Saturday, February 6, 2016

Archive: May, 2012

POSTED: Friday, June 1, 2012, 2:23 AM
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Rachel Kitson and Robert DaPonte in Ego Po Classic Theater's production of "A Dybbuk." Photo by Ian Paul Guzzone.

By Howard Shapiro

The frightening Jewish folkloric notion of a malevolent “dybbuk” draws that name from the Hebrew word for attachment — which is exactly what a dybbuk does. It’s the lost soul of a dead person that for various reasons is relegated to wander, and can attach itself to a living person.

The classic story of The Dybbuk was written in Russian in 1917 by S. Ansky, and has had its own transformations. A Dybbuk, a 1995 stage version by celebrated American playwright Tony Kushner, has never been produced professionally here until now.

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POSTED: Thursday, May 31, 2012, 1:03 AM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

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POSTED: Thursday, May 31, 2012, 12:41 AM
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Daniel Abeles and Genevieve Perrier in Philadelphia Theatre Company's "reasons to be pretty." Photo by Mark Garvin.

By Howard Shapiro

A note to guys about guy talk: Be careful what you say about your significant other in casual conversations with the pals. It may come back to change your life.

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POSTED: Tuesday, May 29, 2012, 10:27 PM

“Identity Crisis” Play Festival

by Toby Zinman

for the Inquirer

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POSTED: Tuesday, May 29, 2012, 4:14 PM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

After fifty years, the Shaw Festival seems to be running out of steam; having committed themselves to plays by Shaw or written by others in his lifetime, or set in his lifetime (a lot of leeway there, 1856-1950), the Festival has to repeat and/or reach deep into obscurity. Shaw is a dramatist of specific social issues, as were many of his contemporaries; social issues change, but the plays don’t. Sometimes the relevance to the contemporary world is clear; for example, somebody spray-painted quotations from Shaw onto the pristine sidewalks of Niagara-on-the-Lake. One read: “Do not waste your time on social questions. What is the matter with the poor is poverty—what is the matter with the rich is uselessness.”  As I stood copying this into my notebook, a cleanup crew arrived to water-blast it away.

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POSTED: Sunday, May 27, 2012, 1:15 AM
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Roderick Slocum and Kash Goins in "Topdog/Underdog" on Walnut Street Theatre's fifth-floor stage. Photo by Kim-Thao Nguyen.

By Howard Shapiro

It's such a pleasure to watch a production make something more of a play than seems possible. Two actors -- Kash Goins and Roderick Slocum -- are doing just that in Topdog/Underdog, Suzan-Lori Parks' 2002 Pulitzer Prize winning play about two African American brothers living on life's underside.

I've never been much for the play, which is too long in the first act at four substantial but realistic scenes, and becomes less believable in the two-scene second act, when family revelations -- and hints at family revelations -- seem to come pretty late in the game.

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POSTED: Thursday, May 24, 2012, 12:19 PM
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Christopher Sutton as Buddy Holly, with some of the large ensemble in "Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story" on Walnut Street Theatre's main stage. Photo by Mark Garvin.

By Howard Shapiro

If you don’t come out of the Walnut Street Theatre humming these days, then you just don’t hum at all. For me it was “That’ll Be the Day,” but then I turned to “Peggy Sue,” which will still be in my head next week this time, the way these things go.

The Walnut’s new main-stage show is Buddy -- The Buddy Holly Story and what you see in that title is precisely what you get — both the everyday and quirky stuff about the short life of the singer-composer who was instrumental in creating and delivering rock and roll to a nation of teenagers who craved the new music.

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POSTED: Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 10:16 PM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

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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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