The Wolves

Kalina Jenkins, a student studying theater at Messiah College, is among the stars in “The Wolves,” a drama centered on a girls soccer team that opens Saturday at Open Stage of Harrisburg.

‘The Wolves,” opening Saturday at Open Stage of Harrisburg, is a mature drama that uses a sports metaphor to explore the complex and sometimes vicious world of teenage girls.

The Wolves are a champion indoor soccer team playing during winter in a nameless Midwest city. The play’s “action” is not on the field, however: The girls’ warm-up sessions before the team’s Saturday games are where the hardest kicks may be delivered.

As the girls, led by team captain No. 25, go through their weekly stretching routines, topics of conversation range from boyfriends and their coach’s obvious hangover to speculation about the new girl, who is said to live in a “yogurt.” Deeper topics include an unwanted pregnancy and an apparent anxiety disorder.

“‘The Wolves’ is a delightful meditation on society, sex and soccer,” the now-defunct Village Voice wrote in its review of the play’s Off-Broadway debut. “(The) dialogue is hilarious and idiosyncratic, moving swiftly from gross-out humor to pain.”

Playwright Sarah DeLappe is responsible for the swirls of overlapping dialogue that make “The Wolves” so intriguing despite its sedentary setting. The play, DeLappe’s first, was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

As the Wolves’ season goes along, the nine-girl team begins to bond on the field, but not always off it. The push and pull of teen angst and occasional cruelty sharpens as tragedy strikes before the final game.

“The Wolves” runs through March 3 at Open Stage, a professional theater in the Walnut Street parking garage in downtown Harrisburg. The show, directed by Rachel Landon, is recommended for audiences ages 14 and older due to strong language, sexual content and mature subject matter.

Musical comedy

Two wildly mismatched families collide at a wedding in the new musical comedy “It Shoulda Been You,” opening Friday night at Allenberry Playhouse in Monroe Township.

This 90-minute show, played without intermission, features book and lyrics by Brian Hargrove with music by Barbara Anselmi. It runs through March 3.

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While chaotic weddings are a common setting for romantic comedies on stage and in film (see “Wedding Crashers,” “The Philadelphia Story” and “Runaway Bride” for examples), “It Shoulda Been You” attempts to breathe some new life into the concept by piling on a stunning array of plot complications that linger into the reception.

The bride’s mother is pushy and the groom’s rigid and vain mom is jealous of her son’s prospective bride, while her ex-boyfriend is desperately trying to stop the marriage. Some people are also keeping some pretty important secrets that lead to some unexpected plot twists.

“It Shoulda Been You” ran on Broadway for five months in 2015, directed by David Hyde Pierce and starring Tyne Daly as the bride’s mom, Judy Steinberg. Allenberry’s production is presented by Keystone Theatrics.

Political drama

Corruption is a never-ending theme of modern American politics, from Warren G. Harding’s Teapot Dome scandal right through to the current Trump presidency.

That makes Gamut Theatre Group’s production of “All the King’s Men,” Robert Penn Warren’s 73-year-old tale about the seduction of power, seem quite timely despite the passage of so many years. Gamut’s drama, which utilizes Warren’s own stage adaption of his original 1946 novel, opens Saturday and continues through March 3 at the professional theater in downtown Harrisburg.

While Warren claimed that “All the King’s Men” was “never intended to be a book about politics,” the allure of winning elections and accumulating influence runs through the story like a tainted stream.

The book follows the rise to power of Southern Gov. Willie Stark, a once-idealistic lawyer who grows more charismatic and less moral as his public profile expands. Just as important is the impact his metamorphosis has on those closest to him, the “King’s Men” of the title.

The novel “All the King’s Men,” which is loosely based on the life of Louisiana Gov. Huey Long (1893-1935), earned the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1947. A 1949 film adaptation received the Academy Award as Best Picture.

While set in the 1930s, when America was a much different place in many ways, “All the King’s Men” continues to serve as a cautionary tale about the potential price of ambition.

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