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.

Nathan Foley, Charlotte Northeast,  Sarah Fraunfelder and Damon Bonetti in GOD OF CARNAGE.
Photo by Angela McMichael

GOD OF CARNAGE (Montgomery Theater): A rich unraveling

Civilization is not easy to maintain. One knock and the lapse of a moment can set it off kilter.

Megan Nicole Arnoldy and Paul Schaefer in HIGH SOCIETY. Photo by Mark Garvin.

HIGH SOCIETY (Walnut): A curious Philadelphia Story

A curiously performed version of Arthur Kopit’s unnecessary rearranging and cheapening of The Philadelphia Story.

Susannah Hoffman and Dylan McDermott in BABY DOLL. Photo by Richard Termine.

BABY DOLL (McCarter): Not a girl, not yet a woman

In Tennessee Williams’s script for 27 Wagons Full of Cotton and the 1956 screenplay that derives from it, Baby Doll, everybody puts Baby in a corner.

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EURYDICE (Villanova Theatre): Death is a continuation of life

Death, as experienced in director James Ijames’s comic yet movingly evocative production of Sarah Ruhl’s play, is a continuation of life.

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ALL MY SONS (People’s Light): A treat from the golden age of American theater

Seeing a naturalistic play by one of the masters of the form, Arthur Miller, with a cast and set that are as realistic and as authentically moving as the text, is a rarity and a treat.