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Philadelphia Spotlight: January 2008

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Robert Prosky
If you've been home for the holidays, it's time to go out on the town where Philadelphia's theaters are offering a smorgasbord of delicious theater fare for audiences to savor this month.

Both stages at the busy Walnut Street Theatre are being put to good use. On the Walnut's mainstage is Arthur Miller's widely-praised drama The Price (January 15-March 2). The tale of two estranged brothers who are reunited after 16 years to settle their father's estate features two-time Tony Award nominee Robert Prosky and his real-life sons Andy and John Prosky. In their Independence Studio on 3 is Rick Foster's bio-drama Vivien (January 15-February 3), with Drama Desk Award nominee Janis Stevens as the enigmatic film and stage star Vivien Leigh. The solo play focuses on Leigh's combustible marriage to Laurence Olivier, her love/hate relationship with Hollywood, and Leigh's dream of finding lasting critical acclaim as a great stage actress.

Christopher Innvar and Telly Leung will star in the Philadelphia Theatre Company's production of David Henry Hwang's M. Butterfly (January 18-February 24). The play, which won the 1988 Tony Award, is inspired by a true story, and tells the tale of a French diplomat who falls in love with a Chinese opera singer who is much more than she seems. The cast will also include Jared Michael Delaney, Doan Ly, Anne Marie Nest, Larry Petersen, and Susan Wilder.

The Lantern Theater Company is offering patrons a remounting of Anthony's Lawton's imaginative adaptation of C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters (January 2-13). Starring Lawton and Genevieve Perrier, the multi-disciplinary production incorporates tap dancing, fire-eating, and highly-stylized movement sequences to bring to life Lewis' cautionary tale of moral corruption and impiety.

The newly-formed Mauckingbird Theatre Company debuts with a unique all-male production of Moliere's The Misanthrope (January 10-February 2), starring Dito van Reigersberg, best known as co-founder of the Pig Iron Theatre Company and one of the area's most compelling actors.

The Arden Theatre Company continues its 20th anniversary season with the world premiere of David Davalos' Wittenberg (January 17-March 16). Set in 1519, Davalos' play imagines a battle of wits between Wittenberg University professors Dr. John Faustus and Dr. Martin Luthur and a certain Danish prince named Hamlet. The production stars award-winning local actors Greg Wood and Scott Greer.

Presented in cooperation between Philadelphia's Kimmel Center and the Shubert Organization, the Cadillac Broadway Series is offering theatergoers a trio of productions to choose from this month, beginning with the return of the legendary rock musical Rent (January 4-6) at the Academy of Music. Next up is the theatrical Beatles experience Rain (January 15-20), a multi-media production featuring nearly 200 of the Beatles' songs. Meanwhile, the historic Forrest Theatre will host the Philadelphia debut of the hilariously impertinent Broadway hit Avenue Q (January 29-February 10).

Finally, the Bristol Riverside Theatre will present Welcome Home, Marian Anderson (January 22-February 10), a compelling musical focusing on the life of Philadelphia-born singer, written by and starring Vanessa Shaw.

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