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Philadelphia Spotlight: January 2009

Streetcar Scene logo
Jeffrey Coon and Susan Riley Stevens
in A Streetcar Named Desire
(© Mark Garvin)
This January, Philadelphia's theaters are offering an impressive assortment of shows to help you ward off the post-holiday blues. In 1947, Philadelphia audiences were the first to get a glimpse of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire when the play debuted at the Walnut Street Theatre prior to its Broadway run. In celebration of its 200th anniversary the Walnut returns to Williams' masterpiece (January 13-March 1) with a new production directed by Malcolm Black. Local actor Jeffrey Coon portrays the brutish Stanley, a role forever associated with the play's original star Marlon Brando. Meanwhile, the Walnut's intimate Independence Studio on 3 continues its season with Bill Van Horn's O Captain, My Captain: Whitman's Lincoln (January 20-February 8). Starring and authored by Van Horn, the new one man play examines the legacy of President Abraham Lincoln through the eyes of the great poet Walt Whitman.

Fans of American Idol should rush to the Academy of the Music where 2003 Idol winner Ruben Studdard takes the stage in the rollicking musical revue Ain't Misbehavin' (January 9-11). Featuring music by the legendary "Fats" Waller, Studdard stars alongside fellow Idol alums Frenchie Davis and Trenyce Cobbins. Presented as part of the Kimmel Center's Broadway Series; the 30th anniversary edition of Misbehavin' is helmed by the show's original Tony Award winning director Richard Maltby Jr. Also at the Kimmel, Give My Regards to Broadway makes its premiere at the cozy Innovation Studio (January 8-February 1). Conceived and produced by Howard Perloff, the new musical revue recounts the evolution of tap dance in America. Including 20 songs from the likes of Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and Cole Porter, the production is helmed by Philly's top song and dance man Tony Braithwaite.

In its first year, the young Mauckingbird Theatre Company has already presented a tender production of R&J and a sensational all-male staging of The Misanthrope. This month the city's hottest company presents a new adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's classic Hedda Gabler (January 10-29) from playwright Caroline Kava that explores lesbian relationships and sexual identity in a chauvinistic society divided by class and gender. The enterprising Luna Theater Company presents Craig Wright's dark comedy Orange Flower Water (January 22-February 14), which focuses on two dysfunctional families in small town Minnesota. Gregory Campbell -- who staged a gripping production of Wright's drama Grace last season at Luna -- returns to direct. The Philadelphia Theatre Company opens 2009 with Daniel Beaty's newest work Resurrection (January 23-February 22). One of the strongest voices in American theater, Beaty's drama looks at a community of men whose lives are transformed by a 10-year-old boy.

The Arden Theatre Company presents a new production for teens and adults with the world premiere of My Name is Asher Lev. Based on Chaim Potok's book, the adaptation by Aaron Posner (who also directs) focuses on a young Hassidic man whose desire to pursue his artistic talent threatens to tear his family apart.


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