Sunday, March 29, 2015


By Toby Zinman



By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Hi, Folks. Ebenezer Scrooge here, with my guest this evening, Grinch, the noted critic who loves to hate Christmas shows.  I hope this finds you well, despite the pervasive holiday cheer.

Hi, Scrooge. And a very bah humbug to you, too. What’s on the agenda for tonight’s critical roundup?

ES: The new holiday show at the Walnut Independence Studio on 3, Plaid Tidings. Thoughts?

G: Thoughts? Are you kidding? What’s to think about a show this inane?  Its premise is that a singing group called the Plaids, who have been boring the angels to death in heaven since 1964 when they were killed in a car crash, return to earth for one night to put on a Christmas show.

ES: Who are these people? Can they sing? Are they funny? What?

G: The guys, Christopher DeProphetis, Ben Michael, Greg Nix and Michael Philip O’Brien, can sing like  nobody’s business.

ES: So what’s the problem, Grinch?

G:  The show, written by Stuart Ross, who also wrote the original show, Forever Plaid, is full of comic “bits,” all silly and childish with too much time taken up with old timey film of Perry Como, adoration of Rosemary Clooney and a spoof of the Ed Sullivan Show. You can see the thought balloons over the heads of anybody younger than 150, saying, “Who are these people?”

ES: Well, what do they sing when they finally get the chance?

G: It’s all ‘50s and ‘60s pop, like we really need to hear another weird “arrangement” of “Let It Snow” or those perennial Christmas favorites, “Mambo Italiano” and “Stranger in Paradise.”  Mostly, it’s just snippets and medleys, two of the many ways of frustrating anybody who likes to hear a song sung all the way through.

ES: Well, we’re out of space, Grinch. Have yourself a merry little.

G: Back atcha, Scrooge.


Walnut Independence Studio on 3,  9th & Walnut Sts.Through Dec.30.  Tickets $35 - $45 Information: 215-574-3550 or or


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About this blog

Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of five books about modern and contemporary drama, and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). She was recently named by American Theatre magazine "one of the twelve most influential critics in America."

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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