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Philadelphia Spotlight: May 2010

Leaving Town logo
David Strathairn and Kathryn Meisle
in rehearsal for Leaving
(© Wilma Theater)
It is a big month on Philadelphia stages as many of the area's major theaters look to conclude their 2009-2010 season with a bang.

The Wilma Theater presents the U.S. premiere of former Czechoslovakia president Václav Havel's Leaving (May 19-June 20). Featuring a cast of 15 led by Academy Award nominee David Strathairn, Havel's political tragicomedy concerns a retired Chancellor attempting to maintain order in his increasingly eccentric household.

The Walnut Street Theatre welcomes spring with the rousing Broadway smash Fiddler on the Roof (May 18-July 18). Featuring a classic score including "If I Were a Rich Man" and "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" the production stars Mark Jacoby, who delivered a winning performance in the Walnut's 2007 staging of 42nd Street.

Running May 2-June 27 at the Walnut Street Theatre's Independence Studio on 3 is Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogart's charming show The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!). In this loving parody of Broadway musicals, a single story is retold from five separate musical perspectives. The distinctive styles represented include Rodgers and Hammerstein, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Chicago creators Kander and Ebb, Stephen Sondheim and the sensationally flamboyant Jerry Herman.

The Arden Theatre Company, the city's foremost presenter of Stephen Sondheim's work, concludes their season with Sunday in the Park with George (May 27-July 4). A compelling look at the creative process, director Terrence J. Nolen's production stars Jeffrey Coon and includes Michael Starobin's original orchestrations.

Philadelphia Theatre Company concludes their season with August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (May 21-June 13). Part of Wilson's ten-play cycle concerning the African American experience in 20th century America, the play focuses on the shameful exploitation of black recording artists in the music business. A landmark work in American theater, PTC's production stars Barrymore Award winner E. Faye Butler in the title role.

If you like Woody Allen you'll love 1812 Productions' new play An Evening Without Woody Allen, which is making its world premiere at Plays and Players Theater, through May 16. This program of Allen's short stories and essays is compiled by 1812's innovative artistic director Jennifer Childs, and the production (which features three actors reading Allen's words) sheds new insight on Allen's evolution as one of the nation's most revered and gifted comedy writers.

Newbery Award winning author Lois Lowry makes her playwriting debut with her adaptation of her own cherished children's book Gossamer at People's Light and Theatre Company (through May 23), one of the area's finest presenters of children's theater. Gossamer tells the story of a troubled young boy who finds courage in the power of pleasant dreams.

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