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Philadelphia Spotlight: September 2010

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Kerri Rose, David Hess and Toni Elizabeth White in Curtains
(© Mark Garvin)
A pair of festivals and the opening of the city's subscriber-based companies provide an abundance of options to select from in September.

Theatergoers can gorge themselves on adventurous theater at the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe, which together present over 200 live arts productions from September 3-18, the vast majority of them representing the cutting edge in contemporary theater. Although they run concurrently, the festivals differ slightly.

The Live Arts festival is an invitation only event that features some of the world's most acclaimed artists in dance and theater. Among the highlights is the Obie-award winning local troupe Pig Iron Theatre Company's latest work Cankerblossom, an all-ages show which runs September 1-18 at Christ Church. Inspired by A Midsummer Night's Dream, the story focuses on a couple who discover a cardboard baby on their front stoop. When the baby is stolen away to a land where everything is flat, the three-dimensional couple must venture into a magical two-dimensional world to retrieve their missing child.

The Fringe is an unfiltered extravaganza featuring both established and promising American theater and dance artists with a premium on Philly theater companies. As part of this festival, Mary Carpenter (best known for her work with the popular improvisational troupe Comedy Sportz and the esteemed company 1812 Productions) offers a humorous exploration of mourning in her solo comedy The New & Improved Stages of Grief (September 7-11). A journey through the grieving process, the play covers everything from cooking tuna casserole for the bereaved to how to write a heartfelt eulogy.

The Walnut Street Theatre kicks-off their 202nd season with the Broadway hit musical Curtains (September 15-October 24). Based on a book by Peter Stone with music and lyrics by the incomparable John Kander and Fred Ebb, the story focuses on the murder of a ridiculously untalented theater performer. A charming mix of mystery, romance, and showbiz, Curtains is a must for anyone who loves theater.

Bristol Riverside Theatre opens their 2010-2011 season with Jeffrey Hatcher's adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (September 28-October 17). Set on the fog shrouded streets of Victorian era London, Hatcher's version emphasizes the complexities of mankind's dual relationship with good and evil.

Dale Wasserman's 1963 stage adaptation of Ken Kesey's novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest serves as the opening play in People's Light and Theatre Company's new season (September 12-October 16). Inspired by Kesey's own experiences working in a mental health facility, the play is funnier than the Academy Award-winning 1975 film version, but no less profound. The highly acclaimed Philly actor William Zielinski stars as the renegade patient Randle P. McMurphy with the terrific Marcia Saunders joining him as the despotic Nurse Ratched.

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