Reviews

Ahren Potratz and Allen Radway in Simpatico Theatre Project's production of IN A DARK DARK HOUSE by Neil LaBute. Photo credit: by Daniel Kontz.

IN A DARK DARK HOUSE (Simpatico Theatre Project): Oh! Neil LaBute is not just a sadistic prig!

At the opening night performance of LaBute’s IN A DARK DARK HOUSE I had what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity: Suddenly an entire oeuvre littered with cruel antihero bastards made sense.

Pennsylvania Ballet Principal Dancers Julie Diana and Zachary Hench in After the Rain | Photo: Alexander Iziliaev

DIRECTOR’S CHOICE (PA Ballet): Julie Diana’s luminous pas d’adieu

Roy Kaiser’s ‘Director’s Choice program proved to be one of the most artistically rich mixed bills PB has done and during their 50th anniversary season. , It featured the arrestingly intimate pas de deux between retiring dancer Julie Diana and real-life husband Zachary Hench.

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RED-EYE TO HAVRE DE GRACE (Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental): New York Theatre Workshop sees a reshaped Philly Fringe hit

I have taken the train up from Philadelphia to the New York Theatre Workshop to see how RED-EYE to HAVRE de GRACE has fared since I last saw it. I had discovered it in the Philadelphia Live Arts workshop production in 2005. Between that iteration and the world premiere at Philadelphia Fringe Festival in 2012, an evolutionary process took place.

David M. Lutken stars as Woody Guthrie in WOODY SEZ at People’s Light & Theatre Company (Photo credit: Mark Garvin)

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, [. . .]

Andrew McMath stars in Bristol Riverside Theatre's LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (Photo credit: BRT staff) 

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (Bristol Riverside Theatre): Don’t Feed the Plants!

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

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SENSE AND SENSIBILITY (Hedgerow): I hated Jane Austen, but I love this

I took a seat on one of the long, cushioned benches at the unusual Hedgerow Theatre, a grist mill from the 1800s, for the opening night of SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. Satisfied that at least I was introduced to such a beautiful place, I wondered what Jane Austen was going to smother me with this time.

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MIDWAY AVENUE (Nichole Canuso Dance Company): “Carry as much as you can while dancing”

Midway Avenue is a dance/theatre work that speaks to the sensation of memory as kinetic experience, one in which choreographer/performer Nichole Canuso repeatedly refers to as “map.” The piece leaves…

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GINT (EgoPo): Ibsen as American folklorist

Romulus Linney’s GINT, now in an engaging staging by EgoPo Productions, does an admirable job of translating this modernist classic for contemporary audiences. Linney reworks the story so it seems to have been lifted straight from the annals of American folklore.

Frank Ermilio and Jessica Orsini star in Thespionage's inaugural production.

UPPER MIDDLE CLASS WHITE (Thespionage): A DIY romcom

Thespionage Theater Company trumpets itself as a ‘pay what you can’ theater company; every ticket is priced by the audience member, and every dollar made is put into the budget for the next show. It’s an interesting new approach to small-theater funding in an age where the little guys are increasingly struggling against larger marketing machines, dwindling grant money, and thinly spread audiences of theatergoers.

Maria Konstantinidis stars as Aldonza/Dulcinea in Act II Playhouse's production of "Man of La Mancha," now playing through June 8, 2014. Photo by Bill D'Agostino.

MAN OF LA MANCHA (Act II): 60-second review

MAN OF LA MANCHA is a play within a play. The production is the clear result of what happens when a group of professionals pour their talents into a common goal.

Aetna Gallagher and Brian McCann in Curio Theatre Company's OEDIPUSSY.

OEDIPUSSY (Curio): Shenanigans, tomfoolery and ballyhoo reign

OEDIPUSSY isn’t something to analyze, it’s just something to enjoy— an antidote to life’s heavy stuff. Appealingly physical and comically overwrought, it’s tons of fun. The most amazing thing about this lunatic version is that the epic tragic story actually emerges through all the clowning, sight gags and laughter.

Amanda Grove, Jessica Gruver, and Amanda Schoonover star in Luna Theater Company’s BRAINPEOPLE (Photo credit: Gregory Scott Campbell)

BRAINPEOPLE (Luna): A Haunting Invitation to Dinner

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

The ensemble (Dave Jadico, Alex Bechtel, Aimé Donna Kelly, Scott Greer, and Jennifer Childs) plays “The Spinners” in 1812 Productions’ THIS IS THE WEEK THAT IS (Photo credit: Mark Garvin)

THIS IS THE WEEK THAT IS (1812 Productions): Now a Musical and Better than Ever!

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.

Chelsea Murphy and Magda San Milan in WE TOUCHED IT. Photo by Kate Raines, Plate3Photography.

REMIX FESTIVAL (fidget): The Unseen Hand

Remix Festival, hosted at , is curated by Annie Wilson and Susan Rethorst, creator of the remixing concept (she calls it “wrecking”). The concept behind the festival is that on each of the four nights, three or four artists present original dance works. Then, after a short break, other artists present “remixed” versions these dances which they’ve had two days to prepare.

Ann Crumb, dressed like an exotic bird, ready to take off in her final scene in Sunset Boulevard at the Media Theatre. Photo by Mark Jordan.

SUNSET BOULEVARD (Media Theatre): Ann Crumb as Norma Desmond, the delusional diva

Few singers can do what Ann Crumb can do, namely to transform herself in such versatile ways that people follow her wherever she goes, whether she performs on Broadway or in Media. Crumb, a depowered female King Lear, dominated every scene of SUNSET BOULEVARD in her own dream castle.

From left:  Mary Tuomanen (as Irina) Sarah Sanford (as Olga),and Katharine Powell (as Masha) as the ‘Three Sisters’ in the Arden Theatre Company production of Anton Chekhov’s play. (Photo courtesy of Mark Garvin)

Conversations on Chekhov: What gimmicks? The Arden’s THREE SISTERS has a lasting effect

In September of 1900 Anton Chekhov confessed in a letter to his actress-wife Olga Knipper: “I find it very difficult to write THREE SISTERS, much more difficult than any other of my…

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PHILADANCO can do just about anything

PHILADANCO!, the city’s premiere modern dance company, had a bit of a problem during its final performance of Blood, Sweat and Dance at the Kimmel Center on Saturday night: the ushers had run out of programs and had to hand out black and white photocopies. In the dance world, however, this is a very good problem to have, and in this case, it was a testament to the company’s continued preservation of predominantly African-American traditions in dance.

Exile, ANNAPURNA, CSlusar, PBunting, photo PNogueras

ANNAPURNA (Theatre Exile): A powerful Philadelphia premiere of playwright Sharr White

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.

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THE MUSICAL OF MUSICALS (Montgomery Theater): A homage and a takeoff in song

Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogart raise the stakes with their devilishly clever and cheekily smart send-up of prolific songsmiths Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, John Kander, and Fred Ebb, THE MUSICAL OF MUSICALS.

Photo credit: Mark Garvin

DR. SEUSS’S THE CAT IN THE HAT (Arden): A Review in Seussical Verse

I loved to read when I was a kid
And although I’m full grown I still love what I did.
THE CAT IN THE HAT was one of my faves.
Now that book is a play* and I’m giving it raves!

The Arden’s production is silly and wild.
It’s as good for adults as it is for a child.