Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Nether

Greg Wood & Bi Jean Bgo
The InterAct Theatre Company, located in the Proscenium Theatre at the Drake, 1512 Spruce Street, is presenting The Nether through April 17.  This prize winning sci-fi thriller is equally provocative and perplexing. Thanks to the outstanding work of Lighting Designer Maria Shaplin and Scenic Designer Melpomene Katakalos, action moves seamlessly from real time to virtual reality and back again.  Sims, (Greg Wood) a would-be pedophile, has created The Hideaway, a virtual realm for him and others to visit. He finds himself having to defend his virtual reality to Morris (Bi Jean Ngo) who is investigating him.  Iris (Emi Branes Huff) and Woodnut (Griffin Stranton-Ameisen) are part of Sim’s realm.  Rounding out this powerful ensemble cast is Tim Moyer who portrays Doyle.  Although this is a one-act piece, time allows for a plot with serpentine twists. Sims is brilliant at the computer and has written some very complex code, but some of his coding has gone awry, leading to some startling results.  This is a play that cries out for more than one viewing. Each time you witness The Nether and delve deeper into the cyber-world, you will be discover further nuances and develop a deeper understanding of Jennifer Haley’s exceptional work.  For more information or tickets, call 215-568-8077 or visit online at

Saturday, March 26, 2016


a smoking gun......
Director Keith Baker describes farce as “something that has a plot in which the characters are forced to react to a situation.” And thus we have the premise of Neil Simon’s RUMORS: A FARCE. A New York City Deputy Mayor and his wife are hosting a tenth anniversary party. Neither the mayor nor his wife is on the scene.  After a couple of guests arrive, shots are heard;  apparently the mayor has shot himself but for anyone to find out would be scandalous! The newly arrived guests try to keep this secret from later arrivals, as well as an explanation of where the hostess is and why the food is not prepared.  This absurd tale can be seen at the Bristol Riverside Theatre, 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, Pa. through April 17, 2016.  It is fast-paced and its all-star ensemble cast acts with precision. Timing is essential in any creative work, perhaps more so in a farce, and the actors play their roles to perfection.  Costume Designer Linda B. Stockton has done an outstanding job of designing a wardrobe for a posh set of friends attending an anniversary party. There are several doors in the set for various actors to enter and reappear through as is frequently the case in this genre. There are many laugh lines smattered throughout the piece, but some of them seem slightly forced. Perhaps the biggest laugh line of all occurs at the very end of the play, so keeps your ears tuned. For more information or tickets, call 215-785-0100, visit online at or visit Bristol Riverside Theatre’s box office, 120 Radcliffe Street Monday-Fridays, 9:15 – 4:45 PM. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Peter and the Starcatcher

The Philadelphia Premiere of the five-time Tony Award winning PETER AND THE STARCATCHER can be seen on the mainstage of the Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut Street through May 1, 2016. This is an adult prequel to Peter Pan, giving a clear, although sometimes serpentine, explanation of how Peter became the boy who never grew up and how he and the lost boys came to live in Neverland. The choreography is masterful as pirates and others are constantly running into and away from each other on the masts of a ship.  Equally impressive is the use of a Greek chorus when the entire cast speaks as one.  Although not a musical, per sé, it is billed as a play with music, as there are several musical numbers interspersed throughout the piece. The musical number at the end of Act One is quite a production piece; it is reminiscent of a number from Les Miserable. There are laugh lines throughout this adventure. The lost boys are called pigs as they are held captive on the pirate ship and when Smee begins to feed them a pail of worms, one of them blithely asks, “Is there a vegetarian alternative?” A short time later, a native on a beach lifts a shell when a phone is ringing and explains, “Shell phone”. But these giggles are nothing compared to the 15 minute non-stop gag when Blackstach the pirate loses his hand. The combination of verbal and sight gags continues for 15 minutes; the audience has to gasp for breath due to the non-stop laughter pealing all through the theatre. This is not serious theatre, but it is seriously funny. For more information or tickets, call 215-573-3550, 800-982-2787, or visit online at or ticketmaster. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Two Trains Running

inside Memphis Lee's diner 1969
It was not the worst of times but certainly not the best of times for black Americans in the mid 20th Century. August Wilson’s Two Trains Running is part of his 10 piece Century cycle  of works.  Two Trains Running takes place in  1969 and, as with most of the other pieces, is set in the hill section of Pittsburgh.  It can be seen on the F. Otto Haas Stage of the Arden Theatre, 40 N. 2nd Street through April 10, 2016.  It begins with a narrator and the narration ebbs and flows throughout the piece.  It is the time of the civil rights movement which is revealed through projections above the stage and frequent mentions of attending a rally. There are many laugh lines peppered throughout what is basically a depressed tale for many of its down-and-out characters.  West, ( E.Roger Mitchell) the funeral director and the only wealthy man in town observed,   ”Too many people be dying from fear of life or I figure they could make something of themselves. I decided to make something of their dying.”   Memphis Lee’s diner used to be a thriving business but most of the businesses on the block have been reclaimed by “eminent domain” and his diner is the next to go.  Only a few regulars come in every day but Memphis (Johhny Hobbs Jr.) refuses to let go of it for what the government is offering him. He is determined to “fight City Hall”. Hobbs received the 2015 Barrymore Lifetime Achievement Award and he continues his quality performances.  The rest of the ensemble cast is excellent as well. Sterling (U.R.), well known to Philadelphia theatre audiences, has recently gotten out of prison and seems determined not to return, but it does not bode well for him when he cannot find a job.  Darian Dauchan, Kash Goins, Lakisha May and Damien  J. Wallace, all move in and out of the diner and interact with each other, taking numbers, giving advice, and just tryiing to survive in a white man’s world that seems stacked against them. The production is further enhanced by the extraordinarily effective work of lighting designer Xavier Pierce and sound designer Mikaal Sulaiman. For tickets to this powerful drama, call 215-922-1122, visit online at or visit the box office at 40 N. 2nd Street in Old City, Philadelphia.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Sound of Music

Maria with the von Trapp children
The halls of the Academy of Music are alive with the sound of music as over 18 songs written by the creative team of Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II echo throughout its chambers through March 20.  Three-time Tony Award winner Jack O’Brien is directing this marvelous production of The Sound of Music.  The young women portraying the nuns and novices in the abbey make a magnificent acapella choir. The five girls and two boys who represent the von Trapp children are all animated and vivacious. Together they sing beautifully.  Alone they do as well, from the oldest, Paige Silvester in her role as Liesel to the youngest, Audrey Bennett in her role as Gretl. When Ben Davis first appears on the stage as Captain Georg von Trapp, he is a man everyone would love to hate, but thanks to the miracle workings of the new governess Maria (Kerstin Anderson) he emerges as the kind and caring man he was when his children’s mother was alive. Kerstin is Jack O’Brien’s discovery. He has said that he was “looking for someone with star quality” to play the role of Maria and he certainly found her. Although having only completed two years toward her BFA in musical theatre, Kirstin’s star is going to be rising very high. Not only does she have a clear presence on the stage, but her voice has a power and purity to it that is seldom found in someone so young.  Melody Betts plays The Mother Abbess. She has several opportunities to sing in the first act but her solo at the end of the act is so commanding that it almost brings the rafters down. Perhaps it is due to the amazing amount of talent in this cast that the performances of Max Detweiler (Merwin Foard) and Baroness Elberfeld (Kelly McCormick) fall a little flat by comparison. Set Designer Douglas W. Schmidt has won Tony nominations for other sets he has designed and it is easy to see why.  The screens and walls on on this stage move seamlessly both horizontally and vertically to reveal new sets virtually without giving the audience time to blink. This national touring production is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the much-loved film, The Sound of Music. Tickets can be purchased for this production by calling (215) 893-1999, visiting or at the Kimmel Center Box Office. Group sales are available for groups of 10 or more and can be purchased by calling (215) 790-5883.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Waist Watchers: The Musical

Philadelphia Premiere of

New Musical Comedy

Waist Watchers The Musical!

Will Open April 6 – May 29 at Penn's Landing Playhouse

Tickets On Sale Now!

Alan Jacobson’s WaistWatchers The Musical  brings women’s perpetual battle of the bulge to the stage from April 6 - May 29 at the Penn’s Landing Playhouse. The 90 minute musical tale follows four women at Cook’s Women’s Gym singing about dieting, exercising, sex after 40, and the search for a positive self-image. Listening to hysterical parody lyrics of such songs as “Botox Queen” to the tune of ABBA’s Dancing Queen andViagrato the tune of Maria from West Side Story, the audience won’t be able to sit still in their seats.  Performances will be 2:00 pm. and 7:00 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8:00 p.m. on Fridays; 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Saturdays and 2:00 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are available by visiting, calling 855-HIT-SHOW (855-448-7469) or at Penn’s Landing Playhouse box office.  Penn’s Landing Playhouse is located at 211 S. Columbus Blvd. (at Walnut St.) The theatre is inside the Independence Seaport Museum. Discounted parking is available in the OpenAir/City of Phila. lot adjacent to the Seaport Museum and next door to the Hilton Hotel.