Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Scene for January 9th, 2009 (UPDATED)

UPDATED: added reviews of Looped by Hap Erstein and Mary Damiano.
Busy week on the Theater Scene. Both Broward Stage Door and the Broward Center for Performing Arts are running not one but TWO musicals each this weekend. Two theaters, four musicals, it's a busy weekend in Broward County!

Not that Palm Beach and Miami-Dade are quiet - far from it. The theatre scene is cookin' this week.

the reviews

Broward Stage Door Theatre opened the musical revue Showtune last week. And Sun Sentinel sent out an actual theatre review to see it. Bill Hirschman found a strong production.
Stage Door, which has revues like this down to a scientific formula, makes the most of this 40-number songbook that encompasses all of the expected showstoppers from Mame to Hello, Dolly! to the show playing in the auditorium next door, La Cage aux Folles.
What did he like about it? Well, it seems like he liked it all:Showtune
They've hired a strong sextet of singers, a competent director/choreographer in Michael Leeds, pre-recorded a luxurious, layered soundtrack and dressed it up in spangles and spotlights.
And the downside?
Certainly, it's shot through with that aura of non-threatening homogenized pre-digested fare because most numbers are ripped completely out of any theatrical storytelling context.
Well, it is a revue, after all. If you like revues, it seems this one's worth seeing.

Showtunes plays at the Broward Stage Door in Coral Springs through February 15th.

Meanwhile, in the other theatre at Broward Stage Door, Mary Damiano reviewed La Cage Aux Folles for Miami ArtZine.
La Cage Aux Folles is regularly revived--it was done here in 2007 by Actors' Playhouse. The Broward Stage Door's production is impressive, with a terrific, hard-working ensemble and two leads with real chemistry.
You need chemistry for this show to work, and apparently , this cast clicks:
Timothy J. Conway plays Albin with pouty pride, while charismatic Matthew William Chizever infuses debonair Georges with moving affection. The two actors take these roles, which too often devolve into stereotypes, and make them real human beings. Marcus Davis works his scene-stealing role of houseboy Jacob so that all he has to do is raise an eyebrow to get a laugh.
The Broward Stage Door Theatre is presenting La Cage Aux Folles through January 25th, 2009.

Mary Damiano also reviewed The Chairs up at Palm Beach DramaWorks. And she has good things to say about it.
Eugene Ionescu's Theatre of the Absurd play The Chairs may be more than 50 years old, but its production at Palm Beach Dramaworks is fresh and new.
So far, they're 4 for 4 with the reviewers. Way to go, DramaWorks!

Sorry about that, I just couldn't resist. Anywho, Damiano writes:
...terrific performances by Dan Leonard and Barbara Bradshaw, as well as Shel Shanek, who takes the production from merely absurd to downright trippy. Michael Amico's set and Steve Shapiro's sound design is some of the best we've seen all year.

Kudos to the artistic team at Palm Beach Dramaworks for thinking way outside the box on The Chairs, which, according to artistic director William Hayes' program notes, has never had a South Florida production.
The Chairs runs through February 1 at Palm Beach DramaWorks.
Mary Damiano also reviewed Looped at the Cuillo Center in West Palm Beach for Miami Artzine. It makes sense: as long as she was in WPB, make the most of it. Sometimes, when a star is attached to an unknown show, the producers are hoping that the star can carry the show. But that doesn't seem to be the case:

Every so often, you see something at the theatre which is so beautifully written, acted and designed that you wonder why all theatre can't be this wonderful.

Looped stars Valerie Harper as Tallulah Bankhead, and apparently she's more than up to the task:
Harper is brilliant. Whether you know her as Rhoda Morgenstern from TV or Golda Meir from the stage, all vestiges of other characters disappear in Looped. She crawls into Tallulah's skin and inhabits her for two hours, so much so that you'll feel that you were witness to Tallulah's recording session.
And it's not just Harper that delivers:
Her co-star, Chad Allen is also best known for TV roles, like the long-running "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman", but there's no trace of Matthew Cooper here. Allen masterfully portrays Danny Williams...
And by the way, Mary REALLY liked this production:
Do yourself a favor and don't miss Looped. Sure, if you live in Miami Beach or even further south, the Cuillo Centre in downtown West Palm Beach is a schlep. But gas is cheap, Looped is worth it, and if you miss it you'll be missing one of the best productions to come to South Florida in a very long time.
Hap Erstein reviewed Looped for the Palm Beach ArtsPaper, and he wasn't quite so taken with it. He didn't seem to like the first act.
After one act of Tallulah Bankhead, the off-color, inebriated comedienne, she returns after a 15-minute break and is suddenly lucid, compassionate and dramatic. In both cases she is two-dimensional, but just different dimensions in the two acts of Looped, the Valerie Harper vehicle now at the Cuillo Centre that is said to be Broadway-bound.
Overall, he found the acting to be adequate, and maybe a bit more than that, but he didn't like the script that Damiano was raving about:
But for most of the loopy evening, she is stymied by a script trying to force a portrait of the artist as a quip-spewing, and then mawkish, icon.
Looped, starring Valerie Harper, is in a pre-Broadway trial at the Cuillo Center in West Palm Beach. It plays through January 15th. You can read Beau Higgins' account on Broadway World. Mary Damiano has an interview with Harper at Miami Artzine.


Barnum opened January 6th at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, and runs through January 25th.

References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot opens Thursday, January 8th at The Alliance Theatre Lab

A Report on the Banality of Love opens Friday at the Promethean Theatre. Andie Arthur writes about the play and the playwright for Miami Artzine, and spoke with Artistic Director Deborah Sherman.

Shakespeare Miami presents MacBeth this weekend. They are mixing it up by playing different locations each weekend. This weekend, they will be playing in Miami Beach at Flamingo Park. Directions are available on their website. Next week they're in Coconut Grove, and the week after that, Miami Gardens. Wherever you see it, it's free admission.

still playing

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.

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...

Avenue Q plays through Sunday at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Christine Dolen reviewed it for the Herald.
...leave the younger kids at home. Just go and enjoy a masterful, funny, touching musical about young adults trying to piece together the puzzle of post-collegiate life.
But don't wait too long: it loads out January 11th to go to the next stop. And to sweeten the deal, they have a lottery going that gives you a shot at tickets for $25!

Also at the Broward Center, Montreal's Yiddish Theatre presents Those Were The Days. It plays through Sunday, January 11. Christine Dolen wrote about in her blog.

Kravis Center
is showing The Drowsy Chaperone, and Jan Sjostrom writes about it for the Shiny Sheet. It opens tomorrow and plays through Sunday, January 11th.

last chance to see...

Regrets Only at the Waterfront Playhouse in Key West. It closes January 10.

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