It’s been a strong Philadelphia theatre season so far, and the Winter/Spring has quite a few more promising events. I’ve compiled the following list for City Paper; I’ll continue to post on these and more….
Hot ‘N’ Cole
Cole Porter’s sophistication is well known, but audiences sometimes miss the slyly provocative sexual subterfuge in his lyrics. Who better to showcase this than Mauckingbird, our resident company who specialize in theatre with gay themes? Jan. 13-Feb. 1, Mauckingbird Theatre Co. at the Adrienne, mauckingbird.org
Always a conversation-starter, Shanley’s play is also a fabulous vehicle for actors, whose very presence can sometimes shape the audience’s allegiance to the polarized central characters. Here, we’ll have two of our very best: Mary Martello, and Ben Dibble. Jan. 15-Feb. 15, Lantern Theatre Co. at St. Stephen’s Theater, lanterntheatre.org
Into the Woods
The Disney film of this favorite Sondheim musical was a recent holiday box office hit, but the more complex original stage version has deeper things to teach us. Head for Theatre Horizon to see the whole picture. Feb. 5-March 1, Theatre Horizon, theatrehorizon.org.
Mothers and Sons
PTC has a long, distinguished history with playwright Terrence McNally. This time, the play is Mothers and Sons, well-received last year on Broadway, and now comes to town with Michael Learned (Mother Walton! – also, a fine stage actress) in the lead. Feb. 6-March 6, Philadelphia Theatre Co., philadelphiatheatrecompany.org
Stairs to the Roof
In EgoPo’s first seasons, director Lane Savadove championed some obscure Tennessee Williams’ plays, proving there’s far more to this great writer than just his hits. Here is more unusual Williams – a very early play that, in a sense, lays the foundation for The Glass Menagerie. Feb. 11-March 1, EgoPo Classic Theater at the Latvian Society, egopo.org
The Cherry Orchard
Chekhov’s plays are famously written for a specific ensemble company (the Moscow Art Theatre), but they also need high-octane star power. With luck, we’ll get both at People’s Light, themselves an established ensemble, who for this production are bringing in distinguished guest actors Mary McDonnell and David Strathairn. Feb. 11-March 1, People’s Light and Theatre, peopleslight.org
Field Hockey Hot
Last fall, we saw some of the best musical theatre in memory through 11th Hour’s crackling concert performances. Field Hockey Hot – a fully staged production, and the first world-premiere in 11th Hour’s history – should be the jewel in the crown. March 5-22, 11th Hour Theatre at The Adrienne, 11thhourtheatrecompany.org
A visionary director, and a masterpiece play – what more do you need? Blanka Zizka turns to Shakespeare, and the results are sure to be buzz-worthy (including a female actor in the title role). If you still want more, in a smart bit of planning, Hamlet will be followed at the Wilma by Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. March 25-April 24, Wilma Theater, wilmatheater.org
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Philly favorites Catharine Slusar and Pierce Bunting made a compelling couple last year in Theatre Exile’s Annapurna; how great that the company is bringing them back for Edward Albee’s brilliant marriage-battle-to-end-all-marriage-battle play. April 16-May 17, Theatre Exile at Plays & Players, theatreexile.org
It’s always good news when a Sondheim musical is onstage at the Arden. In this case, it’s the rarely done Passion, and personally I can’t wait to see what two of our most captivating actresses – Liz Filios, and Jennie Eisenhower – do in the leading roles. May 21-June 28, Arden Theatre Co., ardentheatre.org