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5 Philly theater experts on what to see in 2023

Philly theater folks Alexander Burns, Taysha Marie Canales, Brennen S. Malone, Ariel Wang, and Nick Stuccio chat about the new year and new plays.

Playwright James Ijames stands for a portrait in Mifflin Square Park in South Philadelphia on Tuesday, April 13, 2021. His production "Fat Ham," a queer adaption of Shakespeare's "Hamlet," set in the American South, won a Pulitzer. His upcoming productions in 2023 are some of the most anticipated plays in the new year.
Playwright James Ijames stands for a portrait in Mifflin Square Park in South Philadelphia on Tuesday, April 13, 2021. His production "Fat Ham," a queer adaption of Shakespeare's "Hamlet," set in the American South, won a Pulitzer. His upcoming productions in 2023 are some of the most anticipated plays in the new year.Read moreTIM TAI / Staff Photographer

Resolving to get out more? Put local theater on your to-do/have-fun list. Philadelphia’s theater companies are gearing up for a busy winter and spring with plenty to see every week. The choices can be overwhelming, so we wrote to Philadelphia theater professionals to weigh in on what they loved last year and what they plan for the new year. Here’s what they sent back:

Alexander Burns

Producing Artistic Director at Quintessence Theatre Group.

Working on: Directing The Tempest at Quintessence in March. Can’t wait to collaborate with celebrated actor Lawrence Pressman as Prospero on this epic and magical play about forgiveness.

(March 1-26, “The Tempest,” Quintessence Theatre Group, 7137 Germantown Ave., Phila., 215-987-4450 or

Best 2022 watch: Marco Ramirez’s The Royale at Lantern Theater. The entire ensemble under the powerhouse direction of Zuhairah McGill was literally breathtaking.

Most excited about: Charles Fuller’s A Soldier’s Play. There is nothing like seeing a play at the Forrest Theatre. A classic American drama with the one and only Norm Lewis, directed by Kenny Leon.

(Jan. 24-Feb. 5, “A Soldier’s Play,” Kimmel Cultural Campus’ Forrest Theatre, 1114 Walnut St., Phila., 215-893-1999 or

Taysha Marie Canales


Working on: Kiss by Guillermo Calderón at the Wilma Theater. The HotHouse company of actors had explored and examined the script with director Fadi Skeiker last year, and I’m very excited to be a part of the production.

(Jan. 31-Feb. 19, “Kiss,” Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad St., Phila., 215-546-7824 or

Best 2022 watch: InterAct Theatre’s production of Death of a Driver by Will Snider. The performances, direction, and literally every element of design from lights to sound to costumes to the set came together so beautifully to tell a compelling and emotional story. And my husband, Akeem Davis, moved me to tears with his nuanced crafting of the character Kennedy.

Most excited about: My dear friend James Ijames is writing an adaptation of Medea by Euripides that will be produced by Bryn Mawr College, Haverford College, and the Community College of Philadelphia in April. Raelle Myrick-Hodges is directing, Akeem Davis is starring as Jason, and the cast will feature students from the colleges. I can’t wait to see this one.

Brennen S. Malone


Working on: A production of Harold and the Purple Crayon that’s touring along the East Coast.

Best 2022 watch: School Girls; or, the African Mean Girls Play at the Arden. A lot of my friends were in it and it’s absolutely hilarious. It’s about a part of Blackness that we don’t talk about in theater often — the desire to have lighter skin, sometimes a desire for the proximity to whiteness. Here’s this very important serious topic to talk about and this is a way that makes it palatable. In spite of how serious it is, we can find some levity in trying to overcome the problem.

Most excited about: pay no worship at the InterAct. I love the director. I want to see more from Tyrone Robinson. He did This Bitter Earth last year for InterAct.

(March 31-April 23, “pay no worship,” InterAct Theatre Co., Drake, 302 S. Hicks St., Phila., 215-568-8079 or

Ariel Wang

Costume designer.

Working on: I’m very excited about my upcoming show with Princeton University in April called King of the Yees by Chinese American playwright Lauren Yee. It’s a comedy about the cultural identity of Chinatown and what the Asian community stands for in contemporary society. This production is particularly exciting for me because, as a designer from China, it allows me to bring my unique perspective and cultural background to the production. I am excited to explore the rich history and culture of Chinatown and bring the vibrant and diverse world of Chinatown to life on stage.

(April 7-15, “King of the Yees,” Berlind Theater, McCarter Theatre Center, 91 University Place, Princeton, 609-258-2787 or

Best 2022 watch: Azuka Theatre’s presentation of Young Money. Plays addressing sensitive and controversial issues could be difficult or triggering for some audiences, but Young Money tackled this timely and sensitive topic of gun control, offering a unique perspective at a rather relaxing pace. The chemistry of the two performers on stage was electric. The designs contributed to the overall completeness of the production.

Most excited about: Theatre Exile’s presentation of Abandon by James Ijames. I worked on Ijames’s Reverie this past season, which was such a moving and emotionally powerful story. As a fan of his work, I’m excited to see how he continues to explore the redemption and healing themes in this play. The show will also be a fun project for the designers because there will be magic — a ghost in the show. To create a believable ghostly presence, creative designs of all aspects will be necessary.

(April 27-May 21, “Abandon,” Theatre Exile, 1340 S. 13th St., Phila., 215-218-4022 or

Nick Stuccio

President and Producing Director, FringeArts.

Working on: We at FringeArts have been hard at work on some very exciting updates to our partner restaurant that we look forward to sharing with the public in the spring. This has been a rare opportunity to see how the restaurant can be more fully integrated into the overall FringeArts experience.

Best 2022 watch: This is the Week That Is by 1812 Productions is great. I love it because there is a lot of audience work, which is so fun and unexpected and really hard to do. And they do it well. The writing changes each day based on the news — amazing and very hard to do. The cast is asked to do everything — act, sing, dance, be physical, and to be funny, which is the hardest part! And Jen Childs’ alter ego Patsy is an institution; a great homage to that quintessential Philly character we all know and love — it should be in the pantheon of great Philadelphia acts like Gamble and Huff.

Most excited about: James Ijames’ new work at Theater Exile, Abandon, directed by Brett Ashley Robinson.

(April 27-May 21, “Abandon,” Theatre Exile, 1340 S. 13th St., Phila., 215-218-4022 or

Also: Hedgerow Turns 100

Broadway favorite Austin Pendleton joins Hedgerow’s award-winning artistic director emeritus Penelope Reed for a one-night performance to celebrate the opening of Hedgerow Theatre Company’s 100th anniversary year.

Directed by William Roudebush, A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters will be staged as a pay-what-you-can fund-raiser for Hedgerow. Pendleton will be on stage at Hedgerow on Jan. 7. On Broadway, he is now directing Between Riverside and Crazy at the Hayes Theater. Reed recently completed a sold-out run of her solo show, Eleanor, at the Act II Playhouse in Ambler.

(Jan. 7, “Love Letters,” Hedgerow Theatre Co., 64 Rose Valley Rd, Media, 610-565-4211 or