What to see at Philly Theatre Week
This gorgeous play by Stephen Karam’s won the 2016 Tony and was a Pulitzer finalist as well as a major New York hit. This show demands virtuoso stagecraft and great acting. Walnut Street has the necessary scenic resources and an extraordinary cast with some of Philly’s best actors, including Mary Martello, Greg Wood and Alex Keiper.
Hats off to EgoPo Classic Theater, which is pulling off the theatrical coup of the Philly theater season: mounting John Guare’s epic Lydie Breeze trilogy, a fascinating historical panorama of an American utopian society. Guare will be working with the company as they remount and revise these works, which he began 35 years ago and has never seen staged all together. Distinguished composer Cynthia Hopkins is also involved.
Singer-songwriter Stew created this odd work: a loose autobiography told through music in collaboration with Heidi Rodewald and Annie Dorsen. The piece was an immediate cult hit, but probably deserved a longer run on Broadway. Its edgy sensibility, abstract construction and international feel should ideally suit the Wilma, where it receives its first major revival, helmed by director Tea Alagić.
Called a “thrilling portrait of godliness and lust,” this local premiere transports you to the world of a wealthy landowner who employs a young artist who ends up in an affair with his wife. A choir of angels hovers above as the harrowing story unfolds to expose the sometimes treacherous cruelty of a man scorned by love.
The stakes could hardly be higher in this nail-bitingly tense historical drama by Michael Frayn that follows atomic physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg as they meet to potentially determine the future of the world. Lantern’s intimate setting is ideal for this cerebral, conversation-driven piece, and the theater has a fine company on hand: Charles McMahon, Sally Mercer and Paul L. Nolan, under Kittson O’Neill’s direction.
Henrik Ibsen’s classic play about a marriage tested by a sudden crisis still feels relevant, even radical. In theater history terms, the shutting door at the end of the show was the sound heard around the world in 1879. (Indeed, earlier this year, playwright Lucas Hnath had a big hit with his “sequel” on Broadway.) Arden’s production features a promising cast, including Akeem Davis, Joilet Harris and Scott Greer.
What’s a theater festival without a good gay show? There are actually a few of those during Philly Theatre Week, but this sounds like a particular standout. In an original solo performance, local physical theater artist Nick Jonczak takes audiences through a cabaret-style Tarot reading in which he takes a look back at ex-boyfriends to ask the questions: Do I want to be with them? Or do I just want to be them? Through songs and personal narrative that tackle gay obsession, identity and trauma, he slowly transforms himself using his favorite body parts of these ex lovers.
In this latest by Jackie Sibblies Drury’s play, a photographer prepares to shoot a portrait of her deceased boyfriend’s mother. The two women mourn his sudden disappearance from their lives, but his spirit maintains an active presence throughout the performance, showing that we leave a lot behind. Directed by the acclaimed Brenna Geffers (most recently, the force behind EgoPo’s adaptation of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina), Theatre Exile’s local premiere is certain to provoke.
Theatre Horizon presents The Revolutionists,a new piece that focuses on four women in the French Revolution—with resonance for our own troubled times.
Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium artistic director Tina Brock has a particular knack with 20th-century French plays of the symbolist/absurdist/oddball variety. Jean Anouilh’s Time Remembered—performed 60 years ago on Broadway—is a perfumy, evocative adult fairy tale with a poignant message. It should be a great fit for this imaginative group.
ReVamp Collective takes you inside the crazy-pants world of a Southern beauty pageant to find Mama and her daughter, Honey, fighting tooth and nail to snatch that crown and meet the grandest of all prizes, Dolly Parton.
This sendup to the popular HBO show Game of Thrones is currently touring the country, but makes a stop in Philly for three performances that promise many of the things you love about GOT—dragons, fight-to-the-death power struggles and tawdry love affairs—all done here with a dash of humor (and a puppet or two).
Each evening of the three-night romp features local actors reading a different “grown-up comedy.” What it doesn’t tell you? It’s part of Tiny Dynamite’s A Play, a Pie and a Pint series, so you’ll get a free slice of pizza and a pint of beer with every performance.
Head across the Delaware to check out this how that follows four Southern ladies attempting to get back on track after myriad mishaps. They meet for a happy hour that revitalizes their enthusiasm for life—and teaches them that it’s never too late to reconnect with old friends. You’ll leave feeling like you’re one of the girls no matter who you are.
The Free Library of Philadelphia and Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre hosts this event, which invites folks to swing by to hear—or maybe even recite—some of history’s most passionate lines, whether from a poem, monologue or play. Need an extra incentive? The event takes place in the library’s Skyline Room, which offers excellent views of a twinkling Philly at night.
Want to learn more about theater in Philly?
Consult our guide so you’ll know where to go the next time you want to see a good show