Saturday, August 6, 2022

Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Cultural Campus

 

 

 THE PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA AND KIMMEL CULTURAL CAMPUS kick off  a new season on Saturday September 17, with the Philadelphia Fall Arts Fest from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Featuring a diverse sampling of festival-style performances, this FREE event shines the spotlight on the rich and diverse arts and culture scene across the region. Interested arts organizations are encouraged to visit the website to sign up and participate, or search https://www.kimmelculturalcampus.org/events-andtickets/events/philadelphia-fall-arts-fest/. More about the 2022–2023 season is below: Broadway The 2022–23 Broadway season is the biggest and most critically acclaimed yet. Presented collaboratively by the Kimmel Cultural Campus and The Shubert Organization, this season features 14 dazzling productions, including Broadway’s newest blockbusters, and returning fan favorites, with a combined 49 Tony Awards® and 46 Drama DeskTM Awards. With a wide range of stories, the lineup covers the best of contemporary theater with the newest award-winning shows to come out of New York, plus returning classics and several Philadelphia premieres. The 2022–23 Broadway series includes: Annie (October 11 – 16, 2022); Les Misérables (November 2 – 13, 2022); TINA – The Tina Turner Musical (November 22 – December 4, 2022); Blue Man Group (December 27 – 31, 2022); Jagged Little Pill (January 3 – 15, 2023); A Soldier’s Play (January 24 – February 5, 2023); Come From Away (February 7 – 12, 2023); 1776 (February 14 – 19, 2023); CATS (March 14 – 19, 2023); SIX (March 21 – April 9, 2023); Jesus Christ Superstar (May 2 – 7, 2023); Beetlejuice (May 30 – June 11, 2023); Moulin Rouge! The Musical (July 5 – 30, 2023); and Disney’s The Lion King (August 16 – September 10, 2023). The Philadelphia Orchestra has an impressive schedule for the 2022-2023 year under the direction of Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. The season opens on September 28, 2022. For more information about tickets to any of the events, contact www.kimmelculturalcampus.org

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Into The Woods



                                                   Katherine Fried & Ben Dibble

The Arden Theatre Company has extended its production of Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods through July 10, 2022. Led by the incomparable Scott Greer as the Narrator, characters from five fairy tales are interwoven into each other’s lives as they enter the woods. Ben Dibble is outstanding as the Baker who has had no success in having a child due to a witch’s curse. Tiara Greene, an understudy for the witch, is phenomenal as she explains the curse and gives four tasks to complete to break the curse. The Baker must go onto the woods to find the items. He and his wife,( Katherine Fried) must interact with Red Riding Hood to get her cape; Jack, to get his cow; Rapunzel to get some of her hair) and Cinderella to get a gold slipper).The set is masterful. The witch appears out of a trap door, appearing to have climbed up Rapunzel’s hair to visit her in the tower where she is imprisoned. Ropes are lowered from the  ceiling and fastened to the floor by members of the cast to give the impression of woods that the characters must enter. Characters appear with white rope and stretch out a path so that Riding Hood knows which way to go to her Granny’s house. At the end of Act I everyone has gotten their wish and is content with Happily Ever After. The story appears over. Act II briefly begins with everyone happy after having gotten their wishes , but the happiness soon disappears for all, as one by one characters enter back onto the woods. This is not your young child’s fairy tale, as it is rather dark, but it is extraordinarily well done. Musical accompaniment by the 6-piece orchestra is beautifully performed on a raised stage and background claps and strikes add to the intensity of the program. For information or tickets visit www.ardentheatre.org.



Friday, June 17, 2022

The Complete Works of Jane Austen Abridged

 


                               Charlotte Northeast, Trevor William Fayle & Brittany Onukwugha

Tiny Dynamite presents The Complete Works of Jane Austen  Abridged through June 29, 2022. The audience is seated around small end tables with teacups and  Jane Austin titles stacked upon them for atmosphere. The ensemble cast of Charlotte Northeast, Brittany Onukwugha and Trevor William Fayle speak to the audience as they frequently step in and out of character. Their purported mission is to portray the essence of Jane Austen’s main works in 85 minutes. Using only hats , bonnets and shawls as props, the three actors dash off stage and change their voices when appropriate, eliciting frequent laughter from the audience. If you were not a “Janite” at the beginning of the performance, you were certainly on your way to becoming one by the end. Pride & Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion, Sense & Sensibility and Northanger Abby were all  beautifully explored as one after another the three actors discussed among themselves then determined which to present to the audience. A recorded version of The Complete Works of Jane Austen Abridged will stream for a limited time from June 29- July 17. Visit www.tinydynamite.org  for details and tickets for the streaming release.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Blythe Spirit


                                                      Ian Merrill Peakes &  Alicia Roper


The Walnut Street Theatre is presenting Noel Coward’s Blythe Spirit  through July 3, 2022, on its Mainstage. Written as a three act play in 1941, it’s a bit dated, but remains wickedly funny to this day. The spectacular set drew a round of applause from the audience as the curtain opened on Act I and gasps from the audience just prior to the curtain closing on Act III.  Ruth  and Charles Condomine  ( Karen and Ian Merrill Peakes)  invite Madama Acari ( Mary Marcello ) to perform a séance as part of research that Charles is doing for an upcoming book. The séance accidently produces the appearance of Charles’ departed first wife who can be seen and heard only by Charles. The resulting mayhem is hysterical. Mary Martello’s performance as a medium is, literally, out of this world. Her incantations are phenomenal; her persona is sublime; her every movement is designed to evoke a laugh. Alicia Roper’s appearance as Elvira,  Charles Condamine’s departed wife, is ethereal. From her head down to her toe, she appears ghostly white. The make-up, costume and wig effects are astounding. She still has designs on her husband. The big question looms- What can she do about it? Treat yourself to a delightful night out filled with non-stop laughter. For more information or tickets, call 215-574-3550 or 800-892-2787 or visit online at walnutstreettheatre.org or ticketmaster,com. 



                                                         

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Hairspray

 


                                              Christopher Swan & Andrew Levitt

HAIRSPRAY, winner of eight 2003  Tony Awards, is appearing at the Miller Théâtre, formerly the Merriam Theatre, through Sunday, May 22, 2022. A rollicking musical. Hairspray is a toe- tapper that won’t let you sit still in your seat. It takes you back to the ‘60’s, perhaps a time of innocence, but the flames of racial inequity burned then as they smolder today. With the help of her two best friends Penny Pingleton (Emery Henderson ) and  Seaweed J. Stubbs, ( Jamonte D. Bruten)  Tracy Turnblad tries to make the Corny Colin Show a place where everyone could dance together, not just on Negro Day. 16-year-old Tracy Turnblad ( Niki Metcalf ) wants to skip school to dance on the Corny Colin Show. Edna, her mama, (Andrew Levitt aka Nina West) says "no". Two other teens, Amber, and Penny, also have disagreements with their mothers, resulting in “Mama I’m a Big Girl Now,” that each girl sings to her mom. The moms participate in the number.  Andrew Levitt has portrayed Nina West as a drag queen since 2001. He  is very nimble on his feet as he sings and dances across the stage. He appears in a variety of costumes throughout the evening among them a stunning evening gown. The show is filled with humor, both with comical situations as when  two teenage girls are swooning  over the same guy as well as with  one liners imparted with perfect timing by a variety of actors. The entire cast is extraordinarily talented. Edna and Wilber Turnblad’s rendition of “You’re Timeless to Me” brought the house down with applause and Motormouth Maybelle’s ( Sandie Lee ) interpretation of “I Know Where I’ve Been “ received thunderous applause as well. As for me, I sang  “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” all the way home to New Jersey.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

This Is The Week That Is


1812 Productions
, Philadelphia’s only all Comedy Theater Comedy, is once again presenting its much-acclaimed satirical news review, This Is The Week That Is. Changing daily to meet the ever-changing headlines, the show is part scripted, part improv but 100% pure delight. The humor is at times droll and at times hysterical but always entertaining. After an opening scene in which the multi-talented Artistic Director Jennifer Childs feigns exasperation with her cast for staying home on zoom instead of appearing live onstage, Sean Close, Donnie Hammond, Frank Jimenez, Pax Ressler Jackie Soro and Lexie Thammavong all enter the stage and join  in an opening number with Lexi introducing the concept of “copium.” Dating Game Billionaire Edition and The Price Is Right with Billionaire contestants follows. A commercial break appropriately appears after the two game shows with copium explicitly  explained in a bottle of perfume. The evening progresses with one skit after another.  This is not just your every-day 16th year This Is The Week That Is. This is a very well-thought-out sophisticated production of knock-your-socks-off comedy. Pandemic-The Musical is brilliant. It has five musical numbers, each one both comical and poignant, including a solo of a face mask singing and dancing, an  Into the World (Woods) duet, and a grand finale of cue tips singing and dancing to Right Up Your Nose. As part of the This is the News That Is segment,  Donnie Hammond renders an outstanding performance as Ketanji Brown Jackson in her Senate Confirmations Hearings. Larger than-life videos of Senators Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz are played asking her grueling questions to which she grabs a microphone and raps responses. Of  course, this production would not be the same without an appearance of Patsy from Schunk Street sitting on her stoop. Patsy speaks and interacts with the audience before the closing number. I have seen 15 of the 16 “weeks that is” and this production has the whit, pizzaz, sophistication and panache of all of them rolled up into one. For more information or tickets visit www.1812productions.org.

 

Friday, April 22, 2022

 

                                               Rebecca Robbins & Jenny Lee Stern         

                                               

Always...Patsy Cline will be appearing on the mainstage of the Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pa. through May 15, 2022. Jenny Lee Stern is reprising her role of Patsy Cline five years after a sold-out Studio run. Rebecca Robbins is impeccably portraying Louise Seger, her  biggest fan. Louise narrates to the audience through her kitchen as Patsy Cline appears on the raised stage of the Grand Ole ‘ Opry and on the Arthur Godfrey show on TV, both aided by projections. As Louise is busy chatting with the audience and calling the radio station requesting another of Patsy Cline’s hit songs, Patsy is busy changing costumes offstage. As so many of Patsy Cline’s songs are well known hits, the audience will want to sing along.  An audience participation piece, Come On In ( And Sit Right Down)  is incorporated into the program. The audience loves the chance to sing along and in other instances individuals sing along throughout the performance. In the second act, Louise meets Patsy when Patsy comes to a local venue for a concert. Seeing Patsy sitting by herself before the concert, Louse walks over to talk to her and thus begins a friendship that lasts until Patsy dies in a plane crash at the age of 30. In this very high-energy performance, Louise talks to the audience and her monologues segue  into the lyrics of Patsy Cline’s songs. Jenny Lee Stern is phenomenal in her portrayal of Patsy Cline. She is a whirlwind of musical entertainment as she unbelievably performs a total of 27 of Patsy Cline’s hits. Rebecca Robbins is another phenom. She shows spunk, spark, and spirit and exudes enthusiasm as she narrates the life of Patsy Cline. This is such an entertaining show that you can see it multiple times and find it enjoyable every time. I certainly did. For more information or tickets, call 215-574-3550 or visit at WalnutStreetTheatre.org.