Summer Guide 2013: The top 10 summer stage offerings

By Stephen H. Segal
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jun. 5, 2013

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Patricia Schuman stars in "Powder Hew Face," premiering this week at Opera Philadelphia.

Photo by J.R. Blackwell

Powder Her Face
“This is where the naughty business happens,” David Devan grins, gesturing expansively around him at the stage of the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater, where the oppressively pink hotel-room set of Opera Philadelphia’s new production, Powder Her Face, is awaiting its first dress rehearsal. The company’s general director, Devan enthusiastically demonstrates how every piece of the life-sized Barbie stage flips around to reveal hidden props: “Everything slides in and out!” If that’s not an innuendo, it should be; Powder Her Face is inspired by the true story of Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, a mid-century English socialite whose sexual escapades rocked the nation with scandal in the ’60s. As Devan puts it: “She was the original cougar.” The opera, notorious for its semi-explicit musical depiction of fellatio, is a melange of jazz, tango and classical styles, and features only a four-person cast, which means soprano Patricia Schuman (pictured, at left and on PW’s cover this week) has a virtuoso feat to accomplish in the role of the duchess—all the more so because she jumped into the role last-minute when the originally cast star had to back out after unexpected complications from dental surgery. “We’re thanking the opera gods that an actress of this caliber was willing to take such a risk,” Devan says. June 7–16. Opera Philadelphia at the Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center, 260 S. Broad St. 215.893.1018.

Venus in Fur
A young actress’ audition turns into a sexual mind game in this dark comedy from playwright David Ives. Through June 23. Philadelphia Theatre Company at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad St. 215.985.0420.

World premiere. What happens when an American woman goes off late one night in Barcelona with an alluring, older Spanish man? Through June 23. People’s Light & Theatre Company, 39 Conestoga Rd., Malvern. 610.644.3500.

American Sligo
Adam Rapp’s sharp satire about a superstar wrestler’s family headaches on the eve of his retirement bout. Through June 23. New City Stage, Adrienne Theatre, 2030 Sansom St. 215.563.7500.

Rock of Ages
A story vaguely familiar from old Journey lyrics provides the reason to assemble a two-hour extravaganza of ‘80s hair-band power ballads. June 14–16. Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St. 215.731.3333.

Whether you loved Fifty Shades of Grey or rolled your eyes at it, you’ll find reason to laugh at this hyperactive musical-theater parody. June 19–22. Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center, 260 S. Broad St. 215.893.1999.

Love, Loss, and What I Wore
Stars from The Office and Desperate Housewives feature in this poignant, Nora and Delia Ephron-penned journey through women’s lives inspired by the contents of their closets. June 25–July 7. Philadelphia Theatre Company at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad St. 215.985.0420.

Before Hollywood wandered back into Oz with another helping of the Wizard, novelist Gregory Maguire gave us the life story of a certain green-skinned witch and her bubbly college roommate. Now the hit Broadway musical comes to Philly. June 26–Aug. 4. Academy of Music, 1420 Locust St. 215.731.3333.

Noises Off
A self-referential farce about a hapless acting troupe that’s busy messing up its every cue. July 10–Aug. 4. People’s Light & Theatre Company, 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern. 610.644.3500.

The Tempest
Shakespeare in Clark Park returns for its eighth season with a new production of the Bard’s classic fantasy, starring Barrymore Award winner Catherine Slusar as Prospero. July 24–28. Clark Park, Baltimore Ave. & 43rd St. 215.764.5345.

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