Saturday, September 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Saturday, April 5, 2014, 1:08 AM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Despite the austerity of the set-less bare floor, the Philadelphia Artists' Collective's splendid production of Mary Stuart evokes the grandeur of the Elizabethan court.  Schiller's classic drama, written in 1800, is a riveting battle to the death between two powerful queens, Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots. 

Toby Zinman @ 1:08 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, April 3, 2014, 6:47 PM

by Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

To hear Mark Nadler tell it in his cabaret act, I'm a Stranger Here Myself, the only point of the Weimar Republic was to provide gay men with a decadent Eden. But unlike the sexy, funny, edgy Kander and Ebb musical Cabaret, also about the Weimar Republic, this show at the Prince Music Theatre is cloying. Also boring. Also melodramatic. Also strident.

Toby Zinman @ 6:47 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, March 31, 2014, 1:13 PM
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Tere O'Connor's 'Bleed' is, yes, a convoluted dance

Posted: March 30, 2014

FringeArts brought in Tere O'Connor Dance's New York hit Bleed for a weekend run at its Columbus Boulevard venue and while reviewing the Thursday opening, I was about to use the word convoluted - then I referred to my last review of the company in 1999.

Convoluted was in there, too - as was lead dancer Heather Olson, who has been with O'Connor's company since 1997.

Merilyn Jackson @ 1:13 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, March 28, 2014, 10:32 AM

By Wendy Rosenfield

for the Inquirer

Wendy Rosenfield @ 10:32 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, March 28, 2014, 12:06 AM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

What a surprising show this is: first a vulgar farce, then a grim working class drama, then a tender musical, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice at Walnut's Independence Studio on 3, turns and turns again, under the capable direction of Dan Olmstead.

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POSTED: Thursday, March 27, 2014, 12:22 PM

By Jim Rutter


Alex Bechtel has emerged as one of the most well-rounded and talented young performers in Philadelphia. The 2008 University of the Arts graduate has worked with many top local companies, whether acting, singing and composing music for 1812 Productions, winning a Barrymore Award for musical direction at the Walnut Street Theatre, or helping create the social-media thriller Fatebook with New Paradise Laboratories.

@ 12:22 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, March 27, 2014, 12:20 PM

By Jim Rutter


Attention Phantom of the Opera lovers: Prepare to fall in love all over again. Cameron Mackintosh has redesigned Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classical musical, which for the next month, receives its North American premiere at the Academy of Music.

@ 12:20 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, March 27, 2014, 12:18 PM

By Jim Rutter

In both theme and setting, Sam Shepard’s 1978 Buried Child has aged far beyond its shelf life.

In the 1970s, no-fault divorce had just begun the breakdown of the nuclear family illustrated by his play. Today, you can’t pass two people on the street without meeting a survivor of a broken home. The end of the American Dream of self-sufficiency from owning a piece of land that Shepard depicts in the barren fields of a rundown farm seems quaint compared to the painful economic recovery after the subprime bubble.

And a play about farmers, are you serious? The only farmers today’s theatergoers care about are that hipster couple that quit their graphic design jobs, remortgaged their Fishtown home and now sell overpriced cow-shares in New Jersey.

The alcoholic, adulterous, incestuous, failed farm family of Shepard’s Pulitzer-winning play hold no similar appeal.

Thankfully, the razor-sharp production at Norristown’s Iron Age Theatre turns the taut family drama of this dated piece into a perverse pleasure: that of watching mean-spirited people tear into each other (much like Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?).

Their solid cast includes Dave Fiebert as Dodge, the now decrepit patriarch of the clan, his emotionally-stunted son Tilden (the excellent Chuck Beishl) and Eric Wunsch as Vince, the grown grandson that expects to rejoin his family lineage but finds no one recognizes him.

Randall Wise and John Doyle's direction provokes much laughter from the dark humor of people that should care for one another acting callously toward buried secrets and familial tragedy. That their malice stems from financial ruin and personal misfortune fails to inspire empathy or even sympathy.

By contrast, the decade after Shepard wrote this play still saw nationwide concern for the plight of America’s family farms (remember Farm Aid?).

Today, Monsanto, the debate over genetically modified crops, and Amish stalls in Rittenhouse Square remind us that our food comes from somewhere. And however much we can enjoy Iron Age's production, we certainly don’t want to think it’s produced by people like these.

Buried Child. Presented through April 13 at The Centre Theater, 208 DeKalb St, Norristown. Tickets: $15 to $22. Information: 610-279-1013 or

@ 12:18 PM  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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