Spring Guide 2016: 11 stage performances to thrill & delight

"Peter and the Starcatcher" (Photo by Sabina Louise Pierce)

Two Trains Running

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson gives audiences one of his many masterpieces in Two Trains Running, the seventh in his ten-part series The Pittsburgh Cycle. The stage is set at Pittsburghs Hill District in 1969 during the civil rights movement. The citys renovation project is going to tear down Memphis Lees diner which does not sit well with Lee and his African-American regulars. Now they must fight to keep their diner and struggle to survive in a rapidly changing world where the social and psychological attitudes of race are explored. Thurs., March 10-Sun., April 10. $15-$42. Arden Theatre, 40 N. 2nd St. ardentheatre.org

As You Like It

One of William Shakespeares most performed comedies follows Rosalind, a heroine fleeing death from the Court into the mysterious Forest of Arden. She disguises herself as a boy and discovers a whole new world until shes love-struck by a man named Orlando. Rosalind is arguably Shakespeares greatest and most fulfilled female character. Directed by Charles McMahon, As You Like It also spawns one of Shakespeares most quoted speeches, All the worlds a stage and the saying too much of a good thing. This romantic comedy will have you realizing the power of love. Thurs., March 10-Sun., April 17. $10-$39. Lantern Theater Company, 923 Ludlow St. lanterntheater.org

Peter and the Starcatcher

Billed as A Grownups Prequel to Peter Pan you dont want to miss this comedy of an orphan boy looking for a home. Rick Elices stage adaptation of the 2006 novel of a similar name follows starcatcher-in-training Molly who helps a young boy (inferred to be Peter Pan) find a home through a wild quest. Youll finally find the answer to how Peter became the boy who never wanted to grow up. This Tony Award-winning play shows the audience how Peter finds the hero within himself and how he became the legend we all know and love. Tues., March 15-Sun., May 1. $20-$85. Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St. walnutstreettheatre.org

An Octoroon

Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins tells the story of a slave owner whos fond of a woman. The problem? Her blood is one-eighth blackthe definition of octoroon. The play unfolds through the eyes of the Obie Award-winning playwright and is set in the south before the Civil War. This tale takes the 1859 version of The Octoroon and gives it a splash of 21st century sensibility. Local band Ill Doots will be dropping by to offer their choreography and original music in a production thats sure to make you laugh, cry and think. Wed., March 16-Sun. April 10. $10-$25. The Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad St. wilmatheater.org

The Nether

Director Seth Rozin and co-founder of InterAct Theatre brings playwright Jennifer Haleys disturbing play to life through a grim-looking future of uncomfortable and heinous acts. These acts take place in a virtual universe, the Nether, formally known as the Internet. The Nether is an addictive world which questions every moral fiber in your body. Rozin has been named Best Director twice by the Philadelphia Inquirer so its a guarantee hell make your skin crawl in this not-for-all-ages performance. Fri., March 25-Sun., April 17. $15-$50. InterAct Theatre Company, 1512 Spruce St. interacttheatre.org

Doctor Faustus

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. For Doctor Faustus this is scarily true. Faustus, although brilliant and a world renowned scholar, scoffs at the limits of natural sciences. Conceited with his own genius he turns to black magic and dances with the devilliterally. He sells his soul for 24 years of infinite knowledge and the devils servant, Mephistopheles, as his own personal assistant. Director Alexander Burns dives into the space and time of Faustus who tests his new limitless mind which knows all, but lacks a soul. Wed., March 30-Sun., April 24. $10-$50. The Sedgwick Theater, 7137 Germantown Ave. quintessencetheatre.org

Machinal

Almost 90 years later, this dark depiction, inspired by real life murderer Ruth Snyder, gives a haunting exploration of the female mind. The play is centered around a young woman following societys expectations of her. She marries her execrable boss and has an affair with a younger man who rejuvenates her avidity for life. Eventually committing the unthinkable, director Brenna Geffers theme of a female as an antihero questions the typical damsel in distress stereotype frequently seen on stage. Geffers says she wants to move, beyond the traditional expectation that women can only take passive, indirect action. You wont want to miss this dramatic journey into the deep recess of the psyche. Wed., April 20-Sun., May 8. $12-$35. The Latvian Society, 531 N. 7th St. egopo.org

I Will Not Go Gently

This one-woman show tells the story about hilarious characters going through a sort of midlife crisis. Written and performed by Jennifer Childs, she delights and tantalizes audiences with her vast array of characters. Childs, co-founder of 1812 productions, displays her raw acting skills by playing characters from rock n roll widows to welfare queens. Each one is trying to figure out what to do during their middle years of life. Thurs., April 21-Sun., May 15. $28-$42. Plays & Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey St. 1812productions.org

Moth

Who remembers those awkward high school years? Well, the cruel world of high school is on prominent display as the odd friendship of Anime-obsessed Sebastian and emo Claryssa is threatened one night on the schools athletic field. Both are left with a strained relationship and to deal with the issue separately. What develops is a mysterious moth in a jar next to Sebastians bed and an apocalyptic mission teetering on the line of fantasy and reality. The Philadelphia premiere of Moth explores adolescence, friendship, loss and mental illness. Wed., May 4-Sun., May 22. $15-$40. Azuka Theatre, 1700 Sansom St. azukatheatre.org

The Invisible Hand

How far would you go to survive? That and more is probed in this suspenseful and endorphin rushing story of Nick Bright, an American employee and successful investment banker whos kidnapped by an Islamic militant group in Pakistan. With no one to negotiate his release, Bright must make questionably moral decisions. Playwright Ayad Akhtar pierces the undue silence about the embroiled Middle East and shows just how far man will go to live another day. Matt Pfeiffer, one of Philadelphias most in-demand directors, is poised to deliver a powerful show in this Philly premiere. Thurs., May 12-Sun., June 5. $10-$35. Theatre Exile, 1340 S. 13th St. theatreexile.org

36 Views

Unscrupulous art dealer, Darius Wheeler, finds himself in possession of an expensive and rare Japanese pillow book. Through the 36 seamless scenes the theme of authenticity begins to rear its head and the question of what is real looms. Before you know it youll be questioning if anything is real in this production. Naomi Iizukas play will be making its Philadelphia premiere with Wheeler played by Joe Guzman, winner of a Barrymore Award for Supporting Actor. Thurs., May 26-Sun., June 26. $10-$39. Lantern Theater Company, 923 Ludlow St. lanterntheater.org

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