Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Tallies for June, 2009

We included a total of 11 shows in our June tally: we specifically excluded tours and shows in foreign languages, as well as single-performance and "academic" productions. We have kept it to the mainstream, so that all the papers can be compared on something approaching a level playing field.

We also excluded reviews not written by the source's acknowledged critic; this means that Rod Stafford Hagwood is excluded from the tally: he is not a theatre reviewer. We did mark the shows he wrote about, they just don't figure in the tally.

Out of 11 qualifying shows that opened in the month of June, Christine Dolen reviewed 7 of them, with the New Times and Miami Artzine tying for second place. with 5 each The Sun-Sentinel follows at a distant third. The Palm Beach Post had dismal coverage for June, with no shows at all reviewed in that period.

At first glance, you might think that 7 shows versus the two sources with 5 is a reasonable win: but consider that the Miami Herald at 30 days of editions, while the New Times only had 8, and Miami Artzine only published two issues in this period.

Nevertheless, Christine Dolen is South Florida Theatre Scene's Outstanding Reviewer for June, 2009.

Florida Theatrical Association turns 20

Their press release says it all:

Orlando, Fla. – Florida Theatrical Association, the non-profit presenter of FAIRWINDS Broadway Across America – Orlando, Broadway Across America – Ft. Lauderdale and Broadway Across America – Miami, will celebrate its 20th Anniversary on June 30, 2009. Florida Theatrical Association was originally founded on June 30, 1989 with the purpose of educating and developing new audiences and to encourage and preserve the presentation of touring Broadway.

“Florida Theatrical still serves that role and purpose today, and probably better than ever,” said Ron Legler, president and CEO of Florida Theatrical Association. “For Florida Theatrical to celebrate its 20th Anniversary, especially during these difficult financial times, and honestly say we’re doing better than ever is astounding. We have to give credit to the patrons of Florida, they love the arts!”


This season, Florida Theatrical will bring in six spectacular shows to Orlando for its FAIRWINDS Broadway Across America – Orlando series featuring the triumphant return of The Phantom of The Opera, as well as productions of Fiddler on the Roof starring Topol, The Color Purple, In the Heights, Xanadu and Spring Awakening.


Florida Theatrical has Broadway Across America – Ft. Lauderdale lined up to launch its six-show 2009 – 2010 season in October with Fiddler on the Roof, followed by Legally Blonde the Musical, Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, In the Heights, The Color Purple, and Disney’s Mary Poppins.


Finally, Florida Theatrical Association presents Broadway Across America – Miami, which will host The Color Purple, 101 Dalmatians, Wicked, Mamma Mia and the winner of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Spring Awakening.

“We’re bringing the best Broadway has to offer to the state of Florida for our 20th Anniversary,” said Legler. “In the Heights, Xanadu, The 39 Steps – those are all first-runs. That never used to happen in Florida and now our cities are consistently chosen as first-run stops!”

Aside from bringing high-caliber entertainment to Florida, Florida Theatrical fulfills its mission through a variety of education initiatives: Broadway’s Class Act, scholarship and grants, ticket donations to other non-profit organizations, Discover Broadway activities, master classes, technical observations and published student reviews. These are accomplished by working with the cast and company members of each Broadway production Florida Theatrical Association brings to Florida.

Some education highlights include:

  • Since 1989 FTA has distributed over $1 million in scholarships and grants to arts organizations across the state of Florida
  • FTA donates over $120,000 in tickets every year to the community. One recent ticket donation in St. Petersburg allowed over 50 children from the Midtown Boys & Girls Club Royal Theater to attend their first Broadway Show – Cats.
  • Established in 2002 to help bring the mission of FTA to life Broadway’s Class Act is a performance focused troupe that brings Broadway into the classrooms of local schools and provides professional based training. There are currently four BCA alumni on Broadway or in Broadway touring productions!
  • Partnering with Barnes & Noble statewide, FTA works with the productions to bring cast members to the store where they participate in an educational chat back session. Cast members talk about the show they’re in, giving audience members insight and background that can’t be found anywhere else.
  • Broadway can’t be successful without a review! Working with local high school students and universities FTA arranges advance interviews with cast members and provide complimentary press tickets to the students so they can view and then review the show.
Florida Theatrical Association is celebrating 20 years as a non-profit civic organization with a volunteer board of trustees established to ensure the continued presentation of quality touring Broadway productions and the promotion of arts education throughout the state of Florida. For more information please visit www.floridatheatrical.org .

Fouryoucansee Theatre: Toners In Time (blogged reviews)

Fouryoucansee Theatre kicked off its new episodic theatre project at New Theatre with its production of Toners In Time this past weekend. Another episode shows up in August, and they're still trying to find a home for the third.

Perhaps it's fitting that this new kind of approach to theatre - dare we call it a 21st century innovation? - is reviewed not with the regular features - but in Christine Dolen's blog.

For a few seconds, I was miffed that it was in her blog, but then I realized that the only more appropriate media might be a social network - Facebook or MySpace, for example. Really, a blog is the perfect place for a review of this new kind of show aimed at Generation Y. And then we Tweet the blog.

The Toners Live: Toners in Time includes the talents of 305 Live, Lucas Leyva, Marco Ramirez, Alex Fumero, Cristi Garcia, Danny Monsalve, Giordan Diaz, and Erik Fabregat.

So for this one, blogs will count as reviews; it's the right thing.

Christine Dolen
's blog in Drama Queen:
Thanks to a combination of funny writing and acting, booming faux reggaeton, multimedia daring, and a free-flowing combo of Caldas rum and Jupiña (probably the audience's favorite sponsors), the 100 people crammed into New Theatre's too-tight-for-the-Toners quarters realized that original, Miami-centric theater can be fun.
The script was basically in English, but if you knew Spanish and/or Spanglish, you got way more of the jokes. The acting -- by Fumero as nerdish Che-Frio, Danny Monsalve as reggaeton dreamer Tito, Giordan Diaz as skinny reggaeton heavyweight Flipi, Cristi Garcia as the has-groupie-tendencies Anisette, and Erik Fabregat as a record mogul-wannabe and a Walter Mercado doppelganger -- was the bomb. Particularly cool was the way Foryoucansee used multimedia: Fabregat's parts were on video (the actor himself was in the audience), and the live performers interacted with his image.
Alexis Scheer blogged it on The Playground:
...a very different, yet rewarding piece of theatre. The entire show bounced around between being a play, a concert, and a giant Jupina commercial...
Monsalve without a doubt comes out on top, because I felt like he wasn't acting, he was living truthfully... which is difficult with "LOST-esque" time travel circumstances the play presents. I was never fully invested in Fumero's performance, I think he let the script outshine him. Garcia was chongaliscious and SO stereotypical, and I LOVED it, slightly reminiscent of my cousins... the latinos with decent taste in music (yay Tori Amos!).
Slightly unconventional was Fabregat's performance which, instead of being live, was projected onto a giant screen, something that really set this show/company apart from every other. Ups to Matt Berkowitz for the video. Like I said, the real stars of the show were writers Marco Ramirez and Lucas Leyva who really struck gold.
Warning: The show is maybe 20% in spanish, and if you're a non-spanish speaker like me you won't understand some jokes. Warning 2: People from Broward might get offended, or just not understand some jokes. Warning 3: May cause sudden cravings for Jupina.
You've missed this first installment, but Part Two comes in August; visit the Foryoucansee website for details.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Aisle Say: the live blog attempt.

I live-blogged today's Aisle Say over on Facebook; an experiment to see if people would join in on a social network. Like my last live-blogging attempt, it was a spur-of-the-moment deal. I hadn't intended on doing it until it occurred to me that I could.

For those of you who don't know what "live blogging" is, it's simply making comments online during an event, in real-time. So I made these comments on Facebook Theatre Scene while the broadcast was going on. Ideally, it should be inter-active, so people off-site can post and ask questions, and influence the live-blog.

So here's the live blog stream from Facebook; no time stamps because as it turns out, Facebook drops the actual timestamp and replaces an accurate time with labels like "four hours ago."

Post #1
Let's liveblog the show!! Add your comments to this topic.

Post #2
Despite the Caldwell's financial strain, they had to move into the new space because the developer was moving ahead with demo of the old space.

Post #3
Caldwell Tony Winners:
Len Cariou
Julie Harris
Joe Masterall
Charles Nelson Reilly.

Post #4
Bill Reviews the M Ensemble show "I Just Stopped By to See The Man" and agreed with Christine Dolen.
(dolen's review: http://www.southfloridatheatrescene.com/2009/06/m-ensemble-i-just-stopped-by-to-visit.html)

Post #5
Bill knocks the director John Pryor for not having a firmer hand. Notes that while there are usually a few worthwhile performances in their shows, they are almost always overwhelmed with mediocre actors.

Post #6
Clive's not planning to direct shows he acts in - if he acts in anything.

Post #7
Hap re-caps his ArtsPaper review of FAU's Twelfth Night. But the Public Theatre production with Raul Esparza is probably the one to go see.

Post #8
Hap found a disparity between the Press Release's version of the staging concept and the actual staging concept. Why did they say it was "1920's Hollywood" if they weren't going to reference it in any way?

Hap liked Bruce Linser.

Post #9
Heads up! Bill and Hap will be doing a show about producing Shakespeare in South Florida. Guests to include Kevin Crawford and Ricky Martinez.

Post #10
Bill: if you can't do Shakespeare well, should they do it at all? Does a bad production of Shakespeare poison the well for other companies later on?

Post #11
Hap is talking about New Vista's debt. He recalls that the old Jupiter Theatre and the Royal Palm Dinner Theater got caught short the same way.

Bill points out that Avi needs an angel to save the theatre, because fundraisers at $20 a head won't do it.

Post #12
Trivia results from last week: I can't type that fast. Sorry.

Post #13
Bill's trivia:
Stephen Sondheim wrote scripts for a non musical TV series: what was it? No cheating by using Google searches!

Post #14
Hap remembers Lois Baumel, theatre critic.

Post #15
They run down the openings, as found on SouthFloridaTheatre.com. You'll find the list on this week's The Scene.

End of broadcast.

I probably will not live-blog next week, because I will be at work. But I'll post a reminder of the broadcast, and feel free to leave comments to it while listening to Aisle Say.

And let me know if this is something you're interested in. It's a lot of work, and I'll sit back with an Iced Tea if this isn't something people want to see.

Gary Has A New Firm.

Ever since the The Life fiasco, I've been keeping tabs on Gary Waldman. This morning, Google Alerts sent me a link to a page on LinkedIn. It seems Gary has a new business.

Here's a crop of a screen capture:
Curiously, he still has a LinkedIn page for "Wilton Theater, Inc." Me, I have one LinkedIn page, and it includes all the companies I've worked for. Gary has two, and neither mentions the other, or his past employment. Interesting.

Of course, the next step is obvious: I Googled "Irvin & Arthur" to find his company's website. That led me to the LinkedIn page, and a YouTube video of some people clowning around on a subway. So I Googled "Irvin Arthur theatre" and that led me to a listing for Irvin Arthur Associates, a theatrical agent in New York.

Now we're getting somewhere! Hmm. There's no website link in the listing.

GOOGLE: irvin arthur associates

And that leads Park Avenue Talent, where Mr. Arthur is Senior Vice President.

From his company bio:
Prior to his induction, Irvin and his wife, Sandy, owned and operated Irvin Arthur Associates in Beverly Hills, CA. Their clients included Steve Allen, Peggy Lee, Jim Carrey, Bill Maher, Ellen DeGeneres, Mort Sahl and many of the bright young comedians on the horizon. Since joining Park Avenue Talent, Ltd., Irvin has brought clients aboard such as Loston Harris, Jane Condon, Barbara Carroll, Euan Morton, Dave Frishberg, Mort Sahl and Dick Gregory.
Very impressive! But as far as I can see, this has nothing to do with Gary Waldman.

I guess it's just a wild coincidence that his new company has a name similar to a defunct agency that represented a lot of high-end talent. I'd call and ask how he came up with new name, but Gary seems to be under the impression that I'm persecuting him.

So anyway, heads-up! Gary has a new company.

Mondays are Dark; June 29, 2009

Last week, I was hard pressed to find material. Of course, I was also working all weekend. But lots of good stuff turned up this week:

"David Kingery, Miami’s in-demand director, is directing"
Broadway World reports that two one-act plays are coming to Fort Lauderdale's ArtServe: Mr. Charles, currently of Palm Beach, by Paul Rudnick, and Mexico City, by David Leddick. "Both plays will star Mr. Leddick," we're told. The first play is currently being performed at GableStage as part of Paul Rudnick's The New Century.

No, I haven't heard of Miami's 'In-Demand director,' David Kingery. This is also the first time I've seen the production manager included in the promotional material. I'm a production manager, and I know that while I'm acknowledged in a lot of programs, I've never been included in a press release. I guess I have a new request next time I re-negotiate my contract.

A Family Affair
On the other hand, I have heard of John Rodaz and Maria Banda-Rodaz, who are featured in this Miami Herald interview.
He was tidying the lobby of the former Lincoln Road shoe store he had turned into a 49-seat theater called Area Stage. She was on a business trip from her native Ecuador and thought the little theater -- and the guy sweeping it -- looked interesting. She went in to chat. They fell in love, married and became partners in life and theater
I auditioned for John many years ago, and I spoke with him about designing a show a few years back. Neither case worked out for me, but Rodaz and his wife and partner have returned to the South Florida theatre scene in a big way. The original Area Stage in the Lincoln Road Mall was legendary for the quality of work it produced. It's been re-born in Coral Gables at the old Riviera Theater. The new Area Stage produces plays in Spanish with English subtitles.

Two Months to Save the Whole Shebang
Palm Beach ArtsPaper reports that Avi Hoffman, founder and artistic director of the New Vista Theatre, hasn't given up hope of reviving his theatre, but has set a deadline. Adrienne Arsht gave Miami's struggling Performing Arts Center $30 million dollars: New Vista only needs $500,000. Maybe she could check her seat cushions.

Caldwell's Cholerton Quashes Rumors

Despite the rumors, the Caldwell won't be closing anytime soon, according to the Palm Beach Post. They've cut salaries, staff, and rented space. In a move that's a boon to local actors, the company will no longer keep apartments for actors, intending to do 95% of its casting locally.
Despite the numerous challenges, Cholerton is bullish on the Caldwell’s immediate future.

“We can get this turned around,” he said. “We’re working on having a great summer and having a great next year.”

Finger Lickin' Good
As reported here last week, Promethean Theatre is doing Cannibal! The Musical! Now Broadway World and the Drama Queen have stories up. I don't know why the Broadway World story is accompanied by a photo of a beach. Too many episodes of Gilligan's Island, I guess.

It's Ella-mentary
Speaking of summer musicals: a little while back, Florida Stage commissioned a new book for a musical that originated at TheatreWorks in Connecticut. The result was Ella, a biographical musical about Ella Fitzgerald that has now been produced around the country. From the story in Variety:
"Ella" also offered an unusual business model between the show's creators and the theaters where it played.

Managing directors at regional houses wanting to book the show negotiate separately with the attached talent and creative team. If successful, the theater pays a royalty and gets rights to the show.

"They need to secure the artistic personnel first," says Ruggiero of the six Equity cast members. "You can't buy the production without it. I wanted to maintain the integrity of the show."

The theater acquires a fully realized production without the costs of weeks of rehearsals, housing the company during that time and building the show from scratch...
Productions of the play have grossed $3 million dollars for its producing theatres, so far. Florida Stage and TheatreWorks each get a royalty, since both theatres developed it. So everybody's takin' home the bacon.

South Florida Represented!
The Public Theatre's production of Twelfth Night is getting raves, and Raul Esparza is right there.
"Mr. Esparza’s exasperated glower and wry line readings give the character an appealing, underdog humanity."
- the New York Times
Oh, and some girl named Ann Hathaway is in it, too.
''She is a goddess!'' declares Esparza, talking excitedly about Hathaway in his dressing room. ``First of all, Annie has managed to feel like a consummate stage professional in a span of just a few weeks, and she hasn't that much experience on stage. She's certainly never done Shakespeare before. She's also good people. She works really hard.''

This Column Just Got Harder to Write
"How do you do it?" I'm asked. Well, among other things, I read American Theatre Web. At least until tomorrow: Time Out New York reports that the site adminstrator is pulling the plug to pursue work at Theatre Mania.
Through ATW, Andy has been collating and creating content since 1998, a time when other theater blogs were but a twinkle in the Internet’s roguish eye. But Andy has had enough of self-publishing (which included a vicious site hack that he survived last year), and he has decided to hie himself off to Theatermania, where his meticulous reporting will continue with technical support! A paycheck! And maybe a corner office!
Ironically, I found the Time Out article by reading American Theatre Web. I'm doomed. Doomed, I tell you! But best wishes to Andy Propst; his work on ATW certainly shaped a lot of what I do at The Scene.

Lessons from London

No, not our esteemed colleague Amy London the director, but the city. The Producer's Perspective lists 12 things he learned during a recent visit to London. Not all of them are useful, but I saw some points to ponder:
Take anything to your seat: ice cream, fancy pink drinks (Priscilla, again), even Coke brought in from outside (that was me). Their theaters are older but they're happy to clean up after you if it makes you happy.
Look at this pic. It looks like a standard cast board that you'd see in any theater, right? Wrong. It's actually a video cast board. In several theaters, the cast board and the understudy boards are on video monitors. More aesthetically pleasing, easier to edit, and cheaper in the long run. Why don't all of our theaters have these? I hate when we get beat.

Psst! Joe! She's on to ya!
Alexis over at The Playground saw The New Century, and may have stumbled across the secret workings of a director's mind....
The shows he produces can be a bit dark, or twisted, or off-beat (you saw Adding Machine, right?), and because of that anywhere from 2-6 people end up walking out (or at least in my experience). This could also explain why there is never an intermission in his shows...
Well, to be fair, you don't want to stick an intermission in until about an hour into the show. On the other hand, you hate to take 15 minutes for an intermission and then only have twenty minutes until the end of the show. I'm not saying you're wrong, mind you; I'm just sayin'.

Making It Up as They Go Along
The 2009 Miami Improv Festival is coming to the Just The Funny Theater. No, seriously, that's what the place is called. Read about it in Broadway World.

Friday, June 26, 2009

City Theatre: Signature Shorts (5-1/2 Reviews)

City Theatre opened its latest version of its Summer Shorts Festival with Signature Shorts on May 28, 2009.

This year's festival includes plays by Nobel laureate Harold Pinter, Christopher Durang, Cyndi Lauper, Michael John LaChiusa, Lisa Loeb, Michael McKeever, Marco Ramirez, Andrew Rosendorf and Christopher Demos-Brown.

This year's cast includes Elena Maria Garcia, Stephen G. Anthony, Laura Turnbull, Erin Joy Schmidt, David Hemphill, John Manzelli, and Stephen Trovillion (whom I've never seen cast outside Summer Shorts).

Directors include Stuart Melzter, Gail Garrisan, Avi Hoffman, Stephanie Norman, Margaret Ledford, and Gordon McConnell.

I don't know who Jon Thomason is, or what the Forum Publishing Group is, but the Sun-Sentinel buried an article he wrote in the Community section. Is it a review? An interview? I can't decide. I guess it's a half and half:
The most rousing numbers are, without question, the screwball comedies, best represented by Christopher Durang's absurdist farce "Kitty the Waitress." In it, a tourist (Stephen Trovillion) sits down to eat at a Caribbean bistro, only to be assailed by his overzealous server, a talking French feline (Elena Maria Garcia). All legs and undulations, Garcia's performance is a comic revelation that, in the opening-night production I saw, had Trovillion barely containing his laughter.
"In most of the plays, I would never even dream of [laughing]. I'm a professional," said Trovillion, a Summer Shorts veteran celebrating his 13th year with the production. "But there are occasional plays that are so over-the-top and crazy-funny. It always reminds me of 'The Carol Burnett Show.' She's Tim Conway, and I'm Harvey Korman.
Garcia, an area acting teacher enjoying her sixth year with Summer Shorts, is memorable in all of her parts, including a commitment-fearing, sexualized flautist in "Falutin," a starry-eyed hippie in "Cravin Tutweiler (The Real Life Story Of)" and a housewife dispassionately unloading her sexual perversions over dinner in Jeffrey James Ircink's hilariously droll "Pass the Salt, Please."
"Short plays are much harder than full-lengths," (playwright Michael McKeever) said. "You still have to have all the elements – a creative arc, a beginning, middle and end – but you have to squeeze them into 10 minutes. The challenge is to make the characters be as real and as full as they can be, and do it within that time frame."
"It's almost like an espresso coffee for each of [the plays]," Garcia said. "You're limited on time, so you have to have a really good grip. You do not have that time of discovery. You go in and throw it at the bull's-eye. Summer Shorts is not for every actor."
Mary Damiano reviewed for Miami Artzine:
City Theatre’s Summer Shorts festival is more streamlined this year. Gone are the Program A and B of past years; now there’s an abbreviated Signature Shorts, the festival’s mainstream program
But even with only eight plays in Signature Shorts, there are some head scratchers. Jettison by Brendon Andolsek Bradley, about three men adrift in a lifeboat is predictable and goes nowhere. There’s nothing predictable about Christopher Durang’s Kitty the Waitress, about a divorced man who has a unique encounter with a particularly provocative waitress, which reaches fever pitch before sputtering to an end. Both plays do provide some juicy moments for the actors, especially John Manzelli in Jettison and Elena Maria Garcia as the titular waitress. Garcia gets all feline on us, showing off her mastery of physical comedy. The New World Order by Harold Pinter never fulfills its deliciously unnerving beginning.
The most powerful and unforgettable play in Signature Shorts is Orlah by Andrew Rosendorf, the resident playwright at Florida Stage in Manalapan. This is the world premiere of Orlah, a stunning visual piece about a Jewish couple (Schmidt and Manzelli) during the Spanish Inquisition, who risk their lives for their faith. Without using dialogue, Rosendorf illuminates the power of religious devotion and the horror of persecution. Avi Hoffman’s strong direction and Jeff Quinn’s evocative lighting enhances Rosendorf’s ideas. Orlah is the kind of play that makes one thankful for City Theatre and their annual celebration of short plays; otherwise, we might never get to experience the beauty and power of Orlah.
.Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Miami New Times:
Go see Summer Shorts. Just do. It's a lot cheaper than the imported Broadway dealio (Chicago) running in the larger theater down the hall...
And if you have your druthers, you might as well take your Shorts on a Saturday — the only evening when you can see both Signature Shorts and Undershorts back-to-back. They are both see-worthy for the same reasons: novelty, naughtiness, inventiveness, and a madcap, almost desperate kind of verve that comes only from talented people working at the extremity of their abilities.
The best pieces are Michael McKeever's "Cravin Tutweiler: (The Real Life Story Of)", (and) Christopher Durang's "Kitty the Waitress"... These bawdy, viciously witty, and unerringly self-aware little plays demonstrate a control of tone and speed that writers and interpreters of even very long plays should study and emulate.
The acting throughout all of this is sublime. Stephen Trovillion, Erin Joy Schmidt, Laura Turnbull, John Manzelli, Stephen G. Anthony, David Hemphill, and especially Elena Maria Garcia wear so many masks so comfortably that, by the middle of Undershorts, the effort begins to look a little superhuman. The thought and heart they've invested in each of their small characters is shocking, and their dedication is absolutely moving. Look at how much emotion Turnbull injects into a monologue in "Snow" (Signature Shorts), in which she plays a shut-in (and in which she wasn't even supposed to appear; the MIA actress was slated to do the part). Look at the way Garcia uses her body in role after role, sensuously dancing with her lines and using her pneumatic hips to create laughs where none are written and to magnify the ones that are. These are acrobatic, athletic, and aesthetic feats — meaningless and delightful and delirious. You won't find them anywhere else.
Hap Erstein reviewed for the Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
If they had to write the perennial “How I Spent My Summer Vacation,” some of South Florida’s best, most versatile actors could wax enthusiastically about immersing themselves in City Theatre’s Summer Shorts, an annual festival of 10-15 minute playlets, now in its 14th year.

For many of those 14 summers, former Floridian Stephen Trovillion has returned to the area to dominate the mini-play ensemble. He does so again this year, appearing in 10 of the double-bill’s 17 works, but he gets some stiff competition for performance honors from the wildly comic Elena Maria Garcia.
Over the years, there have been a few dramatic plays that have made an impact, but the Shorts format seems to favor sketch comedy. That seemed to hold this time, with a few exceptions, such as brief, underwritten slice of history, Andrew Rosendorf’s Orlah, about the persecution of Jews in 15th-century Spain, and a feeble tale of survival, Jettison by Brendan Andolsek Bradley, which takes place mid-ocean on a lifeboat populated by three starving guys and a bunny rabbit. The Pinter play seemed to substitute verbal abuse for physical torture, and while the dialogue crackled, the script had no real payoff.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for the Sun-Sentinel:
It may seem strange to single out one performer from the superb ensemble that City Theatre has gathered for its 14th season of Summer Shorts, but Elena Maria Garcia's limber physicality and comic instincts convince you that Carol Burnett is playing the stages of South Florida.

The rest of the cast brings its "A" game, the directors are universally imaginative and the scripts of eight quirky short plays are, as usual, a diverse and scruffy anthology whose quality ranges from hilarious to baffling.

But watch Garcia with a thick French accent impersonating a pussycat working in a restaurant (don't ask, just go with it) as she contorts her body trying to get the wine out of a corked bottle in Christopher Durang's Kitty the Waitress. Even her acting partner, Stephen Trovillion as a nonplused customer, couldn't keep a straight face opening night.
I was there, and it was just like watching Tim Conway breaking Harvey Korman: a beautiful thing.
The strongest script is Cravin Tutwieler (The Real Life Story of), a delightfully absurd comedy by Davie resident Michael McKeever, who debuted the piece last year at the 24 Hour Theatre Project, both directed by Amy London. A Republican businesswoman (Laura Turnbull), a bubble head heiress (Erin Joy Schmidt) and a passionate artist (Garcia) recall their love affairs with a mysterious man of the world (Trovillion). The interweaving stories punctuated with witty repartee and whip crack timing remind you of trapeze work at Cirque du Soleil.
Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
...City Theatre's annual Summer Shorts Festival, thematic and stylistic variety is what gets both the artists and the audiences jazzed. Strong or weak, puzzling or inspired, a Summer Shorts bill is never boring.
It's a company full of inventive artistry, experience and versatility, and both the actors and directors make it easy to believe the short comedies and little dramas wouldn't be nearly as engaging without their illuminating (and sometimes flaw-obscuring) skills.
She gives a review of each one-act play that made up the evening: I can't possibly include them all; click through and read the entire review.

Signature Shorts is presented by City Theatre at the Arsht Center through June 21. It then moves to the Broward Center June 25th - 28th.

M Ensemble: I Just Stopped By to Visit the Man (reviews)

I Just Stopped By to See the Man, by Stephen Jeffreys opened at The M Ensemble sometime in the last few days: it's hard to know when, because it's not on their website, and I can't find a listing for it. but you can call them at 305-899-2217. Be sure to remind them to update their website!

Christine Dolen somehow found out about it, and reviewed it for the Miami Herald:
Whenever Paul Bodie as a presumed-dead music legend and Christina Alexander as his on-the-run daughter are onstage, the play sings with the depth of feeling Bodie's character brings to the blues. That's the stirring part, and happily, it dominates the production of a play that was done by Chicago's edgy Steppenwolf Theatre in 2002.

What's frustrating is that the third cast member, Herman Carabali II, isn't credible as a Mick Jagger-style British rock star, which undermines a key plot point. He's also in numerous scenes in the three-character play, and he just doesn't rise to his cast mates' level.
Director John Pryor, Bodie, Alexander and the playwright himself easily hook the audience with the first scene.
Bodie gives a beautifully detailed performance as a man who finds that forsaking his passion hasn't killed it in the least.
Alexander has no trouble making the observant Della into a commanding presence.
Besides being miscast, Carabali has to fight to keep the least interesting role -- vapid rich rocker looking for his next career move -- in balance with two better-written characters. Doesn't happen.
The play's sound design and its execution are rough, but Douglas Grinn's shotgun shack set and Ann Payne-Nimmons' costumes (which make Alexander look like Pam Grier in Foxy Brown) are the real deal. And so, stirringly, are Bodie and Alexander.

I Just Stopped By to See the Man at The M Ensemble plays through July 19.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Scene for June 26, 2009 (UPDATED)

UDPATE: Well, once again there are a couple of theatres who aren't listing themselves on SouthFloridaTheater.com - or anywhere else I could find.  See the listings under OPENINGS, just added in the light of these late additions.

Well, it's summer, it's hot, and no one's surprised. The only time it's not hot, it's all torrential downpour, thunder and lightning - unless you're in South Beach, where you get to add "flooding" to the list. We're hot, we're soaked, we're sitting in the dark watching our car sink beneath the waves....we need to see a show, immediately!


The M Ensemble opened I Just Stopped By to See the Man, by Stephen Jeffreys.  It's not on their website, but you can call them at 305-899-2217.  Be sure to remind them to update their website!  It plays through July 19.

The Sol Theatre Project, which I was under the impression had closed, opened Men on the Verge of a His-panic Breakdown.  They did update their website.

Fouryoucansee Theatre kicks off its new episodic theatre project at New Theatre with its production of Toners In Time, by Marco Ramirez.  Another episode shows up in August, and they're still trying to find a home for the third.  It plays through Sunday.

still playing:

My Name is Rachel Corrie plays at The Alliance Theatre Lab through July 5th.

The New Century has arrived at Gablestage, through July 19, 2009.

I Left My Heart...A Tribute to Tony Bennett, at Broward Stage Door, June 12 - Aug 2.

Bent plays at Rising Action Theatre Company through July 19.

Twelfth Night at Florida Atlantic University. I don't often plug FAU - or any college - shows, but one must recall that only about twenty-something years ago you could have watched future Broadway star Mark Kudisch and the critically acclaimed Elena Maria Garcia of Summer Shorts on the FAU stage. Besides, it's summer, they're doing Shakespeare... and it's inside where it's air-conditioned....through July 12.

passing through:

CELIA: The Life & Music of Celia Cruz, at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, through June 21.

A Midsummer Night's Dream plays one night only, presented by Shakespeare Miami at Fairchild Tropical Gardens.

Unhinged Theatre presents Gaslight at Artsouth Friday June 26th through Sunday 28th.

West Side Story story is presented by the students of the Conservatory of Performing Arts at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre this weekend.

last chance to see:

Signature Shorts, presented by City Theatre at the Broward Center through June 28. These are the kinds of plays that put Summer Shorts on the map.

Under Shorts, presented by City Theatre at the Broward Center through June 28. Shorts for those with a more...mature...inclination.

Avi Hoffman's Still Jewish After All These Years, at the Tamarac Theatre of Performing Arts, Saturdays and Sundays through June 28.

On An Average Day presented by Ground Up and Rising at the Byron Carlisle Theater in Miami Beach. This one closes Saturday!

for kids:

Shorts4Kids, presented by City Theatre at the Arsht Center through June 21. (Moves up to Broward Center next week)

Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre presents Stuart Little through August 1, 2009.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Promethean Fires up the Stewpot

The Promethean Theatre, following up their success at the Carbonell Awards and their acclaimed production of The Dumb Show have announced their foray into the world of the summer musical:

For those unfamiliar with the show, it's an adaptation of a cult film by Trey Parker, the creator of South Park, and the movie TEAM: AMERICA.
Cannibal! The Musical tells the tale of Alferd "Alfred" Packer, the only American ever to be convicted of cannibalism. As Packer faces a judge and jury, he recounts his journey across Colorado Territory in 1873 leading a hapless group in search of gold.

Cannibal! Is a perilous tour de force filled with cowboys, horse-love, snowmen, evil trappers, the Cyclops and other unthinkable horrors, including toe-tapping tunes! Don't miss this cannibalistic cowboy musical. The most terrifying, gut-wrenching and hilarious musical since The Sound of Music.

It's a Man eat Man world out there!
The cast of Cannibal! includes William Adams, Katherine Amadeo (Carbonell Nominated Best Actress), Jeffrey Bower, Anne Chamberlain, James Carrey, Matthew William Chizever (Carbonell Nominated Best Actor in a Musical), Ken Clement (Carbonell Award Winner), Phillip de la Cal, Mark Della Ventura, Mark Duncan, Andy Fiacco, Ed Fitzpatrick, Lindsey Forgey, Dan Gelbmann, Noah Levine, David Meulmans, Sean Muldoon, Andy Quiroga and Patrick Jesse Watkins.

Promethean's Artistic Director has also assembled her creative team:
Directed by Margaret M. Ledford (Carbonell Nominated Best Director)
Artistic Associate/Dramaturg -Jane G. Duncan
Stage Manager -Katherine Siegel
Choreographer- Chrissy Ardito (Carbonell Award Winner)
Musical Director- Mark Fiore
Vocal Director- William Adams
Set Design- Dan Gelbmann
Sound Design -Matt Corey
Lighting Design- Robert Coward
Costume Consultant- Ellis Tillman
Technical Director- Ed Fitzpatrick

Cannibal! The Musical opens August 21, 2009 at Nova Southeast University's Black Box Theater.

Rising Action Theatre: Bent (4 reviews)

Rising Action Theatre opened BENT on June 5, 2009.
In 1934 Berlin on the eve of the Nazi incursion, Max, and his lover Rudy are recovering from a night of debauchery with a SA trooper. Two soldiers burst into the apartment and slit their guest's throat, beginning a nightmare odyssey through Nazi Germany.
Larry Buzzeo directed a cast that included himself, Richard Weinstock, Larry Brooks, Ted Dvoracek, John McGlothlin, Michael Perry, Jerry Jensen, Terry Cozzorth and Jason Rempalo.

Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
Good theater is where you find it, and through July 19 at Rising Action Theatre, you'll find it in actor John McGlothlin's stubbly, twitching face, which spends the heartbreaking second act of Bent staring at the ground.
In the three years that Rising Action has operated in South Florida, few performances like McGlothlin's have graced its stage. And though it will take another season to say for sure, McGlothlin's appearance — surrounded as it is by a solid show with only a handful of minor flaws — could be a sign that this small, struggling company has found its footing.
Perry's fussy interpretation of Rudy lacks both gravitas and believability in the first scene, but he improves steadily as he and Max flail around Germany, seeking safe passage to Holland. Greta (Larry Brooks), the drag-queen owner of the club where Rudy works, will be no help. (Though she is of help to us: Brooks imbues the part with a savage, decadent seediness that grounds us in the sin-choked old Berlin that Hitler meant to purify.)
They are arrested, and we then confront the first of the play's two famous scenes. On the train to Dachau, Rudy is forced to step on his own eyeglasses. Then he is beaten. Just to prove he's not gay, Max is forced to beat him as well, and Rudy dies. Buzzeo is admirably understated here — almost miraculously so, given that Buzzeo is serving double duty as the play's director — and though I wish he'd give Rudy a harder whack with the truncheon, he bears the scene's staggering emotional load extremely well. I have never seen a man forced by Nazis to murder the love of his life, but I imagine he'd look something like Buzzeo in these moments.
It doesn't even matter that Rising Action Theatre's production was produced on the cheap or that some of its performances bear the mark of its lowly, community-theater origins. Thanks to Martin Sherman's words, Buzzeo's restraint, and McGlothlin's remarkable face, Rising Action has finally produced a play you can't afford not to see.
Mary Damiano reviewed for Miami Artzine:
When John McGlothlin first appears in Bent as Horst, it’s close to the end of the first act. As a gay concentration camp prisoner who’s being shipped back to Dachau after being used in a propaganda film, he conveys quiet dignity from the first moment. Sure, it helps that the scene is steeped in power and emotion, but practically everything paraded across the stage until McGlothlin’s appearance is dreck. And everything after that is moving, poignant, powerful. Coincidence? I think not.
The scenic design by Leah Brown, featuring fabric panels printed with photos of people who perished in the camps, is compelling and haunting, but it would have been more effective—and made more sense—had it been left for the second act in Dachau rather than the first act in Max and Rudy’s apartment and other locales.
In addition to playing Max, Buzzeo also directs the production. Perhaps his performance would have fared better had his attention not been divided. Larry Brooks makes a great drag queen as Greta, owner of the club Max frequents in Berlin. The less said about the other actors the better.
Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
The quality of the work at Fort Lauderdale's Rising Action Theatre has been a sometime thing -- sometimes good and engaging, sometimes woefully inadequate -- so hearing that the company would be staging Martin Sherman's challenging Bent is bound to stir a mixture of hope and fear.

The largely encouraging news is that the power of Sherman's play about Nazi persecution and extermination of homosexuals shines through in this uneven but ultimately moving production. Director and star Larry Buzzeo is working with a cast of mixed abilities (something that too often happens at Rising Action), and that does diminish what he's able to accomplish.

But when the blissful decadence of 1934 Berlin gives way to the peril of being on the run and the horror of incarceration at Dachau, Bent quickly becomes riveting.
... the actors navigate their way through Sherman's devastating story. Some, notably Perry (who neither looks nor moves like a dancer) and Dvoracek, deliver performances you might find at a not-so-hot community theater. Buzzeo and Brooks are better, though nuance isn't their thing and Buzzeo doesn't seem to change much over months in a concentration camp. McGlothlin, however, is heartbreakingly believable as a man whose courage and humanity are transcendent.
The Sun-Sentinel sent out Rod Stafford Hagwood, instead of a theatre critic:
Bent starts like many productions at Rising Action Theatre: endearingly awkward and thriftily staged.

But soon, it becomes something else altogether: gripping, powerful and haunting.
Martin Sherman's 30-year-old play about the Third Reich's sadistic persecution of homosexuals loses none of its gut-punching impact under Larry Buzzeo's direction.

Buzzeo also plays lead character Max, with just enough clumsy charisma to make his wheeler-dealer opportunist work. As director, he is savvy enough to keep it simple; Nazis don't need a lot of help creating dramatic conflict.
John McGlothlin as Horst is a poignant wonder to watch, a revelation of nuance. His defeated slopped shoulders and slow cautious shuffle-of-a-walk are camouflage for those darting eyes, which seem in a constant state of pre-wince.
The second act, set entirely in Dachau, is where Bent slows down and focuses on the relationship -- albeit an entirely verbal one -- between Max and Horst. And although at times the scenes ring just slightly "acterly" (they never seem truly exhausted from hauling rocks from one pile to the other; the love scene almost deters into a poetry reading) McGlothlin and Buzzeo effortlessly hold the stage.
Bent plays at Rising Action Theatre through July 19, 2009.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mondays are Dark; June 22, 2009

Better late than never: here's you're dark day reading list:

Burying the Hatchet with Scalpers
Ticket scalping has been a problem plaguing the performing arts for generations; or has it? Over on The Producer's Perspective, we learn that the musical Jersey Boys has embraced "secondary market ticket providers," following overtures by the state of New York:
It kind of feels like that time when your Uncle Ernie . . . you know, the one no one talked about because no one was really sure what he did for a living . . . was finally invited over for Christmas dinner.

And it was good.

Because Uncle Ernie brought lots and lots of full-price-plus customers as presents.
It's not a bad point: if you're successful enough that people are scalping your tickets, count yourself lucky. Most of us are offering discounts to lure in patrons.

Quiet before the storm?
Conundrum Stages says it's having a 'quiet summer.' Or is it?

Speaking of Play Readings...
The Four Arts Society in Palm Beach is hosting a play-reading group starting Thursday, reports the Shiny Sheet:
The group will read four plays that were featured on Broadway last season: Equus by Peter Shaffer; Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward, Speed the Plow by David Mamet and Joe Turner's Come and Gone by August Wilson.
It's not staged reading: attendees will be invited to participate in the reading.

Aisle Say
I was finally able to tune in (work as interfered previously), although it was halfway through the show. I have to remember to program it into my Palm Pilot.

Anywho, Hap listed some former South Florida actors who are performing around the country and beyond. But he missed The Roses on the Rocks at the Manhattan Theatre Source, featuring Rachel Jones, through Saturday. She's pictured here with Scott Sowers.

They also talked about the fact that local theatres are light on drama in the summer, tending to turn to either Shakespeare, or musical comedies. That led them to Some Kind of Wonderful, the upcoming musical premiering at Florida Stage: Bill thought it was songs by original artists wrapped into the show, and Hap thought it was songs inspired by the original artists. According to the Florida Stage website:
"An incredible cast gives beautiful voice to the songs that you fell in love to..."
So Bill is right: the songs are the ones recorded by Sinatra, Streisand, Tony Bennett, The Beatles, The Temptations, The Supremes, Connie Francis, Wilson Pickett, The Four Seasons "and more."

I was actually speaking to cast member Irene Adjan last night; she was very excited about the show; particularly since actors don't often get to perform these songs in front of an audience outside of karaoke night.

Speaking of Summer Musicals...
Promethean Theatre is in the process of casting CANNIBAL! The Musical. It's an early work by Trey Parker of South Park fame. Oh, what's it about? It's a true story. It was originally produced as a feature film, originally titled Alferd Packer: The Musical.
"In the tradition of Friday the 13th Part II and Oklahoma!, comes the first intelligent film about cannibalism."
After watching the South Park movie, I commented that Parker should write a musical, I just didn't know that he already had.

Here's a taste, from the film version:

Exeunt the 'Wisecracking Lion'

Hap Erstein's eulogie for Shelly Gross is a fitting tribute for a major theatre producer.
A compulsive entertainer, he began as a radio and television personality in his native Philadelphia, before becoming a prolific producer of Broadway shows and national tours. Never one to shy away from a challenge, he frequently produced major musicals headlined by some of the theater’s biggest, and most hard to handle, stars, such folks as Yul Brynner, Robert Goulet, Shirley MacLaine and Carol Channing.
Shelly Gross, with partner Lee Guber, founded the Valley Forge Music Fair, in Devon, Pennsylvania.  It grew into a chain of "Music Fair" venues: the Westbury in Long Island, the Shady Grove outside of Washington DC, and the Painter's Mill outside of Baltimore.  They produced shows featuring well-known stars, and served as a launching pad for actors, and directors such as Michael Bennett.

I actually built sets for the Valley Forge Music Fair, although I never had the pleasure to meet Mr. Gross.  The theater's closing in 1997 was felt across the industry.  It was like learning that Mount Rushmore had collapsed.

Click through to read the entire eulogy.

Alliance Theatre Lab: My Name is Rachel Corrie (1 review)

STILL TO COME THIS SEASON The Alliance Theatre Lab opened the controversial My Name Is Rachel Corrie on June 18th, 2009. The play, based on the diaries of a pro-Palestinian activist and edited by Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner, instigates a slew of hate mail and threats wherever it plays, and this time was no different. In many cases, including an Off-Broadway production, and one by South Florida's Mosaic Theatre, the producers pulled play in the face of the protests.

But artistic director Adalberto Acevedo and actor Kim Ehly stood firm.

Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
My Name Is Rachel Corrie is a play that has caused the blood to boil of too many people who have neither seen it nor read it. If you actually see the new production by the Alliance Theatre Lab in Miami Lakes, you'll soon realize that although Corrie's pro-Palestinian point of view is clearly and unapologetically presented, the protests and censorship efforts aimed at the play have made it far more famous than its artistic quality would merit.
Neither Ehly, who seems unable to dig beneath the surface of Corrie's passions, nor director Adalberto J. Acevedo is able to camouflage the script's limitations to make My Name Is Rachel Corrie anything close to emotionally shattering theater.
That My Name Is Rachel Corrie can be seen and then debated, embraced or reviled is a good thing. But you wish the play and production were more deserving of all the attention.
The Alliance Theatre Lab presents My Name is Rachel Corrie at the Main Street Playhouse in Miami Lakes through July 5th, 2009.

Ground Up and Rising Theatre: On An Average Day (1 review)

Ground Up and Rising first presented On An Average Day at Gablestage in Coral Gables back in May. Its brief run was extended before moving down to ArtSouth in Homestead.

The John Kolvenbach play has now found its way to Miami Beach, opening at the Byron Carlyle Theatre on June 19. Its limited run includes two more performancs, June 26th and 27th.

Arturo Fernandez directs a cast that features himself and Anfaldo Carmouze.

Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
The newest show from South Florida's Ground Up & Rising theater company, On an Average Day continues the troupe's edgy artistic journey as well as its peripatetic wanderings from one regional venue to another.
Sit close, so you don't miss the nuanced intricacies in the performances by Arturo Fernandez and Arnaldo Carmouze as the damaged sons of an emotionally deadened father.
Ground Up & Rising demonstrates yet again both its power and potential. Now all it needs to do is forge an ongoing connection with an audience hungry for provocative, emotionally involving theater.
Ground Up and Rising presents On An Average Day at the Byron Carlyle Theatre through June 27.

Admin: Whoops!

Due to a very busy weekend at work, I haven't had time to actually do any research for Mondays are Dark.  So I'll be doing a lot of reading Monday Morning, and I'll get something up in the afternoon.

Thanks for your patience, and feel free to suggest items to help me pull it together.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Controversial Rachel Corrie

The title of Christine Dolen's article in the Miami Herald says it best:
Controversial play 'Rachel Corrie' opens in South Florida at last

Mosaic Theater had this play on its schedule a few years back, but was pulled after their funding - and their lease - was threatened. It would be pretty to think that in America, everyone embraces our ideals of free speech, but it's not so. There are very small-minded hateful people who are terrified that we might be exposed to ideas that contradict their own. They live in terror that we might learn that -gasp!- there might be other points of view, and that those other points of view might even have merit.

Or, they might not. But we can't decide that if we can't hear them. Our country isn't served by those who try to silence others. No one says you have to agree with others, but freedom dictates you have to let them have their say.

Dolen reports on some of the shameful behavior levied at Alliance Theatre Lab artistic director Adalberto Acevedo and actor Kim Ehly:
"Early on, I got an e-mail to my personal account saying, `You are anti-Semitic,' '' Acevedo says. ``Another nasty e-mail had a picture of my apartment complex attached to it.''

''I heard I wouldn't work again after this,'' Ehly says. 'Some people hide behind saying, `Oh, it's such a flawed script.' Why anyone would support censorship is beyond me.''

All I can say is that anyone who would exclude an actor because of a part they played in a show isn't someone who should be producing theatre. And the jerk who threatened Acevedo? They should be lumped in with all the other nutcases: the neo-nazis, the skinheads, the Ku Klux Klan, and all the rest of the hate groups.

The Alliance Theatre Lab responds to concerns that the play is pro-Palestinian, or anti-Israeli, or what have you ( and keep in mind, these charges are levied by people who have not seen a production of the play):
Let us be perfectly clear; at its heart, this play is not about the Israel/Palestine conflict. The play is also not an agitprop piece, designed to inflame or offend. It is, at its core, a play about a fiery, passionate, idealistic young woman whose pursuit of social justice runs up against the unforgiving nature of reality, a young woman whose sense of ethics allows no compromise or rationalization. It is also the words of one human being, words that do not pretend to offer a balance or "opposing viewpoint."

The play is also neither a screed nor a diatribe. Rachel is by turns defiant and whimsical, highly intelligent and yet at times unsure of herself. She is, to put it succinctly, a human being, with ideals we can admire and foibles we can mourn. Because the writings are taken from different points in her life, we can follow Rachel on her journey of social activism. We can rejoice in her victories, and we can wince at her mistakes. She is, like all of us, gloriously and beautifully flawed.

There have been many articles, pamphlets, leaflets, posters, and speeches written about Rachel and the play which speaks with her voice. But the one thing we cannot forget is that she was a human being, and this is something that is often lost in the arguments and jeremiads which usually accompany performances of this play.

Every human has a voice. Every voice deserves to be heard. One may find that voice disturbing or uplifting, uncomfortable or enriching. But that voice - and every voice - must be heard.

We are proud to give attention to the voice of Rachel Corrie.
Christine's article ends with a quote from Mosaic Theatre's artistic director, Richard Jay Simon:
''I'm glad it's being done and am looking forward to seeing their production,'' Simon says. "I wish them much success with it.''
Whatever your views are on the issues of Palestine or Israel, you should see this play. Gain an insight into someone who was so passionate about her views that she let a bulldozer run her down as she stood for her beliefs.

Babylon Background

Greg Tomé  has been working on Back to Babylon for years, taking this show around South Florida: at the late TheatreWest in Wellington, and at the Cuillo Center in West Palm.  He's even taken it to the NY Fringe Festival. It's not repitition: he's been re-working it; cutting, tweaking, and re-shaping it.

Tomé is taking his one-man show to Off-Broadway's Players' Theater in New York City. But he's warming it up in Lake Worth, first, at the Lake Worth Playhouse.

Hap Erstein interviews Tomé for Palm Beach Artspaper, and explores the history of Back To Babylon, Tomé's one-man show.  And not coincidentally, it's an exploration of the man himself.  Go read the article.

The Scene for June 19, 2009

Hard to believe it's still June given the temperature - and the number of shows playing around South Florida!


My Name is Rachel Corrie opens at The Alliance Theatre Lab.

The New Century opens at Gablestage.

On An Average Day isn't opening so much as re-surfacing. It's played at GableStage, ArtSouth, and now Ground Up and Rising brings it back to play two weekends at the Byron Carlisle Theater in Miami Beach.

still playing:

I Left My Heart...A Tribute to Tony Bennett, at Broward Stage Door, June 12 - Aug 2.

Bent plays at Rising Action Theatre Company through July 19.

Signature Shorts, presented by City Theatre at the Arsht Center through June 21. (Moves up to Broward Center next week)

Under Shorts, presented by City Theatre at the Arsht Center through June 21. Shorts for those with a more...mature...inclination. (Moves up to Broward Center next week)

Avi Hoffman's Still Jewish After All These Years, at the Tamarac Theatre of Performing Arts, Saturdays and Sundays through June 28.

passing through:

CELIA: The Life & Music of Celia Cruz, at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, through June 21.

Back To Babylon plays at the Lake Worth Playhouse, this weekend only. (this play was originally scheduled to play the Cuillo Center, which has closed for the summer).

last chance to see:

Yankee Tavern plays through June 21 at Florida Stage.

El Inconveniente plays at Little Havana's Teatro Ocho through June 21. (Spanish)

In A Dark, Dark House, plays at Mosaic Theatre through June 21, 2009

Tu Ternura Molotov plays at Area Stage through June 21, 2009. (Spanish with English subtitles)

for kids:

Shorts4Kids, presented by City Theatre at the Arsht Center through June 21. (Moves up to Broward Center next week)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Theatre Buzz: Speed The Plow UPDATED

You may remember that Promethean Theatre Company was going to do David Mamet's Speed the Plow earlier this year, and that they lost the rights to another theater. They eventually replaced it with a very well-recieved production of The Dumb Show.

Well, the Drama Queen reports that GableStage just replaced its upcoming August opening of Michael McKeever's Lewd and Lacivious; with Speed The Plow. Yes, for everyone who was speculating, it was none other than Joe Adler who pulled the rights out from under Promethean Theatre, just as he did to Actors' Playhouse with Mindgame a few years back. OK, that's unfair: he didn't pull them out from under Dave Arisco so much as browbeat him into surrending them. Joe's a great director, and he's really a generous guy, but this filching of plays has really got to stop.


An anonymous tipster maintains that Gablestage had the right to Speed the Plow before Promethean Theatre did. A few phone calls reveals this to be the case: it turns out that this is actually a direct repeat of the Mindgame case: both theatres had the rights, and no one 'pulled' them.

As it turns out, rights to a show are only geographically restricted for LORT contract theatres: neither GableStage or Promethean - or Actors' Playhouse - are members of LORT. That means , usually, as far as the licensing agents are concerned, all three of them can do the same play at the same time.

With Mindgames, the Playhouse secured the rights first, and GableStage later. But GableStage scheduled it sooner. David Arisco could have kept it on his schedule, but who was going to see his production 2 months after Joe Adler did it?

With Speed the Plow, GableStage secured the rights first, but Promethean scheduled it sooner. Unlike Arisco, Joe Adler called Samuel French and asked to have Promethean's rights to do the show pulled. Because of Gablestage's (And Joe Adler's) history and reputation, the agency agreed to pull the rights.

So Joe technically didn't filch anything, but he did pull the rug out from under Promethean a week before they were scheduled to hold auditions. Fortunately, they managed to find a replacement in time to cast it and take it to full production, and if we hadn't known the story in advance, we would never have guessed that it was a the third choice for that slot.

end of update***************

Joe's been working fast, as he's already lined up Paul Tei and Greg Weiner for the show. He has not, apparently, cast the role originated by Madonna. It's going to be quite a task to find someone as strong as Tei and Weiner. Christine Dolen is right: this is definitely going to be a show to catch.

In a slighly ironic twist, one of the pictures used in Christine's article is Weiner's promo shot for Promethean's The Dumb Show.

Speed the Plow opens at GableStage on August 15, 2009.

Stage Door Theatre: I Left My Heart (1 review).

Kyle Taylor Parker, David Purdy and Matthew Conti croon their way through I Left My Heart: A Salute to the Music of Tony Bennett at the Stage Door Theatre in Coral SpringsThe Stage Door Theatre opened I Left My Heart: A Salute to the Music Of Tony Bennett in Coral Springs last week.

Music Direct Phil Hinton leads a small quartet that backs up a cast that includes Matthew Conti, Kyle Taylor Parker, and David Purdy.

Mary Damiano reviewed for Miami Artzine:
Individually, Matthew Conti, Kyle Taylor Parker and David Purdy, do well with the material, for the most part, but they can’t seem to nail the harmonies. Conti is the best singer of the three, Parker handles the minimal choreography with pizzazz, while Purdy, though eager to please, is more workmanlike in his approach to a song. They should stick to solos, because their harmonies are a tough sell—“Embraceable You” is unrecognizable.

The best parts of I Left My Heart has to do with the quartet. First off, it’s great to hear live music at Stage Door, where they tend to use pre-recorded tracks. Second, musical director Phil Hinton, who also plays piano, and the rest of the quartet—Scott Hadsell on bass, Tom Hinton in drums and Tom Stancampiano on trumpet—infuse the show with energy and immediacy. Their playing is flawless, as is the sound design by Martin Mets.
Tony Bennett is an icon, deserving of a show that pays tribute to his talent and longevity. I Left My Heart is pleasant enough, it just doesn’t have all that much to do with Tony Bennett.

I Left My Heart: A Salute to the Music Of Tony Bennett plays through August 2, 2009 at the Broward Stage Door Theatre.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mondays are Dark, June 15, 2009

A Tale of Two Playwrights

Christine Dolen has been beating the drum for hometown playwright Tarrell Alvin McRaney for a little while; Friday she dedicated an article to the subject:
He is writing new plays for the RSC, Manhattan Theatre Club and the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Though it has only been two years since he earned his master's degree in playwriting from the Yale School of Drama, McCraney has had his work produced in New York, Washington D.C., Seattle, New Orleans, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, London, Barcelona and Dublin.

But not, so far, in Miami.

In contrast, Nilo Cruz, whose play Anna in the Tropics was commissioned by Coral Gables' New Theatre became the first play in history to win a Pulitzer without a New York production. Cruz has had a number of his plays produced locally, and his play A Bicycle Country is set to open in New York.

More from the Drama Queen

Dolen also covers several upcoming shows, including Alliance Theatre's production of My Name Is Rachel Corrie, and Ground Up and Rising's nomadic production of On an Average Day. And Dolen also talks about Monday's play reading at the Promethean Theatre.

Lessons Learned

Mission Paradox is a blog by an arts marketer, for those of us in the arts. Adam Thurman reviews his first year with his current employer, and shares his experiences with us. Most critical, and something we'd all do well to remember:

People need to enjoy their work.
People need to feel like they have a chance to accomplish their goals.
Without those things, you don't have much.
I'm resisting the urge to email this to Actors' Playhouse my old employers.

Speaking of Marketing...

Ken Davenport of The Producer's Perspective notes the difference between purchasing theatre tickets online versus just about anything else:
...food, clothes, electronics, etc. are all e-shopped items that can be delivered, but buying a theater ticket requires you to get off your couch, determine your method of transportation, block out time to see the show (there ain't no pause button), and physically get your American Idol watching a$$ down to the theater.
But this isn't a message of doom!
...these challenges are not insurmountable. As I've said before, I believe that as more of these two dimensional forms of entertainment become available to us, the three dimensional form or the "live" entertainment experience becomes that much more rare, and that much more valuable . . . provided the experience is still special.
I think he's onto something; you can go to see a movie, or wait for it to come out on DVD. But live performances, even if taped, don't really "keep" all that well. The experience is about being "in the moment" with a limited (evend if sometimes large) group of people. Live theatre always has some unique property to each performance, no matter how tight the production is.

And even MORE on Marketing

Are you making good use of Facebook? These producers in India sure are!

Road Show

According to the Carbonell Awards blog, if you've seen all 39 eligible shows that have opened since the new year, you've driven nearly 2,000 miles.

There ought to be an award for that.

Meanwhile, in Palm Beach...

...the Royal Poinciana Playhouse is still closed.

The town may be headed toward a legal showdown with Royal Poinciana Playhouse preservationists over a proposed referendum intended to protect the shuttered theater from demolition.

In a memo released to the public Tuesday, Town Attorney John Randolph wrote that the proposed ballot language is vague and arguably conflicts with state comprehensive planning law.

In a nutshell: a ballot initiative such as the one from the Palm Beach Theatre Guild can't be applied to less than 5 parcels: the Plaza in question consists of only two parcels.