Friday, November 21, 2008

The Scene for November 21, 2008 (Updated 12:00)

The weather's been pleasantly brisk in the mornings, and the Carbonell Committee's given all of us the cold shoulder, but things are still cooking on the South Florida Theatre Scene.

the reviews

The reviews this week start with Kevin D. Thompson's review of Noises Off at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre for the Palm Beach Post.
If the top-notch cast of Noises Off had any difficulty bringing Michael Frayn's bawdy backstage sex farce to life at The Maltz Jupiter Theatre, well, it sure didn't show.

While slamming doors, falling down staircases, dropping their trousers and suffering through pesky nosebleeds, the cast hummed like a well-oiled comedic machine on cruise control.

Noises Off is chock full of physical comedy: one of the actors was injured last week.
The accident, although unfortunate, was, in a way, rather apt. Noises Off, after all, is about a bumbling (and inept) acting troupe and the wild backstage antics that are more entertaining than the actual show.

Noises Off is staged in three acts on an impressive two-story set that rotates.
The play follows the troupe through the life cycle of its tour: Act 1 has us onstage, where the cast is exultant if inexperienced. Act 2 puts us in the wings, where we can see how the relationships have changed, and Act 3 shows us, well, the bitter end. Or as Kevin puts it:
Noises Off, which The New York Times once called "the funniest show on Broadway," is now one of the funniest shows in South Florida.
Noises Off plays at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre through this Sunday; this show doesn't get done much, so don't miss the chance to see an outstanding production of it. You might have to wait another 25 years to see it. That's how long it's been since it played at the old Florida Rep in West Palm Beach.
The New Theatre opened The Gates of Choice last week, and we have two reviews out:

Christine Dolen reviewed it for the Miami Herald, and found that Rosenfarb's script, which began as a short story, and followed a course of evolution that included a screenplay, was impressed:
The Gates of Choice is an involving, entertaining, enlightening play that manages to be fair to its combative characters even as it details their conflicting values and desires.
Dolen recaps the story, a lot, but eventually gets back to the review:

Staged fluidly by director Ricky J. Martinez on a weathered set by Dudley Pinder and Jesus Casimiro, the premiere production also succeeds because of its strong performances.

Izarra, with her big brown eyes and reddish braids, makes Mehira empathetic even as she's causing trouble. Ditto Schwartz and Turnbull, who convey the love behind their edicts and pronouncements, as does the more prickly Ehly eventually. Sirois tries to differentiate his roles by playing Moishe as a nerdy goofball, making it an unfair contest when it comes to whether he or the dashing Ori-Ben will win Mehira's heart.

Bill Hirschman, writing for the Sun-Sentinel, wasn't quite as taken, but he did find it a worthwhile endeavor.
This heartfelt cry to allow people to choose their destinies is frequently moving, lyrical, funny and always insightful -- which makes it well worth seeing. But it is also predictable, uneven and sometimes strafes close to pedestrian.
And it's not just the script he's talking about:
It's true of both the script and the production. Ricky Martinez's directs a cast that sometimes mesmerizes the audience, sometimes seems to be repeating lines from a script -- sometimes in the same scene.
It's not all bad, according to Hirschman:
Some lines are incisive but would sound hollow in other actors' mouths. Not here. When Izarra asks "what is worse, being dead to your father or yourself," it is not a rhetorical question; her character is agonizing over the choice.

Hirschman ultimately advises us to keep an eye on fledgling playwright Michelle Rosenfarb:
Promising playwrights like Rosenfarb grow in front of us and The Gates of Choice signals someone whose work we'll likely savor as she evolves over the next decade.
The Gates of Choice plays at the New Theatre through December 14.

Mary Damiano reviewed She Loves Me at the Caldwell Theatre for the Sun-Sentinel. She wasn't impressed:
Caldwell's production of She Loves Me is a disappointment. It's devoid of charm and sparkle, the very things needed to make implausible plots work. Leading lady Amy Miller Brennan has two settings, flat and shrill. Leading man Benjamin Schrader tries to channel Jimmy Stewart -- he probably researched the role by watching The Shop Around the Corner -- but fails.
OUCH! She does find some more positive things to say:
Supporting players Oscar Cheda and Bruce Linser fare better, but the most energetic moments of the show belong to Jose Luaces in his second act opener Try Me. Laura Hodos only begins to hint at her potential during her final number and award-winning performers Angie Radosh and Lourelene Snedeker are relegated to the background ensemble.
She Loves Me runs through December 14th at the Caldwell Theatre in Boca Raton.

Jordan Levin reviewed 1,000 Homosexuals for the Miami Herald. It's being produced by Camposition at Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.
Despite the title, 1,000 Homosexuals, the powerful new play by Michael Yawney ... is a portrait of Anita Bryant far more than of the gay men she campaigned against in 1977. But Yawney paints such a sympathetic and in-depth picture of Bryant -- brilliantly portrayed by Mary Jo Cortada -- that his play is ultimately a terrifically resonant portrait of the corrosive power of stereotypes.
Levin also noted the technical elements of the product:
Sheldon Decklebaum's supple direction and Octavio Campos' spare production, with a single mobile platform and a few props doing multiple duties, and campy choreography, keep the play moving.
1,000 Homosexuals plays at Arsht Center for the Performing Arts through Sunday.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang opened Tuesday at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, and Bill Hirschman was there to cover it for the Sun-Sentinel.Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
The stagecraft that makes the roadster fly in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is pretty close to magical even if you have a good idea how they do it.
Yes, this is a live version of the movie we knew as kids. It opened with thunderous fireworks* in London, to thunderous applause on Broadway, and now it's on tour.
Director Ray Roderick and his creative team have scaled back the scope for logistical and economic reasons, but they have significantly rewritten the script and deftly refocused the tone to create a fairy tale to seduce the emotions rather than overwhelm the senses.
It had to be downsized to go on tour; most Broadway tours do.
But the producers have not cheaped out: A cast of 31 sell the new script, new direction and new choreography; a razzmatazz band plays new orchestrations, and finely-detailed sets and costumes evoke Rube Goldberg and Ruritania.
Bill doesn't mention the children, who were all cast locally. That's right, this tour absolutely has South Florida performers onstage, albeit young ones.
The cast solidly inhabits this world convincingly. They aren't three-dimensional characters, but even the intentionally clownish villains don't strike you as cartoons. Steve Wilson brings a fine voice, unswerving earnestness and endearing awkwardness to the father.
Christine Dolen reviewed Chitty for the Herald. She did note some technical problems:
Director Ray Roderick's revised version of the 2005 Broadway production is, at this early point in its touring life, still finding its artistic wings in terms of performances, scattered technical glitches and sometimes ear-splitting sound levels.

But the one sure-fire element is the beguiling Chitty herself.

Despite the technical glitches - and no doubt with credit to Chitty - Dolen enjoyed the production:
There are a few scary, racy moments once the action moves from England to Vulgaria. The ominous Childcatcher (Oliver Wadsworth) is creepy. And one of choreographer Joanne Hunter's biggest numbers, set to The Bombie Samba, is cartoonishly sexy. But Chitty truly is a family-friendly musical.
She doesn't get around to the performers until the very end of her review:
(Dirk) Lumbard and (Scott) Cote provide welcome music hall-style comic relief, but (George) Dvorksky and (Elizabeth Ward) Land's over-the-top comic villains are far more interesting than the Caractacus/Truly combo. And the accents (which maybe wouldn't bug you, but they do me) are all over the place.

Still, the voices are strong, the dance numbers are splashy, and though the carnival backdrop looks like it was made with a giant Lite-Brite set, the scenic elements are effective.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts runs through November 30. And this is one you'll want to bring the kids to. And if you're a kid at heart like me, go see it. The songs have never sounded so good: the new score is exceptional.

*there are no pyrotechnic effects in this production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.


The venerable M-Ensemble opens Joe Turner's Come and Gone, by August Wilson. It plays through December 21 in Miami.

Mosaic Theatre is opening Conor McPherson's The Seafarer this weekend, and runs through December 14 in Plantation.

The New Vista Theatre opens Enter Laughing: The Musical. Based on Carl Reiner's semi-autobiographical novel, its script is by Joseph Stein, with music by Stan Daniels. It runs through December 7 in Boca Raton.

still playing

Dirty Business runs through November 30th at Florida Stage.

Smokey Joe's Cafe plays at the Stage Door Theater in Coral Springs through November 25.

Lucky Stiff runs through December 7, also at the Stage Door Theater, in Coral Springs.

A Moon for the Misbegotten plays at Palm Beach Drama Works through November 30.

passing through

1,000 Homosexuals at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. This is a new play produced in partnership between the Arsht Center and Camposition. Plays tonight through Sunday, November 23. Read more about it in The Herald.

last chance to see...

MixTape by Mad Cat Theatre plays at the Miami Light Project in downtown Miami through November 22.

The Soul of Gershwin is playing the Parker Playhouse through Sunday November 23rd.

for kids

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland at The Playground Theatre.

Charlotte's Web has public performances on Friday, November 21, at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts,

Saturday and Sunday, the Fort Lauderdale Children's Ballet Theatre presents Cinderella at the Broward Performing Arts Center.

plays this Sunday as part of the Family Fun Serieas at the Miniaci Performing Arts Center in Davie. You can catch it on Monday at the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale.

A Christmas Carol, The Musical, plays on Saturdays at Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre. Through December 27.

1 comment:

  1. there will also be a special industry night performance of mad cat's mixtape on monday,november 24th. call the mad cat box office for details and reservations at 305 576 6377.