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Philadelphia Spotlight: October 2009

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Jennifer Childs, Susan Riley Stevens, and Karen Peakes
in The First Day of School
(© Mark Garvin)
In celebration of Edgar Allan Poe's 200th birthday, Brat Productions presents the world premiere of Haunted Poe (October 1-November 1). Staged in a 10,000 square-foot spook house, creator/director Madi Distefano's frightful show draws on such Poe classics as "The Raven" and "The Tell-tale Heart" to offer audiences a multisensory, interactive experience that illuminates both the terror and beauty of Poe's tales. 1812 Productions opens their season with the world premiere of Billy Aronson's sexual romp The First Day of School (October 1-25). Aronson's farce focuses on a group of bored suburbanites whose search for excitement leads them into their neighbors' bedrooms while the kids are off at school.

Cirque du Soleil's Alegria returns to Philly at Temple University's Liacouras Center, October 13-16. Visually dazzling (Dominique Lemieux's costumes are a sight to behold), the show's new "arena" staging includes two especially wondrous acts: the breathtaking aerial ballet "Russian Bars" and the fast-paced "Power Track," in which a group of athletic tumblers perform daring routines on a trapeze hidden in the stage floor. The New York Musical Theatre Festival hit The Kids Left. The Dog Died. Now What? opens the 50th anniversary season at the Society Hill Playhouse, October 14-November 22. Penned by Carole Lonner (book, music, lyrics), the 90-minute musical presents humorous scenarios about a variety of characters approaching their twilight years.

Luna Theater Company has built its reputation presenting dark comedies, and Allison Moore's new play Slasher (October 18-November 14) fits the bill. An entry at the 2009 Humana Festival, the play concerns an aspiring actress who (over her mother's protestations) accepts the role of the sexy female victim in an especially gruesome slasher flick. InterAct Theatre Company opens their 22nd season with Kristoffer Diaz's The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (October 23-November 22). Inspired by the rhythms of hip-hop, Diaz's play is set in the world of pro wrestling where the All-American champ is preparing to do battle with the villainous challenger Vigneshwar Paduar. A biting satire exploring issues ranging from nationalistic zeal to global terrorism, the production is helmed by acclaimed director Seth Rozin.

Flashpoint Theatre Company opens their new campaign at The Adrienne Theater's 2nd Stage with the Philly premiere of Peter Shinn Nachtrieb's boom (October 28-November 21). The play focuses on a spirited student and mild-mannered biologist who just may be humanity's last chance. Nachtrieb is also represented this month on The Adrienne's mainstage where Theatre Exile is presenting the red-hot playwright's acclaimed black comedy Hunter Gatherers (October 29-November 22). A shockingly theatrical drama about a group of upwardly mobile urbanites, the play explores the savagery that lurks beneath our civilized veneer.

Azuka Theatre gets audiences in the mood for the winter holidays with their staging of Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paula Vogel's The Long Christmas Ride Home (October 29-November 15). An innovative story about a family's fateful Christmas Eve drive to Grandma's house, the play imaginatively mixes puppets and live actors in a provocative investigation of the quintessential American family.

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