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Archive: November, 2011

POSTED: Thursday, December 1, 2011, 12:41 AM
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Audra McDonald performed Wednesday evening as part of the Kimmel Center's tenth anniversary. Photo by Michael Wilson.

By Howard Shapiro

Ten years ago,  golden-voiced Broadway favorite Audra McDonald helped open the Kimmel Center; on Wednesday night she returned to help celebrate its first decade. Elegant in an asymmetrical gown, she delivered a concert largely drawn from the songbook of American musicals.

Her appearance was the last stop on a 20-city tour. It was to have been the first, but her Oct. 1 appearance was postponed when union workers struck the Kimmel for 18 hours in a labor dispute.
“It wasn’t me — I was ready to come!” McDonald assured the aucdience, but no matter -- it was well worth the wait. The four-time Tony winner, an effusive, rich-toned soprano with a range that could cover Montana, delivered songs from more than a dozen shows with interpretations that honored the different characters in each.

howard shapiro @ 12:41 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, December 1, 2011, 12:15 AM

By Toby Zinman

The opening-night audience — longtime fans of 1812’s annual news-and-views send-up This Is the Week That Is — cheers to see Patsy (Jen Childs) back in South Philly, wearing her pink Eagles sweatshirt, giving Washington a piece of her mind. When she announces that 1812 Productions is the only company devoted to comedy in the whole country, she offers an aside, “I know, I know. Can yez stand it?”

All the expectable, mockable suspects are rounded up for our amusement: the Republican presidential candidates, the Occupiers, Greece, superheroes, the Republican presidential candidates, President Obama, Michelle Obama, Wall Street bankers, spin doctors, the Republican presidential candidates, Harvard professors, newscasters, television talk shows, and, wait, did I mention Republican presidential candidates?

Toby Zinman @ 12:15 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, November 28, 2011, 12:16 PM
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Elisa Matthews is Maria and Brad Little is Captain von Trapp in Media Theatre's production of "The Sound of Music."

By Howard Shapiro

A joke among diabetics is that we’re not allowed to see The Sound of Music because of all the sugar. Well, there’s plenty of the sweet stuff, but after adjusting my insulin pump at Media Theatre, something I’d forgotten hit me as the show progressed: its clear, dark side.

The Sound of Music may be tra-la-la in a way that fogs all but the most rose-colored lenses, yet it’s set in 1938 Austria, and as the plot creeps forward so does the German march on Europe. The tenor of the musical changes, at first subtly and then more so, until the ending, when it's clear that Austria will for all purposes lose its sovereignty. Patrick Ludt’s production does a nice job with the serious side; putting storm troopers in the theater’s aisles for the last few minutes strikingly makes the point.

howard shapiro @ 12:16 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, November 28, 2011, 11:26 PM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Adam Gwon’s chamber musical, Ordinary Days, benefits greatly from 11th Hour Theatre Company’s signature charm.  Joe Calarco, a director imported for the occasion of this Philadelphia premiere, uses the limited space of the Adrienne’s Skybox to create an intimacy perfectly suited to this sweet and gentle show.

Toby Zinman @ 11:26 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, November 22, 2011, 12:40 PM

By Merilyn Jackson

Sometimes when a critic sees a dance the first time, it goes over her head. On a witty double bill with Lionel Popkin at Philadelphia Dance Projects' season opener at the Performance Garage on Friday, I saw Gabrielle Revlock's Share! a second time since it premiered in 2009.

I got the wit part back then, but not the "share." With Julius Masri performing his soundscape live off to one side, Bonnie Friel stands on a riser lip-synching "Red River Valley." Gregory Holt and Revlock dance Revlock's eccentric and often original choreography: standing in place, the right toe raised slightly, the buttock rocking up and down with the eyes rolled upward - a motif repeated throughout the dance until you get its slightly bored affect. Eventually the three begin removing multiple sets of underwear and exchanging them, but finally it all ends up in heaps on Friel - shared.

Merilyn Jackson @ 12:40 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, November 21, 2011, 1:39 PM

By Wendy Rosenfield
For the Inquirer

Oy vey ist mir! Where to begin with the troubles that plague Montgomery Theater’s Jacob and Jack?

Maybe it’s best to start with what works. Maura Roche’s set design. Three dressing rooms, side by side with no walls, but many doors: That works. It works particularly well when playwright James Sherman suddenly decides this time-traveling comic/dramatic tribute to Yiddish theater is also a farce.

wendy rosenfield @ 1:39 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, November 21, 2011, 11:46 AM
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The cast of People's Light and Theatre Company's "Treasure Island: A Musical Panto," with Joilet Harris in front. Photo by Michael Ogborn. At People’s Light & Theatre through January 8th. Photo by Mark Garvin.

By Howard Shapiro

Let me hear you say arrrrrrrrrgh!

Not loud enough.

howard shapiro @ 11:46 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Sunday, November 20, 2011, 10:00 PM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

If you watched the superb “Song of Lunch” on Masterpiece Theatre last week, starring Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson, you know how well Rickman does sophisticated, arrogant, loathsome self-loathing. If you know Rickman from the Harry Potter movies, you know how well he does intimidating.

Toby Zinman @ 10:00 PM  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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