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Archive: January, 2013

POSTED: Friday, February 1, 2013, 1:14 AM

On Wednesday night, Robert Battle programmed Paul Taylor’s 1981 masterpiece Arden Court as the opening note on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s three-night run at the Merriam Theater. Even with William Boyce’s Baroque music, this company breathed new life into Taylor’s work and into the closer, the 1960 classic Revelations.

The six men in the work danced like tightly coiled springs rapidly released, or in static moments, X’d their bodies stiffly to be turned hands over heels by another man, one man rolled across the floor as the curtain dropped. Linda Celeste Sims, Rachael McLean and Alicia Graf Mack were ethereal ballerinas wafting over the shoulders of the men. But, as with most Taylor works, the men had the edge.

In Battle’s 1999 work Takademe, Jamar Roberts charmed in red ruched pants by Missoni wriggling his way through multiple personality changes to fit Sheila Chandra’s vocalizations.

Merilyn Jackson @ 1:14 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, January 31, 2013, 3:52 PM

By Wendy Rosenfield

For the Inquirer

The flight for swingin’-‘60s farce Francais, Boeing Boeing--which had its English language premiere in 1962, and saw a subsequent film adaptation starring Jerry Lewis and Tony Curtis--hasn’t exactly been nonstop, but in the last few years it’s sure picked up speed. The play’s most recent layover lands at Delaware Theatre Company, but it was preceded by a 2009 production at Ambler’s Act II Playhouse, and just before that, award-winning revivals on Broadway and the West End.

Wendy Rosenfield @ 3:52 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, January 31, 2013, 3:46 PM

By Wendy Rosenfield

For the Inquirer

To breed or not to breed? That is the question facing M (David Raphaely) and W (Charlotte Ford) in Luna Theater’s production of Duncan MacMillan’s Lungs. In unremarkable clothes (jeans, sweatshirt), without props, sound design, sets or scene changes, they agonize, argue, love, leave, return, reconcile and endlessly orbit one another, the centers of their own tiny universe. MacMillan and director Gregory Scott Campbell present the simplest human situation without embellishment, and in doing so, illuminate its complexity.

Wendy Rosenfield @ 3:46 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, January 30, 2013, 9:32 AM
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Eric Scotolati and Paul Kuhn in Curio Theatre's 'Equus'

By Jim Rutter


In his 1973 play Equus, Peter Shaffer depicted a detective story, inspired by a true event, about a reluctant psychiatrist attempting to unravel the case of a 17-year old boy who blinded six horses. The play's confrontation of religion with psychiatry helped set the tone for pop culture’s understanding of mind and behavior.

@ 9:32 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, January 28, 2013, 12:01 PM

By Jim Rutter


Katori Hall set her play “The Mountaintop” in Room 306 of Memphis’ Lorraine Hotel on April 3, 1968 — the night before Martin Luther King’s Jr.’s assassination on balcony outside that room. Though King’s legacy lives on, the world will always wonder what he could have achieved had he not been murdered at 39.

Jim Rutter @ 12:01 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, January 28, 2013, 6:46 PM
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By Merilyn Jackson


A full moon soared diagonally across the stage backdrop at Temple’s Conwell Theater Friday night for the opening of “Wolf-in-Skins.” Hounds and wolves bayed; the hair on my neck prickled. The animals loped in on all fours, knuckles fisted like paws. From the opposite fly, three consorts of the prince regent of Annfwin (Gwyn ap Nudd, a stag) danced across in vertical contrast, often in relevé. Their breasts were cupped loosely in petals, their diaphanous empire-waist tutus flared by acrylic. This tale, drawn from pre-Christian Celtic mythology, takes place when man and beast mated and procreated, if only in myth.

Merilyn Jackson @ 6:46 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, January 24, 2013, 11:51 AM

By Wendy Rosenfield

For the Inquirer

The Arden Theatre’s current production of Endgame marks the first time this company--usually squarely in the province of narrative-driven plays and musicals--has taken on absurdist Samuel Beckett. So it’s perhaps not all that surprising that director Edward Sobel attempts to impose a sort of contemporary narrative on Beckett’s timeless apocalyptic vision; not surprising, but disappointing.

Wendy Rosenfield @ 11:51 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Sunday, January 20, 2013, 9:41 PM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer 

Hipster history. Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, a rock musical by Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman, was an outrageous success in New York. But the Plays & Players production fell as flat as cowpie; what excitement there was felt forced, and despite the young audience, there were few laughs and fewer shrieks. Daniel Student’s direction seems slow and flaccid; the slacker delivery sounds as if they’ve barely memorized their lines. 

Toby Zinman @ 9:41 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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