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Philadelphia Spotlight: July 2010

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Rob Belushi, Brooke Bagnall, Tim Ryder, Abby McEnany,
and Rachel Miller of The Second City
(© Michael Brosilow)
Summer theater is in full swing this July with a multitude of appealing shows opening throughout the region.

Chicago's unpredictable comedy troupe The Second City (which includes Gilda Radnor and Bill Murray among its esteemed alumni) returns to Philadelphia Theatre Company July 13-25. This new production features songs, sketches and improvisations from throughout the company's 50 year history.

Act II Playhouse presents local playwright Larry McKenna's romantic comedy Burt & Me (July 6-August 1). Featuring 20 songs by Burt Bacharach (including "Walk on By" and "Close to You"), the show is the story of high school sweethearts with a shared passion for the composer's music.

Many of Philly's top performers are in Center Valley, Pa this month at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Theatre. In the intimate Schubert Theatre PSF is presenting Shakespeare's boisterous comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor (July 14-August 8). On the Main Stage, you can treat yourself to the Bard's Romeo and Juliet (July 21-August 8); it's being directed by celebrated fight choreographer Dennis Razze so expect plenty of fancy swordplay in Shakespeare's tragic tale of young love.

The new company Temple Repertory Theater makes its debut with rotating productions of Anton Chekhov's sensational dark comedy Three Sisters (July 3-August 1) and William Shakespeare's masterpiece Measure for Measure (July 6-July 30). Both productions feature outstanding casts of Temple MFA students. Comprised of professional actors, the ensemble includes the versatile Barrymore Award winner Genevieve Perrier and the dynamic Obie Award winning actress Yvette Ganier, who recently appeared in the Broadway revival of The Miracle Worker.

People's Light & Theatre Company takes a journey to that famous abode on Baker Street when PLTC presents Jeremy Paul's original play The Secret of Sherlock Holmes (July 7-August 8). A writer for the popular TV series Sherlock Holmes, Paul's new work focuses on the relationship between Holmes (Peter DeLaurier, who was terrific as the detective in PLTC's 2008 staging of Sherlock Holmes & The Case of the Jersey Lily) and Dr. Watson (Mark Lazar).

The city's premiere new play development organization PlayPenn gives audience's a first look at six new plays with readings of the new work as part of its Playpenn 2010 Playwrights Conference. This year's group of plays includes local dramatist Nicholas Wardigo's drama of political and marital upheaval Hum (July 26) as well as Etched in Skin on a Sunlight Night, an investigation of latent racism by Kara Lee Corthron (July 24), which will receive a full production next season at Philly's InterAct Theatre Company. Other plays include Dan Dietz's Clementine in the Lower Nine (July 24), set in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, James J. Christy's Love and Communication about a couple and their autistic son (July 25), Samuel D. Hunter's story of a dangerously obese essayist The Whale (July 23), and Charlotte Miller's look at 21st century family life Raising Jo (July 26).

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