Spring Arts - Theater: Ushering in promising shows

Posted: February 01, 2012

The lights already are up on a number of notable shows during the theater season's second half - Body Awareness at the Wilma, the Philadelphia Theatre Company's Scottsboro Boys across the street, The Mousetrap at the Walnut, Clybourne Park at the Arden and InterAct's Microcrisis are among them - and they herald a busy season's finish for the region's 51 professional theater companies.

Productions include a heady mix of main-stage world premieres by established locally based playwrights, established shows that bear restaging, and plenty of curiosities thrown in. As usual, we can't vouch for most of these because they're not yet running, but they whet our appetite for a promising season finale.

- Howard Shapiro,

Inquirer theater critic

Spring Arts - Theater:

Proof (Walnut Street Theatre Independence Studio, Jan. 17-Feb. 5) David Auburn's play is about a mathematically talented father and daughter, and about legacy and madness. (215-574-3550 or www.walnutstreettheatre.org) 

Time Stands Still (Delaware Theatre Company, Jan. 18-Feb. 5; Act II Playhouse, Feb. 14-March 11) Two journalists - a couple inured to covering war - cope with an unconventional life when they're back home. (Delaware Theatre: 302-594-1100 or delawaretheatre.org; Act II Playhouse: 215-654-0200 or www.act2playhouse.org)

A Raw Space (Bristol Riverside Theatre, Jan. 31-Feb. 19) This world premiere by Jon Marans (Old Wicked Songs) involves two couples caught in the intrigue of a design competition. (215-785-0100 or www.brtstage.org)

Of Mice and Men (People's Light & Theatre Company, Feb. 15-March 25) The stage version of John Steinbeck's classic tale of migrant workers with a dream was written by Steinbeck, with help. (610-644-3500 or www.peopleslight.org)

God of Carnage (Walnut Street Theatre, March 13-April 29) The Walnut puts its spin on this hit Broadway show about two sets of Manhattan parents, their kids, and the notion of civility. (215-574-3550 or www.walnutstreettheatre.org)

Fela! (Academy of Music, March 20-25) The high-energy, infectious Broadway show about the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Nigeria's king of Afropop, will remind Philadelphians of something closer to home - MOVE: He was a music star with many wives, and ran a closed compound that was attacked by police.(215-893-1999 or www.kimmelcenter.org/broadway)

The Outgoing Tide (Philadelphia Theatre Company at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, March 23-April 15) Philadelphian Bruce Graham's newest play is a drama set on Chesapeake Bay, where a family argues over the father's odd plan to secure their future. (215-985-0420 or www.philadelphiatheatrecompany.org)

West Side Story (Academy of Music, March 27-April 8) The air is humming and something great is coming. Who knows? (215-893-1999 or www.kimmelcenter.org/broadway)

Outside the Frame Festival (InterAct Theatre Company, March 27-April 22) InterAct's festival features short-run premieres and performance artists including Tim Miller. (215-568-8079 or www.interacttheatre.org)

How I Learned to Drive (Theatre Horizon, April 5-29) Paula Vogel's Pulitzer Prize-winner involves a woman and her uncle, their dark relationship, and manipulation. (610-283-2230 or www.theatrehorizon.org)

A Behanding in Spokane (Theatre Exile at Christ Church Neighborhood House, April 19-May 13) Martin McDonagh is at it again in a bizarre play about a man with no hand, but also with plenty to spare. (215-218-4022 or www.theatreexile.org)

Boston Marriage (1812 Productions at Plays & Players Theatre, April 26-May 20) David Mamet's comedy is about two female roommates thrust into crisis by their individual fixations. (215-592-9560 or www.1812productions.org)

The Island (Lantern Theater Company, May 17-June 10) Athol Fugard cowrote this play about two cell mates at South Africa's Robben Island, a statement about power and defiance. (215-829-0395 or www.lanterntheater.org)

Angels in America: Part One (Wilma Theater, May 23-June 24) The first part of Tony Kushner's celebrated two-play epic about AIDS, politics, religion, and the American psyche will be followed at the Wilma next season by Part Two: Perestroika. (215-546-7824 or www.wilmatheater.org)

Tulipomania (Arden Theatre Company, May 24-July 1) A world-premiere musical by Michael Ogborn (Baby Case) tells the story of the tulip-bulb frenzy in 17th-century Holland. (215-922-1122 or www.ardentheatre.org)

Here are more promising possibilities for the spring season on professional stages in the region.

Bachelorette (Luna Theater Company at the Adrienne, Jan. 28-Feb. 12) Lots of boozing, eating, drugging, and sex-talking among three women and the two guys they pick up. (www.lunatheater.org)

Branch: A Baseball Legend (Society Hill Playhouse, Feb. 3-26) A world premiere by Walt Vail looks in on Branch Rickey, general manager of the '50 Brooklyn Dodgers, as he recalls how major league baseball overcame the color barrier. (215-923-0210, www.societyhillplayhouse.org)

Educating Rita (Hedgerow Theatre, Feb. 8-March 11) A university prof agrees to tutor a hairdresser in a play with Pygmalion overtones. (610-565-4211, www.hedgerowtheatre.org)

Marriage: An Utterly Improbable Occurrence in Two Acts (Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium at Walnut Street Theatre's fifth-floor stage, Feb. 8-26) Nikolai Gogol's 1833 farce is about marriage, in a calamitous way. (http://idiopathicridiculopathyconsortium.org)

Tennessee's Final Curtain (South Camden Theatre Company at Waterfront Theatre, Feb. 10-26) South Camden's season devoted to playwright Tennessee Williams features this new play by the company's artistic director, Joseph M. Paprzycki, set on the evening of Williams' death. (1-866-811-4111 or www.southcamdentheatre.org)

Antigone (Quintessence Theatre Group at the Sedgwick Theatre, Feb. 29-March 5) Sophocles' work, adapted by Jean Anouilh in 1943, in a contemporary translation with Oedipus, his daughter Antigone, and the matter of civil disobedience. (215-240-6055 or www.quintessencetheatre.org)

The House of Blue Leaves (Isis Productions at Walnut Street Theatre's fifth-floor stage, March 1-25) John Guare's play about a group of people on the day the pope visited New York in 1965 was also revived for a short time on Broadway last year. (www.isisperforms.com)

Fool for Love (Iron Age Theatre at Centre Theater, March 3-25) May and Eddie, former lovers with a sour past, meet up again in a motel in the desert in Sam Shepard's play. (610-279-1013 or www.ironagetheatre.org)

Hope Street and Other Lonely Places (Azuka at Off-Broad Street Theater at First Baptist Church, March 15-April 1) This world premiere by Genne Murphy traces the interactions of five Philadelphians. (215-733-0255 or www.azukatheatre.org)

Don't Talk to the Actors (Montgomery Theater, April 4-28) A new playwright's work is optioned by big-bucks Broadway, and there the craziness begins. (215-723-9984, www.montgomerytheater.org)

The Black Monk (Simpatico Theatre Project at Off-Broad Street Theater at First Baptist Church, April 10-29) David Rabe adapted his play - about a mad philosopher, a horticulturist and his daughter, and a muse - from a Chekhov novella. (215-423-0254, http://simpaticotheatre.org)

Slip/Shot (Flashpoint at the Adrienne, April 11-May 5) A world-premiere drama by local playwright Jacqueline Pardue Goldfinger is set in a Florida town where an accident magnifies racial tensions. (www.flashpointtheatre.org)

Titus Andronicus (Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, April 11-May 19) The seldom-performed and violent Shakespeare play, with live action and puppets. (215-496-9722, www.phillyshakespeare.org)

The Temperamentals (Mauckingbird at the Adrienne, April 11-29) Two men fall in love during the repressed 1950s in Jon Marans' play tracing their relationship and the rise of the Mattachine Society, an early gay-rights organization. (www.mauckingbird.org)

Spring Awakening (Media Theatre, April 18-May 20) The Tony Award-winning musical about the sexual angst of 19th-century German teens, in its first professional local production. (610-891-0100, www.mediatheatre.org)

The Tempest (Curio Theatre at 4740 Baltimore Ave., April 19-May 19) Spells, spirits, mystical powers - and plenty of charm - drive Shakespeare's revenge play set on a remote island. (215-525-1350, www.curiotheatre.org)

The Walworth Farce (Inis Nua at Off-Broad Street Theater at First Baptist Church, May 8-27) Enda Walsh's play involves a strange trio - a father and his two boys, who are exiled from Ireland's County Cork and live down-and-out in London. (215-454-9776, inisnuatheatre.org)

Asymmetric (New City Stage at the Adrienne, May 17-June 10) A mole is the subject of this world-premiere espionage thriller by Mac Rogers. (215-563-7500, www.newcitystage.org)

The Dybbuk (Ego Po Classic Theater at the Prince Music Theater, May 31-June 17) Ego Po ends its season-long slate of Jewish-themed plays with a translation by Tony Kushner of the classic tale of a spirit that invades a wedding. (267-273-1414, www.egopo.org)

Travesties (Plays & Players, June 7-23) In a fantasy about revolution and art, Tom Stoppard puts Lenin, Joyce, and others in a comedy that involves a real-life British official and characters from The Importance of Being Earnest. (215-735-0630, www.playsandplayers.org)

Suburban Motel (Walking Fish Theatre, June 5-30) Two plays by George F. Walker, Featuring Loretta and The End of Civilization, in repertory, consider a young pregnant woman and a man whose unemployment may be linked to bomb threats. (215-427-9255, www.walkingfishtheatre.com)

   - Howard Shapiro

Contact Howard Shapiro at 215-854-5727, hshapiro@phillynews.com, or #philastage on Twitter.

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