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Philadelphia Spotlight: July 2009

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Taylor Hicks in Grease
(© Larry Busacca)
Old school rock n' roll takes over the Academy of Music July 7-19 with the arrival of the national tour of Grease. American Idol winner Taylor Hicks plays Teen Angel in the Tony nominated revival that features songs from the 1978 movie soundtrack including "Sandy" and the classic "Hopelessly Devoted to You."

Philadelphia itself is the focus of the new comedy revue City of Nutterly Love: Funny as Bell at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre (July 8-August 22). A world premiere collaboration between Philadelphia Theatre Company and Chicago's legendary improv troupe The Second City, Nutterly Love blends songs, improvisation, and sketch comedy to poke fun at such Philly institutions as Betsy Ross, the Mummers, and the nation's symbol of freedom and poor workmanship the Liberty Bell. No area company has a longer, busier season than Malvern's People's Light & Theatre Company which continues their 2008-9 campaign with Deborah Zoe Laufer's outrageous comedy End Days (July 8-August 2). Directed by Jackson Gay, Laufer's tale of acceptance and family focuses on a born-again Christian, her depressed husband, and their atheist daughter who is being courted by a neighbor with an Elvis Presley fixation.

The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival continues their summer season with a pair of new productions from the Bard. In PSF's Shubert Theatre is Shakespeare's frolicsome comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream (July 8-August 2) while on the larger mainstage, the terrific Greg Wood stars in Shakespeare's rarely produced tale of passion and politics Antony & Cleopatra (July 15-August 2). Commonwealth Classic Theatre Company will tour the area's parks with its own outdoor production of A Midsummer Night's Dream (July 9-25). The large cast is led by Andrew Gorrell as the mischievous Puck.

Philadelphia theater grows by one company when Room6 Theatre makes their professional debut with Tape (July 22-August 2). A dangerous battle of wills from playwright Stephen Belber, Tape is the story of a reunion between two old high school buddies that is anything but affable. The city's premier new play development organization PlayPenn concludes their fifth annual New Play Development Conference with free staged readings of six new works, July 23-26. Featuring several of the area's top actors, among the works making their public debut is the unique love story Ghost-Writer, which springs from the pen of the city's hottest dramatist Michael Hollinger.

Finally, for the eighth consecutive summer, the Hedgerow Theatre presents the work of playwright Ray Cooney with their production of Cooney and co-writer Tony Hilton's farce One for the Pot (July 10-August 30). Directed by Jared Reed (who helmed Hedgerow's delightful staging of Cooney's Funny Money in 2004), the story focuses on a battle for a wealthy mill owner's large inheritance.

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