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Philadelphia Spotlight: January 2007

Sittin' Pretty logo
John Lumia and Jennifer Childs
in Dex & Julie Sittin' in a Tree
(© John Flak)
The Philadelphia area's theater companies are now moving into the second half of the 2006-7season, with a smattering of world premieres this month. Meanwhile, the major touring houses are playing host to a large array of enticing shows.

You can get an early peek at one of the entries in February's The Philadelphia New Play Festival when the Arden Theatre Company presents the world premiere of local playwright Bruce Graham's Dex & Julie Sittin' in a Tree (January 11-March 4). Inspired by an incident in Graham's life, the play concerns a pair of college sweethearts who meet up again years later. The Arden's production stars two of the city's hottest thespians John Lumia and Jennifer Childs, and two-time Barrymore Award winner and longtime Graham collaborator James J. Christy directs.

The Walnut Street Theatre takes a break from staging spectacular musicals with their production of John Steinbeck's gritty drama Of Mice and Men (January 16-March 4) about two migrant workers attempting to survive during the Great Depression. Director Mark Clements' production stars acclaimed local actors Scott Greer and Anthony Lawton.

The Philadelphia Theatre Company serves up the local premiere of the musical Nerds://A Musical Software Satire (January 25-February 25) with Jim Poulos and Charlie Pollack as technogeniuses Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Broadway veterans Philip Wm. McKinley and Joey McKneely direct and choreograph, respectively, this clever and tuneful musical.

John, Paul, George, and Ringo will call Philly home when the award-winning concert production Rain-The Beatles Experience occupies the stage at the elegant Academy of Music (January 4-7 and 11-14). Featuring a staggering song list of more than 200 Beatle tunes, the multi-media production spans the Fab Four's career from Ed Sullivan to Abbey Road. If Rain leaves you nostalgic for the 1960s, take heart: Mickey Dolenz, formerly of the TV pop group The Monkees, is tackling the role of Charlemagne in the national tour of Stephen Schwartz's much-loved musical Pippin at the Forrest Theatre (January 11-15).

It's not often Philadelphians get a chance to see a bona fide theater legend. In Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life (January 9-14), the two-time Tony Award winner recalls some of the biggest shows and personalities in theater history. Backed by a team of dancers, Rivera recreates moments from several of her greatest triumphs, including West Side Story, Chicago, and Kiss of the Spider Woman.

A legend of another sort, the inimitable Sandra Bernhard makes a rare visit when she brings her Off-Broadway hit Sandra Bernhard: Everything Bad and Beautiful to the Prince Music Theater (January 18-21). The provocative satirist shares her views on celebrities and politicians, examines the difficulties of juggling a showbiz career and motherhood, and covers tunes ranging from Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" to Prince's "I Would Die 4 U."

As a longtime company member at People's Light & Theatre Company, Peter DeLaurier is best known for his skills as an actor. But he is also a playwright of note, and this month PLTC is producing the world premiere of his adaptation of L.M. Montgomery's literary classic Anne of Green Gables (January 18-February 11). Montgomery's tale concerns a young girl who is reluctantly taken in by a stodgy brother and sister who need help running their small farm. It's the perfect family fare.

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