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Philadelphia Spotlight: April 2006

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Pete Pryor, Dave Jadico, and John Lopes in Richard III
(Photo © Sara Pauley)
It's an eclectic group of shows coming to Philadelphia this April, starting with The Lantern Theater Company's Richard III, which features Pete Pryor's gleefully corrupt portrayal of the hunchbacked monarch (through April 30). Over at the Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival, the Bard's The Tempest runs in repertory with both his Much Ado about Nothing and the modern-day comedy The Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged.

The Wilma Theater is giving theatergoers the opportunity to fully explore the world of another great British playwright, when the company stages a Caryl Churchill Festival (April 19-June 4). It features full productions of Churchill's masterwork Cloud 9 (April 19-May 28) and her more recent play, A Number (May 9-June 4), in which Churchill explores the ethics of cloning. In addition to the two full productions, there will be free readings of Churchill's plays Traps, Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, Top Girls, Fen and Far Away.

Philadelphians will finally get a taste of exciting playwright Tracy Letts' work when Theatre Exile presents his black comedy Killer Joe at the Adrienne (April 28-May 28). John Lumia stars as the title character, a cop and part-time assassin, who is hired to bump off a family's matriarch. The show is not for the squeamish.

Seth Rozin, who is best known in Philadelphia as the producing artistic director of InterAct Theatre Company, is also an accomplished playwright whose two previous plays Men of Stone and Missing Link captured Barrymore Award nominations for best new play. In his latest, Reinventing Eden (April 7-May 7), a brilliant scientist's eldest child has a genetically based mental disability while his youngest one is perfectly healthy -- thanks to his father's meddling. Rozin puts the audience in Tuttle's position, asking if a parent has the right to tamper with his child's genetic make-up.

This month also provides another opportunity to catch the Pig Iron Theatre Company's superb production of Adriano Shaplin's excruciatingly dark comedy Hell Meets Henry Halfway, loosely based on Witold Gombrowicz's gothic novel Possessed (April 11-16). The production features a number of memorable performances in the uniformly superb ensemble, and Matt Sanders' clever scenic design is the essence of theatrical adaptability.

The touring version of Rent is arriving at the Merriam Theater in May -- but if you can't wait for a taste of the late composer Jonathan Larson's work, you can view his musical tick, tick... BOOM! (April 12-29). Presented by the fledgling 11th Hour Theatre Company, this autobiographical tale focuses on a young composer struggling to hold on to his dream of becoming a musical theater artist.

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