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).

Dan Kern and Jered McLenigan star in THE WOMAN IN BLACK at Act II Playhouse. Photo by Mark Garvin.

THE WOMAN IN BLACK: A GHOST PLAY (Act II): 60-second review

THE WOMAN IN BLACK: A GHOST PLAY is a cleverly constructed stage production by Stephen Mallatratt based on a novel by Susan Hill. It is a story within a story with Arthur Kipps (Dan Kern) seeking the assistance of an actor (Jered McLenigan) to tell his terrifying and sorrowful tale he’s compiled into a five hour manuscript. The actor encourages Kipps to tell the story through acting; the actor playing the role of Kipps and Kipps playing the roles of the people he encountered during his experiences.

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MAKESHIFT (Murmuration Theater): 60-second review

Strange games are afoot upstairs at Plays and Players. Not light or fun games, either—we’re talking full-on Don’t-talk-about-our-son-Martha! games here. Murmuration Theater’s new play MAKESHIFT throws us right into the middle of two different stories, and figures we’re smart enough to figure out what’s going on. The show doesn’t dole out much information, and when it does, it’s timed for maximum effect. Once you get enough to realize the show’s central conceit (which is quite nice, and unfolds so organically that I’d hate to spoil it), the earlier scenes come into better focus and make more sense.

Photo by Yi Zhao

THE GARDEN (Nichole Canuso Dance Company): Offer your hand…

Six audience members isn’t an empty house; that’s the full load for Nichole Canuso Dance Company’s THE GARDEN. The basement below us is an expansive concrete stretch, a network of small rooms and squared pillars, and we’re sent down into a smallish room scattered with chairs. We’re invited to sit wherever we like.

Photo © Jacques-Jean Tiziou / www.jjtiziou.net.

And the winners are….

The Barrymore Awards are on hiatus this year, returning in all their splendor for the 2013/14 season, but on November 4, 2013, Theatre Philadelphia gave out several awards recognizing local theaters and artists.

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RFK (New City Stage): An American tragedy

Director Ginger Dayle and sound and video designer Ren Manley intersperse audio and visuals from the 1960s in New City Stage Company’s RFK, complementing Widdall’s powerful performance with a great soundtrack and contextualizing video clips. Following pre-show newsreels from JFK’s assassination, the play begins in 1964—eight months after the fateful day in Dallas.

U.R. as Flip LeVay and Julianna Zinkel as Kimber in Arden Theatre Company’s production of Stick Fly. Photo by Mark Garvin.

STICK FLY (Arden): An inventive, relentlessly funny look at race and class

The immaculate Martha’s Vineyard home of the African American LeVay family is the set for Lydia R. Diamond’s STICK FLY at Arden Theatre Company. Plush sofas and pristine white cabinetry are the trappings around which the evening’s drama unfolds. The audience has a window into the kitchen, living room and porch where at times multiples scenes take place at complementary intervals; sometimes echoing their counterparts in the next room. The characters in the play are a complex set, all with different but overlapping backgrounds—some more than they realize.

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Screw the Barrymores, Get Some Clown Funk

The Barrymore Awards, Philadelphia’s bastard stepchild of the Oliviers or Tonys, took something of a hiatus for the 2012/13 season, as the downfall of the Theatre Alliance meant no annual…

Emily L. Gibson and Steve Lippe in MAKING the WORLD a BETTER PLACE through MURALS.

NICE AND FRESH November (SmokeyScout): Get punched in the face by art at SmokeyScout Productions’ NICE AND FRESH

SmokeyScout is named after artistic director Josh McIlvain’s cats: Smokey and Scout. The program of the November NICE AND FRESH thanks them, along with Moving Arts of Mount Airy (MAMA), the intimate,…

Russ Widdall as RFK.

Revisiting New City Stage Company’s RFK

Since my original review of New City Stage Company’s stellar production of RFK in October 2012 (reprinted below), the show was featured in Washington, DC’s Capital Fringe in July 2013,…

Raphael Xavier. Photo by Brian Mengini.

Raphael Xavier’s THE UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO AUDIENCE WATCHING PERFORMANCE at the First Person Arts Festival

Published by The Dance Journal. Reprinted by kind permission. Like many artists, dancer Raphael Xavier has a difficult time describing exactly what he does for a living.  “I usually say…

Photo: Alexander Iziliaev

JEWELS (Pennsylvania Ballet): Dance review

Published by The Dance Journal, reprinted with kind permission. As noted in Lew Wittington’s interview with PA Ballet Artistic Director Roy Kaiser last month, George Balanchine’s iconic JEWELS is an immense undertaking. …

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THE JERSEY DEVIL (Berserker Residents): 60-second review

The three troupe members of the FringeArts-famous Berserker Residents will do pretty much anything to get a good laugh out of the audience. Their recently re-installed THE JERSEY DEVIL (first…

Rendering of the initial design for the FringeArts outdoor plaza (Photo credit: WRT Planning & Design)

FringeArts Progress Report: The latest on the High Pressure Fire Service Building of 1903

Since my initial tour of the new FringeArts headquarters in August 2012, the projected opening (originally set for the Spring of 2013, then for the 2013 Festival in September) has…

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Get Berserk this Halloween: The Berserker Residents return with THE JERSEY DEVIL

The Berserker Residents—that ludicrous comic trio of Justin Jain, David Johnson, and Bradley K. Wrenn—are a moved-loved highlight of the Philly Fringe. 2013′s The Talkback was a joyous exploration of spontaneity and theatricality…

Josh Carpenter (as Marlow), Sonja Field (as Kate Hardcastle) in SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER. Photo by Alexander Burns.

SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER (Quintessence): A contemporary 18th-century comedy

SHE STOOPS is an 18th-century comedy of manners and mistaken identities by Oliver Goldsmith. It is considered by many to be the most enduring of 18th-century plays (name another you’ve…

Wes Haskell, Mary Tuomanen, and John Jarboe in COCK. Photo by Paola Nogueras

COCK (Theatre Exile): Spatial choreography reveals isolation, influence, and alliances.

Here’s the setup: A young man has lived with his male lover for a few years. During a spat he falls for a woman. Things have gotten complicated and he…

Marcus Plays and Players review photo

MARCUS; OR THE SECRET OF SWEET (Plays & Players): 60-second review

Is life sweet when you live in the Louisiana Bayou before an unprecedented storm hits?  For Marcus (Eric L. Fleming), life at 16 years of age is not only sweet, but…

Photo by Paola Nogueras. Theatre Exile Cock Review

COCK (Theatre Exile): A Provocative Fight for Love and Identity

Finding love and self-knowledge beyond the fixed categories of sexual identity (gay, straight, or bi) is the central theme of Michael Bartlett’s COCK, now in its Philadelphia premiere at Theatre…

Kevin Meehan.Photo credit: Kathryn Raines

WE ARE PROUD TO PRESENT (InterAct): Are You Black Enough?

Drury’s funny, traumatic, inventive and timely play will stab at you, personally, at least once. She asks whether it is important that a story be told, or if it is more important that it be told in a certain way. She uses the events in Namibia to illustrate the cracks in our own culture, the divides caused by racial issues even among a group of people who would probably all vote for the same candidate..