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


  1. i don't know who you are, either, but you spelled "playwright" wrong.

  2. Ah, an errant "w". Thanks for reading!