Saturday, September 27, 2008

2008-2009 South Florida Children's Theater Listings

It is our intent to list only shows available to the general public; it does not include productions intended solely for school groups. Our format is to list only the first performance date; the show may run over several weeks, and in several venues.


As always, if you know of shows that should be listed, leave the information in the comments section, we'll move it where it belongs.


October

3

Sesame Street Live
Broward Center for the Performing Arts

10

Pocahontas
Sol Children's Theatre Troup


11

Crimes of the Heart
Miami Children's Theatre

Harry The Dirty Dog
Broward Center for the Performing Arts

13

Super Scientific Circus
Parker Playhouse


If You Give A Pig A Pancake & Other Story Books
Kravis Center for the Performing Arts


15

The Wizard of Oz
Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater



16


My Fair Lady
Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre



17


The Little Prince
Miami Children's Theatre


Stone Soup
Broward Center for the Performing Arts



20

Mother Goose: A Pocketful of Rhymes
Parker Playhouse



25

Sleeping Beauty
Maltz Jupiter Theatre



26

Sleeping Beauty
Miniaci Performing Arts Center


27

Little Monster Tales
Broward Center for the Performing Arts

Sleeping Beauty
Parker Playhouse






November
3

The Little Dragon
Kravis Center for the Performing Arts


6

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
The Playground Theatre


7

The Ant and the Elephant

Broward Center for the Performing Arts


20

A Christmas Carol, The Musical
Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre



21

Charlotte's Web
Broward Center for the Performing Arts



23


Leo Linni's Swimmy, Frederick, Inch By Inch
Miniaci Performing Arts Center



24

Leo Linni's Swimmy, Frederick, Inch By Inch
Parker Playhouse



December

The Life and Adventures of Santa Clause

3

Lady Bug Action Hero
Broward Center for the Performing Arts


4

Disney's Beauty and the Beast
Miami Children's Theatre

5

Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Miami Children's Theatre

13

Amber Brown is Not A Crayon
Broward Center for the Performing Arts




January

14

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings
The Playground Theatre


23

Schoolhouse Rock Live!
Miramar Cultural Center


25

Max & Ruby
Miniaci Performing Arts Center



27

Let Freedom Sing
Broward Center for the Performing Arts



29

Alice In Wonderland
Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre



February


6

A Kid's Life! Goes to School
Broward Center for the Performing Arts



11

Aida
Miami Children's Theatre



19

The Steadfast Tin Soldier
Playground Theatre



28

Cinderella
Miramar Cultural Center


The Velveteen Rabbit
Maltz Jupiter Theatre



March

Les Miserables (School Edition)
Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre


6

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Miami Children's Theatre


13

Cinderella
Sol Children's Theatre Troup



29

The Jungle Book
Broward Center for the Performing Arts



April

2

Junie B. Jones
Miramar Cultural Center


19

Goodnight Moon & The Runaway Bunny
Parker Playhouse



22

Inanna and the Huluppu Tree
The Playground Theatre


24

The Three Little Pigs
Miramar Cultural Center


Bob the Builder LIVE! - Spud's Big Mess
Parker Playhouse




29

TBA - Winner of the 2009 National Children's Theatre Festival Competition
Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre



30

Sweet Charity
Miami Children's Theatre



May

Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka, Jr.
Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre



1

The Great Alphabet Adventure
Miramar Cultural Center



Phantom of the Opera
Sol Children's Theatre Troupe


2

The Three Little Pigs
Maltz Jupiter Theatre



3

Magic Tree House: The Musical
Kravis Center for the Performing Arts



12

The Wizard of Oz
Kravis Center for the Performing Arts



15

Disney's Alice In WonderlandMiami Children's Theatre



June

Read more...

IMHO: Attention Must be Paid Across the Boards

I've been reading some of the reviews on Jim Tommaney's Ambition, the new play presented by Edge Theatre. As you know by now, the critiques have been pretty negative. Some being more blunt than others.

The relationship between the press and Edge has been rocky at best since I've know Mr. Tommaney. But that hasn't stopped him from producing his works and others under his imprint for over a decade. If the press was a major force in this region, he could've been shut down a long time ago.

I don't know why he decided to write a satire allegedly based on a certain local critic. I hope to hear his side one day. I have also seen some productions at Edge as well. Some were better than others. Mr. Tommaney plans to continue his work at another venue when the show closes this weekend in North Miami. I don't plan to see Ambition, because I am not interested in the premise nor the synopsis. I do wish Mr. Tommaney and his production the best wherever the journey takes them.

But that's not the main reason why I write this today: As much as the press seems to take pleasure out of their relationship with Edge as a girlfriend they love to abuse, there are other companies who deserve the same coverage that Edge has gotten from the press lately.

The Tamarac Theatre of Performing Arts is preparing their season opener with The Musical of Musicals: The Musicals next month. I called Bill Schmookler, general manager, and asked them when was the last time they were reviewed. It was their last season opener, The World Goes Round. No one has been back since.

There have been other productions that needed recognition over there in that tiny storefront space: Crimes of the Heart, Lost in Yonkers, to name a couple. They just finished a production of The Last Five Years that need to be covered just on the ambition (pardon the pun) alone.

Schmookler also said that he has refurbished the theatre now with new seats, and will also be having more events involved to make Tamarac a force to be reckoned with. But it can't reckoned with, if the press is not there to see the changes.

Other companies like Curtain Call Playhouse deserves the same coverage that Edge has given. The African American Performing Arts Community Theatre, after a brief hiatus, just finished a play called Stories from the Old Days. Did not see a single review on that production.

The press also seemed to have unstable relations with the Broward Stage Door Theatre at one time, but it seems to have stablized with reviews of current productions.

So while the press commiserates over what a bad show Ambition was, we hope the press will now focus on other small theatre companies who have the same structure as Edge does.

The Sun-Sentinel is still using two critics to cover in Jack Zink's posthumous absence, so between the both of them they should be able to cover more shows at Tamarac.

Going back to Ambition for a second; some press think its merciful not releasing the names of actors performing due to how they felt about the show. I find it as a disrespect to the actors since no credit is given regardless of how the press feels about the show. Plus as far as them not being seen at other venues, that is also a disrespectful notion.

So let's give credit where it's due. To find out more about this play, you can look at the Miami Herald's review. Since this has been the most detailed.

And from time to time, I will be giving my two cents on what's going on in this region as well as many other people should. But please be clear: My opinions are my own and are not the opinions of anyone elses on this blog. If those wish to comment or give a rebuttal, please feel free.

And as a disclaimer: I was once invloved with some of the other entities I've named. The shows that I mentioned are shows I was never involved with.

Read more...

Friday, September 26, 2008

The World's Fastest Theatre Production is BACK!


Bigger & Better Fundraiser Continues to Bring Community Artists Closer Together!

SEPTEMBER 25, 2008 - Naked Stage founders, Antonio Amadeo, Katherine Amadeo and John Manzelli would like to invite you to the fundraiser that promises to further the growing unity among theatre artists in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties. Based on a pattern commonly employed across the country; the "24-Hour Theatre" concept returns to South Florida thanks to The Naked Stage, through the sponsorship of Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre.

You are NOT going to want to miss what is sure to be THE THEATRE EVENT OF THE YEAR!

How does it work? At 7pm on Sunday, November 9th, 2008, 8 playwrights will gather at the historic Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables and select a title from which they must each write a short play to be staged, rehearsed and performed the next day -- Just 24 hours later! At sunrise on Monday, November 10th, their randomly distributed directors and actors arrive (armed only with copious amounts of caffeinated beverages), and spend the entire day bringing the writers' work to life. A process that usually takes weeks! That night at 8pm, an audience will gather to see... Well, we have no idea what they're going to see, actually!

It's like the entire creative theatrical process on SPEED!

Where will YOU be on November 10?!

Visit www.nakedstage.org for more details!

Read more...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Scene for September 26, 2008 UPDATE: Brandon Weighs In

It's official; summer is over, and we're into the fall. The traditional start of the South Florida Theatre Season is next week, but that doesn't mean there's nothing going on this week.

THE REVIEWS

UPDATE:
Brandon K Thorp makes it official: Everyone hates the Edge's Ambition. He writes this week for the Miami New Times. And Brandon cuts to the chase:
In the latest play from the Edge Theatre's artistic director, Jim Tommaney, a young, queer drama critic (like me) works for an alternative newsweekly in South Florida (like this one, but called CityTimes) and writes nasty, bitchy notices about everything he sees, regardless of quality ("It's not about the play!" he explains to his boyfriend. "The reviews are about me!").
To be fair, I have accused Brandon of focusing too much on himself. But presented with his actual reviews, I didn't make up a fantasy land to justify my skewering of him. Tommaney, of course, wrote a play. As Brandon says:
Within minutes of curtain-up, it becomes apparent that Tommaney knows nothing about the practices of alternative newsweeklies. We critics do not dictate our stories, and our editors do not cower before us (quite the opposite). Nor do they glory in negativity (again, quite the opposite; editors love it when we can say something nice about the local arts community — it is the community to which they have the most philosophical allegiance).
Now is usually the time I complain that Brandon (or any reviewer) is focusing too much on one aspect of the production. But Brandon does mention the acting:
I haven't yet begun to discuss the performances themselves, which are so bad that I shall refrain from naming the actors. They are plainly amateurs and are unlikely to show up at another venue. I will, however, offer them some advice (and I'm speaking especially to the gentleman who played Herrin): If you refuse to act, at least try to learn your lines. Please. People are paying money to see you.
I'll close this section on Brandon's review with a sentence he wrote earlier in his review about a particular scene. I think it sums up his review quite well.
This really happened onstage. No kidding.
Christine Dolen of the Miami Herald wrties her review of a play about a...theater reviewer. Edge Theatre's own Jim Tommaney wrote their current offering, Ambition. And its title is too suggestive, according to Dolen.
Jim Tommaney, a South Florida director-playwright whose ambition far outstrips his dramatic gifts, has written his own gay fantasia and called it (what else?) Ambition.

The work Tommaney writes for his 13-year-old Edge Theatre company is drama's equivalent of vanity publishing. No matter how he tries to dress things up -- the new show's program proclaims ''Cirque du Noir Productions presents the Edge Theatre interpretation of the world premiere of Ambition,'' for example -- Tommaney is doggedly determined to produce his own work (among other plays). Without that drive, Edge and Cirque du Noir wouldn't exist.
Of course, writing a play targeting those who are going to sit in judgment of of that play is at best a treacherous balancing act. But it seems that Dolen doesn't think Tommaney managed it:
''Terrible'' doesn't begin to describe Ambition, which is made worse by Tommaney's casting of Elmore as Herrin. Like Polanco, Elmore has a nice body (which, as is typical in an Edge show, gets shown off in a series of tight tanks, with one short bare-buns sequence). But if he were in a paper bag, he couldn't act his way out of it. Which might be a public service.
Ouch. Maybe making the main character a theater critic with a poison pin wasn't such a great idea, huh? But this is just one critic's view, it wouldn't be fair to present only one utterly stinging review without some kind of rebuttal.

This week, Mary Damiano is reviewing for the Sun-Post. And the often hesitant reviewer seems to be finally finding her footing.
Jim Tommaney and the theater he founded, Edge, have received a lot of bad reviews over the years. A lot. Now, Tommaney has written and directed a new play, Ambition, and you know what? It’s going to get a lot of bad reviews. In fact, you’re reading one now.
Be still, my heart! This is my kind of review; no lengthy synopsis or explanation or boring outline of past productions, we're getting right into THIS production.
I bring up Tommaney’s past bad reviews because they seem to be the basis for Ambition, which is about a young, gay freelance drama critic who trashes plays, whether he likes them or not, to make a name for himself. The only excuse for Ambition is that it’s Tommaney’s therapy. Through the play, he’s found a way to deflect the blame and rationalize every bad review he’s ever received, as well as indulge in a fantasy that gives the critics who wrote those reviews their comeuppance.
This is going to be an ongoing theme with this play, it seems. But a play is more than script, it takes an enthusiastic cast to carry the story to the audience:
As for the performances, well, there aren’t any, just as there are no actors onstage. The cast consists of four people who recite lines. The only thing that deserves any recognition is their ability to memorize — and recite with a straight face — the drivel that makes up Tommaney’s script.
C'mon, how bad could it be? Really? Well, Mary does offer one direct quote:
“Your butt, it’s irresistible. It’s like a magnet for my gonads.”
Yeck. I need mouth wash. In fact, I think I might need to bathe in it...on the positive side, this ... production ... seems to have helped Mary Damiano find her critical side. Just because this one was resoundingly negative doesn't mean that the same insight and humor can't be applied to a GOOD production. This is the kind of writing we need to see more of. Keep it up, Damiano. Ya done good.

Finally, a review from a new source: Theatre Row, the other South Florida theatre blog, is now in the play review business, and their first review, by "DSP," is entitled simply "Ambition - Sucks; a review."

Now I'm always harping at reviewers to cut to the chase, but wow! Do we even need to read the review itself? Well, it is their first, so let's have a look.
The Edge Theatre has reached a new low with its production of Ambition. a play written by “Director/Writer” Jim Tommaney.
Wow! Not even a single sentence to summarize the play! Talk about getting down to parts! Actually, after this stinging start, the reviewer gives a very appropriate - and brief - summary of the plot. DSP then asks some very relevant questions:
Reading reviews in this town is seldom interesting or entertaining and critics are not the most charismatic individuals (I would rather watch Christine Dolen eat her breakfast than watch this play again), so why would anyone want to see a play about a guy who by nature, sits alone at his computer? Why would a playwright want to write a play that has no real plot or interesting characters?
DSP also gets down to the heart of the matter, and answers for us, and it's that recurring theme:
It is no secret that The Edge Theatre puts on theatre productions, that have been poorly reviewed. So I guess by writing Ambition, Jim Tommaney is hoping to put the critics in South Florida center stage and expose them for the HACKS they really are. Only problem is that when it comes to Jim Tommaney and his Edge Theatre, the critics are right. For those of you who have ever seen a Jim Tommaney show, you are familiar with the feeling of wanting to run out of the theatre screaming “THIS FUCKING SUCKS” at the top of your lungs.
Any regular SCENE reader knows that I'm not all that impressed with the writing acumen of some of our local critics; someone should let Jim know that there's now a professional around to take them to task; but only for their REAL sins. I might disagree with a critic's conclusions, but when you suck, you suck.

DSP has no problems expressing an opinion:
How much longer can the Edge continue to pass shit off as art?
I give the Theatre Row's DSP a B+ for a coherent and consistent (if agressively passionate) review; Edge Theatre's Ambition - well, I don't review plays. And right now, I think I'm glad of that.
If you want to see if any play can really suck that much, it runs through September 28. See southfloridatheatre.com for details.

OPENINGS

Rising Action Theatre Company opens Terrence McNally's Some Men tonight.
This is a new play with music, by four-time Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally (Love, Valor, Compassion). It highlights the moments when guests, gathered together at a gay wedding ceremony, found true love in their own lives.
Some Men runs in Fort Lauderdale through November 2, 2008.

Christine Dolen just blogged about another opening; this one a college engagement. The FIU Theater Department is producing The Cook, by Eduardo Machado:
The work of Eduardo Machado, a masterful writer and teacher/mentor to many other playwrights, isn't produced in South Florida nearly often enough. It was the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles that put together an epic production of Machado's Floating Island plays (Broken Eggs, Fabiola, The Modern Ladies of Guanabacoa and In the Eye of the Hurricane) in 1994, not a theater in Miami, home to a vast population of Cuban exiles for whom Machado's pungent storytelling might resonate with special power
The Cook plays at FIU's Wertheim Performing Arts Center at FIU's main campus on SW 8th Street at 117th Ave. Information available at their website.

COMING AND GOING

Three Blonde Moms
opens at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts tonight, and runs through this weekend.
From television, stage and screen, these are the really Desperate
Housewives you've been waiting for. Three completely different Moms and
unlikely friends in the cul 'd sac, talk about everything we all go
through in the most hysterical of ways. If you have a family, know a
family, or need a family, this is the show for you!
Don't wait too long; this very limited engagement in the Broward Center's intimate Amaturo Theater closes Sunday.

STILL PLAYING...

August Wilson's Radio Golf plays through October 5th at Mosaic Theatre.
An imperfect production of a playwright too rarely staged in South
Florida, two out of three critics recommend this play. (see last week's Theater Scene)

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.

Read more...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

2008/2009 South Florida Theatre Season

It's over and done with. Congratulations! We got through a whole year of excellent plays.

Shows opening in June, July and August are listed in the Summer Season page.

Read more...

Friday, September 19, 2008

An interesting "cross promotion."

Many theaters have done what we call "cross promotion:" tying the subject of a play to something in the real world in an attempt to promote both things.  A theater doing a show set in an italian restaurant might work out a meal discount at a real restaurant, for example.

The Caldwell Theatre Company kicks it up a notch with its planned event on Saturday, September 20th; in conjunction with its play about the inanity of national politics, they're holding a Voting Registration Drive in their lobby.

According to Attention Must Be Paid, the theatre blog for the Orlando Sentinel:
Caldwell Theatre Company hosts a non-partisan voter registration drive Saturday, September 20 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and on Sunday, September 21, from noon until 4 p.m. in the theater’s lobby, located in the Count de Hoernle Theatre at 7901 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton.
Details on the process can be found on the blog.

(And if anyone finds mention of this in an actual South Florida newspaper, please send me the link; I haven't been able to find it.)

Read more...

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.

Openings

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 SouthFloridaTheatre.com:
"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.

Read more...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Naked Stage Announces Final Show of 2008 Season


Hot of the critical success of 4.48 Psychosis, The Naked Stage is proud to present the South Florida premier of Nerve by Adam Szymkowicz!

2008 Silver Palm award-winner for "Best Emerging Theatre Company", The Naked Stage is delighted to present this intriguing dark comedy about the world of cyber-dating from November 7th - 30th, 2008. 
Elliot has never had an online date before ... at least not one that showed up. Susan has had far too many, but would prefer not to discuss them. When they meet in a bar one night, all their personality flaws are revealed, along with a puppet, some modern dance and a desperation that may or may not be love.
Nerve stars Naked Stage co-founders Antonio and Katherine Amadeo, and is directed by the company's third founder, John Manzelli.
Check out Naked Stage's updated website at www.NakedStage.org for more information.

Read more...

Free Theatre on October 16th

The following is a press release from the Theatre League of South Florida:

South Floridians will get the opportunity to attend a free night of live theatre on October 16.

Theatres stretching from West Palm Beach to Coral Gables will be opening up their doors for Free Night of Theater with performances ranging from large scale musicals to American classics to world premieres, said Theatre League of South Florida (TLSF) President Meredith Lasher. TLSF will be coordinating the Oct. 16 event in South Florida. A list of the participating theatres and their productions will be announced later.

"The Theatre League is proud to participate in this proven program that is a nation-wide effort to introduce new audiences to theatre." Lasher added.

Theatre Communications Group (TCG) – a national organization which promotes theatre – first conceived Free Night of Theater at their National Conference in 2003 as a way to remove perceived barriers that have historically prevented audiences from attending not-for-profit theatre. An estimated 80 per cent of last year’s attendees were first-time theatergoers. Recent attendance data gathered by Shugoll Research reports that over 33% of last year’s first-time theatergoers purchased tickets to another performance following their Free Night experience.

TCG announced today that the second annual Free Night of Theater will be held across the country on Thursday, October 16. On that night theatergoers, including South Floridians, can attend performances being presented by more than 450 selected theatres free of charge as part of this unprecedented campaign to attract new audiences.

According to Brad Erickson, executive director of Theatre Bay Area and participant in the program since its 2005 pilot year, “The support was extraordinary, from our local theater companies and the broader community. The demand from the public for this kind of live artistic experience was overwhelming…tickets went so fast, we had to go back to our companies and ask for more!”

Free Night of Theater venues will be launched on a national website, www.freenightoftheater. net, in September. Several kickoff events will be held across the country and ticket reservations will be available beginning on October 1.

Contact Andie Arthur, TLSF Executive Director, for further information on the program in South Florida.— 954.557.0778. Additional information on TLSF is available at www.southfloridatheatre. com.

Read more...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

For the Artistic Directors

One of the largest expenses facing the producer is the cost of creating scenery for each production. Having spent nearly ten years designing scenery on nearly no money, and spent over 20 years working for theatres trying to do it, it's one of those topics that I read up on.

We try to re-use and re-cycle as much scenery as possible; we go to nearly ridiculous lengths in some cases. I am particularly proud of taking the top of a column designed by Michael Amico, and turning into the base of a fountain for a different show. It became a circular center bench for awhile, and then back to a fountain. It's been in more shows than some actors in the region.

I remember working on repertory productions of EDUCATING RITA and AGNES OF GOD that shared the same basic set, with dressing changes. The old Florida Rep (the one that was where the Cuillo Center is now) tried to use a "unit set" for a season, with limited success. These approaches had limits, in that we were trying to hide the fact that it was really one set for multiple productions. There was some savings in materials, but additional manhours spent converting the set, and often the production seemed compromised; a square play being shoved into a round stage, as it were.

So I was intrigued when I stumbled across a blog entry titled "Model: Make It Sustainable (Scenery)" It was posted back in March, but I've only just found it via another theatre blog, TheaterForte.

The post is discussing the book Hi Concept - Lo Tech, by Barbara Carlisle and Don Drapeau, and the topic is sustainable theatre:
"In writing the book Hi Concept - Lo Tech*, Barbara and her co-author Don Drapeau (also of Virginia Tech)
coined the expression "sustainable theatre" to refer to the need for a mode of theatre making that does not deplete the resources of the theatr
e makers."

That is the problem facing the production teams of regional theatre in a nutshell.

They suggest more than simply building one set and making every show work on it; they propose that the basic set structure should influence the choice of plays as much as the choice of plays influences the design.
"Our idea was that RALPH (Radically Alternate Limited Production Habitat) would be designed in advance of the season selection, and would, in some respects, inform the choice of season. It would provide a theatrically challenging environment with the possibility of some tailoring to a specific production via lighting, props, and detail elements, or, in some cases, projections. We imagined that every two or three years a new structure would be designed with an altered theatrical emphasis..."
In other words, they are saying that the play selection should take more notice of the theatre's technical limits and strengths. This is a sound approach to producing theatre, and variations of this can be found in place at the more successful companies. "Sustainable Theatre" simply takes it one step higher.

It's worth a read. After all, selection of the play is only a part of a theatre's artistic mission, and paying more attention to the other aspects up front may help you to not only contain costs, but make bolder statements with your productions, as well.

Read more...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Scene for September 12th, 2008

We got lucky; Hanna and Ike both passed us by. Since there's no post-storm damage to cleanup, it's time for more theatre!

The Reviews
We start off with the Caldwell Theatre production of Lying in State, first reviewed by Christine Dolen of the Miami Herald. Overall, she enjoyed it:
"...despite the dead spots and flaws in David C. Hyer's script, now and then Lying in State really does get an audience howling with laughter.

Credit director Michael Hall for his canny casting....All seven actors work like demons to keep this flimsy soufflé of a play from collapsing -- and darned if they don't succeed."
But it's not a perfect production, not only does the cast have to overcome a ... limsy... script, there are costuming problems, too; Kim Ostrenko is described as "...trapped in two awful costumes..."

Mary Damian offers up her review of Lying in State for the Sun-Sentinel. Damiano's reviews are getting better, she spends only one brief paragraph reciting the storyline, and actually discusses the performances. Like Christine, Mary finds that the actors are having to overcome a weak script:
"The actors work furiously to mine laughs and keep the action going.

"While Lying in State never reaches the heights of true farce, it is a laugh riot, full of savvy political observations. It's a perfect complement -- or antidote, depending on how you look at it --to the non-stop campaign and convention coverage of this election year"
Finally, the reviews section isn't complete if we don't hear from Brandon K. Thorp, writing this week for the Palm Beach/Broward edition of The New Times. And he had a markedly different experience at the Caldwell:
"Maybe what you're after is some scathing political satire — something topical that'll reveal American politics as the comedy of errors that many claim it is, something to make the horror manageable. Maybe you think Lying in State, which opened last week at the Caldwell, will do nicely. Sorry to add yet more despair to an already desperate moment, but Lying in State will do no such thing. You can't blame the actors, except one, and you can't blame the director, save for producing such a venal giggle of a script in the first place."
No, you don't have to read between the lines to find that Thorp thinks the script is badly flawed; he flat out tells you in no uncertain terms:
"The problem here is conceptual: This is a bluntly lowbrow play that tries to mock the dumbness of politics in a way even the politically dumb can understand. If Lying in State is to be believed, the funniest thing about politicians is that they occasionally frequent hookers... and that they will do anything to win an election. How adroit."
Brandon also believes that the actors' performances are the best thing about this play, but again, he says it as only he can:
"I wanted to weep for the actors involved in this mess — actors who, thanks to a cruel directorial choice, cannot even complete a curtain call without debasing themselves (they take their call while performing a weird little dance involving a coffee can and a conga line, which I'm sure speaks volumes about America's political malaise). None of them walk away with their dignity, even though Angie Radosh, John Felix, and Kim Ostrenko deliver performances that you could almost call inspired if the word could be in any way attached to such a stone-dumb play."
Lying in State runs through September 21 in Boca Raton.

Meanwhile, back at the Miami Herald, Christine Dolen also reviews The Rabbi and the Cheerleader, playing at the Hollywood Playhouse through September 21.
"The result is a largely engaging if somewhat odd amalgam of theater, standup routine, self-help lecture and slide-show confessional."
Openings
Radio Golf opened tonight at the Mosaic Theatre. It's the final installment in the late, great August Wilson's 10-play cycle chronicling the black experience in 20th century America. It's one of the picks from the Sun-Sentinel, and Christine Dolen blogged about it recently.

Last Chance to See
Sol Theatre winds up Why We Have A Body ( a show recommended by two out of three critics) on Saturdays September 13th, and Blowing Whistles on Friday September 12th.

New Theatre's production of As You Like It in its intimate space in the shadow of Merrick Place ends this Sunday, September 14th.

The GableStage production of Betrayed also closes this Sunday.

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.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

the Scene for September 5th, 2008 (updated!)

This is finally the doldrums for South Florida Theatres; most major productions have closed, and most theatres are getting set for the upcoming production season. Yes, it's definitely slowing down on the Theatre Scene.

But while it looks like we're going to be visited by Hannah and Ike over the next week, there's still plays to see in South Florida.

UPDATE!

It's hard to follow everything going on in South Florida, and I completely missed a show. But reading the Herald this morning, low and behold, there's a show opening. This week's Critic's Pick in the Herald is Lying In State, which opens at the Caldwell Theatre tonight.
Senator Ed shouldn’t have been shooting at squirrels because the bullets ricocheted and he wound up dead. Grievers who gather at the funeral parlor include his ex-wife, who Ed shot accidentally in the caboose, and his fiancĂ© Buttons, a former exotic dancer. Buttons also has a past with the Governor who comes to pay his respects. With a host of characters who are hoots, this wacky comedy poses the question: Shouldn’t Ed run for re-election even though he’s dead? Don’t miss this off-the-wall, fall down funny comedy, which skewers today’s politicians and their advisors.
Given that the current election includes a hunting ex-beauty-queen former mayor who is governor of Alaska, and whose baggage includes a knocked-up high-school student daughter, this comedy may not be as "whacky" as Michael Hall thought when he chose it. But with John Felix and Alan Baker sharing the stage, it's unlikely that any scenery will escape unchewed.

But since Hanna is going to miss us, and Ike apparently isn't, your best bet is to go this weekend.

THE REVIEW S

Only one review as of this posting:

Mary Damiano reviews Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? for the Sun-Sentinel. She didn't much care for the production at the Stage Door Theatre:
The Broward Stage Door cast does what they can with what they're given. The two leads, Sal Mannino and Kristen Michelle Bussiere, fare best. They have terrific chemistry and credibly convey the awkwardness of growing up. Mannino gets to shine with his second act solo, I Must Be in Love. Bussiere is the highlight of the show, bringing poignancy to her portrayal of an overweight preteen, embodying the mannerisms and insecurities of a child before evolving into a self-assured teen.

Unfortunately, good performances are not enough to make this show a must-see.
The show runs through October 5th in Coral Springs.

LAST CHANCE

Bathhouse, the Musical, at Rising Action Theatre, closes this Sunday, September 7th.

STILL PLAYING

Sol Theatre is going repertory; it's held over Why We Have A Body ( a show recommended by two out of three critics) on Saturdays through September 13th, and Blowing Whistles on Wednesdays and Fridays through September 12th. (Do we dare ask what happens on Thursday Nights up there?)

The Convertible Girl is still running at the Broward Stage Door Theatre. And with a microscope, I can see that it's running through October 22. And I finally found a review, once again hidden from view by the editorial mismanagement of the Sun-Sentinel. This time, the rat bastards buried it in the Community section. Reviewer Al Price raved about it.

New Theatre in Coral Gables presents As You Like It in its intimate space in the shadow of Merrick Place. (reviews listed in last week's The Scene)

GableStage, also in Coral Gables, is running Betrayed. This production apparently blurs the line between its production and the story it tells of the American occupation of Iraq. This is timely stuff, and well worth seeing. Take advantage of the dining package they've arranged with their landlord, the Biltmore Hotel, and have a real night out.

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Buddy Clarke has left The Scene.

Buddy Clarke, a longtime fixture in the South Florida theatre scene, died on August 22 at age 96. Clarke spent the last 15 years writing for Entertainment News and Views, as well as several other community publications.

Clarke had a career in music before turning to journalism.

A full obituary can be found in the Miami Herald.


Buddy Clarke and Jerry Lewis
Photo from Miami Herald

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