Speaking of Sondheim, Philadelphia Theatre Conpany will inaugurate their new Suzanne F. Roberts Theatre with the musical revue Being Alive (October 23-December 2). Conceived and directed by Billy Porter, the show mixes a slew of the great master's songs (including such notable compositions as "Anyone Can Whistle" and "Send in the Clowns") with the poetry of William Shakespeare to tell the story of man's seven ages.
Over the past 13 years the Arden Theatre Company has produced six world premiers from local playwright Michael Hollinger including the smash hit Opus, which had an acclaimed run last summer at Primary Stages in New York. For its 20th anniversary season the Arden is reviving Hollinger's An Empty Plate in the Café du Grand Boeuf (October 11-December 9), a darkly comic one-act focusing on a gluttonous gourmand who buys a restaurant and subsequently hordes the establishment's savory cuisine.
The city's most renowned producer of politically-themed theater, the InterAct Theatre Company launches its 20th anniversary season with playwright Steven Dietz's provocative drama Last of the Boys (October 19-November 18). Drawing comparisons between the war in Vietnam and the current conflict in Iraq, Boys focuses on a pair of Vietnam veterans who decades later remain haunted by their experiences in Southeast Asia.
The Painted Bride Art Center opens its Performance in the Present Tense series with James Scruggs one-man show Disposable Men (Oct. 19-20). A multi-media work that deftly mixes classic storytelling with cutting-edge technology, the controversial solo focuses on the role of the media in designating African-American men as "disposable."
The People's Light & Theatre Company in Malvern continues its 2007-8 season with Luigi Pirandello's existential masterpiece Six Characters in Search of an Author (October 10-November 4). Meanwhile, Mum Puppettheatre artistic director Robert Smythe mixes live actors and puppets in the company's unique revival of Eugene Ionesco's absurdist masterpiece Rhinoceros (October 10-27). The new production stars Corinna Burns and Leah Walton alongside the red-hot local performer John Lumia.