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Philadelphia Spotlight: June 2007

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Charlotte Northeast and Joe Guzman in Skin in Flames
(© InterAct Theatre Company)
The Philadelphia Gay & Lesbian Theatre Festival (June 14-30) is back for a fifth year with an intriguing program of Philly premieres, readings, and a new take on a classic comedy. The festival kicks off with Heart & Music: An Evening of William Finn (June 14-30), a musical retrospective from the composer of Falsettos, Elegies and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Other shows include a contemporary re-imagining of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest (June 21-29), James Still's family drama Iron Kisses (June 16-29), Richard Kramer's exploration of self-acceptance Theatre District (June 19-30), and internationally-renowned playwright/performer Tim Miller's solo work Us (June 24-25), as well as a staged reading of Dan Martin and Michael Biello's new musical Gay and Lesbian Grimms (June 23).

The Interact Theatre Company examines the divide between First and Third World nations in Guillem Clua's graphic drama Skin in Flames (through June 24). Set in an unnamed country decimated by a brutal civil war, the play investigates the relationship between those in power and those in desperate need.

Baby Boomers can break out that old psychedelic shirt when the Prince Music Theater mounts a revival of the 1968 pop-rock musical Hair (through June 17). In this new production, director Richard Parison moves the action to Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square where a gang of youths celebrate the dawning of a new era with songs such as "Aquarius" and "Good Morning Starshine."

The popular alternative-theater company rainpan 43 takes a unique look at technology in machines, machines, machines, machines, machines, machines, machines (through June 17), which concerns three paranoid men who attempt to simplify their lives by wiring their home with a vast array of crudely constructed gadgets. Freedom Repertory Theatre, the city's largest African-American company, offers a new production of Lydia Diamond's stage adaptation of Toni Morrison's celebrated novel The Bluest Eye (June 1-17). The story of an 11-year-old black girl who wishes for blue eyes, this powerful and poignant tale displays the harmful effects of racism on a young child and her family.

The decidedly quirky Vagabond Acting Troupe returns with a creative revival of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (June 7-24), featuring eight actors playing multiple characters. Moreover, Vagabond's staging of the classic tragedy is so spare that the entire set literally fits into a single trunk.

Philly sports memories are recalled in Bruce Graham's hilarious comedy The Philly Fan, starring the terrific Tom McCarthy, which returns to Theatre Exile for a brief run (June 13-June 17).

People's Light & Theatre Company ends its mainstage season with Charlotte Jones' intimate comedy Humble Boy (June 20-July 15), about an astrophysicist attempting to contend with his chaotic family. This production is directed by Ken Marini and stars Peter Pryor, who captured a 2006 Barrymore Award for his deliriously entertaining performance as Richard III at the Lantern Theater Company.

Finally, the Wilma Theater highlights Philly's contemporary dance scene in the sixth annual DanceBoom festival (through June 17). This year's line-up includes three dance programs as well as a mini-festival of short films and documentaries. Program headliners include the innovative local company Group Motion, the Hip-Hop troupe Chosen Dance Company and the current darlings of Philly dance Ballet X.

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