Reviews

Charlie DelMarcelle, Geneviève Perrier, Amy Smith, and Doug Hara in the Lantern’s A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES (Photo credit: Mark Garvin)

A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES (Lantern): Idyllic visions of a holiday past

Lantern Theater Company’s world premiere adaptation of A CHILD’S CHRISTMAS IN WALES by Charles McMahon and Sebastienne Mundheim, the inventive “interdisciplinary performance-maker” who designed the production and also directs, captures all the warmth, nostalgia, and childlike wonder of the original, employing live actors, puppets, miniature houses, plastic-bag clouds, and exhilarating snow flurries to transform Thomas’s descriptive language and idealized memories into an enchanting theatrical vision.

Twelfth Night Pig Iron

TWELFTH NIGHT, or WHAT YOU WILL (Pig Iron/FringeArts): The 1602 equivalent of a holiday special

TWELFTH NIGHT being the 1602 equivalent of a holiday special, there’s no shortage of booze-riddled merriment in Pig Iron’s revival from the 2011 Fringe Festival.

Photo credit: Cindy Jensen Graphic Design

FROST/NIXON (New City Stage Company): A gripping game of psycho-political chess

New City Stage Company’s Philadelphia premiere of FROST/NIXON is anything but the dry historical debate you might expect. Under Aaron Cromie’s brilliant direction, playwright Peter Morgan’s story of the series of TV interviews conducted by faltering British talk-show host David Frost in 1977 with disgraced US President Richard Nixon is a painfully tense and surprisingly humorous cat-and-mouse game.

Photo by Johanna Austin

TWELFTH NIGHT (Pig Iron): Upends Expectations, Rights Shakespeare’s Play

David Patrick Stearns writes yet another petulant review, this time of Pig Iron’s TWELFTH NIGHT. If he whines enough that he isn’t entertained at theater and doesn’t get it, will…

Photo credit: Julius Edward Maurer III.

OWNERS (InVersion): A farce in a dark world

OWNERS, a dark comedy by British playwright Caryl Churchill, is an examination of the sexual politics of power and property. It’s a fun, dark world, where everything and everyone is just an acquisition waiting to happen; apartments are traded for babies, which are traded for sex, which is used as leverage for more negotiations and scheming.

Chelsea Packard in MEET ME IN SAINT LOUIS.

MEET ME IN SAINT LOUIS: A LIVE RADIO PLAY (Bucks County Playhouse): 60-second review

MEET ME IN SAINT LOUIS: A LIVE RADIO PLAY is based on The Kensington Stories by Sally Benson and the MGM motion picture Meet Me in Saint Louis; the musical book written by Hugh Wheeler was expertly adapted to the unique radio play style by Joe Landry. Simply, this show is fun.

Kim Carson stars in People’s Light & Theatre Company’s CINDERELLA (Photo credit: Mark Garvin)

CINDERELLA (People’s Light): The Return of an Award-Winning Panto

In celebration of its tenth anniversary season of wintertime pantos People’s Light & Theatre Company in Malvern is presenting a remount of CINDERELLA, its most acclaimed panto to date.

Brian Sanders' JUNK in a pre-production photo of a scene from SNOWBALL (Photo credit: Ted Lieverman)

SNOWBALL (Brian Sanders’ JUNK): A Wondrous Urban Fairytale for Kids of All Ages

The latest installment of SNOWBALL, the annual wintertime extravaganza by Brian Sanders’ JUNK, is a must-see world-premiere holiday delight for the whole family. Combining a post-modern urban narrative with a charming “Winter Wonderland Furrytail,” the engaging two-act show will keep you smiling, gasping, oohing and aahing at its heartwarming moral, Sanders’ stunning choreography, and his acclaimed dance troupe’s extraordinary finesse.

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NO RESERVATIONS (PNAA): 60-second review

As the holiday season begins, so does the decorating process.  We all have those neighbors who take the time to remind us about the true story of Christmas, by displaying entire…

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A MICROFESTIVAL OF STUBBORN OCCASIONS (Mascher Space Co-op): The moment doesn’t exist

This is in Kensington, on the closing night of Mascher Space Cooperative’s Microfestival of Stubborn Occasions: a set of performances described as “a space where choreography is given permission to exist in the in-betweens.” Two shows are on the docket for tonight, Foster’s #JANEGOODALLDRAMA and Christina Gesualdi’s MY NEBULOUS SOLO.

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RISK! TRUE TALES BOLDLY TOLD (First Person Arts): Risky storytelling pays off

Okay, Kevin Allison’s RISK! is the undisputed G-spot of the 12th annual First Person Arts Festival. The format is simple: five people step behind a microphone and relate their most private thoughts in the form of a story to an audience of strangers.

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EVERYMAN (Villanova Theatre): 60-second review

In the Middle Ages, the Church endorsed theatrical depictions of Church teachings to educate a mostly illiterate public. EVERYMAN is only one of five from its time that has survived to today. Villanova Theatr commissioned Mark J. Costello to translate the play from Middle English using modern language and the authenticity of rebelliousness in the punk subculture

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17 BORDER CROSSINGS (Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental/FringeArts): Voyage of imagination

“Let’s assume you’re traveling,” says Thaddesus Phillips, placing the audience as the sojourner. And he whisks us off. With co-creators Tatiana Mallarino and Patrick Nealy, and director Rebecca Wright, Phillips has concocted something special with 17 BORDER CROSSINGS.

Christopher Sutton as Buddy, with a supporting ensemble of elves, in the Walnut Street Theatre’s ELF (Photo credit: Mark Garvin)

ELF (Walnut): A family-friendly feel-good musical for the holidays

Based on the 2003 hit film of the same name, ELF, this year’s annual Christmas-time extravaganza at the Walnut Street Theatre, offers popular feel-good entertainment for the whole family. The amusing musical comedy is filled with magic and spectacle for the kids, wry jokes and innuendo for their grown-ups, and a familiar sentimental moral that is relevant for all ages. It’s a cute and snappy start to the holiday theater season that could make even the meanest Grinch smile.

THE DEVIL'S MUSIC.

THE DEVIL’S MUSIC (People’s Light): 60-second review

This hybrid of monologue and musical chronicles the life of Bessie Smith. Although Smith experienced troubled times in her life, THE DEVIL’S MUSIC is mostly upbeat—chock full of raunchy innuendo and humorously sexual dance moves. This makes for a perfectly lovely evening of theater…

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HANDS ACROSS VERONICA (Walking Fish/Nakedfeet): 60-second review

Lunging onto the stage with the gusto of 1000 aerobics classes, HANDS ACROSS VERONICA sets the tone for a high energy, neon fueled performance. A joint production of Walking Fish Theatre and Nakedfeet Productions, HANDS ACROSS VERONICA is primarily concerned with how women relate to food and deal with their body image,

Dan Hodge and Joe Guzmán star in Passage Theatre’ TRUE STORY (Photo credit: Mathias Goldstein)

TRUE STORY (Passage): A Multi-Layered World-Premiere Whodunit

Though EM Lewis’s 80-minute thriller TRUE STORY pays homage to Raymond Chandler’s detective-story and film-noir tradition of the 1930s and ‘40s, the play offers a more current (cell-phone era) exploration of the genre. It combining the twists and turns of a gripping murder mystery with the profound human issues of coping with loss, assuming responsibility, the nature of truth, and the desire for justice. Passage Theatre Company’s world-premiere production, directed with wit and suspense by Damon Bonetti, succeeds in delivering all the surprises, humor, emotion, and psychology inherent in the script.

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MAKESHIFT (Murmuration Theater): A play not just about cake

Ten seconds into Murmuration’s inaugural production of Jessie Bear’s brand spankin’ new play, MAKESHIFT, Brian David Ratcliff, stands like a little boy by his lonesome on stage in what he describes as a devastated post-apocalyptic earth donning a royal blue super hero cape, goggles strapped to his head, holding a tape recorder up to his mouth declaring: “I, Michael Bolton will save the world.” I thought: “Wow, we are really on the edge of a cliff here, and Oops, I think we fell off into—I don’t know what.”

Seth Reichgott and Earnest L. Phillips in ADDRESS UNKNOWN.

ADDRESS UNKNOWN (Meadowbrook Productions): Letters from the edge of history

Reading history is like watching a familiar play: the fascinating thing is that the characters don’t know what’s going to happen. But sometimes you come across a work of fiction written on the cusp of great historical events imbued with a clear sighted vision of how the epoch is unfolding. Adapted by Frank Dunlop from a 1938 novella by Kathrine Kressman Taylor, ADDRESS UNKNOWN is one such work.

Charlie DelMarcelle. Photo by matthewjphoto.com

I AM MY OWN WIFE (Theatre Horizon): A story of perserverance

In Berlin in the wake of German reunification, American John Marks writes to his friend “Doug Wright” (I AM MY OWN WIFE’s playwright) about the eccentric Charlotte. Having “grown up gay in the Bible Belt”, Wright is fascinated by the transgender Berliner and spends grant money and savings to pay her a series of visits, hoping to turn his interviews into a play.

As related in act one of this short two-act piece, Charlotte’s tale fascinates Wright (and the Theatre Horizon audience).