Sunday, December 28, 2014

Archive: December, 2011

POSTED: Friday, December 23, 2011, 3:30 PM
"Hanukkah Goblins" has a great lead character, imaginative puppetry, live music, and a versatile set that literally keeps things moving. (WILLIAM THOMAS CAIN / CainImages.com)

By Wendy Rosenfield

For the Inquirer

Eric Kimmel's children's book Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins is a story that, aside from being engaging, is also gently subversive and proudly ethnic.

Wendy Rosenfield @ 3:30 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Saturday, December 17, 2011, 12:40 AM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

The emperor walked beneath the beautiful canopy in the procession, and all the people in the street said, "Goodness, the emperor's new clothes are incomparable! What a beautiful jacket. What a perfect fit!" No one wanted it to be noticed that he could see nothing, for then it would be said that he was unfit for his position or that he was stupid. None of the emperor's clothes had ever before received such praise. "But he doesn't have anything on!" said a small child.

Toby Zinman @ 12:40 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 11:58 PM
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Geneviève Perrier and Ben Dibble, in a copacetic moment in the Lantern Theater production of "Private Lives." Photo by Mark Garvin.

By Howard Shapiro
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

Maybe the current Broadway revival of Noël Coward’s Private Lives wouldn’t be ending so quickly if it had the same tone and pizzazz as the Private Lives that opened Wednesday in a production by Lantern Theater Company.

Lantern’s associate artistic director Kathryn MacMillan stages the play, which first came to Broadway 80 years ago, to target the laughs and not to capture the era, its prime focus in its seventh Broadway revival. There, it comes off as a look at the style of ’30s British elite that’s also a bickerfest meant for fun; at Lantern, it’s the other way around.

howard shapiro @ 11:58 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, December 12, 2011, 11:27 AM
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The "Jersey Boys" performing at the Forrest Theatre: (from left) Brandon Andrus, Brad Weinstock, Jason Kappus and Colby Foytik. Photo by Joan Marcus.

By Howard Shapiro
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

It wasn’t just the bright new national-tour cast of Jersey Boys up on the Forrest Theatre stage, bowing to wild enthusiasm at the curtain call for Friday’s opening in its very first stop.   

There, standing amid the guys who play the Four Seasons and the sizable ensemble that backs them, was the creative team — the folks who devised the show that won the best-musical Tony in 2006 and that has proceeded, in several national tours, to win over audiences nationally.

howard shapiro @ 11:27 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Sunday, December 11, 2011, 9:56 AM

By Toby Zinman
For the Inquirer

Christopher Durang, America’s self-appointed satirist, the theater’s oldest living teenager, wrote New City Stage’s current show, Why Torture is Wrong and the People Who Love Them two years ago. An assault on the “war on terror,” this is the perfect demonstration of how short the shelf life of political humor is. On his worst day, Stephen Colbert wouldn’t foist off stuff this stale on us.

The plot begins when Felicity (Ginger Dayle, the cast’s weak link) wakes up after a drunken night in bed with a man who claims to be her husband. Zamir (Sam Henderson) is a shady character, who may be a terrorist or a criminal or a drug addict on parole. She takes him home to meet her parents — slightly delirious, excessively chatty Luella (the excellent Marcia Saunders) and Leonard (Paul L Nolan), a right-wing-lunatic, Second-Amendment kind of guy who runs a black op in his attic.

Toby Zinman @ 9:56 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Sunday, December 11, 2011, 4:08 PM

By Wendy Rosenfield

For the Inquirer

As someone who neither speaks Spanish nor celebrates Christmas, I’m probably a tough sell for Walking Fish Theatre’s Un Viaje: A Christmas Journey. But as a parent looking to expand my children’s cultural horizons, I’m also probably an ideal audience. The company should be commended for trying to integrate bilingual programming into its children’s theater slate. Philly has a large Latino population in general, and Fishtown in particular, so it’s a great way to get the whole neighborhood invested in supporting local theater.


Wendy Rosenfield @ 4:08 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Saturday, December 10, 2011, 12:32 AM

By Toby Zinman
For the Inquirer

How do you say dated and boring in Italian? OOH, wait, wait, I know, I know: Dario Fo.  Curio Theatre is giving the Italian farce-meister a revival with their production of Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist, only to prove that this highly political comedy is thoroughly mired in post-war European  issues and thus irrelevant to contemporary American audiences, and, as a consequence is desperately unfunny.

Half Absurdist, half commedia del arte, this indictment of police brutality involves a lot of slapstick, with fake walks, fake wigs, fake accents and fake fighting. That the madman is the only politically sane character was an overworked conceit long before this play beat it to death.

Toby Zinman @ 12:32 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, December 9, 2011, 5:27 PM
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Tovah Feldshuh plays Momma Rose in "Gypsy" at Bristol Riverside Theastre.

By Howard Shapiro
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

There are mothers and there are Mothers, and then there’s Momma Rose. She is the world’s most famous stage mother, the driving force behind her children and the reason the great American musical Gypsy exists.

At the swell production of Gypsy starring Tovah Feldshuh, which opened Thursday night at Bristol Riverside Theatre in celebration of the stage company’s 25th anniversary, Momma Rose is not just intent, or aggressive, or difficult or even defiant. When the plot's pushes come to shoves, Feldshuh plays her as downright maniacal.

howard shapiro @ 5:27 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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