Reviews

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.

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…

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.

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.

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.

Lantern Theater Company The Train Driver review

THE TRAIN DRIVER (Lantern): A haunting look across the tracks

There’s something haunting Roelf (Peter DeLaurier) in the Lantern Theater Company’s atmospheric production of Athol Fugard’s THE TRAIN DRIVER. Disturbed by the memory of a young woman and baby “pulverized”…

Victoria Rose Bonito and Akeem Davis in ROMEO AND JULIET

ROMEO AND JULIET (Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre): A Love to Die for

They’ve known each other for what—a couple of hours? Already they’re crazy in love, and they’ll steadfastly love each other against all odds. A love to die for. One of the world’s most celebrated and enduring love stories, ROMEO AND JULIET, is currently on stage at The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre.

THREE DAYS OF RAIN (Quince Productions): 60-second review

It’s 1995, siblings Walker (Mark Sherlock) and Nan (Jessica Snow) meet at a run-down Manhattan loft after the death of their star-architect father. Peripatetic Walker has just returned from his latest escapist foreign jaunt and is obsessed by a new find: the journal of his taciturn father. Maybe this will will reveal the inner soul of this silentious man?

(Photo credit: Mark Garvin)

THE RISE AND FALL OF LITTLE VOICE (Walnut): A 60-Second Review

Some of life’s biggest journeys begin with that one small voice in our heads, telling us to take an unexpected leap of faith. As a painfully shy young girl channeling bold songstresses of the past through her deceased father’s record collection, Ellie Mooney delightfully shows audiences how to find the power within, as the star of THE RISE AND FALL OF LITTLE VOICE.

Photo credit: Katie Reing

MIDSUMMER (Inis Nua): A Dream of a Rom-Com

Closing its 2013-14 season of funny and poignant contemporary two-handers with one-word titles (the excellent BLINK and TROUSERS—see Phindie reviews here and here, respectively—were the previous productions), Inis Nua presents…

Photo courtesy of Bucks County Playhouse

IN THE MOOD (Bucks County Playhouse): 60-Second Review

IN THE MOOD is more than a music revue—it’s a concert, a musical, a history lesson, a show of patriotism, and a celebration of one of the most important times in American history. The 1940’s was a time of significant change. In music, the whole nation was listening to the same big bands. Swing music, romantic ballads, and dancing shaped an entire cultural movement and most importantly became a prevailing icon of hope as we faced the reality of World War II. Proudly, the show takes a segment to recognize and honor the veterans in attendance. In its 20th year of touring, IN THE MOOD is an international success.

Image courtesy of GPSBodies

#GPSBODIES (Marcel Williams Foster): Tweet the Rainbow

Marcel Williams Foster turns social media and performance upside down, and spontaneous performance, situational intimacy, and social media are the tools you have to curate your own audience/performer experience.

Using theses and other techniques to activate the audience, theatermaker/scientist Marcel Williams Foster takes us on a self-referential tweeting goose chase. How ‘meta.’

Alex Keiper and William Zielinski in DOWN PAST PASSYUNK. Photo by Kathryn Raines.

DOWN PAST PASSYUNK (InterAct): Theater ‘wit’ a taste of South Philly

I once heard then-governor Ed Rendell give some cheesesteak advice: for the real deal don’t go to one of the big name line-around-the-block places, go to a food truck or your local deli and get one made-to-order. I was thinking about this truism and our prevailing infatuation with authenticity as I watched A. Zell Williams’s world premiere production of DOWN PAST PASSYUNK at InterAct Theatre.

Photo by Shawn May

MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA (Quintessence): America’s Ghosts Return to Haunt

There are plenty of things to thrill over in Quintessence Theatre Group’s stirring, and impressively-performed, MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA. Director Alex Burns and his well-picked ensemble continue to impress.

Krista Apple-Hodge as Queen Elizabeth I. (Photo credit: Plate3Photography)

MARY STUART (PAC): The Prison of Power

Philadelphia Artist Collective’s tightly-corseted production of Frederich Schiller’s Mary Stuart, starring the earth-shattering Charlotte Northeast and the finely-tuned Krista Apple Hodge will leave you white-knuckle-gripping the edge of your seat. Sitting in a severe theater-in-the-round circle, the audience itself forms four oppressive walls seemingly trapping the actors on the Broad Street Ministry’s cherry wood floor. If Schiller were alive today, he would raise a thumb in approval of director Dan Hodge’s minimalist approach.

Photo by Mark Garvin

DEAR ELIZABETH (People’s Light & Theatre Company): Kindred Spirits in Poetry and Depression

Is a play told solely through the extant letters of its real-life characters really a play? Sarah Ruhl’s DEAR ELIZABETH, which traces the friendship between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell through their thirty years of correspondence (1947-77), seems more of a pedantic academic exercise in hero worship by a playwright who began her writing career as a poet and an admirer of Bishop’s oeuvre.

THREE CHEKHOV SISTERS: From left, Sarah Sanford (as Olga), Mary Tuomanen (as Irina) 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)

THREE SISTERS (Arden Theatre): Does the gimmick stick?

THREE SISTERS is the story not only of its title characters—the sisters Olga (Sarah Sanford), Masha (Katharine Powell) and Irina (Mary Tuomanen)—but also of the various characters who shuffle in and out of their country home over the course of a few years. It’s a soap opera on wheels as nearly everyone falls in love, gets caught up in adultery and waxes philosophical, all while sinking deeper and deeper into the exact sorts of lives they never wanted to lead.

Mark Nadler in I'm a Stranger Here Myself (photo courtesy of The Prince Music Theater)

I’M A STRANGER HERE MYSELF (Prince): Intimacy, Song, and Rage in Weimar Germany

I’M A STRANGER HERE MYSELF, created and performed by Mark Nadler and directed by David Schweizer, is both a lament and a celebration of Weimar Germany and the bohemian lifestyle celebrated by the young during this time. Incredibly impoverished, pincered by a swiftly inflating currency, stabbed by the growth of hate and, underneath that hate, a creeping fascism; yet this impossible position also gave rise to an incredibly fertile undergrowth and the arts mecca which Berlin became.