All Things Entertaining and Cultural
The list, not totally complete, sometimes because of forgetfulness, sometimes because of blissless ignorance, and mainly because all the imminent Fringe activity might double the number, stands at 211, including three shows — “Our Town,” “Tommy and Me,” and “Forever Plaid” — that have come and gone.
A compilation of plays, musicals, and operas scheduled for performance in a Philadelphia area loosely defined as stretching from New Brunswick, N.J., it demonstrates how robust and various this 80-mile corridor of America’s East Coast in creating theater for the tens of thousands who will come to see it.
A quick examination of the list indicates maturity and independence among the few dozen companies listed. Classics blend with world premieres, the latter possibly dominating. Favorites mingle with the unknown. Theater planned for the 2019-2020 season is about an diverse and eclectic as I’ve in almost 50 years of paying close attention.
No one playwright or composer seems to dominate the schedule. Stephen Sondheim is almost absent, perhaps because the Arden, a Sondheim stronghold, is doing two musicals this year, and both, “Ragtime” and “Once Upon This Island,” by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty.
Shakespeare is being produced fewer times than usual, and while there’s peeps from Shaw and Ibsen, there’s not offering by Anton Chekhov. Moliere, Tennessee Williams, and David Hare are better represented, and Quintessence Theatre Group is covering a quartet of works by John Millington Synge.
All new seasons stir excitement, but this one sparks enthusiasm. Among theater’s attractions are the number of minds whose ideas and conclusions one can be exposed to, showing the span of thought in the world. 2019-2020 in Philadelphia and environs gives occasion for lots of points to view to be explored, lots of themes of be considered, lots of drama, lots of laughs, lots of seriousness, and lots of silliness.
Thank goodness for this abundance and range. If anyone’s bored in Philadelphia this academic year, it’s his or her own darned fault.
Going over it all is a labor in itself, even if a labor of love. So much triggers anticipation, and even impatience. Pieces by young playwrights such as Rachel Bonds (“Goodnight Nobody” at McCarter in January), Douglas Williams (“Ship” at Azuka in March, and Erlina Ortiz (“Minority Land” at Theatre Horizon, however briefly, in October) make one as eager as how Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium’s Tina Brock will stage and perform in William Inge’s 50’s melodrama, “Come Back, Little Sheba.” In terms of timely, there’s the Walnut Street Theatre’s production of Gore Vidal’s 1964 opus, “The Best Man” arriving just as it becomes clear which candidate is likely to face Donald Trump in the Presidential election.
Another sign that Philadelphia is growing as a theater is the Kimmel Center’s decision to offer its Broadway Series productions for two weeks instead of the one-and-out that has been its habit.
Some of this has to do with “Hamilton” being in town. As part of the Kimmel subscription, it must have boosted sales to the point a second week was warranted.
“Hamilton,” the overriding hit of this decade, nay century — No mean feat considering “The Producers” and “The Book of Mormon” also debut in the 21st — has the honor and distinction of ushering in the season, opening in late August at the underused and marvelous Forrest Theatre and staying to mid-November.
Other shows in the Kimmel subscription series are “Mean Girls,” “The Band’s Visit,” “Hello Dolly!,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” and Escape From Margaritaville.” “Hamilton,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” and “The Band’s Visit” are the Tony recipients for Best Musical for 2016, 2017, and 2018. The entire Kimmel season places shows at the Academy of Music, the Forrest, and the Merriam Theater. The “extras” are “Rent,” “Come From Away,” “Cirque Dreams: Holidaze,” “Riverdance,” “Rain: A Trinute to the Beatles,” “Les Misérables,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Waitress,” and “Summer.”
Comics, known as well for performance as writing, are represented with Steve Martin’s “Meteor Shower” at the Walnut’s Independence Studio Theatre on 3 in early September, and Tina Fey’s musical of her 2004 movie, “Mean Girls,” inspired by her days at Upper Darby High School, at the Academy of Music, in November.
The local playwright with most national standing, Bruce Graham, sees his drama about aging, “The Outgoing Tide,” playing at the Montgomery Theatre in Souderton, a week before his latest work, “Gary” (not to be confused with Taylor Mac’s “Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus”), debuts at the Eagle Theatre in Hammonton, N.J.
In New Brunswick, the big news is two major theaters, the George Street Playhouse and Crossroad Theatre, will be moving back to their accustomed place on Livingston Avenue, not in their original theaters but in a new space, the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center. Crossroads inaugurates the space with Philip Hayes Dean’s “Paul Robeson” in September. George Street presents a musical, Steve Kluger and Jason Howland’s “The Last Days of Summer,” directed by Jeff Calhoun in October.
Star actresses abound in the beginning of the season with Mary McDonnell playing Gloria Steinem in McCarter Theatre’s “Gloria: A Life” by Emily Mann, Kim Wayans playing Her in Bristol Riverside Theatre’s “An Act of God” by “Colbert” head writer David Javerbaum, Bebe Neuwirth appearing in Adam Bock’s “A Small Fire” for Philadelphia Theatre Company, and Stefanie Powers coming, with Harry Hamlin, in Delaware Theatre Company’s “One November Yankee” by Josua Ravetch. Of course, in terms of local stardom, there’s also Jennifer Childs and Grace Gonglewski working together in Jen Silverman’s “The Roommate” for 1812 Productions, and Marcia Saunders pairing with Tom Teti in “The Outgoing Tide” in Souderton.
Rather than trying to spot highlights and trends, it might be wiser to take the coming season month-by-month and point out what stands out as particularly special.
SEPTEMBER: The most active month, one that indicates companies were chomping at the bit to begin another year. Besides bringing forth the dawn of a new season, September in Philadelphia is a time for hyper-activity because of the Fringe Arts Festival. Tina Brock’s “Come Back, Little Sheba” is part of that, as is Dan Hodge’s production of John Fletcher and Philip Massinger’s “The Sea Voyage” for Philadelphia Artists Collective at the Independence Seaport Museum. Hodge, Damon Bonetti, and others at PAC have been treating us to Shakespeare’s contemporaries and successors for several seasons. “The Sea Voyage” is a Jacobean drama about a group of privateers who think they’ve landed on a island inhabited by a lone castaway.
Other Fringe offerings including Commonwealth Theatre’s one-man adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Henry V” featuring Paul Parente; “Actually” from Half Key Theatre Company, primarily because it’s by “Photograph 51’s” Anna Ziegler; EgoPo’s presentation of Tennessee Williams’s “And Tell Sad Stories About the Death of Queens;” The Wooster Group’s “The B-Side: Negro Folklore from Texas State Prisons,” which is a live documentary about a 1964 recording made in a Texas jail; Lanie Robertson’s “The Insanity of Mary Girard,” the first work by a Philadelphia playwright to catch on and develop a following, at Allens Lane; and “There: In the Light and the Darkness of The Self and The Other,” devised by Blanka Zizka, Rosa Barba, and the Wilma HotHouse, at the Wilma and based on Etel Adnan’s book-length meditation.
Outside the Fringe, there’s the Walnut Street Theatre’s production of Mel Brooks’s underrated “Young Frankenstein;” Sarah Ruhl’s adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s provocative novel, “Orlando,” directed at Villanova by James Ijames, who did a wonderful job with Ruhl’s “Eurydice” a few seasons back; and the Arden production of one of the great recent American musicals, albeit more than 20-years-old, “Ragtime.”
September is also the occasion for two festivals of note, a Synge Festival, during which Quintessence Theatre Group presents the writer’s full-length “The Playboy of the Western World” in repertory with Synge’s three major one-acts — “Riders to the Sea,” “In the Shadow of the Glen,” and “The Tinker’s Wedding” — and an extensive, impressive Opera Festival (O19) from Opera Philadelphia.
Sort of a microcosm of the general Philadelphia season, Opera Philadelphia’s fall extravaganza features a quartet of works of all stripes from all periods, Handel’s romance between the mortal and divine, “Semele” appearing next to Joseph Keckler’s collage of operatic demise, “Let Me Die;” Prokofiev’s “The Love for Three Oranges” with its prince, witch, and curse opposite Philip Venables and Ted Huffman’s contemporary-as-you-can-get story of two Russian runaways, “Denis & Katya,” all performed in festival fashion with simultaneous performances in different venues from September 18 to 29. Alek Shrader, Daniela Mack, and Tim Mead, all of whom have been impressive for Opera Philadelphia, and Shrader even surviving the Orchestra’s hideous “Candide,” appear in “Semele.” Sienna Licht Miller, so wonderful in last season’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” is in the double-cast “Denis & Katya.”
Teatro Del Sol expands a play it gave a reading last year, Iraisa Ann Reilly’s “Good Cuban Girls,” into a full production at the Latvian Society. Theatre Horizon offers a concert version of a past hit, “Into the Woods” from September 27 to 29.
OCTOBER: “Come From Away,” at the Academy of Music, quietly sneaks up on you with its goodness and positive picture of humankind. It’s about the effort residents of Gander, Newfoundland made to welcome thousands of unexpected guests whose flights landed in the emergency of September 11, 2001. The visitors outnumbered the inhabitants, but all was coordinated to keep most matters pleasant. I wondered at how disciplined and “just right” in tone and dudgeon this musical was until I noticed writers Irene Sankoff and David Hein were Canadians. How nice to have folks to can be moving and human without overdoing as our next-door-neighbors. Americans would have clobbered this delicate story.
Conor McPherson’s unique style and knack for suggesting the otherworldly comes through in “The Night Alive,” being produced by Inis Nua. McPherson may make matters look straightforward, but he would never let that be the case, which is why he’s so popular.
Quintessence had a stunning literary and theatrical success with its faithful adaptation of “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.” Now, Chicago’s Lookinglass Theatre, and David Caitlin, who has brought audiences lauded theatrical versions of “Moby Dick” and “Alice in Wonderland” is taking his turn with “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” being imported from its current run in Chicagoland to Princeton’s McCarter Theatre October 15 to November 3.
Another transfer from page to stage, this one a bit more fanciful, is “Matilda,” a tale about an exceptional child who thinks she’s ordinary amid a group of ordinary children who think they’re exceptional, from popular writer, Roald Dahl, musicalized by Tim Minchin and David Kelly at Media Theatre.
InterAct Theatre has one of the better track records of all companies in recent seasons, so whatever it produces takes on extra interest. Jonathan Spector’s “Eureka Day” looks able to expand that streak as it explores the terror of mumps being reported at a posh, convention-following private school in Berkeley.
New titles that spark interest are Jeffry Chastang’s “Dauphin Island” for Trenton’s Passage Theatre, Joshua Ravetch’s “One November Yankee” for Wilmington’s Delaware Theatre Company, Nia Valardos’s “Tiny Beautiful Things” for the Arden, Clare Barron’s “Dance Nation” for Wilma Theater, and Adam Bock’s “A Small Fire” for Philadelphia Theatre Company.
Ego Po kicks off a season of Sam Shepard plays with “Buried Child.” Bristol Riverside presents Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s heart-rending musical, “Next to Normal.” West Chester’s Resident Theatre Company begins its season with Kander and Ebb’s “Cabaret.” Jennie Eisenhower directs a concert version of William Finn and James Lapine’s “Falsettos” for 11th Hour. Jenkintown’s Pulley & Buttonhole Theatre provides another look at R. Eric Thomas’s “Mrs. Harrison,” which had a reading at InterAct and a full production at Azuka. Irish Heritage Theatre, which had a triumph with Marina Carr’s “By the Bog of Cats,” stages another Carr work, “Woman and Scarecrow,” also to be directed by Peggy Mecham.
NOVEMBER: If Alexander Burns’s treatment of L. Frank Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz” is fashioned from the same cloth as last season’s “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” it is a much anticipated show indeed. Sticking to the original story rather than leaning towards popular, movie-originated expectations was refreshing.
On the 29th, 1812 Productions launches its latest version of the current-events satirizing “This is the Week That Is.” Interesting to see what comes up for lampooning as the 2020 Presidential primaries approach.
On regional stages (“Skeleton Crew,” “Mud Row”) and on Broadway (“Ain’t Too Proud…), Dominque Morrsseau has proven to be a writer of insight and wit. Azuka begins its season with a production of Morisseau’s “The Sunset Baby.”
“An Iliad” was a sturdy vehicle for Stephen Spinella at McCarter and Peter DeLaurier at the Lantern. Now the Arden is presenting Denis O’Hare and Lisa Peterson’s adaptation of Homer with Mary Tuomanen combining a couple of compelling stories.
“The Children,” Lucy Kirkwood’s direly frightening look at the last inhabitable corner of Earth, receives the first of its hearings this year via a one-night staged reading from Inis Nua on November 11. A second, fully-produced look at Kirkwood’s band of physicists awaiting the environmental apocalypse comes from People’s Light in January.
“Once,” Tony recipient for the Best Musical of 2012, is the fall entry at New Hope’s Bucks County Playhouse. “Shrek: The Musical” promises to keep the entertainment quotient high at the Walnut Street Theatre. “On the Exhale,” opening Theatre Exile’s season, addresses current headlines about guns and mass chaos by presenting a bereaved mother’s point of view. Lantern returns to Anna Ziegler, whose “Photograph 51” it produced in 2015, with “The Last Match,” a duel of reveries by tennis players in the midst of a crucial match. The annual panto, this time “Little Red Riding Hood: A Musical Panto” by perennials Kathryn Petersen and Michael Ogborn, arrives at People’s Light & Theatre Company on November 13, the same day “Elf” starts singing at the Media Theatre. The Playhouse at Wilmington’s Hotel duPont offers a tour of “Beautiful: the Carole King Musical,” “Dogfight” appears at Hammonton’s Eagle, and “The Snow Queen” begins at the Arden.
DECEMBER: God bless us everyone! There are enough productions of “A Christmas Carol,” each with a different variation of the Dickens classic, to require mufflers for Coxey’s army. Venues bringing Scrooge, Cratchits, and various ghosts to the fore are McCarter Theatre (David Thompson, adapter), Hedgerow Theatre (Jared Reed), Delaware Theatre Company (Patrick Barlow), Lantern Theater (Anthony Lawton), Crossroads Theatre (musical by Lynn Ahrens, Alan Menken, and Michael Ockrent), Wings of Paper Theater, Morrisville’s Actors NET as “Scrooge’s Revenge” (Joe Doyle),and Bucks County Playhouse in its delightful local adaptation by Gordon Greenberg and Steve Rosen, “Ebenezer Scrooge’s Big Playhouse Christmas Show.”
1812 Productions provides its Christmas cheer by presenting diva Joilet Harris in a holiday concert, “Joy to the World.” On the same night, December 16, Philadelphia Artists Collective and Teatro del Sol provide an alternative to all this Yuletide gaiety with a reading of Federico Garcia Lorca’s “Yerma.”
Meanwhile, at Ambler’s Act II Playhouse, merriment of a singular sort abounds as April Woodall reprises her marvelous portrayal of the tone-deaf Florence Foster Jenkins in “Souvenir.” The Resident Theatre provides a full-blown production of “Into the Woods,” while the Academy of Music begins December with a touring production of “The Spongebob Musical.”
JANUARY: Holy prolificity! The New Year teems with productions that make your mouth water. Rachel Bonds, whose plays “Michael & Edie” and “Five Mile Lake” were highlights at Villanova and McCarter returns to the venerable Princeton theater with “Goodnight Nobody,” a McCarter commission to be directed by Tyne Rafaeli and depicting a group of college friends who strive to maintain connections as adult life pulls them in individual directions.
New works that invite interest and curiosity include the Arden’s “My General Tubman,” about the tireless conductor of the Underground Railroad, by Lorene Cary; InterAct’s “Man of God,” in which four Korean women confront a male priest about a discovery they make during a spiritual journey to Thailand; Wilma’s “Describe the Night,” a political allegory by Rajiv Joseph in which the author, Isaac Babel, executed by the Soviet Union in 1940, and a stand-in for Vladimir Putin, whose putative (putinative?) character learns the Russian tradition of tyranny well; George Street Playhouse’s “Midwives,” Chuck Bohjalian’s adaptation of his 1997 best-selling novel about a bachelor party; and Inis Nua’s reading of Deirdre Kinahan’s “Halcyon Days,” which depicts two people vegetating towards death in a nursing home.
Media Theatre presents a musical depiction of Eleanor Roosevelt’s life in “Eleanor: An American Love Story,” created by John Forster, Thomas Tierney, and Jonathan Bolt.
Alexander Burns, at Quintessence, makes a sport of reviving neglected works, and he begins 2019 with “Rachel,” a 1917 play by Angelina Weld Grimké about an African-American family attempting to erase their history of slavery by moving North where they face and have to combat prejudice.
Lantern Theater is giving David Hare’s “The Vertical Hour,” what I believe is its Philadelphia premiere. Micki Sharpe and Susan Wefel open New Year’s Day reprising their roles in “Nunsense” at Hedgerow. Oaklyn’s Ritz Theatre revives that darling of a Cy Coleman-Dorothy Fields musical, “Sweet Charity.”
The life of Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, is reviewed upstairs at the Walnut in “Thurgood,” while downstairs, on the mainstage, Oscar Wilde is represented with “A Woman of No Importance.”
“King Lear” is performed at Bristol Riverside Theatre by Eric Tucker’s Bedlam Theatre, which means Shakespeare’s text will be done in full but by a pared-down cast, some quadrupling and quintupling roles, and more.
“The Band’s Visit,” the evocative musical by David Yazbek and Itamar Moses about an Egyptian band’s unscheduled arrival in a small Israeli village, arrives at the Academy of Music. Remember, Lucy Kirkwood’s powerful “The Children” is due at People’s Light.
FEBRUARY: The titles scheduled for this month are alluring — “A Hundred Words for Snow,” “Renaissance in the Belly of a Killer Whale,” “In Splendid Error,” “Popcorn Falls,” “Abigail/1702: A Twice-Told Tale?”
Theaters are obvious using new works as their valentines.
“Renaissance” is the work of a group of women that seems ever-burgeoning. Led by the Wilma’s Jaylene Clark Owen, they depict a trio of young women who trace their native Harlem to the days of the Hurston-Hughes Renaissance to it modern spate of gentrification. Clark Owen is joined by Hollis Heath, Chyann Sapp, and Janelle Heatley to create this piece, which she directs and which had an earlier reading at Theatre Horizon.
Like Alexander Burns, the folks at Philadelphia Artists Collective take pleasure in mining nuggets of theatrical gold from obscurity. “In Splendid Error” is a 1954 pieces by William Branch that depicts Frederick Douglass’s friendship with his fellow abolitionist, John Brown.
When performed by Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival in 2018, Tom Stoppard and Marc Norman’s “Shakespeare in Love,” adapted by Lee Hall, proved as delightful and lively on stage as it did when it earned the 1998 Oscar for Best Picture. This time, production honors go to People’s Light & Theatre Company, which seems perfect.
“Babel,” by local playwright Jacqueline Goldfinger and coming to Theatre Exile, has been subtitled “The Future of Fate” and deals with a world in which anyone can genetically design his or her baby.
Opinions can fly in different directions, but the developing Philadelphia-based playwright whose displayed the most talent is Douglas Williams, which is why the premiere of his play, “Ship,” for Azuka counts as one of the highlights of this season.
The Amish country is the setting, forgiveness and redemption the theme, and the will of God the conflict in Chelsea Marcantel’s “Everything is Wonderful,” coming to Philadelphia Theatre Company.
John Patrick Shanley’s absorbing “Outside Mullingar,” comes to the Delaware Theatre Company. The once groundbreaking “Hair” is presented by Eagle Theatre. “Hello, Dolly!” graces the Academy of Music. “Fool For Love” continues the Sam Shepard season at Ego Po. “I (Heart) Alice (Heart) I,” a play Amy Conroy wrote to put older lovers, particularly older Lesbian lovers, on stage starts February 5 at Curio Theatre.
MARCH: A month that illustrates the variety and quality of the entire season.
Cutting to the end of March, Eleanor Burgess’s “The Niceties,” seen at McCarter in 2018 and coming to InterAct, is an exciting, important play because it puts political correctness, its potency as a weapon, its intolerance, and its unfairness in perspective as a graduate student and university professor clash, not over verifiable fact, but over who may or may not feel good hearing it.
It’s gratifying McCarter is reviving Anthony Shaffer’s “Sleuth,” recipient of the 1971 Tony for Best Play and one of the tidiest and entertaining mysteries of all time. Adding to the good news is Adam Immerwahr, who made “The Mousetrap” such a fresh treat, is directing.
The month includes others of my favorite titles — “Mrs. Warren’s Profession,” at Actors NET, “Baby” at the Media Theatre, “Merrily We Roll Along” at Villanova, and “The Lion in Winter” at the Ritz.
Classics also abound. Besides “Mrs. Warren’s,” there’s “Othello” at Lantern Theater, a much welcome “A Streetcar Named Desire” at the Arden, and “Cabaret” — yes, by now it’s a classic — at Bristol Riverside. Teatro del Sol presents Sophocles’s “Oedipus the King,” except as “Oedipus El Rey” en español.
While most theaters are content with presenting one classic, Quintessence Theatre loves putting repertories together and doing the tried-and-true in bunches. Alternating for six weeks are Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Calderón’s “Life is a Dream,” and Camus’s “Caligula.” Looks as if ambition reigns in Germantown!
Two favorites from the late ’70s, Neil Simon’s “Chapter Two” and D.L. Coburn’s “The Gin Game” come to Act II Playhouse and Hedgerow Theatre respectively. Word is Penelope Reed and Zoran Kovcic are starring in “The Gin Game,” which debuted with another husband-and-wife team, Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn.
Less familiar pieces include “Hold These Truths,” Jeanne Sakata’s play at People’s Light about Gordon Hirabayashi, who sued the U.S. government for interning Japanese-Americans during World War II and who earned a Presidential Medal of Honor for his campaign to uphold American citizenship. Another is “Conscience,” a world premiere piece by Joe DiPietro about the battle between Sens. Margaret Chase Smith of Maine and Joseph McCarthy or Wisconsin about persecution during the ’50s Red scare.
EgoPo keeps up its year with Shepard, presenting “The Curse of the Starving Class.” Resident Theatre Company bring us the 2013 Tony recipient for Best Play, Christopher Durang’s “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.”
Once more I have to say I think the Walnut’s booking of Gore Vidal’s “The Best Man” an inspired and telling choice.
APRIL: Two titles stand out from a vast array of selections — “Dear Evan Hansen,” which I enjoyed but I may be alone in liking more than loving — It does cloy and pander at times. — arriving at the Forrest Theatre, and “Seven Keys to Baldpate,” a 1913 George M. Cohan comedy, coming to Actors NET, about a mystery writer trying to win a bet he can write a book in record time and being interrupted by a bomber crew of comic types.
A play I’ve wanted to see but which has eluded me — No, not “Hamilton!” — Sarah Ruhl’s “In the Next Room — The Vibrator Play” comes to Hedgerow while a newer piece I’d been hoping to see, Sarah DeLappe’s “The Wolves” arrives at Philadelphia Theatre Company.
Since seeing “An Octoroon” at Wilma a few seasons back, I’ve been interested in anything that comes from the mind of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins whose “Everybody,” a play that chooses by nightly lottery the cast member who will play the leading role in an “Everyman” play, is being done by Curio.
Ever-creative Jennifer Childs has written a musical, “Tyndale Place,” with Monica Stephenson for 1812 Productions about a group of suburban women from the 1950’s who are ready to delve into liberation
Two usual surefires, “Mamma Mia,” at the Media Theatre, and “Million Dollar Quartet” at Delaware Theatre Company, bring a lot of popular ABBA and early rock music to the fore. 11th Hour goes a bit more edgy with John Cameron Mitchell and Steven Trask’s “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” starring Steve Pacek.
Azuka puts forth an irresistible title with “A Room at the Flamingo Hotel” by Lena Bernard. Actress Nikkole Salter, so good in People’s Light’s “Mud Row,” collaborates with the innovative, reliable Ricardo Khan and others to write “Freedom Rider,” due at New Brunswick’s Crossroads Theatre. Passage Theatre presents “A Twist of Water” by Caitlin Parrish about a gay widower and his adopted daughter coping with a husband/father’s death and the young woman’s desire to know about her birth parents.
Bernard Havard directs Edward Albee’s “A Delicate Balance” for the Walnut’s Independence Studio on 3. Theatre Exile gratifyingly revives Lyle Kessler’s Philadelphia-based “Orphans.” The Philadelphia Artists Collective produces August Strindberg’s “Dance of Death.”
Classic opera abounds with Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” at Opera Philadelphia and Verdi’s “Un Ballo en Maschera” at the Academy of Vocal Arts.
New plays of interest are “Folk” by Tom Wells at Inis Nua, “No Child…” by Nijala Sun at the Arden’s Horan Space, “Terminus” by Gabriel Jason Dean at South Camden Repertory Theatre, “A Walk on the Moon” by Pamela Gray and Paul Scott Goodman at George Street Playhouse, and a reading of “Galilee” by Christine Evans for one weekend at Theatre Horizon.
MAY: Watching a play progress via several readings over a few seasons makes own eager to see it when it’s fully produced, which is why I can’t wait to see the final script and complete staging of Ken Kaissar’s “A Leg Up” at Bristol Riverside Theatre.
Robert Smythe has been a great asset to Hedgerow Theatre this season. Robert is known for his adaptations, his source this time being William Makepeace Thackeray and the story being “The Ring and the Rose.”
New works include Aleshea Harris’s “Is God Is,” directed by James Ijames for Wilma Theater; “Steal Her Bones” by Thomas Gibbons for InterAct Theatre; “Athena” by Gracie Gardner for Theatre Horizon, and the enticingly named “Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons” by Sam Steiner for Inis Nua.
People’s Light explores the life and work of Bayard Rustin in “Bayard: Inside Ashland” while McCarter presents Nathan Alan Davis’s “The Refuge Plays.”
Modern favorites are represented by Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off” at Pulley & Buttonhole and “Pippin” at Act II Playhouse.
The Walnut ends its season with a musical version of “The Bodyguard,” a big hit in London for several years, and the Arden’s finale is Flaherty and Ahrens’s charming “Once On This Island.”
JUNE: The Kimmel Broadway series stays strong with “Summer” and “Escape to Margaritaville” at the Academy of Music. People’s Light, as usual, stays in operation during the summer with Amy Herzog’s “Mary Jane” in June and July, and Joanna Murray-Smith’s “Songs for Nobodies” in August 2020. Actors NET offers a full production of “King Lear” in June.