Friday, October 31, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Friday, October 31, 2014, 3:29 PM

By Wendy Rosenfield

for The Inquirer

It cannot be a simple task, adapting Charles Dickens' Great Expectations for the stage, but playwright Gale Childs Daly gave it a go. A few nips and tucks later, the Arden Theatre Company's new production brings bright, young Pip, dismal Miss Havisham, and her ice-cold adopted daughter Estella (along with more than 30 others) to life with a six-person cast and minimal props.

However, those reasonable cuts - even Dickens purists might not miss the excised personages and events - don't result in an entirely taut show. As Pip, the orphan boy whose sister, Mrs. Joe, "brought him up by hand," and who receives a windfall from a generous secret benefactor, Josh Carpenter remains genial and engaging. Kate Czajkowski's Estella floats across the stage, as clipped and disdainful as her Biddy (Mrs. Joe's caretaker) is open and joyful. But there's something missing here, and these two excellent actors seem uncharacteristically restrained.

Wendy Rosenfield @ 3:29 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, October 30, 2014, 8:35 AM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer 

Toby Zinman @ 8:35 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, October 27, 2014, 2:23 PM

By Wendy Rosenfield

for The Inquirer

A friend's young daughter, visiting from her home in South Africa, once told me, "It's not a matter of if something terrible will happen to you, but when, and how bad will it be?" Such is the legacy of apartheid explored in Pamela Gien's The Syringa Tree. In this Theatre Horizon production, terrible - often very, very terrible - things happen, but also beautiful things, made even more so by the challenges her characters face, both internal and external.

Wendy Rosenfield @ 2:23 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Sunday, October 26, 2014, 8:32 PM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Doug Wright's over-the-top play is being given an over-the-top production by Luna Theater. Quills is about the over-the-top historical figure, the Marquis de Sade, who lent his name to sadism, the sexual pleasure derived from inflicting pain, and who wrote novels of shocking violent pornography.

Toby Zinman @ 8:32 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Saturday, October 25, 2014, 7:33 PM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

In his memoir, Timebends, Arthur Miller writes of his first marriage to Mary Slattery: "There was a deep shadow then over intermarriage between Jews and gentiles,....I was struggling to identify myself with mankind rather than one small tribal fraction of it." And so Willy Loman was Everyman, not EveryJew. Until now.

Toby Zinman @ 7:33 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, October 24, 2014, 1:29 PM
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Panayiotis Sinnos

By Merilyn Jackson

Merilyn Jackson @ 1:29 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, October 22, 2014, 1:37 PM

By Wendy Rosenfield

for The Inquirer

What's worse? Being traded in after 34 years by your Broadway producer husband for his decades-younger producing partner, or writing a musical revue about it? I'm going to go with writing the revue, Til Divorce Do Us Part, because getting dumped is painful, and while Ruthe Ponturo's ex seems like a real cad, at least without this show she still had her dignity.

Wendy Rosenfield @ 1:37 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, October 21, 2014, 9:43 AM

By Wendy Rosenfield

for the Inquirer

There's something about Quintessence Theatre Group's production of Richard II that calls to mind The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the downfall of its alien king, Frank N. Furter. Stay with me here. It's not the costumes or spare set, but Alexander Burns' direction, which picks sides, favoring Richard as sexy, bratty, and decadent, and poking at Bolingbroke (the future Henry IV) for his humorlessness and austerity. It's hubris vs. hubris, but Richard's hubris has style, and while it ultimately loses him both the crown and his life, he exits looking and sounding better than his buttoned-up rival.

Wendy Rosenfield @ 9:43 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog
Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer. She also is a contributing writer for Variety and American Theatre magazine. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of four books about four playwrights (Rabe, McNally, Miller, Albee), and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). Her 'weekend' job as a travel writer provides adventure: dogsledding in the Yukon, ziplining in Belize, walking coast-to-coast across England, and cowboying in the Australian Outback.


Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.


Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.


Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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