Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sideways Stories from Wayside School

Mrs. Gorf turns students into apples
The Arden Theatre Company, located at 40 N 2nd Street, is presenting Sideways Stories from Wayside School for its first children’s theatre production of the year. This zany show can be seen on the F. Otto Haas Stage through February 15.  As students Rondi, played by Taysha Canales and Myron, portrayed by Robert Hager so aptly explain to their new teacher, “the building should have had 30 classrooms on one floor, but the architect accidently designed the building to be built on its side.” The children are in a class on the 30th floor.  Children and adults alike will marvel at Scenic Designer David P. Gordon’s flash of brilliance. Everything in the classroom is constructed on its side….from the door which opens up from the floor to the tiled floor on the walls and the ultra-high clock and flag waving from the ceiling. The youngest audience members murmur to their parents about all the misplaced items in the classroom before the show even begins. Older audience members nod to each other in appreciation of the quirky set.  It is not only the set that is sideways. Teaching methods are askew also.  The ultimate threat from the mean Mrs. Gorf is to be turned into an apple for reciting a wrong answer. Everyone in the audience shudders as that warning turns into a reality. The ultimate threat from her gentle replacement, Mrs. Jewls, portrayed by Rachel Camp, is to be sent home on the kindergarten bus.   While this is met with chuckles from most, my granddaughter, herself a kindergarten student, did not get the joke. That is not to say that the show appeals only to older children.  Everyone, from 5 to 95 will find many occasions for side-splitting laughter. All cast members do a great job in bringing this tale to life; however, special kudos must be given to Steve Pacek, not only for  his depiction of Mrs. Gorf, but for his portrayal of 6 other characters as well.  Be sure to make plans to take the young people in your life to this unforgettable experience at the Wayside School.  If you have no young people to take to the theatre, grab a ticket for yourself.  You won’t regret it.  For more information or tickets, call 215-922-1122 or visit online at www.ardentheatre.org.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Child's Christmas in Wales

mean cat
Lantern Theater Company, located in St. Stephen’s Church, 10th and Lombard Streets, is presenting a World Premiere Adaptation of Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales, through January 5.

 This piece was  co-created by Artistic Director Charles McMahon and interdisciplinary artist  and director Sebastienne Mundheim.  As fascinating as it is to hear the vivid language of Dylan Thomas’s poem and the nostalgic moments of Christmases past it might invoke, it is equally intriguing to discover just how this presentation was put together. Click on the insert for a short video that gives a preview of the delight that will be in store for you when you go to see A Child’s Christmas in Wales.   Performed seamlessly  by an all-star ensemble cast of Charlie DelMarcelle, Genevieve Perrier, Doug Hara and Amy Smith, the captivating language of Dylan’s poem is brought to life on the stage with the help of Sebastienne Mundheim’s creations and the audience’s fond memories of Christmas from childhood days.  The language of the work and the artistry on the stage are enough to induce appreciation of the work even if a flood of memories are not evoked. Include this delight for your eyes and ears when making plans for holiday viewing.  For more information or tickets, call 215-829-0395 or visit online at www.lantern.org. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

NERDS

Woz and Steve Jobs
The Philadelphia Theatre Company located at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 17th and Lombard Streets, is producing NERDS through December 29.  Having had its world premiere with the Philadelphia Theatre Company in 2007, NERDS received two Barrymore Awards and is back, updated, and stronger than ever with eye-popping visuals,  saucy quips, exhilarating choreography and a cameo appearance of Steve Wozniak’s favorite Segway. NERDS is a satirical look at the travails of rivals Bill Gates and Steve Jobs from their early inventions in a garage and the hoodwinking of a fellow “nerd” for the rights to an operating system to the rarified ranks of millionaires and billionaires  The show is peppered with pizzazz and includes some gut-wrenching moments, all expressed though the electrifying songs performed by Stanley Bahorek as Bill Gates, Matt Bradley as Steve Jobs, Briana Carlson-Goodman as Sally, and Lexy Fridell as Myrtle in addition to performances by the entire company.  Whether or not you were ever a nerd, you must see this funny, delightful, feel-good musical parody.  For more information or tickets, call 215-985-0420 or visit online at PhiladelphiaTheatreCompany.org 

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Big Time: New Vaudeville for the Holidays

Greg Nix & Dave Jadico-mirror image
1812 Productions, operating out of Plays and Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Street, has a wonderful treat in store this holiday season.  Philadelphia’s all comedy theatre company is presenting The Big Time: New Vaudeville for the Holidays through December 31.  You won’t find a better place to experience the fun of constant in-your-face humor.  The show is a series of skits paying homage to vaudeville styles and well-known comedic routines.  With Greg Nix acting as a stage hand and turning the cue cards to announce each act, the audience thinks it’s aware of the content of each upcoming act but remember... this is 1812’s production and not everything will be as it seems. Burns and Allen had nothing on Greer and Childs and The Smothers Brothers better move over to make room for Nix and Jadico.  Quick costume changes?  There must be magic going on in the back of the Italian bakery. Be prepared to be surprised.  Be prepared to chuckle, laugh and guffaw. Greg Nix, Dave Jadico, Scott Greer and Jen Childs are just that funny.   For more information or tickets, call 215-592-9560 or visit online at www.1812productions.org

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Elf

Buddy and Jovie
The Walnut Street Theatre, located at 825 Walnut Street, is presenting Elf through January 5.  This enchanting tale of merry holidays, Christmas spirit, and child-like innocence will warm your heart and have you bursting out in smiles. Be prepared to be captivated by the performance of Christopher Sutton who plays Buddy, the Elf.  His performance was awe-inspiring as he won a Barrymore for his portrayal of Buddy in The Buddy Holly Story.  This Buddy not only sings, but dances up a storm.  Singing and tapping by his side is an all-star ensemble cast.as well as the charismatic Kate Fahrner who portrays his girlfriend, Jovie. The sets, aptly gift wrapped for the season, take us from the North Pole to Manhattan and back.  Walnut Street’s mainstage is the place to be for all believers in Santa Claus.  If you are not a believer-, all the more reason for you to attend and suspend your belief for a delightful experience... Where else can you experience a snowfall without the accompanying cold? For more information or tickets, call 215-574-3550 or visit online at www.walnutstreettheatrer.org

Monday, November 4, 2013

Pride and Prejudice

Bristol Riverside Theatre, located at 120 Radcliffe Street in Bristol, Pa, is presenting Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice through November 24. Jon Jory’s adaption of Jane Austin’s 200 year old novel remains true to its original content. The creative team of set designer Megan Jones, costume designer Linda B. Stockton, lighting Designer Kate Ashton, sound designer Bradlee Milton, and choreographer Stephen Casey have all worked together to make the stage the embodiment of 19th Century salons and gardens. The balls which are held (not easy to accomplish without a huge stage and cast of thousands) give everyone the flavor of British society in 1813 .The ensemble cast performs well without exception. The quadrilles, clipped speech and stiff mannerisms provide a believable time warp to whisk the audience back to an earlier era.  For tickets or more information on how to see this delightful production, call 215-985-0100 or visit online at www.brtstage.org.  

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Stick Fly

porch and kitchen of Vineyard home

Arden Theatre Company, located at 40 N. 2nd Street, is presenting Lydia Diamond’s Stick Fly through December 22.  Philadelphia is a wonderful place to enjoy great theatre this year and the Arden Theatre is the spot to go to see two smash hits.  Parade, playing on its F. Otto Haas stage was discussed earlier. Stick Fly just opened on its Arcadia Stage.  This powerful drama with its bouts of humor takes us on a whirlwind journey into the mindsets of members of an African American family and their girlfriends’ .during a weekend in the family home on Martha’s Vineyard.  Diamond has provided a fascinating study in group dynamics and the Arden Theatre Company has put together a cast and design team that highlights her acerbic wit and dynamic script.  Scenic Designer David Gordon has provided an authentic Vineyard set. The intricate plot is composed of a series of vignettes, aptly separated by music and lighting changes, thanks to the incredible work of designers Robert Kaplowitz and Thom Weaver.  You may need a scoreboard to keep up with the serpentine twists and ever-changing alliances in this dysfunctional family, but members of this outstanding ensemble cast deliver the intricate plot lines seamlessly. Join U.R (Flip LeVay), Julianna Zinkel (his girlfriend Kimber),  Biko Eisen-Martin (Kent LeVay),  Jessica Frances Dukes (his girlfriend Taylor),  Jerome Preston Bates (Joe LeVay) and Joniece Abbott-Pratt who portrays Cheryl in this excellent production.  For more information or tickets, call 215-922-1122 or visit online at www.ardentheatre.org

 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

We Are Proud to Present a Presentation about the Herero of Namibia, formerly known as Southwest Africa, from the German Sudwestafrika, between the years 1884-1915

 Cast depicting Germans and Hereros
Jackie Sibblies Drury’s We Are Proud to Present….is being performed by an ensemble cast  on InterAct’s main stage, 2030 Sansom Street through November 10.  Dynamic Philadelphia actors Aime Kelly, JaBen Early, Jamison Foreman, James Ijames, Kevin Meehan and Miriam White give us a spelling-binding, behind-the-scenes peek of a troupe's workings in a rehearsal hall. This captivating piece thrusts a rainbow of emotions upon the audience. The seemingly trivial beginning that causes bursts of laughter throughout the audience morphs into a raw slap-in-your-face ending which leaves everyone gasping in disbelief. Six actors, charged with devising a bit about a 20th Century genocide in Africa uncover latent prejudices and violent tendencies amongst themselves.  At once breath-taking and heart-wrenching, the machinations on the stage as the actors work and rework their scenes will have you glued to your seats. Drury’s work is both poignant and compelling, a rare look at racial unrest that lies just below the surface of official niceties. It is being produced in several cities throughout the United States, but InterAct Theatre Company is presenting the Philadelphia premiere. Don’t miss the chance to witness this marvel here. For more information or tickets, call 215-658-8079 or visit online at www.interacttheatre.org

Friday, October 18, 2013

4,000 Miles

Beth Dixon as Vera
The Philadelphia Theatre Company, located in the Suzanne Roberts Theatre at Broad and Lombard Streets, is presenting the OBIE Award winning 4,000 Miles by Amy Herzog through November 10.   Expect the unexpected and you will be right on target.  Leo, portrayed by Davy Raphaely, appears on his grandmother’s doorstep in Greenwich Village at 3:00 AM after having biked cross-country.  His grandmother Vera, played by Beth Dixon, is more than a little surprised to see him at such an hour without warning, but manages to take the situation in stride… (particularly if you overlook her snide comments and chuckle along with the rest of the audience). The teen and his grandmother make strange roommates, but her acerbic wit and Beth Dixon’s commanding presence on the stage make this production much more than an exercise in intergenerational dynamics.  Beth gives us a glimpse into what old age be might be like for someone who refuses to lie back and acknowledge it…. the deliberateness of movement that never slows her down, the refusal to use new technology without losing interest in it, and the knowledge that she can get away with saying many more things than she could when she was younger. This one act intimately peels back the layers of Vera’s and Leo’s lives as they interact in her apartment.   Also featured in the cast are Leigha Kato as Amanda and Shannon Marie Sullivan as Bec.  Jason Simms did an excellent job as Scenic Designer, for the apartment has the feel of several rooms with entrances and egresses to the center stage. Accomplished Lighting Designer Thom Weaver lights up the set vibrantly. Although Amy Herzog has written a well-crafted drama loosely based upon her grandmother,  its comedic lines are brilliant. Laughter rings throughout the theatre for most of the performance. For more information or tickets call 215-985-0420 or visit online at PhiladelphiaTheatreCompany.org. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

You Say Tomato I Say Shut Up!

Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kaplan
Penn’s Landing Playhouse, located in the Independence Museum at 211 S. Columbia Blvd. and Walnut Streets is presenting You Say Tomato I Say Shut Up! through December 29.  There is a parking lot adjacent to the theatre venue which provides parking at reasonable rates, making a visit to this theatre a bargain for Philadelphia theatre-goers who drive to see performances. Comedy is not easy to perform.   With perseverance a competent actor can study a comedic script and present a credible performance.  Other actors can see the humor in every situation and project that humor to all who come into contact with them. When two such actors meet and subsequently marry, watch out!  Nothing is sacred.  After Annabelle Gurwitch was canned by Woody Allen, she turned her experience into an off-Broadway play, a touring show, a book and a documentary film entitled Fired!  Emmy-Award winning writer Jeff Kaplan made contributions to her work.  Their present work You Say Tomato, I say Shut Up! is funny because it rings true. Detailing their relationship from their engagement through their 10th wedding anniversary, Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kaplan leave no holds barred. No matter what your relationship status is, you will find some disagreement that happens on the stage has happened to you.  This causes laughter to abound.  More quips are traded back and forth on the stage and more laughter ensues again and again and again.  You may not want to say shut up (maybe you want use even stronger language) and you may not care how to pronounce tomato, but you will want to see this enjoyable show that makes you leave the theatre smiling.  For tickets, call 855-488-7469 or visit online at PLPlayhouse.com

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Parade

Ben Dibble as Leo Frank in courtroom
The Arden Theatre Company, located at 40 N. 2nd Street, Old City, Philadelphia, is producing Parade through November 3.  Playwright Alfred Uhry was inspired to tell the true story of a Jewish factory manager in Georgia who is accused of murdering a young girl.   Uhry’s great uncle actually owned the factory where the murder took place.  Audience members can get a glimpse of the Southern culture in Atlanta throughout the early 1900’s, which was unsympathetic to Jews as well as Yankees .  Leo Frank, unfortunately, was a member of both groups. Artistic Director Terrence J. Nolan and scenic and video designer Jorge Cousineau worked brilliantly together to turn a minimalistic stage into multiple scenic backgrounds through the use of a large projection screen.  In addition, the screen is used to scream out headlines from a variety of newspapers of the day and to announce dates, denoting the passage of time.   Although this is not a musical with lyrics that will have you singing on your way out of the theatre, the music serves to move the story along and the harmonies are very strong  The fifteen member cast reads like a who’s who of Philadelphia musical theatre.  Ben Dibble, Rachel Camp, Scott Greer, Anthony Lawton, and Jennie Eisenhower are only a few of the actors whose voices fill the stage.  Much of the singing is acappella and all fifteen voices are forceful. This is not a show for the faint of heart but a heartfelt drama that will leave you reeling at the end of the final curtain. It is like no parade that you have ever seen.  You may not want to join those who are in it, but you won’t want to let it pass you by.  For more information or tickets, call 215-922-1122 or visit online at www.ardentheatre.org

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Bunny Bunny--Gilda Radner: A Sort of Romantic Comedy

 Zweibel watching Gilda perform
1812 Productions is the first Philadelphia theatre company to produce Bunny Bunny—Gilda Radner: A Sort of Romantic Comedy since its world premiere in Philadelphia 16 years ago.   The production can be seen through October 27 at the Independence Studio on 3 at the Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut Street. The space on 3 is small but the actors do a colossal job of telling this extremely personal story of Gilda Radner’s life seen through the eyes of friend and writer Alan Zweibel.  Zweibel and Radner met as novices on the set of Saturday Night Live and as she continued on with a solo career, he continued with writing, frequently writing humorous material for Gilda to perform.  Gilda was a queen of comedy cut down in her prime by cancer; yet Alan Zweibel, due to his lifelong relationship with her, managed to write her story with a humorous and compelling bent.  Matt Pfeiffer is an Alan par excellence.  From his initial comments to the viewers, to his interactions with Gilda, he keeps the audience transfixed.  He has a commanding stage presence.   Likewise, Leah Walton is radiant as Gilda.  She takes us from a slightly frightened young girl on her first day of the Saturday Night Live set to a composed young woman asking her friend Zweibel to “help me make cancer funny.”  You leave the theatre wishing that there had been more… more of the play which seems to end too soon, and more to Gilda’s life, which certainly ended much sooner than everyone would have wished.   For more information or tickets, call 215-592-9560 or visit online at www.1812productions.org

Friday, September 27, 2013

Emma

Ensemble at a Ball
The Lantern Theater Company, located in St. Stephen’s Church at 10th and Ludlow Streets, is presenting Jane Austin’s Emma through October 27. The performance is a pure delight.  Audience members are transported to early 19th Century England’s high society where only an impeccable match can be deemed appropriate by Emma, self-proclaimed matchmaker.  Lantern theater-goers will appreciate the return of veteran actors Jake Blough and Peter Delaurier, playing Frank Churchill and Mr. Woodhouse respectively.  The determined and headstrong Emma is flawlessly portrayed by Lauren Sowa. Frequent scene changes and furniture movements are done seamlessly so that audience members sitting on all three sides of Lantern’s stage can revel in the actors’ fine performances.  Alisa Sickora Kleckner has done outstanding work as the costume designer for this production. You'll find yourself immersed in 19th Century’s haute couture  and will have a difficult time keeping up with all the costume changes. These young actors are fleet of foot!  In conjunction with the theater performances, Lantern will also present a Jane Austin Festival from October 11-15 featuring performances, lectures, readings, demonstrations, and hands-on events. The Festival Pass is $75 for subscribers, seniors and students and $90 for all others.  It includes all festival events and $10 discount to all Emma performances.  Events may also be purchased individually.  On Friday, October 11 at 6:00 PM there will be a Festival Welcome and Food and Wine Matching.  Following the 8:00 PM performance of Emma, there will be post-show Artists in Conversation with the Emma cast. On Saturday October 12, at 2:00 PM there is a lecture and Q&A  with Margaret C. Sullivan, celebrated author of The Jane Austin Handbook.  At 3:30 PM there will be Demonstration & Lesson: Regency Dance Forms and Afternoon Ball. This is a participatory event and will put into immediate use the information gleaned from the preceding lecture. Participants will be led through dances such as the cotillion, the quadrille and the early waltz, accompanied by live music. The evening performance is at 8:00 PM.  On Sunday October 13, following the 2:00 PM matinĂ©e performance of Emma, there will be a 5:00 PM Demonstration & Refreshments: Regency Tea Rituals.  At 7:00 PM there will be a Concert Performance & Discussion of Austentatious by 11th Hour Theatre Company- a script in hand  adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Submerge yourself into Jane Austin's world.  For more information about festival events or ticket information for the show, call 215,829-0395 or visit online at www.lanterntheater.org

Monday, September 23, 2013

My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish, & I'm Still in Therapy

Bristol Riverside Theatre, located at 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, Pa, is presenting Steve Solomon’s My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish, and I’m Still in Therapy through October 6. This is  the 3rd installment of Solomon’s original hit, My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish and I'm in Therapy, which is  one of the longest running one-man comedy shows in history.  Touring companies are presenting all three shows throughout the United States as well as overseas. Steve Solomon is a comic genius. The material that he has written is very funny but equally important is his presentation. He has an uncanny ability to mimic voices and imitate sounds.  Solomon  provides non-stop laughter from the moment he steps onto the stage until his parting words.   I would have been embarrassed at my outbursts  had not the rest  of the audience been roaring right along side of me. Be sure to get your tickets immediately for the biggest belly-laugh you are likely to have in a very long time.  Treat yourself to a night of fun.  For more information or tickets call 215-785-0100 or visit online at brtstage.org 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

In the Heights

Ensemble
Walnut Street Theatre, located at 825 Walnut Street, is presenting the Tony Award Winning Best Musical In The Heights on its mainstage to open its 205th Season. The show has had a myriad of awards including a Pulitzer, a Grammy, several Tony’s and several Drama Desk Awards. Once you have seen this performance you will understand why. The set is breathtaking.  Set Designer Anna Louizos also designed the set for the Broadway production.  You must pinch yourself to be sure you are not smack dab in the middle of a barrio.  Lighting Designer Paul Black and Costume Designed Colleen Grady add to the illusion.  Perry Young arrives straight off the National Tour of In the Heights to reprise his role of Usnavi.  With his unique blend of rap and hip hop he has the audience mesmerized from curtain to curtain. Raised by his Abuela, it is their joint dream for him to get out of the barrio and retire to the beach but then something happens to make him realize the importance of home.  Gizel Jimenez portrays Vanessa, his love interest.  The way she belts out a song can heard two blocks outside the theatre.   There are two dozen songs in this production- solos, duets, ensembles pieces, and every one on them is a winner. The dancing, too, is phenomenal.  Kudos to choreographer  Michelle Gaudette and the entire ensemble cast.  Not a moment goes by when the audience is not wholly engaged.   I have been to performances where the cast has had a standing ovation at the end of the show, but I don't think I have ever before seen every single audience member on their feet applauding at the end of the performance. This show's really reached great heights and you would be remiss if you didn’t make every effort to see it before the end of its run on October 20.  For more information or tickets, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787 or visit online at www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Viva Philadelphia

Michael Krajewski
The Philly POPS is opening its new season with the theme “Viva Philadelphia” under the direction of their new music director Michael Krajewski.  The POPS’ 35th season begins on Columbus weekend, with performances on Friday October 11 through Sunday October 13.  Friday concerts will be held at 8 PM and Saturday and Sunday concerts will be 3 PM matinee performances. The concerts will continue to be presented in Verizon Hall of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts on the Avenue of the Arts in Philadelphia.   In this concert series, Krajewski will share the stage with many vocal talents…Eddie Bruce, the “Poperazzi” vocal trio and the POPS Festival Chorus.  They will provide tributes to Mario Lanza, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and Andrea Bocelli.   The season continues with the annual Holiday POPS! Series, followed by the sounds of Simon and Garfunkel and then a salute to Marvin Hamlisch.  It  then continues with the movie music of legendary John Williams and ends with the four original stars of Broadway’s “Jersey Boys”, now known as the Midtown Men with music of the 60’s.  Season subscription tickets and individual tickets are available. For more information or tickets call 215-893-1999 or visit online at www.phillypops.org.    

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Importance of Being Ernest


James Ijames and Chancellor Dean
 Mauckingbird Theatre Company, located in the Off-Broad Street Theatre of the 1st Baptist Church at 1636 Sansom Street, is presenting The Importance of Being Ernest through August 25. Touted as the only theatre company in the nation devoted solely to presenting works seen through a “queer” lens, Mauckingbird has once again created a first class production.  Having recently reread The Importance of Being Ernest, I can attest to the fact that although Peter Reynolds adapted Oscar Wilde’s play to give it a gay bent, he has left the script virtually intact; Jack (Chancellor Dean) falls in love with Gwendolyn, portrayed by Brent Knobloch and his cousin Algernon (James Ijames) fancies Jack’s ward, Cecily, portrayed by David Hutchison. As in any farce, circumstances change from one minute to the next followed by laughter from the audience. The acting is first rate;every actor delivers his lines with a straight face although I believe there were twinkles in the eyes of some as the laughter from the audience reached the stage. Gwendolyn’s mother and Algernon’s aunt, Lady Bracknell, is played by the incomparable Nancy Boykin. The antithesis of every other character, her formality in the absurd brings the house down. Set in Victorian England in both the city and the country, set designer Andrew Laine designed a brilliant set that  looks like an authentic aristocratic Victorian parlor, then magically becomes a place in the country. Watching this performance is truly an incredible experience.  Find out for yourself just what The Importance of Being Ernest is.  For more information or tickets, call 215-923-8909 or visit online at www.mauckingbird.com.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up!

Abramson and Johnstone
The national tour of You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up!, a side-splitting relationship comedy, is continuing in Philadelphia at the New Penn’s Landing Playhouse (inside the Independence Seaport   Museum) at 211 S. Columbus Blvd and Walnut St. Previews will begin September 18, following by a planned Opening Night on Wednesday October 2. The show is scheduled to run through December 29, 2013.
You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up! takes a humorous look at a relationship that seems on edge from the start due to powerful opposing personalities. After a series  of trials and tribulations the couple learns to navigate the conflicts that come with romance, money and children by embracing each other’s differences, taking on parenting as a competitive sport and dropping out of couples’ therapy. Writers-actors- and real-life married couple Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn have adapted their memoir of the same name for the stage.  Directed by Van Kaplan, the play stars Robin Abramson and Gregory Johnston who have been given rave reviews all over the country.
You Say Tomato will run in the evenings at 7:00PM Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8:00PM Fridays and Saturdays with additional matinees performances at 2:00 PM on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. For tickets or further information, call 855-448-7469 (855-HIT-SHOW) or visit online at www.PLPlayhouse.com.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Avenue Q

some residents of Avenue Q
Mazeppa Productions, located in Christ Church Neighborhood House Theatre on 20 N. American St, Philadelphia, Pa is presenting   Avenue Q through July 27. You might miss the theatre’s location, as I did, the first go round as it is located off 2nd Street between Market and Arch, but it is well worth driving around the block to find it. I expected to be shocked by the language of the show (I was not) . I expected to be amused. (I laughed …A LOT) What I did not expect was the talent in the cast of this fledgling theater company.  Mazeppa Productions has only been in existence since 2011 and was founded with the express goal of bringing exciting works of musical theater to Philadelphia.  While all of the cast members of Avenue Q have some on-stage experience, many of them are still students or very recent graduates with degrees in musical theater.  The aggregate talent of these young performers is astounding. Kudos to Mazeppa Productions founders Rob Henry and Brian Seaman for providing a venue for such talent to be heard and to blossom. The cast not only works well with puppets. Prop Designer Annie Heath’s talking boxes were also a huge hit with the entire audience.  Erin McCourt must also be acknowledged for designing such a perfect set.  The season continues with cabaret-style performances and a two-day Rapunzel event.  I hope that as this theater company matures they will be able to add more full length productions to the schedule. This will not only provide further experience to the cast members resumes, but bring additional enjoyment to Philadelphia musical theater lovers as well. For further information or tickets, call 265-559-9602 or visit online at www.mazeppaproductions.org

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Love, Loss and What I Wore

The Philadelphia Theatre Company, located in the Suzanne Roberts Theatre at Broad and Lombard Streets, is presenting  Nora and Delia Ephron’s  Love, Loss and What I Wore through July 7. This wildly successful off-Broadway hit not only strikes a nerve in every woman in the audience, but has the male audience members appreciating it as well.  Insightful and down-to earth, witty and genuine, each anecdote and one-liner is something  audience members can personally relate to…from “The Bra” to “The Prom Dress”, from "The Dressing Room” to “I Hate My Purse”,  from “The Closet” to “I Just Want to Say....” along with many others.  “Oh yes, that was me," audience member after audience member nudged one another during the opening night performance., laughing and poking each other gently.  The room was alive with non-stop laughter from the minute the play started until ninety minutes later when it ended.  Not enough excellent things can be said about the brilliant ensemble cast of Mary Birdsong, Aisha De Haas,  Kate Flannery, Ashley Austin Morris and Concetta Tomei.  Experienced actors all, they brought the Ephron sisters’ stories to life through various hilarious techniques. This show has a very short run.  Don't miss it. For further information or tickets call 215-985-0420 or visit online at PhiladelphiaTheatreCompany.org. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Uncle Tom's Cabin

cast of Uncle Tom's Cabin
EgoPo Classic Theater Company, located in Plays and Players Theater at 17th and Delancey Streets, Philadelphia, is presenting a unique and electrifying rendition of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin through June 9.  From the opening moments of this production, the audiences is totally involved with the actors, witnessing frequent flashes of light and stop-and- go movements of the people on stage.  Although the story of slavery told in Uncle Tom’s Cabin is well known, EgoPo has made the intriguing decision to racially reverse the cast.  The result is spellbinding.  Hearing racial epitaphs spouted out of Black actors mouths may be unnerving at first as well as the subservience of the white cast members to their ”massahs”, but the show is so well performed, that the story-line becomes the important character, rather than the actors, as is the intent. That having been said, Ed Swidey makes a marvelous Tom and Langston Darby an extraordinarily credible Simon Legree. Newcomer Nia Ali is such a poised and perfect Eva, it is difficult to believe that she is only a sophomore theatre major.  I know we will be seeing her in many more theatrical productions in the future. An excellent performance is also given by Rachel O’Hanlon-Rodriguez who portrays both a young slave boy and Topsy.  You can’t afford to dawdle to get tickets for EgoPo’s outstanding performance of the year.  For more information or tickets, call 267-273-1414 or visit online at www.egopo.org. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Little Night Music



The Arden Theatre Company, located at 40 N 2nd Street in Olde City, Philadelphia, is presenting Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music on its F. Otto Haas stage through June 30. With Grace Gonglewski, as Desiree Arfmfeldt, Ben Dibble, as Count Carl-Magnus, and Christopher Patrick Mullen as Fredrik Egerman leading the cast of 15, The Arden’s 25th Season is ending with a colossal bang!  The 5 member chorus brings not only class but clarity to the production.  Their voices ring with the quality of an operetta as they set the stage for the action throughout. Thanks to costume designer Rosemarie E. McKelvey, their formal attire sets a grand tone.  Scenic Designer James Kronzer in conjunction with lighting Designer Thom Weaver, have done a masterful work with the set. The frequent scenes changes are made seamlessly.  Actors move back and forth across the stage, belting out one Sondheim tune after another, while scene after scene is highlighted.  Aside from Sondheim’s well known, “Send in the Clowns”, the lyrics may be unfamiliar, demanding strict attention from the audience to follow the story line. Every minute of attention paid is well worth the effort, for this is a marvelous production, one of the highlights of this theatre season.  For more information or tickets, call 215-922-1122 or visit online at www.ardentheatre.org.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Heroes

The 4 friends preparing for adventure


The Lantern Theater Company, located in St. Stephen’s Church, 10th and Ludlow Streets, Philadelphia, has done it again. It has ended another spectacular season with a sure-fire hit...the Philadelphia premiere of Tom Stoppard’s Heroes.  Set on a “private” terrace of a veterans’ retirement home, Heroes explores the psyche of 3 World War I veterans, all damaged by the war to some degree.  It is the humor in this adaptation that creeps up on you so unexpectedly.  In the first act we are introduced to Henri, played by Peter DeLaurier, Gustave, portrayed by Dan Kern, and Philippe, portrayed by Mal Whyte.  Oh yes, and the dog, played by a stone statue.  Philippe’s belief that the dog can move is not really funny in the first act, even to the other two veterans,but it can be explained away by the shrapnel which was left imbedded in his head and causes him to have periodic “spells”.   Henri also has physical damage from the war…a crippled leg, but it doesn’t stop him from taking walks to observe the young girls in a nearby girls’ school. Gustave appears very self-possessed and in command until we learn he can barely leave his room, let alone leave the grounds or relate to others.  These revelations are humorous but watch out for the second act.  What was slightly amusing in the first act becomes hysterical with just a slight twist added to the script. It is no holds barred. Nothing is sacred and I found myself laughing almost non-stop as the veterans and the dog plan an excursion. Lighting designer, Janet Embree has done fantastic work- the blackouts are quick and the actors are repositioned on the stage with no one in the audience being the wiser. This show will only run through June 9, so order your tickets immediately if you haven’t already done so. For more information or tickets, call 215- 829- 0395 or visit online at lanterntheater.org.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Inherit The Wind

Scope Monkey Trial


Bristol  Riverside Theatre, located at 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, Pa. is presenting a new twist on an old classic,  Inherit The Wind  through June 9. The large ensemble cast is a confluence of professional actors and Bucks County community members. The result is a courtroom drama that sends sparks flying and audience members longing to reach for  fans as the battle heats up.  Liz Filios, oft seen on Philadelphia area stages, does outstanding work as the conflicted Rachel Brown.  She is not only the daughter of the town’s Reverend but is also the one-time girlfriend of the schoolteacher on trial for breaking the law by teaching Darwin’s theory of  evolution. Stephen Novelli provides such a convincing performance of an ineffectual judge that the audience might forget that he is acting and mistake his performance for an unimpressive one.  Michael McCarty provides a larger-than-life performance as Matthew Harrison Brady,  prosecuting attorney with a direct pipeline to God. Not to be outdone, Keith Baker brings his wealth of talent to the production in his role of determined defense attorney, Henry Drummond. There are several children in this cast and it was my good fortune to see  Vincent Crocilla on the stage again, portraying Timmy Blair.  This show does not have a very long run; make sure you plan to get tickets quickly.  For tickets or more information, call 215-785-0100 or visit online at brtstage.org.