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HENRY V (PA Shakespeare): The king is but a man

While HENRY V contains two of Shakespeare’s most stirring speeches, smaller, less rhetorical moments are the more engrossing in Matt Pfeiffer’s staging for Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

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BITTER HOMES AND GARDENS (Bearded Ladies at PHS Pop-Up)

The Bearded Ladies latest show is planted full of good ideas, some of which germinate, some of which reach farther than they can comically travel, and some of which die on the vine.

Ben Dibble, winner of "Best Actor" for his role in Herringbone at Flashpoint Theatre.

Picks for Best in Theater, 2014/15, by Philly Reviewer Neal Zoren

Each year, Philadelphia-based reviewer Neal Zoren announces his choices for the Helen and Morris Zoren Awards for World Theater. A fair number of the picks on Neal’s list are performers and productions from the Philadelphia area.

Anita Vasan as and Richard B. Watson as Phinneas Fogg. Photo by Lee A. Butz.

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS (PA Shakespeare): A comic circumnavigation of Verne’s classic

Director Russell Treyz grants quarter to cogent, cohesive storytelling in his production Mark Brown’s adaptation of AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS for Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival.

Leonard Haas in I HATE HAMLET at Montgomery Theater. Photo by Angela McMichael.

I HATE HAMLET (Montgomery): Paul Rudnick knows a hawk from a handsaw

I have seen a dozen productions of I HATE HAMLET, including the legendary Broadway staging that induced Evan Handler to complain to Actors Equity against co-star Nicol Williamson. This is one of the best.

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MY MOTHER HAS 4 NOSES (People’s Light): It all smells funny in hindsight

The title of Jonatha Brooke’s presentation with music, MY MOTHER HAS 4 NOSES is literal.

Greg Wood and Alda Cortese in "How to Write a New Book for the Bible" at People's Light and Theater. (Credit: Mark Garvin)

HOW TO WRITE A NEW BOOK FOR THE BIBLE (People’s Light): Old pros take on a new book

HOW TO WRITE A NEW BOOK FOR THE BIBLE is a story about a life, a biography centered on the changing regard we have for our parents as we see them age.

Jennie Eisenhower and Ben Michael in Arden Theatre's production of PASSION. Photo by Mark Garvin.

PASSION (Arden): Pretty anticlimactic

Excerpted from NealsPaper.com by kind permission. Stephen Sondheim’s musical PASSION comes to a pivotal point at which a young soldier, Giorgio (Ben Michael), suddenly becomes deeply enamored of the homely, lonely, Fosca (Liz Filios). It…

Owen Pelesh, Denise Whelan, Ellie Mooney and Scott Langdon. Photo by Sabina Louise Pierce

I LOVE A PIANO (Walnut): A Berlin marathon

Conceived with a book by Ray Roderick and Michael Berkeley, I LOVE A PIANO is a valentine to Irving Berlin music through the ages

Ken Sandberg, Connor Hammond (as d'Artagnan), Parke Fech. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev.

THE THREE MUSKETEERS (Quintessence): Swordplay and horseplay combine in a breezy adaptation

As always with an Alexander Burns production, imagery is rife, props are creative, and jokes come as much from sight gags as from dialogue.

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BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE (DTC): A child and her dog steal a charming musical

It’s an old show biz maxim, and true, that an adult cannot expect full attention if he or she is working on stage with a dog or a child.

Susan Ferrara Barto (left) and David Newhouse in GROUCHO: A LIFE IN REVUE.

GROUCHO: A LIFE IN REVUE (ActorsNET): There’s no such thing as a sanity clause

Off stage, David Newhouse looks nothing like Groucho Marx. In makeup, Newhouse’s transformation is astounding.

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THE THREEPENNY OPERA (Villanova): Brecht played louder than the music

Republished by kind permission from Neals Paper. Kurt Weill’s insistent tingel-tangel score for THE THREEPENNY OPERA pervades the Vasey Hall stage, with horns and drum pumping to a martial beat that…

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UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL (Hedgerow): Following a shaggy dog to the library

One of the funniest and most entertaining of all shaggy dog stories.

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MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG (Temple Theater): Parties and excess

The young talent the school is grooming stands out in the Temple Theater production of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG.

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BASKERVILLE (McCarter): An entertaining trip to Dartmoor

Ken Ludwig taps literature’s most iconic detective with BASKERVILLE, a funny, inventive, entertaining take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles.”

Tamara Anderson as Oda Mae Brown with Anna Giordano as Molly in GHOST. Photo by Maura McConnell.

GHOST (Media Theatre): Animating a corpse

Director Jesse Cline doesn’t let GHOST’s musical or lyrical deficiencies stand in his way of making involving theater.

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ARIADNE AUF NAXOS (Curtis Opera Theatre/Opera Philadelphia): Clowns and opera collide

ARIADNE AUF NAXOS predates Stephen Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park with George” and David Hirson’s “La Bête” by decades, but the situation its plot depicts brings both of those later 20th century works to mind.

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OSCAR (Opera Philadelphia): High notes and low in the life of Oscar Wilde

We see the tragedy of Oscar Wilde’s life played out creatively and movingly in OSCAR, a thoughtfully crafted opera by Theodore Morrison and John Cox,

Jessica Wagner as Patsy Cline. Photo by Mark Garvin.

ALWAYS… PATSY CLINE (Bristol Riverside): Sweet dreams of a country superstar

Cline is a natural subject for the theater. Although the sad facts of Patsy’s marriage and difficult personal life are alluded to, ALWAYS… PATSY CLINE is more about a relationship a star was able to form with a fan than a full biography of the singer.