Theater

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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.

6000-dollars

Sustainability and the Artist

Lately I’ve been thinking about that “worthwhile strategy” in regards to making a living as a theatre artist. Too many of my colleagues can’t afford to get sick, and certainly can’t afford to start a family. An interview with Charlotte Ford (revealing she’s stepping away from theater to go back to school for speech pathology) seems to have sparked a vigorous public debate about how difficult it is to make a living as an artist, and what can be done about it.

The Who Tommy New Cavern

See Me, Feel Me: New guys New Cavern rock out THE WHO’S TOMMY

The Who’s 1969 concept album TOMMY kicks ass. It’s a real rockists rock album, from the golden age of British rock. The 1975 movie and 1993 Broadway adaptation capture the dramatic…

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.

Colin Quinn

Arrogantly profiling American history: An interview with Colin Quinn, starring at the Philadelphia Theatre Company

Let me say it up front: Unconstitutional, running through July 6th at the Philadelphia Theatre Company, is a tour de force stronger than the Tour de France.

The famous Quinn, familiar to Saturday Night Live fans, presents his observations on the quirks of life in the U.S. at such a neck-breaking pace that I thought I was participating as a bidder at an auction, where the auctioneer speaks at world record speed so that I, as one of his “bidders,” was unsure at times if I was buying or not. So as not to miss his many powerful insights, wrapped in highly addictive humor, I was forced to listen carefully. And listen I did.

Unemployment

The Ups and Downs of Success: Theater artists between jobs

“There aren’t enough cocktails to help me understand why I continue to be an actor! This shit is for the birds!”

Thus begins the Facebook entry by Joey, a dancer-actor-singer who played many roles along the U.S. east coast, but recently did not get hired for a new musical.

Forrest McClendon and Chivas Michael star in Center Stage’s production of WILD WITH HAPPY (Photo credit: Richard Anderson)

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 Internet Stalker

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…

James Ijames

Freezing one’s laughter mid-stream: THE MOST SPECTACULARLY LAMENTABLE TRIAL OF MIZ MARTHA WASHINGTON by James Ijames

“You will be broken and put back together again,” as one theatregoer commented on Facebook.

Given the explosive nature of this extraordinary play, I thought it important to talk to the playwright directly.

philadelphia-artist-summit

Philly Performing Artists Discuss their Untenable Careers: Video from the Philadelphia Artists Summit

Josh McIlvain’s interview with Charlotte Ford “The untenable career of a successful Philadelphia theater artist” sparked some soul-searching among Philadelphia performers. They met on June 23rd to discuss.

BODY Play by Kaycee Filson

SOLOW FLASH INTERVIEWS 2014, EPISODE ELEVEN: CHRIS DAVIS, CORINNA BURNS & KAYCEE FILSON

In this final episode, we talk about people talkin’ ‘bout bodies in West Philly and a double-bill: dark skies and stalkers in South Philly.

bilingual-asaki-kuruma

Asaki Kuruma on Writing, Immigration, and the Racial Dynamics of Philadelphia Theater

“It’s really hard to do acting and make a living unless you’re really good—and a Caucasian man.”

SIGN FELT! (a show about nothingness) by Alexandra Tatarsky

SOLOW FLASH INTERVIEWS 2014, EPISODE TEN: ALEXANDRA TATARSKY, CINDY SPITKO and JOY CUTLER

In episode ten, we’ve got nothingness Goethe in a secret secret place, grief clowning in West Philly, and autobiographical anatomy in Rittenhouse.

Paper Mustache (Or, Helix) by James Haro

SOLOW FLASH INTERVIEWS 2014, EPISODE NINE: THOMAS CHOINACKY, SARAH VAN AUKEN & JAMES HARO

In the SoLow Fest this year, some 30+ artists are creating cheap cheap theater in formal and informal spaces around the city. Challenging the idea that budget = quality, artistic…

Photo by Luis Fernando Rodriguez

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.