April 8, 2015 |
NEW HOPE - National Pastime , Bucks County Playhouse's brand new musical about Depression-era baseball, all but promises to be an insufferably inspirational story about big-hearted athletes, America triumphing over economic adversity, and that eternal source of sentimental hero worship, Babe Ruth. And yes, it's all there - but comically contextualized in a different set of all-American values: lies, deceit, and mercantile ethics in small-town Iowa. The plot hangs by a slender thread: A small radio station is about to go belly up, so it invents a local sports team, has it constantly playing games on the road (and in improbable places like Helsinki and Barcelona)
March 27, 2015
THE BASEBALL season doesn't commence in South Philadelphia until April 6, when the Phillies host the Boston Red Sox. But in New Hope, Thursday will be Opening Day as "National Pastime" debuts at the Bucks County Playhouse. "National Pastime," which runs through April 19, is billed as a musical love letter to baseball. The plot of the set-in-Depression-era-Iowa comedy centers on a struggling radio station that broadcasts the "games" of a make-believe team in order to boost ratings.
March 14, 2015 |
The Irish first marched through Philadelphia to honor St. Patrick in 1771, starting a local tradition that goes on to this day. The 245th edition of the Philadelphia St. Patrick's Day Parade will step off at noon Sunday from 16th Street and JFK Boulevard, then head up the Ben Franklin Parkway to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The parade is a celebration of Irish identity, "a good time for all our people to come together through our faith, our...
February 2, 2015 |
Odette's was once the gateway to New Hope, a lively cabaret bar on the edge of town that for decades epitomized the ebullient spirit of the famously gay-friendly borough. But lately, it's been an eyesore. After being ravaged by floods in 2008, the historic building along the Delaware River has sat vacant with boarded-up windows. A group of local investors is planning to change that. In about two months, they say, work will begin on the Riverhouse at Odette's, a $25 million facility that will bring luxury hotel rooms, a banquet hall, restaurant, and rooftop bar to the 40,000-square-foot property.
December 19, 2014
SO WE HAVEN'T yet sung "Auld Lang Syne. " That doesn't mean we can't do a little future-gazing to check out what lies in store for the local theater scene in 2015: 'Motown the Musical' The new year launches on a high note as the touring version of the Broadway smash boogaloos into town as part of the Kimmel Center's "Broadway Philadelphia" series. The "jukebox" musical surveys the classic pop 'n' soul from the Detroit-based home of such megastars as Stevie Wonder, the Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson, the Supremes, the Four Tops and the Temptations.
November 25, 2014 |
'TIS THE NEW era of the emancipated fairy-tale princess. The immensely popular "Frozen" has the queenly heroine Elsa going it alone, and her princess sister Anna wisely freezing out a bad suitor (before finally finding Mr. Right). And a fresh stage revamp of "Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella" - on Broadway and opening here in a new touring version tomorrow - features a rags-to-riches heroine with lotsa backbone and ambition, as well as magic at her disposal. "She's not the typical doormat Cinderella, just suffering abuse from her wicked stepmother and stepsisters" said Douglas Carter Beane, the Reading-born script writer.
September 19, 2014
REGULAR READERS of this column are no doubt aware of my beef that what passes for "songs" in much of contemporary musical theater aren't songs at all, but merely sung dialogue and exposition. Well, it turns out I'm not the only one who yearns for a return to the days when Broadway scores boasted pieces with actual verses and hook-laden choruses. Robyn Goodman also feels that way. And better yet, she's in a position to actually do something about it. Goodman is a Broadway powerhouse who has produced such smash hits as "Avenue Q," "In the Heights" and "American Idiot.
August 20, 2014 |
On paper, there ain't much to Ain't Misbehavin' but the music. Unlike many songbook-driven shows or jukebox musicals, Richard Maltby Jr. and Murray Horwitz's revue of the songs of Fats Waller lacks a plot, biographical outline or a historically grounded narrative. These deficiencies show in Bucks County Playhouse's muddled though mostly well-sung production, directed by Hunter Foster. It starts with the set: Wilson Chin and David L. Arsenault's built-out barroom with a staircase leading up to a raised balcony, which fails to create a unified environment.
July 22, 2014 |
NEW HOPE - With its smart, glamorous casting, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike was a fun but somewhat rackety outing Saturday in its opening weekend at Bucks County Playhouse. The script showed its meddle when, despite hesitations and missteps in the performance, the audience was possessed at crucial junctures. Winner of the 2013 Tony Award for best play, Vanya , which plays through Aug. 10, might initially seem like some brainy, inside-y Yale School of Drama riff on Chekhov.
July 11, 2014
WITH THE wonderful Marilu Henner heading the cast, there's already enough of a reason to see Christopher Durang 's 2013 Tony-winning comedy, "Vanya and Masha and Sonia and Spike" at New Hope's Bucks County Playhouse. But if you still need a nudge, know that you'll also be seeing Durang's debut in the role of Vanya. The July 17 to Aug. 10 run marks the first time that Durang, 65, who has sporadically performed for decades, will be on the boards since 2005, when he co-starred with Tony recipient Debra Monk in a Boston production of his two-person "Laughing Wild.