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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: June, 2012

POSTED: Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 11:18 PM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Forget Kate and Petruchio. Forget George and Martha. If you want really ferocious marital torment, watch  Richard and Corinne quietly, icily go at it in Martin Crimp’s The Country, which opened Wednesday night in Tiny Dynamite’s elegant production at the Walnut Studio 5.

Toby Zinman @ 11:18 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, June 18, 2012, 2:45 PM
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Dee Roscioli as Mrs. Lovett and William Michals as Sweeney in the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Photo by Lee A. Butz.

The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival’s production of Sweeney Todd, which opened last weekend, ripples with meaty ideas, but they are too often ground into bad meatpies by an erratic, muddy sound design.

Dennis Razze, the festival’s associate artistic director and also the theater department chairman at DeSales University, site of the festival, has given this Stephen Sondheim musical a fresh vision. Under his direction, we’re always aware that the tale is told by actors, as Sondheim intended.
They move metal staircases around the stage so that others can get from one level to another on Steve TenEyck’s two-tiered, minimal set. They cover the rear of the stage with what looks like an old white sheet in order to change to a new scene, just as they would have centuries back, when traveling shows played in open air.

Except for the maddening sound, it would work wonderfully, as the tale of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street unfolds. William Michals, with long blond ponytail and a powerful, cutting voice, is a stirring Sweeney, the barber who seeks revenge and takes it with his razor on his customers’ throats. Lit from below so his eyes glow with fierce passion, Michals uses the play’s built-in melodrama to good effect.

Howard Shapiro @ 2:45 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, June 18, 2012, 11:29 PM
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Dambra Sabato hosts "Monday Night Monologues" on Monday at the little upstairs theater in Plays & Players. Photo by Howard Shapiro/Inquirer staff.

By Howard Shapiro
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

Dambra Sabato, the host of an offbeat series called "Monday Night Monologues" that opened Monday in Center City, makes the point that actors are the only people who have to audition for just about every job they ever do. So “an actor’s audition monologue is arguably his best work,” he says — arguably being the key word here.

“Yet,” he goes on, “these actors’ aces never get played before an audience.”

howard shapiro @ 11:29 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Sunday, June 17, 2012, 7:43 PM

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

SoHo Rep’s production of Chekhov’s masterwork is a soul-satisfying Uncle Vanya.

Toby Zinman @ 7:43 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, June 14, 2012, 12:30 PM
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Christopher Gattelli at the Tony Awards on Sunday night in New York. (Photo by Charles Norfleet.)

By Howard Shapiro

Inquirer Staff Writer

howard shapiro @ 12:30 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, June 11, 2012, 2:37 PM
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Joe Guzmán and Jessica Bedford in the Montgomery Theatre production of "Any Wednesday." Photo by Bill Papula.

By Howard Shapiro
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

A hint of sleaziness hangs over Muriel Resnik's Any Wednesday, a sugar-daddy escapade and her only Broadway play and a highly successful one, running for two years in the mid-'60s. It's written to be appealingly scrubby-faced sitting-room comedy, although the living room is in the apartment of a guy's mistress.

Any Wednesday, which is being given an excellent production that opened Saturday at Montgomery Theatre in Souderton, came after the film The Apartment, which later became the musical Promises, Promises; all three deal with the same subject: mistresses. I had the same questions as I sat in an audience of Any Wednesday this past weekend that occurred to me on Broadway a few years back, when Promises, Promises was revived.
Were extra-marital affairs really all the rage in the '60s? Does no one ever get hurt in these plots?

howard shapiro @ 2:37 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Sunday, June 10, 2012, 9:19 AM

 

By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer

Toby Zinman @ 9:19 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, June 8, 2012, 10:49 PM
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The cast of "With a Song in My Heart," clockwise from left: Elisa Matthews, John D. Smitherman, Nora Fitzgerald, Dan Larrinaga, Rachel Lancaster and Rita Markova.

By Howard Shapiro
INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

The new musical revue With a Song in My Heart actually has more than 25 of them — more than 40 if you count the two medleys that open its two halves. It’s a pastiche of songs that feels like cruise ship after-dinner entertainment: loosely defined, corny and cute and smiley all the way.

Here, though, it’s performed in Society Hill Playhouse’s Red Room and not on the sea — although a show about a cruise, Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, lends some of its best songs to the second half along with pieces from Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun and a tribute to old operettas. (Sigmund Romberg, anyone?)

howard shapiro @ 10:49 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog
Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer. She also is a contributing writer for Variety and American Theatre magazine. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of four books about four playwrights (Rabe, McNally, Miller, Albee), and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). Her 'weekend' job as a travel writer provides adventure: dogsledding in the Yukon, ziplining in Belize, walking coast-to-coast across England, and cowboying in the Australian Outback.


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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