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Philadelphia Spotlight: June 2010

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Moya Angela in Dreamgirls
(© Joan Marcus)
Theater is busting out all over this June in the City of Brotherly Love as Philadelphia area stages offer a full plate of shows for both locals and visitors to enjoy.

This month the Kimmel Center's Broadway Season and producer John Breglio present a limited engagement of the soaring musical Dreamgirls at the Academy of Music (June 22-27). The backstage story of a female African-American pop trio, the production stars the talented Moya Angela as the burgeoning superstar Effie.

Also at the Academy of Music in June is the smash musical comedy Avenue Q (June 18-20). The winner of three Tony Awards, the irreverent musical employs puppets to portray the characters in a struggling big city neighborhood. Rick Lyon's puppets are the onstage stars in the tuner, but the show's real stars are Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx's hilarious and charming songs.

InterAct Theatre Company wraps up their hugely successful 2009-10 season with the area premiere of Frank Higgins' Black Pearl Sings! (through June 27). Set in 1935 Texas, the play focuses on a Caucasian song collector for the Library of Congress and her relationship with an African-American convict named Pearl. The collector visits Pearl (who is imprisoned on a murder charge) in the hope of rediscovering the ancient folk songs and spirituals that only Pearl remembers. Featuring numerous a cappella versions of the old songs Pearl recalls, the new play investigates cultural authenticity and the plight of black women in a white man's world.

The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival opens their four show season with J. M. Synge's magnificent comedy The Playboy of the Western World (June 16-July 3). Directed by Barrymore Award winner James J. Christy, the play concerns a young stranger who murders a man and is proclaimed a hero by the citizens of a small Irish town. A darkly humorous and richly romantic play that caused riots on Dublin's streets when it debuted in 1904, Playboy is an example of Irish storytelling at its best. On PSF's main stage is director Dennis Razze's production of the Stephen Sondheim-Burt Shevelove-Larry Gelbart musical comedy A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum (June 23-July 11). A winner of six Tony Awards in 1962, Forum is the perfect escapist entertainment for a warm summer evening.

People's Light and Theatre Company seeks to delight audiences of all ages with the world premiere of Richard Hellesen's The Emperor's New Clothes. Adapted from Hans Christian Anderson's famous tale about a preposterously vain ruler and his timid subjects, Hellesen's script pays homage to the humor of Abbot and Costello and the Marx Brothers. The madcap production stars Barrymore Award winner Pete Pryor and features 50 handmade puppets from the talented designer Martina Plag.

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