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Ranking 50 Years of Philadelphia Theater

Rankings from 1967 until 2015 for best actor (male), best actor (female), best supporting actor (male), best supporting actor (female), best production, and best director.

David Pegram and Stephen Tyrone Williams in THE PIANO LESSON. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

THE PIANO LESSON (McCarter): A fine tune

Baikida Carroll’s PIANO LESSON is August Wilson as it’s meant to be seen.

Matteo Scammell, winner of the Neal Zoren's award for Best Actor in Philadelphia, 2015.

The Best in Philadelphia Theater, 2015

Each January, local theater critic Neal Zoren announces his picks for the best in Philadelphia theater over the previous calendar year.

Billy Finn (left) and Graeme Malcolm in A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Photo by T Charles Erickson)

A CHRISTMAS CAROL (McCarter): One for past and present, but unfortunately not future

After this year, a holiday tradition will be refreshed. Here’s wishing it would remain.

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THE BALD SOPRANO (Curio): The absurd banality of everyday conversation

Ionesco offers comically entertaining insight on the careless and constant cacophony that passes for communication but is just platitudinous twaddle.

Mark Evans THE BOOK OF MORMON First National Tour (c) Joan Marcus, 2013

THE BOOK OF MORMON (First National Tour Company): Sincerely funny

This touring production doesn’t make THE BOOK OF MORMON any more savage, but it knits Parker and Stone’s comic ideas together into a moving story more satisfying because it has a human core.

Jason Klemm as Rory, the pub owner, in Society Hill Playhouse's production of LAFFERTY'S WAKE (Photo courtesy of Michelle Pauls)

LAFFERTY’S WAKE (Society Hill Playhouse): Putting the fun in funeral

The LAFFERTY’S WAKE ensemble is quick and amiable in Susan Turlish’s gentle comic story,

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THE SECOND MRS. WILSON (George Street); Behind every great man

Joe DiPietro’s thought-provoking piece is set in Woodrow Wilson’s second term, but it rekindles a period in the mid-20th century of sweeping biographical plays about historical figures.

Photo by Craig Schwartz.

MATILDA: THE MUSICAL (RSC): Dahl on tour

Roald Dahl is wildly popular, and this musical version of MATILDA benefits from the author’s lionization.

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BILLY ELLIOT (Media Theatre): Dance Billy, dance

As usual with 2007 musical version of the 2000 movie, the personal scenes are the strength of this production

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BECOMING DR. RUTH (Walnut): 60-second review

Jane Ridley is consistently engaging in Mark St. Germain’s chatty play about the woman who became Dr. Ruth.

Kingsley Ibeneche and Sanchel Brown lead the cast of BLACK NATIVITY. (Photo courtesy of Matthew J. Photography)

BLACK NATIVITY (Theatre Horizon): A celebration of human spirit

Ozzie Jones’s production of this updated Langston Hughes play dazzles in just about every way a theater piece can.

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A FREE MAN OF COLOR (Temple): Outrageous but haphazard vaudeville

John Guare’s play about race relations in early 19th century New Orleans is sprawling and convoluted under the best of circumstances.

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A COMEDY OF TENORS (McCarter): More adventures in opera

Ken Ludwig brings four of the outstanding characters from Lend Me A Tenor from Cleveland to Paris for more rollicking escapades.

Bi Jean Ngo, Greg Wood, David Bradley Johnson in SHIPWRECKED! (Photo credit: Walnut Street Theatre)

SHIPWRECKED! (Walnut): A delight of theater

SHIPWRECKED! goes to the heart of storytelling. It doesn’t matter whether a tale is true or false as long as it engages and even thrills.

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BUS STOP (BRT): A place of isolation

All of the individual stories the wayfarers tell in William Inge’s BUS STOP come through clearly in Susan D. Atkinson’s production of the ’50s classic at Bristol Riverside Theatre.

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TAPPIN’ THRU LIFE (DTC): A Las Vegas lounge life

A revue, and review, of performer Maurice Hines’s life.

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CLOSER (Eagle): Words are not enough

Patrick Marber is a master of words. But in this production words, well composed as they are, are not enough.

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GYPSY (Media Theatre): Everything’s coming up roses

GYPSY is an often produced classic for good reason and is terrific as Mama Rose in the Media Theatre’s production.

Mary Beth Shrader and Brock Vickers.

BULLSHOT CRUMMOND (Hedgerow): On-target farce

Mark Tallman’s brisk, amiable production moves easily between farcical comedy and intuitive and intelligent theater.