Neal Zoren’s Shows to See in Philadelphia This October

Excerpted by kind permission from Neals Paper.

the night aliveA rundown of theater onstage in Philadelphia this October.

Come From Away, at the Academy of Music, quietly sneaks up on you with its goodness and positive picture of humankind. It’s about the effort residents of Gander, Newfoundland made to welcome thousands of unexpected guests whose flights landed in the emergency of September 11, 2001. The visitors outnumbered the inhabitants, but all was coordinated to keep most matters pleasant. I wondered at how disciplined and “just right” in tone and dudgeon this musical was until I noticed writers Irene Sankoff and David Hein were Canadians. How nice to have folks to can be moving and human without overdoing as our next-door-neighbors. Americans would have clobbered this delicate story.

Conor McPherson’s unique style and knack for suggesting the otherworldly comes through in The Night Alivebeing produced by Inis Nua. McPherson may make matters look straightforward, but he would never let that be the case, which is why he’s so popular.

Quintessence had a stunning literary and theatrical success with its faithful adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Now, Chicago’s Lookinglass Theatre, and David Caitlin, who has brought audiences lauded theatrical versions of Moby Dick and Alice in Wonderland is taking his turn with Mary Shelley’s Frankensteinbeing imported from its current run in Chicagoland to Princeton’s McCarter Theatre October 15 to November 3.

Another transfer from page to stage, this one a bit more fanciful, is Matildaa tale about an exceptional child who thinks she’s ordinary amid a group of ordinary children who think they’re exceptional, from popular writer, Roald Dahl, musicalized by Tim Minchin and David Kelly at Media Theatre.

InterAct Theatre has one of the better track records of all companies in recent seasons, so whatever it produces takes on extra interest. Jonathan Spector’s Eureka Day looks able to expand that streak as it explores the terror of mumps being reported at a posh, convention-following private school in Berkeley.

New titles that spark interest are Jeffry Chastang’s Dauphin Island for Trenton’s Passage Theatre, Joshua Ravetch’s One November Yankee for Wilmington’s Delaware Theatre Company, Nia Valardos’s Tiny Beautiful Things for the Arden, Clare Barron’s Dance Nation for Wilma Theater, and Adam Bock’s A Small Fire for Philadelphia Theatre Company.

Ego Po kicks off a season of Sam Shepard plays with Buried ChildBristol Riverside presents Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s heart-rending musical, Next to NormalWest Chester’s Resident Theatre Company begins its season with Kander and Ebb’s CabaretJennie Eisenhower directs a concert version of William Finn and James Lapine’s Falsettos for 11th Hour. Jenkintown’s Pulley & Buttonhole Theatre provides another look at R. Eric Thomas’s Mrs. Harrisonwhich had a reading at InterAct and a full production at Azuka. Irish Heritage Theatre, which had a triumph with Marina Carr’s By the Bog of Cats, stages another Carr work, “Woman and Scarecrow,” also to be directed by Peggy Mecham.

Read Neal Zoren’s complete 2019/20 season preview >>>

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