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Welcome to the Arden Theatre Company blog, where we share behind-the-scenes stories and current happenings with you. You will hear from the Arden staff as well as actors and other visiting artists, and we hope to hear from you, too. If you have an idea for a topic, please post a comment about it. We can't wait to hear what you think!

By Angela DuRoss, Development Director

Our 2012 fundraising event, the Arden Spring Gala, took place on Saturday, April 21. Over 100 guests gathered at The Rittenhouse Hotel to honor the inaugural members of the Cornerstone Society: Frederick W. Anton, III, Gerard J. Conway, Sr., Carole Haas Gravagno, and Aaron Posner. These four individuals have been part of the Arden’s story since its founding twenty-four years ago, and their support, connections, contributions, wisdom and guidance have helped us to become the theatre company we are today.


The evening began with cocktails and a silent auction in the swank Cassatt Lounge of the Rittenhouse. Guests then moved upstairs to the ballroom for dinner, where Alex Keiper opened the evening with a spirited rendition of “Life of the Party” from Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party. Throughout the evening, Amy Murphy and Terry Nolen individually recognized each honoree with great stories of their history with the Arden, as well as fond memories.  Each honoree received a hand-crafted paperweight, modeled after the Arden marquee.   Harkening back to the early days of the Arden, Anne Robinson sang “Song for Old Lovers” from Jacques Brel is Alive and Well, and John Stovicek sang “The Mason” from Working.


The evening could not have been possible without our generous sponsors Harmelin Media, the Independence Foundation, and Karr Barth Associates and Charles and Dr. Mindy Goldberg Rose. Special thanks to Special Events Chair Ronna Hall and the entire Board of Directors for their support as well.  The gala grossed over $89,000 in support of the Arden’s programming.

Here are some photos of the Spring Gala:



by Kristina Chadwick, Charge Scenic Artist


Have you ever sat in math class wondering, “When am I ever going to use this?” Well, if you’re a Scenic Artist painting the set for a show like Robin Hood at the Arden, you’re going to have to do your math.

The painted tubes ready to go on the set.

The set for Robin Hood, which takes place in the Arcadia Theatre, is surrounded by an abstract forest comprised of many cardboard tubes, metal poles and pieces of lumber of varying diameters and widths. These tubes and boards line the walls of the Arcadia – all at a height of 14 feet from floor to ceiling – and also hang horizontally from the ceiling in a canopy of abstract branches. Additionally, the structure at the center of the set is made of steel poles. All of these tubes, poles, and boards are painted various shades of green from a bright lime color to an almost-black forest green.

(If you were to take every section of steel pole, every cardboard tube and every piece of painted lumber that decorates the stage, and then line them up end to end, they would stretch over a mile in length!)

Our Technical Director Glenn Perlman.

When preparing for a show like this one, you must know how much paint you will need to use. A good starting point is to figure the amount of square footage that needs to be covered by each type/color of paint that you need. Our Technical Director, Glenn Perlman, ordered a total of 300 cardboard tubes of varying diameters from 2 inches to 8 inches, all 14 feet in length. To find the square footage of each tube’s surface you must first find the circumference then multiply it by the length. The equation 2 x Radius x Pi (approx. 3.14) gives you the circumference. A 6-inch diameter tube would have the circumference of approximately 18.84 inches, or 1.57 feet. At a length of 14 feet with a circumference of 1.57 feet, each 6-inch diameter tube would have 21.98 square feet of surface area. There are 19 tubes of 6-inch diameter in the set for Robin Hood, meaning the total square footage of the 6-inch tubes was 417.62. One gallon of paint covers roughly 400 square feet; therefore you would need a little more than 1 gallon of paint for those 19 tubes. Similar calculations were made for the other diameters of cardboard tubes (2, 3, 4 and 8 inches), and for the various pieces of lumber and the steel pipes. 

That's Me! Starting to paint the one of many trees.

Overall, we used nearly 10 gallons of paint for the set of Robin Hood, filling the Arcadia space with almost 4,000 square feet of green!  That’s 1,000 square feet larger than a regulation Little League infield.

When you see the show, we hope you will feel inspired by the atmosphere and math all around you!!!

This is Wendy!

Playwright Wendy MacLeod recently moved to Philadelphia for four months to be our first resident writer for The Writers’ Room. During this time, she’ll be creating a brand-new play from the ground up, culminating with a production on our Arcadia Stage in July.


We’ve asked Wendy to let us peek into her process to not only learn a bit about this play as its written, but to also have a small window into what a full-time playwright’s job is like.

This week, Wendy shared a few bits of research she’s conducted for the new play.

One of the antique dental instruments Wendy found

Is there, she wondered, an antique dental tool that could serve as a murder weapon?
A bit of googling led her here
“I learned that dental tools grew out of woodworking tools, which was very helpful plot-wise as I also had a tree surgeon in the background.” (Along with the dentist, we can assume)

Wendy was recently in Salt Lake City, where the new play is set.  One of her characters claimed to have rescued a duck from a fishing net and she wondered if that could have happened: were there ducks in Utah? It turns out there are–at least in January when they’re migrating.  Scrolling through this page, she also learned there were peregrine falcons and burrowing owls. “I liked the name Burrowing Owls,” she said.

So, two weeks into the residency and we know the play has some deadly dental instruments and some migrant ducks. Perhaps in the coming weeks we’ll learn how they fit together!


When Wendy isn’t writing the play, she and her painter husband Read explore Philadelphia. We’ll also share in these blogs new-to-them restaurants, Wendy’s theatre going activities, and anything else fun they discover about our city!

Where Wendy Ate: Vedge

An aspiring vegetarian, Wendy enjoyed eating the salt-roasted gold beets and the grilled seitan with black lentils and grilled leeks.  “I know what you’re thinking:  what the hell is seitan?  Made from gluten, it is the opposite of gluten-free but it was delicious and totally satisfied the lingering meat cravings.  The space is beautiful, our waiter was very sweet, and even though the vegan menu was unfamiliar territory, I was convinced that there are no wrong choices.”

What Wendy Saw: The Curse of the Starving Class at the Wilma Theater

This is one of the first plays I ever loved but I’d never seen a professional production.  As a teen-ager I was obsessed with Emma, the 14-year old girl character; I knew her ALL-CAP lines by heart.   But this time around, I was struck by the mother’s dilemma and admired the way the actress lifted every line from the page and made it real.

by Madame Elizabeth Kohl, Honors French Teacher, Council Rock High School South, Bucks County, PA

Counncil Rock High School South's French Honors III Class outside Arden Theatre Company

What a superb Cyrano!

My French classes loved the energy of the play and were abuzz today sharing their impressions of the actors…describing the drunk, the nurse, Roxane, her nanny , Christian, Montfleury, De Guiche, the narrator’s deep voice, and of course Cyrano’s illustrious panache surrounded by his valiant Gascons! We loved the words, the song, the pace  and the vivid retelling of the classic French story! We study it in French III Honors… so you see…Cyrano means a lot to us!

Merci beaucoup!

Merci mille fois to the amazing cast and crew and the Arden’s organization. We will be back and please do send us the program every year! Bien amicalement!

-Madame Elizabeth Kohl

Arden Theatre Company’s next First Friday event will be TONIGHT – Friday April 6, 2012 5:30-8:00pm. The event will include:

A First Friday crowd enjoying their free beer and performance in our Independence Foundation Studio

  • Performances from “Tell Me A Story” hosted by former APA Hillary Rea. Local actors and storytellers will reveal true stories based on a theme. Secrets are spilled, >discount confessions blurted, and memories shared. Plus one lucky audience member becomes the Wild Card Storyteller, who will tell a tale connected to the evening’s theme.
  • Cyrano-inspired flash duels from Fencing Academy of Philadelphia
  • FREE BEER from Boxcar Brewing Company (one per person, 21+ with ID)
  • Raffle to win tickets to The Scene on Friday May 25, 2012 for Tulipomania: the musical.

Students can buy $5 Tickets to CYRANO with their student ID 5 minutes before showtime at 8:00pm. Limit one per ID, subject to availability.


Stop by and enjoy a free brew on us and an exciting performance you don’t want to miss!

Don’t have any plans for the rest of the evening? Stay and enjoy the 8:00pm performance of our romantic, modern adaptation of Cyrano. This is probably your last chance to see what Philadelphia Weekly calls, “the rare production that will satisfy any theatergoer.”

©2009 Arden Theatre Company, 40 N. 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA 19106. For tickets, call 215.922.1122.
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