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Philadelphia Spotlight: March 2008

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Avi Hoffman
The Walnut Street Theatre and South Florida's New Vista Theatre Company are teaming to present Neil Simon's popular Tony Award winning hit The Odd Couple, March 11-April 27. A hugely funny domestic comedy about a disheveled sportswriter and his neurotically tidy roommate, director Bill Van Horn's production stars Broadway vets Avi Hoffman as the not entirely housebroken Oscar and Gary Marachek as his persnickety roommate Felix.

Act II Playhouse presents the world premiere of Jeff Baron's poignant comedy Brothers-In-Law, March 11-April 6. Focusing on a pair of in-laws who meet at a relative's funeral, director Harriet Power's production stars Barrymore Award winners Kraig Swartz and Tom McCarthy.

August Wilson explores a family's history and its impact on their present and future in his riveting drama The Piano Lesson (Arden Theatre Company, March 6-April 6). Part of the late playwright's epic 10 play cycle investigating the African-American experience in 20th century America, the production is directed by Walter Dallas, a longtime associate of Wilson's who earlier helmed the world premiere of the playwright's Seven Guitars at Chicago's Goodman Theatre.

The Wilma Theater presents A Conversation with Tom Stoppard on Saturday, March 8 when the Tony Award winning playwright drops in for an-depth discussion of his latest work Rock n' Roll (which is currently playing to wide critical acclaim on Broadway) with Wilma co-artistic director Blanka Zizka. A dazzling blend of politics and music, the play will make its Philadelphia debut as part of the Wilma's 2008-9 season.

One of the greatest musicals of all time graces the stage at the Academy of Music when My Fair Lady arrives in Center City for a limited engagement, March 11-16. The celebrated new production from Cameron Mackintosh and the National Theatre of Great Britain was a rousing success in London garnering five Olivier Awards including outstanding musical production. Marni Nixon, who was the singing voice for Audrey Hepburn's Eliza in the film version of the Lerner and Loewe tuner, portrays Mrs. Higgins. Following Lady at the Academy is the beloved musical Annie. The world's favorite orphan is in town for a brief run March 21-23.

Michael Frayne's elegantly-constructed drama Copenhagen (March 11-30) is the spring offering from Bristol Riverside Theatre. A fascinating study of friendship and moral responsibility, the story focuses on a pair of nuclear researchers involved in the race to develop the world's first atomic weapon. If you enjoy smart, involving theater, then Copenhagen is well worth a visit.

The Philadelphia Theatre Company continues its inaugural season at the company's magnificent Suzanne Roberts Theatre with Wendy Wasserstein's Third (March 21-April 20). Directed by Mary B. Robinson, the play chronicles the story of a college professor (played by Lizbeth McKay) who finds her liberal beliefs challenged by a student who the teacher suspects is guilty of plagiarism.

The Lantern Theater concludes its successful season with William Shakespeare's legendary tragedy Othello (March 28-May 4). Director Charles McMahon's production stars Frank X in the title role and Barrymore Award winner Peter Pryor (who gave a thrilling performance in the Lantern's staging of Richard III) as the villainous Iago.


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