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Philadelphia Spotlight: January 2011

A Miserables Time

Lawrence Clayton in Les Misérables (© Deen van Meer)
In its 25 year history Les Miserables (January 4-15) has been a frequent visitor to Philadelphia, but it has never looked like this. Hailed by London's critics, the 25th anniversary tour features new orchestrations, direction, staging, lighting, and scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo to create a re-imagined production that is not to be missed.

The Arden Theatre Company begins the new year with Eugene O'Neill's powerful yet intimate drama A Moon for the Misbegotten (January 6-February 27). Directed by Matt Pfeiffer, the production stars Grace Gonglewski as the memorable heroine Josie Hogan and Eric Hissom as the pitiable drunken wanderer James Tyrone Jr.

Philadelphia Theatre Company continues its' mission of presenting provocative American plays with their production of David Mamet's 2009 Broadway drama Race (January 21-February 13). The first production since the play's Broadway run, the show focuses on three lawyers (two black, one white) who are embroiled in a startling case with troubling racial implications.

The underpublicized Philadelphia Irish Theatre Festival continues with Inis Nua Theatre Company's staging of Abbie Spallen's Pumpgirl (January 11-23). One of Ireland's most engaging young playwrights, Spallen spins the tale of a married man in rural Ireland who finds himself the object of a young tomboy's affections. The Lantern Theater Company likewise takes part in the festival with their production of Martin McDonagh's A Skull in Connemera (January 13-February 6). Focusing on a small town widower who works busting up old bones to make way for the local cemetery's newest residents, the play has an unsettling quality that makes it one of McDonagh's most haunting and memorable works.

Bristol Riverside Theatre rings in 2011 with a new adaption of the classic children's story The Little Prince (January 25-February 13). Featuring puppets created by award winning designer Michael Schupbach of Jim Henson's Muppet Workshop, this charming tale for children of all ages concerns a small prince who learns important lessons about love and individuality as he travels through the universe.

Few plays have offered as incisive an exploration of artistic genius as Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, which opens this month on the main stage at The Walnut Street Theatre (January 26-March 6). The winner of the Tony Award for best play in 1981, the play focuses on the feud between the able Viennese court composer Antonio Salieri and his young, arrogant, and undeniably brilliant rival Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.


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