Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Golem

on a cattle car headed toward Prague

It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child, but it takes a finely tuned ensemble to create a Golem. Such a group can be found at EgoPo working out of the 2nd floor of the Prince Theater on Broad Street. A Golem is a character from Jewish lore that is created out of mud to protect or serve. A talented assemblage of actors and musicians created the piece that appears on the stage, including Genevieve Perrier, Dave Jadico, Kevin Chick, Lorna Howley, Ross Beschler, Sarah Schol, Griffin Stanton-Ameisen and Josh Totora.  After months of research they have designed three scenarios that recount the tale of the Golem as told by characters on a cattle car heading out of Prague. Each tale is unique. One uses Czech inspired puppets to tell how the Golem protects the Jewish people from the evil priest in cases of blood libel, where Jews were accused of killing Christian children and using their blood to make matzo for Passover.  Another employs original Klezmer music and dance to set the mood for a story of a Rabbi who is more involved with his Golem than with his wife. The third piece deals with another aspect of Golem lore… What happens when things run amok and the Golem refuses to listen?  Although fascinating to watch this cluster of talent on stage, the show might have been a bit more cohesive if a blackout were to occur between each individual tale.   Matthew Miller’s set is very effective as the painted red slats and small window give the appearance of a freight train or cattle car.  This impression is further enhanced when sliding doors open to reveal people behind them sitting on their suitcases with big yellow Jewish stars pinned on their clothes.  For a truly exceptional experience, EgoPo is inviting audiences join them in Passover Seders on the first and second nights of Passover, April 6th and 7th at the Prince Music Theatre. For information on these nights or any other performances, call 800-595-4TIX or visit online at  

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Seth Rozin has done it again!  He has found yet another successful way to bring innovative theatre to InterAct’s stage by giving voice to eight thought-provoking productions in four weeks. To kick off its “Voices from the Other America Festival”, InterAct Theatre Company, located at 2030 Sansom Street, opened its month-long Outside The Frame body of work with a presentation of Valiant. Lanna Jofffrey adapted the work from the book Valiant Women in War and Exile by Sally Hayton-Keeva.  Lanna is also one of the three performers, along with Phyllis Johnson and Leeanne Hutchison. All three actors have a myriad of stage and screen experience which they bring to this multi-media presentation.  In front of a huge screen which gives the illusion of pages being typed on a typewriter, and in response to a voice which presumes to be the interviewer, the women stand up in turn, sometimes interrupting each other, to tell their tale of war. The actual interviews took place in many countries over a span of five years.  The women play multiple roles as they speak of the angst that war has brought to them and their families. As they flit in and out of roles, so, too, their accents change. In a flick of an ear and a blink of an eye, each actor is a native of a different country pouring out another heart-wrenching tale. This exceptionally well-performed piece will only be here for a few days so you must hurry if you want to catch it. There is plenty of time to avail yourself of the seven other pieces in the Festival, however. There will be the world premiere of Draw the Circle, written and performed by Deen, as well as several Philadelphia premieres, including Lay of the Land, written and performed by Tim Miller. For information on show schedules visit online at

Friday, March 23, 2012

Steel Magnolias

Truvy and Shelby in beauty shop

The Bristol Riverside Theatre, located at 120 Radcliffe Street in Bristol, Pa, is presenting Steel Magnolias through Sunday April 8. The very able ensemble cast of Jennie Eisenhower, portraying Shelby; Diane J Findley, portraying Clairee; Laura C. Giknis, playing Annelle;  Barbara McCulloh, playing M’Lynn;  Susan Moses playing Ouiser; and Jo Twiss portraying Truvy  trade quips and one-liners faster than your ears can catch them. They represent a multi-generational group of women in a small parish in Louisiana who find comfort in each other’s company as they gather for gossip and support at Trudy’s Hair Salon. Each character has a distinct personality and the actors do a fine job of developing these personalities onstage. Barbara McCulloh’s performance, however, is outstanding. Her soliloquy in the final scene is heart wrenching.  Set entirely in Truvy’s Beauty Salon, the production has four scenes which span two years. Thanks to the exceptional work of set designer Nels Anderson and lighting designer Kate Ashton, the audience is able to get a peek at what lies just outside the main room in the salon although the action always takes place center stage. Costume designer Lisa Zinni has created wonderful clothing changes for these six women. It is not easy to represent different seasons when you have the same indoor set, but the costume changes go a long way toward creating that illusion. For more information or tickets for this enjoyable show, call 215-785-0100 or visit online at  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

God Of Carnage

meeting in Veronica and Ben's home
Walnut Street Theatre, located at 825 Walnut Street, is producing God of Carnage through April 29th on its main stage. Billed as a “comedy of manners without the manners,” it could just as accurately be described as a side-splitting hilarity that almost makes you miss the next line because you are laughing so hard.  A meeting that begins as a civil exchange between two sets of parents whose children have had a playground altercation, slowly but assuredly evolves into mayhem.  The script is funny to be sure, but part of what makes this comedy work so well is the way in which the four characters play one against the other. As the play begins, all four parents are cordial and then both husband and wife pairs are pitted against each other.  If this had continued it could have been funny, but the humor might not have been sustained.  What adds to the richness of this production is that the “sides” are constantly changing.  There are usually three characters who argue with one, but it is never the same three and it is never against the same one. Alliances change in a split second and then revert back again. It is a multi-sensory production. Be prepared for instances of physical comedy as well as verbal wit. God of Carnage was nominated for seven Tony Awards when the play opened on Broadway in March of 2009, including nominations for all four actors. All four actors in this play, including the real life and on-stage husband and wife team of Susan Riley Stevens and Greg Wood who play Annette and Alan and Julie Czarnecki and Ben Lipitz who play Veronica and Michael deserve to receive Barrymore nominations for their performances. Their timing is impeccable; their delivery flawless. A battlefield in miniature… No one is left unscathed! Don't miss an opportunity to get your ringside seat. For tickets or further information, call 215-574-3550 or 800 982-2787 or visit online at

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Roxanne, Cyrano,Christian

The Arden Theatre Company, located at 4 N. 2nd Street in Old City, is presenting Cyrano on the F. Otto Haas Stage through April 14, 2012. This French classic, written by Edmond Rostand, was collaboratively adapted by Director Aaron Posner and Michael Hollinger who translated it into English.  Hollinger, a prolific playwright and multiple Barrymore Award winner in his own right, produced a spectacular translation.  Cyrano’s words do indeed wax poetic and the dialogue is so striking, one can readily forget that the play is not being performed in its original language.  Of the cast of nine, only Keith Randolph Smith, who portrays a narrator of sorts and Eric Hissom who portrays Cyrano perform only one role. Some actors, such as Scott Greer, have an opportunity to excel in as many as six roles, both male and female ones.  Doug Hara finds himself changing characters five times, one of which is  a female as well. Even Luigi Sottile, Roxanne’s love interest, has four other roles to play in addition to Christian, the young man smitten with Roxanne.   Fight Director Dale Anthony Girard is responsible for the electrifying sword fights which occur on stage.  The parrying is realistic; the footwork is nimble and the men display the grace usually reserved for  a ballet.  This production is a sensory feast.  The ears soak up the exquisite language and the sounds of fighting; the eyes clutch onto the colorful costumes and the enticing wrought iron set which serves multiple purposes for the characters on the stage; the nose can almost grasp the stench of war; the entire body can feel a chill in the air as leaves fall from the top of the theater onto the stage to indicate the change of seasons and passage of time.  Don’t miss an opportunity to see what is sure to be a smashing success. For more information or tickets, call 215-922-1122 or visit online at

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Curse of the Starving Class

Ella and Weston Tate

The Wilma Theatre, located at 265 S. Broad Street is producing Curse of the Starving Class through April 8. Sam Shepard’s dark comedy gives us a rare look at how desperation and deprivation drives people to their own individual breaking points. Weston Tate, brilliantly portrayed by Bruce McKenzie, represents the violence and anger of an alcoholic.  The father of a lower-middle-class family in rural California, he can do nothing to piece together the destruction that has been wrought.  The mother, Ella Tate, played by Lorri Holt, becomes fed up with being mired in melancholy, misery and the mayhem of her life and hatches an escape .plan with Taylor, portrayed by Peter Schmitz.  Taylor is an attorney involved in real estate and he is representative of all the major corporations that take advantage of those who are down on their luck.  Nate Miller gives an excellent performance as Wesley Tate, the son in the family.  Not being able to accept giving up the famiy's land and fearful for his father’s life due to threats about overextended loans, Wesley undergoes a complete meltdown.  His sister, Emma, portrayed by Keira Keeley fares no better as she cannot cope with the family dynamics  and runs away on more than one occasion The play was written 30 years ago and the set is an authentic  kitchen area for the time period.  Cooking is done on stage on an old gas stove and food is put in an old refrigerator. On the surface, this captivating account is about the destruction and desperation of a family.  In reality, it is a microcosm of society in crisis.   The portrayal of such heart-wrenching experiences requires the actors to appear well rounded and able to express mood changes with authenticity.   The entire cast is well up to the task.  Kudos for acting jobs well done. For more information about this show or for tickets, call 215-546--7824 or visit online at www.  

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Let's Pretend We're Famous

What do you do when you expect several stars to make guest appearances on your show and receive response after response expressing regrets along with a “And by the way, who ARE you?” Stumped?  If you are Tony Braithwaithe or Jennifer Childs, you turn to each other and say, “Let’s pretend we’re famous.” (After all, the show must go on.) Let’s Pretend We’re Famous is being presented by 1812 Productions at Plays and Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Street. Smart, sassy and sensational, this production by Philadelphia’s All Comedy Theatre Company is scheduled to run through March 25. Jennifer Childs, artistic director and co-founder of 1812 Productions and Tony Braithwaite, multiple Barrymore nominee and winner, have collaborated on a variety of shows since 2000. Their sense of timing is spot-on. Flashing from one parody to the next without a breath is a mind-numbing task, but both Jen and Tony accomplish this with ease. Their performances are brilliant. Their rich voices, their dazzling smiles, the twinkle in their eyes and their comments allow members of the audience to feel that they are in on the jokes too. In keeping with the theory that everyone is entitled to his 15 minutes of fame, a member of the audience is chosen to participate in a short conversation, after which his 15 minutes begins, with both Jen and Tony taking phrases from his aforementioned conversation and parlaying it into a 15 minute side-splitting sketch on the rise and fall of a celebrity. Songs with original lyrics, songs in parody, dance routines, impressions…Jennifer and Tony do it all. For more information or tickets for this remarkably entertaining show call 215-592-9560 or visit online at

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Romeo and Juliet

Friar and Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is being produced by the Lantern Theater Company at 10th and Ludlow Streets, Philadelphia, through April 1, 2012. No area theater does a better job of presenting Shakespeare’s plays and this play does nothing to spoil that reputation. Nicole Erb makes her Lantern debut as Juliet. She brings her TV, film and previous theater experience to the role of the young teen who is both giddy in love and passionately angry when she feels thwarted in her attempts to have her own way. The breadth of her emotions is a thrill to watch. Also expressing  great depths of character are Frank X as Friar Lawrence and Ceal Phelan portraying both Juliet’s nurse and Romeo’s father. Leonard C Haas as Lord Capulet gets very volatile onstage and the audience almost cringes in their seats as he rants, so effective are his diatribes. The set is a true work of art thanks to scenic designer Meghan Jones. Not only does it include the requisite balcony for Romeo and Juliet’s well known scene, but an entire castle is built up on the stage with many entrances, exits, arches and stairs.  Actors are frequently running on or off the stage only to reappear a few minutes later in an entirely different spot. A huge courtyard is the scene for more than one sword fight, artfully staged by fight director Alex Cordaro. Costumes genuine to the time period were artfully designed by Mary Folino. Lighting Designer Shelly Hicklin deserves a Barrymore nomination for the outstanding way in which day turns to night through the windows; chandeliers are raised and lowered in the castle to adjust the lighting; and total blackouts are used for scene changes to allow actors to exit the stage unnoticed.  Shakespeare is not always easy to read.  It is, however, easy to love if you attend a production at the Lantern Theater Company. For tickets or more information, call 215-829-0395 or visit online at