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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!

Yesterday, the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia announced the nominations for Barrymores, our area’s awards for excellence in theatre. We were thrilled to receive 16 nominations, covering the full range of the Arden’s work!

Here is the full list of our nominations:
• Outstanding Overall Production of a Play – The History Boys
• Outstanding Overall Production of a Play – If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
• Outstanding Overall Production of a Musical – Sunday in the Park with George
• Outstanding Direction of a Play – James J. Christy Rabbit Hole
• Outstanding Direction of a Play – Walter DallasBlue Door
• Outstanding Music Direction – Eric Ebbenga Sunday in the Park with George
• Outstanding Leading Actor in a Play – Steve Pacek as Mouse – If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
• Outstanding Leading Actress in a Play – Grace Gonglewski as Becca – Rabbit Hole
• Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Play – Kes Khemnu as Simon, Rex, Jesse – Blue Door
• Outstanding Set Design – David P. GordonIf You Give a Mouse a Cookie
• Outstanding Lighting Design – Thom WeaverBlue Door
• Outstanding Costume Design – Rosemarie E. McKelveySunday in the Park with George
• Outstanding Sound Design – Jorge CousineauThe History Boys
• Outstanding Original Music – Christopher ColucciRabbit Hole
• Outstanding Original Music – Robert KaplowitzBlue Door
• Outstanding Ensemble in a Play – The History Boys

Congratulations to all the artists that made our 2009-10 Season such a success!

Who do you think will take home a Barrymore Award on October 4?

In today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, staff writer Dianna Marder learns all about how we create the baked goods consumed onstage during Rabbit Hole.

Exactly how much are the actors eating? Courtney Riggar, the Arden’s Production Manager, did the math:

44 cakes, 80 creme caramels, five zucchini breads, 160 beers and 40 gallons of milk.

Click here to read the whole article in the food section.

If you are in the baking mood yourself, here’s the recipe Grace Gonglewski uses for her lemon squares.

Ultimate Lemon Squares
Makes 24 squares

One 9x13x2-inch pan, buttered and lined with buttered parchment or foil

For cookie base:
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour

For the lemon topping:
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons strained lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

Confectioners’ sugar for finishing

1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

2. For the base, in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and continue beating a minute or two, until light. Lower the speed and beat in the flour.

3. Spread the dough over the bottom of the prepared pan, using a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon to smooth it. Bake the base about 20 to 25 minutes, until golden and baked through.

4. While the base is baking, prepare the topping. Be careful not to overmix the topping or it will have a coarse-textured foam on the top when baked. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs just to break them up. Whisk in the sugar, then the lemon juice and zest.

5. As soon as the base is baked, remove it from the oven and pour on the topping. Immediately return the pan to the oven and continue baking the squares for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, or until the topping is set and firm.

6. Cool on a rack until completely cooled.

7. To cut the cake, use the paper to transfer it to a cutting board; slide a long knife or spatula between the cake and the paper or foil, then pull it away. Trim the edges, use a ruler to mark, then cut the cake into 2-inch squares.

8. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving. For up to several days, store the squares in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting cover.

Per square: 196 calories, 2 grams protein, 27 grams carbohydrates, 19 grams sugar, 9 grams fat, 57 milligrams cholesterol, 13 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber.

Happy Baking!

Rabbit Hole inspires conversation. Watch the video preview, read what Arden audience members are saying, and then join the discussion. Add your comment here, post on your Facebook, or just talk about it over coffee. We want to know what you think!

“We enjoyed the play. Excellent pacing, and acting, terrific set and costuming. The play touched many emotions since we, too, suffered the loss of a child (even at her 34 years it was not easy). But as the play implies you go on and now we celebrate her life and accomplishments through the many legacies she left.” -Saul and Miriam

“I was worried going into this play because the subject matter is not something I would seek out for entertainment. But the play was amazing and I am really glad you did it (though I am starting to get a bit weepy at my desk just thinking about it!) I think if the characters had less prickly personalities it would have turned into a very maudlin play. It could also have hit us on the head with the guilt each character felt, but it handled that part really well, and I felt there was hope at the end. So, good job!” -Camille

“We went to the play last night with trepidation, expecting something “heavy.” What a pleasant surprise to encounter such a well-written, balanced presentation of the emotions that follow bereavement. (And, of course, the acting was superb!)” -Sandy

“The play was excellent – one of the best ever. I had read all about it when it was on Broadway so knew it would be a terrific work. The acting was wonderful. Each character was so well done. I was particularly impressed with Howie. As my father and brother both died quite young I am well-acquainted with grief and have read a lot about grief. Rabbit Hole was such a close and accurate look at grieving. So many people in the audience were nodding at different times. I think it reaches audience members in a very personal way.” -Julie

“My husband and I have been members for several years now and I must say that the plays have been enjoyable and at times provocative. Rabbit Hole was just magnificent and we and our friends who join us for the Sun. afternoon series couldn’t stop talking and debating the play. All of us thought it was right on target in depicting trauma and individual response to tragedy.” -Lynda

“We hesitated to even go, as the subject matter seemed too awful to endure. But we were there and it was wonderful. So sensitively done. The acting, set and direction were up to the usual Arden standards.” -Lita

“This was our first time at the Arden – and we loved it. We received the postcard and got some friends involved to subscribe to three plays. Rabbit Hole was quite moving for me — and stimulated great conversation post performance. We were very impressed by the production. Loved the use of the stage and the moving sets. Thought the production values were spot on. And most important – loved the writing. How the playwright set up the action – use of language, twisting repetition of events, the contortions of familial communication. And of course, the director brought it all to life with balance and momentum.” -Laura

“I attended the show on Friday night and, knowing a bit about the story line, was not sure if I would enjoy the play. The acting was spectacular. Everyone was wonderful. It was one of the best productions I have seen in a long time. Thanks to all for a memorable evening.” -Nancy

“We thought the play was wonderful and we’ve recommended it to friends. I felt it was a perfect play in many ways: It was unflinchingly honest and accurately portrayed a family in grief over the loss of a child. The playwright balanced the grief with well-timed flashes of humor, in order to prevent the story from sinking into bathos. The acting was on target and I never detected a false note in anyone’s performance.” -Jay

“We liked it very, very, much… Very well written play. I can easily see why it won a Pulitzer. Very nicely performed as well.” -Anne

After a performance this week, > we hung out with the ladies of Rabbit Hole in their dressing room. Over wine and cheese, we talked about becoming a family onstage, >mind and their process of working on the play. Check out this video and then continue the conversation on Thursday, November 12 at our Rabbit Hole Salon, where you can share wine and cheese with the cast and ask your own questions!

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