John Douglas Thompson as SATCHMO.

SATCHMO AT THE WALDORF (Wilma): A genius performance by John Douglas Thompson

For some time I’ve read effusive descriptions of John Douglas Thompson’s acting. They are all true—he is an incredible talent. In SATCHMO AT THE WALDORF, now in a brief run at the Wilma Theater, Thompson brilliantly portrays Louis Armstrong, the musician’s hard-nosed talent manager, and other characters, switching diction and mannerism so completely that he seems to inhabit different bodies with each change.

Mary Tuomanen in 2013's Pookie Goes Grenading. Photo by Johanna Austin.

The Filling for Your Existential Doughnut Hole: Azuka’s POOKIE GOES GRENADING

Behind a thick veneer of such entertainingly hilarious absurdity, Azuka Theatre’s world premiere production of J.C. Lee’s POOKIE GOES GRENADING explores the self-serious commitment necessary to produce any works of artistic expression. Lee’s script is theatrical comedy at its best, fast-paced fun with seriously smart dialog and perceptive underpinnings.

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Walking Fish’s PROBLEM CHILD is One To Love

Kensington’s Walking Fish Theatre continues its presentation of George F. Walker’s Suburban Motel series with PROBLEM CHILD. Walker’s cycle features six plays set in the same seedy motel room. Walking…

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Fever Dream’s BEYOND THERAPY Is No Couch Potato

There is something appealing about short theater. A ten to thirty minute play can be unapologetically funny, without aiming for emotional depth or bothering with character development. Watching Christopher Durang’s BEYOND…

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Divided By Faith: Curio Theatre’s THE RUNNER STUMBLES

“At night I wonder how you are feeling, what you think, if you’re happy, if you can sleep. Even when I pray, I wonder what you’re doing. I look up…

photo by Kyle Cassidy

ALP D’HUEZ (Hella Fresh): One couple’s twisting mountain stage

Kensington cops may ask why you’re on rundown Ormes Street, but don’t get rattled: the play happening inside the Papermill Theater satisfies like mom’s chicken noodle soup. Normally as a…

Russ Widdall as RFK.

RFK (New City Stage): Remembering the Turmoil and Ideals of the Sixties

With all the mud-slinging in the current American presidential campaign and negativity about the state of our nation, it is an appropriate time, before the November election, to reflect on…

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Experience an Original Sonic Happening at the Fringe with Found Theater Company’s ELECTRIC JUNGLE

Found Theater Company’s latest foray into the Fringe Festival is everything the Fringe should be: experimental, inventive, boundary-breaking, and thoroughly engaging. Devised by Found’s young ensemble of multi-talented Temple University…

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Treats of the 2012 Philly Fringe: THE GHOST SONATA and THE MAIDS

One of the great things about the Fringe Festival is the opportunity to see independent companies perform works unlikely to be attempted by more established theater groups. This year brought…

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RED-EYE to HAVRE de GRACE (Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental): 2012 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival

An early version of this show lit up the Live Arts Festival in ’05, and I couldn’t wait to see the latest manifestation of the collaboration between Thaddeus Phillips’ Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental and Wilhelm Bros. music. The production has grown up over the intervening years. It’s bigger, wider, and deeper, and just as amazing and magical.

Dan Hodge as Adolph and Krista Apple as Tekla in the PAC’s CREDITORS, featuring a sculpture by Roger Wing on the table (Photo credit: David Comdico)

CREDITORS (Philadelphia Artists’ Collective): Everything Great Theater Should Be

August Strindberg’s CREDITORS is a revenge tragedy of classic proportions, a modern descendant of the ancient Greeks and Shakespeare. His unnerving story of a love triangle in late 19th-century Sweden…

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Fringe Festival Takes Flight with Nichole Canuso Dance Company at the APS Museum

RETURN RETURN DEPARTURE considers the fleeting nature of time and the human compulsion to capture it, and there can be few more poignant examples than an ephemeral dance duet at sunset, videotaped for posterity by the performers themselves.

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Neighborhood Treats of the 2012 Philly Fringe: Fishtown, Kensington, Northern Liberties

The annual Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe showcases dozens of local and international performing artists at venues all across the city, but you don’t have to travel very…

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Philadelphia FringeArts Unveils Plans for its New Headquarters

The historic High Pressure Fire Service Building on the corner of Race Street and Columbus Boulevard will have a new life as the permanent headquarters of the Philadelphia Live Arts…

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Best of Philadelphia Theater, 2011-12

Here are my annual picks for the best of Philadelphia theater: Best Play: August: Osage County (Arden) Honorable mention: The Island (Lantern) Best Actor, Male: Frank X, The Island (Lantern) Honorable…

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A Rare and Satisfying CYMBELINE at Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre

CYMBELINE is one of Shakespeare’s later and lesser-known works, not often performed and hard to classify. Though inspired by legends about an ancient British king named Cunobelinus, it is not…

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Plenty of Pulp: THE END OF CIVILIZATION at the Walking Fish

Some of the best entertainments are plot-heavy pulp mysteries: the film Double Indemnity, Raymond Chandler’s stories, Agatha Christie’s plays. With unemployment, serial killing, prostitution, addiction, and flawed police detectives, George F….

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A Taste of the Fringe in Early Summer: New City Stage Presents Two Sam Shepard Shorts

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival receives hundreds of applications from American drama troupes every year. Philadelphia’s New City Stage Company is in talks to become one of those selected to travel…

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Angels in America: two parts, two seasons

Philadelphia’s Wilma Theater, one of the city’s leading playhouses, is concluding its 2011/12 season with Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches. The first part of Tony Kushner‘s acclaimed two-part saga exploring love, sexuality, and…

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A Philly theater double header this Saturday

One of the best things about the annual Philly Fringe festival  is the opportunity to see several works of performing arts in one day or evening. I remember a few years ago…