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Philadelphia Spotlight: September 2008

Fun at the Fair logo
Joe Jackson and Cary Michelle Miller in State Fair
(© Dave Kapler)
This September, the Walnut Street Theatre begins its landmark 200th season with Rodgers and Hammerstein classic American musical State Fair (September 2-October 13). Featuring a splendid Academy Award winning score, the story focuses on a Midwestern family's three-day excursion to the Iowa State Fair. Director Bruce Lumpkin's production stars the charismatic Broadway veteran Mark Jacoby.

The Wilma Theater renews its' long and fruitful association with acclaimed playwright Tom Stoppard when the company starts its' 30th anniversary season with the playwright's Tony award nominated Rock n' Roll (September 17-October 26). An intellectually invigorating and theatrically satisfying examination of music and politics in Czechoslovakia (where Stoppard and the Wilma's co-artistic directors Blanka and Jiri Zizka were all born), the production stars Barnaby Carpenter as the graduate student Jan and David Chandler as his outspoken Marxist mentor Max.

The Arden Theatre Company kicks-off its 2008-2009 season with Leonard Bernstein's legendary musical Candide (September 11-October 19). In a departure from the original version, the Arden utilizes British dramatist John Caird's 1996 libretto that brings the musical closer to Voltaire's original story. The richness and beauty of Bernstein's score however remains intact, as do the magnificent lyrics from Richard Wilbur and a host of contributing lyricists including Stephen Sondheim, Lillian Hellman and Dorothy Parker.

The Azuka Theatre follows up its sizzling spring production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch -- recently recognized with five Barrymore Award nominations -- with director Kevin Glaccum's staging of Kid Simple: a radio play in the flesh (The Latvian Society, through September 13). Penned by the talented Jordan Harrison, the play is the story of a child prodigy who creates a machine capable of hearing the previously unheard. The adventurous EgoPo Productions' weighs in this month with Georg Buchner's avant-garde classic Woyzeck (The German Society, September 11-26). Dark and disturbing, the production begins EgoPo's year long Expressionist Theater Festival.

The Lantern Theater Company opens its 15th anniversary season with the Philadelphia premiere of Nobel Prize winning playwright Harold Pinter's frightening play The Hothouse (September 12-October 12). Penned in 1958, the rarely seen play focuses on a state-run "rest home" staffed by a group of oddly disturbing workers.

Continuing the trend of shows paying musical tribute to The Beatles is She Loves You, which occupies the stage at the Society Hill Playhouse for a 10-week engagement beginning September 24. A multi-media extravaganza that includes classic TV footage, vintage newsreel clips, and retro commercials, the performance is anchored by a Beatles look-alike foursome performing 30 of the Fab Four's biggest hits.

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