Phindie will provide more Philly Fringe Festival coverage than any publication in the world! Coverage begins with 15 picks from star Phindie writer Deb Miller.
Director Patrick Mulcahy takes a modernist approach to the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s production of MACBETH, with a 20th-century minimalist aesthetic that compels the audience to focus on the emotions and actions of the characters and the power of the playwright’s language. It’s stark and intense, and also, at times, oddly anachronistic and comical, performed in attire that suggests a peculiar mash-up of wartime Berlin and dance club chic, military and punk.
A post-modern fusion of Pop art with opera, ANDY: A POPERA, a work-in-progress by the Bearded Ladies Cabaret, explores the enormous fame and legacy of Andy Warhol, with elements of both tragic opera and opera buffa. The synthesis reflects in part the ambiance of Warhol’s Factory in the Sixties.
People’s Light & Theatre Company pairs Itamar Moses’s uber-witty historical farce BACH AT LEIPZIG with the zaniness of director Pete Pryor in a hilarious, intelligent production.
Greek mythology meets roller-disco in XANADU, a spirited send-up of American pop culture circa 1980, based on the preposterous movie of the same name starring Olivia Newton-John. Mazeppa’s exuberant production of the award-winning musical-comedy (book by Douglas Carter Beane, music and lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar) delivers an uproarious parody of both disco culture and the cult-classic film.
While “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” something is wonderful in the state of Delaware! With its unsurpassed examination of the human condition, profound emotions, and exquisitely beautiful language, HAMLET is considered by many (myself among them) to be the world’s greatest play by the world’s greatest playwright.
THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA (Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival): Fickle Love and an Irresistible Canine
Contrasting the giddy inconstancy of youthful passion with the unconditional love for and the stolid fidelity of a pet dog, THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA—one of the Bard’s earliest works—is a delightful rom-com/bromance (descended from the medieval genre of male friendship literature) that offers the perfect entertainment for a summer audience. And the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s production, as directed by the ever-masterful Matt Pfeiffer, strikes the perfect balance between the comedy’s irrepressible fun and playfulness and its more serious message about regret, repentance, forgiveness, and camaraderie.
Cathartic, camp, and euphorically uplifting, WILD WITH HAPPY—Philadelphia native Colman Domingo’s madcap adventure with death and grief, love, loss, and sexuality—keeps you laughing while tugging at your heartstrings and ardently reaffirming the joy of life. That’s quite an accomplishment, and Center Stage’s Baltimore premiere is quite a production.
Corinna Burns’ INTERNET STALKER and Chris Davis’ BORTLE 8 is the perfect pairing of “two shows one roof” (not under, but on) in this year’s SoLow Fest. Each writer/performer is…
WHAT HAPPENS IN THE WHITE HOUSE, STAYS IN THE WHITE HOUSE (New City): A New Perspective on First Families
New City Stage Company’s West Wing Festival on presidential politics concludes with a satirical take on the past and future occupants of the White House. Imaginative, amusing, and cynical, it considers how their private relationships and distinctive personalities might have impacted our history and could influence world affairs.
The fast-paced spoof about a boy band saving the souls of an audience of sinners on the last stop of their “Raise the Praise” tour is filled with witty references to the Bible, the Passion of Christ, and the Catholic liturgy. The Boyz—aptly named Matthew, Mark, Luke, Juan, and Abraham–proselytize to prospective believers in real time through their songs, employing post-modern technology, current slang, and choreographed moves that gently skewer such popular acts as the Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync.
Vaudeville, bouffon, and circus meet progressive rock in BRAT Productions’ ensemble-devised cabaret performance ALWAYS COMING SOON: THE FUTURE. It’s a compelling combination that entertains, mocks, and provokes through BRAT’s signature high-energy music, intriguing visual design, and dynamic physical theater which begins the moment you enter the venue as aggressive carnival buskers hawk popcorn, drinks, and breaths of fresh air to the incoming audience.
WOODY SEZ (People’s Light & Theatre Company): A Down-Home Musical Revue on the Life of Woody Guthrie
A touring revue on American singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie (1912-67), WOODY SEZ—on the road for seven years and now on stage at People’s Light & Theatre Company in Malvern—is an eminently likeable concert biography for fans of the respected folk musician and activist for the disenfranchised. Featuring 27 of Guthrie’s most famous songs (including his populist American anthem “This Land Is Your Land”) interspersed with snippets of his life story and folk wisdom, the show traces the highlights and low points of his times, [. . .]
The outlandish parody of the horror and sci-fi genres, now in production at Bristol Riverside Theatre, still elicits laughs and gasps from appreciative audiences and delights with a score of period-style rock, Motown, and doo-wop numbers. BRT’s show, directed with spot-on timing by Susan D. Atkinson, embraces all the retro-camp in the story of Seymour Krelborn
Concluding its 2013-14 themed season “Once upon a Time,” Luna Theater Company’s 80-minute Philadelphia premiere of BRAINPEOPLE, told in real time, is mysterious, disturbing, and challenging; but then director Gregory Scott Campbell was never one to avoid a challenge
Lampooning everything from Hillary Clinton ‘not’ running for President in 2016 to NJ Governor Chris Christie ‘not’ closing the George Washington Bridge, 1812 Productions’ THIS IS THE WEEK THAT IS delivers non-stop laughs in a fast-paced ensemble-devised review of today’s important issues.
The oldest of its kind in our country, the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts’ INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S FESTIVAL celebrates its 30th birthday in 2014. With a roster of affordable family-friendly presentations of theater, puppetry, and music from around the world, along with a hands-on Fun Zone filled with interactive cultural experiences in the Center’s outdoor plaza (or, in the case of inclement weather, inside in the lobby), this springtime tradition is a great way to introduce kids to the arts, and to reintroduce adults to their magic!
Black comedy, bitterness, and intimacy intertwine in Sharr White’s ANNAPURNA. Theatre Exile’s top-notch Philadelphia premiere of the gritty two-hander captures the dark humor and devastating hurt of their relationship, as they come to terms with broken love, debilitating loneliness and regret, and imminent death.