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Philadelphia Spotlight: May 2009

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Ben Lipitz, Ben Dibble and Amy Bodnar
star in The Producers
(© Mark Garvin)
A huge number of new productions are featured in town this month, as Philadelphia's theater companies look to conclude their respective seasons on a winning note.

The Walnut Street Theatre wraps up their 200th anniversary season with Mel Brooks' blockbuster musical The Producers (May 12-July 19). The amusing and tuneful show concerns a conniving Broadway impresario who plans on getting rich by producing the world's worst musical. If you want to forget every care you have in the world this irresistible musical is for you. The cast is led by Ben Lipitz as Max Bialystock, Ben Dibble as Leo Bloom, and Amy Bodnar as Ulla.

The Philadelphia Theatre Company continues their successful mainstage season with the Tony Award winning musical Grey Gardens (May 22-June 28). The first Broadway musical ever adapted from a documentary, Gardens is the riches-to-rags story of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy's eccentric cousin and aunt. The production stars Kim Carson, who won a Barrymore Award winner last season for her shrewd performance in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

This spring Inis Nua Theatre Company continues their mission of presenting contemporary Irish playwrights with the company's staging of Mark O'Rowe's violent comedy Made in China (The Adrienne, May 12-24). Set in a fictional Dublin underworld, the play is a dark and deadly funny work from one of Ireland's top dramatists. Flashpoint Theatre Company presents the local premiere of Douglas Carter Beane's sharp-witted satire The Little Dog Laughed (May 6-30), which follows the story of a gay film actor who has a shot at stardom but only if he stays in the closet.

The Arden Theatre Company celebrates Christmas in May with their season-ending production of Conor McPherson's unnerving drama The Seafarer (May 13-June 14). When a mysterious guest arrives at a Christmas Eve poker game, the stakes of the card game unexpectedly become a matter of life and death. The Wilma Theater wraps-up their 2008-9 campaign with Terry Johnson's rambunctious comedy Hysteria (May 13-June 14), a frenetic story of misunderstandings and mishaps that investigates the unusual relationship between Sigmund Freud and his greatest fan Salvador Dali.

If you are looking for something different this month check out the dance musical Movin' Out at the Academy of Music (May 15-17). Presented as part of the Kimmel Center's Broadway Series, the unique show features 24 classic Billy Joel tunes and the expressive choreography of Twyla Tharp. Meanwhile, the enterprising 11th Hour Theatre Company stages the doo-wop musical Avenue X (Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival Theater, May 29-June 21), featuring a rare A Cappella score. The musical concerns two singers confronted by racism in 1963 Brooklyn.

One of the area's most respected presenters of children's shows, People's Light & Theatre Company, presents the world premiere of talented playwright Y. York's Eggs (through May 24). Based on local author Jerry Spinelli's novel, Eggs is the magical story of two unhappy children and their relationship with an unusually adventurous refrigerator repairman.

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