Thursday, April 30, 2015


Jelani Remy as "Simba"




Casting has been announced for the Philadelphia engagement of Disney’s THE LION KING, part of Broadway Philadelphia, presented collaboratively by the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and the Shubert Organization. The production features Patrick R. Brown as “Scar”, L. Steven Taylor as “Mufasa”, Tshidi Manye as “Rafiki”, Drew Hirshfield as “Zazu”, Ben Lipitz as “Pumbaa”, Nick Cordileone as “Timon”, Jelani Remy as “Simba”, Nia Holloway as “Nala,  Keith Bennett as “Banzai”,  Jacqueline Renae Hodges as “Shenzi” and  Robb Sapp as “Ed”. The role of “Young Simba” will be alternated between JJ Batteast and Tré Jones and the role of “Young Nala” will be alternated between Mikari Tarpley and Alexandra Underwood. The Academy of Music stage will be filled with the sights and sounds of the African jungle from Wednesday May 20 through Sunday June 14. THE LION KING can be seen Tuesday through Thursday evenings at 7:30 pm, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 pm, with matinees on Saturdays  at 2:00 pm and Sundays at 1:00 pm. Additional weekday matinees are scheduled for Thursday May 21 and Thursday June 11, both at 2:00 pm. The show has won six 1998 Tony Awards: Best Musical, Best Scenic Design (Richard  Hudson), Best Costume Design (Julie Traymor) Best Lighting Design (Donald Holder), Best Choreography (Garth Fagan) and Best Direction of a Musical. It has also earned more than 70 other major arts awards. The Broadway score features Elton John and Tom Rice’s music from The Lion King animated film along with three new songs that the duo have written as well as additional music. The North American touring productions of THE LION KING have been seen by over 15 million theatre goers. It once again returns to Philadelphia on the Academy of Music stage in May. Tickets are available at the Kimmel Center Box Office, Broad & Spruce Sts. (open daily 10 to 6 pm), at the Academy of Music box office, Broad & Locusts Sts (open during performances only), online at, or by calling  215-731-3333.  Orders for groups of 20 or more may be placed by calling 215-790-5883 or 866-276-2947.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

To The Moon

Tracie Higgins & Scott Greer
1812 Productions, Philadelphia’s only All Comedy Theatre Company, is presenting To The Moon, a world premiere comedy inspired by the life and work of Jackie Gleason, at Christ Church Neighborhood House through May 17. This phenomenal production combines the clever wit of Jennifer Child’s original script with choreography by Bill Irwin and a complex production design of sound, scenes, lighting and video by Jorge Cousineau.  Dare I say To The Moon is even better than some of the original Jackie Gleason skits?  I dare.  Scott Greer and Anthony Lawton’s portrayals of Jennifer Childs’ side-splitting humor are fall-out-of-your-seat funny. The sketch about making the perfect cocktail for an evening of romance has the audience roaring non-stop and literally gasping for breath.  Thanks to the brilliance of Jorge Cousineau,  “Jackie Gleason” makes several appearances in black and white on a huge projection screen.  Multi-faceted Tracie Higgins not only portrays Scott’s wife Tracie, but also his stern boss Nora as well as a June Taylor dancer.  In an amazing video display, one dancer becomes a chorus line of June Taylor dancers. This show  not only pays homage to Jackie Gleason. It is also a tribute to the incredible script that Jennifer Childs has written and the remarkable performances put forth by the entire cast of Scott Greer, Anthony Lawton, Tracie Higgins and Sean Roach who plays a prominent role in Scott's work place as well as in Tracie's. For more information or tickets call 215-592-9560 or visit online at

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Jungle Book

Mowgli  with  Mother & Father Wolf
The Arden Theatre, located at 40 N 2nd Street in Olde City is presenting Greg Bank’s play version of The Jungle Book on its Arcadia Stage through June 21. This world premiere production is nothing short of incredible for kids and adults alike.  Imagine yourself in Rudyard Kipling’s jungle with Shere Kahn the Tiger, Bagheera the Panther and Mowgli the man-cub climbing all around you. Listen to the hissing of Kaa the python, and the caws of the vultures.  Laugh at the foolishness of the monkeys. Witness the protective nature of the Mother and Father wolf.  The show is not amazing merely for the set, which truly places the audience right in the middle of the jungle and all the action. And it is not the only show which has portrayed animals with clever costuming.  Nor is it remarkable simply because each of the cast members plays the role of four different animals in the jungle with the exception of Thaddeus Fitzpatrick who is visible almost the entire time as he portrays Mowgli, the man-cub. Taysha Canales, Charlie DelMarcelle, Sean Lally and Nikki E. Walker change their costumes faster than you can blink and become new persona, swinging from trees, climbing vines, or slithering through the jungle. All are agile and fleet of foot and leap through the jungle before your very eyes. The sound system is extraordinary and the jungle sound effects must be heard to be believed. The most memorable parts of this delightful production, however, are the frequent sounds of young voices laughing. While adults may chuckle, youngsters are hysterical and this is a production of Arden’s Children’s Theatre, after all. This is definitely a show to be enjoyed by everyone, but if you have young children in your life, be sure to take them to see this production.  You’ll certainly enjoy their reactions.  For more information or tickets, call 215-922-1122 or visit online at 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Golden Coach

The Golden Coach, adapted by Yaga Brady from one of Prosper Mérimée’s classic French farces will be presented at the Stagecrafters Theater, 8130 Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill, through April 26.   It is surely a tribute to Ms. Brady that she has taken an 18th Century one act play and re-conceived it in contemporary language as a two act comedy-farce.  She says that she loves to work with “…period pieces, re-read them and rediscover in them issues, questions, lines references, which, in the re-visiting, make complete sense within a  contemporary perception of the world."  Thanks to a large production staff,  there are excellent period costumes and wigs for this piece which takes place in the 1700's in Lima, Peru. The set is cleverly constructed to convert from a viceroy’s palatial setting to the home of his mistress with the flick of a wrist. The story line is very foolish.  This is to be expected of a farce, but one might have hoped for a few more laughs. Carol Enoch does a credible job as actress Micaela, known as Perricholi, but Steve Sussman, portraying Monsignor d’Esquivel steals the show. The laughs emanate from his portrayal of a befuddled clergyman. Performances are Thu-Sat @ 8 pm and Sun. @ 2 pm. This charming theater is nearing the end of its 86th season.  Good People, directed by David Lindsay Abaire, will be produced in June. For more information or tickets, call 215-247-8881 or visit online at  

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Hairy Ape

Matteo Scammell and Ensemble
EgoPo Classic Theater is wowing audiences with its final production of the season, Eugene O’Neill’s here-to-fore little known The Hairy Ape. It can be experienced at The Latvian Society, 531 North 7th Street through April 26. O’Neill was considered to be one of the first playwrights to create characters that are trapped on the fringe of society and Matteo Scammell, as Yank, offers us a profoundly moving picture of such a character. “You don’t belong but I do,” he fumes to anyone who will listen; the upper-class daughter of a steel magnate, an older member of the firemen crew, a union rep for the working class, animals in the zoo. "You don't belong but I do," and yet, as he begrudgingly discovers, he doesn’t.  This production is a very physical and challenging one not only for Yank, but for the entire ensemble as well.   From climbing up poles to acrobatics on stage, everyone displays clear talent. Members of the audience are also fiercely tested, as they become engrossed in the hushed whispers and quiet singing of the ensemble, only to be forced to shift gears when presented with drunken comradery and raucous squabbling below the bowels of the ship. Through it all, the one remaining constant is Yank’s abysmal solitude and his inability to change society’s views of him. Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape has rarely been seen. Don’t miss your opportunity to see the gem that EgoPo has produced.  For more information or tickets, call 267-273-1414 or visit online at

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Jazz Appeciation Month at the Kimmel

Amir Elsaffar
Cultures Collide with Iraqi-American

 Jazz Innovator

 Amir ElSaffar  & The Two Rivers Ensemble

Performance in Perelman Theater, April 18

The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts welcomes the Middle Eastern jazz sextet, Amir ElSaffar  & The Two Rivers Ensemble to SEI Innovation Studio on Wednesday, April 18, at 8 p.m. As part of the center’s jazz appreciation month, this program is a fusion  of improvisation, exploring traditional Middle Eastern influences featuring the oud, buzuqand and santur instruments. ElSaffar’s performance will feature work from the newest work, Crisis, scheduled to be released in the summer of 2015. The music is unique and explores  jazz forms from  Iraq, Turkey and Prussia. ElSaffar’s Two Rivers personifies his personal struggles as well as his feelings as an Iraqi American watching his father’s homeland in turmoil. ElSaffar is a Music Director at Alwan for the Arts, New York’s hub for Arab and Middle Eastern culture. He is also director of the Middle Eastern Music Ensemble of Columbia University where he likewise teaches jazz ensembles. Tickets for this performance are $23 and can be purchased by calling 215-893-1899, visiting online at and at the Kimmel Center box office at Broad & Spruce Streets (open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

PNC Grow Up Great

Kimmel Center Celebrates Childhood

With Special Family Programming

April 11 & 12

PNC GROW UP GREAT & THE ADVENTURE OF HAROLD & THE PURPLE CRAYON Bring the Arts to Life For Philadelphia Children

The Kimmel Center For the Performing Arts is excited to offer two family options the weekend of April 11. PNC Grow Up Great celebrates its third interactive session in its spring musical theatre experience on Saturday, April 11  with a focus on Broadway Dancing in Commonwealth Plaza from 11 noon. April’s PNC Grow Up Great is a free session which will teach children how to use their bodies to tell stories through dance.  Children will start off the morning with a fun warm-up and then build their confidence as they learn dances from Footloose, A Chorus Line and Hairspray. On Sunday, April 12, the kid-friendly theatre adventure continues when Philadelphia’s own Enchantment Theatre Company brings The Adventures of Harold & The Purple Crayon to the Merriam Theatre at 2 p.m. This is a state-of-the-art production based on the seven picture books by Crockett Johnson that track the madcap adventures of a young boy. The visually dazzling production  follows Harold as he jets to Mars, joins a circus and meets a princess in an enchanted garden. Tickets are $23-$36. For additional information, visit 

Friday, April 3, 2015


Derrick Cobey & ensemble members
Bristol Riverside Theatre, located at 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, Pa,  is presenting RAGTIME THE MUSICAL through April 12.  This Tony Award-winning musical with book by Terrance McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens has a stellar cast. Three disparate groups of people meet and interact at the turn of the 20th Century and RAGTIME  is their story.  The music is so powerful that it almost takes your breath away. There are moments in the production when many members of the cast are singing a song at such great speed and volume that some of the lyrics are lost.  The result is inconsequential.  The meaning is illustrated and the actors move on to the next scene.  Derrick Cobey portrays Coalhouse Walker Jr., a Harlem musician representing the African-Americans .When he belts out a song, his voice transcends the stage. Ciji Prosser, as Sarah, the mother of his baby, has a warm, rich, melodious voice.  Leslie Becker interprets Mother, aptly given no other name as her sense of motherhood is more essential to her identity than her membership in a white-upper middle-class family. David Edwards, as Father,  presents us with a more stereotypical picture of the mores of the day in the upper-middle class life-style.  Michael Thomas Holmes rounds out the picture as Tateh, a Jewish immigrant from Latvia.  The three families’ lives become intertwined in song, anguish, and hope.  Historical figures, such as Booker T. Washington (Tamar Greene) are interspersed throughout to provide an enlightening time line to the tale. There is not a moment to relax during the performance. This show demands your undivided attention but it is worth every second of it.  For more information or tickets, call 215-785-0100 or visit online at