Bucks County Playhouse presents Jon Robin Baitz’s ‘Other Desert Cities’ (first review)

In Other Desert Cities, Jon Robin Baitz marries his fractious family drama to an even older conceit: the theatrical dark night of the soul. His Wyeth clan are kin to the Tyrones and the Kellers — a bit more well-heeled, in flashier clothes, but still picking at the same old scabs. Yet where O’Neill and Miller plumbed true emotional depths, Baitz merely scratches the surface. It’s a problem that director Sheryl Kaller’s static production for Bucks County Playhouse only magnifies. The plot reads

Arden Cabaret Series presents ‘Alex Keiper and the Next Generation’

Alex Keiper has emerged as one of Philadelphia’s most versatile and valuable performers in recent seasons, equally adept at drama and musical theater. Her bona fides alone suggest she is both capable and deserving of an Arden Cabaret Series solo set, but in a recent Broad Street Review What's New What's Next profile, she said she doesn’t feel ready to shepherd an entire evening. That Keiper has used her platform to curate an evening of song and stories from Philadelphia’s up-and-coming women and

Delaware Valley Opera Company presents an operatic threesome

The Medium (1946) is darkly atmospheric, with a Gothic-inspired libretto (also by Menotti) and a lush score in the neo-Romantic style with which Menotti and his life partner Samuel Barber came to be associated. Schicchi (1918), though a classic buffo comedy full of obfuscation and parlor tricks, holds rich and tuneful music full of earworms galore and is unmistakably Puccini. Black Horses takes its inspiration from a Pirandello short story and attempts to capture the combination of humor, absurd

Chicago’s critical condition: On the Sun-Times’ Hedy Weiss

Pass Over is intentionally unsettling. Nwandu, an overtly political playwright, works in the tradition of Amiri Baraka, Adrienne Kennedy, María Irene Fornés, and early Edward Albee. She is unafraid of making her audience uncomfortable, a fact that Dayna Taymor’s compact, often breathless 80-minute production highlights. The play is underscored by familiar music from the American songbook: peppy show tunes such as “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” and “Look to the Rainbow” that suggest an idyllic wo

Philadelphia’s parity problem

This speaks uncomfortable truths regarding the illusion versus the reality of theater’s inclusiveness. Though it trumpets itself as a welcoming space for people of all sexualities and genders (or lack thereof), Teachout says that, nonetheless, “between one-fifth and one-quarter of plays professionally produced in the U.S. are by women.” After reading the column, I thought about parity in my own backyard. Many of Philly’s finest resident actors, directors, and playwrights are female or gender-no

Review: Pipeline at Lincoln Center - Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater

At the center of Dominique Morisseau’s Pipeline is Nya Joseph, a teacher who works tirelessly to enrich the minds and improve the lives of her inner city high school students, aware that they are starting out miles behind their more privileged peers. As a mother, Nya, with the help of her estranged husband, has extracted her only son, Omari, from this system, sending him instead to the tony Fernbrook Academy—a decision that may not, in the end, work out in his favor. Morisseau’s engrossing but s

Bucks County Playhouse presents ‘Guys and Dolls’

The 1950 blockbuster works best in a production that meets the material where it lives, without getting too clever or forcing too many directorial flourishes. (The most recent Broadway revival, from 2009, included an unnecessary metanarrative framing device of writer Damon Runyon creating the characters as the audience watched.) Director Hunter Foster — an intelligent musical-theater performer in his own right — teamed with a top-flight group of designers to recreate Manhattan as the denizens of

Opera Innovator: An Interview with David Devan ahead of the O17 Festival

What can opera companies do to remain relevant? That question has been around almost as long as the art form itself, but it’s taken on a new sense of urgency in the 21st century. Costs are up, attendance is down, and the old-guard audience continues to die off, with no ready replacement waiting. David Devan may hold the answer. At a time when other companies have doubled down on the safe and familiar repertory war horses that tend to put butts in seats, Devan—Opera Philadelphia’s general direct
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