On Friday morning, the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com broke the news that Lin-Manuel Miranda's somewhat popular Broadway musical was coming to Philadelphia sometime during the Kimmel Center's 2018-19 Broadway Philadelphia season. Traffic at the Kimmel website that day ended up being three times the usual. And a Kimmel spokesperson says subscription sales as of Monday were 372 percent ahead of the same time last year. (To be guaranteed a Hamilton seat, you must subscribe for 2017-18 and then renew your subscription for 2018-19.)
Enough with the one- and two-person plays, Philly theater people. Please consider a deeper bench.
Granted, (1) actors are among the most expensive elements in a production, and (2) local theaters with limited budgets therefore will be attracted to one- and two-handers, and (3) a good actor can make a cosmos of a little room, so it shouldn't matter, and (4) there are some great solo and duet shows.
But go to that well too often, and you miss the depth of interplay, the net of human relations, the grain of different voices. Having Our Say struck me as charming but in need of something else. Same for John & Jen, which drew standing ovations at the Eagle recently. Even with a brilliant show like last year's Grounded at the InterAct Theatre Company, a tour de force solo flight for Kittson O'Neill, you have to wonder: Could a larger cast have enlarged its vision? Discuss.
The global refugee crisis is everywhere, on our minds, in the news . . . and on stage, with two distinct plays that have much in common. Blanka Zizka's Adapt! runs Tuesday through April 22 at the Wilma Theater. It concerns Lenka, 22, who flees "normalized" Czechoslovakia in 1977. Mia Chung's You for Me for You, now at the InterAct Theatre Company running Friday through April 16, concerns two sisters, one who escapes North Korea for the United States and one who doesn't.
Zizka, who also directs Adapt!, saw firsthand the horrors of the Soviet clampdown in Czechoslovakia, including the public humiliation of her father. When she left the country, crossing the first border was surreal, she says: "I saw how differently the tractors were colored in East Germany and said, 'Look! We're in Pop Art!" The culture shock of first standing in front of "a department store, where there was a pile of T-shirts, and you could just walk in a buy one," nearly made her ill.
At the Moorestown Theater Company over the weekend, they put on a production of Hairspray Jr. featuring 98 children and teens, plus one older participant, Rick Williams of 6ABC, doing announcer voiceovers. His son Nicholas was in the show.
Little Women, March 28-April 9 at the Villanova Theatre (villanovatheatre.org/little-women).
Hugh Whitemore's classic Pack of Lies by the Drama Group (thedramagroup.org) through April 1 at First United Methodist Church in Germantown. The all-time nosey neighbors.
Athol Fugard's Playland, directed by C. Ryanne Domingues (playlandphilly.bpt.me) at the Bluver Theatre at the Drake, April 5-9. A play on forgiveness by South Africa's venerated playwright.
I'd love to hear what you've seen. Email me, and put "Theater Beat" in the subject field.