Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Scene for November 28, 2008

Since Thanksgiving will close everyone down on Thursday, and some people are looking at a long weekend, I'm putting out The Scene early for those who want to add theatre to their holiday weekend.

Have a happy Thanksgiving.

the reviews

Mary Damiano reviews Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for MiamiArtzine. Like most of us, she remembers the movie quite well;
That awe was back as I sat in the audience at Broward Center Wednesday night, watching that tricked-out car with a mind of its own take flight.
But there's more to the show than the car, even though the car is the title role:
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is very entertaining, even during the scenes when the car isn't flying. It's also gorgeous to look at--the lighting and scenic design gives many scenes a 3D look. The musical's first act bounces along breezily, with terrific numbers like "Me Ol' Bamboo" and "Toots Sweet." Situations turn dark in the second act, which gets bogged down with a few numbers that do nothing to move the story along.

But that's quibbling. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a good time, and is designed to bring out the kid in all of us.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts runs through November 30.

I saw The Seafarer at Mosaic Theatre last week, and so did Christine Dolen. She reviews it for the Miami Herald.
The opening moments of Conor McPherson's The Seafarer, a recent Broadway hit being given an extraordinarily fine new production by Plantation's Mosaic Theatre, hardly seem to hold the promise of a fable rich with humor, spiritual exploration and redemption. Yet that's exactly what the gifted young Irish playwright provides in his most oddly uplifting play yet.
By way, click the link and make sure you read the entire review; her description of the top of the show is worth the read. It's obvious she likes Conor McPherson's script (with good reason!), but she did like this particular production for its own merits:
From Richard Jay Simon's intricate direction to those five terrific performances to the beautifully detailed work by Mosaic's design team (the set is by Sean McClelland, costumes by K. Blair Brown, lighting by Jeff Quinn and sound by Matt Corey), The Seafarer is as good as South Florida theater gets. Which really is quite wonderful.
Brandon K. Thorp saw the same show, and his review appears in the Broward/Palm Beach New Times: and as always, he says it as only he can:
It is impossible to overstate how gorgeously McPherson realized all of this or how brilliantly the cast sells it. At no point during The Seafarer will one be jolted out of the story, point to something onstage, and say, "Oh, that there, that's acting." McPherson's dialogues rolled off his printer with the cadences of real speech, and the cast has picked up their rhythms, utterly subsuming themselves beneath the gorgeous cascades of the playwright's words.
This was certainly the quality I found notable about this show. And Brandon has more:
There are decades of intertwined history to be read in the way Dennis Creaghan, who plays blind, besotted Richard, hems and haws as he berates his brother, just as you can read years of self-loathing and repressed violence in the way Gregg Weiner, playing Sharky, casts his eyes down and takes it. Then Weiner might flick his gaze up for a moment, at the end of a particular word during one of Creaghan's particularly stinging rebukes, and you wonder: What is it about that word? Has something similar been said before? The ensemble performance in The Seafarer is a masterwork of tiny gestures, flowing together to create a world indistinguishable from our own. If you were standing onstage, beside these men, the uncomfortable intimacy couldn't feel any more real.
And realism is all well and good, but this theatre, is it not?
The astounding realism of the performance dissipates only with the appearance of Ken Clement, Lord Satan himself, whose arrival onstage is heralded by the smell of sulfur. He is monstrously merry, all thunderous belly laughs and grins so big they could swallow you. His joviality seems boundless, until he is left alone for a moment with his quarry (whose name I won't give away). Clement stares him down over the poker table, and his grin is suddenly frozen and awful, like a primitive tribe's carving of a cannibal god. His face reddens, then purples, and I suddenly realize that affable, Scotch-swilling Clement, with whom I have exchanged a dozen friendly post-show handshakes, is the scariest person I've ever seen. The visage couldn't have been any more frightening if his eyes had burst into flames — which, for a moment, I expected them to do.
Mosaic Theatre's production of Conor McPherson's The Seafarer runs through December 14 in Plantation.

The venerable M-Ensemble opened Joe Turner's Come and Gone, by August Wilson, and Christine Dolen reports on the results for the Herald:
Opening night, the cast was still reaching for lines and trying to settle into the rhythms of the play. The final scene, however, is already intense, shattering and moving. If Pryor and company can make what leads up to it tighter and more powerful, Joe Turner's Come and Gone can yet become another in M Ensemble's impressive productions of Wilson's plays.
The venerable M-Ensemble production of Joe Turner's Come and Gone plays through December 21 in Miami.

Kevin D. Thompson reviews Caldwell Theatre's production of She Loves Me for the Palm Beach Post:
For any romantic comedy to work, there has to be a palpable chemistry between the two leads. Schrader and Brennan certainly have it as their relationship morphs from mutual disgust to head-scratching confusion to head-over-heels love.

The colorful set almost gives She Loves Me a Disney-esque feel. Which is appropriate since all Disney movies end happily ever after with the boy getting the girl
She Loves Me runs through December 14th at the Caldwell Theatre in Boca Raton.

The New Vista Theatre opened their production of Enter Laughing; the Musical, a play based on Carl Reiner's autobiography. Mary Damiano reviewed it for Miami Artzine:
New Vista's production is delightful. The cast is clearly having a good time, and it radiates from the stage. As David, Larche is charming and likable, and he carries the show effortlessly. Michael H. Small delivers sweet and funny as David's boss, while Gary Marachek is in all his glory as a scenery-chewing narcissistic actor. Bondi milks the Jewish mother routine for all it's worth. The leads are backed by a capable ensemble that gets their own hilarious moments. All in all, the stage is filled to the brim with its exuberant 14-member cast, plus three musicians who remain on stage throughout the show give the score a rich, full-bodied sound. Enter Laughing isn't his art but it is terrific entertainment.
Enter Laughing: The Musical runs through December 7 at the New Vista Theatre in
Boca Raton.

openings years ago, the Jupiter Theatre made the mistake of opening EVITA on Thanksgiving Weekend. But since it's a long weekend, most of the critics go off to visit family. Not one was going to come to review the show. So the producers brilliantly talked them into coming to the first preview, even though it would only be the second time the cast and crew ran it with full tech and costume. Talk abot a turkey!

The rest of the Theatre Community is, thankfully, much smarter than the late executive producer of that incarnation of the Jupiter Theater. For about the first time in a year, no plays are opening this week.

still playing

The Gates of Choice plays at the New Theatre through December 14.

She Loves Me runs through December 14th at the Caldwell Theatre in Boca Raton.

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.

last chance to see...

Dirty Business closes this Sunday, November 30th at Florida Stage.

A Moon for the Misbegotten at Palm Beach Drama Works also closes November 30.

The Naked Stage production of Nerve is also closing on Sunday.

Avenue Q at the Kravis Center closes November 30 in West Palm Beach. (But it's at the Broward Center in January.)

for kids

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland at The Playground Theatre.

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

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