Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Scene for September 19, 2008

It's 52 weeks of theatre in South Florida. It amazes me that every week I find so much playing; when I first came down in 1985, it all shut down from June to October. Here it is September, and there are STILL shows opening, and running.

That said, it's sad the the Palm Beach Post doesn't have its act together. I find it pathetic that they still haven't managed to replace Hap Erstein; when Carolyn Jack left all those years ago, they managed to field someone to cover the theatre scene. Sure, he was a sports reporter, but Jack Vitek at least kept the Post relevant. I guess that's why newspapers are fading away; they don't understand that they are in the NEWS business, and that means FILLING the paper with NEWS, not ADS. Sigh.

On with the Scene:

The Reviews

Christine Dolen of the Miami Herald is first up with her review of Radio Golf, now playing at Mosaic Theatre. I think she goes on a little too long about the play itself; it's ground she already covered in her blog, but I guess she's trying to push August Wilson onto people. But honestly, that's what her blog is for; her review should be about the production, and not the State Of Theatre In South Florida.

This review isn't one of Dolen's better efforts. She spends too much time "setting the scene." Ultimately, we only get one sentence that actually qualifies as being in the nature of a theatre review:
"Though Elam is stuck playing a woman who is more device than character, the men are able to soar with the fuel Wilson gives them -- especially Archie, a brilliant actor whose interpretive powers make the words of a great playwright sing."

The Sun-Sentinel has Mary Damiano's review of Radio Golf, Her reviews have really improved; she moves quickly from the obligatory synopsis of the script and seamlessly into the actual review:
"Director Richard Jay Simon has assembled a dynamic cast well equipped to bring the poetry of Wilson's script to life."
And she even gives us some definite opinions on performances:
"The production belongs to its supporting characters, especially Archie and W. Paul Bodie. From the moment Archie makes his entrance, every gesture, every line is riveting. The same goes for Bodie, who plays an ex-con who grew up with Harmond and is intent on keeping him to his ideals. Bodie's strong performance is spellbinding; he's the kind of actor who brings out the best in his cast mates. Robert Strain's performance, as Harmond's upwardly mobile business partner, starts out slow but soars during the second act."
Ms. Damiano gives us a feel for the production, and it's a good feeling.

Finally, Brandon K. Thorp reports for the Broward-Palm Beach New Times. Most of the first page is spent telling us about playwright August Wilson's grand cycle of plays (of which this play is the end). He pretty much gives you the Cliff Notes for the play before he finally gets around to the actual review.
"Unfortunately, either director Richard Jay Simon or actor Robert Strain didn't care for Hicks as much as Wilson did. Here, he's a cartoon of desperate assimilationism...

"In Mosaic's production, everybody on the money-and-power side of the debate is treated with about the same amount of respect."
Ouch! Brandon did find something he liked, however:
"...only about half of this production's scenes can you see Radio Golf's real potential. Most of those scenes involve John Archer, who plays Barlow. He is, to put it plainly, astonishing: singular and cosmic in his understanding of the world and yet so ordinary that you might think you remember him from your own neighborhood. W. Paul Bodie's character — Johnson, the ex-con vet — seems to melt into Archer's, but he has his moments too."
Radio Golf plays through October 5th.


Edge Theatre opens a new comedy, Ambition. They don't have a website, so you'll have to either call 786-355-0976, or email them. According to the blurb on
"World premiere of a new comedy "Ambition", by Jim Tommaney, as a drama critic makes a name for himself with reviews penned in acid. Add a gay relationship, underground sex, comic surprises, ingratiating wit, and you have the perfect evening of theatre!"

Last Chance to See

The Rabbi and the Cheerleader at the Hollywood Playhouse closes this Sunday, September 21.

Still Playing

Broward Stage Door Theatre, (The Theater with South Florida's Worst Website for a Professional Theater), is still running both The Convertible Girl and Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? through October 22 and October 5th, respectively. (In other news, they've finally made their website legible. Still like to see staff and cast listings, though.)

Lying in State runs through September 21 at the Caldwell Theatre in Boca Raton.

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