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Archive for December 2009

Peter Pan Flies at The Arden

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Nifty Stocking Stuffer:

The Arden is one of the best in town. Ditto for its Children’s Theatre which rarely disappoints. And after his sterling performance in the lead role of Hector, in The History Boys( Alan Bennett’s coming of age tale of life and the importance of literature) well, I won’t miss anything Frank X does. This time around, he’s Captain Hook in another coming of age tale – J. M Barrie’s classic Peter Pan, newly updated for the stage by Douglas Irving. The Arden’s cast bodes well and so does director David O’ Connor who steered that amazing Seafarer-– remember?

Snow cancelled the weekend performance I was due at but hopes run high for the holidays.

You too?

Here’s the Holiday schedule:
Wednesday, December 23 at 4pm
Thursday, December 24 at 12pm
December 26 at 12pm, 4pm and 7pm
Sunday, December 27 at 12pm and 4pm
Tuesday, December 29 at 12pm and 4pm
Wednesday, December 30 at 12pm and 4pm
Thursday, December 31 at 12pm
Friday, January 1 at 2pm
Saturday, January 2 at 12pm and 4pm
Sunday, January 3 at 12pm and 4pm 


Kids: $16-$18

Teens: $20-$22
Adults: $30-$32

Orders 215.922.1122

40 N. 2nd Street, Olde City, Philadelphia.


Written by Lesley Valdes

December 19, 2009 at 5:08 pm

Posted in 1, Community, Musicals, Theater

The Odd Couple: Roy WIlbur’s Other Life

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The Odd Couple
The Road Company
The Grand Theater
405 S. Main St.,
Williamstown, NJ
Dec. 4-12
Roy WiIlbur’s better known as a whiz marketing man. The arts administrator with a heart has gone from AVA to Wilmington’s Grand Opera House to Penn’s Annenberg to more recently a senior post at the Pew’ s Center for Arts and Heritage. He started out as a baritone, changed to a tenor. After graduation he performed professionally and has always longed to perform, perform, perform though he gave up singing and acting by 1995. Ironically the post at the Pew has allowed him time in the last two years to perform in four productions– including Lend me a Tenor at The Road Company a respected community theater in Williamstown, South Jersey.
Now he’s Felix, the neurotic, fastidious, about- to- be- divorced irritating best pal to Oscar in Neil Simon’s 1965 play turned- movie- turned- TV series. Wilbur’s appealling as Felix. His sometime nemesis is Damian Muziani, the morning anchor of Myphl17 “Better Philly.” Muziani is making his Road Company debut. The guys are absolute Mutt and Jeffs in physical stature. Roy is 6 foot 7; Muziano’s height and girth I can’t guestimate but his Oscar is a sloppy chunk and so appears much shorter. Their physicality works as well as their good acting. The rest of the casting is uneven with a couple of fine lights including Vic Arlington’s Speed and Danielle DiPiello’s Cecily. After the hamming up of the opening scenes – more Marx Brothers than necessary – things settle in.
Director John Blackwell is also an actor and word is community and professional actors in the region respect him greatly.
Community theater is essential. Grace Kelly got her start in a community theater in East Falls. It’s how professionals sharpen their chops when the paying jobs aren’t there, says Gene Foschini, an actor whose day job for three decades has been mason for the Philadelphia Public Schools. It’s how the new ones learn. Community theater keeps small towns and suburbs vibrant. Not long ago the Road Company bought the Grand Theater, which has been in operation as a playhouse since 1927. It’s a charmer of a 200-seat venue, though the facade itself goes back to earlier in the 19th century.

Written by Lesley Valdes

December 10, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Posted in 1, Community, Theater

Vintage & Videos

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Beaux Arts Video
10th & Spruce
215 313 4360

Beaux Arts Videos at 10th and Spruce Sts. has 15,000 videos for rent or sale. And just in time for the holidays glass cabinets of housewares too. Vintage stuff to sip your holiday spirits, or serve those nibbles. Neat things that Len Begley and his partner Tom Barbaro have been bringing in from other shops that are closing down. Mostly Lancaster County, says Len, who’s wanted to do something like for about three years.
Now that TLA on Fifth Street has closed down you’d think they wouldn’t need the gimmick but I suppose video rentals belongs to the big boys at Redbox, Netflicks and Comcast. Tom says his partner threw out many ideas for Beaux Arts corner shop including a combo Video shop also selling dog food! “This is like ‘Dinner and a Movie'” he says.
Definitely better than selling dog food. Check it out. Nice looking kitchen and table ware, as you’d find in the good thrift shops. And awesome prices. A Russell Wright restaurant service, salmon colored (not a full set) will go fast. Also: salt and pepper shakers (green charmers for a mere $12 bucks. Farber ware mixing bowls like your Mom had to mix the pancake batter. All sorts of interesting nostalgia.
“Everything but the martini glasses we talked about,” Tom says.

Written by Lesley Valdes

December 10, 2009 at 4:01 pm


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Photo: S.G. Valdes

The sidewalk split at 2029. Burst.
Walking by, I almost missed
the tree we fought about
three stories tall, two decades thick.
You would smile your inward smile to see
the tangled cords of pear, unfruitful, like the marriage.
Knobby, exposed
guarding the house, your pride.
When you left, Louise moved in, heard children in our room.
Had I said it was a nursery years before?
I don’t remember what you think of ghosts.
The couple who came after us have parted.
Solace in roots.

Written by Lesley Valdes

December 8, 2009 at 4:06 am

Nezet-Seguin’s Second Date with Philadelphians

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Philadelphia Orchestra, Nezet-Seguin, cond.
Nicholas Angelich, piano
Verizon Hall,
Dec. 3-5, 2009

Yannick Nezet-Seguin (YAH-nick NEH-zay SAY-gahn) is a mouthful. Maybe we should practice saying it. The 34- year- old conductor from Montreal is on the short list for music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra. His second date, as Nezet-Seguin, calls his recent performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra proved high-grade music making no matter a program that on paper looked perplexing, even a bit of a bore. Claude Vivier’s Orion is a strange, compelling (wonderfully structured) overture whose sonorities suggest a concert organ: muted trombones, intense and subdued strings, layers of percussion. Seguin steered a gripping performance, including the lone voice howling something over a Balinese gong (vocals came from tympanist Don Luizzi). The piece from 1979 sounds like Vivier admired Bruckner and George Crumb. Vivier, born in Montreal in 1948, was murdered in Paris in 1983.

At the Saturday performance I heard, Nezet-Seguin accommodated a piano soloist whose idea of the Brahms Concerto in D Minor is so ruminative it might still be going on. His name is Nicholas Angelich and the ideas he pursued were searching and particularly Mozartean – a way to spotlight Mozart’s influence on Brahms. The result also gave time to appreciate the woodwind turns, horn solos. By the final movement some of Angelich’s excellent finger work may have been tiring. Phrases began to plod, my attention lost some hold. This had been, for sure, a very oddly put together program, and the Brahms Concerto is long. There was far more to come after the half. Angelich, born in the U.S. in 1970, is worth hearing again.

Cesar Franck’s Symphony in D minor can be a potboiler. Under Nezet- Seguin, it was shaped to a fare- thee- well. The most expressive and gently shaped opening heard in this house. Torrents, layers of cyclic drama poured out. A shaping and execution so distinctive, it exceed its emotion heavy content.

NB If the young man is to come here more often, the hope is he gets a better fitting suit.

Written by Lesley Valdes

December 6, 2009 at 4:47 pm