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Philadelphia Spotlight: March 2010

Universal Soldier's logo
Edward Furs, Ephraim Lopez, and Nick Anselmo
in Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue
(© Tom Miller)
This March, Philadelphia area theaters pick up the pace in a month filled with new plays and old favorites bound to delight any theatergoer.

Past and present collide in Quiara Algeria Hudes' Elliot, A Soldier's Fugue which is running at the Walnut Street Theatre's Independence Studio on 3, through March 14. A 2007 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Fugue concerns a young Philadelphian who returns from war with a purple heart. Uniquely poetic and surprising moving, the play reveals both the destructive nature of war and the healing power of family. The Walnut's production marks the first time that Hudes (who is best known as the librettist of the Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights) has had her work produced in her hometown.

Disney's The Lion King makes its long awaited return this month at the Academy of Music (March 23-April 24). Based on the popular animated film, director Julie Taymor's stage version is a masterpiece of theatrical innovation and a show that is equally enjoyable for all theatergoers regardless of age.

The well respected local performer Mary Martello portrays a host of favorite fairytale characters in 1812 Productions' world premiere Happily Ever After (March 4-28), putting her own unique spin on such classic tales as "Hansel and Gretel," "Cinderella," and "Sleeping Beauty."

For the first time in their 35-year history, People's Light & Theatre Company tackles Shakespeare's King Lear (March 3-28). Considered by many the greatest play in the English language, the epic tragedy investigates one man's quest to hold his family and kingdom together. Longtime PLTC member Graham Smith performs the title role.

The Walnut Street Theatre continues its season with a production of Noel Coward's Fallen Angels (March 16-May 2). Featuring Coward's legendary wit, the work focuses on best friends Jane and Julia whose friendship (not to mention marriages) is severely stressed when the pair battle over a debonair (and very French) ex-boyfriend. A marvelously sly comedy that shocked audience's when it debuted, the Walnut's powerhouse cast includes real-life married actors Susan Riley Stevens and Greg Wood.

The Wilma Theater presents the world premiere of Yussef El Guindi's black comedy Language Rooms (March 10-April 4). In this piece, the author of the spectacularly subversive Jihad Jones and the Kalashnikov Babes now follows a young immigrant who is living the American Dream. A mix of dark humor and suspense, Rooms pointedly explores the potential abuses of fanatical patriotism and misplaced loyalty.

The Bristol Riverside Theatre gives audiences a unique theatrical treat with the local debut of Bridget Carpenter's poignant drama Up (March 16-April 4). Starring the terrific Benjamin Lloyd and featuring the very talented young actress Laura C. Giknis, the play follows an everyman turned adventurer who ties a weather balloon to the back of his lawn chair and embarks on a solo flight equipped with nothing more than a BB gun and a beer.

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