Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning preparing to
leak information to WikiLeaks
Inis Nua Theatre Company is presenting  the American Premiere of The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning through May 15 at its new home in the Proscenium Theatre at the Drake, 203 South Hicks Street, adjacent to the Drake Hotel at 1512 Spruce Street. This powerful portrayal of Pfc. Bradley Manning was written by Welsh playwright Tom Price. Manning spent time in Wales after his parents’ divorce; this gripping fictionalized docudrama travels back and forth between Bradley’s time in a Welsh school and his time in the US Army and the brig. Never able to “fit in” wherever he appears, the character of Manning perhaps cannot fit into the life that is portrayed in the script.  It is left to this extraordinary ensemble cast of Trevor Fayle, David Glover, Campbell O’Hare, David Pica, Johnny Smith and Isa St. Clair to take over the role of Bradley Manning; a task that each of them accomplishes exceptionally well. With the flick of a pair of black-rimmed glasses, Manning is just one more non-entity among the recruits, albeit one who makes his mark with a bad rap for disobedience.  Manning is ridiculed and scorned beyond endurance for being gay. Due to his excellence in computer skills he becomes an intelligence analyst. When the sergeant, brilliantly depicted by David Glover, (Specialist in the US Army Reserve) does not appreciate Manning’s zeal in mentioning that civilians rather than insurgents are being destroyed, another piece of Manning, too, is destroyed. Locked in room with sensitive materials flashing before his eyes for hours on end seems too much to bear. And thus the idea of sending a few images to WikiLeaks is born, followed by many more. Manning is held in solitary confinement with sleep interrupted every few minutes before being sentenced to military prison for 35 years. . To get tickets for this heart-wrenching tale of the life of one individual who grappled with being a bit different, call 215-452-9776 or visit online at 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Ovo preview at the Academy of Natural Sciences

Spider Contortionists from
Cirque du Soleil's Ovo
The media was treated to a sneak preview of the upcoming Cirque du Solei’s Ovo with a performance by the Spider Contortionists at the tarantula exhibit at the Academy of Natural Sciences. Following their amazing feats on the artificial turf, Alana and Aruna enjoyed a brunch fit for spiders...Mealworm Frittatas, Cricket Pancakes, Homemade Granola Bars made with Queen Weaver Ants, and Cricket Scones.  For the less adventurous, there was a platter of bagels and muffins. I have to admit, the frittata was good; it tasted like eggs and onions with a bit of a crunch! For Aruna, this will be her third Cirque show. She was born into a circus family and has been doing contortions since she was seven.  For Alana, this is the first Cirque circuit she has joined, but both of them are looking forward to what might be a five year run of Ovo internationally. They will be joined by 50 performers from 12 different countries.  The production will appear at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia from May 11-15 for 7 performances only and at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City from June 22-26 for another 7 performances.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Stinky Cheese Man and other fairly stupid tales

Opening number from
 Stinky Cheese Man
The Stinky Cheese Man and other fairly stupid tales is playing on the Arcadia Stage of the Arden Theatre, 40 N. 2nd Street, through June 12, 2016.   It is impossible to measure whether louder giggles come from the kids or from the barely suppressed chuckles of the parents.  This is one performance that has the common denominator of absurdity which will tickle the funny bone no matter what the age of the audience member.  Everyone will delight in this marvelous production. The running joke of “cow patty” may have the children falling out of their seats laughing, but the surprise element in which it is uttered has many startled adults jumping out of theirs. Characters engage children from the aisles and children clap and rap right along with them. The fairly fractured fairy tales are enchanting.  Spoiler Alert…. The Ugly Duckling grows up to be a really ugly duck!  And the Giant’s hand is gigantic!  Don't be fooled by the title, The Stinky Cheese Man and other fairly stupid tales..  These are tales are ones for you to hold  in awe.  You haven't seen anything until you have seen The Stinky Cheese Man fall into the water and get "flushed" down the drain. There are several musical pieces.  Trivial lyrics parodying well known musical numbers are side-splitting, laugh-out loud hysterical.  The beauty of this production is its multiple facets; it speaks to everybody… an awesome experience for kids and adults alike.  It’s one that’s not to be missed!  For more information or tickets, call 215-922-1122; visit online at or walk-up at the box office at 40 N. 2nd Street in Old City, Philadelphia.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Sex With Strangers

Kyle Coffman & JoAnna Rhinehart
Philadelphia Theatre Company, located in The Suzanne Roberts Theatre, Broad & Lombard Streets, is presenting Sex With Strangers through May 8.  Olivia Lago (JoAnna Rhinehart), a teacher with one published novel, has come to spend some time in a writer's lodge located in a remote area in order to give herself some quiet space to write. Haunted by mixed reviews of her first novel, she has little confidence in the work she has near to completion. Enter Ethan Kane (Kyle Coffman) who has a writing deadline of his own. Never before have two such opposite personalities been marooned in a raging snowstorm together. He, an outgoing, confident, successful and impertinent young writer of trash… "Sex With Strangers" is a compilation of his exploitations of a multitude of women over the period of a year.  She, an older, reflective woman with great writing skills but little self-confidence or ability to bear criticism…Her second novel is kept close to the chest. And yet, what are they to do when stranded in the middle of a blizzard with neither food nor internet but only bottles of wine to sustain them?  Kyle gives a strong performance as the brash young writer, but JoAnna Rhinehart’s performance is outstanding. She expresses a wide range of raw emotions from giddiness to anger, fear and sorrow.  The creative team has greatly enhanced this production. Scott Killian’s musical interludes between scenes are mood changers.  Christopher Bailey’s lighting designs have aptly portrayed the passage of time. Jason Simms has created a double set; one for the first and another for the second act that brings applause from the audience. This is far from a comedy, but playwright Laura Eason has generously sprinkled laugh lines throughout the play. It is fascinating to observe the characters’ role reversals see-saw back and forth. For more information or tickets to see this compelling work, call 215-985-0420 or visit online at  

Monday, April 4, 2016

As You Like It

Liz Filios & Jake Blouch
The Lantern Theater Company, located in St. Stephens Church at 10th and Ludlow Streets, Philadelphia, is presenting William Shakespeare’s As You Like It through April 17, 2016. This iteration of Shakespeare’s comedy is as welcome an introduction to spring as a breath of fresh air.  A lot of credit must be credited to composer Michael Hahn and Artistic Director Charles McMahon who had the vision to create the musical interludes throughout the piece. Whether it is the cello and violin, the accordion and banjo, the guitar and tambourine or all of them in concert, the sounds of these instruments set a variety of moods both in the Duke’s Castle and in the unpredictable Forest of Arden.  Liz Filios is a wonderful Rosalind. Feminine in the court until she is exiled, she disguises herself as a boy as she flees to a less constrained life in the forest. Living among shepherds with her cousin Celia (Ruby Wolfe) as her companion, Rosalind commands the respect which is given only to males. When she discovers love poems posted on forest trees written to none other than Rosalind, she has no confidence that the author Orlando (Jack Blouch) can be trusted until she puts him through a series of tests. Fight scenes that Orlando is involved in are beautifully choreographed. J. Hernandez, as Touchstone, plays the fool convincingly and is responsible for many of the laughs in the production. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Frank X, portraying Jaques, who is not able to escape his periods of melancholy.  Each member of this talented cast has at least one ensemble role to portray as well as his named role.  Come to the Lantern to see Shakespeare at its best.  You will not leave disappointed. For more information or tickets, call 215-829-0395 or visit online at 

Saturday, April 2, 2016


Annete Kaplafka
Isabella Fehlandt & Ben Grinberg
The Philadelphia Artists’ Collective in partnership with the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts is presenting the Philadelphia Premiere of He Who Gets Slapped at the Broad Street Ministry, 315 S. Broad Street, through April 16.  This collaboration has created a distinctive production of Walter Wykes’ adaptation of Leonid Andreyev play. The ensemble cast trained for months to master their own circus techniques.  While the actual lion taming (Annete Kaplafka as Xena) occurs off stage, as do the performances on horses (Isabella Fehlandt as Consuelo with Ben Grinberg as Bezano), the actors, portraying circus members, engage in impressive acts of acrobatics and slapstick directly in front of the audience.  In one scene Xena asks Bezano to be her lion and he leaps through a hoop as lithe as a circus cat.  In addition to the kazoos played by clowns Paulie (Andalyn Young and Wally ( Josh Totora), ensemble members play the piano, guitar, trumpet, drums and other percussion instruments to set the mood of the moment.  Ross Beschler gives an outstanding performance as HE, the tormented soul who longs to bury his identity and the mournful past that goes along with it by becoming a circus clown. Although his performance is masterful throughout, his mirroring of The Baron in the second act has the audience in stitches. Ringmaster Papa Briquet, (Bob Weick) entertains with a flick of a hat; Brian McCann is so convincingly pompous and depraved as Count Mancini that you might want to get up and give him a slap. While circuses are generally gleeful affairs, this play is rather dark, but a beautifully choreographed fantasy sequence removes the sting.  Tickets are on sale by calling 215-551-1543 or visiting Get yours now to become part of this unique experience.