Jane M. Von Bergen rounds up news, notes, and deals from the region’s theater scene in “Theater Beat.”

Fans of L.A. Law’s Harry Hamlin and Hart to Hart’s Stefanie Powers can see them together in Wilmington through Sunday in One November Yankee at the Delaware Theatre Company. In an ambitious feat of casting, the two stars play three pairs of siblings, all connected by a tragic plane crash.

Both actors have kept busy since their must-see-TV ’80s hits. Hamlin was Emmy-nominated for his role as Jim Cutler in Mad Men and has also appeared in Shameless, Glee, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and more. Powers has acted in West End productions in London and is in the upcoming movie The Artist’s Wife with Lena Olin and Bruce Dern.

Shakespeare in more parks

Shakespeare in Clark Park, the West Philly outdoor theater company, is expanding its free outdoor offerings to Harrowgate Park in North Philadelphia and Vernon Park in Germantown.

The new venues will follow a different model from the popular Clark Park version, with citizen-artists collaborating with professional directors, writers, designers, and actors to create fresh new works riffing off themes they find meaningful in Shakespeare.

“We don’t know what these plays will be," says Paige Zubel, the associate artistic director of Shakespeare in Clark Park. "They’ll be brand-new works, unique to the people and the place where they were made.”

They do know the professional collaborators, though, and it’s an all-star local lineup.

The Harrowgate Park play will be directed by Sam Tower, co-artistic director of the Ninth Planet theater company, and written by Zandra Espinoza, whose work has been produced by PlayPenn and Azuka Theatre.

Nell Bang-Jensen, artistic director of Theatre Horizon, will direct the Vernon Park play, to be written by James Ijames, author of Kill Move Paradise.

Both shows will look for inspiration in the July 2020 Shakespeare in Clark Park production Pericles, Prince of Tyre, a wonderful Shakespearean tangle of mistaken identities – sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, always dramatic.

Speaking of Shakespeare

The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival will produce the beloved comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the drama Henry IV, Part 2 in its 2020 summer season.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream last appeared in the festival lineup in 2009. Henry IV, Part 2 is new to the mix and will be the 31st of Shakespeare’s 38 plays performed at the festival’s theater at DeSales University in Center Valley.

(Left to right:) Alyssa Ramsey, Nondumiso Tembe, and Ilia Isorelys Paulino in "Antony and Cleopatra" at this summer's Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival.
Lee A. Butz
(Left to right:) Alyssa Ramsey, Nondumiso Tembe, and Ilia Isorelys Paulino in "Antony and Cleopatra" at this summer's Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival.

The play is part of a coming-of-age saga begun in King Richard II and Henry IV, Part 1, offered in earlier seasons. What will make this production unusual is what the festival calls the “extreme Shakespeare tradition,” harking back to the late 1590s when the play was written.

Actors show up with lines learned, rehearse how they choose, devise their own costumes, and open in a few days. Anxiety or adrenaline drive the work.

But not all is Shakespeare. Also on the 2020 Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival schedule are A Chorus Line, August Wilson’s Fences, Sense and Sensibility, and An Iliad, with Philadelphia actor Greg Wood.

Vaccinations as drama

Discussions about vaccinations for children have become fraught, with discredited theories about health consequences on one hand and obligations to society on the other. The play Eureka Day at the Interact Theatre Company looks at shots through the lens of parents at a progressive private school who can’t agree about what constitutes social justice. Through Nov. 17.

Dark comedy in mortality

Former Community College of Philadelphia professor Peg Mecham directs Woman and Scarecrow, the story of an Irish mother of eight facing the end of her life, in an Irish Heritage Theater production at Plays andPlayers. An otherworldly scarecrow helps the woman sort out who she is in this darkly comic work by Marina Carr. Through Saturday.

Judged worthy

Bebe Neuwirth in "A Small Fire" at Philadelphia Theatre Company.
Mark Garvin
Bebe Neuwirth in "A Small Fire" at Philadelphia Theatre Company.

Theatre Philadelphia, which administers the annual Barrymore Awards, sends teams drawn from 84 volunteer theater professionals to scout local plays early in their runs. The volunteers then recommend plays to Barrymore judges for future award consideration.

These current plays have made the cut: One November Yankee, Delaware Theatre Company, through Sunday; Bebe Neuwirth in A Small Fire, Philadelphia Theatre Company, through Sunday; Dance Nation, Wilma Theater, extended through Nov. 17; Looking Over the President’s Shoulder, Act II Playhouse, through Nov. 17.