April 4, 2015 |
Blanka Zizka has directed a much-anticipated Hamlet at the Wilma Theater, and central to the advance buzz is having Zainab Jah, a petite black African woman, in the title role. So was the idea that Hamlet is essentially human, and thus postrace and postgender? Maybe. But if you want to do a high-concept production, you actually have to have a concept and not just a bunch of weird stylistic choices. As it is, the stylistic choices - sometimes puzzling, sometimes dazzling - dominate the drama and often overwhelm the poetry, especially since some of the cast speaks very slowly, pausing at the end of lines, making little attempt at creating human speech.
April 3, 2015 |
After 18 years performing at the tiny but storied Adrienne Theater on Sansom Street, InterAct Theatre Company will be picking up its props and sets and leading a group of four other theatrical organizations to a new, multistage home being carved out of the old Drake hotel ballroom behind the Kimmel Center. The move, scheduled to be announced Thursday, represents something of a sea change in the city's performing arts landscape, bringing smaller producing theater companies into closer proximity to the Avenue of the Arts.
April 1, 2015 |
That it should come to this! But two months dead: nay, not so much, not two: So excellent a king; that was, to this, Hyperion to a satyr; so loving to my mother That he might not beteem the winds of heaven Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth! Must I remember? Why, she would hang on him, As if increase of appetite had grown By what it fed on: and yet, within a month - Let me not think on't - Frailty, thy name is woman! When it comes to women and Hamlet - Shakespeare's take on dead patriarchs, lustful queens, and avenging scions - the Bard isn't exactly kind.
March 23, 2015 |
SPRING'S STAGE schedule is a typical cup-runneth-over affair, mixing the classic and the brand new (and new twists on standards), comedies and dramas, musicals and scripts without scores. On the nonmusical front, we're excited about "To the Moon," a new piece from local comedy doyenne Jen Childs (and starring her gifted hubby, Scott Greer) that riffs on Jackie Gleason's 1950s sitcom "The Honeymooners. " Dramatically speaking, South Philly's Theatre Exile takes on Edward Albee's intense "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," and Wilma Theater puts its audacious spin on Shakespeare's "Hamlet.
January 17, 2015 |
When, in 1993, the body of an American soldier was dragged, beaten and bloodied, through the streets of Mogadishu in Somalia, Paul Watson photographed the horror, winning the Pulitzer Prize for the picture. He believes the dead soldier said to him, "If you do this, I will own you forever. " That haunting has, apparently, endured to this day, recorded in Watson's memoir, Where War Lives, and in Dan O'Brien's play The Body of an American , at the Wilma Theater until Feb. 1. The play concerns war and Watson's belief that war lives inside us. So rather than indict the inhumanity of those who inflict the misery, the play's documentary style becomes a kind of travelogue of suffering: Rwanda, Somalia, Iraq, Philippines, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Syria.
November 21, 2014 |
From Richard Villaverde's opening rond de jambe in Matthew Neenan's Increasing to Jorma Elo's dramatic ending in Gran Partita , BalletX launched its seven-show fall run (with an added Sunday-night performance) at the Wilma Theater on Wednesday with the confidence and artistry of a world-class ballet company. That's what it is, really, though there wasn't a pointe shoe in sight. The world premiere of Gran Partita was inspired by Orson Welles' film noir classic Touch of Evil , yet had too much beauty and too little grit to match that imagery.
October 15, 2014 |
Brace yourselves, Philly theater people: Joanna Settle, the new head of the Brind School of Theater Arts at the University of the Arts, has arrived with big plans - for herself, her students, and the city's theatergoers. Blindingly articulate and brimming with new-kid optimism, Settle recently returned from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where she collaborated with Passing Strange singer/songwriter Stew on his new musical, Family Album . She is making her local directorial debut at the Wilma Theater this week with Gina Gionfriddo's Rapture, Blister, Burn . During an interview in which big names dropped right and left, Settle - wearing silver shoes - explained the similarities involved in directing, producing, and running a school within a university: "There's a reason they call it 'helming' - you're steering this thing.
August 31, 2014
A story Thursday on Barrymore Award nominations gave the wrong number for the Wilma Theater's nominations. It was 10.
August 29, 2014
IF YOU'RE wondering about those barnyard sounds emanating from 2nd Street, it's likely the folks at Arden Theatre Company crowing about their Barrymore Awards nominations. The Old City-based company copped a field-leading 23 nominations in the competition that honors excellence in Philadelphia's theater community. Finishing in the place position was the financially beleaguered Philadelphia Theatre Company with 11 nods, followed by Wilma Theatre with 10. Arden's haul was spearheaded by its production of "Parade," which received nominations in such prestigious categories as Production of a Musical; Director of a Musical ( Terrence J. Nolen )
August 29, 2014 |
In a show of strength, Philadelphia's smaller theater companies this year rival the city's usual prize magnets in nominations for the newly revived Barrymore Awards, announced on Thursday. In no surprise from past years, Arden Theatre had 23 nominations, Wilma Theater tallied 10, and Philadelphia Theatre Company had 11. But Theatre Exile, InterAct Theatre, and Theatre Horizon took nine nominations each, while Simpatico Theatre Project had eight, Bristol Riverside Theatre five, and Inis Nua Theatre Company five.