Friday, May 30, 2008

The Scene for May 30, 2008 UPDATED

It's almost June in South Florida. We're now into the days of the daily deluge, and eyeglasses that fog up when you step outside.

Must be time for Summer Shorts.

This is the thirteenth year for the short play festival, and not only is there no signs of aging, it's still growing; in addition to its usual bill of "Program A" or Program B", City Theatre has added "Shorts 4 Kids," for they, you know, the kids, and "Undershorts," an edgier late-night set of plays for, um, not the kids.

The Herald's story is here. It includes photos of the production, video clips, and an interview with artistic director Stuart Meltzer.

"We're doing 30 plays I'm unbelievably proud of. I read every one, picked them. I'm proud of the material and the aesthetic. I looked at what made the festival successful -- which is to respect the playwright.''

Christine Dolen is plugging Nice Jewish Girls Gone Bad on her blog. It's a one-off this Saturday at the Alfred I Dupont building in Miami. Tickets are $18, available through or by calling 1-800-838-3006. Email The Open Tent for more info.

She also reminds us that Rafael de Acha's Theater by the Book company is presenting another reading this Sunday. It's got an all-star cast appearing at the Dave and Mary Alper Jewish Community Center.

New Times ran its Summer Shorts story last week. I guess Brandon's on vacation this week, because if you believe the New Times, there is no theater this week.

The Sun-Sentinel reports that the Stage Door Theatre has given up the space in Wilton Manors, but has a full season planned for its main (and now only) base of operations in Coral Springs. They are running the one-woman show Filler Up through June 8. The theater at Wilton Manors will be re-opened by G-Four productions in the near future, although no dates have been announced.
Jack Zink also brings us up to speed on upcoming events at several local companies, including New Theatre, Palm Beach DramaWorks, and the Jesus Quintero Studio. Good news: if you missed the Studio's production of The Sorrows of Young Werther, they're remounting it at the Miami Light Box's Light Box Studio at 3000 Biscayne Boulevard in Miami. Starst Thursday

Hap Erstein at the Palm Beach Post finally saw Body of Water at the Mosaic Theatre:
Clement and Dimon subtly emphasize the normalcy and frustration of an erased brain, a condition we all fear is around the corner. Far more self-aware yet just as enigmatic is Dean's Wren - helpmate or tormentor? - and the actress shows why she has quickly become one of the area's most compelling stage performers.

Director Richard Jay Simon lends his usual deft touch, injecting dramatic variety to a play that could have come off as merely one-note. The increasingly assured Mosaic Theatre wades into Blessing's murky waters and adventuresome audience members will be enriched by dipping in their toes.
Nice review, Hap. But where the hell were you the previous four weeks of the run? I haven't read four weeks of reviews in the Post. Shame on you!

But there are plays this weekend:

Body of Water closes this Sunday at the Mosaic Theatre in Plantation.

Palm Beach DramaWorks continues its run of the critically acclaimed production of Benefactors.

Ordinary Nation is still dealing at Florida Stage.

The Caldwell Theatre is offering Pete 'n' Keely through July 6.

And, of course, all the various Shorts programs by City Theatre, this week playing at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Scene for May 23, 2008

Memorial Day weekend, and it's your last chance to catch some shows; here's a list of shows closing this holiday weekend:

Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks
at the Rising Action Theatre Company.

The Accomplices at GableStage.

Thumbs, at Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater

The Miami Herald's Critic's Pick is Summer Shorts. It's a strange choice because Summer Shorts doesn't actually open until NEXT week. It's certainly something to anticipate. But perhaps it's because Christine Dolen didn't like Makeover: A Contemporary Fairy Tale, playing at the re-animated Hollywood Playhouse.

The Sun-Sentinel chose a show that is actually playing this weekend for its Critic's Pick; Thumbs, at Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater. The Sun-Sentinel also published its infrequent Capsule Theatre Reviews feature. They're also plugging something for the kids: Nick Tickle, Fairy Tale Detective. This is a Fantasy Theatre Factory production, presented at the Sunrise Civic Center Theatre.

Brandon Thorp isn't reviewing anything in the current issue of the Miami New Times; he's joining the Herald in plugging City Theatre's beloved Summer Shorts. But he does have a review up in the Broward/Palm Beach edition; Florida Stage's Ordinary Nation. And it seems that he listened to my lament about his use of space, because he also mentions a slew of other projects you can still see this weekend!
"This month finds the brilliant, funny/depressing Benefactors still running at Palm Beach Dramaworks while the brilliant, funny/scary Body of Water rolls along at Mosaic. Moody Beirut,
just finished at Sol Theatre Project, and now Florida Stage — which was Palm Beach County's songiest,
danciest, and cheesiest company of 2007 — has opened the southeastern
premiere of Ordinary Nation."
Brandon likes this play, or at least this production of it; and while he enumerates the things he likes about it, he writes with a deft hand and a clear sense of proportion.
"'ve got a production that by all rights should sink under its own weighty meaningfulness. Nation doesn't, and Florida Stage's madcap interpretation deserves as much credit as Carter W. Lewis' funny, soulful script."
It's going to be a muggy, humid, hot holiday weekend; slip into a cool theater and escape into the worlds that only theatre can take you to. You'll be out in plenty of time for that Monday barbecue in the back yard.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Scene for May 16

The Miami Herald
The Miami Herald gives a positive review A Body of Water at Mosaic Theatre. Howard Cohen gives THUMBS at Actors' Playhouse a thumbs up. Christine Dolen may not have a review up, but she's been busy at her blog.

The Sun-Sentinel
Bill Hirschman over at the Sun-Sentinel also liked A Body of Water at Mosaic Theatre. Mary Damiano reviews Ordinary Nation at Florida Stage for the Sentinel, and - surprise! - actually offers some opinions. She's still a dry read, but at least you know how she felt about the play. It's a notable improvement.

The Palm Beach Post
Hap Erstein at the Palm Beach Post also wrote about Ordinary Nation at Florida Stage. He liked it rather more than Mary Damiano did. He also liked New Vista's production of I'm not Rappaport.

New Times
Brandon Thorp seems mixed about about Body of Water up at Mosaic Theatre. I think. He's sunk a little deep into his own masturbatory "gonzo" style of review, so he starts off with a rambling paragraph composed of random statements and questions before he actually starts off his review by incorrectly stating that Lee Blessing is English (he's not).

Some of his quirkier bits from this 'review;'
"Lee Blessing doesn't have any manners either, even though he's English (they've been going downhill for a while now). If he did, he wouldn't make people sit through the awesomely squirm-inducing existentialist exercise he calls Body of Water. Not that Body of Water is bad. Most likely, this is the best thing Mosaic Theatre has done since Thom Paine..."
On a more rational note:
"I've known for a couple of years that Clement can squeeze more raw feeling into an inch of his face than almost any dozen actors in South Florida, but Dimon, in the most tortured role she's tackled in a long while, is a happy surprise."
I've had the pleasure of working with both of these actors, and while Brandon's surprised by Dimon, I've long said of Dimon what he thought of Clement. Absolutely see these two actors onstage together.

Brandon seems to be back on his meds for his review of THUMBS at Actor's Playhouse. He didn't think much of it, but he did like Angie Radosh and Wayne Steadman, whom he refers to as "a saving grace."

Still playing:
The Naked Stage's critically praised 4.48 Psychosis
It's the last weekend for THREE FITTINGS at The Women's Theatre Project

Broward/Palm Beach New Times' Best of 2008

The Broward/Palm Beach version of New Times' Best of 2008.

Best Theater For Drama
Palm Beach Dramaworks

Best Actor
Todd Allen Durkin Thom Paine

Best Actress
Pilar Uribe 9 Parts of Desire

Best Supporting Actor
Terrell Hardcastle Doubt

Best Supporting Actress
Pat Bowie Doubt

Best Play
John Patrick Shanley's Doubt

Best New Play
Juan C. Sanchez's Red Tide

Best Musical
A Murder, A Mystery, A Marriage, Florida Stage

Best Set Design
Tim BennettThe Clean House

Best Director
J. Barry LewisThe Fourth Wall

Best Ensemble Cast
The Fourth Wall Palm Beach Dramaworks

Miami New Times Best of 2008

The Miami New Times put out its Best of 2008.

Best Acting Ensemble
The Cast of Fill Our Mouths

Best Actor
Erik Fabregat for Animals & Plants

Best Supporting Actor

Sheaun McKinney for Jesus Hopped the "A" Train

Best Actress
Lela Elam for In the Continuum

Best Supporting Actress
Kei Berlin for Animals & Plants

Best Director
Paul Tei for Mr. Beast

Best Costume Design

Ellis Tillman for Altar Boyz, Martha Mitchell Calling*, and Urinetown
*(Tillman didn't actually do the costumes for MMC except for Gordon McConnel's suit)

Best Set Design

Michael Amico for Summer Shorts (2007)

Best Musical
Urinetown, Actors' Playhouse

Best Theatrical Production
Animals & Plants, Mad Cat Theatre

Best Theater
Mad Cat Theatre

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Local Son Honored

Steve Owen has been following the career of Alex Lacamoire for a few months.

Now, he alerts us to his latest success.

Congratulations, Alex. And thanks for keeping us updated, Steve.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Scene Addendum for May 9: Brandon's Bits

Somehow I missed including the New Times' reviews for this week's Scene. I wouldn't want to deprive anyone of their weekly Gonzo theatre review fix.

Miami Edition
Waiting until basically the last minute, Brandon finally reviews M Enembles' acclaimed production of FROM THE MISSISSIPPI DELTA. He liked it: LMAO funny that it's a damn crime to leave you but a single weekend
to rearrange your plans, make your reservations, and get your ass to The M
Ensemble to see it.

Just so you know, Brandon, the play actually ran for a month; that's FOUR WEEKS to see the play. That bit should read "it's a damned crime I left you but a single weekend following my review." And hopefully, no one is waiting on one critic's opinions to decide whether or not to see a show.

Broward/Palm Beach
Brandon uses an entire page to review THREE FITTINGS, the current offering from The Women's Theatre Project. This show has gotten mixed reviews all around, but Brandon basically refined the problem with the script to this one line:

Theater generated in this way is about as organic as Spam.

He does go on to absolve director Genie Croft and the cast from any complicity in this show's flaws. And then he writes paragraphs and paragraphs about the flaws in the play. It's a waste time and ink to drive home the same point again and again... and again. Better to do a second review than flog a rotting corpse of a horse.

The Scene for May 9, 2008

It's beginning to feel like summer outside, but the plays keep coming!

THUMBS! opens this weekend at Actors' Playhouse. Written by Rupert Holmes, directed by David Arisco, and featuring the talents of Barbara Sloan, Angie Radosh, Allan Baker, Zolan Henderson, and Wayne Steadman.

BODY OF WATER opens at Mosaic. This Lee Blessing play features Ken Clement, Beth Dimon and Kim Morgan Dean.

This is the opening weekend for Florida Stage's latest offering, ORDINARY NATION. Another in a long line of regional premiers directed by Louis Tyrell.

The Naked Stage's critically praised 4.48 Psychosis is still playing Barry University's Pelican Theater. This is one of those don't-miss-it plays; so don't miss it.

Jack Zink at the Sun-Sentinel is pushing I'M NOT RAPPAPORT, featuring Broadway's Bruce Adler and TV's Clarence Gilyard. It runs through May 18 at the West Boca Performing Arts Center, produced by The New Vista Theatre Company.

THREE FITTINGS continues at the Women's Theater Project, and Gablestage still has THE ACCOMPLICES onstage.

The critically acclaimed Palm Beach Dramaworks production of BENEFACTORS continues through June 19th.

These are just a few of the offerings around South Florida this weekend; has many more shows listed for your perusal.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Scene for May 2, 2008

Sorry for the delay in this week's update, but after the reading at Books & Books, my internet was down at home. For anyone interested in how the reading went, I've written about it on Man, or Maniac?.

On with this week's Theatre Scene:

This is the last week for the critically acclaimed TWELVE ANGRY MEN at the Broward Center. This is a top-notch production, direct from Broadway.
Trivia Point: the play takes place in real time; the play is as long as the event it portrays. There is one reference to the time of day, and there is a clock clearly visible on the set. The stage manager had to time how long it took to get to the point where the time is mentioned, and sets the clock accordingly. Every actor in the show that wears a watch sets it to that clock prior to every performance. This is the kind of detail you only find in the best productions!

The Miami Herald recommends 4.48 Psychosis, presented by Naked Stage at Barry University's Pelican Theater. Christine Dolan gives it a strong review. She's less effusive about The Accomplices at Gablestage:
"...the undeniable power of The Accomplices flows more from its story than the storytelling." - Christine Dolan
Ms. Dolan also finds Three Fittings, the current offering from the Women's Theatre Project to be a little rough around the edges:
"Three Fittings is one more rewrite away from assuming its own best shape. But it is getting a good first production at WTP, one that will resonate with anyone who has been a bride, a bride's mom or both." - Christine Dolan
The Sun-Sentinel recommends seeing I'm Not Rappaport at the New Vista Theatre. This production features South Florida perennial favorite Bruce Adler, and additional star power from Clarence Gilyard.

The Sun-Sentinel also praises 4.48 Psychosis;
"...the fledgling Naked Stage, guest director Paul Tei, a superb design team and a profoundly committed cast have invested imagination and insight to create a stunningly theatrical production of a flawed play" - Bill Hirschman
The Palm Beach Post writes about Benefactors, the next production from Palm Beach Dramaworks. Or do they?

This is a the typical piece that every newspaper puts out so they can beat their chest and claim they are covering theater. It's not bad, but frankly we should see one of these stories for EVERY play at EVERY professional theater, and not just when the entertainment editor can't find more titillating gossip about whatever starlet has been caught making amateur porn with her boyfriend. But we get some nice insights from director J. Barry Lewis that underscore the relevance of Michael Frayn's 20 year old play.

About halfway through the article, you're suddenly reading about another theater company and another production entirely. Too cheap to publish a second article, the Post simply crams in a different story into the first. They couldn't even be bothered to throw in a new heading to let you know you're reading something else. I guess they fired the editors FIRST at the Post. If you didn't know what an awful rag the Post has become, this one story drives the point home.

But despite the fact that it's become an awful turd of a newspaper, the Post still managed to publish Hap's review of BENEFACTORS.
"...a play of ideas that is both timeless and universal." - Hap Erstein
Now it's time for our weekly installment of Brandon K Thorpe, courtesy of the NEW TIMES.

Brandon joins the chorus of praise for 4.48 Psychosis:
"The net result is a production that explores death from the wrong end and actually seems to tell us something — even though the script often sounds like something posted on a MySpace blog by a 14-year-old emo chick. This is a remarkable flaw for a play that might be the most exciting thing to happen to South Florida theater this year."
He also enjoyed BENEFACTORS up at Palm Beach Dramaworks: and as usual, Brandon goes beyond anything that any other reviewer would put on paper:
"Everything about her is overwhelmingly communicative: her bottomless smiles; her busy, thinking eyes; the disarmingly conversational drift
of her lines that can blind you to just how much thought the woman has given to even her teensiest inflections.(Nanique) Gheridian's awesome, just awesome..."

Brandon heaps on the praises, but this is a company know for its good work. The awesomeness of Nanique Gheridian aside, this production has truckloads of talent behind it. And I suspect that Brandon's on track when he says "run, skip, fly to Palm Beach Dramaworks!"

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Rare Appearance

It's late notice, but I've been asked to fill in for Ken Clement at a reading! I will be reading from ADDRESS UNKNOWN at the Books & Books store in Bal Harbor Shoppes. Ken performed the role of Martin Hulse at GableStage a couple of years ago, sharing the stage with Avi Hoffman as Max Eisenstein. Conflicts in Ken's rehearsal schedule forced him to drop out, but events transpired to put me back in front of an audience.

The reading takes place today, May1st, 6pmat Books & Books, 9700 Collins Avenue, Bal Harbour. The store is located on the second level, near Sak's Fifth Avenue. For info, call 305.864.4241