Tuesday, April 21, 2015

POSTED: Saturday, April 4, 2015, 12:00 AM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Philadelphia Artists' Collective has done it again!  PAC has unearthed another antique play—this time the obscure Renaissance comedy, The Fair Maid of the West by Thomas Heywood-- polished it up and made it shine. Under Charlotte Northeast's brilliant direction, a rambunctious cast whips us into the rowdy audience the play demands, and we laugh and stamp our feet and clap and roar our approval.

Toby Zinman @ 12:00 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, April 2, 2015, 8:30 AM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Blanka Zizka has directed a much-anticipated Hamlet at the Wilma Theater, and central to the advance buzz is having Zainab Jah, a petite black African woman, in the title role. So was the idea that Hamlet is essentially human, and thus post-race and post-gender? Maybe. But if you want to do a High Concept production, you have to actually have a concept and not just a bunch of weird stylistic choices.

Toby Zinman @ 8:30 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, March 27, 2015, 11:15 PM

It’s hard to believe Koresh Dance Company has been performing on Philly boards for almost 25 years. Harder yet to think Melissa Rector still shines in every performance since 1991. And harder still to not be moved by Aftershock, artistic director and founder Ronen Koresh’s love letter to his adoptive homeland. It opened his spring run at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre Thursday night.

Perhaps his episodic style derives from his multi-dimensional biography. The oldest of five children, he was born in Israel and began his dance career in the second company of the world-renowned Batsheva company. It was interrupted by compulsory military service – in which all his siblings also served. He left for New York to join Alvin Ailey School a month after his service. So military motifs often pepper his choreography.

Aftershock’s 13 titled sections begin with “Then,” move through “Change” and end in “Aftershock” But instead of his usual big bang, full cast finale, he surprises us with a poignant duet for Shannon Bramham and Rector bathed in Peter Jakubowski’s joyous polka-dot lighting. Don’t worry. He brings the full company out together in the penultimate section, “Whiplash.” And it’s a stunner – not about pretty, but awkward, angular, sharp moves – elbows up, shudders, insane belly scratching.

Merilyn Jackson @ 11:15 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, March 27, 2015, 12:52 AM
Blog Image
Dave Johnson, in tassels, showing the limits of this production's offensiveness and humor.

By Jim Rutter

For THE INQUIRER

The Lantern’s current production of Taming of the Shrew is so fresh, and funny and full of life that nothing in it offends and were it not for KO DelMarcelle’s winking choreography and some strong performances, this Shrew would almost bore with its innocent humor.

@ 12:52 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
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.

Toby Zinman @ 11:57 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
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." 

Toby Zinman @ 11:17 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
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
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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