Wednesday, February 29, 2012

“Oscar & Felix” an updated version of Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple”comes to Fleetwood

  Fleetwood Community Theatre is staging “Oscar & Felix,” the updated version of the well-known comedy “The Odd Couple” by Neil Simon.  It will run for two weekends starting March 2.
  The story is familiar, Felix Unger, a neurotic-compulsive-neat freak shows up late one night for the weekly poker game.  He announces to “the guys” that his wife has kicked him to the curb.  Oscar Madison, his best friend, takes him in until he can get back on his feet.  Of course, Oscar is anything but neat and orderly and so the trials begin.  Oscar convinces Felix to get back into the dating scene and (in this version) invites the Spanish Costazuela sisters to dinner.  Breaking the number one rule of dating – don’t talk about the Ex – Felix still manages to win over the affection of the sisters.  Originally written in 1965, Simon’s comedy is anything but “politically correct” and updating to cell phones, laptops, and microwaves has not interrupted the story.
  FCT added something new this year, two dinner performances.  Both Saturday performances will start with a hot buffet dinner at 6 p.m.  Seats for the dinner show are $30 per person and must be reserved by calling 610-944-3610. All seats for Friday and Sunday are $13 available at the door or by calling ahead.  This show is not recommended for young children because of mature conversations.
  The show features Stan Durlak (Felix), Lance Thomas (Oscar), Patrick McCafferty (Speed), Jeremiah Hershelroth (Murry), Chris Jameson (Roy), Bob Barskey (Vinnie), Danelle Wagner (Ynez) and Melissa Kopicz (Julia) in this hysterical play directed by Tara Sands.
Performances are Friday March 2 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday March 3 Dinner Show at 6 p.m. (curtain at 7:30 p.m.) Sunday March 4 at 3 p.m., Saturday March 10 Dinner Show at 6 p.m. (curtain at 7:30 p.m.) and Sunday March 11 at 3 p.m. at St. Paul's United Church of Christ, 5 West Arch St., Fleetwood, PA 19522
  A staff writer on the signature comedy series of television's infancy, "Your Show of Shows" (NBC, 1950-54), Neil Simon went on to establish himself as one of Broadway's most prolific and consistent hit makers. Over the course of four decades, a Simon play or musical opened most seasons on Broadway and were often turned into major motion pictures within a couple of years, including "Barefoot in the Park" (1967), "The Out-of-Towners" (1969), "The Sunshine Boys" (1975) and "California Suite" (1978). Simon also wrote his share of original screenplays, such as the mystery spoof "Murder By Death" (1976) and the charming romantic comedy "Seems Like Old Times" (1980), though it was largely his stage work that earned him his reputation.
  Perhaps his most enduring creation was "The Odd Couple," which was a play in 1965, a film in 1968 and a television show that ran five seasons starting in 1970, while over the decades popping up in other incarnations.
  In the 1980s, Simon began a series of semi-autobiographical coming-of-age plays focused on his alleged alter-ego, Eugene Jerome. Dubbed the Eugene Trilogy, the plays consisted of "Brighton Beach Memoirs" (1983), "Biloxi Blues" (1985) and "Broadway Bound" (1986), with the former two being turned into mildly successful feature films. After years as an unbridled hit maker, Simon earned the overwhelming respect of critics with "Lost in Yonkers" (1991), which earned him a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize for drama. Though his success tapered off in his later years, Simon remained the most important playwright of the latter-half of the 20th century. (from:
  Fleetwood Community Theatre (FCT) was founded in 1988 by local residents who loved the theatre. Their plan was to teach others about loving the theatre.  FCT is A Not-for-profit 501(c)(3) volunteer organization of theatre lovers currently in our 24th season. It is committed to the education and development of our membership within the theatre arts program by offering opportunities to all ages both on-stage and behind the scenes. It strives to be an outlet of quality musical, dramatic and ensemble productions. FCT encouraging & supporting local youth to pursue performing arts opportunities through school, church, collegiate or other local productions.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

'Ossian Sweet' resurrects a powerful piece of history

By Cheryl Thornburg
  Sometimes it’s an outstanding performance, sometimes it’s polished costuming and sets that make a play special.  And sometimes,  it’s the compelling story and powerful words that make a performance memorable.
  Such is the case with Reading Community Players current production “My Name Is Ossian Sweet.”   It is a staged reading with a large cast, minimal props, and virtually no sets. It is the story that will stay with you.
   Playwright Gordon Bennett tells a powerful true story that we all should have learned about in history class -- but didn’t. It chronicles the life of a young black man who grew up in rural Florida in a community thick with racism and injustice. His name was Ossian Sweet.
  He escapes that life through education, becomes a doctor, and moves to Detroit in search of a better life for his family. In 1925, when he and his wife find their dream home, which is in an all-white neighborhood, events ensue that make history, albeit little known history.
  The Ku Klux Klan had a large following at that time and as soon as the Sweets move in,  they are besieged by an irate mob, throwing rocks and threatening them.  Since there had been previous similar incidents that turned violent, they have several guns in the home to protect themselves. Ossian’s brother Henry is in the house, as well as eight other people.
   As the ordeal continues, Henry fires some warning shots from the second floor in an attempt to disperse the crowd.  One man is killed and another, wounded.
  The police immediately arrest everyone in the house and charge all 11 with murder.
   A fledgling NAACP persuades Clarence Darrow, who had recently won the Scopes trial to take on the case. He represents the defendants in two trials, one ending in a hung jury and the second an acquittal. It marks the first time that an African-American was
acquitted of murder by an all-white jury.
  Director Ruth Martelli has assembled a diverse cast including seasoned veterans and some who are setting foot on stage for the first time to recreate Ossian’s story.
  The title role is played by Chordero Ellison, one of the newcomers to RCP.   Although at times his speaking is a little rushed, possibly due to first night nerves, he creates a very believable, sympathetic Ossian. I suspect we’ll see more of him in future productions.
   Clarence Darrow is played by one of the veterans, Chuck Gallagher, whose experience shows as he delivers some of the best lines in the play.  In his cross examination, for example, he refers to a “neighborly”mob with a gleam in his eye and just the right touch of sarcasm. When the NAACP representatives are seeking his help, he finally declares “Lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for.” Delivering the words of one of the most famous orators of our time, has got to be a dream role for any actor, and Gallagher makes the most of it.
    Daphne McMaster turns in a standout performance as Gladys, Ossian’s wife, who also narrates the show. Her Gladys is rock solid, unshakable in her faith in Ossian and unswerving in her loyalty. Having seen her in the comedy  “The Little Dog Laughed,” last Fall where she showed a real flair for comedy, she now proves that she’s a very capable dramatic actress as well.
  There are many solid performances: Michael Reese as Ossian’s father,  Kevin Wade as Prosecutor Tom, Bill Santoro as Judge Murphy, Alexis Green as Ossian’s mother,  and Kennth Dreistadt as Alfred Andrews, a white supremacist.The latter delivers a bone-chilling speech suggesting that whites fight back or “be overwhelmed by the rising tide of color.”
  Such lines and Darrow’s defense are why this play is really a living history lesson.  It is a reminder for those of us who have lived through the early years of the Civil Rights movement and an education, for those who have not.  If I were a teacher, I would offer extra credit for students who attend the play.
   Rounding out the cast are Chance Singleton, Kristan Diaz-Cruz, Randy Miller, John Foster, Will Matthews, Brian Miller,  Bob Barsky, and Diann Stewart.
   There are only two more performances of this compelling play. Tonight, Saturday, Feb. 18 at 8 p.m and tomorrow, Sunday, Feb. 19 at 3 p.m.
  Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students.  Reservations may be made by calling the theatre at 610-374-0777 or through Brown Paper Tickets.  A free shuttle service is offered  from the parking lot at the 13th and Green School (enter at Greenwich Street) to the theatre and back. The theater is located at 403 N. 11th Street in Reading.
More information is available at

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

An inside look at "Ain't Misbehavin' " and local theater

I am happy to share this article from Guest Blogger Warren Levy, the new marketing director for the Tri-County Performing Arts Center in Pottstown.  It offers some unique perspectives on local theater.

What's in a name? 
Can Talent Smell as Sweet Without Fame?

Shakespeare's Juliet famously asks, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet."  Is that true today when we decide which movies, plays or even television shows to watch?  Celebrity seems like today's rose, more so than talent.  Big names drive up ticket prices in movie theaters and on Broadway.  Familiarity fills seats and swells ratings. 

So, when local playhouses like the Tri-County Performing Arts Center (Tri-PAC) put on productions like  "Ain't Misbehavin' " (showing for one more weekend  - February 17-19), what do we think about local talent in roles that originated on Broadway?   After all, Ain't Misbehavin, which features the inventive music of the irrepressible jazz original, Fats Waller, and recreates  the exuberance of his 1930s Harlem Renaissance club shows, won three Tony awards! 

There's one hint on television.  Shows like American Idol, which recently featured Pottstown's own Marc Sherfield,  illustrate how many talented unknowns with a passion to perform there really are.    

Here's more than a hint.  The Tri-PAC show's director told me that 90% of her work is choosing a great cast.  Having directed in New York and Philadelphia, Zuhairah McGill at first wondered, "To get the right cast for Ain't Misbehavin', do I have to get people to come down from New York?"  She said she wouldn't do that, "because people always do that.  When others hire from the outside, they don't see they have gems within their own community." 

After casting Tri-PAC's "Ain't Misbehavin'," McGill said, "We definitely have found some gems.  This caliber of singing from a cast that lives in Pottstown is amazing...I was stunned."  She went a little further, "I'm going to say this show is going to be just as good as what Nell Carter put on Broadway [1978 Tony Award Winner for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical.]

For their part, the actors have no hesitation, either.  All have been performing since very young ages, nearly all having started and starred in their churches, in Pottstown, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

Rather than being intimidated, Marc Sherfield said, "I'm excited to see how people compare me to Ken Page," one of the original Broadway performers.  Nevertheless, he also said that the strength of "Ain't Misbehavin' " isn't in the individual performers.  "We have five strong voices that are distinct but yet together sound good."  Sherfield went further, "...the audience appeal is the characters even more than the music.  In the intimate loft setting at Tri-PAC, Sherfield said, "Everything that we're doing the audience can see.  If we stay in character, the audience believes we are these characters."

Mia Mbuy agreed.  "You have to rely on everyone else.  It's not just about you and your voice and what you can do.  It really has to meld together.  And what the audience gets from that, they see how much fun you're having and they have fun in turn." 

Most of the cast anticipates performing professionally, and none expressed any doubts about having the necessary talent.  However, a Broadway career implies sacrifices some performers won't make.  Mbuy, who has a classically-trained operatic voice, recalled that when she began student teaching as part of her secondary education major at West Chester, she came home in tears.  She told her mother, "I'm not going to be a singer." About teaching, she said, "I just felt like, 'This is what I'm supposed to be doing.'"  In addition to performing at Tri-PAC and other theaters, and singing solos in choir, she teaches 7th grade science and social studies.

What hooked Isaih Robinson wasn't his first solo, at age six, at Mt. Sinai Baptist in Baltimore.  Instead, he recalled vividly when he sang America the Beautiful in elementary school, and got a standing ovation.  After graduating from Pottstown High School where he led the Drama Club and Choir (followed in those roles next year by friend and fellow cast member Alexa Morefield), he began studying vocal performance at West Chester University.  "I'm never going to stop performing," he said.  "It's in my blood."

Warren Levy
Marketing Director
The Tri-County Performing Arts Center

Domino Players "On the Verge" opens Friday in Reading

The Albright College Domino Players will present "On the Verge," by Eric Overmyer, Feb. 17, 18, 23, 24 and 25, 2012, at 8 p.m. in the Wachovia Theatre, Center for the Arts. A special luncheon theatre will be presented Feb. 19 at 2:30 p.m. The luncheon is at 1 p.m.
The production will be directed by Julia Matthews. A talkback and reception will follow the performance on Feb. 17.
The price for adult tickets is $12 ($9 in advance) and $5 for students. Luncheon theatre tickets are $25 per person. To purchase tickets please call the Albright College box office at 610-921-7547.

Eric Overmyer’s whimsical comedy, set at the end of the 19th-century, features three intrepid lady explorers who have set out for Terra Incognita. Equipped with pith helmets and journals in which to record their discoveries, they bushwhack and ice-axe their way across the unknown. They begin to get glimmerings of a new civilization: but what is meant by Cool Whip? Will they meet the elusive Mr. Coffee?
Little by little the ladies discover that they are trekking into the future, a place mapped with a whole new vocabulary and is full of surprises.
The Center for the Arts is located on the Albright College campus at 13th and Bern Streets, Reading, Pa. For more information or disabled assistance, please call 610-921-7715, or visit

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ain't Misbehavin' offers a hand-clapping and soul-searching experience


By Cheryl Thornburg

  I expected “Ain’t Misbehavin’” at the Tri-County Performing Arts Center in Pottstown to be a toe-tappin,’ hand-clappin’ romp and it was all that -- and so much more.
  Director Zuhairah McGill has put together a talented young cast with the chops and comedic skills to recreate the fabulous music and times of Fats Waller. But each cast member has also tapped into the underlying roots and emotions of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1930s.
  Individually they each shine in particular numbers, but together they create the defining moment of this production in the second act – the poignant and powerful “Black and Blue.” The haunting and mournful lyrics and melody will stay with you as you leave the theater. 
  Each of these actors demonstrates an amazing range of vocal and comedic skills, and each takes his or her turn in the spotlight.
  Marc Sherfield was first to get the audience clapping with his upbeat and cheeky rendition of “Your Feets Too Big.” He delivers many standout performance throughout, but this and the duet “Fat and Greasy” with Isaih Robinson were my favorites.
  Robinson had the audience practically rolling in the aisles with his version of “The Viper’s Drag.” It’s a toss-up – is he a gifted singer with a comedic flair or a gifted comedian who sings?
  But the guys didn’t have all the fun, Alexa Morefield and Mia Mbuy are hysterically funny in the sexy and mischievous, “Find Out What They Like.”
  Mbuy shows off her more serious side and her dynamic range in the unforgettable ballad “Mean To Me.”
  Morefield also shows her softer side in a duet with Sherfield in the now-class “Two Sleepy People.”
  Keeping things lively and with the theme of the show, Denia Gibson shines in Keepin’ Out of Mischief Now” and “I’ve Got My Fingers Crossed.”
  Though these were the key players, there were others on stage who played an equally important part.
  Ben Bullock, a gifted pianist, also shows his acting ability as he channels the buoyant spirit of Waller himself as he sets the tone for each number.
  With the music at the heart of this show, the band is essential to its success.  In addition to Bullock on piano, Lewis Ben on drums, Louis Rieger on bass, Aaron Gould on trombone and Barb Newberry on reeds deliver rousing renditions of these memorable tunes. With the intimate setting of the loft performance space, they capture the cabaret experience.
   “Ain’t Misbehavin’” runs through Feb. 19, but unfortunately most performances have already sold out. Check with the box office in case of cancellations.
  Tri-PAC is located at 245 E. High St., Pottstown. More information is available at  or call 610-970-1199.

  Even if you miss this show, Tri-PAC has much more in store this season.  Coming up in March is “Toys in The Attic,” followed by “Farragut North” in April and “Hairspray” in June.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Broadway's “War Horse” will charge into your heart and soul

A dramatic charge scene from "War Horse"

 By Cheryl Thornburg
Of the hundreds of theater productions I have seen, none has affected me like “War Horse,”  which is currently playing at Lincoln Center in New York.
“War Horse” is visually and emotionally stunning. At the heart of its magic are the magnificent life-size horses created by the Handspring Puppet Company.  It is uncanny how lifelike these animals are. Though there are three actors operating each one, they quickly almost disappear as the essence of the horses captivates the audience.
For me, the “magic” is even more personal. My father, Russ Robinson, was a puppeteer.  His marionettes were a major part of my childhood and I loved watching him bring his “Pixies” to life.  Throughout the show, I kept thinking how much he would have loved it, how much this next generation of puppets would have thrilled and inspired him, as it is thrilling and inspiring thousands of others.
But this is much more than a giant extravagant puppet show. It is a poignant play about a pivotal time in history, the First World War, and the people on both sides who lived it.  Many will be familiar with the story due to the current movie of the same name. For those who are not, it is based on a book by Michael Morpugo about a young man, Albert Narracott, who raises a young horse, Joey, and the incredible bond that develops between them. When Joey is drafted to serve as a cavalry horse in World War I, Albert is devastated and eventually joins the army to search for his horse. It is the story of family ties and rivalries, the horror of war, and humanity at its best and worst.
The non-equine actors in this huge ensemble cast create such memorable characters, that although they are fictional, you believe that they had been real.
Andrew Durand as Albert with Joey
There are many notable performances, too many to mention all of them here, but a few stood out for me. 
First, kudos to the teams who brought Joey and Topthorn, the equine stars, to life. The amazing coordination, skill and talent required to create these characters, is unparalleled. From the flicking of the ears to pawing the ground, to shying away from strangers, every action was totally natural and believable.
There are some individual actors who made indelible impressions on me.
Andrew Durand, plays Albert, the young man who raises Joey and establishes an unbreakable bond with him. His interaction with Joey is so natural and sincere, that it is easy to believe he’s dealing with a living breathing creature. It is the interaction between “human” and “equine” actors that takes this show to a whole new level.
Madeleine Rose Yen, plays Emelie, the young French girl, who gets caught up in the war when the Germans arrive in her village. Her portrayal is riveting.  Whether trying to communicate with the German officer or befriending the horses, she has a gift for enchanting them and the audience.
David Lansbury delivers a finely nuanced performance as the German officer, Hauptmann Friedrich Muller. There is a depth and complexity, showing a very human side to what could have been a very stereo-typed character.
Dramatic and compelling performances are turned in by Andy Murray and Alyssa Bresnahan as Albert’s parents and David Manis and Stephen James Anthony as his uncle and cousin, respectively.
The complexity of the characters is another key to the success of this play which can be attributed to Nick Stafford’s adaptation the novel. Much like real life, there is a lot of ”gray” in the people and situations portrayed. The Good versus Evil is set aside as people are seen through the eyes of a horse who knows nothing about nations and borders.
The storyline is tied together and moved forward by a series of haunting folk melodies, sung with passion and poignance by Kate Pfaffl.
Completing the package are some at times subtle, and at times dramatic, lighting and sound effects. Eerie backlighting and staccato gunfire for the war scenes creates the essence and scope of battle on a very minimalist stage.
Anyone connected to this production, from directors to stagehands, should be very proud. It is ground-breaking, provocative theater that will leave a lasting impression for anyone who sees it.

“War Horse” is currently playing at the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center.  For more informatio, tickets or a sneak peek, check out photos and video at:

A touring production is in the works for the 2012-2013 season which will be coming to 19 cities, including  Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and East Lansing, Mich. If you get the chance — don’t miss this incredible experience.

For a short video about how Handspring Puppet Company created the horses, go to

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Pottstown heats up with Ain’t Misbehavin’ opening Feb. 10

Alexa Morefield and Marc Sherfield
  The Tri-County Performing Arts Center will be hoppin’ starting Friday as singing and dancing  Fats Waller style is featured in the musical, “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”  It  only runs two weekends Feb. 10  through Feb. 19, and tickets are going fast.
  Six performers, all with deep Pottstown roots, will bring alive both the gotta dance music of larger-than-life jazz great Fats Waller and the fun-loving, boisterous personalities and footloose ambience of a 1930s club of the Harlem Renaissance where he regaled audiences. 
  The talent. according to director, Zuhairah McGill, who regularly works in New York and Philadelphia, said, "This show is going to be just as good as what Nell Carter put on Broadway."  (Carter won the 1978 Tony for Featured Actress in a Musical.)
  The cast includes American Idol contestant, Marc Sherfield, who has appeared in numerous Tri-PAC productions, including “The Wiz” and “Ragtime.” He will soon be using his “Golden Ticket” to head for Hollywood for the next round of competition.
  The musical revue will be performed in Tri-PAC's most intimate space -- its second-floor loft -- further enhancing the cabaret experience.  
  As Pottstown native, Alexa Morefield, a member of the ensemble, puts it, "I can look you in the eye and connect with you when I'm singing." 
  Performances run Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m. at the theater located at 245 E. High St., Pottstown. Tickets are $17 for adults, $15 for students and seniors, and $13 for children 12 and under.  Tickets may be purchased at or at the door the night of the show, if available.  As always, there are discounts for groups of 10 or more.  
  Check the website, or call the theater at 610-970-1199 for more information.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

On stage in February


Tri-County Performing Arts 
Center, 245 E. High St. presents  “Ain’t Misbehavin’  Feb. 10- through Feb.19. Winner of the Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Musical, the comic and musical soul of 1930s Harlem lives on in this rollicking,  swinging, finger-snapping revue that is still considered one of Broadway's best! Performances run Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays 3 p.m..  Tickets are $17 for adults, $15 for students and seniors, and $13 for children 12 and under.  Parental guidance is suggested for this show.Tickets may be purchased at or at the door the night of the show if available.  As always, there are discounts for groups of 10 or more.  Check the website, or call the theater at 610-970-1199 for more information.

Hershey Theatre, 15 E. Caracas Ave., Hershey (717-534-3405)
“Come Fly Away” February 16 - 19

 Kutztown University, Schaeffer Auditorium, Kutztown (610-683-4092)
Children's Series presents "Charlotte's Web" by Theatreworks USA at 2 p.m. Feb. 12

People’s Light & Theatre presents
 “Fallow” Jan. 11- Feb. 5
"Of Mice and Men" Feb. 15 through March 25
For more information or to purchase group tickets, call 610-647-1900 x134 or email People’s Light & Theatre is located at 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, PA 19355.

Academy of Music, 1420 Locust St., Philadelphia (215-893-1999)
“RAIN: A Tribute to The Beatles” through  Feb. 5

Arden Theatre Company, 40 N. Second St., Philadelphia (215-922-1122)
"Clybourne Park" - Jan. 26 through March 18

Curio Theatre Company presents Kurt Vonnegut's absurdist classic “Slaughterhouse-Five”  Feb, 2-23. Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time! Curio, in it's own special brand of lunacy, presents Billy Pilgrim as he  simultaneously experiences all the phases of his life: birth to death, battlefield to captivity on the alien planet Tralfamadore. Vonnegut's eloquent and deeply funny plea against butchery in the service of authority is all here. Tickets : $10-$20 Box Office Phone: (215) 525-1350. Performances are at 4740 Baltimore Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 19143 for information go to

Philadelphia Theatre Company
’s local debut of the Tony-nominated musical “The Scottsboro Boys”  will be featured at The Suzanne Roberts Theatre at 480 S. Broad St. on the Avenue of the Arts in Center City Philadelphia.(Jan. 20-Feb. 19). From the legendary songwriting team of Kander and Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago, Kiss of the Spider Woman), The Scottsboro Boys is a stirring musical that explores the infamous 1930s 'Scottsboro Case' in which a group of African-American men are falsely accused of a terrible crime, ultimately provoking a national outrage that sparked the American Civil Rights movement. Tickets mat be ordered online at the website or order by phone at the Box Office at 215-985-0420

Plays and Players Theater, 1714 Delancey St., Philadelphia (215-735-7356)
“Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” through Feb. 4

The Stagercrafters Theater presents “All My Sons” Friday, February 3 through Sunday, February 19 at the theater, 8130 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118. Reservations: 215-247-9913

Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St., Philadelphia (215-413-1318)
  -- Walnut Street Theatre’s Independence Studio on 3 presents David Auburn’s award-winning “Proof.” The show runs through Feb. 5 in the intimate Independence Studio on 3.  For more information about Walnut Street Theatre national tours, visit

-- Walnut Street Theatre presents an all-new production of Agatha Christie’s classic thriller "The Mousetrap." This timeless mystery is the world’s longest running play, celebrating its 60th anniversary.  The show runs through March 4 on the WST Mainstage. Written by Agatha Christie, the play is set in England during the winter of 1952. A group of strangers are trapped together at a manor house during a snowstorm. They soon discover one of them is a murderer and suspicion runs wild. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting or Ticketmaster.

-- Walnut Street Theatre’s Independence Studio on 3 presents the world premiere of “Ethel,” featuring the life stories and memorable songs of Ethel Waters Feb. 21 through March 11. The show was written by and stars Broadway’s Terry Burrell. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787.

Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad St., Philadelphia (215-546-7824)
"Body Awareness" runs through Feb. 5, Tickets $10 to $56.

Tri-County Performing Arts Center, 245 E. High St. presents  “Ain’t Misbehavin’  Feb. 10- through Feb.19.  Performances run Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays 3 p.m..  Tickets are $17 for adults, $15 for students and seniors, and $13 for children 12 and under.  Parental guidance is suggested for this show.Tickets may be purchased at or at the door the night of the show if available.  As always, there are discounts for groups of 10 or more.  Check the website, or call the theater at 610-970-1199 for more information.

Albright College Center for the Arts
-- “The Waiting Room by Megan Smith – Experience Event 
Friday & Saturday, February 3 & 4, 8 p.m., Wachovia Theatre
Written by the sister of Sheryl Smith, director and class of ’13, this controversial play about women in the waiting room of an abortion clinic has received critical acclaim when it was first-performed at Bryn Mawr College. For mature audiences only. A free talkback follows both performances.
--  Domino Players presents “On the Verge,” by Eric Overmyer February 17 – 19 & 23 – 25 all performances, 8 p.m., except Sunday matinee, 2:30 p.m. at the Wachovia Theatre on campus. Call the box office at (610) 921-7547 for prices/tickets.
Eric Overmyer’s whimsical comedy is full of surprises.
- Friday, Feb. 17, Free Talkback & Reception following performance
- Sunday, Feb. 19, 1–2:30 pm, Theatre Luncheon, $25 per person.

Genesius Theatre will present a Reader’s Theatre production of “The Diary of Anne Frank” at the Reading Public Museum in conjunction with “Theresienstadt’s Children and Their Art.”   Performances will be given on February 23 and 26 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, February 26 at 2 p.m.  Tickets will be $12 for members of the museum and $15 for non-members.  Reader’s Theatre is staged as a listening experience with actors using scripts.  It’s focus on the words of the play create a very intense performance.

Sovereign Performing Arts Center, 136 N. Sixth St. (1-800-745-3000)
Broadway on Sixth Street Series presents "The Color Purple" at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21

Reading Community Players present a staged reading of “My Name Is Ossian Sweet” by Gordon Bennett Feb. 17-19 in celebration of Black History Month.  Historians have become increasingly interested in the saga of Ossian Sweet and his family in Detroit in the 1920's. Sweet, a Negro migrant from Florida seeking a better life in the North, became a medical
doctor, married Gladys Atkinson from a middle-class black family, and ultimately bought a “dream house” in a white neighborhood, despite previous attempts by blacks to integrate neighborhoods in a city rife with members of the KKK. They moved into their home, then over two days and nights a mob gathered, screamed and threw stones, attempting to evict them. The Sweets had secured guns to defend themselves, and in the ensuing pandemonium Ossian's brother Henry fired shots from an upstairs window, killing one white man and wounding another. All were arrested and charged with murder. The bold defense of the Sweets by the renowned defense attorney Clarence Darrow over two trials marks one of the most courageous and pivotal moments in the long struggle of African Americans to secure their civil rights. Indeed, it appears to be the first time in this country that an African-American was
acquitted of murder by an all-white jury.
  Reservations may be made by calling the theatre at 610-374-0777 or through Brown Paper Tickets. A free shuttle service is offered by the theatre from the parking lot at the 13th and Green School (enter at Greenwhich Street) to the theatre and back.

Auditions for "Leading Ladies" at Reading Community Players this weekend

Auditions will be held This Saturday and Sunday, February 4 and 5 at 10 AM and 5 PM respectively at Reading Community Players.
No audition materials are required.
Leading Ladies is a comical farce about two men who try to get their hands on some money by pretending to be heirs to an ailing well-to-do woman. Things get complicated when they find out the heirs are actually heiresses, and absolute hilarity ensues The play consists of the following parts:
Meg Snider = early 30′s, vivacious with enormous warmth and a great sense of humor.  She knows there is a big world to explore but has yet to see any of it.
Duncan Wooley =  50- 60′s, minister with a good heart but fussy, set in his ways, scatterbrained, and lost in his own world
Doc Myers = 50′s – crusty, like-able, curmudgeon, country doctor who takes no gruff from anyone
Leo Clark =  30′s-40′s – an actor from England. Witty and very charming. also portrays “Maxine”
Jack Gable = 30′s- 40′s – also a British actor.  sarcastic and a bit uptight.  also portrays “Stephanie”
Audrey = 20′s – extremely sweet and good natured, knows all the town gossip, & like Meg has yet to see anything beyond hometown.
Florence Snider = Meg’s aging Aunt.  ”very old, extremely crusty and has very bad eyesight.”
Bruce Myers = 20′s – Doc’s son, played football in High School, a bit slow on the up-take, but ernest & sincere, with a good heart.

Come out and try out for a part in this humorous piece directed by Tara Sands. Performances are scheduled for April 20-29

Reading Community Players
11th and Buttonwood Street,
Reading, Pennsylvania 19612.
P.O. Box 13425