Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Archive: March, 2012

POSTED: Friday, March 30, 2012, 1:10 PM

By Howard Shapiro

The rich stories involving a golem — a fictional Jewish guardian imbued with the dangerous power to protect at all costs — make perfect sense in the scope of Jewish history. A golem is like a security blanket, but much more scary: It provides comfort but also must fight oppression.

The most famous golem story — they are all tales, with golem springing from an ancient Hebrew word that means a shapeless form — is set in 16th-century Prague. In the world-premiere play called The Golem, which Ego Po Classic Theater opened Thursday night with a track-record cast and an unwavering sincerity — there’s a neat twist.

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POSTED: Friday, March 30, 2012, 7:07 PM

By Howard Shapiro


In Mount Holly, the 10-person audience sits around a séance table. In Society  Hill, folks with beers and slices of pizza look on at dinnertime as little  one-acts unfold.

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POSTED: Thursday, March 29, 2012, 11:26 PM


By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

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POSTED: Thursday, March 29, 2012, 1:58 AM
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The national tour cast of "West Side Story," at the Academy of Music. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

By Howard Shapiro

Romeo and Juliet, if timeless, is not actually a tale as old as time. You can trace it back pretty far, though, to a 1476 Italian story and through several evolutions until Shakespeare grabbed it for his stage play  around 1595.

That version sticks today — arguably the most popular and well-known love story in the world. As tragic characters and star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet themselves continued to evolve, with their greatest contemporary impact as West Side Story’s Tony and Maria.

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POSTED: Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 11:49 PM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Bruce Graham’s fine new play, The Outgoing Tide, at the Philadelphia Theatre Company, is deeply moving and  surprisingly funny, a straight-talking, unpretentious meditation on Alzheimer’s  and end-of-life suffering: “Quality of life. Kiss my ass.”

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POSTED: Wednesday, March 28, 2012, 1:03 AM

I looked both ways three or four times Tuesday afternoon before I crossed Broad Street at Ellsworth, en route to the Rock School for Dance Education.

That's the corner where, on March 18, Polina Kadiyska, 22, was fatally struck in an early morning hit-and-run as she left a Chinese restaurant. Kadiyska, from Bulgaria, was a student at the Rock School, on the brink of a ballet career.

My visit was to see the young dancers - Kadiyska's peers - in a practice performance. Some were preparing for the finals of Youth America Grand Prix, a prestigious competition. A large group danced the mambo scene from "West Side Story," which they'll be performing with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra in May at the Mann.

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POSTED: Friday, March 23, 2012, 5:08 PM
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Jo Twiss (left), Jennie Eisenhower and Laura C. Giknis in Bristol Riverside Theatre's production of "Steel Magnolias."

By Howard Shapiro

Never dismiss the power of an excellent cast to supply some brio to a wan play. Good thing, too, because I can’t imagine a so-so cast trying to bring off the dated Steel Magnolias, whose characters often toss barbs that seem more scripted than natural.

But at Bristol Riverside Theatre, where Steel Magnolias opened Thursday night, at least I found joy in watching superior acting. And not just that — superior ensemble acting. The story of six women living close-knit hick-town lives takes place in a beauty shop, where the characters are almost always together during the four scenes spanning two acts. Bringing it off demands that they act as a unified force — at that, the cast at Bristol excels.

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POSTED: Thursday, March 22, 2012, 6:08 PM

By Howard Shapiro

The Arden Theatre Company, one of Center City’s major stages, will expand into a building three doors from its current space on Second Street, just north of Market, where it will focus on its programs for students and children and install an 80-seat theater and a rehearsal hall.

The $5.8 million expansion into a 22,000-square feet building is “a huge step for the Arden,” said producing artistic director Terrence J. Nolen at the announcement Thursday afternoon, attended by Mayor Nutter and the theater’s supporters.

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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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