insightful in-depth reviews

The Phantom of the Opera. Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Charles Hart with additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe. Book by Richard Stilgoe and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The Phantom of the Opera has been running in London, New York and on tour for thirty years. It’s the longest-running show in Broadway history, and still playing. We attended the show’s 2017 national tour during a stop at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music and can report that it retains powerful impact.

The touring production is a “re-imagined” Phantom with updated staging, props and …

Red Herring, fishing for Commies

Red Herring. A romantic comedy by Michael Hollinger. Act II Playhouse, Ambler PA.

Red Herring is Michael Hollinger’s most intricate play. His script juggles a spy drama, three romances, a spoof of film noire and a critique of 1950s American politics. This unfolds with humor and a clever ending.

It is 1952; specifically the weeks leading up to election day. Dwight Eisenhower is campaigning for president; America is about to test the H-bomb in the South Pacific. And in this script, Senator Joe McCarthy’s daughter (Eileen Cella) just got engaged to a Soviet spy …

Nat King Cole, recalled dramatically

Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole, by Colman Domingo and Patricia McGregor, directed by McGregor. People’s Light Theater, Malvern PA.

Jukebox musicals have become a major genre in the theater world. People’s Light breaks the mold and goes beyond convention with its world premiere about the career of singer Nat “King” Cole.

This is a theatrical original — a surrealistic concept of what might have gone through Cole’s mind as he saw his TV career ended by bigots and cowardly broadcast executives. The 70-minute production includes many songs associated with Cole, but it omits some of his …

Ideation, an unsettling thriller

Ideation, by Aaron Loeb, directed by Joe Canuso. Theatre Exile, Philadelphia PA.

Playwright Aaron Loeb pulls off a neat trick with his play Ideation, which premiered in San Francisco in 2013 and is getting a stunning debut in Philadelphia. He satirizes the jargon of corporate-speak consultants while simultaneously producing a thriller about a horrifying, world-threatening catastrophe.

“Ideation” is a real word. (“To ideate” is the verb.) The dictionary meaning is “the process of forming ideas.” Yet it’s an obscure word to everyone outside the unreal domain of hired hands who plot strategies for businesses, finding “…

From The Publisher

The Cultural Critic is where thoughtful readers turn for in-depth reviews of artistic events and travel experiences. Our aim is to cover a wide range throughout every category. From theater to book critiques, travel to opera experiences, music to art analysis, The Cultural Critic is your destination for the most comprehensive reviews.

We are proud to have cultural historian Steve Cohen as our lead critic. He is a broadcaster and journalist with degrees in music, theater and communications.

Geoffrey Dobrien, President

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