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Philadelphia Spotlight: June 2008

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Jim Brochu and Steve Schalchlin in
The Big Voice: God or Merman?
(© Ed Krieger)
This June, the Philly theater scene is busting out all over. The Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival (June 13-28) celebrates its sixth year with six productions focusing on the experiences of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender Americans. Festival highlights include Dan Martin and Michael Biello's terrific little musical Q (June 18-28), which made a big splash at the 2002 Philly Fringe and Jim Brochu and Steve Schalin's amusing musical look at gay marriage The Big Voice: God or Merman (June 13 & 14). Also at PGLTF is Susan Miller's one woman play My Left Breast (June 22-28), Keith Bunin's popular tale of a minister and her gay son The Busy World is Hushed (June 20-27), David Sisco's award-winning comedy about the perils of gay dating Bait (June 20-22), and Facing East (June 17-26), a disturbing exploration of suicide among young gay men from playwright Carol Lynn Pearson.

The Prince Music Theater wraps up its 2007-8 campaign with what the company is touting as the first revival of the 1957 Harold Arlen (music) and Yip Harburg (lyrics) musical Jamaica (thru June 22). A comic fable about a Caribbean girl who dreams of coming to America, the production features a new refreshed book from Claudia Perry and the choreographic talents of the very hot local dancer/choreographer Tania Isaac.

The national tour of The Color Purple makes its' first visit to Philly this month when the recent Broadway smash takes the stage at the Academy of Music, June 17-July 13. Based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize winning novel and Steven Spielberg's moving film, the score by composers/lyricists Brenda Russell, Alice Willis and Stephen Bray combines blues, jazz, gospel, and pop in the story of one woman's triumph over adversity.

InterAct Theatre Company concludes its 20th anniversary season with the world premiere of Larry Loebell's House, Divided (thru June 22). The family drama looks at America's long and complicated relationship with the nation of Israel through the eyes of two brothers who are divided by their disparate political and religious beliefs.

People's Light & Theatre Company in Malvern exposes the terrifying reality of genocide in Sonja Linden's poignant drama I Have before Me a Remarkable Document Given to me by a Young Lady from Rwanda (thru June 22). Set in 1994 London and starring the wonderful Miriam Hyman, the play focuses on a young Rwandan refugee who along with a British novelist discovers the healing power in storytelling.

Once again Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival is offering a number of entertainment options on their two stages beginning with Jim Helsinger's one-actor adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker (June 11-29), and Barrymore Award winning director James J. Christy's production of Shakespeare's comedy Twelfth Night (June 18-July 6), starring the remarkable local thespian Pete Pryor.

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