WHAT: Curio Theatre Company, a professional theater company in University City specializing in modern and classic productions. It opened in October 2001, primarily as a touring company, before settling in West Philadelphia. Its first show was a two-man production of Homer’s “The Iliad” in Center City.
SETTING: 815 S. 48th St., near the intersection of 48th Street and Baltimore Avenue. The Box Office is at the Calvary Center for Culture and Community at 4740 Baltimore Ave.
WHY: Curio showcases professional performances for reasonable prices. For Monday through Thursday shows, tickets are $15 for adults, seniors and students. Friday and Saturday shows are $22 for adults and $19 for seniors and students. Students 12 and under can see any performance for $10.
THE PLAY’S THE THING: “We do a bit of Shakespeare,” says Artistic Director Jared Reed. “We’re doing a little Commedia dell’arte [Italian improvised theater] stuff.” Classics include “The Nutcracker” and Homer’s “The Odyssey,” which runs until March 15. Moderns include “Death and the Maiden,” a politically-charged play from the early 1990s, and “What the Butler Saw,” a farce from the 1970s, which runs from April 24 through May 17.
FANTASTIC VOYAGE: Reed says Curio’s blend of fantasy and language plays (where actors evoke the scenes through speech alone) make it unique. Actors in “The Odyssey” are set behind a large table with instruments and try to perform the play as Homer would have. “In terms of artistic style, it’s the language, highly imaginative and a distinct style for the piece” that distinguishes it from others, Reed says. “We tend to stay away from Modern American generalism.”
TAILOR MADE: “We do a lot of adaptation,” Reed says, citing “The Nutcracker,” which was adapted from the original story. “Next year we’re probably going to have two totally original pieces,” he adds. “And we’ll try to keep the same blend of original, classic adaptation, because that way I think there’s something for everyone.”
ENCORE! ENCORE!: If you enjoy a particular performance, you can see it again for only $10.
HOME GROWN: Most of the actors are from Philadelphia or the Philadelphia area, and Reed says, “ultimately we’re trying to come up with a resident company of actors and artists that live here and work here,” he says.
LITTLE THEATER: Curio works with students at the nearby Lea Elementary School, Spruce Hill Christian School, Shaw Middle School and St. Francis de Sales Catholic School, offering scholarships to Curio’s in-house school and providing arts education. For the majority of students, it is their first experience with theater.
CURTAIN CALL: For tickets and more information, call 215-525-1350 or visit the theater’s website at www.curiotheatre.org.
Originally published on March 6, 2008