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Philadelphia Spotlight: August 2009

Sinner Men

Evan Jonigkeit and Brian Kurtas
star in Never the Sinner
(© Jill McCorkel)
While many Philadelphians flock to the Jersey shore to escape the heat, local theatergoers who stay closer to home this August will be treated to a light, but delicious group of productions to enjoy this month in air-conditioned bliss. This month the city's only professional gay-themed company Mauckingbird Theatre Company returns with John Logan's fascinating drama Never the Sinner: The Leopold and Loeb Story (August 8-30). Set in 1924, the play focuses on the notorious Richard Loeb and his lover Nathan Leopold, who shocked the nation by brutally murdering a 14-year-old boy. The production is directed by artistic director Peter Reynolds, whose spectacular, all-male productions of R&J and The Misanthrope announced Mauckingbird as one of the area's best and most daring companies.

The Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival presents the Bard's magnificent history play Henry IV Part 1 (August 19-30). A compelling coming-of-age story, the play traces the rise of young Prince Hal from his days gallivanting in bars with the jolly and rotund Falstaff to his ascension to the English throne. A gripping, complex and hugely entertaining work, director David Stradley's production (which is free of charge on a first come basis) is bound to be one of the summer's hottest tickets. Philadelphia Improv Theater's six-day mini-festival (August 3-8) presents a wide array of spontaneous humor, with highlights including comedian Brendan Kennedy's exploration of badly written material Guilty Pleasures and Jill Donnelly's one woman show Amnesia and Attempted Murder, which focuses on an amnesia victim and her deranged group of siblings.

Just south of Philly in Ardentown, Delaware, The New Candlelight Theatre presents the charming 2002 Broadway musical Thoroughly Modern Millie (August 8-October 10). Based on the 1967 film starring Julie Andrews, Millie is the story of a young girl who leaves her small town for a life in the jazz clubs of 1920s New York City. Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlon's toe-tapping score includes the dynamic "Forget about the Boy" and "What do I Need for Love."

Families with children should make their way to the Bristol Riverside Theatre where the company is staging no less than three all-ages productions. Occupying the Bristol stage August 1-7 is The Drowsy Chaperone, Jr. The innovative musical concerns a devoted musical theater fan whose favorite cast album suddenly springs to life in his living room and tells the tale of a Broadway starlet in search of true love. Next, is Nickelodeon's Blue's Clues Live! Blue's Birthday Party (August 8-14), an interactive show that encourages the audience to join along as Blue celebrates her birthday with pals Tickety Tock, Slippery Slope, and Periwinkle. Completing the August fun at BRT is Broadway Bound Musical Revue (August 15-16), a high-kicking song and dance revue from the energetic troupe Theatre Arts for Youth.