The dominance of musicals continues throughout Philadelphia, with dozens of tuneful productions, from the game-changing Rent to Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida to Bridges of Madison County — not to mention Cinderella, Anastasia, and Legally Blonde. Paula Vogel’s Tony winner Indecent, a play with music, is on tap at the Arden.
Important contemporary voices in shows without music this season include playwrights Idris Goodwin, James Ijames, Lynn Nottage, Christina Ham, and Lucas Hnath.
Productions of works by old favorites abound: August Wilson, George Bernard Shaw, Thornton Wilder, Harold Pinter, David Mamet, and Chekhov and Shakespeare galore. There’s even a stage version of Moby-Dick
Philly Theatre Week is back, Feb. 7-18, with its come-try-this pricing scheme — all tickets $15, $30, or free. (Any production with an asterisk (*) in the list below is taking part.)
FringeArts introduces High Pressure Fire Service, a showcase of performance art, extending to the first day of summer.
Shakespeare this season. He never really goes away, but Shakespeare owns this spring. There’s Julius Caesar* (through Feb. 17, Media Theatre), Benjamin Britten’s opera based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream* (through Feb. 17, Opera Philadelphia), King Lear (March 19-April 20, Quintessence Theatre Company), Measure for Measure (March 20-April 21, Lantern Theatre Company), and Winter’s Tale (April 24-May 18, Curio Theatre Company).
Three takes on Chekhov’s sisters. The classic Three Sisters* is at the Hedgerow Theatre (through March 3), and two Sisters adaptations are also being staged: Three Sisters Two* at EgoPo Classic Theatre (through Feb. 17), and Three Sisters, by RashDash, after Chekhov* at Curio Theatre Company (Feb. 6-March 2).
Philly Theatre Week (Feb. 7-18, multiple venues). Encompassing more than 100 individual events, either $15, $30, or free. A few highlights: The Spirit of Sojourner Truth: Ain’t I A Woman?* (Feb. 10, Second Baptist Church of Germantown); Clown Sex Ed* by the limber, certifiable Tribe of Fools (through Feb. 17); The Little Mermaid,* at the Arden Theatre Company (Feb. 16); two one-acts, The Duck Variations* by Mamet and The Dumb Waiter* by Pinter at South Camden Theatre Company (through Feb. 17); Youth* by James Ijames at the Villanova Theatre (through Feb. 17).
There’s also The Confession of Jeffrey Dahmer,* Josh Hitchens’ acclaimed one-man documentary-style show (through Feb. 17, Art Church of West Philadelphia); Becoming Dr. Ruth* (through Feb. 17, Act II Theatre in Ambler); and Broads,* celebrating the bawdiest, brashest female entertainers of the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s (through Feb. 17, 1812 Productions). Information: phillytheatreweek.com.
Romeo and Juliet (through Feb. 9, Wilma Theater). If you hurry, you can still catch Blanka Zizka and the HotHouse Company’s production of Shakespeare’s tragedy, brilliantly rethought for the 21st century. (215-546-7824, wilmatheater.org)
An Oak Tree* by Tim Crouch (Feb. 14-March 10, Theatre Exile). An experimental play about a hypnotist, a parent who loses a child, … and a new actor every night, who walks in cold to play a part. (215-218-4022, theatreexile.org)
Betrayal* (through Feb. 17, Lantern Theatre Company). Pinter’s masterful drama of tense relationships caught in time. (215-829-0395, lanterntheater.org)
Hype Man* (through Feb. 17, InterAct Theatre Company). Idris Goodwin’s exploration of hip-hop, racial tension, and courage. (215-568-8079, interacttheatre.org)
Oleanna* (through Feb. 17, Independence Studio on 3, Walnut Street Theatre). Mamet’s 1992 drama of a male teacher, a female student, and a power struggle. (215-547-3550, walnutstreettheatre.org)
Sweat* (through Feb. 17, People’s Light, Malvern). Lynn Nottage’s drama of Reading, Pa., the work life, and deindustrialization. (610-644-6500, peopleslight.org)
Theatre Horizon (season opens Feb. 22). Norristown’s community-based theater offers a diverse spring lineup of performance-art shows, full-length plays, and solo nights. Renaissance in the Belly of a Killer Whale by Harlem KW Project, LLC (Feb. 22-24) is a three-woman show about the gentrification of Harlem. The Few (March 4-April 7), starring Philly stalwarts Suli Holum and Steven Rishard, is a full-length two-hander about journalism, old romance, and secrets. An Evening with Rachel Camp (May 9-12) features one of Philly’s most versatile talents. And there’s more. (610-223-2830, theatrehorizon.org)
Comedy of Tenors* (through March 3, Walnut Street Theatre). Farce master Ken Ludwig’s return to the nutty characters of Lend Me a Tenor. With wacky Frank Ferrante. (215-547-3550, walnutstreettheatre.org)
74 Seconds… To Judgment* (through March 3, Arden Theatre Company). Kash Goins returns with his drama of a deadlocked jury with a man’s fate in its hands. (215-922-1122, ardentheatre.org)
St. Joan* (through Feb. 24, Delaware Theatre Company). Shaw’s pungent, ironic look at a young woman’s bid to live according to her God, and the powerful men determined that she won’t. (302-594-1100, delawaretheatre.org)
Box Clever* (through Feb. 24, Inis Nua Theatre Company). Monsay Whitney’s comedy debuted at the Edinburgh Festival, concerning Marnie, a single mother at a women’s shelter, determined to prove she can be a good mom. (215-454-9776, inisnuatheatre.org)
Bob: A Life in Five Acts (Feb. 27-March 17, Azuka Theatre Company). Bob’s on a lifelong quest to become a “Great Man.” We follow his epic, cross-country journey in pursuit of a dream not unlike our own. (215-563-1100, azukatheatre.org)
Gem of the Ocean (Feb. 28-March 31, Arden Theatre Company). This, the first of August Wilson’s Century Cycle plays, takes place in 1904 Pittsburgh, at a time of social unrest, racial impasse, and a mystical search for freedom. (215-922-1122, ardentheatre.org)
High Pressure Fire Service (HPFS) (March 1-June 22, FringeArts). Named after the old-time pumping house where FringeArts is located, this new series brings six works by Philly-based performance arts companies, ranging from "a “futurist cabaret” from Pig Iron Theatre (A Hard Time, May 1-12) to shows on hot-button issues including abortion, ageism, and housing. The opening work, A Fierce Kind of Love (March 1-3) concerns Pennsylvania’s intellectual-disability-rights movement, featuring a cast of people both with and without disabilities. (215-413-1318, fringearts.com)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (March 12-April 28, Walnut Street Theatre). Winner of five Tony Awards in 2015 including best play, this creative stage version of the Mark Haddon novel follows a special boy as he turns first detective and then, all but mystically, scientist of life and empathy. (215-547-3550, walnutstreettheatre.org)
Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Farewell Play Tour (March 20-24, Met Philadelphia). This is the national tour of Perry’s 21st play, and the last one (he swears) about a woman who is bigger than life, and we mean that. (800-745-3000, themetphilly.com)
Marvin’s Room (March 21-April 14, Isis Productions). This 1990 play by Scott McPherson is the basis of the 1996 film. We say we love one another — but when the chips are down, will we look past differences and care for one another? That’s the heartbreaking question. (609-220-7537, isisperforms.com)
Moby-Dick (March 21-April 14, Hedgerow Theatre Company). It’s Herman Melville’s bicentennial, so the Hedgerow folks are doing the 90-minute play version of the novel. An epic no matter the scale! (610-565-4211, hedgerowtheatre.org)
How to Catch Creation (March 22-April 14, Philadelphia Theatre Company). PTC continues its ambitious season with this play, a 2017 Kilroys’ List selection by Christina Anderson. Four creative San Franciscans work on being artists — and find out about themselves, creativity, and what truly connects them. (215-985-0420, philadelphiatheatrecompany.org)
’Tis Pity She’s a Whore (March 28-April 14, Philadelphia Artists' Collective). In the generation after Shakespeare, John Ford wrote this heartrending shocker, a Romeo and Juliet in which the lovers are … brother and sister. That’s right. Jessica Bedford directs a cast of 13. (philartistscollective.org)
For Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday (April 10-May 12, People’s Light, Malvern). In Sarah Ruhl’s play, by turns drunken, tender, and profound, four siblings reminisce about a performance of Peter Pan a half century ago — which leads them on an exploration of both make-believe and mortality. (610-644-6500, peopleslight.org)
Dionysus Was Such a Nice Man (April 23-May 12, Wilma Theater). World premiere of Kate Tarker’s play, commissioned by the Wilma Hothouse and employing performance arts, clowning, and absurdist theater to consider childhood as a Greek tragedy. (215-546-7824, wilmatheater.org)
The Christians (April 30-May 19, Bristol Riverside Theatre). Lucas Hnath’s taut, searing drama of faith, revelation, and passion that convulses a Christian church, from the pastor on out. (215-785-0100, brtstage.org)
Buddy* (through Feb. 17, Bucks County Playhouse). The durable jukebox bio-musical tells the funny and ultimately tragic story of the bespectacled Texas kid who helped jump-start rock and roll. (215-862-2121, buckscountyplayhouse.org)
Ragtime* (through Feb. 17, Eagle Theatre, Hammonton, N.J.). An American tale that cuts across race and class. Jewish immigrant, upper-class woman, Harlem musician — all crafting their versions of the American dream. (609-704-5012, eagletheatre.org)
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Feb. 22-24, Academy of Music). Originally written as a TV vehicle for Julie Andrews, this ultimate in family entertainment pirouetted almost immediately to the stage. (215-893-1999, kimmelcenter.org)
Nina Simone: Four Women (Feb. 27-March 31, People’s Light). The singer, musician, and civil-rights figure is profiled, amid her own songs and those of her turbulent era. (610-644-6500, peopleslight.org)
Bridges of Madison County* (Feb. 8-March 3, Philadelphia Theatre Company). A different take on the novel leads to a sensitive, surprising book by Marsha Norman, and score by Jason Robert Brown. (215-985-0420, philadelphiatheatrecompany.org)
Rent (March 5-March 10, Merriam Theater). The musical that, for many people, changed everything, bringing a new openness to Broadway, opening an era of musicals that could sing of life in all its gritty reality. (215-893-1999, kimmelcenter.org)
Miss Saigon (March 19-31, Academy of Music). Written by Schönberg and Boublil, the guys who gave you Les Misérables, this soaring pop-opera, which ran for a decade on Broadway, transplants Madama Butterfly into the war-torn capital of South Vietnam. (215-893-1999, kimmelcenter.org)
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (March 29-April 14, Resident Theatre Company, Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center, West Chester). Popular, tuneful Tony-winner based on the 1988 Steve Martin comedy about adult high jinks on the French Riviera. (610-356-2787, rtcwc.org)
Anastasia (April 9-14, Academy of Music). Was she or wasn’t she? Did she really believe she was? Should we just let her pretend she is who she says she is? She’s on Broadway, and now she’ll be in Philly at the same time. (215-893-1999, kimmelcenter.org)
Saturday Night Fever (April 17-June 9, Media Theatre). The dancing adventures of Tony and Stephanie in this family-friendly musical version of the 1977 epoch-setting film. (610-891-0100, mediatheatre.org)
Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida (April 26-May 19, Broadway Theatre of Pitman, N.J.). The John/Rice take on Verdi’s Aida is eclectic, pop, and lush. It ran for four years on Broadway, copped a bunch of Tonys, and now tours the world. (856-384-8381, thebroadwaytheatre.org)
Legally Blonde: The Musical (May 14-July 14, Walnut Street Theatre). How to go from California cheerleader to Ivy League law student and be the woman you want to be! (215-547-3550, walnutstreettheatre.org)
Something Like a War (May 17-19, 11th Hour Theatre Company). A Tennessee town wracked by the Civil War decides to have a baseball game between returning soldiers from the warring sides. But race intrudes. (267-987-9865, 11thhourtheatrecompany.org)
Indecent by Paula Vogel (May 23-June 23, Arden Theatre Company). Not technically a musical, but certainly a play with music, this Tony winner portrays the 1923 Broadway production of God of Vengeance by Sholem Asch — and the indictment of the cast for indecency. (215-922-1122, ardentheatre.org)