Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 As They Saw It

Although a couple of these articles have been mentioned in Mondays Are Dark, I thought I'd bundle everyone's BEST OF 2009 all in one place.

The Miami Herald's Christine Dolen gives her Top Five theatre stories:
  1. Tarel Alvin McRaney: world renowned playwright can't get produced in his hometown.
  2. Antonio Amadeo: renaissance man.
  3. Women go Solo; two South Florida actresses in one-women shows wow the crowds.
  4. Vices: A Love Story: Clive Cholerton hits it out of the park first time at bat.
  5. Touring Titans; Jersey Boys and The Colour Purple sell out
Bill Hirschman for the Sun-Sentinel chose some great plays you might have missed: Ground Up and Rising's On An Average Day, Stage Door's A Little Night Music, and the final production of Sol Theater: Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll.  A show you didn't see and didn't miss: an awful production of Sounds of Simon by the terrible twosome of Gary Waldman and Jamison Troutman.

Mary Damiano summarizes the Arts scene for, but touches on a lot of theatre stories in her month-to-month recap.   Too much for me to summarize, but I think she got it all.

Hap Erstein presents the 2009 Hapsters on Palm Beach ArtsPaper.  Categories are tailored to the winners: Best Play about Current Events Written 104 Years Ago, Best Onstage Self-Multilation, and of course, he has his best and worst list.  Caldwell is in the unique position of leading both categories: Vices, A Love Story is Haps' choice for best play, and Something's Afoot is his choice for worst.  The latter is the first play of the new boss, and the former the final project of the old.

What were some of the best and worst moments on South Florida stages, as you see it?

The Scene for January 1, 2010

It's hard to believe we're already into next year. But that just means we're coming into the height of the Theatre season in South Florida! Among the things to look forward to - besides all the great plays - is Mosaic Theatre's Monte Carlo Night. It's your chance to play cards with World Series of Poker contestant and Richard Jay Simon, artistic director of Mosaic.


Chemical Imbalance: A Jekyll and Hyde Play, starts previews on Sunday, January 3rd, at the Caldwell Theatre Company. It opens next week and runs through Feb 7

still playing:

Farragut North plays at GableStage through January 24th.

Copenhagen plays at Palm Beach DramaWorks, through Jan 31.

The Storytelling Ability of a Boy plays at Florida Stage plays through Jan 17, 2010.

42nd Street plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through Jan 24.

Laffing Matterz runs Thursdays-Sundays at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, through June.

last chance to see:

Cantorial winds up its run at the Broward Stage Door Theatre this Sunday, January 3.

passing through:

The Phantom of the Opera
plays at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through Jan 17. On New Year's Eve, you can have a pre-show dinner at in the Abdo New River Room. Following the performance, join the celebration along the river, and watch the fireworks at Midnight. Dinner is SOLD OUT! But you can still see Phantom, and step outside to join the New Years' festivities.

101 Dalmations: The Musical
plays a limited run at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, through Jan 3

Defending the Caveman winds up its run at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts , on January 31. Yes, you can have dinner on New Year's Eve before this one, too. Dinner is SOLD OUT! But you can still see Defending the Caveman, and step outside to join the New Years' festivities.

Forbidden Broadway opens Saturday at the Kravis Center, and plays through Dec 31.

for kids:

The Little Prince plays at Sol Children's Theatre through January 10.

Seussical the Musical at Showtime Dance & Performing Arts Theatre, through January 9, 2010.

Broward Center: The Phantom of the Opera (reviews)

The national tour of The Phantom of the Opera returns to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. The show and the center share a unique history: the show opened the Center, and the Center was the first time that the show had moved from one theatre to another, as it started its tour.

The Miami Herald has declined to review this production.*

Michael Martin reviewed for
...Tim Martin Gleason effectively portrays the multiple levels of a character wrought with confusion, self loathing, and troubled compassion. Gleason effortlessly achieves the soaring score’s multi-octave range with a tenor that reverberates loudly as easily as it soothes in its softer tones.
Trista Moldovan proves herself an equally strong actress and vocalist in the role of Christine...
Also impressive, Kim Stengel (Carlotta Giudicelli), Michael Scott Harris (Ubaldo Piangi), D.C. Anderson (Monsieur André), and Bruce Winant (Monsieur Firmin) all have fun with their sometimes over the top characters.
Collectively... the production remains sharply intact and continues to delight scores of audiences nationwide.
It's a damned shame that neither of the region's two major daily newspapers could be bothered to send out a proper theatre critic to tell us how the show has stood up against the test of time. Instead, the Sun-Sentinel once again insults South Florida with a poorly written "review" by its fashion editor. The Herald adds insult to injury by regurgitating it. I won't link to either version of the article; I won't send them the traffic.

So here's what Rod Stafford Hagwood had to say:
With all the heaving bosoms and longing looks, the pulpy romance could easily end up in Cheesytown. As is, Phantom has always danced right up to the "theme park" line. And if the billion-dollar franchise does occasionally step over, it does so in the direction of somewhat soulless earnestness. That's when all those special effects that seemed so nifty back in the '80s look a little quaint. is a huge help that playing the O.G. (Opera Ghost) with nary a whisper of kitsch or camp is Tim Martin Gleason, who previously played Raoul for 2,600 performances. What Gleason gets exactly right is the rabid little ticks and twitches of an obsessed madman; genius turned sour in a dark, dank lair underneath the opera house.
Just as vocally adept, but not as convincing, is Trista Moldovan as the heroine.... You half expect the nascent diva to grab the O.G. by the collar of his cape and sing sotto voce, "No means no ... pal."
Sean MacLaughlin makes a zesty Raoul and Kim Stengel is a confident Carlotta, Christine's foil (and she ought to be with 4,800 performances under her corset).
The Phantom of the Opera lurks at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through January 17.

Arsht Center: 101 Dalmations The Musical (reviews)

The National Tour of 101 Dalmations: The Musical makes a stop this week at the Arsht Center.
Led by the creative team of Jerry Zaks (La Cage Aux Folles, Smokey Joe’s Café, “Everybody Loves Raymond”), B.T. McNichol (Spamalot, Billy Elliot, Cabaret) and Dennis DeYoung (founding member of the rock group Styx). 101 DALMATIANS THE MUSICAL will transport audiences to a slightly topsy-turvy, exciting, and altogether fantastic reality that gives grand license for song, dance and spectacle.
Jerry Zaks directs a cast that includes Rachel York, James Ludwig, Sammy Borla, Lydia Clemente, Piper Curda, Madeliene Doherty, Michael Thomas Holmes, Robert Anthony Jones, Erin Maguire, Mike Masters, Catherine Missal, Chuck Ragsdale, Kristine Beth Williams, Chip Abbot, Joel Blum, Jeff Scott Carey, Kristy Cavanaugh, Catia Ojeda, Julie Foldesie, Joseph Dellger, Lakisha Anne Bowen, Garret Hawe, and Kevin C. Loomis.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for the Miami Herald: of the most imaginatively staged and thoroughly entertaining examples of children's theater in recent memory -- and provides chaperones with just enough grown-up chuckles and tugs at the heartstrings that they won't be bored. They might even enjoy it.
The actors all have top-quality voices and winning personalities, notably James Ludwig and Catia Ojeda as the parents of the puppies, and Julie Foldesi as a canine nanny who caresses the signature ballad, One True Love.

But success relies on the padded shoulders and black-and-white fright wigs of whoever plays Cruella De Vil. Here, the show is blessed with Rachel York...Baring her teeth like a pitbull and seemingly towering 20 feet in the air, York's gloriously venal villainess has a laugh that would chill the blood of the Wicked Witch of the West.
With only one score in his credits, DeYoung has written lively, heartfelt and tuneful music that will never challenge Sondheim, but is at least on a par with Disney's Sherman brothers. He's convincingly penned classic production numbers, a swelling anthem, a lullaby, an infectious reggae tune and three belting songs for Cruella.
101 Dalmations: The Musical plays through January 3 at the Arsht Center.

A Look Back at 2009

What a year it's been! It has flown by, which is remarkable considering that we're posting a lot more articles a lot more frequently.

New Vista announced a change in its season line-up, which turned out to be the first step towards dissolving the company. Theatre by the Book announced its closing a few weeks later.

Meanwhile, Broward Stage Door started a trend of stronger productions. Then the Wall Street Journal came to town, and sent sales at Palm Beach DramaWorks and GableStage soaring. WSJ theatre crititic Terry Teachout is still praising the DramaWorks presentation of The Chairs. Also on his list: the Chicago production of The History Boys, feature south Florida native Alex Weisman.

Gary Waldman and Jamison Troutman were exposed for the first time, after a flame war was started in the comments section of a Christine Dolen blog post. And this was just the first volley in what eventually becomes the Theatre Scene's most popular series of articles.

And while that would make for a busy enough month, it got busier when an anti-gay protest at the Rising Action Theatre turned out to be a publicity stunt staged by an actor working on the production. The story was first picked up and then dropped by a cowardly editor at the Broward New Times, but the Theatre Scene followed it through until the truth came out.

But there was a more positive outcome from that last story: the Theatre Scene broke the review summaries out of the weekly Scene round up and started grouping review summaries by show. This allows for easier comparison of reviews, and also doubled the number of stories appearing on the Theatre Scene. It was followed by an increase in the number of readers.

The Sun-Sentinel seems to launch a campaign to showcase the incompetence of its editorial staff by failing to cover theatre in South Florida, choosing instead to regurgitate reviews from the Miami Herald, and hiding the few reviews it does publish. Insult is added to injury when instead of using an actual theatre critic who already writes extensively for them, they begin to inflict their readers with the scribblings of their fashion editor. Displaying a marked inability to use complete sentences, Rod Stafford Hagwood continues to offer extremely poor coverage of major productions.

Sol Theatre Project sings its swan song, and it's an eloquent tune.

A new weblog, Five Minutes to Curtain, showed up for about five minutes.

The Arsht Center announces that it has paid off its $14 million loan seven years ahead of schedule.

Michael Hall announces his retirement from his position as Artistic Director of the Caldwell Theatre Company, which he founded in 1975.
New Theatre produces an excellent revival of The Glass Menagerie. Brandon K. Thorp sums it up with this overheard comment:
After Saturday's opening-night production, Carbonell voter Marzi Kaplan rose from her seat and said, "I didn't think I needed to see that play one more time. I guess I did."
Les Mis and 4.48 Psychosis are the talk of the town.

Gary Waldman and Jamison Troutman do it again; they lured actors far from home, and stranded them without pay or a ride home. The Herald picks it up this time. But the loathsome duo are far from contrite, blaming the failure of their company on actors who had not yet appeared on its stage. Gary goes so far as to tell the generous man who paid to fly the stranded actors home that he was "duped."

Evita breaks box office records at the Malt Jupiter Theatre; originally announced at 100%, by the end of its run it achieves an astounding 103% occupancy with standing room. This beats the previous record of 99% set by Crazy For You under the administration of Richard Aikens. Burt Reynolds never achieved a similar sell out, although no one could cite the best selling production or its occupancy.

April turns out to be the busiest month ever: 50 articles are posted!

Richard Aikens died the day after his box office record was broken.

Best Carbonells EVER.

Jersey Boys achieves 104% occupancy at the Broward Center.

Enter Mondays are Dark.

New Vista was on the roof, and we couldn't get it down.

Our first Live Blog.

The spankin' new layout of the Theatre Scene makes it debut.

Readership magically doubles. No really, our numbers doubled that day, and they've only increased since then.

Alex Weisman Grows Up. And it's a wonderful thing.

Tales of OZ arise. And the Wizard of Oz stumbles through town.

Oh, sorry, THIS is the Swan Song of the Sol Theatre Project.

We step up on a soap box. The Herald gets all ruffled, but their indignation doesn't change the facts.

New Heights for Oscar Cheda.

Christine Dolen starts hyping Tarrel McRaney.

The Tally starts. I've fallen behind, but that will be remedied soon.

Aisle Say hits the... internet waves. Or something.

The Herald doesn't send Christine Dolen to review Under Shorts. It was playing across the street from the Herald's offices.

Area Stage returns.

The Scene turned two.

The Alliance Theatre Lab does what Mosaic could not; it presented My Name is Rachel Corrie. Kudos to the Alliance. I love Mosaic, but cutting Rachel Corrie was a very dark day in its history.

Cannibal, The Musical. It was better than it had any right to be.

A time-travelling hip-hop group attempts to change history, and a group of young actors launch episodic theatre in South Florida. It's Toners in Time.

Theatre Row posts for the last time.

Forget that stuff earlier about Sol Theatre; THIS is its swan song. And Rod Hagwood shows us just what an idiot he really is.

The Sun Sentinel gets a new look: kinda like gift wrapping a turd and calling it a Christmas present. On the bright side....well, actually, there is no bright side. The Sentinel still sucks.

Editors are stupid. Read the comments on this one.

A bold new era begins at the Caldwell Theatre Company. The first in a string of critical successes for Clive Cholerton. Now if only the money follows, everything will work out...

Laffing Matterz announces its return, after losing the lease at their old location. It opened on time and on budget, and is playing to happy crowds of laughing patrons.

Paul Tei does Moliere - his way.

Success in spite of a media meltdown.

The Women's Theatre Project makes a play about talking elephants work. Local critics eat a bit of crow.

The hot shows are The Whipping Man and Cannibal.

The South Florida Theatre Festival comes of age.

The Bandit's Back. Nuff Said.

Broward Theatres lose major funding.

Twitter me this.

Deja Vu, all over again.

The South Florida Theater Festival in full swing.

All I can say is Sunday in the Park with George. gets an update.

Post show party, anyone? Broward Center has started making use of its Peck Courtyard.

The Color Purple sold out at the Arsht Center; the good news is that it's coming to the Broward Center for a longer run.

Local Papers offer lackluster coverage.

Barry University wants you to know that "it's back."

Bubbling Brown Sugar makes a triumphant return from Limbo. Doing a musical lacking a score is a challenge in anyone's book.

Macon City: A Comic Book Play makes its debut in a worthwhile production from Naked Stage.

The Caldwell's production of The Voysey Inheritance might be the most timely mounting of a play in South Florida since Actors' Rep did All My Sons in the wake of the Challenger explosion. (The show was in rehearsals when the disaster happened).

The Theatre Scene publishes the first in a series of articles chronicling the history of professional theatre in South Florida. The first series could be labeled "They're Gone, Now," as the first stories will be about theatres that have gone out of business.

Speaking of theatres that are out of business, GableStage announces that it will eventually become the new Coconut Grove Playhouse.

Florida Stage announces that it will be moving into the Kravis Center next year, but it's staying Florida Stage.

New Vista formally announces that it's out of business.

And now we're back where we've been, before we went back a year.

Have a happy 2010!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Mondays are Dark

A lot of people took off for the holidays, but we still managed to find some worthwhile reading.

Prince Reflects
Bill Hirschman talks with Hal Prince about Phantom of the Opera for the Sun-Sentinel.
"I love (The Broward Center). I think it's the most lovely setting for an arts complex," said Prince, who lives part-time in Miami Beach. "I love the way it sweeps down to that (river), the staircase, the little theater; all of it's wonderful."
Phantom is playing at the Broward Center through January 17.  On New Year's Eve you can take full advantage of the Center by grabbing a pre-show dinner in the Abdo New River Room.  You'll be feasting on the menu of Laffing Matterz, which will also be having a show that evening.

Reflections on 2009
The Miami Herald did their year in review last week.   Now the Sun-Sentinel recaps the last year in South Florida Theatre.  Some of Bill Hirschman's choices of things you probably missed: Ground Up and Rising's On An Average Day, Stage Door's A Little Night Music, and the final production of Sol Theater: Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll.  A show you didn't see and didn't miss: an awful production of Sounds of Simon by the terrible twosome of Gary Waldman and Jamison Troutman. 
Mary Damiano of has her year in review up; she goes month to month.
The Theatre Scene will be doing its own round up later this week, although it will be hard to find ground that hasn't been covered.

Going to the Dogs
The Miami Herald reports that 101 Dalmatians is coming to the Arsht Center
The news that DeYoung, the longtime Styx front man and composer of such huge hits as Lady, Babe, Come Sail Away and Mr. Roboto, created the show's eclectic score might come as a surprise to anyone who knows him just from his rock star days. But DeYoung, who calls musicals ``the most difficult form of entertainment in the world to create,'' has been involved in theater since he played Pontius Pilate in a 1993 tour of Jesus Christ Superstar.
There's a "fetch" joke in there somewhere, but I'm too tired to track it down.

If you have a vague sense of deja vu,  BroadwayWorld'a story about the show was linked in last week's reading list.

Farragut North
BroadwayWorld and the Miami Theatre Examiner both report that GableStage opened Farragut North over the weekend.

An Outsider's Inside View
Over on 1st Draft, Christopher Demos-Brown gives us the inside story of being an outsider in side of theatre...or something to that effect.

Meanwhile, In Palm Beach...
...the Royal Poinciana Playhouse is still closed.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sun-Sentinel Clueless - AGAIN

The clueless shit-for-brains moron webmaster for the Sun Sentinel leaves one story under the the STAGE heading of their culture page: the months old story about Topol in Fiddler on the Roof - a show which not only left town two months ago, but one that Topol has left.  Instead, the clueless shit-for-brains moron webmaster drops Bill Hirschman's still-relevant and less than a week old recap of the last year of theatre in South Florida.

How much intelligence does it take to understand that the old, archaic and totally stale stories are the ones you stop linking, and the recent, interesting and relevant stories are the ones you leave on your website?

God, I hate the Scum Sun Sentinel.

Florida Stage: The Storytelling Ability of a Boy (9 reviews)

NEWS: THE STORYTELLING ABILITY OF A BOYFlorida Stage opened its production of The Storytelling Ability of a Boy,by Carter W. Lewis, on December 11, 2009.
Love gets dangerous when a young English teacher gets involved in the personal lives of two of her students, a strange boy with a gift for writing and a brooding young girl with a nail gun. Darkly funny and deeply moving.
Louis Tyrell directs a cast that includes Laura Carbonell, Bethany Anne Lind, and Marshall Pailet.

Ron Levitt reviewed for ENVMagazine:
...this play – as stimulating as it is mentally — is especially notable because of the acting skills of the three performers. And, one will find it difficult not to laud the acting prowess of this trio in making this production so intriguing.
Carbonell is realistic as the teacher trying to nurture her talented nerdy, teenage student. Pailet – as the student with a gift of storytelling well beyond his age and experience — is totally believable in a stunning acting rendition, and the charming Lind – whether mouthing foul-mouthed four-letter words or expressing doubts about her sexuality – uses Carter’s colorful script and language skills to emerge as a star with a bright future on stage. All three are credible New York-based actors who are leaving an indelible mark on South Florida theatre.
John LaRiviere reviewed for Talkin'
Laura Carbonell as Caitlin is quiet believable in her portrayal of the conflict with which her character struggles.
Carter W. Lewis is lucky to have Bethany Anne Lind as Dora... Anne possesses good dramatic timing and an intelligent understanding of the role. She and Marshall Pailet as Peck laudably handle their dialogue as the smoothest of banter. Pailet displays strong character acting skills as he transforms himself into the tormented Peck.
Michael Martin reviewed for
Florida Stage greets the holiday season with an amazingly crafted piece by playwright Carter W. Lewis...
Youthful Pailet, with already three Broadway credits to his name, outstandingly handles Peck’s delicate balance between storyteller and real person. The actor expertly brings to light the internal struggles of boy who hails from a dysfunctional past, and who in turn has trouble fitting into a functional society.
J.W. Arnold reviewed for
Unfortunately, just as the relationships really start to get interesting about two-thirds of the way through the one-act play, Lewis seems to get carried away with himself, sending his carefully crafted—and plenty complicated—drama teetering on the absurd, going from “Dr. Phil” confessions to “Jerry Springer” knock-down.
Fortunately, the strong cast, under the direction of Louis Tyrell, saves Lewis from himself. Pailet is brilliant as Peck, moving seamlessly from storyteller to character, and carefully balancing the teen’s intellectual genius with his untested adult impulses. Lind’s Dora is angry at the world, but she manages to convey a genuine sense of vulnerability at the same time. Any young abuse victim dealing with sexual orientation issues would undoubtedly be a complicated person, but Lind makes her real...
Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
Lind and Pailet pile masks on top of masks, lowering the temperature in the theater by successive degrees of feigned cool. But from beneath the weight of Peck and Dora's artifice, the actors clearly broadcast the pair's terrible neediness — Peck's through droll fatalism ... and Dora's through anger.
The anthropology at work here is fascinating. Peck, a writer, is showing off his verbal facility in the hopes of impressing Dora. Dora's exaggerated hip-thrusting and back-arching is an attempt to impress Peck with her sexual sophistication. And by being so interested in Pavarotti, they are showing off their cultural literacy, which distinguishes them from their tormentors.
That the actors are working on every one of these levels is miraculous. If the writing had stayed so smart throughout the play, there's really no limit to how good Storytelling could have been. Unfortunately, Storytelling has a third character — Caitlin, the English teacher
We knew there might be trouble earlier, when, inviting Peck for some private instruction at her home, she barely bats an eye when Dora whips out a bottle of Jack Daniels and, within minutes, is sharing shots. This corruptor of minors is actually supposed to be the hero of the story...
The particulars of all of this require us to suspend so much disbelief about the realities of teacher-student relationships — and, among other things, about the moral implications of slurping back bourbon with one's emotionally deranged 17-year-old pupils — that we ultimately think our hero-cum-narrator is either a creep or a criminal, depending upon your tolerance for gross unprofessionalism.
But we came here for drama and all that that implies: burrowing into the guts of the human condition and seeing what lives there and why. Tickets to Florida Stage are $45 to $48, and I'd pay a good deal more than that to see the look on Dora's face when she decides to drop the bullshit and make love to Peck. Even she can't tell if she's doing it out of mercy, desire, or loneliness, and you can read all three in Lind's lovely face. Who cares if the exercise ends awkwardly? Merely to begin was more audacious than most grownups will ever be again.
Hap Erstein reviewed for the Palm Beach Post:
Violent events do occur, but they do not dominate the play as much as they are interwoven with Peck’s storytelling. If you start wondering what is real, what is imagination and whose story the play is anyway, Lewis is likely to be pleased.

He has to be pleased with the three young actors — all making their Florida Stage debuts — who inhabit his script, under Louis Tyrrell’s deft direction. As Peck, Marshall Pailet strikes the right chord of nerdy geekiness, but when he starts reciting one of his stories, aided by sound engineer Matt Kelly’s aural effects, he is completely in command.

Bethany Anne Lind (Dora) handles much of the potty language, but underneath her simmering anger, she lets us see the girl who is so desperate to be loved. As teacher Caitlin, Laura Carbonell probably has the toughest assignment, for the role is sketchily written. Even after she reveals her past in a monologue of emotional turmoil, we still want to know more.
Jan Sjostrom reviewed for the Palm Beach Daily News:
Occasionally, a play comes along that combines daring structure with compelling characters, gorgeous language, wit and a riveting story. The Storytelling Ability of a Boy is such a play
In this tautly directed and dazzlingly performed production, Lewis shows himself to be a playwright in his prime.
Marshall Pailet masterfully performs the waterfalls of performance poetry that pour from Peck — essential if the play is to cast its spell. Bethany Anne Lind burns brightly as Dora. Laura Carbonell's sylphlike Caitlin is intensely human as she struggles to retain a precarious control.
Bill Hirschman, as it should be, reviewed for the Sun-Sentinel:
...Storytelling goes far beyond and beneath some ripped-from-the-headlines tale. Lewis has created teens so bright, quick-witted and articulate that it frightens you to see such intelligence unimpeded by maturity and aggravated by profound emotional trauma.
Under Louis Tyrrell's sensitive direction, it's an unabashedly theatrical evening...
Carbonell provides a solid incarnation, but it's not an electric performance. Since her character is an equal partner in this triangle and our surrogate/guide, that robs the play of a driving force and makes us wonder erroneously why the boy is not clearly the solo focus.

Pailet delivers Lewis' gloriously profligate language with a seamless ease and makes his quirky, tortured soul totally believable rather than melodramatic or contrived.

But it's Lind who soars. She makes the most of Lewis' complex heroine, a foul-mouthed truth teller who prods and pokes at the wounds she perceives with a preternatural power of observations. She will stay with you long after the house lights come up.
Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
Lewis, Tyrrell and the fine cast deliver an intellectually and emotionally engaging drama with just-right shadings of humor...
Lind, Carbonell and Pailet, who's terrific as he delves into that cauldron of thought and emotion that is the high school male, all deliver compelling performances (though you can't help thinking about excellent South Florida-based actors who might have been just as persuasive in creating these roles).
In staging the premiere of The Storytelling Ability of a Boy, Tyrrell is giving his audiences the first look at a provocative play that's likely to find a life beyond South Florida.
The Story Telling Ability of a Boy plays at Florida Stage through January 17, 2010.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Season's Greetings.

Last year, we made a little card for the holidays, and it was fun and all, but does Shakespeare in a Santa hat under palm trees really send the right message?  Shakespeare never appeared in Florida!

So this year, here are all 10 parts of 1972's Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny, filmed in Dania,  featuring kids from Ruth Foreman's Peter Pan Playhouse, starring Jay Clark, Pat Morell, Bob O'Oconnell, Ruth McMahon, Heather Grinter, Mike Yuenger, Sue Cable, and Shay Garner as Thumbelina.

Enjoy!  (Better with heavily spiked egg nog.)  (and...'sandwiches.')

Time for another drink!

Potty break!

Pot break!

More booze!

Heroin, anyone?

Hey, shroooms!

We're all growing older....

Is it just me, or does this movie need a really good chase scene?

Into the land of the Flower Children...

Hey, Santa's still in this movie! Remember him?

If you made it through all that, well, you've participated in an all-but-forgotten South Florida ritual. Oh, who are we kidding? This thing hasn't seen the light of day since 1974.

As the Agony Booth puts it:
Unfortunately, kids, the charter of this website requires that this be a terrible children's film. If you come across this movie at your local video store, you can rest assured that its only purpose in being there is to prop up the rest of the videos on the shelf. If you pick it up, don't be surprised if the rest of the row suddenly comes crashing down on your head.
Yeah, that's about right.

Merry Christmas!

The Scene for Christmas, 2009

Merry Christmas! Joyous Kwanzaa! And Happy whatever Holidays I'm missing! My holiday preparations delayed today's Scene, but here it is! A word - Ken Clement IS Santa Claus; if you haven't seen Another Night Before Christmas, make sure you see it.

Between all the celebration, there's a lot of fine theatre to watch this week.


Farragut North
opens Saturday at GableStage through January 24th.

still playing:

Copenhagen opens at Palm Beach DramaWorks, through Jan 31.

The Storytelling Ability of a Boy plays at Florida Stage plays through Jan 17, 2010.

42nd Street plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through Jan 24.

Cantorial plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through January 3.

Laffing Matterz runs Thursdays-Sundays at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, through June.

last chance to see:

Another Night Before Christmas plays at Actors' Playhouse, and closes this Sunday, December 27.

passing through:

The Phantom of the Opera plays at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through Jan 17. On New Year's Eve, you can have a pre-show dinner at in the Abdo New River Room. Following the performance, join the celebration along the river, and watch the fireworks at Midnight.

Defending the Caveman opens Saturday at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts , and closes January 31. Yes, you can have dinner on New Year's Eve before this one, too.

Forbidden Broadway opens Saturday at the Kravis Center, and plays through Dec 31.

for kids:

Actors' Playhouse runs its production of Madeline's Christmas at The Miracle Theatre through December 26th, 2009.

Seussical the Musical at Showtime Dance & Performing Arts Theatre, through January 9, 2010.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Boundary-breaking Actor Passes Away

Clarence Thomas, a long time South Florida actor has passed away, according to the Miami Herald. He performed on area stages, films including Lenny, Cocoon, and Rosewood, as well as TV shows such as Miami Vice and American Playhouse.

Actor, and long-time friend John Archie, is quoted;
"He was a dear friend. How? By giving me the best advice, by supporting me and letting me know I could achieve and do well in the business. He was just there for me.''
Another of Thomas' protégés was Carl Cofield, an actor who has appeared on stage around the country, as well as in numerous films.
"I'm sure there's a whole crop of Miami actors, especially black actors, that Clarence touched that way. He taught us what it was to be a professional actor and how to be proud of it. His legacy lives on in a lot of actors who may not even know it.''
Joe Adler, artistic director of GableStage, sent out an email proposing a playreading or some other memorial in honor of Thomas in the near future, stating:
"He has been an outstanding member of the South Florida theatre and film community for over 40 years (AEA, SAG, and AFTRA) —and one of the first African-American actors from Miami. He was an exceptional talent and an incredibly giving and generous man. I was privileged to work with him in theatre and film for over 35 years—and I can say with complete assurance that he will be sorely missed."
Services for Clarence Thomas have been set, they will be held:

Wednesday Dec.23,2009 @ 1 P.M.
New Bethel AME Church
2275 West 5th Way
Hialeah, FL 33010
church phone 305 888-4365 (Rev. Hodge)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Palm Beach DramaWorks: Copenhagen (2 Reviews)

Palm Beach DramaWorks opened its production of Michael Frayn's Copenhagen on December 18, 2009.
In 1941 physicist Werner Heisenberg went to Copenhagen to see his counterpart, Niels Bohr. This drama questions how one can stay true to science, family and friends, one's country and one's God when at the forefront of discovery.
J. Barry Lewis directed a cast that included Elizabeth Dimon, Colin McPhillamy, and Chris Oden.

The Miami Herald has declined to review this production.*

Hap Erstein reviewed for the Palm Beach Post:
...the kind of theatrical challenge that only Palm Beach Dramaworks would take on, rewarding audiences willing to lean in and listen hard.
What makes the experience compelling are the three verbally adept performers. Colin McPhillamy (Bohr), a dead ringer for Tom Wilkinson, is understated and parental compared with excitable, impassioned Heisenberg, played by Christopher Oden. Challenging them to clarify their thinking is the wily Elizabeth Dimon as Margrethe, a skeptical inquisitor.

Remarkably, director J. Barry Lewis manages to keep this talkathon from being static, moving his cast like chess pieces about the stage with an unforced hand. And if you look for it, their movements resemble the charged particles of an atom.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for the Sun-Sentinel:
J. Barry Lewis' direction is breath-taking in its painstaking detail. Never self-conscious, Lewis' work is phenomenal in his pacing, his movement of the actors, and above all, his leadership in mining and illustrating the meaning of each moment in the script.

The acting, too, is full-bodied and compelling as crystalline minds capable of divining the secrets of the atom cannot discern the secrets of their own motivations. While the audience may frequently be left in the dust by Frayn's profligate verbiage, you never doubt that the actors know precisely what they are saying or why. No ballet corps executes dizzying pirouettes as elegantly or intricate footwork as skillfully as this trio.

The design team's work is first-rate, but Todd Wren's ever-shifting lighting not only sets the mood, but subtly focuses your attention — plus delivers a stunning surprise in the second act that he and Lewis insert in a script that is solely dialogue.
Copenhagen plays at Palm Beach DramaWorks through January 31, 2010.

Mondays are Dark

It's Ba-ack
The Miami Herald reports that Phantom of the Opera returns to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts this week; the musical was the first to play in the hall 19 years ago, and it was also the first time the show had moved from one theatre to another. The entire creative team was on hand for the launch of the new Performing Arts Center, and a huge portrait of Hal Prince still hangs backstage. It's like Old Home Week for the stage crew of the show and the Au Rene Theatre.
Prince believes Phantom has held up so well because its creators don't let things slide: new stars get rehearsed, performances are fine-tuned, and the show feels as fresh as it did when Phantom first wowed London critics and audiences in 1986.
And if the actress playing Christine looks familiar to you, it's because you've seen her at Actors' Playhouse. She played Rizzo in Grease, and Tzeitel in the critically acclaimed production of Fiddler on the Roof. Trivia point: last time Phantom was in town, the run was ended early by a hurricane. That same storm had Grease sitting dark for a week;

He's Ba-ack
The Miami Herald reports that Arnold Mittelman, the man who drove Coconut Grove into the ground, is planning to launch a show here, and hopes to take it to Broadway. In fact, they reported it twice - the other story has something to put on your dartboard.

It's Coming
BroadwayWorld reports that the stage musical version of 101 Dalmations opens next week at the Arsht Center.

HAYgen? HAHgen? Whatever.
The Palm Beach Post and The Shiny Sheet tell us a little bit about Palm Beach Dramaworks' latest project, Michael Frayn's Copenhagen.
Frayn saw parallels between the unfathomable nature of human motivation and the unreliability of memory and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. The principle, his most famous discovery, says that the exact location and momentum of an atomic particle at a given time can never be known, because the act of observing manipulates and changes the particle.
-- The Palm Beach Daily News (Shiny Sheet)
“This play is not about physics,” Oden quickly adds. “Physics is the pretext for something else. It’s about the human relationships, it’s about ethics, about having to make choices and about examining your motives and trying to determine what other people’s motives are.”
-- The Palm Beach Post
BroadwayWorld also has a story up. But our most pressing question was answered on last week's Aisle Say: director J. Barry Lewis informs us that it's Copen-HAY-gen, not Copen-HAH-gen.

It's Not Just Me.
From the letters section of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
The Post-Gazette needs a drama critic. The current melange of reviewers leaves this theater lover heartsick and confused. In a city with a wealth of rich dramatic productions, the Post-Gazette's lack of a drama critic is unforgivable.
Word. Are you listening, Sun-Sentinel?

A Peek into Playwriting: Research
1st Draft brings us the latest look into the process of creating a play.

Stephens Wows 'em in Sarasota
Karen Stephens is getting raves for her work in Bridge and Tunnel at Florida Studio Theatre; from the Herald-Tribune:
The production, smartly directed by Kate Alexander, is also a wonderful showcase for actress Karen Stephens, who is giving what may well turn out to be the most memorable performance of the season.
Congratulations, Karen - it's no surprise to us. Hopefully, someone in South Florida will mount a production for you. (not-so-subtle nudge to the Women's Theatre Project).

The Herald Looks Back
Christine Dolen recaps the year of South Florida Theater for the Miami Herald. Her top five:
  1. Tarel Alvin McRaney
  2. Antonio Amadeo
  3. Women go Solo
  4. Vices: A Love Story
  5. Touring Titans
What does it mean? Click through and find out.

Meanwhile, in Palm Beach...
...the Royal Poinciana Playhouse is still closed.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Home for the Holidays Canceled (Updated!)

The Sun-Sentinel reports that comedian Steve Solomon was treated for exhaustion. He has since been released from the hospital, and is now home.


Broward Center for the Performing Arts canceled the weekend run of My Mother Is Italian, My Father's Jewish and I'm Home for the Holidays, after comedian Steve Solomon succumbed to sudden illness.

Contrary to reports in the Miami Herald, he did not collapse on stage. Of course, they also incorrectly reported that there was no show scheduled at the Broward Center at the time. I guess the Herald staff doesn't read the Herald - the show was mentioned in the Miami Herald's own theatre blog. It was also listed in this weeks' The Scene.

So here's what actually happened:

Prior to opening the show on Friday, he complained about feeling 'unwell,' but performed his one-man show to an audience that gave him a standing ovation. Saturday, he returned for a 3:00 matinee when he ran into problems. About twenty minutes into the show, he "went up," which in theatre parlance means he forgot the next line of the play. After several tries - and after several trips offstage to consult the script, staff announced that he would be taking a brief break to compose himself. He had intended to return to the stage after catching his breath, but the paramedics who arrived strongly urged him to go in for an evaluation. A few minutes later, staff announced that the performance was canceled due to a medical emergency.

Mr. Solomon was taken to a nearby hospital; as he was wheeled to the ambulance in front of the theatre, a throng of patrons who had just left the auditorium applauded him, and called out words of encouragement. "Get better, Steve - take care of yourself!"

Mr. Solomon is resting comfortably, awaiting further tests to determine the cause of his difficulty. He has expressed concern that he let his audience down, and is quite embarrassed about the entire incident.

The Theatre Scene joins the staff of the Broward Center in wishing Mr. Solomon a complete and speedy recovery.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Scene for December 18, 2009

Man, the end of the year is racing towards us...or are we running pell-mell for it? Whatever, we've blown through Hannakkuh, Christmas and Kwanzaa are looming...Chicago opens Monday at the Arsht, Phantom of the Opera opens Wednesday at the Broward Center...did you buy theatre tickets for your loved ones, yet? Theatre tickets make great presents. Give a subscription, and the gift lasts longer...

But in the meantime, there's a lot of fine theatre to watch this week.


Copenhagen opens at Palm Beach DramaWorks, through Jan 31.

David Sedaris' The Santaland Diaries plays through Saturday at the Burt Reynolds Under the Bridge Players. I caught it opening night on Wednesday; Michael McKeever owned it. If you've never seen it, you'll never see a better performance of it because David Sedaris has basically sworn off the show.

still playing:

The Storytelling Ability of a Boy
plays at Florida Stage plays through Jan 17, 2010.

42nd Street plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through Jan 24.

Another Night Before Christmas plays at Actors' Playhouse, through Dec 27.

Cantorial plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through January 3.

Laffing Matterz runs Thursdays-Sundays at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, through June.

last chance to see:

Gem of the Ocean plays at The M Ensemble closes December 20

26 Miles at New Theatre Closes Dec 20.

Eyecons plays at Rising Action Theatre, through Dec 20.

passing through:

World of Jewtopia plays at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts, through Dec 20.

My Mother is Italian, My Father's Jewish, and I'm Home for the Holidays at the Broward Center through the Performing Arts, through Sunday Dec 20.

for kids:

Actors' Playhouse runs its production of Madeline's Christmas at The Miracle Theatre through December 26th, 2009.

Seussical the Musical at Showtime Dance & Performing Arts Theatre, through January 9, 2010.

Inanna and the Huluppu Tree returns to the Playground Theatre, through December 20.

Stage Door: 42 Street (1 review)

Broward Stage Door opened its production of 42nd Street on December 11, 2009.
The story of hard work, being in the right place at the right time, talent and love, 42nd Street is a celebration of Broadway and the people involved in shows. It focuses on aspiring chorus girl Peggy Sawyer, and takes us along her journey. Musical hits include You're Getting to Be a Habit with Me, Dames, I Know Now, We're In the Money, Lullaby of Broadway, Shuffle Off to Buffalo and Forty-Second Street.
Dave Campbell directs a cast that includes Erin Dowling, Shaun Patrick Moe, Jim Middleton, Blair Alexis Brown, Erin Romero, and Jack Livesay.

Mario Betto reviewed for Examiner. com:
Erin Dowling and Shaun Patrick Moe make a handsome pair as leads Peggy Sawyer and Billy Lawlor. Triple-threat Dowling sparkles in the role of the wide-eyed chorus girl from Allentown seeking stardom in New York City. Tenor Shaun Patrick Moe delivers strong vocals throughout the show.
Jim Middleton, who plays the notorious director Julian Marsh, brilliantly showcases "Lullaby of Broadway" with his rich and powerful voice.
Blair Alexis Brown, who plays Dorothy Brock, a past her prime prima donna, shares a poignant duet with Peggy, the show's heroine in the number "About A Quarter To Nine". Erin Romero in the role of writer Maggie Jones and Jack Livesey as Texan sugar daddy Abner Dillon add sprinkles of comedy to this sweet show.
Although I prefer a live orchestra, David Cohen's music tracks were quite good and complemented the impeccable sound design of Martin Mets.
Dave Campbell, the show's director and co-choreographer (along with choreographer Kevin Black) creates a fluid and cohesive production true to the show's script
Is the dancing spot on? Not always. Are there audible flat and off key notes throughout the production? Yes. Overall, the audience forgives these momentary distractions which are overpowered by a solid and heartfelt performance.
42nd Street plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through January 24, 2010.

Playground Theatre: Inanna and the Huluppu Tree (1 review)'s not very often that I find reviews of plays for children, so I'm delighted that The Playground Theatre's production of Inanna and the Huluppu Tree is getting some well-deserved attention.
One of the world's oldest stories comes to life for contemporary audiences. Celebrate the victory of a young goddess who restores harmony to a city ravaged by ceaseless storms and displaced deities.
Stephanie Ansin directed a cast that includes Caroline Sa, Armando Acevedo, Noah Levin, Melissa Almaguer, Jeff Keogh, Kristin Dawn McCorkle, Jesus Quineter, and Joshua Ritter.

Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Miami New Times:
...what every place should have — is an institution like Miami Shores' Playground Theatre. Currently running there is Inanna and the Huluppu Tree, a kids-appropriate bit of pagan revelry dredged up from the dawn of civilization — from the Sumerian Gilgamesh epic, specifically — and liberally adapted by Fernando Calzadilla and the theater's artistic director, Stephanie Ansin.
Adults who accompany children to Inanna might have a hard time getting turned on by this plot, which is not only utterly G-rated but also devoid of the grownup-friendly double- and triple-entendres that have come to characterize kids' entertainment on film. But they can't help but get turned on by the Playground Theatre's eye-popping visuals — the crew's ability to import an atmosphere of mysticism and remote antiquity into a theater space that, pre-show, you'd think was too big and modern to seem like anything other than a big, modern theater.
With Inanna, the Playground Theatre transports adults to a place where magic is a given. It cannot do the same for children, because the world of magic is one they already inhabit. What the Playground Theatre does for them, whether they know it or not, is make a promise: that one day, even after the long jading of growing up has taught them that the gods do not fly, that a city, no matter how divine, cannot be sustained by fruit, there is always a place beyond the footlights where those things can be true for a while.
Inanna and the Huluppu Tree plays at The Playground Theatre through December 20, 2009.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Just Another Weekend at the Broward Center

Gary Novick, is Director of Guest Services at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Earlier today, he was telling me how the most interesting things in his day are the things that aren't on the schedule.

Take Saturday, for example.  On the calendar: a 2:00 matinee of Miami City Ballet dancing The Nutcracker, a 4:00 performance of Dillard High School's Winter Festival, a 7:30 performance of both Nutcracker AND Laffing Matterz. Oh, and the WinterFest Boat Parade was starting along the river in front of the Center.  But that's all the stuff on the calendar.  Then there are all the things that aren't on the calendar.

'Can You Describe Coffee for Me?'
Part of the days activities involved the matinee of Miami City Ballet's The Nutcracker.  An audio describer will be describing the show for a group from Lighthouse for the Blind, and she wants to know how to describe Hot Chocolate, Coffee, and Tea. It's actually a good question: it's not cups of beverages whirling around the stages, after all.  But it's not a question you expect to be asked in the course of your day - unless you work Guest Services at a major performing arts center.

'Go Ahead and Touch'
As part of the day's activities for the kids from Lighthouse, Novick had arranged for a "touch tour" of the costumes before the show.  The group went backstage while the Wardrobe Mistress brought out various costumes for them to touch, so they could get an idea of what the dancers were wearing.

'I Believe You Forgot This'
After the evening performance, the Director of Guest Services had another extra-curricular task; the Young Man had called in for advice several months ago, and finally the two came up with The Plan.  The Young Man brought his date to the evening performance of The Nutcracker, his girlfriend's favorite ballet.

Following the performance, Novick stopped the couple in front of the theatre with the package the Young Man had dropped off earlier in the day.  "Excuse me, sir, but you left this at your seat."  "Are you certain? I don't think we left anything."  "No, I'm certain this belongs to you!" handing him a bag, containing a small box.

And within a moment, the Young Man was on bended knee.

By the way, she said "YES!"

Not a bad day at the office, eh?

Related Article:
More ways for the blind, deaf to take in theater

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sightings: Karen Stephens

Karen Stephens, the ageless actress who as appeared on South Florida stages from Jupiter to Coral Gables, has headed a bit further north for her current project. She's opening Sarah Jones' Bridge and Tunnel at Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota, Florida.

From the Sarasota Herald-Tribune:
Stephens said that once she prepared an audition tape for the theater, "I started to want to be hired. I lost my fear and I got excited about the possibility of doing this. It's been challenging mining those areas of myself that have been heretofore unmined as far as culture and dialect. I mean, I will never get to play a Russian man in normal theater work."
Bridge & Tunnel opens this Friday, December 18. Break a Leg, Karen!