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That '90s Show

By John Rowell
Photo: Kate Raines/Plate3Photography

What strange things could befall theatergoers who enter a play called Sophie Gets the Horns? That terribly odd, but intriguing title reveals a drama about young artists, fatal rivalries, sexual warfare and suicidal depression, set in the mid-90s at an elite liberal arts college. What we have is four students, a young professor and an event that changes all their lives... enough said here! Sophie is written by Adriano Shaplin, and is a production of The Riot Group, with performances taking place May 4-20 at the Incubator Arts Project, and featuring Kristen Bailey, Drew Friedman, Mary Tuomanen, Stephanie Viola and the playwright himself. Rebecca Wright directs. For more info, visit


One of my favorite theater and film historians is John DiLeo, who has previously written four very entertaining and informative books on the subjects of classic movies, movies awaiting rediscovery, great film performances and the films made from Tennessee Williams’s plays. Now Mr. DiLeo has a sequel to a previous volume entitled Screen Savers II: My Grab Bag of Classical Movies, which focuses on neglected screen gems and the reason the author thinks they should not be so neglected — all told in Mr. DiLeo’s witty, clever and perceptive prose. The book has just been issued by Hansen Publishing Group and is a must for movie buffs of both classic and obscure films. For more work by John DiLeo, check out his blog at and for more information on the new volume, visit


Poor Pinocchio. First turned into a donkey and now a presumably expired character in the play Pinnocchio’s Ashes, a new psychological thriller by young Danish playwright Jokum Rohde, which is currently in performance at Theater for the New City through April 29. A production of The Scandinavian Theatre Company, Pinnocchio’s Ashes is set in the city of Kongstad, where a national ban has been imposed on art and culture — in fact Judge Wolff enforces the ban by ordering severe punishments of those secretly practicing art! (I’m wondering if arts journalists are spared!) In fact, the first line of Rohde’s play belongs to Judge Wolff, who declares, “I love the smell of classics burning in the morning.” Yikes!  Henning Hegland directs. Visit 


Everybody wants it, everybody needs it, but everybody has a different way of going about getting it. Moolah, baby! And Moolah is the title of Arje Shaw’s new comedy drama, which receives a staged industry reading on Monday, May 7, at The Triad Theatre, featuring Mario Cantone and Joe Pantoliano. Seems in Mr. Shaw’s play, two con men fall out of favor with the Mob, leaving them in a position of having to con each other… but are they really just conning themselves? Think of it as Waiting for Godot meets The Sopranos, and you’ll get the idea. Charles Messina directs the reading; perhaps we’ll be hearing more plans for Moolah shortly.


He was one of our finest playwrights, and the Annual National August Wilson Monologue Competition continues to memorialize and perpetuate the work of this outstanding writer of the theater. The fourth annual event will be held on Monday, May 7, at, appropriately enough, the August Wilson Theatre. The event is free and open to the public, and features high school students from Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Pittsburgh and Seattle performing monologues by the late and legendary playwright. Co-sponsored by Jujamcyn Theaters and Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company, the event will be judged by Pauletta Washington, Lynn Nottage, Jasmine Guy, James A. Williams and David Gallo. The evening will also feature a performance from Wilson’s play Gem of the Ocean, featuring Phylicia Rashad and Condola Rashad. For more info on the event and the competition, visit