Thursday, January 29, 2009

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.

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