50’s. The housewife with her bib apron, the maid with her white stockings and saddle shoes, the husband with his transistor radio reading the latest copy of National Geographic, and the slip covers on the easy chair all serve to set the scene in the first act. David Ingram portrays Russ, a grief stricken man who cannot be consoled by his wife, Bev, played by Julia Gibson or Jim the local pastor portrayed by Steve Pacek.  Maggie Lakis depicts a deaf woman who accompanies Ian Merrill Peakes, her bigoted husband on a visit to the Clybourne Park home. Erika Rose paints Francine, a subservient maid and Josh Tower enters the picture as Albert, Francine’s eager-to-please husband. The first act is brash; its profanity raw. Each actor plays a stereo-type to the height of ridiculousness .Thanks to the versatility of this wonderful ensemble cast, the second act finds each actor playing a character who is almost a polar opposite of his character in the first act. The warm, cozy house on Clybourne Street in Chicago is in the process of being gutted as it stands in a state of great disrepair. The dialogue is raucous but hysterical. As tempers flare and the characters goad each other, audience members turn to each other in their laughter and ask, “Did they really say THAT?” Bruce Norris has produced a stunning work that examines the race issue that existed not only 50 years ago but continues to resonate today. Don’t wait until Clybourne Park appears on Broadway. For tickets or further information call 215-922-1122 or visit online at