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Event Name: Mr. Franklin of Philadelphia
  •  "Thoroughly enjoyable and stimulating"
Review posted by: Richard Sedowski from Phoenix, AZ, Nov 07, 2009
 WOW! The best way to study history. Fantastic job by David Lewis. What a writing and acting
talent he is. Can't wait for his next endeavour, but this one will be hard to top. PLEASE go see it.
Hopefully, it can be brought into the schools, or, better yet, the students brought into the theater.
  •  "History brought to life"
Review posted by: Jeff and Ann from Phoenix, AZ, Nov 07, 2009
o Amazing one-man performance by David Lewis portraying the life of Ben Franklin. We were
reminded of historical facts and learned more about his life and family. Viad Theater was a great
intimate setting for this presentation.
  •  "Spectacular!"
Review posted by: Voice Dancer from Phoenix, AZ , Nov 03, 2009
o After recently reading Mr. Franklin's autobiography, this splendid performance brought his
memoir's to life. David Lewis gave an amazing performance, in perfect character, with complete
recall in the monologue. A true artist on the stage. You MUST see this performance!
"Masterful Presentation"
Review posted by: B. J. Campbell from El Mirage, Arizona, Nov 01, 2009
o It was a marvelous first person (one man) historical presentation of Benjamin Franklin as he
recalled for us his lifetime ventures and adventures, filled with abundant history of the time, as
well as a lot of fun trivia.
  • "Great stuff!"
Review posted by: Dana from Surprise AZ, Oct 30, 2009
o Attended the 29/10 performance and was thoroughly impressed with story, lines & acting. Mr.
Lewis was excellent. He was completely able to hold my interest by himself for the entire play.
Sad how so many of Mr. Franklin's observations are still apropro for our country today. Small
criticism is the length, perhaps 20-30 minutes shorter would have been perfect. Plan to return with
my teenage son.
  • "History well portrait"
Review posted by: George and Dagmar Prigatano from Phoenix, AZ, Oct 27, 2009
o David Lewis' performance is excellent, the play riveting and intellectually stimulating. Well
deserving of the community's support.
  •  "So Good I May Have to See it Again!"
Review posted by: Kai from Chandler, AZ , Oct 26, 2009
o My wife and I attended the 10/24 performance and thoroughly enjoyed it. Strong script with a
great combination of biographical/historical information and Franklin-esque adages and
witticisms. I enjoyed Franklin pondering historical dilemmas as much as I enjoyed him discussing
his more personal details and problems. I was surprised by the amount of times I laughed
(courtesy of Franklin's incisive wit, especially seen in 'Poor Richard'). Definitely worth seeing; am
considering attending a second show myself.
  •  "David Lewis Brings Franklin to Life"
Review posted by: L. Brooke from Phoenix, AZ, Oct 25, 2009
o Although not much of a history buff myself, I was more than impressed with Lewis' portrayal of
Benjamin Franklin. The play was informative and entertaining, and the standing ovation speaks
most clearly to the audience's sentiment. If you like history or biographies, you'll love this play!

Actor/playwright David Lewis brings Benjamin Franklin to life in

"Mr. Franklin of Philadelphia"


November 9, 3:06 PM  Phoenix Theater Examiner  Maile Hernandez

"Mr. Franklin of Philadephia" runs through 11/15

It's a common interview question and icebreaker:  if you could have dinner with one figure from history, who would it be?

Local actor and playwright David Lewis, with his one-man play Mr. Franklin of Philadelphia, gives us a chance to experience what it might have been like to share a few glasses of wine with Benjamin Franklin.

Lewis and Franklin already have one thing in common - each wear a lot of hats.  Lewis' website offers a long list of Franklin's -  "printer, pamphleteer, inventor, politician, philanthropist, social activist, scientist, satirist, statesman, and diplomat."  This list doesn't even include husband, father, and friend to dozens of other well-known political figures of his time.

Lewis' own titles include playwright, screenwriter, actor and director.  Even for those of us not necesssarily intrigued by history, Mr. Franklin of Philadelphia is worth seeing for the sheer impressive fact that it was dreamed up and willed into being all through the force and dedication of Lewis alone.  It is a fairly unusual artist, local or otherwise, who has the talent, drive and boldness of spirit to get up one morning and remark, "I do believe I'll write a play, produce it, and perform it, all by myself."

Lewis does an admirable job bringing the figure of Benjamin Franklin out of the dusty pages of history books and onto the stage as a fully rounded human being.  Far from just a figurehead, decorated with accomplishments and spouting words of wisdom, Lewis reminds us that Benjamin Franklin was a person of many facets.  His portrayal of Franklin allows us to see, at various different moments, Franklin's sense of humor, his charm, and his blustering opinionated attitude.  We are also made privvy to some of his deepest personal regrets in regard to his private life. 

A particularly searing moment comes when Franklin makes mention of one of his sons, who died at age four.  He does not dwell on the tragedy.  It is only a sentence or two, brief and blunt, but the fleeting expression of grief is intense and memorable, as is Franklin's later confession of regret at being out of the country, virtually estranged from his wife, at the time of her death. 

On the flip side, Franklin's repeated expressions of irritation at John Adams are endearing and utterly relatable comic relief.  How many co-workers annoy each other in a multitude of ways?

Lewis brings extraordinary heart, effort and talent to this obvious labor of love.  His dedication is evident in his attention to detail and meticulous preparation.  Throughout the entire evening of nonstop talking, he never stumbles over even a single word. 

The Phantom of the Opera it is not, and a dedicated attention span is required.  But there is a very relaxing rhythm to the show.  It has the feel of sharing a living room with a very personable companion, just passing the the night away sharing war stories and observations about people's idioscyncracies.  That companion just happens to be Benjamin Franklin. 

That Lewis undertakes this massive an endeavor at all is worthy of applause and admiration, even if the final product were only mediocre.  But the fact is that Mr. Franklin of Philadelphia is an excellent piece.  It is thought-provoking and enlightening, and would be a very effective educational tool if performed, in whole or in part, for student audiences.  With any luck, this will not be the last we hear of this intelligently written show.

Mr. Franklin of Philadelphia will complete its run at the Playhouse on the Park, on the ground floor of the Viad Tower, with performances November 12-15. 

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