February 22, 2015 |
In 1882, a young Oscar Wilde took a one-day break from his lecture tour of North America to visit the Camden home of Walt Whitman. Thematically, Michael Whistler's Mickle Street, now at the Walnut Theatre's Independence Studio on 3, depicts this event as a gay apologia and examination of the difficulties one faced living as a homosexual in 1880s England and America (which Wilde would find out for himself a few decades later). Dramatically and in content, Mickle Street is so contrived that Whistler might just as well have invented their historic meeting.
January 25, 2014 |
The Walnut Street Theatre's set for Jon Robin Baitz's Other Desert Cities , with its airy vaulted ceiling, floating staircase, and open hearth with an enormous hammered-copper hood, implies multimillion-dollar mountain views, and clubhouse access. Combined with midcentury modern furnishings - all wood, with pops of teal and mustard upholstery - set designer Todd Edward Ivins tells us all we need to know about this sunken living-room melodrama long before we realize it. The play, a Pulitzer finalist and Tony winner, is firmly rooted in the 20th-century stage tradition of dysfunctional families taking a long journey, drinking, and fighting well into night.
June 25, 2012 |
Strong acting and bold direction too often overshadow the work that a design team contributes to a play's success. In the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival's staging of The Tempest, the designers provide all the elements that make this production memorable. Not that the actors and director Jim Helsinger don't uphold the Festival's high standards. Greg Wood delivers a compelling, sympathetic performance as Prospero, the deposed Duke of Milan exiled for 15 years on a remote island with his daughter Miranda (the earnest and endearing Kelsey Formost)
September 13, 2011 |
Everyone, it seems, loves to watch A.R. Gurney's Sylvia , and everyone loves to produce it. Since 1995, the comedy about a boy and his dog, and his wife, and his midlife crisis as projected onto the dog, played by a cute young woman (Jessica Bedford) with shaggy blond curls, is a perennial on regional stages. This time, the lassie comes home to Ambler's Act II Playhouse, and why not? People love dogs, people love marriages weathering crisis, people love a happy ending. I do not love Sylvia , though I do anthropomorphize and love dogs, and all the rest of it. Lines such as Sylvia's wide-eyed declaration, "Even when you hit me, I love you" always struck me as a lose-lose proposition.
July 22, 2008 |
The only thing more outstanding than the ungainly nose on the title character in Cyrano de Bergerac is the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival's impressive production itself. The festival's final offering this summer, Edmund Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac, is gorgeous in many ways: its melodic translation by Anthony Burgess, the one used on Broadway last season in a production with Kevin Kline and Jennifer Garner; an inspired portrait of a renegade with a broken heart of gold by Philadelphia actor Greg Wood; a staging by director Dennis Razze that embraces the play's most emotional scenes, then milks them for all they're worth.
November 16, 2007 |
Lantern Theater's frothy French frolic, The School for Wives, is Moli?re on a small scale. One theme, a handful of characters, and a happy ending: Love triumphs over the best-laid plans and passionate youth trumps middle-aged wealth and scheming. We are warned in the opening scene, "We must dread the denouement," but no need, no need. The goofy, colorful set (Nick Embree) at St. Stephen's Theater, full of smirking cupids and cockeyed windows, establishes the playful tone of director Kathryn Nocero MacMillan's production.
January 17, 2004 |
In the tradition of J.D. Salinger and Thomas Pynchon, Editorial Decisions, the new play presented by Brick Playhouse, gives us Maxwell Kingfisher, a reclusive, highly regarded novelist about whom very little is known. Or does it really give us Maxwell Kingfisher? The ambiguity surrounding this character, who may or may not be the famous author, lies at the heart of this easy-to-take, amusing but ultimately unsatisfying comedy. In the end the audience learns almost nothing about him, but that's all right because Nicholas Wardigo's play isn't really about him and his carefully cultivated mystery.
October 29, 1998 |
David P. Gordon's unit set for The Grapes of Wrath, which opened on Tuesday at the Arden Theatre Company, is an astounding creation, a single swath of canvas that covers the stage floor, sweeps upward over the back wall, and projects forward over the playing area like a giant butterfly wing. As you study it before the play begins, its nature seems constantly in flux: At one moment it's an expansive cyclorama; at the next, an enfolding cocoon. As such, it's the perfect environment for Terrence J. Nolen's production of John Steinbeck's poignant story of the Joad family in the fall of 1938, adapted for the stage by Frank Galati.
June 25, 1996 |
The Arden Theatre Company has brought the suburbs its production of William Finn's bittersweet Falsettos, which invigorated the 1995-96 theater season when it played the Arden's Old City home base in November and December. With three replacements for original cast members, the musical runs through Sunday on the main stage of the People's Light and Theatre Company in Malvern. The new players fit snugly into an already tight ensemble. As Trina, the wife whose husband, Marvin, takes up with a male lover (thus driving her into the arms of Marvin's psychiatrist, Mendel)
June 20, 1995 |
Among the pleasures of theatergoing in an area such as ours is watching gifted actors deepen their craft from season to season and role to role. None in Philadelphia has done so more consistently than Greg Wood, who has played everything from Shaw to Pinter in a career notable for a willingness to take risks - and for the excitement that often results when the risks pay off. Now Wood has taken the young actor's biggest risk of all, playing the title role in the production of Hamlet that debuted Friday as the 1995 season-opener of the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival.