Locally produced musical highlights include the landmark rock musical Rent (November 5-21), co-presented by 11th Hour Theatre Company and Drexel University. Putting a modern twist on Puccini's opera La Boheme, Jonathan Larson's emotionally-charged tale concerns a community of friends attempting to find their way in the early days of the AIDS epidemic. Meanwhile, The Philadelphia Theatre Company opens their mainstage season with the Tony Award winning musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (November 12-December 12). Created by composer and lyricist William Finn, the tuner is the rare show that both adults and children will find impossible to resist.
The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts presents Tectonic Theater Project's The Laramie Residency (November 11-13). The doubleheader includes Tectonic's groundbreaking docu-drama The Laramie Project and the new companion play The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later in which the company members revisit the small town of Laramie, Wyoming a decade after the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard horrified the nation.
Lantern Theater opens their season with Anton Chekhov's classic tragicomedy Uncle Vanya (through November 21). The story focuses on the long held resentments and secret longings among the members of a Russian family who are reunited at their once glorious pastoral family estate. In conjunction with their production, Lantern hosts a mini Chekhov Festival (November 5-7) with special pre-show performances of the playwright's short farces, as well as discussions with Chekhov scholars and even a Russian themed dinner party.
InterAct Theatre Company returns for a 23rd season with the world premiere of Silverhill (through November 14). The latest from Thom Gibbons (a local playwright who captured a Barrymore Award for Permanent Collection), the play focuses on the uneasy relationship between money and religion. The hard-hitting drama concerns a Christian community that's social fabric is threatened when a young member proposes the leaders reject their current practice of communal wealth-sharing in favor of a new capitalist economic system.
Theatre Exile returns for another season with the Philly premiere of Sheila Callaghan's magnificently creative genre-defying work That Pretty Pretty: or, The Rape Play (November 11-December 5). Focusing on a pair of ex-strippers who embark on rough n' tumble road trip, the play is an explosive investigation of sexual identity and misogynistic stereotypes.