Friday, February 12, 2016

Archive: February, 2012

POSTED: Wednesday, February 29, 2012, 11:24 PM

By Howard Shapiro

Night after night, Agatha Christie’s murder mystery The Mousetrap repeats itself in England — after almost 25,000 performances, the world’s longest-running play. But Wednesday night, the Walnut Street Theatre’s current production of the play had a new surprise ending when Dan Hodge, one of its actors, proposed to his unsuspecting girlfriend at the curtain call.

“It is February 29th, leap year — in fact, leap day. And I’m going to take a leap,” Hodge told the audience and a startled Krista Apple, after she was called to the stage from the audience of about 1,100 people. On his knees, Hodge then said: “Leap year comes around every four years. But a girl like you is once in a lifetime.”

howard shapiro @ 11:24 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, February 27, 2012, 7:11 PM

By Merilyn Jackson

The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein said, “Philosophy ought really to be written only as a form of poetry.” I am never happier than when I can read choreography as poetry, as I — and, I think, the audience — did over the weekend with choreographer John Jasperse’s Fort Blossom Revisited 2000/2012.

This fuller version of the original 2000 work premiered Friday at the Hepburn Teaching Theater, Bryn Mawr College’s black-box theater. The college was the leading funder of the reconstructed and expanded 60-minute work.

Merilyn Jackson @ 7:11 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Saturday, February 25, 2012, 1:18 PM

By Nancy G. Heller
For The Inquirer

This was not just another Asian-fusion dance concert.  In recent years there’s been a vogue for combining Indian classical dance with western techniques -- Bharatanatyam and ballet, Kuchipudi and modern dance, Kathak and tap — with varying degrees of success.  In her one-woman show, Friday and Saturday at the Painted Bride, Sheetal Gandhi used Indian heel-stamps and turns, alongside western-style isolations and floorwork, to create an eloquent, inventive, virtuosic dance-theater piece that kept the opening-night audience transfixed.

Gandhi has an unbelievably varied resume.  She has toured with Cirque du Soleil, performed with the National Dance Ensemble of Ghana, and acted on Broadway; she’s a percussionist with a university degree in psychology and dance.  She also wrote, directed, and choreographed Bahu-Beti-Biwi (Daughter-in-Law, Daughter, Wife), which she has presented at venues from Israel to Hawaii.

Nancy G. Heller @ 1:18 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, February 24, 2012, 2:32 PM
Blog Image
Terry Burrell as Ethel Waters in "Ethel!" at Walnut Street Theatre. Photo by Mark Garvin.

By Howard Shapiro

Once you’re gone, so are your rights to the way you’re portrayed. The sleazy Roy Cohn isn’t around to contest the character Tony Kushner assigns him in Angels in America (or my one-word characterization) and none of the Scottsboro Boys, from the recent musical about a horrible piece of ’30s American history, can challenge their stage depictions.

That brings us directly to the Walnut Street Theatre, where the late Ethel Waters is playing again, sort of, for the first time since 1949, when she was on the main stage in A Member of the Wedding. Now, on the third-floor stage in the Walnut’s Independence Studio series, the singer, actress and barrier-breaker is being re-enlivened by Broadway’s talented Terry Burrell (Threepenny Opera, Into the Woods, Dreamgirls), who’s written Ethel!, a one-woman show she delivers with oomph and vigor -- and a questionable depiction.

howard shapiro @ 2:32 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, February 21, 2012, 4:35 PM
Blog Image
Tony Braithwaite, the new leader of Ambler's Act II Playhouse. Photo by John Flak.

By Howard Shapiro

Tony Braithwaite, one of the region’s premiere comic actors, will take the helm of Act II Playhouse in Ambler in July.
The board of Act II, among the region’s hottest stages over the past few years, named Braithwaite as the new producting artistic director, replacing Bud Martin.

Martin, also a Broadway and West End producer, will continue to serve on the board and be available to direct, as will Harriet Power, the associate artistic director who will leave that post at the end of the season in May; she will continue on the theater faculty at Villanova.

howard shapiro @ 4:35 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, February 20, 2012, 2:23 PM

By Wendy Rosenfield

Of Mice and Men is so well-known and universally taught in American middle and high schools, you’d think a staged production, such as People’s Light and Theatre Company’s, must go out of its way to distinguish itself. But despite plenty of obvious contemporary parallels, director David Bradley keeps John Steinbeck’s 1937 classic, well, classic, and stripped to its bare essence.

Everyone remembers George and Lennie — that mismatched pair of bindlestiffs looking for farm work, hoping to save up some scratch and “live off the fatta the lan’ ” — but this production takes its time in highlighting the story’s peripheral characters, the men and sole woman on this farm who pass for a community.

Wendy Rosenfield @ 2:23 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, February 16, 2012, 9:01 AM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

First, put your mind to rest about this play’s awful title: nobody is stabbing any chickens.

Toby Zinman @ 9:01 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, February 15, 2012, 1:27 PM
Blog Image
Meredith Beck and Michael Hagan in "Educating Rita" at Hedgerow Theatre. Photos by Rick Prieur.

By Howard Shapiro

Into an office walks a woman, off the street, and asks a professor to make her a cultured lady. If that sounds a lot like Pgymalion, or its musical cousin My Fair Lady, by George, you’ve got it.

In the case of Educating Rita, in a lovely, crisp production that opened Tuesday night at Hedgerow Theatre, the story’s a little tweaked. Rita is a hairdresser in Liverpool who’s sung enough pub songs to begin singing to herself “Is That All There Is?” She’s determined to find out.

howard shapiro @ 1:27 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.

Philly Stage
Latest Videos:
Also on
letter icon Newsletter