On area stages (some new), size doesn't matter
It looks like a juicy fall theater season ahead, and several of the liveliest prospects are coming from small(ish) companies.Following are some of the productions that most intrigue me - find more online at Inquirer.com - as well as a bit of heartening stage-related real estate news.
- Toby Zinman reviews theater for The Inquirer
Franz Kafka's The Castle (Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium, the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom St. Sept. 3-22. www.fringearts.com) The Castle looms over Prague; an adaptation of the novel by the master of weird, performed by the only Philadelphia company devoted to theatre of the absurd. Nice match.
Didn't Your Father Have this Talk with You? (Act II Playhouse, 56 E. Butler Pike, Ambler, Sept. 10-Oct. 6. 215-654-0200 or www.act2.org) The ever-popular Tony Braithwaite returns in this comedy he wrote for himself about his years of teaching sex ed to high school freshmen boys at the Prep.
Emma (Lantern Theater, 10th and Ludlow Sts. Sept. 19-Oct. 27. 215-829-0395, www.lanterntheater.org) An adaptation of the Jane Austen novel, for all the Janeites out there who want more, more, more. Mr. Knightley will likely set hearts aflame yet again. (A festival celebrating Jane begins Oct. 11)
Parade (Arden Theatre, 40 N. 2nd St. Sept. 26-Nov. 3. 215-922-1122, ardentheatre.org). A moving and luminous musical drama based on a true story of anti-Semitism in Atlanta in 1913. Written by Alfred Uhry and Jason Robert Brown, the show won Tony Awards for book and score in 1999.
A DIY festival Three different companies are presenting components or all of "The Brother/Sister Plays" by Tarell Alvin McCraney, a young African American phenom whose word-intoxicated trilogy is dazzling.
The Brothers Size, presented by Simpatico Theatre Company (Oct. 2-Nov. 3 at Walnut Street Theatre's Studio 5. www.simpaticotheatre.org)
Marcus, or the Secret of Sweet at Plays & Players, 17th and Delancey Streets (Oct. 17-Nov. 3, www.playsandplayers.org)
The complete trilogy - the two plays above, plus In the Red and Brown Water - performed in repertory at Temple University. (Nov. 13-24, at Tomlinson Theater, 1301 Norris St. 215-204-1122 or www.templetheater.ticketleap.com)
The Convert (Wilma Theatre, Broad and Spruce Streets. Oct. 9-Nov. 10. 215-893-0895 or www.wilmatheater.org) Written by Danai Gurira (In the Continuum) this play about religion and 19th-century colonialism in southern Africa makes extraordinary linguistic demands on the actors.
She Stoops to Conquer (Quintessence Theatre Company, at the Sedgwick, 7137 Germantown Ave. QuintessenceTheatre.org or 215-987-4450) A rare chance to see Oliver Goldsmith's 18th-century comedy of manners. It will be performed in the company's newly configured space, which replicates the Elizabethan experience of London's Globe Theatre, with cheap tickets for "groundlings," who will stand.
Cock (Theatre Exile at Studio X, 1340 S. 13th St, Oct. 17-Nov. 10. 215-218-4022 or www.theatreexile.org) Mike Barlett's play about sexual identity and choice will launch Theatre Exile's testosterone season; next up is Sam Shepard's True West. No Viagra necessary for these guys.
Once (Academy of Music, Broad and Locust Streets, Oct. 29-Nov. 10. 215-893-1955 or kimmelcenter.org) This musical won eight Tony Awards, despite being a quiet love story about a Dublin street musician rather than a big, flashy Broadway show.
Location, location. Noteworthy this fall are several additions to the theatrical landscape: The long-dormant Prince Theater at Broad and Chestnut is being renovated by new owners and should provide a sleek venue for the five shows it will present this season. In keeping with its rise from the grave of Chapter 11, the theater's big fall show will be Evil Dead, The Musical, a spoof of old horror movies, billed as "the only musical in the world with a spatter zone." (Sept. 25-Oct. 20. 215-972-1000, email@example.com)
Another underused space takes on a new identity when Penn's Landing Playhouse opens at the Independence Seaport Museum, Columbus Boulevard at Walnut Street. Likely to be popular with tourists staying at nearby hotels, it may help reinvigorate the waterfront. First up: You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up (Sept. 18-Dec. 29. 855-448-7469, PLPlayhouse.com).
Only a few blocks away is FringeArts' big new headquarters across from the Race Street Pier. Its first full season will start with Elephant Room sometime in October.
More theater picks from Toby Zinman:
Truth Values: One Girl's Romp Through M.I.T.'s Male Math Maze (Annenberg Center, Harold Prince Theatre, 3680 Walnut St. Oct. 1-5. 215-898-3900) Still mad at then-Harvard University president Larry Summers for saying women couldn't do math? All of this show's 30 characters are performed by author/actress Gioia di Cari, a "recovering mathematician."
4000 Miles (Philadelphia Theatre Company at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, Broad and Lombard Streets. Oct. 11-Nov. 10 215-985-0420 or PhiladelphiaTheatreCompany.org) This unusual family drama - the family being a 21-year-old hippie and his grandmother - won the Obie award last year for best new Off-Broadway play.
We are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South West Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915 (InterAct Theatre Company. at the Adrienne, 2030 Sansom St. Oct. 18-Nov. 10. 215-568-8079 or InterActTheatre.org) Hands-down winner of the longest-title-of-the-season-and-perhaps-ever contest, this play by Jackie Sibblies Drury is about the turmoil within a supposedly "post-racial" theater company as it deals with the story of a historic, obscure genocide.
The Devil's Music (People's Light and Theatre Company, 39 Conestoga Rd., Malvern. Oct. 16-Nov. 24. 610-644-3500 or peopleslight.org) A musical bio of Bessie Smith, "Empress of the Blues," with Miche Braden singing some of the legendary songs.
I Am My Own Wife Theatre Horizon, 401 DeKalb Pike, Norristown. (Oct. 31-Nov. 24. 610-283-2230 or theatrehorizon.org) Doug Wright's daring one-person, gender-bending play won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize. It is about a man who lived as a woman through several horror-show regimes in Europe, and survived with imagination and personality intact. A stunning opportunity for an actor.
- Toby Zinman