David Bardeen and Jered McLeniga in “Ritu Comes Home.” Photos by Plate 3/Kathryn Raines.
Last night, InterAct Theatre Company world-premiered its latest show, Ritu Comes Home, at the Adrienne Theater. The story follows Brendan and David, an affluent gay couple who live happy, carefree lives in Bryn Mawr, well, until their Bangladeshi “adopt a day” daughter Ritu shows up.
I had a chance to sit down with Brooklyn-via-New Jersey playwright Peter Gil-Sheridan over the weekend to chat about the show, why he set in Philly, where the inspiration comes from, and then we make some funnies about Venture Inn.
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Destiny’s Child songbird Michelle Williams was set to play Mary in the touring production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” before the show was abruptly canned. Can girlfriend catch a break? Photo by s_bukley / Shutterstock.com
The star-studded North American tour of Jesus Christ Superstar that had punk icon John “Johnny Rotten” Lydon playing King Harold and Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child as Mary Magdalene was unexpectedly cancelled before debuting in New Orleans on June 9th. While details are scarce as to why the show was crucified, there have been some rumors that a rapidly expanding budget played a role. The tour was set to stop in 54 cities, including Philly, at the Wells Fargo Center on August 16th. All ticket holders are expected to receive a full refund.
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Barrymore-winning actor James Ijames.
James Ijames wears a ton of hats: Barrymore-winning actor, director, and now playwright. His play, The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington, has its world premiere staging at Flashpoint Theatre Company in June. The always charming Philadelphia resident took some time to chat with us about his work as a writer, his definition of America’s “original sin,” and why he’s just scandalized by the television series Scandal. Read more »
Our guide to what’s happening on Philly stages in May.
When a play has one of the writers from Fox’s hit show New Girl you know it’s going to be good. Kim Rosenstock's Tigers Be Still is the story of everything gone wrong. Main character Sherry is down in the dumps until she gets a job as a substitute art teacher. While this seems like a turn for the better, things won’t start looking up until her mother, her sister, her first therapy patient, and her new boss get their acts together. Also, there’s an escaped tiger. Variety says, “Rosenstock writes clever comic dialogue in a voice that is too smart to be cute. There’s something both sad and wise, after all, about redefining a ‘mellow’ mood as meaning ‘paralyzed with depression.'” Through May 25th, $20-$25, Azuka Theatre, 1636 Sansom Street.
Jose Rivera presents Brainpeople, a play about Mayannah, a rich young woman with dark intentions. Every year she invites two strangers to join her for a dinner to honor the passing of her parents. If the strangers are able to last until the end of dinner they will receive $20,000. Seems like easy money, right? No, because there’s always a catch, and there’s no such thing as easy money. It stars Amanda Grove, Jessy Gruver, and Barrymore Award winner Amanda Schoonover. Through May 24th, $20-$25, Luna Theater Company, 620 South 8th Street.
Who doesn’t love some Oedipussy? “Rated R for ridiculousness,” Oedipussy is a comedic spin on a Greek tragedy. The performance is like a stew of Barbarella, James Bond, physical comedy, and creative storytelling. This play will be making a stop at the Family Dysfunction junction. The Guardian writes, “Riotous laughter. Funny but shocking.” And Curio’s artistic director says he chose Oedipussy because of "its broad appeal to audiences of all kinds. For those that know the story of Oedipus – it digression from the plot is truly hysterical.” Through May 24th, $20-$25, Curio Theatre Company, 4740 Baltimore Avenue.
The Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training debuted in 2011, and the first class of the groundbreaking two-year program graduated in 2013. Now those students are making names for themselves on the local live-arts scene. Alex Bechtel’s musical The West saw a successful March run. And this month, Jess Conda (left) stars in Brat Productions’ The Future, a prog-rock parable about a time to come when we can’t breathe the air and our body parts are removable, told in the edgy French bouffon cabaret style for which Pig Iron is so well known. If you like your theater safe, go elsewhere. But if you prefer its more dangerous side, seek out The Future. May 16th to 18th, The Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine Street. —Victor Fiorillo
If vintage is more your flavor, then this is the show for you. The Five Minute Follies features stage variety shows, cabarets, and more vaudeville realness in the Philadelphia area. This upcoming performance will feature Sidetracked, as well as a slew of other performers. European imports, the Sidetracked pair is comprised of Kimberlie Cruse and Shoshanna Hill. Their comedy and participation from the audience will entertain both children and adults alike. Click here for a promo of Sidetracked in action. May 18th, $15 (advance)-$18 (door), Adrienne Theatre, 2030 Sansom Street.
Garett Schiefer and Holly Porch.
This seven-time Tony Award winner is always a crowd-pleaser. Set in the 1960s, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying tells the story of a young window cleaner who uses a guidebook to shoot up the proverbial ladder. On the way he encounters hostile colleagues, and even some sexy secretaries. Me-ow! This blast from the past has achieved so much success for a reason. May 13th-July 13th, Price Varies Per Seat, Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut Street.
Looking for something else? We’ve compiled a good list of local events happening now through June in our Philadelphia Event Listings. Check it out here.
Nominations for the 68th annual Tony Awards were announced yesterday, and Rocky gets four mentions. Among them is a Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical nod for Andy Karl, who we profiled in the magazine in January. The show is also up for Best Choreography, Best Lighting Design of a Musical, and Best Scenic Design of a Musical.
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Miss Patti LaBelle — who we imagine is still reeling from this week’s Cher and Cyndi show — is set to play a rotating role in the Tony Award-nominated Broadway show After Midnight.
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Heads up friends (and allies) of Dorothy: The Academy of Music just announced that it will stage a touring production of The Wizard of Oz from June 3rd to June 8th.
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A bit of shocking news from South Broad Street. Just a couple of blocks and a couple of weeks away from the street’s biggest development in a while — the opening of Jose Garces’ jaw-droppingly expensive Volver inside the Kimmel Center — comes news that the bank is foreclosing on Suzanne Roberts Theatre, home to Philadelphia Theatre Company and the legacy of Suzanne Roberts, wife of Comcast founder Ralph Roberts. Read more »
Kirk Wendell Brown and Peter DeLaurier in Lantern’s current production, “The Train Driver.” Photo by Mark Garvin.
Lantern Theater Company released its 2014/15 lineup and, true to form, it’s full of classics, modern faves, and its signature revisions of both. Expect fresh takes on Shakespeare and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and mark your calendars for a Tom Stoppard masterpiece, and John Patrick Stanley’s award-studded Doubt.
For planning-ahead purposes, we offer capsule reviews of each show below:
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If you regularly attend theatrical productions in Philadelphia, then you have probably seen two-time Barrymore-winning actress Amanda Schoonover on stage. But you’ve probably never seen her quite like this. Read more »