Tuesday, May 26, 2015

POSTED: Tuesday, March 24, 2015, 11:57 PM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Remember Baby's thrilling run and Johnny's spectacular lift at the end of the movie, Dirty Dancing?  Well, onstage, in this national touring production at the Academy of Music, there's no run and not much thrill.  It's more like dusty dancing than dirty dancing, since the sexy electricity has been replaced by nostalgia.

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POSTED: Friday, March 20, 2015, 2:16 PM

By Wendy Rosenfield

for the Inquirer

It’s a fine time for Bristol Riverside Theatre’s production of Ragtime, the Lynn Ahrens/Stephen Flaherty/Terrence McNally musical adapted from E. L. Doctorow’s sprawling 1975 novel (followed by Milos Forman’s 1981 film). The show premiered in 1996, saw a Broadway revival in 2009, and takes place in the years between the turn of the 20th century and the start of WWI. Why so many dates? Just to make the point that though is a turn-of-the-20th-century American story, it remains just as relevant at the turn of the 21st.

Wendy Rosenfield @ 2:16 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, March 18, 2015, 11:17 PM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Agatha Christie's old chestnut of a novel, Ten Little Indians, was a best-seller in in 1939 and was adapted for the stage in 1943. It creaks along under its new, presumably politically-correct title, And Then There Were None on the Walnut Street Theatre's mainstage, providing a mildly amusing evening and a mildly puzzling whodunit.  As a murder mystery it has more in common with the board game "Clue" than with "Law and Order." 

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POSTED: Wednesday, March 18, 2015, 1:57 PM

By Wendy Rosenfield

for the Inquirer

The current touring production of Annie marks the 19th time since its 1977 Tony-sweeping Broadway run Martin Charnin directs the show. At this point, it’s a well-oiled machine, and whether it’s because of all that youthful orphan enthusiasm, Beowulf Borritt’s lushly painted backdrops, or the irresistible affection for the material shown by its adult principals, that machine still shines like the top of the Chrysler Building. 

Wendy Rosenfield @ 1:57 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Sunday, March 15, 2015, 7:08 PM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Ken Ludwig's new comedy is a farcical treatment of the most famous of the Sherlock Holmes stories: "The Hound of the Baskervilles." As we know from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle' s stories, from Benedict Cumberbatch's fast-talking reincarnation of the famous detective in TV's Sherlock and from Johnny Lee Miller's intense and neurotic portrayal in Elementary, another TV series,the whole point of Sherlock Holmes is that he is supersmart. So how did he wind up in this dopey play?

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POSTED: Saturday, March 14, 2015, 11:07 AM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Anglophile heaven: Helen Mirren, the queen of the British stage, plays the Queen of England majestically and regally—and also slyly and wittily and altogether sympathetically.

Toby Zinman @ 11:07 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, March 12, 2015, 6:48 AM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Sometimes Macbeth is a medieval warrior, sometimes he's a modern tycoon; his "fiend-like queen" is sometimes a brilliant harridan, sometimes a sexy trophy wife.  The Macbeths are the ultimate power couple, making House of Cards look like child's play, and Shakespeare's fierce study of ruthless ambition has tempted directors and actors for more than 400 years.

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POSTED: Wednesday, March 11, 2015, 8:51 AM

By Wendy Rosenfield

for the Inquirer

If I could change anything about 11th Hour Theatre Company's world premiere of Michael Ogborn's Field Hockey Hot, I'd have opened it a month ago, in the depths of this winter's merciless ice and cold. Never mind the heat in its title - the musical's sunny, neon-hued, retro-'80s theme paired with the gung-ho cast's calorie-torching exertions alone might have raised the mercury at least a few notches.

Wendy Rosenfield @ 8:51 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
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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