'Theater Beat': A ringer for 'Evita'; Gypsy dog; Project Dawn

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Andy the dog in "Gypsy," with Mary Martello.

From 'Glee' to Shakespeare

The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival often brings in big theater names for the summer. True to that tradition, the fest has announced that Dan Domenech (Glee and Gotham on TV; Rock of Ages on Broadway) will play Che in Evita, running June 14-July 2.

From shelter pet to 'Gypsy'

Meet Andy. He's starring in Gypsy, running May 18-June 18 at the Arden Theatre Company. Once a stray on the streets of Oak Lane, he was "discovered" at Peace, Love and Doggie Paws Inc., a shelter in Essington, by Arden cofounders Terry Nolen and Amy Murphy.

Murphy has been training Andy for the role of Gypsy's dog. He's learned how to jump through a hoop and "hangs in rehearsal like a pro," she says.

'Dawn' breaks

If you say, "Philly theater," I think, "socially aware drama." A prime example starts rehearsals at People's Light in Malvern today. Project Dawn by Karen Hartman is based on the Project Dawn Court in Philadelphia, a "problem-solving" court working with women in the commercial sex industry. Seven actresses will double as officers and clients of the court. Project Dawn runs June 7-July 9.

This is the first world premiere to come out of People's Light's New Play Frontiers Residency & Commission program, supporting plays that connect with specific local audiences. Abigail Adams, artistic director and CEO of People's Light, will direct.

Hartman (Gum; The Book of Joseph) says she came in "trying to find a contemporary equivalent to the Underground Railroad . . . and I came up with sex trafficking."

When she visited the real-life Project Dawn Court, "It was all there," Hartman says, "the people, the language, the conflict, the stakes. . . . Five minutes after I first entered, I said, 'This is the play.' "

"The public defender character is based on me," jokes Mary DeFusco of the Defender Association of America, a Dawn Court cofounder. "And Sister Mary Teresita [one of three nuns who helped her establish the affiliated Dawn's Place residential program] is the nun who goes around yelling, 'Where's the rage?'

"Karen did a great job in getting the characters of the women, their stories, and the workings of the court," DeFusco says. People's Light has done some crowd-funding to the tune of $15,000 to subsidize tickets for social workers, law enforcement officers, and other first responders who work with vulnerable populations.

Can't wait to see:

The Arsonists at Azuka Theatre May 3-21. The final play in Jacqueline Goldfinger's Southern Gothic trilogy, it features a father-daughter arson team.

Closer to closing:

Jerry's Girls, originally slated to play at Walnut Street Theatre through July 2, will now close May 28.

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jt@phillynews.com

215-854-4406 @jtimpane