There is no more visible proof of UD President Harker's “Path to Prominence” than by the REP Ensemble trodding the boards at The Roselle Center for the Arts. Having witnessed every production but one in the past two years, it is difficult to believe that every show is not completely sold. The acting is magnificent, the attention to detail in each technical area – costuming, lighting, set, sound is microscopic.
The season begins in late September with Pinter's “The Homecoming”, a sexually provocative and quite distorted view of family life. Yes, it's a comedy of the laugh out loud variety.
Next up is “The Importance of Being Earnest”. Aisle Say has seen this many times, but did not realize an underlying theme until recently. We know that Oscar Wilde was a flamboyant homosexual in a very repressed England. The character of Bunbury serves as Wilde's taunt at society's hypocrisy. This is certainly one of the cleverest plays ever scribed.
Following this is “Our Town”. (Big saving on the set budget with this show).
“Noel Coward” can be said in the same sentence as “Oscar Wilde” in regards to wordsmithing. Coward was a virtual umo universale of entertainment: actor, director, playwright and composer. “Private Lives” is witty and urbane. A divorced couple meets by chance in a resort hotel. They are both on honeymoons with their second spouses. Dying embers of sparks are re-ignited.
Shakespeare's greatest comedy “A Midsummer Night's Dream” opens in December. Knowing the REP actors as I do, I have put together the cast in my mind. However, Artistic Director Sandy Robbins will most probably surprise me.
Speaking of Robbins, I asked him why the REP was not part of the prestigious Barrymore Awards centered in Philadelphia. The Roselle Center lies 2 miles outside of the perimeter of the organization's footprint. Tickets on sale 23 August. Pttp.udel.edu 831.2204
The Media Theatre landed a boffo comedienne for their fall production of “Annie”. Wanda Sykes, who ranks as one of Entertainment Weekly’s 25 Funniest People in America, will portray Miss Hannigan from November 23 through December 12. After a brief hiatus, she will return to the musical January 12-16.
Aisle Say was first introduced to her in “Curb Your Enthusiasm”. She was relentless in never giving Larry David a break.
Sykes is nominated for two 2010 Emmy Awards, both for her HBO comedy special “I’ma Be Me”. She portrayed the role of Barb in the hit CBS series “The New Adventures of Old Christine” for five seasons, receiving an Emmy nomination for that as well. She has won four Emmy Awards, in 1999 for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music, or Comedy Special for “The Chris Rock Show” and three more (in 2002, 2004, and 2005) for her work on “Inside the NFL”.
She recently wrapped the first season of her late night talk show, “The Wanda Sykes Show”, on FOX. At the annual White House Correspondents Dinner in 2009, Wanda Sykes delivered major laughs while roasting President Barack Obama.
“Annie” should be a hoot. Tickets are on sale now. MediaTheatre.org 610.891.0100
Kudos to City Theatre for the decision to stage the musical “9”. It will be most fun for the male lead; one guy surrounded by 9 gorgeous women! Opening in May.
News Journal Reviewer
Veteran critic Tom Butler has not had a byline in the Journal since May. He is not an employee but an independent contractor. Arts organizations need the exposure that reviewers create. Perhaps Butler is taking a break. If not, though, it is incumbent upon the Journal to hire a good writer with a diverse arts background. A call to the Features editor was not returned.