Nine upcoming productions in Philly to watch for. (I’ll be seeing and reviewing some of these and more, so keep watching this space!)
A Beautiful Thing
Mauckingbird takes up Jonathan Harvey’s gay love story about working-class London youth. The hauntingly sweet and funny movie made from the original play is beloved, and artistic director Peter Reynolds is a masterful storyteller himself. Jan. 15-Feb. 3, Skybox at the Adrienne, mauckingbird.org.
Henrik Ibsen, one of the masters of modern theater, should be well served in Philly this season, first by Ken Marini’s production of this once-scandalously frank study of corrupt family legacies. And if this production whets your appetite, EgoPo Classic Theater is also devoting its season to Ibsen. Jan. 15-Feb. 9, People’s Light & Theatre, peopleslight.org.
Philadelphia Theater Company continues its tradition of bringing us the best in contemporary theater with Nina Raine’s play about how parents work with a deaf child (and, more broadly, about family culture and communication). Tribes was a hit at London’s Royal Court and off-Broadway, and it’s sure to be one here, too. Jan. 24-Feb. 23, Suzanne Roberts Theatre, philadelphiatheatrecompany.org.
The latest step toward reinventing the Prince brings exceptional pedigree in the form of this highly praised British import about a married couple in South Africa by the great writer/director Peter Brook. It’s not a musical, but hey — anything that brings life back to this important theater is music to our ears. Feb. 26-March 8, Prince Music Theater, princemusictheater.org.
Charles McMahon’s Shakespeare productions have rightly become some of Lantern’s biggest hits. Hallmarks include the imaginative way the small space is used for these very large works and brilliant casting. The latter should be on full display when the gifted, charismatic Forrest McClendon takes on the title role. Feb. 6-March 16, St. Stephen’s Theater, lanterntheater.org.
Don Juan Comes Back from Iraq
Director Blanka Zizka has joined forces with Paula Vogel, one of America’s most imaginative contemporary playwrights, for this collaborative project about a returning war veteran, which will have its world premiere at the Wilma. We can’t wait to see what these two amazing women create together. March 19-April 20, Wilma Theater, wilmatheater.org.
For the past two years, the Arden crew, including some of Philly’s best actors, has worked on bringing Chekhov’s magnificent family saga to the stage. Now we’ll have a chance to see the fruits of their labors. March 20-April 20, Arden Theatre, ardentheatre.org.
Down Past Passyunk
InterAct has had some major successes with plays about culture and politics right here in Philly (including the Barnes-battle-centered Permanent Collection). Down Past Passyunk, which examines a famous cheesesteak vendor battling an increasingly diverse neighborhood, should be right up their alley. April 4-27, Interact Theatre, interacttheatre.org.
Mourning Becomes Electra
Eugene O’Neill’s adaptation of Aeschylus’ Oresteia may be the greatest American play hardly anybody has ever seen, in part because it’s a behemoth (uncut it runs nearly five hours). How brave and thrilling that Quintessence is presenting it with a cast that features the great Janice Dardaris. April 2-May 27, Quintessence Theatre, quintessencetheatre.org.