Reviews

Clio (Erica Nicole Rothman, center) with her sister Muses in Mazeppa Productions’ XANADU (Photo credit: Kelly Anne Pipe Photography)

XANADU (Mazeppa Productions): A Flop of a Film, but a Smash of a Show!

Greek mythology meets roller-disco in XANADU, a spirited send-up of American pop culture circa 1980, based on the preposterous movie of the same name starring Olivia Newton-John. Mazeppa’s exuberant production of the award-winning musical-comedy (book by Douglas Carter Beane, music and lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar) delivers an uproarious parody of both disco culture and the cult-classic film.

The ensemble of Delaware Shakespeare Festival’s HAMLET (Photo credit: Alessandra Nicole)

HAMLET (Delaware Shakespeare Festival): “’Fore God, my lord, well spoken . . .”

While “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” something is wonderful in the state of Delaware! With its unsurpassed examination of the human condition, profound emotions, and exquisitely beautiful language, HAMLET is considered by many (myself among them) to be the world’s greatest play by the world’s greatest playwright.

Photography by Alexander Iziliaev.; Pictured: Zachary Kapeluck

SUNSET, O639 HOURS (BalletX): Neenan blazes into sunset

With his BalletX summer program SUNSET, O639 HOURS, a long-form narrative ballet, choreographer Matthew Neenan unveiled taps new creative veins, steering clear of all his choreographic safe zones.

Jane Gotch's Let It Fall, a duet for Leo Gayden and Juliet Remmers. Photo by Mike Strong.

Cool Dancing in Warm Spaces: Jane Gotch and Myra Bazell at the Iron Factory

Myra Bazell, a much-loved teacher of dance, and Jane Gotch first met fifteen years ago when Gotch had to scratch together enough change to take Bazell’s popular modern class. The good-vibe feeling between these two choreographers was evident as Bazell explained to the audience of about thirty on a (thankfully) not-too-hot June evening that the Iron Factory was a positive venue for this reunion.

SINema After Hours: One Year Anniversary Show

Campy fun abounds at SINema After Hours. Shoshanna Green reviews a night of sin and scares at Walking Fish Theatre.

THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA (Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival): Fickle Love and an Irresistible Canine

Contrasting the giddy inconstancy of youthful passion with the unconditional love for and the stolid fidelity of a pet dog, THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA—one of the Bard’s earliest works—is a delightful rom-com/bromance (descended from the medieval genre of male friendship literature) that offers the perfect entertainment for a summer audience. And the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s production, as directed by the ever-masterful Matt Pfeiffer, strikes the perfect balance between the comedy’s irrepressible fun and playfulness and its more serious message about regret, repentance, forgiveness, and camaraderie.

DEATHTRAP (Bucks County Playhouse): A 60-Second Review

One of the most successful plays in Broadway history makes its way to the iconic Bucks County Playhouse. DEATHTRAP is a mystery/thriller (brimming with bleak humor) by Ira Levin (“Rosemary’s Baby). DEATHTRAP is the story of a once-famous playwright Sidney Bruhl (Saxon Palmer) with an enormous case of writer’s block living with his beautiful wife Myra (Angela Pierce) in Connecticut.

WILD WITH HAPPY (Center Stage, Baltimore): All That and More!

Cathartic, camp, and euphorically uplifting, WILD WITH HAPPY—Philadelphia native Colman Domingo’s madcap adventure with death and grief, love, loss, and sexuality—keeps you laughing while tugging at your heartstrings and ardently reaffirming the joy of life. That’s quite an accomplishment, and Center Stage’s Baltimore premiere is quite a production.

K. O. DelMarcelle and Gina Martino in THE TOUGHEST BOY IN PHILADELPHIA.

THE TOUGHEST BOY IN PHILADELPHIA (Iron Age Theatre): Gender confusion

While THE TOUGHEST BOY IN PHILADELPHIA has something important to say, the material is arranged so carelessly that I’ll be damned if I can tell you what it is.

SoLow Fest: INTERNET STALKER (Corinna Burns) and BORTLE 8 (Chris Davis)

Corinna Burns’ INTERNET STALKER and Chris Davis’ BORTLE 8 is the perfect pairing of “two shows one roof” (not under, but on) in this year’s SoLow Fest. Each writer/performer is…

MISSED CONNECTIONS & OTHER CURIOSITIES (Simpatico): A Craigslist cabaret

There’s a wonderful movement these days in the Philadelphia theater world to give voice to our younger generation. Dwindling arts funding, as well as the Fringe’s ineffectiveness as a vehicle…

Plato's Porno Cave: The Trial, Little Berlin, Marshall James Kavanaugh and Augustus Depenbrock

Plato’s Porno Cave: The Trial (Little Berlin): Surrealist party, imagery orgy

To the left of the pyramid was a little shanty you could enter and perform a primal scream. A glass window on either side faced in on a small chamber with an apple and, if you hit the right decibel with your scream, the apple would explode. The mechanism for blowing up the apple failed pretty quickly (it worked a few times before the forces of chaos seeped into the mechanism), but that didn’t stop the crowd going in and screaming periodically while the Eye played master of ceremonies from his pyramid throne.

Annie Henk, Jered McLenigan, David Bardeem in RITU COMES HOME. Photo by Kathryn Raines

RITU COMES HOME (InterAct): Two gay men who practice Safe Charity become parents

Jason (David Bardeen) and Brendan (Jered McLenigan) ease the paucity of Ritu’s (Rebecca Khalil) existence by sending monthly checks through an aid organization. The last thing in the world they’d ever expect would be for their charity case to show up in their living room.

Photo by Ashley LaBonde.

WICCANS IN THE HOOD / TRADING RACES (Brainspunk): Let’s talk about race, baby

Brainspunk Theater keeps the conversation on race going with a pair of one-acts by Kansas City writer Michelle T. Johnson, WICCANS IN THE HOOD and TRADING RACES: FROM RODNEY KING TO PAULA DEEN.

SEX, DRUGS, ROCK & ROLL (Plays & Players): 60-second review

In SEX, DRUGS, ROCK & ROLL, Eric Bogasian’s revolving cast of characters—an aging rock star, a homeless bottle man, an 80s yuppie, and a handful of others—have little in common except their masculine hedonism.

Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing at The Wilma

THE REAL THING (The Wilma): Exquisite dialogue shines through spotty production

Tom’s Stoppard’s dramedy THE REAL THING is set on a constantly evolving stage transforming into different locations in the UK during the early 1980s. Sky-high walls disappear, doors emerge out of nowhere, and scenes fluidly fold into the next with the help of nimble cast and crewmembers. First off, a man sits building a house of cards in a perfectly done up living room, while awaiting his wife’s return. The card house collapses with her sudden entrance, as does their marriage when he confronts her with the passport she left behind – on her trip out of the country. The whole scene feels rather put on, and the fake English accents don’t help.

Promotional image for New City Stage Company’s WHAT HAPPENS IN THE WHITE HOUSE, STAYS IN THE WHITE HOUSE by Voices for a New City Ensemble (Photo credit: Courtesy of New City Stage Company)

WHAT HAPPENS IN THE WHITE HOUSE, STAYS IN THE WHITE HOUSE (New City): A New Perspective on First Families

New City Stage Company’s West Wing Festival on presidential politics concludes with a satirical take on the past and future occupants of the White House. Imaginative, amusing, and cynical, it considers how their private relationships and distinctive personalities might have impacted our history and could influence world affairs.

Ian Merrill Peakes, Mary Martello, and Paul L. Nolan in Arden Theatre Company’s Incorruptible by Michael Hollinger. Photo by Mark Garvin

INCORRUPTIBLE (Arden): Laughter in the monastery

The set of Michael Hollinger’s witty INCORRUPTIBLE looks like it has been there for hundreds of years, transporting one back to the days of monks and minstrels. At the Abbey…

THE SCREWTAPE LETTTERS (Lantern): 60-second review

The Lantern Theater Company’s remount of THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS by C.S. Lewis is a sizzling show from hell. Kathryn Osenlund’s 60-second review

CHAPTER TWO (Bucks County Playhouse): 60-second review

Directed by Marsha Mason, the actress in the original film adaptation, Neil Simon’s CHAPTER TWO is a romantic comedy/drama in the spirit of the Hotel Suite.