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


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

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 

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

Thursday, October 3, 2013


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

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