Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rising Action Theatre: Roll with the Punches

David Goldyn is the first to benefit from the new handling of reviews, since he alerted me to the review in the comments on another post.

The first review up for Roll with the Punches at Rising Action comes from the Sun-Sentinel. Rod Stafford Hagwood reviews. I have to preface this by pointing out that I think Rod's an awful reviewer; nothing to do with the quality of the show, but rather Rod's writing.

The cast — out of New York — really commits to taking nothing seriously, playing the camp with all the steely determination of a Douglas Sirk movie...

This review is thick with references to movies and movies stars. Of course, not everyone has seen all the movies being referenced, which means a lot of parenthetical information. It makes for a hard read. If you have to include an explanation of what you said to be understood, you probably should just cut the whole thing.

Those weepy "women's movies" of the 1950s — a sub-genre overripe for the plucking — inspire the play by Garet Scott.

Ah. That explains the long list of old movie references. I still think that less references and more description of the performances would aid Rod's review tremendously.

Rod loved the performances, and of the other aspects:
If you're willing to overlook the thrift store set and the almost-right costumes, then the cure for whatever ails you is in the ham being served up at Rising Action.

Just don't choke while you're laughing.

So it's a positive write-up for Rising Action. Honestly, when I read Beau Higgin's, article I thought this would be a good one. It got raves at the Fringe Festival.

Roll with the Punches winds up its brief engagement at Rising Action Theatre Company in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday. It features the cast of the New York Fringe Festival production. Beau Higgins supplies some background for you.

Christine Dolen plugs the show on her blog, but it is not a review.

Parker Playhouse: Sholom Aleichem: Laughter Through Tears

Sholom Aleichem: Laughter Through Tears is playing at the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale through Sunday, February 1, 2009.

Christine Dolen's review:

Speaking to a packed Parker Playhouse on opening night, Bikel easily connected with a mostly older, predominantly Jewish audience.

What he manages throughout his 90-minute show, however, takes work and seasoned artistry: As performer and creator of Sholom Aleichem, Bikel keeps observers rapt, balancing light-hearted moments with sobering ones, singing in that rich voice, and once again definitively embodying Tevye the dairyman.

Please feel free to add your own feedback below.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Be heard! Help fund the arts.

Action Alert for Thursday, January 29, 2009

from Florida Cultural Alliance

You Can Help Secure $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts

in the federal Economic Stimulus Package

if you make two quick phone calls this afternoon or tomorrow morning.

STATUS: $50 Million for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) passed yesterday in the U.S. House's version of its Economic Stimulus Package; HOWEVER, the $50 million for the NEA is not in the U.S. Senate version of its Economic Stimulus Package, which they will begin deliberations on tomorrow, January 30, and probably continue next week.

WHAT CAN YOU DO NOW TO HELP? Florida U.S. Senators Bill Nelson's and Mel Martinez's arts staffers need to receive a number of calls from throughout Florida today and tomorrow morning to help raise the level of awareness and importance about this issue. If they don't hear from Florida constituents on this issue, they will think it's not important. We know it is important, but they have to hear from us -- all of us from the arts and cultural industry THROUGHOUT the state.

Below are the names of the staff members assigned to arts issues for both Senators Nelson and the DC office numbers. You probably will not actually get them on the phone, but leave a message on their voice mail boxes.



DC Phone

Staff Assigned to Arts

Nelson, Bill



Treon Glenn

Martinez, Mel



Vennia Francois

SUGGESTED MESSAGE: My name is__________ and I live in__________, FL, and make my living working as (artist, administrator, board member, etc., with_____). I'm calling to encourage the senator (use senator's name) to speak up and support adding $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts in the Senate's version of the economic stimulus package. I'm pleased the House included $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts in its economic stimulus package; however, I'm concerned the Senate has not. These additional National Endowment for the Arts funds would help sustain hundreds of arts and cultural jobs throughout our state. I hope we can depend upon Senator (Nelson OR Martinez) to speak up for Florida's arts and cultural jobs and work to secure the $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts in the Senate economic stimulus package. Thank you for your time and consideration. If I may provide you with additional information, please call me at________or e-mail me at_____________.

You may also find additional information on the NEA Web site concerning this issue at the link below. I've also copied and pasted key points from the NEA site you might want to use below.

There has been much public conversation recently regarding the role of the arts and culture industry in economic stimulus. Following is information that seeks to clarify this issue through two key points: that the arts and culture industry is a sector of the economy just like any other with workers who pay taxes, mortgages, rent and contribute in other ways to the economy; and that the National Endowment for the Arts is uniquely positioned to assist in job stimulation for that industry.

A statement on January 22 from then NEA Chairman Dana Gioia noted, "Arts organizations have been hit enormously hard by the current recession. They've seen their support drop from corporations, foundations, and municipalities. This infusion of funds will help sustain them, their staffs, and the artists they employ. We are hopeful that Congress and the new administration will support this important investment."

Many thanks for your help on this issue.


Sherron Long, president
Florida Cultural Alliance
Post Office Box 2131
West Palm Beach, Florida 33402-2131
Telephone: 561-848-6231
Web site:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

It's not just me.

As long time readers know, one of my issues is the failure of The Sun-Sentinel regional news outlets to continue to provide adequate coverage of the arts in general, and theatre in particular. I've stated that it's not good for the community as a whole, and I've pointed out that it's simply bad business.

The LA Times received a letter from the artistic directors of three major theatre out there. And guess what? They're saying the same thing I've been saying
"This will have a damaging effect on the theater community but it will also be detrimental to the soul and the cultural life of Los Angeles. In the most difficult of times or in the happiest of times, the live arts provide a human connection that is incomparable and irreplaceable. Theater helps sustain a meaningful dialogue that bonds citizens together. To understate the importance of theater in Los Angeles by marginalizing the voices of those who bring these discussions to the public arena is shortsighted and irresponsible.

"...we depend on the voices of critics and arts reporters to help create a conversation with our community. If we let these voices slowly and quietly disappear, the consequences are simple and inevitable: fewer people will know about the productions, fewer people will purchase tickets, and eventually, fewer theaters will exist."
Gilbert Cates;Geffen Playhouse,
Sheldon Epps; Pasadena Playhouse,
Michael Ritchie; Center Theatre Group

The local arts scene is something that people like to hear about - if it's competently covered. That means that the reviewer has to have a background in the events they are covering. You expect a sports writer to understand the rules of the games they write about, and the significance of team line-ups, and so on. It really is the same thing for the arts - ANY of the arts.

Seriously, can you see any honest newspaper editor sending out a fashion editor to cover the Superbowl? "#52 looked smashing as he broke through the lines and made a field goal, or something!" And yet that's exactly who the Sentinel foists on the National Tours of major Broadway shows. It's insulting. It's an affront to the producers, and an insult to theatre patrons.

Another point I keep making is that the local arts scene belongs to the local news media; they are not competing with CNN, MSNBC or USA Today. And even where there is a semblance of competition - when all three papers actually review the same show - this creates an opportunity for their readers to compare and contrast the different views of the show, and even to decide that one paper's critic has views more like their own.

And the three LA directors agree with me:
They should also understand what studies have shown: businesses are drawn to cities with a vibrant cultural life. Arts coverage helps support this cultural life.
In a later story, Sheldon Epps makes a point that I've made several times:
"That's really the important point: Not so much the critics and reviews, but the conversation that goes on about theater. The need for people to talk about theater in this town --to agree to disagree, to write about what is exciting."
Of course, this is exactly why this blog was created; to bring all the stories and reviews together, and to give you, the patrons, performers and producers of South Florida Theatre, a place to participate in that conversation.

It's unfortunate that the stories that have garnered the most activity are the most negative stories I've presented here. I have actually posted much more positive stuff, and rarely does it get a comment. I'd really love to see that change.

The artistic directors did have another suggestion:
Among the other highlights, Cates suggested a sort of peer-review system in which people who run theaters assess the work being done at other theaters. And the reviews, he said, could run alongside those of the newspaper critics.
This is an idea that has been floated around these parts. Some Carbonell nominators were saying they'd love to see designers attending shows and offering up their opinions on the more technical aspects that the average theatre patron may not be able to fully appreciate.

So here's the proposal: I will break the reviews out of the weekly Scene wrap up, and create a seperate article for each show that gets reviewed. As more reviews come in, I will add them to the article and post it with a more current date. Then you, the people who perform, produced and patronize these shows, can append your own comments. You can comment on the show, on the reviews of the show, pitch in things you liked or didn't like or that didn't get mentioned.

The Scene for January 30, 2009

Things have been cooking here at The Scene in ways I never quite imagined. But it's time to turn from tragic tales of human foibles and return to what's going on in the South Florida Theatre Scene.

And because it's Superbowl Sunday, you may very well find some great ticket bargains for performances that day. Be sure to ask when you place your ticket order.

the reviews

No reviews in the Sun-Sentinel to speak of: they've apparently given up on covering local arts, and simply regurgitated reviews from The Miami Herald. Shameful, and worth dropping my subscription over. Bill, let me know when if you have one buried in there, and I'll certainly look for it.

Hap Erstein saw Still Jewish After All These Years at New Vista Theatre, the show Avi Hoffman created when the funding for The Producers evaporated into the recession.

Avi Hoffman does not literally drag a trunk onstage, but for almost two hours the producing artistic director of The New Vista Theatre Company dips into a metaphorical trunk, sifting nostalgically through the milestones of his five decades in show business.

Mary Damiano also saw Still Jewish After All These Years, and reviewed it for Miami ArtZine.

The staging is simple, just Hoffman, pianist Caryl Ginsburg Fantel and a backdrop of collages featuring black and white photos of New York, Jewish and theatrical memorabilia. But that's all Hoffman needs.

It's pleasant and entertaining, because Hoffman knows how to tell a story and sell a song. And don't be surprised if it leaves you craving a corned beef on rye and a knish.

Still Jewish After All These Years! A life in the Theatre plays at the New Vista Theatre through February 8th, 2009.
Christine Dolen took in the new play at New Theatre, the world premier of Kissing.

Robert Caisley's Kissing, which debuted over the weekend, is the third world premiere in a row for New Theatre. Like The Rant and The Gates of Choice before it, Kissing doesn't have that prize-contender quality that was apparent in Anna in the Tropics after just a few minutes.

But also like those other plays, Kissing is clearly the work of an intriguing playwright with a distinctive voice. And letting those voices be heard is what companies like New Theatre and Florida Stage, both members of the National New Play Network, are all about.

I usually don't like as much background in reviews as Christine Dolen gives us, but this time, it's something we need to hear. And she does get down to the business at hand:

Staged by Martinez, Caisley's play is a comedy brewed from whimsy, pain and some structural playfulness that pays tribute to Groundhog Day.

But there are some challenges in the performances:

Both as conceived by Caisley and played by Buzzeo, Sam is an eccentric for whom it's difficult to feel much sympathy.... Buzzeo seems nervous, trying to muster a forced charm as he relentlessly woos the object of his obsession.

This makes the acting challenge tougher for the blond, big-eyed Thomas, whose Tess sometimes needs to make us believe she's tempted by/attracted to Sam. That's just not happening.

But don't despair!

Sloan and Kyle Thomas also play quirky characters, but their performances are far more compelling. Thomas' Andrew, a major fan of Rodin's sculpture The Kiss, is engaging from the get-go, a
grad student whose joy is contagious. Certainly Sloan's appealingly odd Helen, a woman who shifts between being paralyzed and infuriated by her disintegrating marriage, wants to share in the soul-reviving happiness Andrew radiates.

Kissing runs at New Theatre in Coral Gables through February 15, 2009.

Brandon K. Thorp reviewed Frost/Nixon at the Caldwell Theatre, and, no surprise, has a unique take on it.

I don't think anyone can explain the point of Frost/Nixon — the play or the movie.

Is this a serious probe of either David Frost or Richard Nixon? No. It could have been, but it deals so lightly with the history involved and gives its characters such a superficial treatment that it acts more as a primer on the lives of its principals.

Brandon, basically, doesn't care for the script. But he may have a point:

All we learn about the Nixon presidency comes from vague, and vaguely forced, expository remarks made by his research assistants. (We do learn quite a bit about Frost's mid-'70s financial woes, but who cares?)

He points out that the best parts of the play are the interviews themselves, and that you could skip the play and just watch the actual versions.

But then you'd miss the magic:

...thanks to some happy accident of fate, there actually is something worth praising about the Frost/Nixon currently being performed at the Caldwell Theatre. Wynn Harmon is his name, and he plays David Frost.

Harmon doesn't just steal the show: He makes it his bitch.

...There is suddenly no distance between Harmon '09 and Frost '76, and you can almost smell the newly awakened killer in Frost seeping out of Harmon's pores, turning the gilded Caldwell into a proving ground as gritty and dangerous as any boxing ring or back alley.

Frost/Nixon plays at the Caldwell Theatre in Boca Raton through February 8, 2009.


Florida Stage opens a world premier play, The Bridegroom of Blowing Rock. You can find a peek behind the scenes of this new show HERE.

Actors' Repertory Company opens Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts on January 30. A number of South Florida actors started at Actors' Rep, and it's great to see them mounting plays again. Congratulations, Bob Carter.

I don't normally put up links to productions in foreign languages (and yes, I know I'll get a pile of heated comments about that comment!) but I'm making an exception for the grand opening of Teatro Area Stage because, well, John Rodaz deserves it. He is opening Se quieren at his new space in Coral Gables. Welcome Back, John!

still playing

Bombshells! A Musical Explosion of Life, Love and Telling It All plays at Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre through February 8th.

Frost/Nixon plays at the Caldwell Theatre in Boca Raton through February 8, 2009.

Still Jewish After All These Years! A life in the Theatre plays at the New Vista Theatre through February 8th, 2009.

The Broward Stage Door Theatre is presenting La Cage Aux Folles through January 25th, and Showtune through February 15th.

The Broward Stage Door Theatre is presenting Showtune through February 15th.

The Valerie Harper vehicle Looped plays at the Cuillo Center in West Palm Beach through February 15.

passing through

Mama Mia! the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through February 1, 2009.

Also at Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Defending the Caveman plays two nights only this Friday and Saturday.

And if that's not enough, Gold Coast Theatre presents Peter,Peter and Potter, a classic English Panto, in the Broward Center's Abdo New River Room. Sunday ONLY.

Catch Capitol Steps at the new Miramar Cultural Center this Saturday and Sunday.

The Gingerbread Lady will be read by Conundrum Stages at the Broward County Library-Dania Beach Branch on this Saturday, January 31st at 2pm. For more information, please call 954-926-2420.

last chance to see..

The Chairs ends its critically acclaimed run February 1, at Palm Beach DramaWorks. And I tell, the critics have nailed this one; we see two of the finest masters of their craft in an excellent production

Roll with the Punches winds up its brief engagement at Rising Action Theatre Company in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday. It features the cast of the New York Fringe Festival production. Beau Higgins supplies some background for you.

for kids

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings at The Playground Theatre, in North Miami. It plays through February 8.

Alice in Wonderland plays at Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables through April 4.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sightings: Raul Esparza

South Florida native Raul Esparza appears in a New York Times article about Speed the Plow. Ben Brantley's story is actually contrasting the performances of Jeremy Piven and the two actors that replaced him after he withdrew for health reasons, Norbert Leo Butz and William H. Macy.

We don't often get to see three A-list actors playing the same role in the same production, and it give Brantley some keen insight into their talents.

Of Mr. Butz, Brantley in part describes his performance in terms of Esparza's:
Almost matching the inexhaustible Mr. Esparza...
And there's more:
Oh, there’s one more thing I want to thank Mr. Piven for. If he hadn’t left when he did, it’s unlikely I would have returned to “Plow” to experience the tremendous pleasure of watching Mr. Esparza and Ms. Moss grow in their roles. They were excellent when I first saw them, but they have acquired new confidence and insights as they adjust their characters’ attitudes in relation to the latest Bobby in their lives.

Mr. Esparza has acquired the timing and assurance of a virtuoso jazz musician, riffing electrically without derailing the melody (and now stopping the show with certain line readings).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Actor's Publicty Stunt Backfires in a Big Way

This saga has dragged out over the last three days. It's a sad, sordid story that should serve as a cautionary tale to us all: that old saw about "any publicity is good publicity" doesn't always hold true.


The first we heard of the story,it was from a Reliable Source; Christine Dolen, the Drama Queen. The story appeared in her blog on January 6, and it was straightforward enough; Rising Action makes Phelps' calendar. She starts off describing Fred Phelps, a loathsome creature:
...he has spent the bulk of his golden years (and the years leading up to them) spewing what he believes to be Biblically-justified hate. He and his followers picketed the funeral of Matthew Shepard, the young gay man whose murder was detailed in Moises Kaufman's The Laramie Project. Gay men are apparently No. 1 on Phelps' enemies list.
Obviously, I missed the parable where Christ preached funeral desecration. But the crux of the story follows, and there's a curious sense of foreshadowing:
So it is hardly surprising (except perhaps for the relatively small size and short history of the company) that Oakland Park's Rising Action Theatre has become one of Phelps' targets with its current production.
Dolen actually makes an excellent point here; hardly anyone in South Florida knows about Rising Action. Even given the influence of the internet, Rising Action is a guppy in a fairly large lake of theatrical endeavors.

Actors' Playhouse did La Cage Aux Folles a couple of years ago: they are a much larger theatre, with a larger audience, a prime downtown location just a block from City Hall. I remember doing Keely and Du at Florida Stage: we were worried about pickets protesting the sensitive nature of topic (in the play, a conservative christian group kidnaps a woman from an abortion clinic intending to force her to carry to term). We had faced protests a few years earlier for bringing the AIDS awareness play THE INNER CIRCLE into Palm Beach County schools. We'd already gained notoriety: we were a perfect target, but not only did no one picket, no one wrote nasty letters. Caldwell has also done a number of gay-themed plays; it's a pillar of south Florida Theatre. Surely their productions would have prompted action.

But no one seemed suspicious, just surprised. The community seemed to be lining up to support the small company that is "dedicated to promoting and educating the public in diversity and tolerance for all people through theatre arts."
...artistic director David Goldyn says commisioner Larry Gierer and several ministers plan to be there in support of artistic and religious tolerance...
The article is emailed around, and posted on Facebook several times. Many of us marked our calendars and counted down the days.


The next we hear of the story, there's a change in plans, as reported by Mary Damiano in Miami Artzine.
The Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas has canceled its planned protest of Rising Action Theatre in Oakland Park and their production of The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told. The protest had been scheduled for tonight, Friday, January 16.
But before we can let out a sigh of relief, out comes the surprise twist:
According to Shirley Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church, last December, someone who identified themselves as being associated with Rising Action Theatre e-mailed Westboro Baptist Church asking them to picket the production.
Rising Action artistic director David Goldyn said that he did not send the church an e-mail asking them to protest, but that he later e-mailed the church thanking them for the publicity generated by the protest. Goldyn said ticket sales skyrocketed after news of the protest broke.
Now, I know quite a few producers who assumed that this was, in fact, a publicity stunt.
"In no way shape or form did anyone from my theatre start this," said Goldyn, "and it hurts me that somebody would say so."
Hmmm. Maybe those on the business end are just cynical. Damiano doesn't really imply anything, and doesn't supply anthing that actually contradicts Goldyn. A bunch of people erased the date from their calendar.
"We see that they accomplished what they were after--getting their publicity," said Phelps.
Could this be a petulant attempt by Phelps to cast doubt on Rising Action?


It turns out that Mary wrote her blog after discussing the issue with Brandon K. Thorp, the fiery young theatre critic for the New Times. He wrote about in the Broward/Palm Beach New Times' blog, Juice.
I wasn't going to write about the cancellation, because I liked the idea of SoFla's political class showing up to do battle with the Baptists and leaving unfulfilled. But I did mention it to my friend Mary Damiano, the editor of The Miami ArtZine. She decided to blog about the cancellation, and to confirm the information I gave her, she put in a call to the Westboro Baptist Church.
But Damiano may have been trying to give Rising Action the benefit of the doubt, because she didn't include all the fruits of that phone call. As she left it, we might have believed that Westboro Church was trying to undo the positive effects of its previously announced protest by making it appear that Rising Action was complicit in creating the protest.

And there it might have rested, if David Goldyn hadn't done something incredibly stupid gotten indignant.

He sicced a lawyer on Damiano.
...this mild treatment was enough to prompt a call from Goldyn's lawyer and even a hideous phone call from David himself, in which Goldyn allegedly called Damiano "pigheaded" and "revolting" and claimed she was trying to destroy his theater.
This prompted Brandon's story, and prompted Brandon to include the smoking gun: the email that Westboro Baptist claimed was the basis for the scheduling of the protest:

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Saturday, December 27, 2008 2:56 AM
Subject: Rising Action Theatre Presents The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told

Rising Action Theatre Presents The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told.
This is a gay play that features Adam and Steve and Jane and Mable in
the garden of Eden. The first act is a gay retelling of the Old
Testament of the Bible from the creation all the way up to the
nativity which features a pregnant lesbian. The second act is set in
modern day NYC and features the same characters, only they have no
recollection of their past lives.

This is a play that is an absolute affront to everything traditional
Christians hold dear, and a prime target for protest. The theatre is
located in Fort Lauderdale in a very gay suburb, surrounded by gay
clubs, shops, and cafes. As a part of the Miami-Fort Lauderdale media
market, home to more than 6 million people, media coverage would be
heavy and would reach many households.

The theatre's website is located at there you can find an address and information about the show which runs from now till Jan 18th 2009.

You can go here to read media coverage about the show:


It takes a tremendous set of balls to threaten a lawsuit if you knew that there might be an email undermining your position completely. Either David Goldyn has a big brass set, or he didn't know that there was such an email.

But why would Westboro Baptist complete fabricate such a letter? It makes no sense. It's also reasonable to accept that the only way they'd target such a small and relatively unknown theatre is if someone had urged them to do so.

Brandon's position is that while Westboro Baptist is a cult of extremists, they do live by a strict code based on the Bible, and thus it's unlikely that they'd bear false witness by making up the message, or even altering it to look as if Goldyn sent it.

Chapter 4

David Goldyn comments on this story:
It's hard to deny a rumor. Have you ever tried it? The more you deny it the guiltier you look. So I am in a funny situation. So here goes.

I assure you the email supplied by the church is a forgery. I don't know who did this and I am not pointing fingers. I am not the source of it plain and simple.

Neither Brandon Thorpe nor yourself interviewed me before going to press with this inflammatory story.

Prior to Dec 29, I had very little knowledge of who Fred PHelps or Westboro Baptist Church was.

It seems very odd to me that members of our theatre community are so quick to point fingers. Are we that jaded that you would take the word of something called "godhatesamerica" and "Godhatesfags" over one of your own?

These accusations are repugnant and hurtful.


David Goldyn
Well, I've noted, I was giving you the benefit of the doubt following Mary Damiano's story. But when people start making threats of lawsuits and hurling invectives, well, I take exception to that. Damiano treated you very fairly, especially in light of comments made by one of your actors.

And as for contacting you; I aggregate stories published on the internet. I don't call people for stories. I don't do interviews, and I don't review plays. I find what's out there that's pertinent to my charter, and I put it together so it's coherent, and I publish it. If you wish to comment - well, you've already discovered that you can do that.

I would never have entered the fray but for Brandon's report. I see that Brandon's story has been removed; I see that the New Times is willing to take your word over that of Westboro Baptist, or at least over the word of its own journalist who claims to have contacted the organization.

I'll grant you this much: I've altered the title of the post, and included your comments into the body of the article.

But frankly, I'm still suspicious. Brandon is correct that it is highly unlikely that anyone working with Fred Phelps forged an email with your name. Christine' observation that Rising Action is an extremely unlikely target must also be considered. And I must consider that whoever wrote the email included not one but TWO links to promotional stories. I spend hours a week tracking down those kinds of links; they're not easy to find. And yet whoever wrote those stories knew right where they were. Why not just point to your website, which is far more logical and a lot easier?

If the party sending the email simply wanted to call Fred Phelps down on you, using your name to do it has no benefit, since it wouldn't take much to determine that the name on the email matches that of a person working at the target organization. Which, it seems to me, is ultimately what happened.

I will stipulate that without the entire original email, including the paths in the headers, it cannot be demonstrated that you are, in fact, the party that sent the email.

But the lesson here, David, is still yours to learn: Mary was willing to let it stand. She even printed your statement denying contacting Phelps without contradiction. She reported only facts: Westboro Baptist Church was canceling the protest, that they only scheduled that protest because some one sent them an email informing them of the play, and that Westboro Baptist believed that the message was sent by someone with Rising Action theatre, and you stated that that person was not you.

Which leaves the question: if David Goldyn didn't send the initial letter, who did?

Final Chapter

Well, as it turns out, someone from Rising Action - or at least its production of Most Fabulous Ever Told - has stepped forward to accept responsibility for the letter.
Jan 24, 2009

To whom it may concern:

This issue of David Goldyn at Rising Action Theatre being accused of sending the Westboro Bapist Church a letter prompting the planned protest has just come to my attention. I am Larry Fields, I appeared in the production as Adam, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that David Goldyn DID NOT SEND the referenced letter. I sent it. I sent it to them using my real name and my real email address.

The church has fooled all of you, in an effort to (surprise surprise) hurt this gay theatre. The South Florida Theatre Blogspots states "It's the epitome of arrogance to threaten to sue someone for saying something about you that you know beyond any doubt is completely true," and it goes on to say "It's the 21st Century, people. The Information Age is in full swing." That's a good point, about the information age, and you should know that not only is this claim by the church NOT "completely true" but also EASILY verifiably false using some of that 21st Century technology.

Contact Bellsouth. Ask the ISP if any email originated from his IP address on that hour and date with that message in the body of the email sent to the church's address? NO. I sent that release to the Westboro Baptist Church, that is verifiable. I sent it to them from my home in Miami on my own time from my computer and using my email address. I sent it in the "comments" page. In this 21st Century age of technology is it easy to cut and paste an email message together to create a false email, and are you shocked that the Westboro Baptist church would do such a thing?

They took David's email address from when he emailed them telling them that they were responsible for surging ticket sales, and they pasted it onto my original letter, because they didn't know who I was, but they knew that he was the producer, so they wanted to attribute the letter to him, in an effort to cause trouble for Rising Action. Had due diligence been performed you would have discovered this.

By publishing this story without properly vetting it for accuracy you are harming a local theatre in our community and a producer who did nothing wrong. A full retraction and apology to him and his company is warranted. This is simple ethics.

As for my involvement. Let me make clear, I am an independent contractor for any company that I work for, including Rising Action. I am not an employee, they are in no way responsible for what I do on my own time. I sent that letter to Westboro in an effort to use them, a vicious anti gay hate group, to the advantage of a gay theatre company, by giving the theatre increased media visibility and coverage. It was my intention to use Westboro Baptist Church to help a gay company, I had no malicious intent and as a private citizen with no official ties to any theatre company I am totally within my rights to send them what amounted to a press release.

I never made David Goldyn or any of the artistic staff at Rising Action aware of my actions. It came as a surprise to me that the Westboro people actually took my bait. It is unfortunate that you at the South Florida Theatre Blogspot, Brandon K Thorpp, and Mary Damiano have been duped and used by the Westboro church to harm a local theatre. Again, just a little investigation on the part of the journalists covering this story would have ended it before it ever began. The records are clear, and I'm sure David Goldyn would be happy to have Bellsouth provide you with proof that no such email ever originated on its server from him.

Westboro Baptist Church is not exactly a trusted source. They are a fanatical hate group, our press in the theatre community here in South Florida should not take their word, or God forbid their side, without making sure that what they claim is true. In this case it is a total bold faced lie.

And a little side note, you reference my letter to Mary Damiano, admittedly written in poor taste in talking about David Goldyn. He had nothing to do with that. I have spoken to Mary on the telephone and I have written her two separate letters of apology for my bad taste and poor judgement in sending her that letter. I believe she will be publishing that letter in the next edition of Artzine.

Please make this right.. Please don't attempt to harm a theatre's reputation that does such a unique thing in our community, providing a gay theatre for everyone. David Goldyn DID NOT WRITE THAT LETTER, AND HIS REACTION TO IT WAS GENUINE. I have no reason to lie about this, and there is hard evidence to back it up.

--Larry Fields
I believe Larry. It's not the first ill-advised letter he's sent.

But he also makes the claim - similar to Mr. Goldyn's - that if I had called Rising Action, I would have been able to clear this up. And that's simply not true. Mr. Goldyn was already on the record stating he didn't send the email. Had I called him up, he would have simply repeated his earlier statement. Mr. Goldyn knew that he didn't send it, but that's not the same thing as having evidence to contradict the evidence showing that he had sent it.

For that, we needed Larry Fields, and until he admitted sending the letter, we had no reason to call him.

As for "vetting for accuracy," it shows a particular amount of gall on Fields' part to claim that Mary Damiano was "duped," when in fact she published an entirely accurate story. She alone was willing to accept Goldyn's statement at face value.

If anyone owes Mr. Goldyn an apology, it is Larry Fields. He alone knew all the facts about the matter. He alone took the steps that led to the current situation. At any time, Fields could have contacted Damiano, Thorp, or myself, and presented the facts that only he had access to.

Instead, he waited until Rising Action was pretty well coated in mud.

So sorry, Larry. You are not in a position to lecture anyone on ethics. I wont' be retracting anything, and I certainly won't make your apologies for you. This is your mess, Larry.

But now, I think, we have all the facts.
  • Actor Larry Fields decides to 'help out' his theatre by convincing a radical right wing religious organization to picket the theatre. He sends them an email suggesting that the production would be a good opportunity for a picket.
  • Westboro Baptist schedules a day to picket the production that coincides with other activity in Florida.
  • The Miami Herald picks up the story, and it quickly circulates through the theatre community. Not only is a counter-protest discussed, people start buying tickest the show in support of the organization.
  • David Goldyn sends an email to Westboro Baptist, taunting them with the fact that their scheduled protest has helped to promote his show.
  • Westboro Baptist cancels the protest, and claimed that someone from the theatre had tipped them off originally.
  • Mary Damiano's story was completely accurate; she reported what she was told by Westboro Baptist, and she printed David Goldyn's statements denying that he sent it.
  • Goldyn, unable or unwilling to believe that anyone from his organization might have contacted Westboro Baptist, makes an outraged phone call to Damiano, and consults a lawyer.
  • When Brandon followed up with Westboro Baptist, they saw an opportunity to discredit the theatre, and took Fields' original letter and pasted the header from Goldyn's latter message taunting them about how their announcment had helped his ticket sales to the body of the original tip.
  • Goldyn, knowing that he didn't send the tip, is still outraged, and convinced New Times to kill the story.
  • By this time, I've picked up the story. Recognizing that the only way the story makes any sense at all is if someone from Rising Action had originally tipped them off, I'm not willing to completely drop the issue, although I - albeit grudgingly - admit that there's no strong evidence that David Goldyn was that person.
  • Larry Fields comes clean.
What a sordid little affair! Who knew all this could circle around a small theatre in Wilton Manors?

Larry is correct about one thing: Rising Action Theatre does fill a niche in the local theatre scene. It's a shame that Larry's plan backfired in such a spectacular manner. If he hadn't written the letter in the first place, none of the rest of it would have happened. The show would have gone on, ticket sales might not have spiked, but maybe word of mouth would have gotten them there anyway.

If David Goldyn hadn't gotten angry about Damiano's entirely accurate story, Brandon would never have leapt to her defense, and I never would have picked up the story, and we would never have learned the truth: Larry Fields has no future in Public Relations.

Oh, and we've also learned that Westboro Baptist is willing to lie and cheat to acheive its ends, thus revealing their complete and utter hypocrisy. Which, ultimately, is no suprise to anyone.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Scene for January 23, 2009 UPDATED 1/23

Baby, it's cold outside. But don't worry, it's warming up for the weekend, and it's always hot in the theatre scene.

UPDATE: added Christine Dolen's review of Mama Mia!
UPDATE: added Mary Damiano's review of Adding Machine

the reviews
Mary Damiano gets in her review of Adding Machine in time for the closing weekend.
One of the best shows of 2008 closes Sunday.
Go read the review for the rest of it.

Christine Dolen had doubts about the new musical Bombshells, which premiered at Actors' Playhouse last week. But in her own words, she was "pleasantly surprised."
Bombshells! is unlikely to be the next Broadway smash, and it can use further tweaking and tightening. But composer-lyricist-playwright Jeanette Hopkins has created one of the better examples of the let's-hear-it-for-the-girls musical genre, and in the show's first-ever production, Actors' Playhouse has served the piece well.
She liked the performances: but she also liked the artistic elements of the show:
This first go at Bombshells! benefits enormously from Artie Butler's terrific arrangements, Dave Campbell's clever choreography, David Nagy's musical direction and Darío Almirón's chic costumes.
Be sure to click through to Dolen's review. It includes a couple of audio clips of the show.
Bombshells! A Musical Explosion of Life, Love and Telling It All plays at Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre through February 8th.

Christine also caught Jake Ehrenreich's A Jew Grows in Brooklyn at the David and Mary Alper Jewish Community Center, in Miami.
Billy Crystal covered similar ground in his great solo show 700 Sundays, the differences being the particulars of the two men's lives, Crystal's greater fame, and the younger Ehrenreich's past as an aspiring rocker. But like Crystal, Ehrenreich knows how to work a crowd, and the audience at Miami's Dave and Mary Alper Jewish Community Center (the first of the performer's three South Florida stops) gets happily hooked before he's barely sung a note.

This is a mini tour, so check out the show website for times and directions.

Meanwhile, Brandon K. Thorp wrote a new review of the new play at New Theatre for the New Times (Miami).

Kissing, a brand-new play now making its world premiere at the New Theatre in Coral Gables, is so precious it ought to trigger your gag reflex.
Jeez, that Brandon can turn a phrase, can't he? But wait - I interrupted!
It doesn't. It bypasses the alimentary canal altogether and burrows straight to the heart. Cynics and hipsters might feel annoyed, but they shouldn't. Kissing was written for them.
Quite a turn, eh? For a moment, weren't you transported back to biology class? Anywho, Brandon liked the script and the performances:
For a simple play, Kissing is packed with a great many eccentricities — weird parallels, synchronicities, sudden eruptions of weirdness. Good writing, in other words.

Kissing is uncannily well acted, and Kyle A. Thomas, Larry Buzzeo (who plays Sam), and Jessa Thomas (who plays Tess) will come out of this thing with their SoFla theater cred deeply enhanced. Barbara Sloan (who plays Helen) delivers her best performance in several seasons...
But that's not to say that Brandon found it without flaw:
Kissing is not a perfect show. Caisley's dialogue occasionally overreaches and becomes too self-consciously poetic to work as believable drama. The meandering interactions between Sam and Tess can get tiresome and, if you're not hip to the weird time traveling they appear to be doing, confusing.
Kissing runs at New Theatre in Coral Gables through February 15, 2009.

Jan Sjostrom of the Shiny Sheet Palm Beach Daily News finally got around to seeing Looped at the Cuillo Center. She liked Valerie Harper has Tallulah Bankhead, but found that the play needs work.
See Looped for Valerie Harper's superb performance. The show has little else to recommend it. But Harper's no-holds-barred portrayal of Tallulah Bankhead is almost enough.
But like Hap Erstein, she found the script to be weak.
But (playwright Matthew) Lombardo never gets beyond pop psychology, and the situation he uses to develop the story is so unlikely that it's impossible to swallow.
So the count is now three out of four five critics recommend Looped, playing at the Cuillo Center in West Palm Beach through February 15.

The Sun-Sentinel did their best to hide it, but I found the review of the National Tour production of MAMA MIA hidden away in the Lifestyle section, where Rod Stafford Hagwood parades his ignorance of the genre he's attempting to review by complaining about missing elements that were never there to begin with.
Gone are the townspeople as a Greek chorus. Gone are the sun-bleached lighting effects...

That's right, Rod is comparing the original staging to the movie. Tip for you, Rod; the movie version of a stage musical will always be drastically different from the original. You're complaining that an apple is different from an orange. Well, DUH.

For a proper review of Mama Mia, we must turn to Christine Dolen and the Miami Herald. And she knows what she's talking about;

The ... colossally successful stage version of Mamma Mia! -- which earns over $8 million a week in worldwide ticket sales, for a total of more than $2 billion since its 1999 London debut -- will never claim a place in the pantheon of brilliant musicals. But people love it, as gleeful crowds at the show's return engagement at Broward Center for the Performing Arts would attest.

The touring cast at the Broward Center ably delivers all the elements of the sure-fire show, from choreographer Anthony Van Laast's moves (some charming, others ridiculous) to booming versions of 22 ABBA songs, plus some curtain-call bonuses (you must stick around for those).

If you like ABBA, you'll love Mama Mia. It plays at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through February 1, 2009.


Roll with the Punches opens at Rising Action Theatre Company in Fort Lauderdale. It features the cast of the New York Fringe Festival production.

still playing

The Chairs runs through February 1 at Palm Beach DramaWorks.

Frost/Nixon plays at the Caldwell Theatre in Boca Raton through February 8, 2009.

Still Jewish After All These Years! A life in the Theatre plays at the New Vista Theatre through February 8th, 2009.

The Broward Stage Door Theatre is presenting La Cage Aux Folles through January 25th, and Showtune through February 15th.

The Broward Stage Door Theatre is presenting Showtune through February 15th.

The Valerie Harper vehicle Looped plays at the Cuillo Center in West Palm Beach through February 15.

passing through

Mama Mia! the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through February 1, 2009.

The Aquila Theatre Company presents Homer's The Iliad at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach, January 22 and 23, 2009. This touring company will also present William Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors on January 24 and 26 in the Rinker Playhouse.

last chance to see...

The Adding Machine at GableStage closes January 25th, 2009.

The run of La Cage Aux Folles at The Broward Stage Door Theatre also closes Sunday.

Promethean Theatre's A Report on the Banality of Love winds up its critically acclaimed run at the in Nova Southeastern University's Mailman Theatre on January 25th.

Shakespeare Miami concludes up its mini-tour of MacBeth this weekend in Miami Gardens. Directions are available on their website. The weather will be perfect to see outdoor theatre this weekend, and the price is perfect for the times; free.

Barnum plays at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre through Sunday, January 25.

for kids

Schoolhouse Rock Live! at the Miramar Cultural Center, in Miramar

Max & Ruby at the Miniaci Performing Arts Center, at Nova SouthEastern University in Davie.

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings at The Playground Theatre, in North Miami.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Critical Personnel: Weapons Master

From an AP story in today's Miami Herald:
One actor picked up a pistol he had borrowed from another cast member and fired it at the head of fellow actor Fred Kellerman.
When using guns onstage, you NEVER stage it so an actor ACTUALLY points the gun at another person, be it actor, stagehand, or audience.  Oh, what happened to Fred?
The bullet only grazed Kellerman's ear.
Lucky man.  No play is worth dying for.  Not even Of Mice and Men.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Clowning Around In Coral Gables

The Promethean Theatre


by noah bremer
TPT is thrilled to present Award-winning Minneapolis-based physical performer and creator, Noah Bremer and his one person clown show.

Using simple clown, music and his physically elastic body Noah tells the story of Pepe and his stubborn houseplant Gertrude, who refused to perform


at the Biltmore
1200 Anastasia Avenue
Coral Gables, Florida 33134

A 501(C)3 Non-Profit Corporation
786.317.7580 for more info

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Goings on the Grove

The Coconut Grove Grapevine has pictures from last night's performance of Macbeth. It's being presented by Shakespeare Miami in Coconut Grove's Peacock Park.

Click here to see the pictures.

The Grapevine has also been keeping up on the Coconut Grove Playhouse. Their most recent article includes links to the Charette that was held a few weeks back, and from their you can download the actual report.

I'm still sorting through it, but I will eventually put up something about it in detail here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Palm Beach Post Interviews Avi Hoffman

In this interview with Kevin D. Thompson, Avi discusses dropping The Producers from New Vista's schedule, and the fiscal realities of producing shows in the current economy. We also get some insight into the show he created to replace it, Still Jewish After All These Years! A life in the Theatre.

Three Plays, Three Generations

This show will be a companion piece to his earlier shows, Too Jewish, and Too Jewish, Two, creating a trilogy: the first play is about his granparents' generation, the second dealt with his parents, and this one deals with himself.

Still Jewish After All These Years! A life in the Theatre plays at the New Vista Theatre through February 8th, 2009.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

World Premieres Abound on the Theatre Scene

Mary Damiano of Miami Artzine realized that 3 of the plays opening in South Florida this weekend are World Premieres, and that by the end of the month, the count is FIVE.

She writes about three of theses shows in the current issue of Miami Artzine; Bombshells at Actors' Playhouse, New Vista's Still Jewish After All These Years, and Kissing at New Theatre in Coral Gables.

Damiano also gets the first words from Avi Hoffman about the demise of The Producers, which was originally slated to open at New Vista this weekend.

She also touches on A Report on the Banality of Love, the new Mario Diament play that opened last week to rave reviews at The Promethean Theatre. Andie Arthur did a story on the play for the last issue of the ArtZine. We also learn that another theatre in town will be opening one of his plays soon.

Mary Damiano says "it's a good time to be a new play in South Florida." I say it's a good time to be a theatre lover in South Florida.

The Scene for January 16, 2009: UPDATED!

Well, it's been a busy week on the Scene. Now that the air is clearing, we can see there's still a lot going on.

The season is in full swing!

UPDATE: added the Palm Beach Post review of Looped.

the reviews

The Caldwell Theatre in Boca Raton opened its production of Frost/Nixon last week. It features Wynn Harmon as David Frost, and Bruce Sabath as former President, Richard M. Nixon.

Christine Dolan reviewed the show for the Miami Herald, and found it absorbing, but not perfect:
Director Michael Hall and company plumb many of the fascinating qualities in Morgan's script yet don't fully realize its poignant power.
And while she found the casting to be imperfect, she still describes the production thus"
...the Caldwell's Frost/Nixon provides an absorbing behind-the-scenes look at how Frost managed to pull off interviews that would resuscitate his career.
Kevin D. Thompson's review of Frost/Nixon for the Palm Beach Post is similar in tone;
Morgan's play, although well-written and wonderfully acted thanks in large part to Michael Hall's direction, won't exactly grab you by the lapels from the outset. For starters, it might take you at least 20 minutes to fully invest in (Bruce) Sabath as Nixon. Although Sabath perfects Nixon's awkward body language, he doesn't look like much like the former president. But that little distraction becomes less of a factor as Frost/Nixon moves along.
And again, Kevin's ultimate take on the production is positive:
...two men engaged in an extremely high stakes cat-and-mouse game, you won't be able to take your eyes off them...
Hap Erstein wrote up the production for the Palm Beach ArtsPaper. He touched on the issue of Sabath's lack of physical resemblance mentioned by Kevin D. Thompson of the Post:
Most actors avoid direct impersonation when portraying a figure like Nixon, lest they drift into caricature. Still, Bruce Sabath is making little effort to evoke our 37th president, offering instead a cooler, more comfortable in his own skin character. When Tom Wahl as one of Frost’s coaches mimics Nixon in a mock interview, it is the Nixon we know, not the one onstage, and the difference is disconcerting.
Hap also mentioned the technical aspects of the production:
Tim Bennett’s scenic design is sparse and sleek, to allow the numerous cinematic location changes. Instead, the stage is dominated by Sean Lawson’s projections and live closed-circuit video of the interviews.
Ultimately, Hap seems to share the opinion of Thompson and Dolen:
Despite some of director Michael Hall’s casting missteps, it is hard not to become involved in the central tug-of-war or to root for the confession that the nation so needed.
Hap also underscores the relevance of the piece:
Nor is it hard to see a link between this period more than 30 years ago and today, as another disgraced president prepares to leave office, perhaps to slip into the history books without being held accountable for his own abuses of power.
Frost/Nixon plays at the Caldwell Theatre in Boca Raton through February 8, 2009.

Hap Erstein's review of Barnum! at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. This is a co-production with the Asolo Theatre out of Sarasota. And a good one, at that:
Those who suppressed their childlike dreams of joining the circus are likely to have that urge renewed by the lively, colorful, thoroughly winning show now on view at the former dinner theater in north Palm Beach County.
And it's not all about the circus routines: Erstein finds a capable cast:
The problematic casting of the title character has been triumphantly solved by Broadway veteran Brad Oscar, an ingratiating performer who plays Barnum with childlike enthusiasm.

Oscar dominates the evening, but Misty Cotton is a strong presence as Chairy, even if she is a party-pooper most of the time. Kevin Kraft is a one-man balancing act playing nine supporting roles, Debra Walton stands out as creaky-then-powerful 160-year-old Joice Heth and Renee Brna is a soaring soprano as Swedish nightingale Jenny Lind.
And Hap's ultimate statement about the production?
Like Barnum himself, the Maltz Jupiter is intent on being a crowd-pleaser and it succeeds with this bundle of bombast.
Barnum plays at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre through Sunday, January 25.

Last week, Mary Damiano raved about Looped, playing at the Cuillo Center, while Hap Erstein thought that Valerie Harper wasn't served well by a flawed script. This week, Bill Hirschman wrote his tie-breaker for the Sun-Sentinel.
...Harper deftly portrays a profane, vibrant iconoclast bedeviled by self-disgust. Despite the serious undertone, the evening is a cascade of PG-rated zingers, R-rated retorts and X-rated anecdotes so funny that the opening-night audience's laughter drowned out the dialogue.

The Palm Beach Post's
Kevin D. Thompson also weighs in:
As Bankhead, a scandal-drenched actress who would be a tabloid editor's dream if she were alive today, Harper is magnificent and gives a Tony-worthy performance that will have you rolling in the aisles. Harper doesn't just chew the scenery, she devours it, regurgitates it and then devours it all over again.

Lombardo's brilliant script crackles with a number of zingy one-liners, 99 percent of which can't be repeated in this review. Which is too bad, because all of them are funny.
I conclude that three out of four critics recommend Looped, playing at the Cuillo Center in West Palm Beach through February 15.

Colin McPhillamy and Amy Mckenna in a scene from A Report on the Banality of Love, by Miami playwright Mario Diament, which will make its world premiere at the Promethean Theatre    Photo: George Schiavone
Promethean Theater opened Mario Diamente's A Report on the Banality of Love last week. It's a tale inspired by the true story of Hannah Arendt, a young jewess who became one of the 20th Century's most brilliant political theorists, and her affair with phenomenologist Martin Heidegger that started while she was his student in the 1920's. The play's title is a spin on th title of her treatise "A Report on the Banality of Evil," a piece ostensibly about Adolph Eichmann that many now assert was written in an attempt to excuse Heidegger's eventual involvment in the Nazi Party.

Christine Dolen was there, and found that the play succeeded on more than just the merits of Diamente's script.

In putting A Report on the Banality of Love in front of audiences for the first time, director Margaret M. Ledford has the incalculable blessing of two great, inventive actors in the roles of Heidegger and Arendt.

(Colin) McPhillamy seems every inch the preoccupied, absent-minded professor when (Amy) McKenna's timid Hannah first enters his office. Soon, though, he's using his plummy voice as an instrument of seduction, the married man with power convincing his besotted student to have an affair on his terms.

Through five encounters played out in Brechtian fashion against shifting black-and-white cityscape sketches, the two discuss their careers, relationships (including Arendt's two marriages), and what the Nazi rise to power means for Germany.

Brandon K. Thorp reviewed A Report on the Banality of Love for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times. And as always, Brandon tells it like you'd never think it would be told:
Arendt fans will be shocked to see Amy McKenna's portrayal of the cool-headed thinker in the early scenes: giggling, girlish, and nervous. Slutty too. Early trysts show an Arendt who cannot wait to give it away, melting in the hands of a Heidegger, who's as transparent and manipulatively lecherous as any playground child molester.

Nothing in the execution of this naughty thing suggests that these are two of the 20th Century's great minds.
Quite a contrast, isn't it? But eventually, Brandon accepts McPhillamy's portrayal of Heidegger:
On McPhillamy's face, you can read Heidegger's Nazi tendencies as rooted less in some savage impulse than in Heidegger's naive belief that no one could be as nasty as the Nazis were rumored to be. Nazi or not, he's quickly believable as a kindly (if grabby) old crank that you'd rather like to have tea with.
He takes longer to warm up to McKenna's character:
Only as McKenna's Arendt begins to understand the depths of Heidegger's betrayal does the historical and literary Arendt begin to inform McKenna's performance.
But in fact, Brandon ends up with a strong endorsement of the piece:
A Brief Report is an excellent play that's not quite as excellent as Arendt fans would
wish: a blow to the head where we might hope for a knife to the guts.
A Report on the Banality of Love plays at the Promethean Theatre in Nova Southeastern University's Mailman Theatre through January 25th.

Christine Dolen reviewed Shakespeare Miami's latest production, Macbeth.
The idea of free outdoor Shakespeare in January is lovely. On Saturday, for example, several hundred people brought blankets, beach chairs and picnic fare to Miami Beach's Flamingo Park. Fanned by cool breezes, watched over by a full moon peeking through tall palm trees, the crowd was attentive and polite, clapping after each of the play's numerous scenes.

What the audience experienced, however, wasn't quite so lovely: subsidized Shakespeare of widely varying quality.

Shakespeare is a challenge. Doing outdoor theater is a challenge.
The large cast contains some good actors, some adequate ones and some challenged amateurs.

Technically, the sound is erratic (microphones cut in and out). And placing key action in that ground-level pool obscures it, if you wind up with anyone taller than a child sitting on the blanket in front of you.
But Christine's biggest complaint may be the tenor of the piece:
Shakespeare Miami's productions are touted as plays for the whole family, but multiple-partner romantic relations and bloody child murders may not be what you envision as kid-friendly entertainment.
Shakespeare Miami presents MacBeth this weekend at Coconut Grove's Peacock Park. Directions are available on their website. Next week they're in Miami Gardens. Wherever you see it, it's free admission.

Jan Sjostrom of the Shiny Sheet Palm Beach Daily News weighs in on The Chairs, the play at Palm Beach DramaWorks that everyone's been raving about. And does Ms. Sjostrom concur with all her colleagues?

Bradshaw delivers an incandescent performance as the adoring wife who nonetheless repeatedly reminds her husband that he hasn't amounted to much and unabashedly cuckolds him with one of the guests. Leonard inhabits his role with daffy fervor.

Michael Amico's chilly set feels so real you can almost smell the damp emanating from the faux cement walls. Equal praise can be lavished on Erin Amico's slatternly costumes, Todd Wren's dramatic lighting design and Steve Shapiro's evocative sound design.

The Chairs treads a fine line between the comic and the tragic — rather like life itself. This production, steered with precision and heart by J. Barry Lewis, plays up the humor, which makes the absurdist disenchantment go down easier. It's wild ride and a splendid piece of theater.

That's six for six! It's official, The Chairs is a critical slam-dunk. I'm seeing it Sunday; don't you miss the most celebrated show in South Florida!


Bombshells opens Friday night at the Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater in Coral Gables.

Kissing also opens Friday night in Coral Gables, at New Theatre.

New Vista opens Avi Hoffman's Still Jewish After All These Years. This is the replacement for their previously announced production of The Producers.

still playing

The Adding Machine
plays at GableStage through January 25th, 2009.

The Chairs runs through February 1 at Palm Beach DramaWorks.

The Broward Stage Door Theatre is presenting La Cage Aux Folles through January 25th, and Showtune through February 15th.

passing through

Laughter and Reflection with Carol Burnett this Saturday only at the Kravis Center.

last chance to see...

The Reduced Shakespeare Company's production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised], plays at the Arsht Center through January 18.

The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told is playing at the Rising Action Theatre Company through Jan 18, 2009.

Mezzulah, 1946 runs through January 18 at Florida Stage, in Manalapan.

for kids

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings at the The Playground Theatre