B. FRANKLIN: WORDS MATTER (Vagabond Productions): 2018 Fringe review

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
—Benjamin Franklin

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An extraordinarily splendid opportunity for an informative and fun visit with Founding Father, inventor, revolutionary, librarian, journalist, visionary, fire fighter and self-made man, Benjamin Franklin awaits your pleasure thanks to the superior talents of author Albert Sherman, Kate Loitz, and director David Wrigley. Within the beautifully appointed Joseph Priestley Chapel, with its rich wooden paneled walls, an inviting, parlor like setting has been arranged where one can sit and take in superbly told tales of Ben’s past, our country’s past, and hopes for the future. Though no ‘air bathing’ takes place, Ben lays bare his thoughts and musings on a life and efforts well spent, in dulcet tones resonate with wisdom, wondrous wit, plus a possibly naughty nod to some of the ladies he has known. Ah, Dr. Franklin certainly does have a way with words, and sure knows how to wield them!

This world premiere is enjoyably interspersed with lively vignettes and reenactments featuring a host of figures prominent in his life including among others, his wife, Debra, daughter Sally, son William, Catharine Ray Greene, Margaret Stevenson his London landlord on Craven St., Louis XVI, Joseph Priestley (a friend of Franklin’s and the chapel setting’s namesake), plus his old frenemies, John Adams, and the Gout all amazingly represented with phenomenal pluck and aplomb by Kate Loitz! Albert Sherman’s captivating voice, expressions and mannerisms make for an immersive Franklin experience loaded with entertainment and educational value. Excellent use of venue space, levels, timing, sound and lighting. For a fantastic, enlightening engagement, DO stop in on B. Franklin and friends for as he says, “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”

[Vagabond Productions at At the Joseph Priestley Chapel, First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia 2125 Chestnut Street] September 7-16, 2018; fringearts.com/event/b-franklin-words-matter

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About the author

Lisa Panzer

Lisa Panzer has worked for many years in theater not only as an actor, but as a director, dramaturg, technical director, lighting designer, stage crew, and roustabout. A few of her favorite past theatrical roles include: Liz Imbrie in Philadelphia Story, Maria in Lend Me a Tenor, Mrs. Tarpey in Spreading the News, Mollie Ralston in Mousetrap, Trinculo in The Tempest, Bernice Roth in Musical Comedy Murders of 1940 and Felicia Dantine in I Hate Hamlet. In addition to theatrical endeavors, Mz. Panzer has also worked as a background performer in television’s Cold Case, Invincible, The Happening, several television commercials, and has played various roles in independent films including Project 21 productions and other commercial acting venues. (See http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3355274/ for additonal information).