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Archive: May, 2013

POSTED: Friday, May 31, 2013, 3:21 PM

By Jim Rutter

The Arden Theatre first staged Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music in 1995 at the Arts Bank on Broad and South Streets. Two decades on, they've upstaged the musical with a gorgeously designed, magnificently presented production that, as a capstone to the Arden's 25th season, revels in its success.

Hugh Wheeler's book (inspired by Ingmar Bergman's 1955 film Smiles of a Summer Night) depicts the intermingled romantic follies of three couples: mid-40s lawyer Fredrik Egerman (Christopher Patrick Mullen) and his 18-year-old still-virgin bride, Anne (Patti-Lee Meringo), who teases her husband's seminary-student son, Henrik (Joe Hogan), even as he flirts with the maid, Petra (Alex Keiper), while his dad tries to rekindle a romance with actress Desiree (Grace Gonglewski), herself stoking the dying fires of an affair with Count Carl-Magnus (Ben Dibble), as his marriage to Countess Charlotte (Karen Peakes) falters.

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POSTED: Friday, May 31, 2013, 12:38 AM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

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POSTED: Wednesday, May 29, 2013, 11:37 PM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

“THOMAS:  You might say this play is about …beware of what you wish for.

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POSTED: Friday, May 24, 2013, 1:57 PM

By Wendy Rosenfield

for the Inquirer

In two days, Philly opened two musicals about angsty, horny teenagers of yore, but there’s a world of difference between them. Walnut Street Theatre presents an upbeat Grease, but Theatre Horizon gets a lot closer to the blackboard jungle with Spring Awakening. Here, Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater’s celebrated adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s oft-banned 1891 drama becomes an intimate hothouse for the blossoming of young lust.

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POSTED: Thursday, May 23, 2013, 12:33 PM

By Wendy Rosenfield

for the Inquirer 

Let’s pretend for a moment Grease, receiving a mainstage airing-out at Walnut Street Theatre, isn’t about slut-shaming and prude-shaming or the days when bullies were the cool kids. We can celebrate an era when we had the freedom to mock “polacks” “japs” and “pansies” at will, but didn’t have to acknowledge African-Americans because they were still invisible. We might even be okay with all that if director Bruce Lumpkin allowed this 1971 musical to take its original form: a hand jive at America’s best-beloved 1950s myths presented by a bunch of working-class teenage scrappers all grappling for the bottom rungs of the same (gender-specific) ladders.

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POSTED: Sunday, May 19, 2013, 10:22 AM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Some smart person once said, “If Life could write, it would write like Tolstoy.” Anybody who has fallen in love with Tolstoy’s novel, War and Peace, knows how true this is, making it unlikely that an adaptation of the enormous novel for the stage—a musical adaptation at that—would measure up. And yet, somehow, this does. David Malloy’s show, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 is gorgeous, preserving Tolstoy’s magnificent prose in a sung-though musical opera. You don’t have to know the novel to enjoy the show, but knowing it makes it all the better.

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POSTED: Wednesday, May 15, 2013, 2:20 PM

By David Patrick Stearns

PRINCETON - "Is this professional or volunteer?" asked one of the younger audience members at Into the Woods, now playing at the McCarter Theatre Center in a production by the Fiasco Theater. Good question.

Before the show began on Saturday afternoon, the scrupulously casual actors loitered around the stage, greeting friends in the audience, slowly coalescing into the intricate web of fairy tales retold by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine with a wisdom that grows deeper with repeated exposure.

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POSTED: Monday, May 13, 2013, 9:41 AM
Blog Image
Jeff Coon, Michael Doherty and Tony Braithwaite in 'Lend Me a Tenor'

By Jim Rutter


On a long enough timeline, every theatre in the country will stage Ken Ludwig’s Lend Me a Tenor. Like Michael Frayn’s Noises Off, Ludwig’s farce fills the stalls with patrons wanting a laugh and willing to pay for it.

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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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