Philadelphia is home to an incredible 150 theater companies in a 50-mile radius, with 500 shows produced a year. Take advantage of that lively creativity by seeing one of the dozens of shows on stage this fall. (Photos by G. Widman for GPTMC)
Fall in Philadelphia means locally designed haute fashion, crunchy local apples and bright orange pumpkins, vivid foliage, crisp craft beer, the re-enlivening of the Linc, restaurant menu refreshes, fall street festivals and — last but not least — the kick-off of a brand new theater season.
With the successful run of another Philadelphia Live Arts/Fringe Festival ushering local theatergoers out of summer performing arts season into the always-energized fall, Philadelphia audiences are due for three months of thespian genius this fall.
Below, we’ve compiled our top picks for fall theater in Philadelphia, a primer for seasoned ticket-holders and the uninitiated alike. Let us know in the comments what you think of these shows, or if we missed one you liked.
• Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika at the Wilma Theater: Now-October 21, 265 S. Broad Street, Tickets start at $39. In Angels in America, Part Two, the follow-up to last season’s Part One, central character Prior suffers from the triple-A threat of abandonment, AIDS and angels. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Tony Kushner play, the Wilma’s production revisits 80s politics and passions with a relevancy no less potent to an audience peering through double-decade windows.
• Love Story: The Musical at Walnut Street Theatre: Now-October 21, 825 Walnut Street, Tickets start at $10. Inspired by Erich Segal’s best-selling iconic novel, and one of the most romantic films of all time, this production tells the tale of Oliver Barrett IV and Jenny Cavilleri, a modern-day Romeo and Juliet.
• Next to Normal at the Arden Theatre: Now-November 4, 40 N. 2nd Street, Tickets start at $15 for kids, $44 for adults. Winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, this electric and emotional musical follows the Goodman family’s struggle to maintain connection amidst crisis.
• This Is The Week That Is: The Election Special at 1812 Productions: Now-November 4, Plays & Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Street, Tickets start at $22. This Is The Week That Is, an 1812 tradition, is part Carol Burnett Show, part Daily Show with Jon Stewart and features a script that changes nightly depending on the news of the day. It is seriously hilarious. And this year they’re running a special edition for the presidential election.
• A Slow Air at Inis Nua Theatre Company: October 2-21, Off-Broad Street Theater at First Baptist Church, 1636 Sansom Street, Tickets start at $25. Set amidst the memory of the Glasgow Airport terrorist attack of 2007, this work will linger with you long after you leave the theater, just as it shakes middle-aged brother and sister pair Athol and Morna to the core.
• The Assassination of Jesse James at EgoPo Classic Theater: October 3-21, Plays & Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Place, Tickets start at $20. A posse of women takes on America’s most infamous outlaw in a deadly roadshow.
• RFK at New City Stage Company: October 3-21, The Adrienne Theatre Second Stage, 2030 Sansom Street, Tickets start at $22. This Philadelphia premiere, just in time for the 2012 presidential election, is a historically accurate solo performance which biographies the last four years of politician Robert F. Kennedy’s life, from 1964 to 1968, and features music, film and footage from the era.
More shows to see, below.
• Gutenberg! The Musical! at Act II Playhouse: October 9-November 4, 56 E. Butler Avenue, Ambler, Tickets start at $27. Two of the funniest actors in Philly, Steve Pacek and veteran Tony Braithwaite, star in this two-man musical spoof about a pair of aspiring playwrights performing a backers’ audition for their new project – a big, splashy musical about printing press inventor Johann Gutenberg.
• The Runner Stumbles at Curio Theatre Company: October 11-November 10, Calvary Center, 4740 Baltimore Avenue, Tickets start at $10. First produced on Broadway in 1976, The Runner Stumbles is based on a true story from a century ago in rural Michigan. Father Rivard is sent to the remote town of Solon, Michigan and soon after, he and the newest nun Sister Rita fall for each other. When Sister Rita’s body is found after a devastating fire, who is to blame?
• Seventy Scenes of Halloween at Luna Theater Company: October 12-November 3, Skybox at the Adrienne Theatre, 2030 Sansom Street, Tickets start at $15 for under 30, $23 for Wednesday-Friday, $28 for Saturday-Sunday. On Halloween night, young married couple Jeff and Joan wait for trick-or-treaters in their suburban home. As the night goes on, their unspoken desires and resentments bubble to the surface. Equal parts sitcom and supernatural thriller, Seventy Scenes of Halloween explores contemporary married life through both humor and horror.
• Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish at Philadelphia Theatre Company: October 17-November 18, Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad Street, Tickets start at $51. This world premiere musical is a snapshot of Jewish identity told through interviews with some of America’s most recognizable public figures, including: Gloria Steinem, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Andy Cohen, Joan Rivers, Aaron Sorkin, Fran Drescher and more. The author is former 60 Minutes producer Abigail Pogrebin.
• The Exit Interview at Interact Theatre Company: October 19-November 11, Adrienne Theatre, 2030 Sansom Street, Tickets start at $20. In this raucous comedy, scholar Dick Fig has been fired from his university position and is undergoing an excruciating exit interivew with Eunice, a droll administrator. As Eunice engages in small talk, Dick faces an existential crisis.
• Behind the Eye at Gas & Electric Arts: October 24-November 18, Philadelphia Shakespeare Theater, 2111 Sansom Street, Tickets start at $16. Lee Miller lived a life of globetrotting through New York, Paris, Egypt and London, a free spirit after leaving behind a top modeling career at Vogue. She became the muse to some of the 20th century’s most significant artists: Picasso, Cocteau, Man Ray. Gas & Electric Arts brings Miller’s mythic story into focus with the Philadelphia premiere of Behind the Eye.
• Pookie Goes Grenading at Azuka Theatre Company: October 31-November 18, Off-Broad Street Theater at First Baptist Church, 1636 Sansom Street, Tickets start at $20. Join 14-year-old Pookie, her best friend Dynamo, Benny – the most popular gay kid in school, and Greta Van Susteren – the best techie this side of the Schuylkill, as they embark on an epic journey of life, art, revolution and the pursuit of more Facebook friends.
• The Liar at Lantern Theater Company: November 1-25, St. Stephen’s Theater, 10th and Ludlow Streets, Tickets start at $10 for students, $30 for general admission. Charming, handsome and an incorrigible liar, Dorante has come to Paris seeking pleasure. He falls head over heels for the beautiful Clarice, but mistakes her name for that of her best friend, Lucrece. After lying his way into a world of trouble, can Dorante lie his way back out again?
• The English Bride at Theatre Exile: November 8–December 2, Studio X, 13th and Reed Streets, Tickets start at $22. The English Bride follows a rapid series of interrogations conducted after a bombing attempt on an El Al flight out of London. The hunt for truth unfolds in a fast-paced explosion of love, lies and terrorist plots.