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Philadelphia Spotlight: October 2010

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Jaqueline Antaramian and CJ Wilson in Macbeth
(© Christopher Gabello)
This month many of the city's theaters kick-off their 2010-2011 campaign with an array of interesting (and in a few cases frightening) shows on tap.

Following the unexpected departure of the company's co-founder Jiri Zizka, the Wilma Theater begins its new era with director Blanka Zizka's staging of Macbeth (through November 7). The first production of a Shakespeare play in the Wilma's 31 year history, the production (which features a team of all-star designers) is set in a modern civilization that has been brought to the brink of ruin by war.

The Kimmel Center hosts the local debut of the Tony Award winning musical Jersey Boys, the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (through December 12). A blockbuster hit on Broadway, the production includes the classic pop songs "Sherry" and "Big Girls Don't Cry." Also at the Kimmel is Bruce Graham's The Philly Fan, (through October 31), and it's hard to recall a play that has captured the imagination of Philadelphia theatergoers as thoroughly. Updated by Graham for each new production, this story of a devoted Philadelphia sports fan (winningly played by Tom McCarthy) promises "50% more jokes" about ex-Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, who since leaving town has been replaced by the Eagles' newest controversial QB Michael Vick.

The Arden Theatre Company continues their season with director Terrence J. Nolen's staging of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's celebrated play with music The Threepenny Opera (through November 7). Surprisingly topical in light of the recent trouble in America's banking industry, Nolen's production uses the story of famed anti-hero Mack the Knife to explore the question of whether it is more corrupt to run a bank or to rob one.

Brat Productions (the company responsible for last fall's spectacularly eerie Haunted Poe) opens their season with Erik Jackson's unique adaptation of Stephen King's horror story Carrie (October 2-November 7). Starring drag performer Erik Ransom as the telekinetic title character, the production utilizes puppets and special effects to tell the story of a teenage girl who is shunned by her insensitive classmates.

Philadelphia Theatre Company opens with [email protected], a new play festival featuring five scripts from some of America's most esteemed playwrights (October 5-21). Each play focuses on a unique aspect of the American experience including Theresa Rebeck's story of a woman in a male-dominated architectural firm and the Tectonic Theater Project's look at the life and times of one of Philadelphia's most famous actresses, Charlotte Cushman.

1812 Productions begins its season with artistic director Jennifer Childs' Why I'm Scared of Dance by Jen Childs (Plays and Players Theater, October 7-31). To create this solo work about how we pass along our greatest fears to our offspring, Childs (who is best known for her comic pursuits) spent the past two years confronting her fear of dance with the help of several of Philadelphia's top dancers and choreographers.

Azuka Theatre returns from a summer hiatus with the local premiere of Jennifer Haley's drama Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom (Philadelphia Shakespeare Theater, October 14-31). Blurring the lines between the virtual and real worlds, the piece is a cautionary tale about a suburban couple whose child is addicted to a shockingly violent online game.

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