Friday, October 31, 2008

The Scene for October 31, 2008 (Updated!)

UPDATE: added Palm Beach Post review of Dirty Business.

We've had the first taste of fall, which only means that we're getting deeper into The Season here in South Florida.


Once again, we're going north to south, because that's the way the action has gone this week.

Florida Stage opened Dirty Business, a world premiere of a new play by William Mastrosimone. It's the playwright's take on a love triangle inspired by the events surrounding the Kennedy assassination. This powerful story has the backdrop of a presidential election, making it another fitting choice for this time of year.

Christine Dolen of the Miami Herald is the first to tell us about it;
Now getting a promising if not quite dazzling world premiere at Florida Stage, Dirty Business probes the hubris and manipulative drive for power that got one of the country's premiere political families entangled with its primo crime family, the mob -- with fatal results, Mastrosimone suggests.
Like Terry Johnson's Insignificance, Dirty Business doesn't come right out and call them JFK or Frank Sinatra, but you know all the players. As for the events, we're left to decide how accurate this story really is.
In the play, Frank dumps Judy but introduces her to Jack, who slips into an incautious affair with her before and after his successful race for the White House. Sam, whose influence with labor helps the Catholic candidate win a crucial primary in mostly Protestant West Virginia, embarks on his own courtship of the future president's mistress, seeing it as a way to deepen his own power with the world's most powerful man. And Judy? Crazy for Jack and charmed by Sam, she becomes the pawn in a deadly game, though not the go-between the real Exner eventually claimed to be.
She credits the artistic team of director Louis Tyrell, Victor A. Becker, Richard Crowell, Suzette Pare, and Matt Kelly. But eventually she does get down to the business of explaining why this production doesn't manage to be dazzling:
Perhaps Mastrosimone's caution in crafting the play made Tyrrell and the cast skittish; with one glorious exception, the performances seem more carefully crafted than honestly inhabited. (Elizabeth A.) Davis and (James Lloyd) Reynolds, for example, are attractive but palpably missing the electric allure of the originals. (Gordon) McConnell, however, is sensational -- edgy and crass, yes, but irresistible. His bad guy is oh so fun to watch. Dirty Business should be half as fascinating.
The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel brought in Mary Damiano to cover Dirty Business. Unlike Dolen, Damiano's a bit less forgiving of the production's shortcomings:
Mastrosimone's script is whip-smart, full of entertaining banter and laugh-out-loud lines. Cinematic in tone, with lots of scenes set in different cities, the play is too long and needs to be streamlined. The problems are exacerbated by several elements of the production. These include a scenic design that requires stagehands to redress the stage for nearly every scene, interrupting the pacing and creating an unpleasant drag to the evening.
But like Dolen, Damiano found one performance to be particularly notable:
Performances are competent for the most part, with a very funny turn by Gordon McConnell as the mobster. His is the showiest role, and McConnell is very entertaining. But his breezy performance seems incongruous with the deadly Mafioso he's portraying.
Jan Sjostrom covered Dirty Business for the Palm Beach Daily News. Palm Beach has an affinity for the Kennedys; the family kept a winter home there until fairly recently.
Those who cherish fond memories of Jack Kennedy and the days of Camelot will find them tarnished by Dirty Business. William Mastrosimone's taut, chilly play about Kennedy's march to the White House strips off the kingly veneer to reveal mobsters and machinations worthy of Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather. Even the play's flashes of humor are cold.
Like Christine Dolen, Sjostrom liked the work of the artistic team:
The show is being given a stylishly mounted debut at Florida Stage in Manalapan under the incisive direction of Louis Tyrrell, producing artistic director.
And chalk up another fan for McConnell's mobster:
Gordon McConnell's sinister Sam rules the production like great white shark commands the sea. He's charming, funny, ruthless and ultimately terrifying.
But she also liked the Kennedys, or rather, "Jack and his dad;"
The Kennedys — Jack and his father Joe, Sam's match in cunning and amorality — are just as frightening. Joe, in a steely performance by Dan Leonard, plots Jack's campaign. But Jack, suavely played by James Lloyd Reynolds, learns quickly and proves to be as underhanded as the old man.


Across the lake, Charles Passy covered Dirty Business for the Palm Beach Post. And he starts off by making a request:
Forget for a moment that Dirty built on the shaky foundation of the speculative.

And forget that it's a political drama being served up in a volatile election year, making us all the more eager to parse every word for further meaning.

Otherwise, you may lose sight of the real pleasures of this powerhouse of a play: Dirty Business is simply a devil of a ride.
Passy also like Gordon McConnell's turn as mobster Sam Giancana. (oops! No last names!)
the always impressive Gordon McConnell does the best job: He's slick and sinister at the same time, charming his woman until he's - literally - biting his way into the meat of the matter. It's a bravura performance that plays up the mobster shtick just enough so you can laugh along, but never lets you forget that a goodfella and a good fellow are not the same.
He also liked Jack Gwaltney as Frank Sinatra:
Jack Gwaltney's Sinatra is pure pleasure, however - the swinging cat who ends up being blindsided by his powerful associates: Rarely does an actor convey so much cool and so much naiveté in a single turn.
And he also gives kudos the Louis Tyrell and his artistic team:

There's a deftness to his handling of the script that's most apparent in a scene where Judy essentially disappears and the three-way conversation becomes a direct discourse between Kennedy and Giancana.

In striking fashion, the men emerge from the shadows - or in this case from the see-through curtains in Victor A. Becker's smartly minimalist set - to make their intentions known.

Brandon K.Thorp covers Dirty Business for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times in a two-for-one column that includes his write-up for Still the River Runs at Promethean (see below). As always, Brandon always sees things a little differently than everyone else:
...William Mastrosimone's Dirty Business is something else entirely: one third Oliver Stonish inquiry into the assassination of JFK, one third urbane sex comedy, and one third sordid bedroom drama. It's a schizophrenic little play that makes sense only because its characters are so familiar...

...a pedestrian intrigue of power lust, political ambition, and ordinary romantic yearning that is completely overshadowed, even in the moment of performance, by the history behind it. The play takes us from various bedrooms on the Kennedy campaign trail to the Oval Office to the Palm Beach residence of Giancana, and characters talk and scheme as though they were doing nothing more substantive than planning a weekend outing...
Brandon goes into a little more detail on the performances than his counterparts:
James Lloyd Reynolds is a passable Kennedy...But it's not a showcase role. Kennedy was too much a cipher.

None of Sinatra's native intelligence — so obviously on display, in that era, in Sinatra's role in The Manchurian Candidate — comes through on (Jack) Gwaltney's face, which is a mess of uncomprehending anxiety.

I've never seen Gordon McConnell do a Mafioso before, but he's perfect: charming, kindly, and dangerously unstable.
Brandon concludes with yet another observation of how some of the plays being produced fit their time slot so well:
...the real draw here has to do with seeing the sacred cow that is Kennedy dragged off to yet another well-deserved slaughter. And it's more than that: in a weird way, it feels good to be reminded of what a vicious, dishonest little racket politics have always been.
Dirty Business runs through November 30th at Florida Stage.

Next on the rack is MadCat Theatre's eclectic concoction, MixTape. A collection of original short plays, it was inspired by the cassette tapes we made for our, um, love interests, back before the digital age and a bit after 8-track tapes faded away.

They also describe it as "a theatrical stew."

Christine Dolen of the Herald gives us her views on it:
Mixtape is an ambitious venture for Mad Cat. Unlike Summer Shorts, which has a longer rehearsal period, a bigger budget, a protracted play selection process and multiple directors putting it together...
MadCat's founder and artistic director Paul Tei directed the entire evening, wrote one of the plays, performs in two of them, produced a short film, and even co-authored a photo play. That's a lot of hats to wear.
The result is both bold and uneven. The acting ensemble veterans (Tei, Joe Kimble and Erik Fabregat) and relative newcomers (Sofia Citarella, Erin Joy Schmidt and first-timer Troy Davidson) are terrific when the material is good, palpably struggling when it isn't.
And what about the material? The scripts, we mean:
The standout plays are by three South Floridians: Michael McKeever,Marco Ramirez and Tei, with a wild piece (involving the rock star Meat Loaf) by fellow Miamian Lucas Leyva not quite coalescing but intriguing nonetheless.

McKeever's Move On or Stephen Sondheim at Studio 54 is a wry, funny, touching little play about the way a song in Sunday in the Park With George unexpectedly resonates with a resistant husband (Kimble) who sees the show with his wife (Schmidt) on their first anniversary.

Ramirez's 3:59 AM, though simply staged, is the work of a distinctive voice, one who knows how to take the audience to imaginative places.

is a weird-yet-hilarious play, set to a sitcom laugh track (the expertly executed sound in Mixtape
is by Matt Corey), about what might happen if two clueless guys (Tei and Fabregat) wrote a screenplay about female roommates (Citarella and Schmidt).
MadCat's demographic is skewed towards the college crowd and aging hipsters, so Christine tries to keep an open mind about some of the pieces that don't quite hit the mark:
If you're a fan of the band Wilco, you might not consider the Jeff Tweedy poetry assembled into a piece called Adult Head a bore. But I'm not, so I did.
Which allows us to segue into a review by someone smack dab in the middle of MadCat's target audience: The Miami New Times' Brandon K. Thorp. And he starts off by examining the metaphor of the title:
The mixtape cannot achieve perfection... On almost any mixtape, at least one song will fail to connect. What a mixtape can be is dynamic. If it's good, it can be illuminating. And every now and again, in spite of its necessary flaws, it can be transcendent.

Mad Cat Theatre's Mixtape is one such work — flawed and gorgeous, with the absurd nestling comfortably beside the sublime.
And with that lovely examination of the one professed conceit of MixTape, Brandon examines the production, taking full advantage of the vast amounts of column granted him by The Miami New Times:

Mixtape feels like a good mixtape; you can tell from the selections' divergent subjects and tones that their authors were working in ignorance of context. But there is still a feeling of intention, of a compiler's sensibility. You get the sense that somebody — in this case, probably director/actor Paul Tei — is using someone else's words to tell you something specific.

If you go, you are unlikely to care about the message until a good ways into the show. Mixtape's first two selections are awful...

But like Dolen, Brandon finds some worthwhile bits within the greater collection:
"She," a photomontage of Citarella putting around her house, is set against the voice of Tei drolly reciting the lyrics to Beatles love songs.

At first the exercise looks like a mistake. Here we have deliberately ordinary, often-unflattering photographs of an apparently random girl, and Tei expects us to extrapolate from them — what? Romantic longing? Not happening. But after a minute, you realize that whenever you hear these songs, you imagine they express feelings about somebody important to you; this is what gives them their power. Imagining a relative stranger (Tei) feeling this way about another stranger (Citarella) dramatically illuminates how incredibly subjective and private love really is.

And he also liked some of the selections that Dolen commented on:
In "Move On or Sondheim 54," by Michael McKeever, an average New Yorker who is usually indifferent to art (and especially high art) is reduced to tears by a Sondheim show. His wife of one year, played with perfect cocktail-party huffiness by Erin Joy Schmidt, is deeply embarrassed, even though she's the one who ordinarily "appreciates" things such as Sondheim.
He also liked the final piece, "The Wereloaves of Brickell Avenue." In it, a mild man is transformed from a milquetoast into the 70's rock star Meat Loaf.
(Joe) Kimble plays the man in his non-Loaf guise — beaten, shy, and locked into an office job he despises. When he becomes Meat Loaf, played by (Eric) Fabregat (who looks like he has never had such fun in his whole damn life), he is a creature of myth and motorcycles, love and one-night stands, danger, adventure, and 19th-century tuxedos. It's ridiculous and innocent and beautiful. It's also the funniest 15 minutes of theater I've ever seen.
MixTape by Mad Cat Theatre plays at the Miami Light Project in downtown Miami through November 22.

Zooman and the Sign opened last week at the African American Performing Arts Community Theater. The Miami Herald's Christine Dolen talked it up on her blog, and is the only one, so far, to review it.
Charles Fuller wrote his play Zooman and the Sign in 1979, winning Off-Broadway's Obie Award for it in 1980. But nearly 30 years later, the drama's story seems as tragically timely as when Fuller created it.
It's obvious that Dolen is interested in this script; it's a starkly relevant play. Just two years ago a similar story played out in real life in Miami:
Sherdavia lived at the Liberty Square housing project, not far from the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, where Zooman and the Sign is being presented by the African American Performing Arts Community Theatre (AAPACT). Sherdavia, you may remember, lost her life in 2006 when she was playing on her porch and got caught in a shootout

The story Fuller tells is eerily similar. Before the play begins, a 12-year-old named Jinny has been killed while playing on her porch in Philadelphia. A street thug known as Zooman (Derrick J. Chiverton) is the shooter -- as he tells us in the menacing monologue that starts the play.
But the fact that Dolen finds the script and its story to be sadly suitable for the company and its location, she still has the job of analyzing the production for what it is:
This is the stuff of sobering, resonant art. Unfortunately, director André L. Gainey can't coax strong enough performances from most of the cast, so Zooman is weighted down by its flaws. Some of this is Fuller's doing, as he unnecessarily complicates the plot with an estrangement between Jinny's parents, and he gives some of the characters lines that no one in the fresh throes of grief would utter.
That's not to say that's not to say there were not some notable performances:
On the plus side, young actors Lamar Swan, Holland and Chiverton, while not pros, actually inject some welcome passion into the production.
Dolen concludes:
Zooman and the Sign concerns a tragedy that is still playing out too often, in too many places, including one discomfitingly close to where AAPACT is performing it. But a more deftly acted production would make the connections between art and life so much deeper
Zooman and the Sign plays at the African American Performing Arts Community Theater through November 16.

Since my hometown Phillies are in the World Series, I will toss in a bit of baseball lingo here and describe our next two reviews as "pitching clean-up." These shows were reviewed by most of the critics LAST week.

First, we'll look at the top half of Brandon K. Thorp's two-fer for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times, and his review of STILL THE RIVER RUNS at the Promethean Theatre. It's classic Brandon:
...get your ass to Promethean for River's one remaining weekend. You'll be glad you did. Still The River Runs is a profound, and profoundly moving, meditation on death, family, and meaning that would be intolerably tragic if it weren't so sweet.

Mark Duncan plays the older, dumber brother with bruised, jubilant innocence....

The younger brother is played by Scott Genn...Genn's portrayal is slow and sad, imbued with a gravitas ... Bishop's script doesn't hold out much hope for the guy, but Genn's acting, rather than his lines, might convince you that even untreatable wounds can be redeemed by... well, I would say "grace," but for the religious connotation. Call it wisdom.

NOVEMBER by David Mamet
Last up, (and keeping up the baseball lingo), the Sun-Sentinel sends in a green rookie to cover the GableStage production of David Mamet's November. For some unfathomable reason, Sun-Sentinel chose Fashion Editor Rod Stafford Hagwood to review a timely production at one of the area's pre-eminent companies.

Reading the review, three thoughts clash for supremacy:
  1. My opinion of the skills of the Sentinel's editorial staff is actually way too soft.
  2. Joe Adler pissed off someone at the Sun-Sentinel.
  3. Hagwood lost a bet with someone.
The amount of white space in the review fits with the fashion side of Hagwood. Why waste time writing, when you can attempt to say something with the mere format of the article?
The play November will make you chuckle.

Oh yes, that it can do.

But if it's basso profundo laughs from the gut you want, expect the confident GableStage at the Biltmore production to graze the funny bone, not slap it silly.

At least not yet.
This man's an editor? "Butcher" would be more accurate. So would "hack."

It's sad when a writer's work illustrates that writer's lack of knowledge more than the subject he's writing about. And that's what this "review" does more than anything else.
Locally directed by Joseph Adler...
"Locally directed?" That doesn't make any sense. November was locally produced. Everything about the production is "local." Why single out the direction? Maybe he left out some words again, like this bizarre construction:
...the mayhem is set in the Oval Office just days before a major presidential election for the venal leader of the free world. Same-sex marriages, gambling casinos, American Indians, lesbians, presidential libraries, turkey pardons and campaign contributions — it's all delivered with the right pacing, and much of it is very funny.

Aah, but you should have seen the ones that got away.
Huh? Is he referring to jokes? Sermons? Fish? "American Indians" are "delivered with the right pacing?" A "turkey pardon" got away? What the hell is he talking about?

No wonder the Sun-Sentinel is such a crap newspaper, sucks ass, is barely tolerable sucks, This is the kind of illiterate doofus they consider editorial caliber? Hagwood not only should never, ever be allowed to do a theatre review again, I wouldn't trust him to oversee anyone's copy. Somebody sign him up for a freshman english class, quick.


Lucky Stiff opens October 31 at Broward Stage Door Theatre


Musical of Musicals - The Musical! at the Tamarac Center for the Performing Arts. Sure, it's community theatre, but it MoM-TM! It runs through November 9.

Smokey Joe's Cafe at the Stage Door Theater in Coral Springs.


The critically acclaimed production of 1776 is a show you don't want to miss at Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables. It was extended through this weekend. See it Halloween Evening for just $17.76.

Some Men at the Rising Action Theatre Company closes November 2.

Still the River Runs closes November 2nd at The Promethean Theatre


The Wizard of Oz, Saturday at Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater.
This version is based on the books, and not the movie. It closes on Saturday.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

IMHO: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, or Never Eat a Pizza an Hour Before a Show!

I know there's some people that will say "what's this got to do with the South Florida Theatre Scene?"

But I felt I had to share something 'cuz this might happen to you.

Call me Joe the Theatregoer: Recently, I attended a local production at a place where parking is such an inconvenience. Truly! Most of the lots around the theatre will charge a rate between $4 or $5. There was metered parking and the hours end at 7pm, but there is a strict parking limit.

But since I had no cash on me, I risked my car getting towed and parked at the meter.

So by the time I got to the theatre, it was 45 minutes before showtime. I decided to stop at the local pizza joint to chomp down on some good pepperoni. Kind of greasy, but nonetheless.

Everything's fine up to this point until I get to my seat before showtime. The stage manager makes the opening announcements, then I feel thunder and lightning in my belly.

I'm in the middle of a row, so while they're talking, I make a break to the restroom. By the time the applause dies down, I'm back in a seat to the rear on an aisle, just in case the storm rages again.

Sure enough 20 minutes into the piece, the thunder starts and the waves start rising again. Luckily enough, I'm on the aisle and I'm on my way back to the restroom.

The moment that comes up has to be the most embarrassing and may land me on the next item of the Blind Spot:

The theatre has spots where actors can and have to run down the aisle of the house to get to the stage. Since I'm in the back, I got up to go to the back of the house and what do I do? Run smack dab into an actor. I ruined the illusion: arrgh, blasphemy!

When I come out of the restroom after the storm passes, I stay in the lobby because 1) I don't want to bother the rest of the audience and 2) the first act was almost over. I missed this actor's entire scene, because of nature's call. And as I go back to finish watching the show, my mind is not on the show, it is a) If my car gets towed, how am I getting back home? and b) the storm might rage again.

I have to chalk it up to just a negative theatrical experience. And it wasn't the production's fault, I should have eaten sooner. Way sooner.

So the moral of the story kids? Eat healthy. Do get your square meals at the right time, and hopefully you won't be Joe the theatregoer enjoying the show in the lavatory.

And I'd like to extend an apology to my fellow actor that I missed due to nature picking up the phone to call me at the wrong time.

Now that air is clear, let me say this:

This will be my last contribution to the South Florida Theatre Scene. I thought I could drop my anecdotes from time to time, but it seems that I have diverted into another direction once again: The best laid plans, you know.

Still will be Joe the Theatregoer, but as some of you may know, my ambition is to be Joe the Producer. I am looking forward to future collaborations with people that I've highlighted in the past, and I hope that you will join me on this journey.

For now, please look to my blog, The Wonderful World of Conundrum Stages for updates on Joe the Producer's progress to be a top arts promoter in South Florida (Yes, I know I haven't updated it in a while, but things are coming along. I will let you know when the time is right).

Naked Stage Presents 2 VERY special offers!

Equity, Theatre League, Dramatists' Guild Members ONLY!!!

sevenUP at NERVE


$30 tickets for


The Naked Stage is offering "sevenUP" tickets for any performance of the Opening Weekend of its production of NERVE by Adam Szymkowicz.

as well as

$30 tickets to the 24 HOUR THEATRE PROJECT 2008 at the Miracle Theatre.

Time is running out! Please read on to find more information on these amazing offers!

Hope to see you there!!!


THE NAKED STAGE introduces the "sevenUP!" Theatre League and Equity Member Discount!
On opening weekend of The Naked Stage's new production of Adam Szymkowicz' NERVE we are offering any Theatre League, Dramatists' Guild or Equity member a ticket to the show with out new "sevenUP" program.
We, at the Naked Stage are excited about the prospect of offering working artists the opportunity to see our productions for a reasonable rate. We, of course, would love to be able to offer complimentary tickets to all of you, however, due to a limited capacity at our space as well as the current economic crisis we all find ourselves in, it is virtually impossible for a company of our size to give away seats that might otherwise go to full paying customers.
So, we created sevenUP!
Here's how it works:
For every production that we do, The Naked Stage will designate a select number of performances as "sevenUP" shows. On those dates, any Theatre League, Dramatists' Guild or Equity member (with a valid membership ID) can get 1 ticket to the show for the bargain price of 7 DOLLARS ... or MORE  ... depending on what you can give on that day. Pay what you can with a minimum of 7 bucks! That's less than the price of a MOVIE ticket!
Here are the dates when sevenUP will be valid... 
FRIDAY, NOVEMEBER 7th, 2008 @ 8pm
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 8th, 2008 @ 8pm
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 9th, 2008 @ 2pm
PLEASE EMAIL or call (954) 261-1785 to reserve your ticket, then pay what you will at the door!


The Naked Stage's 24 Hour Theatre Project 2008 at the Miracle Theatre!
Monday, November 10th @ 8PM
SPECIAL $30 Ticket Price!

Here's how it works:
This MONDAY (November 3rd), for 10am to 6pm, the Miracle Theatre box office will be accepting PHONE ORDERS ONLY from AEA, Dramatists' Guild and TLSF members for $30 tickets for The Naked Stage's 24 Hour Theatre Project 2008! (You must show proof of membership at the door to receive your ticket.)
The offer ends at 6pm Monday (November 3rd)!!!
Tickets for this offer are VERY LIMITED so call fast!

To take advantage of this incredible offer, please call the Miracle Theatre Box Office at (305) 444-9293

For more information on The Naked Stage, please visit!

Two Critics, Two Reviews, and a WIZARD

Both the Sun-Sentinel and the Miami Herald reviewed the National Tour of the Wizard of OZ, playing at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. I didn't want to include them in this week's The Scene for two reasons:
  1. It's a national tour, and I've decided it's unfair to stack up a multi-million dollar production against shows that our local companies produce for a fraction of that.
  2. I want to compare the review of the Herald's Christine Dolen to that of Rod Stafford Hagwood, the Sun-Sentinels Fashion Editor.
To save time and effort, (because I don't get paid for this), I will put Dolen's quotes in Blue, and Hagwood's quotes in Red. (This has nothing to do with the election: look at their respective paper's logos.)

First, some basic information about the production:

There's a brick road separating the two venues that make up Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. It isn't yellow, but if you follow it into the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House this week, you'll wind up in that magical place called Oz.

But is the journey worth it?

There's no downloading Dorothy.

You'll have to explain to your children that they'll just have to go, sit and see the musical The Wizard of Oz onstage at Miami's Arsht Center.

That depends in part on how you feel about the iconic 1939 movie version of L. Frank Baum's children's story. The American Film Institute counts The Wizard of Oz among the top 10 movies ever made.

To be sure, there is an effort to bring the 1939 film version of the L. Frank Baum classic book (published in 1900) into the cyber-riffic age of video games and CGI.


Anywho, the film was a special effects acheivment: and it's always difficult to translate film effects to the stage. What do the critics say about this production?

The result is a family-friendly show with some dandy special effects (that Kansas tornado in particular), a musical that is thoroughly competent and not much more. It doesn't achieve the spectacular stage magic of the Oz spinoff Wicked, nor does it bring much that's fresh to the retelling of a classic story (and no, the Lion King reference doesn't count).

The cyclone that whisks Dorothy Gale from Kansas to the Land of Oz is a mightily impressive use of scrim screens and videotape. The Wicked Witch of the West has an arsenal of fireballs shooting from her broom. The pacing of the story is closer to Grand Theft Auto, whipping from one Harold Arlen/E.Y. Harburg musical gem to another so fast it's a wonder Dorothy doesn't trip over her ruby red slippers.

But a live show is really about the performances. And in The Wizard of Oz, the show rests on the shoulders of its Dorothy:
Pretty, winsome Cassie Okenka wears Dorothy's braids and the Wicked Witch of the East's ruby slippers. She's a grown-up playing a girl, but she brings a lightness and energy to the part, and her interactions with the dog playing Toto (either Snickers or Princess, depending on which performance you catch) ratchet up the cuteness factor.

But beyond all the pyrotechnics, this story is centered on Dorothy. Cassie Okenka tries gamely and certainly has the pipes. But she just never even touches on the vulnerability or the gosh-golly-jeepers awe of her one guaranteed applause-getter: Over the Rainbow.
OK, but how about the rest of the cast?
Noah Aberlin is a rubber-limbed Scarecrow, Chris Kind a clanking yet dashing Tin Man and Jason Simon a crowd-pleasing Cowardly Lion whose performance owes everything to Bert Lahr. Caitlin Maloney is anearnest Aunt Em and a comforting Glinda, though that other-worldly quality Billie Burke brought to her movie portrayal isn't there. A green-faced Pat Sibley cackles up a storm as the Wicked Witch of theWest, tossing the odd fireball as she threatens Dorothy and her crew. But that vibrantly spooky combination of menace and subtle humor that Margaret Hamilton pulled off in the movie? Not there.

And then there's the Emerald City Guard as played by Bruce Warren. He channels confetti-tossing comedian Rip Taylor; managing to be simultaneously hokey and hilarious.
All right, Dolen didn't mention Warren, but Hagwood didn't mention anyone else AND didn't mention that Warren was playing several roles.

Do the critics have any other points to share?
The touring cast is augmented in Miami by a dozen students from a troupe called the Elite of Dance Empire. The kids get big-stage experience as Munchkins and Winkie soldiers...

Wouldn't vaudeville meld seamlessly with the steamer trunk of a set and the stagy choreography?
And in conclusion, what are the critics' final words?
...stacked up against a beloved movie and a theatrical spinoff, this Wizard of Oz comes in a distant third.

Sometimes things are so old, they become new and fresh again. Particularly to a new digitized generation.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Behind the Scenes at Florida Stage.

Florida Stage's website has a cool new feature. It's called FurtherMore.
This is the place to come for information that will take you further into our mainstage shows to get even more out of your theatergoing experience.
FurtherMore is actually what I originally envisioned TheatreScene to be: A peek into the guts of theatre. It introduces you to the playwright, and sets the context of the play. It takes you into the rehearsal hall.

Peruse the FurtherMore page for their current play, Dirty Business. And enjoy!

James Lloyd Reynolds (seated) and Dan
Leonard (right) discuss a scene with
director Lou Tyrrell

Saturday, October 25, 2008

1776 held over until November 2

It's the quietest extension I've ever seen: I only caught it because of Christine Dolen's story in the Herald about the special Halloween ticket price of $17.76.

The discount performance is at 8 p.m. Friday, but there are also regular performances at 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday through Nov. 2. For information, call 305-444-9293 or visit

How can you have a Halloween special performance rate for a show that closes before Halloween?

According to the Actors' Playhouse website, the play closes Sunday. But a phone call confirms that indeed, the hit production of 1776 is held over until November 2nd.

And just in case you've missed the hullabaloo - and the collection of great reviews this show has garnered - I present them again, for your convenience:


The top of the heap and the one to beat is the Actors' Playhouse production of 1776. Director David Arisco and his team assemble a huge number of men to bring us the Birth of our Nation, set to music.

Christine Dolen of the Herald was the first to press, and finds that it's a good choice:

The musical 1776, a lavish yet revealingly human look at the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, suggests that contentious politicians eventually can get along -- though the path toward unanimity may be strewn with sacrificed ideas.
And not only is it a good choice, Christine thinks it's a good production:

...Arisco, his artistic team and a powerhouse cast deliver a 1776 that fulfills its creators' intentions.

...future president John Adams (a puckish Gary Marachek) agitates for independence like some windbag party guest. Ken Clement is a gout-plagued, lusty, witty Benjamin Franklin. Barry J. Tarallo displays a focused haughtiness as independence antagonist John Dickinson. Jim Ballard plays a self-adoring Richard Henry Lee, Shane R. Tanner the pro-slavery Edward Rutledge. David Jachin Kelley is a striking if reserved Thomas Jefferson. Colleen Amaya is a crystalline-voiced Abigail Adams, the woman behind the man who helped inspire the birth of a nation. And as Javier Ignacio sings a haunting lament for friends who died too young in war, 1776 feels piercingly timeless.
The Sun-Sentinel is apparently still covering theatre after all, with Bill Hirschman reviewing. Like Christine, he also praises 1776, although he felt it was a little long. But mostly, he praises the show:

Producers Barbara and Larry Stein, who took a huge gamble investing in a 26-member cast and the most sumptuous costumes from the rental house, match master director David Arisco's commitment.

A second strength is the unexpected casting of rubber-faced comic actor Gary Marachek as the curmudgeonly firebrand John Adams. ... He's aided considerably by Ken Clement's wily, self-proclaimed sage Benjamin Franklin.

And like Christine, Bill thinks that this a well-timed and timely production:

The marvel is how a 1969 show written about an 18th century political convention resonates so deafeningly in 2008. Line after line echo our concerns about war, the true nature of patriotism and the difficulty of legislators balancing honor and compromise. John Hancock looks at the newly-minted Declaration and says, "How it will all end, God only knows." Once again, timeless theater captures the zeitgeist of today.
Rounding out our 1776 coverage is Brandon K. Thorp for the Miami New Times. And true to form, Brandon brings a fresh point of view.

When I saw the new Actors' Playhouse production of 1776, a row of youngsters was seated immediately behind me. Before showtime, they were discussing the election...

...They kept up the discussion, in whispers, well into the play. At first I was annoyed; then I was charmed. 1776 has everything to do with the moment. These days, we are all speaking the language of Samuel Adams and Benjamin Franklin, because we, like they, are living in historic times.
Indeed, no one has missed the timeliness of this production; and all have commented on the quality of that production:
Right now, on the Miracle Theater's stage, one month before what Joe Biden recently referred to as "the most important election of our lifetime," an enormous and enormously talented cast is dusting off America's most precious founding myth and imbuing it with a humanity, sense of humor, and sense of urgency that has gone missing from every reenactment I've ever seen.
And Brandon finds several performances worth mentioning:
Ken Clement plays the serenely dour Ben Franklin like, well, Ben Franklin: perennially the smartest guy in the room and too wise to take his blessings too seriously.

Gary Marachek, as John Adams, is supposed to be the star here, and he is remarkable...

...Colleen Amaya, ... though her appearances onstage are few and brief, they herald some of the play's most affecting moments.
Brandon closes up his review with the most fitting summary for this production, one that echoes David Arisco's reasons for choosing this musical in the first place:
...a perfectly enjoyable night at the theater, but it's more than that. In other reenactments of American myths — Johnny Tremain, The Last of the Mohicans, Pride & Prejudice — the talk of the characters often sounds weirdly anachronistic. But now, with our leaders preoccupied by grave issues of foreign policy and American self-definition, it's very much of the moment. The chatter doesn't sound distant. We — even the kids in the row behind me — are speaking their language again.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Christine Dolen on Relevant Theater

As I mentioned briefly in this week's Theatre Scene, there are number of plays that are timed to coincide with the current election.  Christine Dolen expands on that, with a full article in which she illustrates how the plays reflect current events, and how the various artistic directors strive to achieve a balance between relevance and entertainment.

I just can't take any of it out of context: just go read it.

The Scene for October 24, 2008 (Updated again)

UPDATE 1: Added a review of STILL THE RIVER RUNS: see appropriate section below.
UPDATE 2: Added a review of MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN: see below.

The rainy season may be at an official end, but the theatre season is still getting up to speed. Lots of shows to see across the region; comedy, drama, musical: whatever you like, it's playing in South Florida this week. And there are still holdovers from the Free Night of Theatre! Participating productions are marked, contact the theatre for details.


This week we'll start from the north end of South Florida, where Charles Passy is reviewing for the Palm Beach Post. He saw Makeover; a Contemporary Fairy Tale at the Cuillo Center. Makeover played last year at the Hollywood Playhouse, and the consensus then was that this new musical needed work. Charles' take on it this time?
...a work overflowing with heart and spirit, but also a work that suffers from a telltale degree of amateurishness. The musical is full of potential, but it's difficult to determine whether the 61-year-old Poncy, who's responsible for the music, book and lyrics, understands that he's not quite out of those scary woods just yet.
It sounds like it still needs some pruning. But that's not to say there aren't good things about this play:
...if Makeover works in the first half, it's because of Jack James' delightfully over-the-top turn as a Mephistopheles...

The standouts include not just Jack James, but also Katie Angell Thomas (Valerie), James Cichewicz (Joe) and Don Stanfield (in a couple of supporting roles).

Still, no matter how strong the cast, Makeover is going to need a makeover itself if Poncy wants the musical to reach a broader audience. In the dog-eat-dog world of theater, a fairy-tale story will get you only so far.
Makeover plays at the Cuillo Center in downtown West Palm Beach through November 16.

Continuing our north-to-south jaunt, Bill Hirschman reviews Moon for the Misbegotten for the Sun Sentinel. It's also in West Palm Beach, around the corner at Palm Beach DramaWorks. Eugene O'Neill is one of America's greatest playwrights, but he's not as produced as he used to be, and Hirschman tells us why:
...O'Neill presents a monumental challenge to even the best theater artists.

So it is no shame that Palm Beach Dramaworks' troupe have only partially conquered the mountain.
But that's not to say he didn't enjoy the production:

Director William Hayes skillfully leads Todd Allen Durkin, one of the region's finest actors, and Kati Brazda, who understudied her part on Broadway, through morphing stages of a last ditch effort to connect at the end of a long, painful relationship.

Bill spends time discussing the complexities of the script, but does mention Michael P. Amico's "atmospheric set" and Peter Haig as "Josie's bantam rooster of a father."

Miami Artzine's Mary Damiano weighs in with her online review. Like all the other reviews, she starts off with a Cliff notes recap of the play. But she does get to the meat and potatoes of the play:
Brazda understudied the role in the Old Vic production on Broadway, and she is the heart and soul of the show. She makes you ache for Josie, for the life she won’t have and the one she does. She is matched by Haig, and during their scenes together you can’t help but marvel at their ease in these other skins. It never feels as if they’re playing characters, because they so completely become the people in the story.

Durkin has a tougher job to pull off, as Jim Tyrone is condemned to stumble through an alcoholic haze, a “dead man walking behind his own coffin” as Josie describes him. Durkin swings between stillness and flailing, but it is a performance that can gain nuance over time.

She also liked Mike Amico's set design enough to mention it:
Michael Amico’s scenic design fills the intimate space so perfectly, you really believe the rest of Connecticut is just up the center aisle.
I recently realized that I've been neglecting the other Palm Beach newspaper, the Daily News, aka "The Shiny Sheet." Jan Sjostrom is still reviewing plays, and I've done you disservice by failing to include her. She also reviewed Moon for the Misbegotten, and she feels a little more strongly about this production than Bill Hirschman:

Kati Brazda's seemingly spontaneous portrayal of Josie, who finds love and loses it in a single moonlit evening, sears itself in memory like a brand.

Sjostrom also comments on director William Haye's firm hand, but she finds the performances more noteworthy than Hirschman did:

Peter Haig gives one of his finest performances as Josie's father, Phil Hogan, a wily tenant farmer who loves his daughter dearly and won't be pushed around by the gentry.

She wasn't so taken with Todd Durken's performance as James Tyrone, but she notes that he's give a tough row to hoe:

The model for Tyrone is O'Neill's older brother, who died of drink in middle age. Durkin looks the part —the city slicker in his suit and moustache, thanks in part to Leslye Menshouse's spot-on costumes. But his performance lacks the dynamics that would have made Tyrone truly come alive.

That said, it's no small task to make a cry-baby like Tyrone sympathetic. Durkin rises to the challenge in the poignant ending.

As you can see, she liked the design elements, including the set design:

Michael Amico outdoes himself in the set design, re-creating the Hogans' shanty in weatherbeaten wood on Dramaworks' small stage, and making it seem as though the farm's rocky fields were right around the corner

Jan ends her review with a ringing endorsment for DramaWorks itself:

Dramaworks deserves praise for bringing one of the milestones of American theater effectively to the stage and casting it so superbly with Brazda.

And there's more: the Broward/Palm Beach edition of the New Times has Brandon K. Thorp's review of Moon for the Misbegotten. And as we've come to expect, he's got a spin all his own: let's look at his take on Durkin as James Tyrone;

In the taxonomy of theater, he is a close cousin to Durkin's recent turn as haunted, womanizing Guy in Neil Labute's Some Girls. But Tyrone makes Guy look positively well-adjusted. My thought upon leaving the theater was: Jesus! Playwrights had more grit back in the day!

Brandon was as taken with Durkin's performance as Jan was with Brazda's:

...I'm tempted to say that the hairs on your neck will stand up, that your knuckles will be white on your armrests. This is all true, because Durkin's performance is nowhere near a cliché. He is a picture of a man whose very mind is poison....The performance is enough to make you wonder about Durkin's health or even long-term prospects...

There seems to be a clear gender bias in the reviews: like Bill Hirschman, Brandon didn't find Brazda to be quite as strong;

Kati Brazda, as Josie Hogan, is almost as good, and one suspects she'll get better after another weekend or two. As of now, she still seems vaguely flummoxed by some of the rhythms in O'Neill's dialogue.

But that's not to say that he doesn't like the performance, or the production as a whole:

It's a minor complaint that barely undermines her effectiveness, and it should be said: Moon, even during its weakest moments, or in moments that have nothing to do with Tyrone and Josie's booze-soaked date, is an extremely well-put-together production.

Now that looks like an ending point to a review, doesn't it? But Brandon hasn't finished praising this production yet: he goes on to praise the set (that's four plugs for Amico: you never get that many separate mentions of set!)

But Brandon's highest praise is for Peter Haig, who is no stranger to the DramaWorks stage:

After being put through O'Neill's dramatic grinder, Haig's performance, which really feels more like a benediction, is the one thing that will allow Moon's audiences to sleep soundly come nighttime.
Last but not least, Charles Passy reviews for the Palm Beach Post. And right from the start, he's weighing in with Dolen and Damiano on Kati Brazda:
If there's one reason to see Palm Beach Dramaworks' new production of Eugene O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten, it's simply this: The image of Kati Brazda, as salt-of-the-earth farmhand Josie Hogan, looking into the distance.
And while he also felt that Durkin "didn't fully inhabit" his character, Passy wonders if it might not be a choice rather than a failing:
Perhaps that's intentional since Dramaworks director William Hayes plays up the second half of O'Neill's drama for all its pondering weightiness. And certainly, there's a case to be made for such an approach: O'Neill's play, considered the sequel to his autobiographical Long Day's Journey Into Night, can be a brooding rumination on lives gone bad, where resignation to one's fate becomes the only true form of escape
Like the other reviewers, Passy found the rest of the cast to be notable:
...her hardscrabble father, Phil (played to a decently crusty turn by Peter Haig).

...neighboring landholder, T. Stedman Harder (played with foppish brilliance by Michael McKeever).
And the scenic elements get their fifth review:
We also see the rural world of the play, courtesy of scenic designer Michael Amico, whose ramshackle, dusty farmhouse becomes almost a character of its own, and lighting designer Ron Burns, who captures the moonlit night (and the reddish dawn that follows) without a note of theatrical contrivance.
Moon for the Misbegotten runs through November 30 at Palm Beach DramaWorks in downtown West Palm Beach. Plenty of places to grab a bite before the show, or a drink after it.


Next, we move to Broward County, and Christine Dolen's review of Still the River Runs for the Miami Herald. It's the latest production of The Promethean Theatre, out in Davie. This is only the second time this Barton Bishop play has been produced, and it may be that many directors are daunted by its complexity and contradiction:

Its mixture of crazy Southern Gothic humor and sobering truths requires director Margaret M. Ledford and the cast to walk a tonal tightrope, and while there are no major falls, the balance is sometimes shaky.
Christine comments on some technical aspects; one is a scenic transition device that she felt is too apparent, and Matt Corey's sound design. But she liked the acting:
The actors draw fully fleshed portraits of the two markedly different brothers.
Mary Damian reviewed Still the River Runs for Miami Artzine. She seemed to have enjoyed it a little bit more than Christine did:
The Promethean Theatre’s production of Still the River Runs is only the second ever of the play, and it’s one of their most fully realized shows. Staged in a black box space, the glorious backdrop and atmospheric scenic design by Dan Gelbmann conveys the wild environs that Florida once was. Robert Coward’s lighting design believably depicts the change from day to night and back to dawn as Wyatt and Jesse take their grandfather on his final journey. Matt Corey’s sound design and his musical knowledge is impressive.
Bill Hirschman "special to the Sun Sentinel" reviewed Still the River Runs in Thursday's edition, and he likes what he saw.
you realize you're hearing a sparkling, vibrant new talent in the Promethean Theatre's hilarious and poignant production of Barton Bishop's Still the River Runs.
Bill was quite taken with Bishop's script and lyrical writing, and goes on about it at length, comparing Bishop to Sam Shepard. But after waxing loquacious about the script, he does get back to the production at hand:
All this is made flesh by the Promethean crew. River would likely slide into cruel caricature or bathos if not for the pitch-perfect direction of Margaret M. Ledford and the dead-on performances of Mark Duncan as the hulking, affable bear and Scott Genn as the tightly wound brother.
And just as Damiano had more to say about the production than Dolen, Hirschman has more to say than Damiano:
Every aspect of this bare-bones production is skillfully executed -- from Barbara A. Ryan's panoramic backdrop of unspoiled Florida to Matt Corey's sound to Robert Coward's lighting, which takes us from the hapless boys using headlights to read a map to a growing dawn over the landscape. Pam Roza deserves a shout-out for helping the actors achieve a molasses-dripping drawl.
Still the River Runs plays through November 2nd at Nova Southeast University's Black Box Theatre in Davie.

SEE IT FREESouthward, Christine Dolen also covers the Jesus Quintero Studio production of 27 Wagons Full of Cotton. She is intrigued by the choice of venue:

Williams' 1946 one-act, which he expanded into the screenplay for the Elia Kazan-directed Baby Doll 10 years later, is set on a couple's front porch in Mississippi. Director Quintero has staged his 27 Wagons on the back porch of The Yellow House, a vintage Miami home not far north of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.
You don't see a lot of "location" work in live theatre, but Quintero has found a workable situation.
...seeing Jeff Keogh as the shifty Jake striding from the street toward the porch, or watching Melissa Almaguer as a terrified Flora disappear inside the house followed by Quintero as the menacing Silva helps draw the audience into the story.
But the production is not without flaws:
The actors do a decent if not spectacular job with the text, which has been altered to eliminate racist language and moved to an indeterminate year (Flora hums and sings Hello, Dolly, a song from 1964, as she dances and wiggles behind Jake). More problematic is that Keogh uses his own Australian accent and Almaguer doesn't bother with a southern one. So the context of time and place slips away.
But when doing a rarely produced play in a uniquely suitable setting, you do have to give the company kudos for taking the risk, and Dolen gives the company full credit for their chops. 27 Wagons Full of Cotton ends its run this weekend. Take advantage of the cool snap and watch some live theatre on a back porch under the stars.

Finally, our southward march brings us to Coral Gables, and the Gablestage production of David Mamet's election tale, November. Like 1776 at Actors' Playhouse, November is a perfect choice given the upcoming election.

Brandon Thorp spoke with Joe Adler about it last week instead of reviewing anything, but Christine Dolen with the Herald has the first review of the production.

The review begins by telling us how perfectly timed this production is, what with the big election and all, and that although some of the antics are absurd, they're not as far-fetched as they ought to be given some of the recent twists in the real world. I'm not sure that it should take half the review to tell us that, but eventually we start learning about this production:
The play, whose six-month Broadway run just ended in July, contains five juicy comic roles, and under Joseph Adler's direction the GableStage cast delivers performances pitched just right.

(David) Kwiat has the tough task, for anyone who caught Nathan Lane in the Broadway production, of crafting his own distinctive President Smith -- and he does.

As Brown, (Wayne) LeGette paces his performance beautifully and proves the perfect foil: deadpan, truthful yet somehow respectfully condescending. (Stacy) Schwartz makes Bernstein -- a lesbian who maneuvers the president into marrying her to her partner -- the most decent character in the play, and she suffers so convincingly that you start to worry you'll catch her cold. (Kevin) Reilley and (David) Corey have to convey, respectively, mounting frustration and fury, and both get laughs as they get the job done.
Not only did she enjoy performances, she also commented on the design aspects - something too rare in the all too brief reviews we get in Florida:
Set designer Tim Connelly gives the actors a small-scale Oval Office in which to cavort, and sound/music designer Matt Corey offers all-American music that is slightly twisted and distorted -- the aural equivalent of what Mamet is doing to the occupant of the nation's highest office.
A small aside here: Sound/Music designer Matt Corey is the son of actor David Corey. David's been seen on South Florida stages for years, and his son is now one of South Florida's most highly sought-after sound designers.

The resident critic at Theatre Row, DSP, also reviews November. (I wish those kids would learn about paragraphs and line breaks; very tough reading one long run-on paragraph.)

Like Christine, DSP uses most of her article to address how suited this play, is given the current election. Blah blah blah, Mamet's vision, blah blah imagine the current administration, et cetera, AH. Here we go:
But with a cast and Director this good one can over look the script’s pitfalls. Stacy Schwartz is brilliant as a speech writing lesbian with a cold that no Doctor can cure. Wayne LeGette gives a great turn as Kwiat’s straight man aide, Archer Brown. And the always wonderful Kevin Reilley is quite funny as the representative from the National Association of Turkey and Turkey By-Products.

November runs through November 16 at GableStage in the Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables.


Lots of openings this weekend:

SEE IT FREEDirty Business started previews at Florida Stage on the 22nd, and opens Friday the 24th. It's a world premiere of a new play William Mastrosimone. Theatre Row describes the collaboration as "One of South Florida's most respected companies and one of Theatre's best playwrights come together." They may not know that Mastrisimone lived in Palm Beach County for much of the 90s. When he moved to Seattle, he donated some of his office furniture to Theatre Club of the Palm Beaches. Whatever happened to them? They changed their name - to Florida Stage.

Zooman and the Sign also started previews on the 22nd, at the African American Performing Arts Community Theater. Christine Dolen tells us about it in her blog. AAPACT is located in Miami at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center.

Smokey Joe's Cafe opens at the Stage Door Theater in Coral Springs on Friday. Even if you don't know the show, you know all the songs: Lieber and Stoller wrote tons of hits from the 50s to the 70s, and they're all here. If you don't know their work, you'll be shocked when you recognize each and every song.

On the other hand, Mad Cat Theatre's production of MixTape is their own concoction, and you don't know any of it. The describe it as "a collection of 11 pieces that have been compiled together much like the mix-tapes your sweetheart made for you back in the 90's." This "theatrical stew" comes to a boil on Friday at the Miami Light Project in Miami. This is the kind of edgy stuff that MadCat is know for.

The national tour of The Wizard of Oz comes to the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday. This is a stage adaptation of the MGM movie.


The critically acclaimed production of 1776 is a show you don't want to miss at Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables. It closes this Sunday, and yes, that's way too short a run for a big musical. Catch it while you can. Seriously, do not miss this play!

Silent Heroes plays at the Women's Theatre Project through October 26. This is a production that has had to overcome the theft of their lights and sound equipment, so please show your support for this worthy company.

The Rant plays at the New Theatre, through October 26.


Some Men at the Rising Action Theatre Company through November 2.

Musical of Musicals - The Musical! at the Tamarac Center for the Performing Arts. Sure, it's community theatre, but it MoM-TM! It runs through November 9.


The Wizard of Oz, Saturday at Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater. This version is based on the books, and not the movie. Before (or after) the show, you can get ice cream at the parlor across the street, or browse the kids' section at Books'n'Books just a block away.

Sleeping Beauty is a popular show this weekend; this is a touring production making its way across South Florida. It starts Saturday at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre at 10:00 am. On Sunday, you can catch it Broward County at the Miniaci Performing Arts Center. Monday it moves east to the Parker Playhouse.

Little Monster Tales plays Monday at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the weather along Fort Lauderdale's beautiful Riverfront Park. Or visit the Museum of Discovery and Science.

Pocahontas plays through Sunday at Sol Children's Theatre Troup.

So, What's Going On in the Palm Beaches?

The good news is that the Palm Beach Post is actively covering theatre.  The bad news is that they aren't putting them on their theatre page.  I'm glad they're finally out doing the stories; it was only two weeks ago that I was complaining about the complete lack of coverage. 

But guys, you got to put the stories where you tell us they will be!  A website isn't a newspaper, and we don't page through it like we would a hardcopy.  We click to the sections we want, we bookmark the pages that most interest us.  Hiding the stories in other sections is nearly as bad as not writing them at all because we won't see them.

Since about 2/3 of South Florida doesn't read the paper version of the Post - or even the online version - I'm culling this week's stories so the theatre lover can find them without having to slog through every section of the website.

And seriously, whoever is Editor for the Post (information not found on their website), not only should you keep theatre stories together, they should have an RSS feed.  Your hit count will go up.

The stories:

Kevin Thompson interviews playwright William Mastrosimone, whose Dirty Business opens tonight at Florida Stage.
"The JFK assassination is a common American myth,"
Mastrosimone says in an unmistakable Jersey accent. "We don't know if
it'll ever be solved."

Leslie Gray Streeter talks with Jodie Dixon-Mears about Big River at the Lake Worth Playhouse.
"We are about to change history... or completely fall apart."
"Palm Beach Post Staff Writer" reports on the Third Annual Festival of Short Plays at the Studio Theatre of Wellington.
"it's really surprising how well developed a play can
be in only 10 minutes. If it's written well, it's going to be funny

Charles Passy writes about the reading of a new musical at Maltz Jupiter Theatre.  Academy is the product of the Maltz' emerging artists program.

Passy also reviews Moon for the Misbegotten, but I'm sticking that into yet another update of this weeks' Theatre Scene.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Theatre Scene makes the Herald

Or at least, the blog of its Theatre Critic.

If you glance to the left, you will see the RSS feed for Christine Dolen's DRAMA QUEEN blog.  As I write this, the entry at the top of the list reads "Blog Wars."

Go on, click the link.  Clickit clickit clickit clickit clickit clickit!  There - second paragraph!

I am pleased to say that one of our readers is Dolen herself: that's right, along with Playbill, American Theater Web, and the New York Times, Ms. Dolen also checks the Theatre Scene to catch up "with what's going on in the world in general, the theater world specifically."

It's always nice to have your work validated.  Theatre Scene may not be the only source, and it may not even be the best source, but we're on the list.

By the way, if you know of a better source, please share.  I'd like to read it, too.

MadCat presents MIXTAPE

, a theatrical stew, is a collection of 11 pieces that have been compiled together much like the mixtape your sweetheart made you back in the 90's. Featuring 8 plays, a film, a photo play and a selection of poems by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco (The Greatest Band in America!), MIXTAPE explores the power of music and it's constant ability to be the soundtrack of our lives. Whether it's war, travel, the one that got away, Sondheim, or your obsessionwith Meat Loaf that's on your brain, in the words of Queen, MIXTAPE is guaranteed to blow your mind!

MiamiLight Project


A Mad Cat Theatre Company Production of

MIXTAPE a Theatrical Stew


Megan Mostyn-Brown's 4th of July

Marco Ramirez' 3:59 A.M. and The DJ Lights A Cigarette

Micheal McKeever's Move On

Julia Jordan's MPLS. St.

Matt Corey's Sho-na-bish

Lucas Leyva's The Wearloaves of Brickell Ave

Paul Tei's Outside It's America, Untitled Repression or How
To Fight Cancer, She and Sho-na-bish

George Schiavone's Sho-na-bish

and collected poems by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco


October 24th thru November 22nd 2008

Thursdays-Saturdays 8pm.

The Light Box

3000 Biscayne
Boulevard, Miami, FL 33137

General Admission is $25; Students are $10 with valid I.D

Cash or Check only.

Call (305) 576-6377 for reservations and info. 

Special Opening Night Celebration

Friday OCTOBER 24, 2008!!

Celebrate the opening of MIXTAPE with food, libations, and a meet and greet with the cast with your purchase of a $50 Opening Night Ticket to the show.  Event begins at 7:00 p.m. Show begins at 8:00 p.m. To purchase tickets with a credit card for Opening Night ONLY call Miami Light at 305.576.4350. 

For all other reservations or for more information contact Mad Cat Theatre Company at 305.576.6377 or visit them online at or