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Philadelphia Spotlight: April 2009

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Joel Rooks in Say Goodnight, Gracie
April is overflowing with new productions on Philadelphia's stages with an abundance of plays and musicals intended to delight theatergoers of all ages.

Broadway actor Joel Rooks will star as George Burns in the Tony Award nominated play Say Goodnight, Gracie, The Life, Laughter & Love of George Burns and Gracie Allen, featuring the pre-recorded voice of comedienne/actress Didi Conn as Allen. Appearing for a limited engagement through May 31 at the Society Hill Playhouse, Rupert Holmes' script recalls Burns' life from his career in vaudeville through his marriage to Allen and his late-life success as a film and TV star.

Temple Theaters presents the popular Kander and Ebb musical Cabaret at the Prince Music Theater (April 16-26). Insightful, entertaining, and at times disturbing, the acclaimed musical tells the story of a young American writer in Berlin during the early days of the Nazi party. Barrymore Award winner Sarah Doherty will play Sally Bowles, with Ross Beschler as the Emcee.

This month, Lantern Theater Company stages William Shakespeare's majestic tragedy Hamlet (April 3-May 10). Starring in the title role is Geoff Sobelle, who has made a name for himself as one of Philly's most innovative and adventurous theater artists. Theatre Exile concludes their season with a production of David Mamet's 1977 play American Buffalo (April 9-May 3). Set in a rundown pawn shop, the taut drama focuses on three men and their plan to steal a rare buffalo nickel. Noted performers Joe Canuso and Pete Pryor join newcomer Robert Daponte as the three fascinating and somewhat unlikely thieves.

The Arden Theatre Company continues its successful season with the world premiere of Bruce Graham's Something Intangible (April 9-June 7). A humorous look at the battle between artistic and financial pursuits in the film industry, the production stars the award winning actors Scott Greer and Ian Merrill Peakes.

Noted Philly actress Sarah Sanford makes her local directorial debut with the dance-theater work Appetite (April 30-May 3). Created by Sanford in collaboration with the Toronto based company The Exchange Rate Collective, Appetite blends text, song, and movement in the chilling story of a slaughterhouse worker attempting to escape his harsh reality.

One of the most beloved family films transfers to the stage with the appearance of the hit Broadway musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Academy of Music (April 7-12). The recipient of five Tony Award nominations, the music and lyrics are penned by the Sherman Brothers, who include among their credits the delightful Mary Poppins. A perfect theater outing for the entire family, the score includes such favorites as "Truly Scrumptious" and the Oscar nominated title song "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang."

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