February 25, 2014 |
"It's a waste of time and nothing good will come of it!" Before Thursday night, I would have agreed with that attitude toward an adult who was adopted as a child into a healthy, welcoming family and who late in life decided to seek out his "real" parents. Eric Conger's Beautiful Boy proved me wrong. Now in its world premiere at the Walnut Street Theatre's Independence Studio on 3, Conger's exquisitely constructed, moving play begins with Bill Moore (Jeff Coon) attending the funeral of the woman who raised him. Recently unemployed, he decides at 49 to find his birth parents, and hopes to discover himself.
February 13, 2014 |
An enchanting play about enchantment. With Aaron Cromie working his theatrical magic, Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium's production of Ondine , by the French modernist Jean Giraudoux, is a charmer. The tiny stage at the Walnut Street Theatre's Studio 5 is the perfect venue. Lisi Stoessel's set looks like an illustration from an old book of fairy tales, a little house in the midst of a dark forest. This, combined with Matt Sharp's evocative lighting and Adriano Shaplin's sensational sound design in which storms rage and the air is filled with voices, creates a world where Hans (Andrew Carroll)
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.
January 1, 2014 |
On a Tuesday evening not long ago, half a dozen parents hurried into the Arden Theatre Company's new building for Philly's latest premiere: a theatrical adaptation of the video game Minecraft .The play, created and performed by ebullient third and fourth graders, wasn't quite ready for the main stage. But the fact that it was performed at all was a remarkable accomplishment given the venue: the Arden's brand-new, $5.8 million Hamilton Family Arts Center. After all, the company bought the 22,000-square-foot industrial building, just up Second Street from its theater, in the depths of the recession.
December 27, 2013
TODAY'S Theaterdelphia marks the end of the column's first year of existence. And what a year it's been! According to the sacred Entertainment Writer's Oath, I am bound to wrap up the year gone by with a "10 Best"-type list. Well, that would be fine if I had been able to see every play staged in this region in the past 51 weeks. Even if I didn't have other responsibilities here at the People Paper, that would be a Herculean task (this building's other journalistic tenant has four regular reviewers, and even they don't get to everything)
November 30, 2013 |
Let us consider what the season has to offer - besides the Black Friday shopping demolition derby, parties soaked with eggnog, and general frenzy wrapped in pretty paper and too many bows. Folks, there's fun to be had amid the madness of gift-buying and wrestling with tangled strings of lights. As ever, the region this year delivers a multitude of events, and, as ever, we're unwrapping the highlights (there are a lot of presents). A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens' enduring 1843 tale becomes a tour de force when Scott Langdon performs every role, from Scrooge to Bob Cratchit to Tiny Tim (not to mention Fezziwig)
November 26, 2013 |
If you're wondering whether anybody under 90 remembers the singer and celebrity personality Sophie Tucker, who was born in 1884, the answer is clear: At least three people do. This tribute show, which opened Friday at the Walnut Street Theatre's Independence Studio on 3, is a bio-cabaret created by Richard Hopkins, Jack Fournier, and Kathy Halenda. Halenda plays Tucker, singing some great songs that are familiar even if Tucker is not attached to them in memory. Much of the pleasure in any biography is that you already know something about the subject and want to know more.
November 22, 2013
IT'S A good thing I thoroughly enjoyed "Elf," the musical-stage version of the hit 2003 movie that runs through Jan. 5 at the Walnut Street Theatre. If I hadn't, I'd likely have to surrender my membership in the human race. That's because only the Grinchiest of Scrooges (or is that Scroogiest of Grinches?) could give a "Bah, humbug!" to this merry melange of yuletide music and mirth. Like the film upon which it is based, "Elf" follows the misadventures of a bumbling but lovable North Pole denizen who, though raised from infanthood as one of Santa's elves, is actually a human being (hence his unusual height and inability to speedily and efficiently construct toys)
November 22, 2013 |
When Sophie Tucker called herself "the Last of the Red Hot Mamas," the plus-size ragtime café singer-turned-Ziegfeld Follies vaudevillian-turned radio and TV personality crafted an archetype, a sassy icon of traditional Yiddish song and bawdy comic tunes whose catalog was dwarfed only by her outsize personality. Tucker (1884-1966) was brassy, bodacious, loud and proud - Mae West and Fanny Brice rolled into one big lady. In her time she made hits of such songs as the slow, jazzy "Some of These Days," "Real Women Have Curves," and "Hula Lou," and in her wake she inspired the likes of Bette Midler.