Your Guide to Philly Theatre Week
Here are a handful of shows participating in Philly Theatre Week that we’re particularly excited about.
1. The Humans
The Walnut Street Theatre presents The Humans, the winner of over twenty 2016 Best Play Awards, including the Tony Award! After a sleepless night, Erik Blake brings his family from Pennsylvania to celebrate Thanksgiving at his daughter’s new apartment in lower Manhattan. As darkness falls outside the crumbling pre-war duplex, mysterious things start to go bump in the night and family tensions reach a boiling point. The hopes, dreams, and fears of the American middle class are first coaxed—then shoved—into the light in this humorous, hopeful, and heart-tugging new play.
2. A Doll’s House
Arden Theatre presents Simon Stephens’ adaptation of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. In the revolutionary classic, Nora and Torvald are living their dream life with the brightest of futures. When a long-buried secret rises to the surface, and Nora must choose between outward perfection and inner truth. Still shockingly relevant, A Doll’s House will be brought to life in the intimacy of the Arcadia Stage.
3. Passing Strange
The Wilma Theater presents a major revival of Stew and Heidi Rodewald’s Tony Award-winning musical. In Passing Strange, a rebellious young black man journeys to Europe in search of something “real.” Music takes center stage as we travel from gospel-soaked South Central LA through psychedelic Amsterdam to militant Berlin and back. This incendiary musical is a rowdy salve for turbulent times: a young punk screaming in defiance of the void, with an electric onstage band.
Lantern Theater Company presents Michael Frayn’s Copenhagen, a riveting drama about a fascinating mystery: Why did German physicist Werner Heisenberg visit his old mentor and Danish counterpart Niels Bohr in 1941 while their countries were at war? Was he looking for clues to atomic secrets, asking for absolution, or searching for something unknowable? As the characters wrestle with their memories and motives, what becomes clear is the ultimate uncertainty of why we do what we do.
5. Marie Antoinette
Curio Theatre Company presents David Adjmi’s contemporary take on the famed queen of France. Marie Antoinette is a frivolous, extravagant prisoner of circumstance. As the revolution brews the people of France sour to the excess and artifice that define her life, placing her head firmly on the chopping block. In this dark and humorous tale, Marie consorts with kings, lovers, and the occasional sheep, while the chants of “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité!” filling the streets grow ever louder.
6. Written on Skin
A thrilling portrait of godliness and lust comes to life in this modern operatic masterpiece, presented by Opera Philadelphia at the Academy of Music. Drawn from a 12th century legend but with a contemporary twist, George Benjamin’s first full-length opera has received wide critical acclaim since its 2012 premiere. In Written on Skin, a powerful landowner commissions a young artist to create an illuminated manuscript celebrating his life and family. Passion and violence erupt in the household while a mysterious cluster of angels watches the story unfold.
7. Waiting for Godot
In Waiting for Godot, two road-weary men arrive at a tree in the middle of nowhere to await the arrival of Godot. They cannot agree on when they were to meet him, or exactly where or why, but both know they cannot leave until they meet Godot. As unexpected visitors pass by, the men wonder how long they have been waiting and whether Godot will ever come. A tragicomedy in two acts, this humorous, disturbing, thrilling existential and absurdist masterpiece by Samuel Beckett is currently being presented by the Quintessence Theatre Group at The Sedgwick Theater.
Direct from sell out seasons in London, Hong Kong and Edinburgh comes the mind-blowing vocal show Gobsmacked! This next-generation a cappella show redefines the limits of the human voice. Featuring the reigning world champion beatboxer Ball-Zee and an international cast of world-class vocalists, Gobsmacked! weaves stories through all forms of a cappella from traditional street corner harmonies to cutting edge, multi-track live looping. Heart stopping singing and jaw dropping beatboxing guarantees the audience will leave the Merriam Theater with a song in their heart and a smile on their face.
Theatre Exile presents this examination of the diverse lenses through which we see ourselves, each other, and our place in the world. In the studio she once shared with her boyfriend Calvin, a photographer poses Calvin’s mother for a portrait. Like many artists, she struggles to capture on film what she envisions in her mind. As the photo shoot progresses, the women grapple with their memories of the man who was once the center of their lives. In the age of selfies, Really examines the particular and diverse lenses through which we see ourselves, each other, and our place in the world.
10. Musical Thrones: A Parody of Fire and Ice
Sail into Westeros for the musical send-up of a century at the Philadelphia Theatre Company! Musical Thrones: A Parody of Ice and Fire is a giddy and raucous parody of the Emmy Award-winning HBO show, Game of Thrones. Sing and dance along with Daenerys, her dragons, and many other beloved and be-hated characters as they engage in savagery, sex, and earth-shattering plot twists in the Seven Kingdoms.