Friday, November 16, 2018

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Matilda

Laura Giknis & Ian Merrill Peakes

The Walnut Street Theatre, located at 825 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pa., is presenting Matilda The Musical through January 6th, 2019 on its mainstage.  Winner of 7 Olivier Awards in London and 11 Tony nominations on Broadway, Matilda The Musical at the Walnut is taking  Philadelphia audiences by storm. Jemma Bleu Greenbaum portrayed Matilda in the opening night production. Her remarkable stage presence belies her years. Ellie Biron will portray Matilda on weekend and holiday nights. There are many moving parts to this tale of a child whose parents cannot appreciate the treasure they have in their midst, preferring to believe that a love of books is stupid. There is an ensemble of children who are in Matilda’s class, additional children who are Matilda’s age or younger, and an ensemble of older school children. Thanks to excellent choreography, these children enter and exit the stage seamlessly, gathering in groups small and large to sing and dance throughout the production. It is a joy to watch. Lyn Philistine and Christopher Sutton as Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood are over-the top dullard parents that you love to hate.  While she is portrayed as a dance enthusiast, it is Christopher Sutton who demonstrates incredible moves of his own. Laura Giknis (Miss Honey) is the personification of the perfect kindergarten teacher with a magical, lilting voice. Ian Merrill Peakes' performance as the tyrannical headmistress Miss Trunchbull has everyone in stitches. Not only are the lines inherently humorous, he vamps with the pit orchestra and demonstrates amazing feats of athleticism on the stage floor. There are many reasons to see Matilda The Musical, and none not to. For more information and tickets, call 215-574-3550, 800-892-2787, or visit online at WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.


Monday, November 5, 2018

A Doll's House, Part 2

Grace Gonglewski & Joliet Harris

A Doll’s House, Part 2 can be seen at the Arden Theatre, 40 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia Pa. It will be presented on the Arden Theatre’s Arcadia Stage through December 9, 2018. Playwright Lucas Hnath imagines what would happen if Nora were to return after a 15 year absence. Her return affects her former nanny Anne Marie (Joliet Harris), husband Torvald (Steven Rishard) and daughter Emmy (Grace Tarves) in surprising ways. Starting with Nora (Grace Gonglewski), much of the drama is a series of exceptional monologues, rather than actual conversations. Thanks to video designer Jorge Cousineau, the audience sees a visual presentation of each new character’s name before the answering monologue begins. Nora has become successful and independent since she has left this home. Grace Gonglewski’s monologues and later conversations with Torvald are strong, fiery and convincing. Joliet Harriet’s Anne Marie gives a strong performance with a subservient accent as a life-long nanny. Steven Rishard’s Torvald is tormented and plausibly presents a totally different side to Nora’s tale. Grace Tarves’ Emmy has the final monologue, presenting her life without her mother and her father’s secret woes that Nora knew nothing about. The final conversation between Nora and Torvald is perhaps the only real conversation in the production. Was it a fruitful conversation? You must go see A Doll’s House Part 2 to find out for yourself.  For tickets or further information to this masterfully written sequel to Ibsen's work, call 215-922-1122 or visit online at ardentheatre.org.


Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Rivals

Emma Stratton, Erin Mackey &
Harriet Harris

The Bristol Riverside Theatre, located at 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, Pa., is presenting The World Premiere of the musical The Rivals through November 18, 2018. Broadway-bound, the production features an all-star ensemble cast with myriad experiences on Broadway. This is a delightful farce that is entertaining on many levels. It takes the audience on a journey with Lydia Languish (Erin Mackey) who wants to forego her fortune to marry for love but she must deal with her aunt, Mrs. Malaprop (Harriet Harris). The period costumes are marvelous. The scenery changes are clever both in their simplicity as well as the intricacy of their movement. Both the frequency and the tenor of the malapropisms uttered by Mrs. Malaprop are hysterical. The musical lyrics are often ludicrous, causing recurrent belly-laughs to erupt throughout the theatre. Mrs. Malaprop’s “A Young Lady Today” brought the house down as did Faulkland’s “I’m Not Too Sensitive.” There are, however, other beautiful solos and fantastic three and four-part harmonies throughout the production.  The dance routines and the actors’ athleticism on stage are a joy to watch. This is truly a brilliant production. For more information or tickets, call 215-785-0100 or visit online at brtstage.org.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Fiddler on the Roof

male ensemble dancing in wedding  scene

The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts is presenting the Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof  through   October 28, 2018 at the Academy of Music. In keeping with the underlying theme of “tradition” which runs throughout the production, Broadway Philadelphia’s opening night production of Fiddler was preceded by a Philadelphia tradition - the march of the Quaker City String Band parading down Broad Street from the Kimmel Center to the Academy of Music strumming highlights from the show. Fiddler on the Roof revamped is fresh and delightful. The simplicity of the sets is ingenious. Against a stark background, buildings are dropped from the ceiling to denote a new scene and free-standing doors fire up the imagination. In contrast, the dream sequence, is bedecked with outrageous costumes. It is simply brilliant with its special effects of billowing smoke and lightning. Yehezkel Lazarov gives an exceptionally strong performance as Tevya.  Maite Uzal,(Golde) shines in "Do you love me?". When the entire cast sings together, the result is rapturous. Additional highlights of the production are the extraordinary dance numbers of the male ensemble. Their routines are breathtaking. Fiddler on the Roof ends with a new beginning as the entire cast is onstage circling around in spectacular silhouette while the orchestra plays strands of the overture. For more information or tickets to perhaps the best musical of all time,call 215-893-1999, visit www.kimmelcenter.org or Kimmel Center Box Office.


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Sweat

 Matteo Scammell, Rich  Hebert,
Walter DeShields & Kittson O'Neill

The Philadelphia Theatre Company, housed in the Suzanne Roberts Theatre at 480 S. Broad Street, is presenting the Pulitzer Prize winning drama, Sweat through November 4, 2018. Based on the hardships a blue-collar town faces when it loses a good percentage of its industry, Sweat gives an intimate look at several members of the community and what they have to do individually and collectively to try to stay afloat when jobs are lost and the choices put on the table are to quit or take a pay cut.  The brilliant nine-member ensemble cast, with their combined Barrymore awards and nominations, directing credits, major film spots and recurring TV roles, greatly contribute to the excellence of this production. The acting is superb. Another commanding cog in the wheel is the outstanding choreography of the intricate fight scene. Yet a third item that will have theatre-goers running out to get tickets for this performance is the multi-media approach employed by scenic and projection designer Christopher Ash. Although most of the action takes place in a bar, playwright Lynn Nottage weaves between the time periods of 2000 and 2008, setting up a mystery of sorts. The multi-media presentations of TV broadcasts and projection collages help to define the politics of the times in which the mystery occurs. For more information or tickets to this exciting production, call 215-985-0420, visit the box office or visit online at philatheatreco.org.


Friday, October 12, 2018

Broken Biscuit

Michael Macri,  Leigha Kato &
Amanda Jill Robinson

1812 Productions, Philadelphia’s all comedy theatre comedy, is presenting the American premiere of Broken Biscuits through October 28, 2018 at Plays & Players Theater, 17th and Delancey Street. Written by Tom Wells, Broken Biscuits toured the UK in 2016. Set in a working class neighborhood of Yorkshire, England, three 16 year-old outcasts plan their last summer together before college. Megan (Amanda Jill Robinson) is fed up with being branded “the fat one”. Her friend Holly (Leigha Kato) is shy and Ben (Michael Macri) is gay. Megan decides the group will become “cool” by forming a band, even though none of them is a proficient musician. This piece is an excellent study of teenage leadership and how fragile it is. Ms. Robinson’s character portrays strong leadership skills. She is very persuasive to her reluctant friends and sets up a weekly band rehearsal in her shed. Ms. Kato’s Holly is like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. Shy in the beginning of the performance, her character blossoms near the end, singing a song she has written about a boy who comes to her cash register at work. Michael Macri’s character, Ben, comes to terms with his character’s sexuality. Megan does not react well to her friends’ independence. The set is very creative. The shed has a multitude of items hanging on its walls, some of which are useful to Megan and her friends; some of which are useful only to anyone storing tools in a shed. A poster with rip-off numbers indicates the passage of time. Characters leaving by the rear door of the shed and making quick costume changes indicate time passage as well. This is a first-rate production demonstrating the trials of coming of age. For more information or tickets, call 215-5923-9560 or visit www.1812productions.com


Sunday, September 30, 2018

Once

Lucia Brady & Katherine Fried

Once is a misnomer attributed to one of the most outstanding productions ever to grace a theatre’s stage, for everything about it screams more! Appearing on the main stage of the Arden theatre, 40 N. 2nd Street, its run has been extended through October 28 due to popular demand. Thanks to the flexibility of the seating in the F.Otto Haas main stage, the seats are set around the stage on three sides, with the action taking place on the floor, in the aisles and on walkways arranged above the seats. Early arrivals are treated to a concert   by 11 musicians playing both Gaelic and Irish tunes and dancing in a circle in the middle of a rug-strewn floor. A plethora of instruments is used, including violins, guitars, a piano, a melodica, a cajón, a mandolin, a banjo, a tambourine, and a bass. The instrumentalists, dancing and singing as they play, lend an air of exuberance to the evening, not once, but every time they appear. An Irish Guy (Ken Allen Neely) meets a Czech Girl (Katherine Fried) in Dublin and they discover  a common love of music, which leads to complications in their personal lives.  Their harmonies blend together beautifully but the ensemble sings after each scene and when everyone joins together it is nothing short of magnificent. This is not a presentation that you want to see only once. An added treat is the performance of Lucia Brady, an extraordinarily talented 8 year-old who portrays the Girl’s daughter and plays the violin in the show’s final number. For more information or tickets to see this wondrous show, call 215-922-1122 or visit online at www.ardentheatre.org.

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Sunday, September 23, 2018

iLuminate


Nine extraordinarily talented young men and women dancers took to the Merriam stage for three performances Friday September 22 and Saturday, September 23. iLuminate brings a unique concept to the stage, combining well-choreographed dance moves with state-of-the-art lighting effects. The show was performed on a dark stage with dancers bedecked in neon lighting from head to toe. In the blink of an eye dancers' lights went off and they disappeared, only to reappear on another part of the stage a few seconds later. The results of the appearance and disappearance of the characters on stage as routines were set to music was nothing short of spectacular. Benches, chairs, a wall clock, a door and an easel were all outlined in lights at one time or another. Butterflies flew across the stage in lights, as did symbols of Ms. Pacman, Super Mario, and an arrow hitting a bulls- eye. The rendition of Michael Jackson’s Bill Jean was superb not only for its athleticism but for its astonishing light display. This number, alone, was enough to give the production a WOW factor of 10 but it was only one of many. ILuminate is the brainchild of Miral Kotb who sought to bring together her passions for dance and software engineering. She has been wildly successful with both. The next featured performance at the Kimmel Cultural Campus will be Love Never Dies (October 2-7, 2018) at the Academy of Music. For more information, see www.kimmelcenter.org. 


Saturday, September 22, 2018

Erma Bombeck:At Wits End

Licia Watson as Erma Bombeck

Licia Watson is appearing at Bristol Riverside Theatre, 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, Pa. in the persona of Erma Bombeck. Erma Bombeck: At Wits End will be performed through October 7, 2018. The set is a cut-a-way of a split level home, typical of many houses built in the ‘70’s.  Ms. Watson utilizes the entire multi-level set throughout the performance. Performing a “one-man” show is a difficult task and Ms. Watson not only speaks to the audience but also has several phone conversations and mock conversations with invisible family members in her home. This is not a profession for the faint of heart. Several props are utilized without “Erma’s” skipping a beat. “You don’t mind if I iron while I speak to you, do you?” she asks and later does the dishes while she is speaking about Betty Friedan and the Equal Rights Amendment. The monologue gets laughs from the audience several times, including a deadpan from Watson …, “One of my household hints on how to get odors out of the kitchen - stop cooking.” Although much of the material is dated, Licia Watson gives a very credible performance as one of America’s favorite humorists, detailing Erma Bombeck's life as a housewife, columnist and activist for women's rights. For more information or tickets, call 215-785-0100 or visit brtstage.org.




Monday, September 17, 2018

Hapgood

William Zielinski & McKenna Kerrigan

The Lantern Theater Company, located in St. Stephen’s Church Theater, 10th and Ludlow Streets, is presenting Tom Stoppard’s Hapgood through October 14, 2018. British intelligence officer Elizabeth Hapgood, fondly known as Mother, (McKenna Kerrigan) runs a counter intelligence operation against Russian spies. But a question poses itself. Are there twins involved? And then another question… Has the Russian spy Kerner (William Zielinski) which she has cultivated as a double agent, turned back again to his homeland?  If he decides to turn over his scientific discoveries, how damaging will it be? You might need a score card to follow all the shenanigans, and you might need a tally to keep track of all the math and science that is described as particle physics, but you’ll need only your eyes to marvel at the fantastic work of Scenic Designer Nick Embree and the 7 unique set designs presented back to back on the circular stage. The part of Hapgood‘s and Kerner’s son Joe is alternately played by Will Zielinski and Charles LaMonaca. Will is visiting the Philadelphia area for a year from Amsterdam and has just made his professional debut on the Lantern stage. Charles is an eight-grade veteran actor who is making his Lantern debut.  Keep an eye out for more of his performances! For more information or tickets, call 215-829-0395 or visit online at www.lanterntheater.org.


Friday, September 14, 2018

Holiday Inn

Ben Dibble & Ensemble

Irving Berlin’s music resonates with us as it did with his audiences 70 years ago. Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn will be appearing at the Walnut Street Theatre’s mainstage, 825 Walnut Street, through October 21, 2018 Featuring a score of Berlin’s favorites and many of Philadelphia’s favorite actors, including Mary Martello, Ben Dibble and Fran Prisco, Holiday Inn is a romantic comedy based on the movie of the same name. After Jim leaves Hollywood and buys a farm in Connecticut, he decides the farm cannot sustain itself.  With a little help, he decides to open up the farmhouse as an Inn and have shows on holidays. It is wonderfully suited to be produced on the Walnut’s stage which is conducive to big production numbers like Blue Skies. Beautiful harmonies fill the theatre as Jim (Ben Dibble) and Linda (Cary Michelle Miller) sing “Marching Along With Time.” The harmonies resound time and time again as the two voices blend together throughout the production. Of course Mary Martello is the rock of any production  that has her name on it. In Holiday Inn,she is a farmhand and the guiding force to set  a love story  straight. The set design is ingenious. A quick turn of a door signals an indoor scene to become a breathtaking starry night.  Several scenes later, rotating doors become a pivotal part of Ted Hanover’s (Jacob Tischler) dance routine with the ensemble girls in “You’re Easy to Dance With.” The ensemble is very talented. There is a very exciting tap routine in the first act and Jacob Tischler has an opportunity to show his dancing skills as well.  Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn is a feel-good production. You will feel good while watching it and you will leave the theatre happy you saw the show. For more information, see www.walnutstreettheatre.org. or ticketmaster.              


Monday, September 10, 2018

October Events at the Kimmel



Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies will make its Philadelphia premiere at the Kimmel Center’s Academy of Music on October 2-7, 2018. Eight performances will tell the continuation of the ultimate love story – The Phantom of the Opera - one of the most successful musicals of all time.  The sequel is set in 1907, 10 years after the Phantom’s disappearance from the Paris Opera House and he has escaped to a new life in New York where he lives amongst the screaming joy rides and freak shows of Coney Island. Here he has found a place for his music to soar but he has never stopped yearning for his one true love and musical protégée Christine Daaê. Now Christine accepts an invitation to travel from Paris to New York to perform in a renowned opera house. In a final bid to win back Christine‘s love, The Phantom lures her, her husband and son from Manhattan to Coney Island.  Tickets can be purchased by calling 215-893-1999, visiting www.kimmelcenter.org or at the Kimmel Center Box Office. Group sales are available for 10 or more and can be purchased by calling 215-790-5883.

20-Time Grammy® Winning Guitar Icon Pa Metheny redefines Jazz on the Kimmel Cultural Campus’ Merriam Theater October 5, 2018. Born into a musical family, Metheny has been playing the guitar since the age of 12. He released his first album in 1975 when he was only 21, reinventing the jazz guitar sound.  In addition to being an accomplished musician himself, Metheny has been a music educator at several universities, including being the youngest teacher ever at both the University of Miami and Berkley College of Music.  He has traveled the world to teach music workshops and has been one of the first jazz musicians to treat the synthesizer as a serious musical instrument. He has also been instrumental in the development of several new kinds of guitars, such as the soprano acoustic guitar, the 42-string Pikasso guitar, Ibanez’s PM series jazz guitars and a variety of other custom instruments. See www.kimmelcenter.org for more information.

Internationally recognized activist Black Lives Matter activist  DeRay McKesson will discuss his new book, On the Other Side of Freedom, in the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater on Saturday October 6 at 8:00 p.m. McKesson draws from his own experiences as an organizer, educator and public official to discuss  issues of culture, social justice, and politics. The conversation will also examine the core themes of McKesson’s book where he talks about resistance, justice and freedom and offers an intimate portrait of the Black Lives Matter movement from the front lines. McKesson was named #11 on Fortune’s World’s Greatest Leaders list and Harvard’s Black Man of the Year in 2016. Tickets can be purchased by calling 215-893-1999 or visiting online www.kimmelcenter.org.. Every ticket includes a copy of the book On the Other Side of Freedom

The Legendary Kathy Griffin will have two shows at the Kimmel Center’s Merriam Theater on October 6, 2018 as part of her Laugh Your Head Off World Tour. With shows at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. the award winning comedian tells all in this more than two-hour, no-holds barred show that is raw and honest. She’s breaking down everything in the pop culture landscape from President Trump to the Kardashians. Griffin has this message for fans: “Donald Trump will not survive the live and hilarious indictment I will be bringing down on his orange head.” She has been very successful overseas and is now bringing her fearless comedy home. For more information see www.kimmelcenter.org

The comedy duo of Jen Smedley and Kristin Hensley will appear in their new show Mom’s Night Out: Round 2! on Wednesday October 19, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. at the Kimmel Center’s Meriam Theater. No one can make moms feel as uncomfortably normal as Hensley and Smedley. They take real-life situations and make them comedic and have over 1.5 million followers on social media and 120 million views of their web series in less than two years. After their first tour of 72 cities with their live stand-up show Mom’s Night Out, they are hitting the road again with Mom’s Night Out: Round 2!

Award-winning radio host Ira Glass gives audiences an inside look into his life in Seven Things I’ve Learned: an Evening With Ira Glass at the Kimmel Center’s Merriam Theater on October 21, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. Glass will deliver a unique lecture experience through audio clips, music and video, sharing lessons from his life and career in storytelling and answering questions. Ira Glass began his career in 1978 with an internship at National Public Radio’s network headquarters in Washington D.C. As his career continued to grow he worked on nearly every production job in NPR’s headquarters, eventually putting This American Life on the air in 1995. Since 1995, Glass has been the creator and host of This American Life, a show played on more than 500 radio stations and heard each week by over 2.2 million listeners with another 2.5 million downloading podcasts.  Additionally, Glass is one of the editors of the widely popular podcasts Serial and S-Town

The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts is proud to present the Philadelphia engagement of The Tony Award® Nominated Broadway Revival of Fiddler on the Roof on October 23 – October 28, 2018 at the academy of Music on the Kimmel Center Cultural campus. Part of the Kimmel Center’s 2018-19 Broadway Philadelphia series, the tour will launch, October 17, 2018 in Syracuse, New York at the Landmark Theatre. The original Broadway production of Fiddler on the Roof, which opened in 1964, was the first musical in history to surpass 3,000 performances. The show won the 1965 Tony Award for Best Musical as well as 8 other Tony Awards that year. This revival proudly introduces a new generation to the music beloved across the globe. For more information, see www.kimmelcenter.org.

Wil Baptiste and Kev Marcus of Black Violin continue their successful Classical Boom tour in Philadelphia with one performance on October 27, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. at the Kimmel Center’s Merriam Theater. They will be accompanies by their band, featuring turntable whiz DJ SPS and a drummer.  Classically trained, Baptiste and Marcus create an innovative form of jazz. Black Violin has been instrumental in getting the arts into struggling schools and has partnered with the National Association for Music Manufacturers to continue their advocacy for accessible music education.  Black Violin is currently writing and recording their next studio album due out in 2018. For more information visit www.kimmelcenter.org.

Philadelphia’s David Sweeny returns to the Kimmel Center’s SEI Innovation Studio as his kid-centric personality Johnny Shortcake. He will have eight family friendly performances October 27-28 and November 3-4, at 11:00 a.m. and 2: p.m. each day. The Johnny Shortcake Show is a children’s show featuring original music by David Sweeny, Michael Baker and Ross Bellenoit and directed by Brad Wrenn. David Sweeny is a graduate of the Kimmel’s Theater Residency Program and has made a name for himself in the Philadelphia music and arts scene. As part of the residency he, Baker and Bellenoit created a musical for kids, resulting in the birth of Johnny Shortcake. For more information, see www.kimmelcenter.org.

Four-time world-champion German breakdance troupe Flying Steps presents Flying Bach is a one- of- a- kind dynamic  dance show that combines hip-hop with  modern ballet.  It will be at the Kimmel Center’s Merriam Theater on Saturday October 28 at 7:30 p.m.  The performance features award winning dancers as they perform their interpretation of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier” which is regarded by many as one of the most important works in the history of classical music. Combined with electronic music throughout the dance, Flying Steps presents Fying Bach is an energetic dance presentation on a custom dance platform with a grand piano and a harpsichord on stage. Germany’s Flying Steps are celebrating their   25th anniversary and are working to promote projects globally. For more information, visit www.kimmelcenter.org.  








Thursday, August 2, 2018

Walnut Street Theatre's Single Ticket Sales in August





Individual Show tickets for the Walnut Street Theatre’s 2018 -19 Season will go on sale to the public online on August 12. Patrons will be able to purchase tickets to any of the Walnut’s mainstage shows - Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn, Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical, Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors, The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-Time and Legally Blonde: The Musical. The Box office will open on Monday August 13 for in-person ticket sales. Based on the classic film, Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn features many of Berlin’s standard hits along with laugh-out-loud comedy and dance numbers. The show runs from September 4 - October 21, 2018. The holiday season will be ushered in with Matilda The Musical, winner of over 85 international awards, including 16 for Best Musical. Filled with high energy dance and catchy songs, Roald Dahl’s Matilda proves that despite the odds, you can do anything you set your mind to. This show will run from November 6, 2018 – January 6, 2019. The next show is Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors. When your basic ingredients are one hotel suite. two wives, three girlfriends, four tenors and stadium of screaming fans, there is plenty of room for error, leading to uproarious comedy. The show will run from January 15, 2019 – March 3, 2019. The season will continue with Tony and Oliver Award Winning Best Play The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time. After the untimely death of a neighbor’s dog, the brilliant but unique boy is compelled to investigate the crime. The audience is given an opportunity to see the world through Christopher’s eyes as he embarks on his extraordinary journey. The show can be seen from March 12, 2019 – April 28, 2019. The final mainstage production will be Legally Blonde: The Musical. Based on the smash hit movie, Legally Blonde: The Musical follows the transformation of Ellie Woods from a Southern Cal sorority girl to a Harvard law student, all on her own terms. It will appear on the mainstage from May 14, 2019 – July 14, 2019.

Tickets for the Independence Studio 3 Season and WST for Kids Season will also go on sale on August 12th. For information on single tickets or season subscriptions, call the Walnut at 215-574-3550 ext. 6. (10AM – 10PM) or visit the website at www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org

Kimmel Highlights for September














New York-based dance company and America’s Got Talent finalist iLuminate will present three family-friendly performances on the Kimmel Cultural Campus at the Merriam Theater on September 21 and September 22, 2018. iLuminate was formed in 2009 by Miral Kotb who brought together her passion for dance and software engineering.  The patented technology enables performers, choreographers, engineers, technicians, stylists and artistic directors to produce explosive performances with customized wireless lighting programs. The shows focus on stories of adventure and romance expressed through a variety of dance styles and illusions. The performance is at 7:30 p.m. on September 21.  On September 22 there will be a matinee performance at 2 p.m. followed by an evening performance at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling 215-893-1999, visiting online at www.kimmelcenter.org. or visiting the Kimmel Center Box Office. For group sales of 10 or more, call 215-790-5883.

The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, in association with Live Nation, welcomes back Hasan Minhaj to the Kimmel Canter’s Merriam Theater on Sunday, September 23, 2018. The popular comedian was the host of the 2017 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.  His new show, entitled Hasan Minhaj: Before the Storm, tackles the political climate with razor-sharp wit and his signature story-telling style. This fall, Minhaj will become the first Indian-American to host his own weekly comedy show for Netflix that has been picked up for 32 episodes. Earlier this year, Minhaj won a Peabody Award for his critically acclaimed special Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King. Due to a high demand for tickets, there will be two shows on September 23 – one at 7:00 p.m. and one at 10:00 p.m. No cellphones, cameras or recording devices will be allowed at this show. Upon arrival, all phones and smart watches will be secured in a Yondr pouch that will be unlocked at the end of the show.  Guests are encouraged to print their tickets in advance to ensure a smooth entry process.


The Kimmel Canter for the Performing Arts, in association with Larry Magid Entertainment, welcomes back acclaimed artist and activist Joan Baez as she embarks on her final North American tour. Following 50 UK and European dates, Ms. Baez’s Fare Thee Well Tour is her final formal North American tour. It includes a stop at the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall on September 26, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. As a special offer to fans purchasing tickets, a CD or digital download of her forthcoming album, Whistle Down the Wind, is included with every ticket purchased. This new music marks the first release from Baez since the 2008’s Grammy® nominated album,   Day After Tomorrow. Baez’ musical influence has been incalculable. Likewise, she has been in the forefront of public causes. She marched with Martin Luther King Jr. on the front line of the civil rights movement, shined a spotlight on the Free Speech Movement, organized resistance to the Vietnam War, stood with Nelson Mandela, and to this day continues to stand passionately on behalf of causes that she embraces.


Friday, June 15, 2018

Aladdin

Isabelle McCalla & Clinton  Greenspan
Disney Theatrical Productions and Broadway Philadelphia are presenting Aladdin through Sunday, July 1 at the Academy of Music. How many superlatives are too many? Six-time Tony-winning lighting designer Natasha Katz is responsible for lights changing on the curtains during the overture  causing the appearance of a variety of magnificent Arabian tapestries hanging from the ceiling. There are many examples of her talent throughout, but never more so than the phenominal lighting in the big production number, "Friend. Like Me." Later she can be credited for the gorgeous moonlit sky that serves as a backdrop for a breathless magic carpet ride. Seven-time Tony winning scenic designer Bob Crowley designed the extraordinary sets. My nine year old granddaughter was captivated by buildings that Aladdin climbs. The hanging tapestries in the marketplace are spectacular and lend an air of authenticity to the set. The cave that Aladdin enters is indescribably lavish and exquisite. Two-time Tony winning costume designer Gregg Barnes designed the multitude of costumes that are worn throughout the show. The use of colors and fluidity of design that enhances the dancing of the ensemble members is brilliant. The vocal arrangements are also exceptional, thanks to music director Michael Kosarin. Aladdin (Clinton Greenspan) and Jasmine (Isabelle McCalla) have lovely voices on their own but it is when their voices blend together in arranged duets that something magical truly happens. The Genie (Michael James Scott) is a gem. He takes command of the role as if it were written solely for him. He can sing, dance, and speak three times faster than anyone else on stage. There is no weak spot in this production. Aladdin’s friends Omar (Philippe Arroyo) Kassim (Jed   Feder) and Babbak (Zack Bencal) all sing and dance very admirably in their routines. The ensemble is excellent, dancing a variety a styles including tap and soft shoe. The singing is first rate. For more information, visit AladdinTheMusical.com/tour.Facebook.com/Aladdin and Twitter.com/Aladdin.   Bring your children, bring your parents, bring your spouse or best friend. There is no age limit set to enjoy this marvelous production.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Don't Dress For Dinner

Karen Peakes & Jessica Bedford

The Lantern Theater Company, located in St Stephen’s Church, 10th and Ludlow Streets, is presenting the Philadelphia Premiere of Don’t Dress for Dinner through June 24, 2018. This absolutely uproarious French farce will have you doubled over with laughter as soon as the production begins and the side splitting humor continues until the end of the second act. The six member ensemble cast utters their double entendres (sometimes unknowingly) without batting an eye.  When Jacqueline (Karen Peakes) learns that her husband Bernard has invited his best friend Robert (Mark LeVasseur) for the weekend, she cancels plans to visit her mother. When Bernard (William Zileinski) learns of this, he utters “Oh good Oh God Oh good“ for he had been planning a weekend with his mistress with Robert as a cover story. Farces must have more than one complication. Enter the cook….Suzette (Lee Minora) aka Susi confused with Robert’s mistress and  Suzanne (Jessica Bedford) confused with the cook….a delightful romp ensues and the entire household is brought to near hysteria. It takes the appearance of George, Suzette’s husband, (Chris Anthony) to straighten things out.  For more information or tickets to this delightful experience, call 215-829-0395 or visit online at www.lanterntheater.org.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Mamma Mia!

Charis Leos, Anne Brummel &
Lyn Philistine

Walnut Street Theatre, located at 825 Walnut Street, is presenting the delightful musical Mamma Mia! on its main stage through June 21, 2018. Whether you have no experience with this show with over 20 of ABBA's greatest hits or you have seen it in many times,  this production is guaranteed to make you want to get out of your seat and dance. Unbelievably, the appearances of three of the main actors are performed by understudies in the beginning of the run. The result is dazzling. Lyn Philistine portrays Donna Sheridan as if she were born to the role, singing and dancing her way across the stage. Not far behind her are Tara Tagliaferro portraying Tanya and Kimberly Mason portraying Ali.  Laura Giknis is adorable in her portrayal of Sophie Sheridan. She belts out song after song and flits across the stage with the ease of a butterfly. No matter how many times you might have seen Mamma Mia! (and I have seen it several times before) you will enjoy Walnut Street’s new presentation. There is a large dancing ensemble with original choreography. The dancers begin even as the overture starts. The men’s ensemble in swimwear and snorkel equipment is clever into the depths of the ocean. Another unique twist to this production is the use of choral backup off stage. Whether you are enjoying a feast for your ears, or your eyes or your feet, you will certain enjoy Mamma Mia! For more information or tickets, call 215-574-3550, 800-982-2787, or visit online at www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Fun Home

Ensemble cast

The Arden Theatre Company, located at 40 N. 2nd Street, is presenting the unique theatrical experience of Fun Home on its F. Otto Haas main stage through June 17. Winner of 5 Tony Awards, Fun Home explores the memories of cartoonist Allison Bechdel as she reminisces upon the painful and joyful moments in her family history. Mary Tuomanen takes the audience on a journey through her life’s memories. She is sometimes on the sidelines observing as an artist; other times she treats the audience to her powerful voice. Izzy Castaldi portrays college-aged Allison. Her first sexual encounter after she discovers that she is gay is childlike in its amazement; fantastic with wonder and hysterical with the joy of it all. Her comic timing is superb!  Lily Lexer and Kate Bove will alternate in the role of Allison as a young child.  This is perhaps the largest role of all. Lily was on stage opening night. Remember the name because this little package is a bundle of talent. She is brimming with poise and her singing voice got stronger as the show progressed. There are intriguing moments when all three Allisons are on stage singing in three part harmonies.  The effect is stunning.  Ben Dibble gives a very strong performance as Bruce Bechdel, tormented, closeted homosexual and father of Allison and her two siblings. This is a brilliant musical and the Arden does a magnificent job with its production.  For more information or tickets, call 215-922-1122 or visit www.ardentheatre.org.  

Friday, May 4, 2018

hope and gravity

David Ingram, Sean Close
 & Jessica Johnson

1812 Productions, Philadelphia’s all Comedy Theatre Company, is presenting Michael Hollinger’s Hope and Gravity at the Plays and Players Theater, 17th and Delancey Streets, through May 20, 2018. A series of nine vignettes, it features an ensemble cast sensitively playing dual roles. Jorge Cousineau has designed a set that is nothing short of exquisite. Moving geometric projections imitate the schemes of an elevator shaft; each time the projections stop moving, curtains partially open and a new set is revealed on another elevator floor. One would expect a play that is being presented by 1812 Productions to be witty and it certainly is.  The skits become increasing more humorous as the show progresses. The vignette with the two grad students and their college professor is hilarious. Whether this is in recognition that some of the characters’ story lines intersect or it is inherent in the writing, it is difficult to say.  What is not difficult to determine, is a recommendation to get tickets to see Hope and Gravity before tickets are sold out. For more information or tickets call 215- 592-9560 or visit online at www.1812productions.org.




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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Noises Off

Ensemble cast
Noises Off will be performed on Walnut Street Theatre’s mainstage through April 29. Mary Martello is a comic genius. If you have never seen her perform, you need only see the first 5 minutes of her portrayal of Mrs. Clackett, a housekeeper to a very wealthy couple vacationing in Spain, to be convinced.  Ms. Martello is not the only comic actor in the production; there is a very talented ensemble cast of nine who are acting in this play within in a play. This in an absurdly funny farce and things are rarely what they seem in such a scenario. There is the requisite love triangle, the couple on a secret hide-a-way, the not-so-obvious couple, a couple of sheiks, and more rooms than you can keep track of. The script continuously embodies madcap merriment; it is just zany, let-down-your-hair fun. Chuckles and guffaws spew from the audience throughout the entire production. The set is double-sided, with Act 2 beginning back stage. For a sneak peek behind the scenes that you will never forget, get your tickets to Noises Off today. For more information or tickets, call 215-574-3550, 800-982-2787 or visit online at www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org. 
                                             

Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Tempest

Ruby Wolf & Peter DeLaurier

Due to popular demand, The Lantern Theater Company, located at 10th and Ludlow Streets, has extended its run of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest to April 29, 2018.  This production is magical. Think beyond the fantasy that Shakespeare has written on the page. In a confluence rarely seen on the stage, the costume, scenic, lighting, sound and set  designs all work together to provide two wondrous settings that flesh out Shakespeare’s  poetry. The audience is immediately involved in a shipwreck and curious about Prospero (Peter DeLaurier) and his daughter Miranda (Ruby Wolf) on another part of an enchanted island. Other members of this excellent ensemble cast are also making return engagements to the Lantern: Chris Anthony as Ferdinand, J Hernadez as Antonio/Caliban, Dave Johnson as Sebastian/Trinculo, John Lopes as Alonso, and Frank X as Gonzalo/Stephano. Each actor is first rate in his portrayal of a member of the king’s band out to reclaim the island. It is Bi Jean Ngo’s performance as the sprite Ariel; however, that steals the show. She is lithe, nimble on her feet and quick to turn and cast a spell at the behest of her “master”, Prospero. Whether her spells are beautiful acapella chants or a quick flick of her wrist, they work equally well.  Perhaps her most amazing time on stage is her crouching off to one side, sitting on her haunches like a frog and moving her mouth as if she is prepared to catch a fly. Shakespeare would have been proud! The Lantern Company is synonymous with outstanding productions of Shakespearean works. Yearly productions surpass prior performances in excellence and this year’s presentation is no exception.  For more information or tickets, call 215-829-0395 or visit online at www.lanterntheater.org.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Bluest Eye


Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye is appearing on the Arden’s Mainstage at 40 N. 2nd Street in Olde City and its run has been extended to April 8, 2018 due to popular demand. The minimalistic set is impeccable. Locales can be switched with a slide of a screen. The change in seasons can be denoted by the cast members wearing different color smocks and/or flowers sprouting from the “outside”. The ensemble cast is phenomenal. Nicolette Lynch, Renika Williams and Jasmine Ward all give remarkable performances of poor, young, black girls trying to understand why their place in the world is different from that of white girls’. Eliana Fabiyi, Reggie D. White, Damien J. Wallace, Chavez and Soraya Butler round out this outstanding ensemble. Jasmine (Pecola) prays for blue eyes like Shirley Temple or Mary Jane so she, too, can be loved and not ignored. A caveat, issued too late by Soaphead - be careful what you wish for. Toni Morrison’s work is brilliant and raw; alternately filled with moments of humor, shock and horror. You might need to compose yourself at the end of this breath-taking drama, but once you catch your breath you won’t stop talking about it.  This is a mind-blowing tale told by a plethora of incredible performers. For more information or tickets, call 215-922-1122 or visit online at www.ardentheatre.org.  

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Producers

Danny Rutigliano, Fred Inkley & Michael Doherty

The Bristol Riverside Theater, located at 120 Radcliffe Street in Bristol, Pa, is presenting Mel Brooks’ irreverent multiple Tony-Award winning musical, The Producers through April 1. Producer Max Bialystock (Danny Rutigliano) finds his Broadway flop much easier to bear when his accountant (Michael Doherty) discovers that he has actually made some money in the process. Thus a scheme is born - Produce the worst play and make a fortune. Find an awful script, hire the worst director, cast the most horrible actors and the show will certainly close on opening night. Ah, the best laid plans… Brooks’ cheeky play is an equal-opportunity offender. The Producers is satire at its most absurd. Boxing gloves are off and everything is fair game. That said, the cast and crew are marvelous. There is no weak link in this chain. The audience is wowed by Nicole Benoit’s rendition of “When You’ve Got it, Flaunt It’”, Fred Inkley’s demonstration of “Der Guten Tag Hop Clop”, and Danny Rutigliano’s lamentations in “Betrayed”. The ensemble acquits itself flawlessly. There are not only many musical numbers to sing but a wide variety of  dance numbers to perform as well, not the least of which  is a tap routine with walkers.  Michael Doherty’s portrayal of a shy, timid accountant who is afraid of his own shadow is a perfect foil for Danny Rutigliano’s blustery producer Max Bialystock. For more information or tickets for this incredible production, call 215-785-0100 or visit online at brtstage.org.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Time Stands Still

Michael Satow &
Eleanor Handley
Bristol Riverside Theatre is presenting the Pulitzer-Prize-winning drama Time Stands Still through February 11 This production gives an outstanding glimpse of both the physical and psychological effects of PTSD.  Usually attributed to soldiers returning home from a tour of duty, post-traumatic stress can also be suffered by journalists and photo-journalists that cover the events. Award-winning playwright Donald Margulies brings home Sara Goodwin (Eleanor Handley) a photo-journalist who was injured in Kabul. She returns to the home she has shared for 8 years with journalist James Dodd (Michael Satow) Both actors give strong performances, without a hint that they are actually married off-stage.  Danny Vaccaro, portraying Richard Ehrlich, Sara’s editor, visits with ingénue Mandy Bloom (Laura Giknis) on his arm. Laura gives a very convincing performance of a young “ditzy” girl who is totally out of her element with this professional group. She gains some inner strength and maturity after she gives birth. A series of blackouts denotes passage of time which enables us to further study the war’s damage to the psyche.  Which is worse to bear? The physical damage suffered by Sara when she suffered broken bones and a coma as a result of a bomb being detonated in front of her or the psychological damage suffered by Jamie when body parts were strewn all over his hair and face? This is not necessarily an easy show to watch but it is an excellent one. The ensemble cast is brilliant and the drama is thought-provoking. For more information of tickets, call 215-785-0100 or visit online at brtstage.org. 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Humans

Mainstage set of The Humans
The Walnut Street Theatre, located at 825 Walnut Street, is presenting the much-acclaimed drama The Humans through March 4th on its main stage. Playwright Stephen Karam set about writing a play that deals with the minutia and the travails of one family during a holiday dinner. The set is ingenious. Urgent visits to the second story bathroom  interrupt uncomfortable conversations. An "elevator" transporting a wheelchair conveniently clears the stage of a few characters for minutes at a time. An Eagles Stadium blanket elicits cheers from the entire audience. The spiral staircase connecting the first and second floor is the perfect spot for characters to pause and listen to conversations on the floor above or below them. Everyone is constantly talking about someone else and no one wants to be left out of the loop.  You will laugh as you watch this for there are some funny lines; you might squirm as well while peering into this family’s most intimate moments. Sharon Alexander’s portrayal of Momo’s ‘bad day’ is outstanding. Jennie Eisenhower lights up any stage she appears on and Mary Martello is always a delight to see (even if her characters are not). It is Alex Keiper, however, who illustrates her phenomenal sense of timing with the zingers and one-liners that she delivers first to her mother (Mary Martello), and then to her father (Greg Wood) at the dinner table. So effectively are the lines delivered that the audience gasps and then recoups in a moment of silence. This slice of life is offered with a razor sharp blade that is fascinating to observe. For more information or tickets, call 215,574-3550, 800-982-2787, visit online at www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org. or Ticketmaster.

Friday, January 19, 2018

A Doll's House


Nora & Torvald
The Arden Theatre Company is presenting Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House through February 25, 2018. The Arden’s smaller Arcadia Stage has been reconfigured to bring the audience inside the parlor of the … Doll’s House right alongside all the members of its talented ensemble cast. Although most two-act dramas have the majority of the action in the first act, such is not the case in this piece. Act I sets up the life style and relationships of  Torvald (Cody  Nickell) and his wife Nora (Katherine Powell) and their friends Dr. Rank (Scott Greer), Kristine (Betty Chong),and nemesis Krogstad (Akeem Davis). Act II is longer and more intense. Nora’s having helped Kristine get a job with Torvald inadvertently opens herself up to blackmail. Krogstad puts pressure on Nora and gives her an ultimatum she feels she can’t possibly meet. Katherine Powell is phenomenal in the role of Nora. If “a look is worth a thousand words”, she crams five thousand into each agonized facial expression in Act II.  Dr. Rank has agonizing revelations of his own. Even the staid Kristine has a secret passion which ultimately opens the doll house door. For more information or tickets to this timely centuries’ old drama, call 215-922-1122 or visit online www.ardentheatre.org.