Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Exit Interview

Cheryl William and Dan Hodge

InterAct Theatre Company is presenting The Exit Interview on the Main Stage of The Adrienne, 2030 Sansom Street, through November 11. It has been written by Williams Missouri Downs and is directed Seth Rozin.  The night I saw the performance, an announcement was made to the eagerly awaiting theatre goers in the lobby that the curtain would be delayed by 30 minutes as it had just been discovered that a laptop had been stolen which held all of the actors’ cues and work had to be done to reconstruct them.  Offers were made to give rain checks, but everyone waited and believe me, it was worth the wait. The playwright treats the bold question, “do things really happen for a reason?”  in a cheeky manner, much to the audience’s delight.  Dick Fig, an agnostic college professor who has just lost his job, is forced to endure a parting conference with a devout Christian examiner.   While Fig alludes to the virtues of Berthold Brecht in trying to convince his examiner that God does not exist, William Missouri Downs, with his tongue in his cheek, offers up all the elements of an epic Brechtian play. While the exit interview is being conducted to the tune of nearby gunshots. there are actors who speak directly to the audience; explanatory placards; stage directions spoken aloud; songs used to interrupt the action and several small vignettes within a loosely held plot. Commercial plugs for the second act are the height of the ridiculous This is irreverent comedy at its best. For more information or tickets call 215-568-8079 or visit online at

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Stars of David

The Philadelphia Theatre Company’s World Premiere of Stars of David is a sheer delight.  It can be seen at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, Broad and Lombard Street, through November 18.  Based on Abigail Pogrebin’s best-selling book of the same name, Stars of David gives glimpses of Jewish life through interviews with prominent public figures.  Over a dozen lyricists use humor and fortitude to breathe life into these interviews. The four member ensemble cast change clothes and wigs so frequently that it  is difficult to remember the cast is not composed of a dozen or more characters. Kudos should go to costume designer Alejo Vietti.  Bravos as well to set designer Beowulf Boritt, Lighting Designer Howell Binkley and Projection Designer Jason Thompson for the filmed coverage  of personalities, TVs, library stacks and an evolving synagogue. You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy the hysterical routine put forth by the artists mimicking Fran Dresher or Joan Rivers. Nor is your ethnicity a requirement to enjoy the magic performed by a young Leonard Nemoy.  Don’t miss the show everyone is sure to be talking about.  It is a wonderful experience. There are several talk-backs and special events scheduled as well. For more information or tickets, call 215-985-0420 or visit online at

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Assassination of Jesse James

EgoPo Classic Theater is the only Philadelphia area theater to take its audience on a journey through a genre each theatre season.  This year they are celebrating the American Vaudeville Festival and have opened with The Assassination of Jesse James. The upstairs studio of Plays and Players Theater at 17th and Delancey Street has been transformed into an authentic 19th Century Saloon, complete with sawdust floors, barrel tables and an open bar through October 28th.   Sit down and settle back as you imagine yourself transported back in time to the end of the 19th Century…a time when outlaws were revered by some, tolerated by others, and ignored by many.  Enjoy the  acapella harmonies belted out on the stage as the all-female ensemble begins to tell the tale of Jesse James and his recruits. Melanie Julian, who was dynamite as Mrs. Frank in last year’s production, gives Jesse James a swagger that could only be outdone by Jesse himself.  Kate Brennan, Maria Konstantinidis, Colleen Hughes and Amanda Schoonover all show their versatility as cowboys of the Old West.  The design team does an incredible job.   Huge cue cards, turned over to announce each new scene reinforce the nostalgic feeling of vaudeville. Flashes of light to illuminate shootings as well as highlight slow motion fights and escape attempts are outstanding. You forget your surroundings as you witness slow motion horseback riding on backwards chairs. There is much to enjoy in this performance. A glimpse of our history of The Wild West, the fantastic descants that waft through the air and the awesome special effects all constitute a night in vaudeville you won’t soon forget.  For more information or tickets call 267-273-1414 or visit online at

Monday, October 8, 2012

This Is The Week That Is

Childs and Montrey as The Romneys

1812 Productions, Philadelphia’s only All Comedy Theatre Company begins its 2012-2013 theatre season with This Is The Week That Is: The Election Special!  Housed at Plays and Players Theatre, 17th and Delancey Street, 1812 Productions will present their seventh version of this annual favorite through November 4.  I have seen this show for the past 5 years and this may be the funniest version yet. Perhaps it is because Artistic Director Jennifer Childs is given more stage time than previous years.  No one who has ever seen her perform can deny her incredible talent and extraordinary sense of timing.  Perhaps it is because ensemble newcomer Aimé Kelly so closely resembles Michelle Obama that the audience roars as she makes the decisions in the White House sketches and Reuben Mitchell as “Barack” bumbles along with his slow, every so slow, drawn out  speech.  Some perennial favorites, such as Patsy on the stoop in South Philly and an audience member’s participation in the first act being integrated into the second act are shorter than in previous years. This leaves quite a bit of time for the cast to satirize up-to-the-minute local and state-wide political events. Hold onto your seat when Jennifer Childs enters the stage as Governor Christie or you just might slide off because you are laughing so hard. Dave Jadico, Don Montrey, Thomas E. Shotkin and Musical Director Alex Bechtel comprise the rest of this extraordinarily talented ensemble of writers and performers.   As the election heats up, the writers will rewrite parts of the show; it may never be exactly the same performance twice but what it will be is a rollicking good time. For more information or tickets call 215-592-9560 or visit online at

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Next to Normal

Diana's electro-shock treatments

The Arden Theatre, located at 40 N. 2nd Street, begins its 25th theatre season with the 2010 Pulitzer Prize winning musical Next to Normal.   With producing Artistic Director Terrence J. Nolen at the helm, the musical is scheduled to run on the F. Otto Haas stage through November 4.  Next to Normal is not easy to watch but neither is it easy to  let your eye roam off the stage.  The dialogue is gripping; the music is mesmerizing and the acting of the ensemble cast is riveting.  Kristine Fraelich, who portrays Diana, has a singing voice that is exquisitely pure, but when she is having an episode of mental illness, her voice takes on a wildly altered timbre. Rachel Camp, who portrays Diana’s long neglected teenage-aged daughter Natalie, also shows a wide breath of acting ability.  Her voice is strong and her portrayal of her plight brings the audience to tears.  Robert Hager demonstrates that he knows how to belt out a song as he appears and reappears onstage for solos and duets. Michael Doherty gives a convincing performance as Henry, a stable constant in Natalie’s life.  James Barry and Brian Hissong round out this excellent ensemble cast. Jorge Cousineau does an extraordinary job as scenic and video designer along with lighting designer Thom Weaver.  The special effects greatly enhance the staging of the production.  There is nothing normal about this play but next to normal is more than you could ask for.  For more information or tickets call 215-922-1122 or visit online at