September 20, 2015 |
You put on a hi-viz vest and optional facemask, and you plug a set of buds into your ears. After tracing your hand onto a sheet of paper, you hear a voice that guides you (and 14 others, one group every 30 minutes) into the Merriam Theater auditorium. "Swat away the flies," the voice instructs, and with your eyes closed, you hear the buzzing of pesky insects in Sam Britton's sound design for Ant Hampton's The Extra People . The automated, childlike voice commands you to move, to sit, to huddle under a blanket, or direct a flashlight into the face of another "extra person.
June 14, 2015 |
From the opening curtain to the final darkening of the lights, exuberant reactions - both subjectively visceral and objectively profound - rippled through the Merriam Theater at the Pennsylvania Ballet's season closer Thursday night. Choreographer William Forsythe has returned to the States after decades helming Ballet Frankfurt and then his own company in Dresden. The Philadelphia premiere of his 1991 The Second Detail is his third work from the Pennsylvania Ballet. These decades-old, neoclassical ballets will appeal to lovers of Balanchine, whom Forsythe most admired, and, to my eye, advanced the Balanchine aesthetic.
March 22, 2015 |
The Book of Mormon will be back in Philadelphia's Forrest Theatre late this year for a month-long reprise of its successful 47-day 2014 engagement, part of Broadway Philadelphia's 2015-16 season, officials of the Kimmel Center and the Schubert Organization announced Friday. The Kimmel and the Schubert Organization are joint presenters of the season. "Each season, we seek compelling theater productions with story lines that resonate with our diverse audiences," Anne Ewers, Kimmel president and chief executive, said in a statement.
February 27, 2015
IT HAS BEEN said that there are no such things as problems, only opportunities. Well, here's an opportunity for Philadelphia to make lemonade out of a Broadway lemon. "Rocky," the musical based on the iconic 1976 rags-to-riches film about a ham-and-egg boxer from Kensington, closed its Broadway run last August, a mere five months after its much-hyped debut. But just because New York wasn't a hospitable host doesn't mean that Rocky Balboa's hometown couldn't be. From this vantage point, bringing the musical to Philly as a permanent attraction is a no-brainer.
February 18, 2015 |
When Torn Between 2 Fathers attacks the cycle of absentee fatherhood with sympathy, disgust, and inspiration at the Merriam Theater this week, it will be another victory for the play's writer, director, and costar Priest Tyaire. The 41-year-old Delaware native started his theater career from scratch at the age of 34 with Tears of a Teenage Mother , intending it only as a tribute to his mother, who had her first child at 15 and went on to earn a master's degree. But it sold out its several performances, so Tyaire kept writing.
February 8, 2015 |
Excitement filled the Merriam Theater on Thursday night as the Pennsylvania Ballet presented a program featuring a world premiere by resident choreographer Matthew Neenan and a trio of rising stars. Mayara Pineiro, who joined the corps last fall, was outstanding in Neenan's Shift to Minor . Brand-new soloist Oksana Maslova distinguished herself - with the superb Ian Hussey as her partner - in Christopher Wheeldon's Polyphonia . And Alexander Peters, a Pennsylvania Ballet apprentice just three years ago, was a revelation in the title role of George Balanchine's Prodigal Son . Set to a piano score by György Ligeti played by the excellent Martha Koeneman, Polyphonia was an impressive opener.
January 17, 2015 |
Toward the end of a thoroughly enjoyable interview, saxophonist Maceo Parker, who brings his show to the Merriam Theater, wishes to say his mission is all about one thing: "Love, love, love, and love . You're in Philly, right? That's all about brotherly love, so you know what I'm talking about. " Parker first became famous as James Brown's most soulful and credited sideman (how many times have you heard the Godfather of Soul shout for "Maceo"?). The saxophonist got his start in his hometown of Kinston, N.C. "My older brother Kellis played trombone, the other, younger one - Melvin - drums.
December 26, 2014
TODAY'S COLUMN is a twofer. First, it marks the end of our second year chronicling the always-fascinating regional theater scene. And, because this is the final column of 2014, it's a look back on the highs (and lowest of the low) on local stages during the past 12 months: In the news The news this year was mostly good; the regional theater community appears to not just be surviving, but generally thriving. Perhaps the grayest cloud was the one that earlier in the year settled over the 40-year-old Philadelphia Theatre Company.
December 22, 2014 |
'Rhythm," in the immortal words of Gloria Estéfan, "is gonna get you. " Especially if you visit the Merriam Theater between Thursday and Dec. 30th to see the latest installment of STOMP . This all-percussion show, which makes theatrical magic with objects from the local hardware store, was cocreated by British musicians Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas in 1991. The word-less, plot-free phenomenon has been playing in both London and New York City for more than 20 years. STOMP also has two international touring companies.
November 11, 2014 |
SOMETIMES, even the master of horror, Stephen King, needs a little inspiration, a certain something to get the bones rolling in his head. That's where John Mellencamp came in, and that's how their project, the musical "Ghost Brothers of Darkland County," took form - evolving from the standard cabin-in-the-woods idea into a supernatural yarn about brothers at odds, set in the South with a backdrop of Spanish moss and the blues. "I had never written a play, let alone a musical, but I figured we'll learn as we go along," King said in a recent interview with the Daily News . "I had done an outline, but once [Mellencamp]