Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Scene for August 1, 2008 (updated)

It's hard to believe that it's already August! Summer seems to be flying by, but it's not over yet. But that's OK, the Theatre Scene continues to sizzle in a far more pleasant manner.

Slow summer? DOUBT that!

Caldwell Theatre re-mounts its critically acclaimed production of DOUBT. According to their website, everyone that made the show a success has returned:
"Returning with the cast that made magic in its South Florida Premiere at Caldwell, Doubt features Pat Nesbit as Sister Aloysius, Terry Hardcastle as Father Flynn, Pat Bowie (2007 Best Supporting Actress in a Play Carbonell Award-Nominee for Doubt) as Mrs. Muller and Amy Montminy as Sister James"
But it's a limited engagement: you've only got until August 17th.

Endless Summer...

For some theaters, the summer is a little bit longer that it was:

As previously noted, Sol Theatre Project has extended its run of Why We Have A Body to August 9th. It may be too racy for patron, but if you want to see something challenging, two out of three theater critics recommend it.

Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater has also extended the run of its production of MIDLIFE: The Crisis Musical. It's held over until August 24th. But don't count on further extensions; I understand that one of the cast members may have a prior commitment. So if you haven't seen it yet, don't wait too much longer.

It's not for nothing at the Stage Door Theatre: ZERO HOUR has been held over through August 10th, according to the Sun-Sentinel. (Psst - Dave Torres, you should get your website updated!)

The Endless Summer hasn't melted Slava's Snowshow at the Arsht Center, either. According to Christine Dolen's review in the Herald,
"'s already a hit with Miami audiences who have been flocking to the show and snapping up tickets since it began ... Ticket sales are so strong, in fact, that the show's run has been extended through Aug. 31."

"For some, Slava's Snowshow will be joyous fun and nothing more; for others, the experience will burrow deeper and turn poignant."
This is another show that friends are raving about. It's been described as a combination of Cique de Soleil and Blue Man Group.

There's a Land That I See...

A show that hasn't been extended: FREE TO BE...YOU AND ME, a musical for kids, closes on Saturday. If you think the title is familiar, this is a live show based on the TV special from the 70s produced by Marlo Thomas. It's a 2pm curtain on Saturday at Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre.

Summertime DREAM

DREAM A LITTLE DREAM: THE NEARLY TRUE STORY OF THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS continues its run at Florida Stage in Manalapan. Here's a tip for you: go a little early, and walk across A1A to the Lantana Beach. Have dinner at the Dune Deck Cafe, nestled in the dunes looking over the beach. It's a good meal, but don't expect a five-star restaurant - you're there for the view and the ocean breeze. Get a little sand between your toes before you wander back to the theater to see the show.

A Summer Fantasia

SOUVENIR - a Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins, continues to run at Palm Beach DramaWorks. A friend came in this morning RAVING about this show. And who can blame her? It stars the amazingly versatile Elizabeth Dimon, and she's supported by Tom Kenaston.

Seriously, everyone loves this show. Don't miss.

Oh, Yeah, and These, Too:

The Sisters Rosenweig at Rising Action Theatre Company.

at the Lake Worth Playhouse.

Girls Night: The Musical
moves from the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach to the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale.

Now I'm off to watch Ken Clement on BURN NOTICE. And keep following the progress of RED TIDE at the Minnesota Fringe Festival right here on the South Florida Theatre Scene!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sightings: Ken Clement

Local actor Ken Clement appears on the July 31st episode of BURN NOTICE on USA Network. The episode is titled COMRADES.

There is no truth to the rumor that Ken plied me with expensive single-malt to get this posted; truth to tell, it was a cheap but smooth blend, and he didn't so much ply me as grumble "there's scotch, there's the ice. What am I, a waiter?"

I asked Ken about working on the episode. How did it go?
"Are you kidding? I got to spend the day with BRISCO COUNTY!"

I should note that Ken and I are fans of Campbell, and have had the occasional Bruce Campbell film festival. Well, actually, we got real drunk while watching BUBBA HOTEP. But a good time was had!

BURN NOTICE airs tomorrow night at 10:00pm eastern time. The show is the best thing to happen to South Florida since MIAMI VICE. Shot on location, you'll see many local actors filling out the cast; in fact, I've already plugged Paul Tei on this show in the past: Ken was a founding member of Tei's Madcat Theatre Company.

Sightings: Gwen Hollander

Gwen Hollander is a Miami native, and has been seen on numerous South Florida Stages. But her next project is in The Berkshires: she's just been cast in See Rock City and Other Destinations.

Complete story found at Playbill.

Personal note: a number of years ago, I designed the set for a children's musical theatre adaptation of Beauty and the Beast at Actors' Playhouse that featured Gwen as Belle. Then she went off to great success, landing national tours and regional work. When Actors' Playhouse decided to mount Disney's Beauty and Beast, she was once again cast as Belle. Heck of a jump in pay, however.

Congratulations, Gwen.


Hey this is Belle!! I'm having an awesome time here in Minnesota. My roommates rock! and I absolutely love the location Red Tide will be performed in, I'm excited to call the show! Tech rehearsal was really smooth, our tech lady Ursula is super cool. I'm looking forward to continue working with her... Today will be when we really start getting busy with Fringe, I can't wait to start play hopping! I couldn't have asked for a better team to embark on this trip with, I thought maybe by now we'd be pulling our hair out but so far we keep doing what we do best (theatre), drinking, and smiling! I'm having a great time, my job rocks!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Hey guys! I am blogging from Minneapolis, Minnesota from our cool hotel room the day before the kick off of Minnesota Fringe. The six of us here (Margaret Ledford, Belkys Cordero, Juan Sanchez, Mat Chapman, Andy Quiroga and ME!) are in varied states of tired and excited as well as home sick (two of us are first time parents leaving our kiddos for the first time ever) but thrilled to be representing South Florida at Fringe. We teched yesterday morning at the Bryant Lake Bowl (BLB) a cool bar/bowling alley/theatre...CAN YOU IMAGINE? It is a funky 85 seat venue that is expected to be packed for the shows it is hosting. This is great news for us since we are out-of-towners and are having fun infiltrating the theatres and bars with postcards for RED TIDE. We are hoping for the best in attendance. According to Kristen Van Loon Artistic Director of the BLB being from out-of-town at fringe is SEXY! So people tend to be super curious about work from elsewhere. We have been lucky enough to secure the FIRST PERFORMANCE SLOT of the opening night at the BLB which is hosting all 75-minute shows. Minneapolis is amazing and the people here LOVE theatre and have been gracious and kind. Our amazing BLB tech Ursula even sent me an e-mail highlighting all the places we should check out to eat and drink (she used to be a wine rep!). We will be keeping you posted via this blog and hopefully you will hear from each person that is here with us...that way you get a different perspective about what is happening here. Keep checking the blog...there is TONS more to come. THANKS SOUTH FLORIDA FOR ALL OF YOUR LOVE AND SUPPORT. Hoping to rock it in MN...deborah :)

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Final Curtain Call (updated)

The office was abuzz with it when I walked in this morning; Bruce Adler has passed.
The news of his fight with cancer only came out yesterday in Christine Dolen's blog; her story about Bruce in hospice care has already been amended. I'm not going to attempt to repeat her work; go read it.
Bruce leaves behind his wife, director Amy London, and a son, Jacob Hayden. Adler has only been a father for a year.

I join Christine in asking everyone to send good thoughts to Amy, Jacob, and the rest of Bruce Adler's family and friends.

This letter was sent to the patrons of The New Vista Theatre Company, where Bruce recently appeared in I'm Not Rappapport!, and was slated to star in THE PRODUCERS:

The New Vista Theatre Company
July 25, 2008

Dear Patrons,
The New Vista Theatre Company family deeply mourns the loss of our dear
friend and colleague, Bruce Adler.

Bruce died peacefully this morning, Friday, July 25, 2008 after losing
his battle with cancer.

Bruce will be fondly remembered and honored by us all for playing such
an important part in the birth of The New Vista Theatre Company with his
leading roles in The Sunshine Boys and I'm Not Rappaport.

We extend our most sincere condolences to his family, his wife, Amy,
their son Jake, Emily and A.J.

A memorial tribute to honor Bruce's life is being planned.

The New Vista Theatre Company
11435 W. Palmetto Park Road, Suite E,
Boca Raton, FL, 33428

Other links:

The Scene for July 25, 2008

Not much opening this week in South Florida, but there's still lots to see.

Wicked's Idina Menzel brings her act to the Parker Playhouse tonight at 8pm. The Tony Award winning actress is promoting her new album. If you like her as Elphaba, you'll love her as...herself.

One of the few openings this week is Slava's Snowshow,at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. It's also the Herald's Critic's Choice pick for this week.

As an added treat, they'll be dumping several tons of ACTUAL snow out in front of the theater on Saturday morning. The sledding starts at 9:00am - and you don't even need tickets to the show.


Also at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, this is the final weekend for The 23rd Annual Hispanic Theater Festival. Produced by Teatro Avante, the Festival's theme is "Spain." Jordan Levin of the Miami Herald writes about one of the plays in the Festival, Miami Libre, while Antonio Orlano Rodriguez tells us about El día más feliz de nuestra vida (The Happiest Day of Our Lives).

This is the final weekend for The Hate U Gave: The Tupac Shakur Story, presented by Ground Up And Rising.

I missed Bill Hirschman's review last week; the Sun-Sentinel doesn't seem to understand the purpose of its RSS feed. But an attentive reader posted a link in the comments (thanks, connerythedragon! Or should I say 'KC?')

"A dazzlingly insightful script and mesmerizing performance, both by Meshaun Labrone Arnold, make this a don't-miss production by Ground Up & Rising..."

"...his masterstroke is to turn down the volume and speed to let the work breathe in dramatic silences and quiet soliloquies. By slowing the rendition of a Shakur song, he reveals its words as passionate and insightful sociological comment wrapped in a lyrical, if profane, street poetry."

Brandon K. Thorp slips in his review just in time for the show to close. But as always, Brandon gives us something to talk about:
"If rap people see this, they'll say, "Holy shit! Plays have balls!" If theater people see this, they'll say, "Holy shit! Rap people are deep!" And though as a white dude I cannot know for sure, I suspect that people of all aesthetic persuasions, colors, and political philosophies will walk away from the show with an enlarged perspective on white-black relations."
That's what we missed in his Souvenir review; a clear statement about the play's impact.

Broward Stage Door's biography of Zero Mostel, Zero Hour, winds it up on Sunday.

The Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival raps up The Comedy of Errors at Boca Raton's Sunset Cove Ampitheater. It's free, but don't forget the mosquito repellent.

Dream a Little Dream at Florida Stage.
MIDLIFE: The Crisis Musical, at Actors' Playhouse.
Why We Have A Body is held over through August 9 at Sol Theatre Project.
SOUVENIR - a Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins, at Palm Beach DramaWorks.
The Sisters Rosenweig at Rising Action Theatre Company.

Friday, July 18, 2008

You, too, can see into the mind of a director

Colleen Stovall, founding director of Shakespeare Miami, is prepping for their next production which is Macbeth. Macbeth is opening in January and will be running for three weeks.

To give people insight on what is going on with the process of auditions, rehearsals, etc., Stovall has put up a blog on the ShakespeareMiami website. It's colorful.

Also on the website, there is a tentative schedule for rehearsals and performances, totally detailed.

For more information, go to

Speaking about The Dark Knight.....

As was told in the scene below, Ground Up and Rising is presenting The Hate U Gave: The Tupac Shakur Story, written and starring Meshaun Arnold.

I had a chance to interview Arnold about his former senior class project turned full-length showcase in the Miami Art Zine.

The show runs until July 27th at the Kendall Campus of Miami-Dade College. GU & R has been running the publicity smackdown on this through YouTube trailers and a CBS 4 spot, but both Arnold and Arturo Fernandez (GU&R's founding artistic director) are always looking for more, so people can get to see the piece.

I am going tonight, so I hope to see you there as well. For more information, you can go to the GU&R website,

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Scene for July 18, 2008

Sure, it's opening weekend for BATMAN: The Dark Knight. But it's a busy weekend onstage, too.


First up is Midlife: The Crisis Musical. It's the summer offering from Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater in Coral Gables. It plays through August 10th.

Christine Dolen reviewed the show earlier this week, although you wouldn't know it from using our RSS feed from the Herald; for some reason, it's not in the theatre section. But we did find it. And it seems that Christine liked what she saw:
"Arisco has mounted a real gem "

"Having chosen the perfect revue, Arisco then made a second savvy move: He got the perfect cast. What Margot Moreland, Lourelene Snedeker, Maribeth Graham, Barry J. Tarallo, Allan Baker and Wayne Steadman bring to the upstairs Balcony Theater stage are powerhouse voices, terrific comedic timing and the kind of seasoning that only their many collective years of performing experience can bring. Along with musical director/pianist David Nagy, collectively and individually, this bunch shines."

Dan Hudak of the Sun-Post also had a review up for Midlife, and his was easy to find. However, Dan had a very different take on the show than Christine:
"If only it were more consistently funny. About half the songs are memorably amusing in this never-ending bitch-fest about middle age, while the other half are vapid misfires that neither amuse nor delight."
Unfortunately, there's no tie-breaker from Brandon in the New Time. It's been weeks since I've seen any of his reviews in the Miami version, and I suspect the weenies in charge of it have decided not to cover Theatre anymore. (BTW, I will be blogging about THAT subject shortly!)

No, this week we turn to The Sun-Sentinel and Bill Hirschman for a tie-breaker:
"Mid-Life! The Crisis Musical --- arguably the least promising show title this season --- is a surprisingly funny and occasionally moving depiction of the physical and emotional challenges facing folks between 38 and 60."

"'s the Actors' Playhouse team that elevates this beyond the material on the page."
It sounds like David Arisco has finally found a play with the impact of his exceptionally successful production of I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change!

Last week, I mentioned this little gem at Palm Beach DramaWorks, starring my good friend, Beth Dimon. As I mentioned last week, Hap Erstein had his very positive review up.

This week, Jack Zink at the Sun-Sentinel also gives Souvenir an enthusiastic review.
"Huzzah the no-talent squawker!
"Palm Beach Dramaworks successfully has taken on the challenge of Souvenir, a 2005 Broadway comedy based on the true life of a woman who murdered music every time she sang, and did it often."
Jack also comments on the all the design elements, something too rare in theatre review:
"The company's designers have provided the two actors with rich surroundings. Michael Amico's set is trimmed in marble effects that double as a Ritz-Carlton recital salon, Jenkins' private rehearsal room and several other locales when carefully lit by Ron Burns. Steve Shapiro's sound design mixes in concert hall crowd reaction to augment the crowds in the tiny Dramaworks space. Erin Amico's costumes range from the ostentatiously dowdy to showbiz flamboyance for Dimon's showcase."
Finally, we can add Brandon K. Thorpe' Brandon must be tired, because it seems the entire first page of the review is dedicated to exposition.

The SECOND PAGE consists of one continuous paragraph. No breaks anywhere. It's one long monotonous drawl about Dimon's singing versus her character's singing, and how it's bad, but it's supposed to bad, but it's not the same kind of bad as the real bad was, and that's bad because the real bad was bad in a different kind of way, and that's bad because the fake bad isn't really as bad as the real bad, which wasn't so bad because the real bad wasn't trying to be bad.

Did he like it? I don't know. I don't think he knows, either. He seemed like both of the performers. He seemed to like the idea of the show.

But my old friend Al Mathers saw it, and urges me to drag myself across three counties to see it.

So I will.


This week we have two plays that feature characters played by the playwright.

The first is the latest offering from Ground Up And Rising, The Hate U Gave: The Tupac Shakur Story, reviewed by Christine Dolen of the Herald:
"The many contradictory facets of a complicated man are on display in The Hate U Gave: The Tupac Shakur Story, the Ground Up & Rising world premiere of a play written by and starring Meshaun Arnold. Like the late rapper himself, the script and production have both obvious strengths and notable weaknesses."
"Shakur's story is rich with potential drama. But The Hate U Gave is several rewrites away from truly mining those riches."
So the show needs work; but this is a work in progress, and wouldn't it be great to be able to say "I remember it when..." Seeing the finished hit is a no-brainer; it takes a true theatre lover to see the work through from its roots.

Bill Hirschman of the Sun-Sentinel enjoyed Broward Stage Door Theatre's production of Zero Hour, a biographical play about famed comedic actor Zero Mostel.
"A volcano explodes nightly in the Broward Stage Door', spewing flame and lava over the audience without benefit of special effects."
"As both playwright and actor, Brochu has nailed the essence of this difficult but brilliant chameleon who could be tender and terrifying, playful and combative, all in the space a few seconds."

Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival performs at Sunset Cove Park in Boca Raton this year, while their normal stage in Jupiter's Carlin Park undergoes a renovation.

Hap Erstein of the post feels moved to explain something about The Bard at the outset of his review:

" would be worthwhile to keep in mind the Elizabethan definition of comedy.

"Recall from your English lit class that all you needed for a comedy in Shakespeare's day was a few characters still alive by the final curtain, enough for a wedding or two."

Needless to say, Hap wasn't laughing all that much. But he apparently was taken with the set design, an MC Escher homage littered with different levels and stairs leading nowhere:
"Perhaps that is a metaphor for the entire production - it has its ups and downs, is built sturdily, but with numerous opportunities unrealized."
The production fares better under the pen of the Sentinel's Bill Hirschman;
"...audiences ... will be charmed and amused by this talented, enthusiastic and imaginative group of actors, directors and designers.."

"Crawford, Trucks, Heidi Harris as one brother's wife and Krys Parker as her sister give quite serviceable performances, most dancing nimbly with the punny pentameter. But their real strength is investing every moment with an infectious energy and delight that won over the audience."
We don't have a tie-breaker on this one, but I say "go for it." And the admission is free! But pack the insect repellent: both Hap and Bill commented on the mosquitoes.


I would be remiss if I didn't mention fellow Theatre Scene contributor Kevin Johnson's project; his Conundrum Stage is presenting a reading of William Inge's Summer Brave. I hope you've been reading his blog entries on it; it's great stuff! You can catch it this Monday, July 21, at 7:30 pm at St. John's on the Beach. Admission is free.

The Promethean Theatre also has an event on Monday; they are taking their acclaimed production of Juan C. Sanchez's RED TIDE to the Minnesota Fringe Festival.

They've had to make cuts and adjustments to the staging for this project, and they're trying it on an audience limited to the size of the Minnesota theater they'll be playing. Unlike Summer Brave, this performance is helping to cover the costs of getting to the Fringe Festival, so it's $40 a ticket.


Dream a Little Dream at Florida Stage.

Shining City runs through this Sunday at GableStage.

Why We Have A Body is held over through August 9 at Sol Theatre Project.

The 23rd Annual Hispanic Theater Festival at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. Produced by Teatro Avante.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dream A Little Dream at Florida Stage

Because I missed the July 4th Scene, I didn't get the reviews up for Florida Stage's current production, Dream A Little Dream: The Nearly True Story of The Mamas and The Papas. So in the interests of fair play (and the fact that Steve Anthony plays poker with me every week), I'm putting them up now.

The show is a "Juke Box Musical," a show that is built around the song catalogue of a popular music group. Sometimes these shows work extremely well (Mamma Mia! and Jersey Boys) and other times they...don't (Good Vibrations). Good songs don't necessarily mean there's a good story, and musical theater is at least a sum of the parts.

Dream a Little Dream - as written by Denny Doherty - was produced a few years ago to mixed reviews. The version playing at Florida Stage has been revised, the material extensively re-worked by Paul Ledoux, a friend of Doherty's.

First up is Hap Erstein at the Palm Beach Post, who recommends the show:

"What is onstage now is a dramatic improvement over what played New York, but its best moments are the vocal covers of the quartet's song hits."

"Like the show itself, the four Mamas and Papas are better when they are singing than acting, or maybe it is just that much of the script is so sketchy and stilted that it is not actable. Still, the resemblances of Alisa Schiff (Cass), Kyle Harris (Denny), Christine Hope (Michelle) and Michael Sample (John) to their real-life characters is uncanny and when they lift their voices in song, all is right with the show."

Sun-Sentinel's Bill Hirshman also enjoyed the show:

"Dream a Little Dream at the Florida Stage is a textbook example of a show whose strongest elements triumph over its flaws to produce a rousing evening."

....the ever-dependable Stephen G. Anthony triumphs over the script as the older Doherty, a narrator whose geniality is drenched in regrets.

Special applause is due Connie Furr-Soloman's huge procession of period-perfect costumes that we want to forget we wore: flowered muumuus, white go-go boots, paisley shirts and double-breasted suits in colors and textures not found in nature."

It took me awhile to find Christine Dolen's review in the Herald: the greedy bastards tucked it into the Archives already. But someone with foresight published it to Individual.Com.

"Something groovy is filling Florida Stage's summer musical slot this year, and everybody who remembers the '60s (or wishes they hadn't missed things like the Summer of Love) needs to say "to hell with gas prices" and take a road trip up to Manalapan."

So there you have it, the major reviews for Dream a Little Dream. It runs through August 31 at Florida Stage, located in Manalapan.

If I've missed any other shows and their reviews, let me know, and I'll link up all the reviews.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Scene for July 11th, 2008

What with the holidays last week, I completely missed getting The Scene up; but it's a new week. And a very busy week it is, too.

Shining City: Many Pretty Words

First, vinylrecliner posted a bunch of links to reviews of Shining City, so we'll start there. (And let that be a lesson to you - I'm easily led!)

First up, Joseph Pisano at Edge Miami has nice things to say:
"'Shining City' unfolds like an expert musical composition, introducing and developing its themes until finally unleashing its gothic crescendo, an audacious ending that puts the entire play into perspective."
The SunPost has Mary Damiano reviewing. Fortunately, she only churns through three paragraphs of outlining the play before she actually starts her review. In one paragraph she reviews the performances, and then tosses in one long, compound sentence to throw a bone to the design team. But her review is best summed up thusly:
"Director Joseph Adler has a knack for presenting provocative material that allows his cast and designers to do great work."
Jack Zink of the Sun-Sentinel feels that despite a shallow script, Adler and company make a go of it:

"...a lengthy speech by Gregg Weiner, is a knockout that adds needed emotional background missing even from the Broadway production."

He's similarly impressed by the rest of the cast, and even credits the show's dialect coach, Lesley-Ann Timlick. Unfortunately, he credits Tim Connelly's set design to Lyle Baskin - ouch! Tim Connelly is an unsung hero for South Florida's smaller theaters; he's been doing incredible sets on a shoestring budget for over twenty years. But on the bright side - he liked it, particularly the way it allowed Jeff Quinn to play with light.

Last but not least, a new reviewer from the Miami Herald weighs in. (No, I have no idea who she is, either.) After a lengthy iteration of the story, a biography of the playwright, TMI about Joe Adler's personal life, she then raids the thesaurus for every iteration of "I liked it" she can find.
"The power of McPherson's writing can't be underestimated, but its poetic precision -- it veers from long tales told in one breath to half-spoken sentences trailing off -- requires a deftness the GableStage cast embodies beautifully, capturing the rhythm of speech in a way that dissolves the wall between art and reality, the kind of transcendence we go to the theater hoping for."
Holy crap, I think this play will cure cancer! Bring your dead pets along, this might be the second coming!

All of the reviewer's enthusiastic hyperbole - and my cynicism - aside, make some time to see Shining City. It runs through July 20 at GableStage's intimate space, tucked into the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.

A little Rap about a Rapper

Ground Up and Rising produces The Hate U Gave: the Tupac Shakur Story. Christine Dolen at the Herald gives us the story.

So Bad It's GREAT

Elizabeth Dimon as Florence Foster Jenkins in <em>Souvenir</em> at Palm Beach Dramaworks.

One of my favorite comedic actors stars in Souvenir, up at Palm Beach DramaWorks. Beth Dimon takes the stage as the "delusional coloratura" Florence Foster Jenkins, according to this Herald's "Critic's Pick" from last week.

Jenkins was a New York socialite in the 30's and 40's who dreamed of being a star; she hired a musical director/accompanist and put on shows for all her friends and adoring fans. But as Hap Erstein of the Palm Beach Post tells us:
"Jenkins, whose amateur singing career culminated in a solo concert at Carnegie Hall, was by all "earwitness" accounts a dreadful singer. You can think of her as the Mrs. Miller of her day or, to pick a more contemporary analogy, a clueless first-round American Idol contestant."
Despite her lack of singing ability, Jenkins had an adoring following. Yes, paid to rent Carnegie Hall, but "she sold out the place, and had to turn away 2,000 people," says Dimon. "That's amazing."
Hap Erstein has his review up:
"Foster Jenkins' fans took to stuffing their mouths with handkerchiefs to muffle the guffaws at her expense. You need not hide your enjoyment at Souvenir, though you may need to wipe away the tears of laughter."
Souvenir runs through August 17 in West Palm Beach at Palm Beach DramaWorks.

Everybody has an Opinion

Christine Dolen enjoyed Why We Have A Body at Sol Theatre Project.
"Body is one of Sol's strongest shows in several seasons. It is quirky, funny, poignant, entertaining, provocative. Chafee has much to do with that, of course, but so do director Robert Hooker and most of the cast."
Jack Zink didn't care for Why We Have A Body at Sol Theatre Project:
"For a play that suggests a study of anatomy, Claire Chafee's Why We Have a Body is deliberately shapeless, and that's a problem..."

"Director Robert Hooker's ensemble, while generally appealing in their characters' skins, alternately lack the theatrical power and finesse needed to imbue Chafee's experiment with anything but a sense of navel-gazing."
That's quite a disparity, isn't it? Sometimes it's curious how far apart two critics of equal stature can stand on one particular show.

We're gonna need a tie-breaker, and the Fates have appointed none other than Brandon K. Thorp, and his review in the Broward-Palm Beach New Times.
"Why We Have a Body opens with an honest-to-God perfect 15 minutes..."

"...the scene seemed in danger of undoing the weight of its own fevered premise..."

"...It all moved too quickly for anyone to be certain, but it was impossible to be bored."

"We figured we were in for a treat. We also figured it would be
impossible to sustain this level of fun, funky weirdness for the
duration of the show.

But we were wrong, spectacularly so, and I've seldom been gladder for anything."
The "aye's" have it; but despite the alluring photo - and Sol's reputation for the riské - there's no nudity. What there is, apparently, is a really great night of theatre.

You Still Haven't Missed...

The Sun-Sentinel's Stage Bill includes Dream a Little Dream at Florida Stage, The Fannie Lou Hamer Story, Girls' Night: The Musical, The Sister's Rosenweig, and Zero Hour, a one-many biopic of Zero Mostel.


The 23rd Annual Hispanic Theater Festival opened last night at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. This year, Teatro Avante decided the theme should be - fittingly - "Spain." Christine Dolen saw the opening production on Wednesday, and wrote in her blog:
"...though slightly hampered by my less-than-bilingual understanding of Spanish, I thought it was a terrific, even stunning production."
Not all the productions are in Spanish (one production is, in fact, in Slovene - the language of Slovenia!), and some of them that are in Spanish have English subtitles. The complete schedule indicates language, as well as which ones are subtitled.


Midlife, the Crisis Musical
is opening at Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables. Christine Dolen blogs about it, and includes a familiar photo...

Edge Theatre presents 27 Wagons Full Of Cotton for one night only on July 13. It's worth checking out this classic and under-performed Tennessee Williams play. Edge apparently has no web presence outside an email address, so call 786-355-0976 for tickets.

You can find more complete theater listings at

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Readers Theatre: Taking Notes

In an effort to improve our own reading series, I went to see a reading of Lorenzaccio, presented by Theatre by the Book.

Theatre by the Book is a readers' theatre, the brainchild of Rafael and Kimberly de Acha, founders of New Theatre in Coral Gables. Their mission is to read world classic literature that usually is not done or haven't been done in a long time due to economic constraints (hmmm, sounds so familiar, can't put my finger on it right now).

It was a cast of 10 actors, there was minimal movement and their scripts were set in binders which was nice and uniformed.

In the past four years, I have seen classic plays have getting revivals in intimate settings. No costumes, sets and props. Just actors, audience and the only thing standing between them is a few music stands.

The Fantasy Theatre Factory (a children's theatre company no doubt) implemented adult programming into their repertoire with PlayMondays, a series of readings dedicated to classic and contemporary plays. They presented their readings from January to May for two years at the St. John's United Methodist Church. Plays from Eugene Ionesco and Tony Kushner were submitted for public consumption showing huge ranges in interesting material.

Palm Beach Dramaworks set up a Master Playwright series dedicated to three legendary scribes, Edward Albee, Arthur Miller, and Henrik Ibsen. They would do scenes from their plays in one month, then the following month there was full reading of their work. It was sold out in minutes when the series was announced. We hope they do it next year.

Take Heed Theatre Company just finished their Page to Stage campaign at the Cuillo Centre for the Arts in West Palm Beach. They ran the gamut from Tennesse Williams, Amiri Baraka, and William Shakespeare. To spinoff their project, their closer of A Midsummer Night's Dream will realized fully in collaboration with Rude Mechanical (ha ha) Productions as they merrily travel from WPB to Boca Raton next year.

Fort Lauderdale's Sol Theatre Project has finally jumped into the playreading game after seven years of existence with their own take on Midsummer last month. Their next reading, Of Mice and Men will be present this month.

Theater by the Book plans a yearly slate of readings at different venues around Miami-Dade County. They started in April with Thorton Wilder's Our Town at GableStage and will continue on with one reading each month. To check out their list, check out

It is nice to know that in this world of new, original development and an occasional musical to boot, that the classics are being dusted off and performed once again creatively. I hope that this trend continues.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Welcome to a new contributor!

By now, you may have read Kevin Johnson's introductory post. He's a welcome addition to the South Florida Theatre Scene; both here in the blogosphere and out in the world. He's been active in the theatre scene for several years, developing an audience for his company, Conundrum Stages. He's ventured as far north as deepest darkest Wellington, in Palm Beach County, to Miami Beach, where his current project will be playing.

He started his own blog for his company. You will find a feed in the sidebar, just below Christine Dolen's blog.

I'm glad that Kevin has decided to join this blog, too, and I hope others will follow his example. I can tell you that creating new content on a regular basis is harder than you would think, and it's updating the blog that brings people back to see what's new. I think that Kevin will find a lot of traffic coming from the Scene, and I imagine we'll see some traffic the other way, too.

He's already got TWO articles in, and it's just his first day!

Break a leg, Kevin, both here and at St. John's.

Yes, They Can....and so Will I

The Take Heed Theater Company has just finished their Page to Stage series with William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (the third reading of Midsummer in a span of two months from two other companies; one in each county, but I digress) at the Cuillo Centre for the Arts in West Palm Beach.

When I started my reading series, I thought never to tackle Shakespeare. I was under the impression that one does Shakespeare as opposed to reading.

But when three companies do a reading of the most fantastic comedy of modern era, something tells you to take heed (pardon the pun).

This was a collabo between Take Heed and another group based in WPB called Rude Mechanical (yeah, yeah, I know) Productions, teachers out of G-Star School of the Arts. The plan is to take this reading from workshop to prodction. One production will be in December at the RMP base in G-Star and February 2009, they will spread magic and madness down to Boca Raton and their Willow Theatre. Dave Hyland, founder and artistic director of Take Heed, joked about taking this from the "Cuillo to the Willow."

The Mechanicals (Jeffrey & Ivelyn Bower, Niki Fridh, Matt Stabile and Robert Olson) read different parts while using flash cards to let the audience know who they were at that time, which is a pretty neat trick.

They also had video cameras (G-Star is also a school for film and television) there to overlook the entire process which RMP plans to put up as a doc.

Yours truly put two cents saying now that I know that Shakespeare can be read. I plan on doing it, too.

Just not Midsummer, that market looks to be cornered for right now.

An Introduction and Promotion

Allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Kevin Johnson. I will be presenting a play reading of William Inge's Summer Brave under my imprint, Conundrum Stages in association with the Arts at St. John's in Miami Beach.

Normally, I would just copy and paste a press release here. I thought that would be a bit formal, so I appreciate CLJ inviting me to contribute to the Scene, and letting me spread the word.

For those of you who are familiar with Picnic, Summer Brave is a rewritten version of the play that won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1953. The focus is on small town people whose world gets turned upside down when a handsome rogue invades their ambience therefore creating a series of events that makes the residents realize that their small town is not as small as they would like it to be.

Inge said it best when he wrote a preface in Summer Brave, when it was produced on Broadway in 1975:

"It wouldn't be fair to say that Summer Brave is the original version of Picnic. I have written before that I never completely fulfilled my original intentions in writing Picnic before we went into production in 1953, and that I wrote what some considered a fortuitous ending in order to have a finished play to go into rehearsal. A couple of years after Picnic had closed on Broadway, after the film version had made its success, I got the early version out of my files and began to rework it, just for my own satisfaction. Summer Brave is the result. I admit that I prefer it to the version of the play that was produced, but I don't necessarily expect others to agree. Summer Brave might not have enjoyed any success on Broadway whatever, nor won any of the prizes that were bestowed upon Picnic. But I feel that it is more humorously true than Picnic, and it does fulfill my original intentions."

For more on the preparation process, I have also attached a link to my own blog: The Wonderful World of Conundrum Stages. Should be in the link up above. I'm sure if I did something wrong, CLJ will show me some tools.

The reading will be at the St. John's on the Lake United Methodist Church on Monday, July 21st at 7:30pm. Free admission. More info can be found on their website,

Also take a look at my own blog which will let you know about upcoming events and inside information.