Saturday, March 14, 2009

News from around the South Florida Theatre Scene

The Palm Beach Daily News reports that several Palm Beach arts groups are scrambling. Palm Beach is home to quite a large number of Bernie Madoff's victims, so they are particularly hard hit.
The Kravis cut several hundred thousand dollars out of its $23 million operating budget. It hasn't laid off any full-time staff, but it has either canceled, postponed or trimmed the number of performances for more than 30 shows, largely because of low ticket sales.

(Florida Stage) slashed its expenses from last year's $4.1 million to $3.4 million this season. It plans to accumulate a $200,000 surplus as a buffer against future revenue fluctuations, Managing Director Nancy Barnett said.

The (Palm Beach Opera) saved money by hiring more younger singers, eliminating two highly paid positions slated to be phased out, renegotiating with vendors, consolidating its storage space and other measures.

(Ballet Florida) hoped to solve its immediate problems by selling its building to the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency for $2.5 million, erasing its bills and $1.5 million mortgage, with $600,000 to spare. But the deal fell through March 9 when the city declined to pay Worth Realty a $185,000 commission fee the realty firm claims it is owed because the ballet didn't act on a $3.75 million offer and then used the offer to bargain with the city.
Jan Sjostrom of the Palm Beach Daily News wrote a little background piece on Becky Gulsvig, the star of the national tour of Legally Blonde, which opens next week at the Kravis Center.
"I wouldn't say I'm nothing like Elle," Gulsvig said during a recent tour stop in Memphis. "I'm half like her. I'm not a high-heels, pretty-in-pink, super-girlie. But we have the same spirit. We follow our dreams, and we're true to ourselves."
But surprisingly, it's Rod Stafford Hagwood of the Sun-Sentinel who delivers the goods on the girl playing Elle Woods;
"I do think Elle is a role model for every little girl," (Becky Gulsvig) said. "Think about it: She tells you to follow your dream and to not give up; not listen to other people who tell you that you can't do something. And she stays true to herself. It makes is easy to play because that's how I think too."
I'll be the first to admit that I've been harsh on Hagwood, but he really does a great job on this interview with Beck Gulsvig.

Meanwhile, Kevin D. Thompson of the Palm Beach Post speaks with Marc Robin, the director of the Maltz Jupiter Theatre's upcoming production of Evita.
"It's far more intimate," Robin says. "We're really concentrating on making sure the story is really the first thing the audience will notice. Often times Evita is a big spectacle. We're trying to get to the core of the story so people can connect to it."
Christine Dolen ponders how theatres reach out to their audience in her blog, The Drama Queen.
Most theater has a target audience, broad as that group may be. Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables is doing its terrific current production of Les Misérables for folks who love Broadway megamusicals. The Gables' intimate New Theatre is presenting an admirable revival of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie for fans of great American stage classics.
Dolen is describing the phenomenom I call "niche theater," where theaters abandon the attempt to be all things to all people and instead find a niche in the community that they can master.

Dolen wrote about just such a company in her blog posting Bodies At Play:
Vanessa Garcia doesn't just put on plays. Through her group The Krane, she dreams up events: a play in a shoe store, for instance
Miami Artzine gives us peek behind the scenes with an interview with sound designer Marty Mets.
What are the hallmarks of good sound?
You shouldn't notice it. You should forget that you are watching a play, or movie, or listening to a CD, and become totally immersed in the experience. If someone walks out onstage and they sound like they're in a tin can, that subtracts from the total production. If someone is speaking from behind a door you don't want his mic up as loud as the person on the other side. I always aim for realism. Good sound should not be noticed per se, but should subconsciously add to and heighten the total experience.
He's up for a Carbonell for his work on 4.48 Psychosis. It's a tough field this year; Matt Corey does excellent work, but Steve Shapiro's design for The Chairs was outstanding.

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