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Archive: December, 2012

POSTED: Thursday, December 27, 2012, 4:27 AM
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Deborah Cox and Constantine Maroulis in 'Jekyll & Hyde'

By Jim Rutter


Hypocrites never mind a mirror that flatters. This alone explains the theme, if not the success of Frank Wildhorn and Leslie Bricusse’s Jekyll & Hyde, the musical.

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POSTED: Monday, December 17, 2012, 2:09 PM
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L to R: Tony Braithwaite, Will Dennis, Howie Brown and Sonny Leo star in "Oh What Fun!"

By Jim Rutter


Ambler audiences love comedic performer Tony Braithwaite so much that a year ago, Act II Playhouse appointed him Artistic Director. The company could no doubt cover its expenses each season by installing Braithwaite in their lobby with a tip jar and letting local patrons come in and pay him by the joke.

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POSTED: Monday, December 17, 2012, 1:49 PM

Stage adaptations of It's a Wonderful Life have been proliferating, and though no one version dominates, Joe Landry's at Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope feels more viable than many: It rightly emerges as a fanfare for the common man, even if it's lighter than lightweight.

Subtitled A Live Radio Play, the Landry script doesn't try to stage the original small-town setting. It's set at a 1940s radio studio, where the story is being acted out for microphones, the six-member cast playing a variety of roles that, through the considerable power of suggestion, make the stage feel far more populated than it is. In 1940s radio style, the actors give highly inflected line readings, supported by a sound effects.

Anyone who feels shortchanged won't for long. The elements that made radio drama work in the 1940s have retained their power. Soon, you no longer feel the characters are outside you. They're all but in your head, having a subtle dialogue with your own holiday history.

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POSTED: Monday, December 17, 2012, 8:39 PM
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By Merilyn Jackson

Ovations, spiked with wolf whistles, erupted throughout much of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo's Thursday night opening Dance Celebration program at the Annenberg Center.

And the Trocks, as they affectionately call themselves, shamelessly cadged for more. Even during the final poignant moments of his solo - Mikhail Fokine's Dying Swan, to the famous Saint-Saëns music - Roberto Forleo, as Marina Plezegetovstageskaya, lifted his false eyelashes and furled his manicured fingertips, hustling for applause. But with his feathers flying, his chicken-walk deserved kudos.

Merilyn Jackson @ 8:39 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, December 13, 2012, 12:20 PM
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Merilyn Jackson, For The Inquirer

Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2012, 3:01 AM

Choreography begins with the circle. Choreography literally means "dance-writing" from the Greek words for "circular dance" and "writing." For his new work, Occupant, choreographer Jonah Bokaer is researching the etymology of the word and using it to graphically call our attention to its origins.

Merilyn Jackson @ 12:20 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, December 13, 2012, 8:04 PM

By Wendy Rosenfield

For the Inquirer

Just as most Jewish holidays have the same theme (They tried to kill us. We survived. Let’s eat.), some attentive comedian--Seinfeld? Stewart?--noted that many Christmas stories also share a common plot: someone’s trying to steal Christmas and we have to get it back! BCKSEET Productions’ newest entry into the crowded yuletide market is true to that form with ELFuego, an original musical by company artistic director Kate Brennan, in which Occupying elves hijack the holiday.

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POSTED: Thursday, December 13, 2012, 12:13 AM
The quartet: (from left) Jerry Lee Lewis (Martin Kaye), Carl Perkins (Robert Britton Lyons), Elvis Presley (Cody Slaughter), and Johnny Cash (David Elkins).

Recording sessions have the mystique of making music history behind closed doors. No matter that the single most famous one in pop culture - the December day in 1956 when Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins, now known as the Million Dollar Quartet, were all in the same Memphis studio - yielded nothing of great musical consequence.

It was lions at play, singing gospel and blues that the public didn't want to hear from them. But who wouldn't have wanted to be a fly on that wall?

No wonder this cultural artifact is the springboard of a jukebox musical, Million Dollar Quartet, which opened Tuesday at the Forrest Theatre, that's everything the original tapes were not - polished, artfully staged, and packaged for mass consumption though the innate funkiness of the music goes missing.

David Patrick Stearns @ 12:13 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, December 12, 2012, 4:18 PM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Bobby Cannavale could sell me anything—even some worthless land in Florida called Glengarry Glen Ross, even this less-than-sizzling Broadway revival of David Mamet’s iconic play called  Glengarry Glen Ross.  That the play is about real estate makes this an obvious candidate for relevant revival, given what’s on the national mind; that it stars showboating Al Pacino makes this too much of a star turn in a drama that requires ensemble work. 

Toby Zinman @ 4:18 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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