Friday, July 31, 2009

Broward Center: Grease (1 review)

GreaseTourImageThe first National Tour of the recent Broadway Revival of GREASE opened at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on July 29. 2009.
The one that you want is back! GREASE, Time Magazine’s 2007 pick for “#1 musical of the year,” is rockin’ across the country in this new production direct from Broadway.
Kathleen Marshall directed and choreographed a cast that includes Eric Schneider, Emily Padgett, Taylor Hicks, Scot P. Alan, Will Blum, Bridie Carrol, Kate Morgan Chadwick, Brian Crum, Kelly Felthous, Dominic V. Fortuna, Erin Henry, Roxie Lucas, David Ruffin, Allie Schulze and Nick Verina.

Mary Damiano reviewed for
It's official: The movie version of Grease has eaten the stage musical of Grease and then regurgitated what's on stage now at Broward Center.
Watching Grease on stage now, the movie seems more fluid, more logical.
Hicks emerges from a giant soft-serve ice cream cone to sing his one song, "Beauty School Drop-out." Pay attention, "American Idol" winners: This schlock is what you have to look forward to.
The movie indulged in its own bit of stunt casting. The cast included many 1950s stars, including Eve Arden, Sid Caesar, Dody Goodman, Frankie Avalon and Edd "Kookie" Byrnes. The purpose in the movie was to enhance the feeling of 1959, which it accomplishes. At Broward Center, however, after ably recreating the mood and feeling of 1959, the audience gets dragged back to the present when Hicks takes the stage to sing his latest single and plug his new CD. At that moment, Grease the stage musical ceases to be relevant, and becomes nothing more than a gimmick.
There are a few bright spots in this production. While leads Eric Schneider and Emily Padgett have zero chemistry as Danny and Sandy, Will Blum and Bridie Carroll, who play Roger and Jan, are marvelous. These two do have chemistry in their scenes together and charisma in their big solos. Both have terrific voices with real range. The choreography during the high school dance hand jive scene is also a bright spot, and hints at what the rest of the show might have been.
Grease runs through August 2, 2009 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Verve Central Productions: Still Untitled (1 review)

Verve Central Productions presented its world premiere production of Still Untitled at the Rising Action Theater on July 22, 2009. It closed on Sunday, July 26th.
Set backstage on the opening night of Tristan O’Brien’s Broadway debut, the play chronicles his reflections on life, love, loss, and perseverance, while coping with the back-to-back deaths of his mother and brother.
Playwright Matt May directed Terrance Olear, whose life experiences inspired the play.

John Lariviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway:
The premise of Still Untitled holds promise, but its present state is in need of much examination. Structurally, the show seems like it is going to end three times before it actually does. The false endings lead to maudlin U-turns back to the deaths of the main character's mother and brother.
This next part of the review bugs me:
The use of the stage manager's voice via intercom limits the actor on stage. He acts to the intercom high over head and the pictures of his mother and brother on the wall behind him. This could be fixed by substituting the stage manager's voice with a real person in the room, such as a high-school newspaper reporter from his alma mater who has come to interview him on his opening night.
John, you're waaaaay out of bounds on this one: you're not the playwright. You're a critic. It's your job to say if it works or doesn't, but it is not your place to dictate what elements should be added. A high-school reporter? WTF?

You can make the point that a one-man show ought probably to only have one actor, and if you need to have a second actor, perhaps the one-man-show concept ought to be re-examined. But under no circumstances should you be telling anyone what made-up characters THEY should add to THEIR play.

Anyway, back to the review:
The actor playing Tristan is Terrance Olear. As it is Mr. Olear's own personal stories upon which this play is based, one would expect him to be completely comfortable in the role. On the night attended he stumbled perplexingly through almost the entire show. It seemed more a question of nerves than memorization.
The voice of the stage manager is provided by Javier Ortega. ... Ortega's timing and delivery are poor enough to be more a hindrance than an asset to Olear as an actor.
Surely May has something valuable to say, but this production of Still Untitled feels "Still Unfinished", and perhaps the premiere of this show was premature.
Despite his little faux pas with the kid reporter (seriously, WTF?), Lariviere's observations are probably worthwhile to Mr. Mays.

The Scene for July 30, 2009

What the heck happened?  How did we end up at the end of July so quickly?  I guess we had a lot of plays to carry us here.  Well, it's not over yet.

still playing:

Viva Bourgeois at Mad Cat Theatre Company in Miami presents its spin on  Molière through August 22nd.

Private Lives at Palm Beach DramaWorks , runs through August 16th.

Knish Alley plays at the Stage Door Theatre through August 30th, 2009.

Married ALIVE! plays at the Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater through Aug 16.

Some Kind of Wonderful! at Florida Stage plays through August 30.

El Celador Del Desierto
plays at Teatro En Miami Studio through August 22. (Spanish, with english supertitles)

passing through:

Grease! is the word at Broward Center for the Performing Arts.  It's the national tour of the recent Broadway revival, featuring American Idol winner Taylor Hicks as Teen Angel.  It plays through this weekend only; don't miss it!

last chance to see:

Vices: A Love Story sizzles at the Caldwell Theatre, until this Sunday, August 2.

Still Jewish After All These Years: A Life in Theatre is being performed by its creator, Avi Hoffman, as the little theatre in Santaluces High School in Boynton Beach. It's his last-ditch attempt to raise money to save his troubled company, the New Vista Theatre. The tickets are modestly priced at $20. Call 561-482-4144. It closes Sunday.

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

for kids:

Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre presents Stuart Little through August 1, 2009. Peak behind the scenes at The Playground.

Laffing Matterz Returnz's official: the musical sketch theatre will be serving up laughs at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

Starting in mid-October, Laffing Matterz will take over the Abdo New River Room, the Broward Center's banquet hall.

From their website:
After an unfortunate closing of our show in April at our 219 S. Andrews Avenue location Laffing Matterz is proud and honored to announce that it will be joining forces with the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and becoming a resident theatre of the center beginning October 15th. We will return to delight South Floridians and visitors alike as we combine theatrical musical comedy with a dinner experience that will make you forget you came to see the show.

Chef John Eustace proudly returns to continue exceeding guests' expectations with his culinary creations prior to the performance.

Tickets go on sale Monday July 27th through the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are available through the Broward Center Box office at 201 SW 5th Avenue in downtown Ft. Lauderdale or by phone at 954-462-0222 or order on-line when you visit
The audition notice for the new cast can be found on our Auditions page.  Sign up quick: it's this coming Monday!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Palm Beach DramaWorks: Private Lives (4 reviews)

Palm Beach DramaWorks opened Noel Coward's class comedy, Private Lives, on July 17, 2009.
An intimate comedy of bad manners, centering on a divorced couple both recently remarried, who accidentally book adjoining suites at a hotel for their honeymoons, revealing with razor-sharp wit the pitfalls of love and marriage.
J. Barry Lewis directs a cast that includes Wyn Harmon, Caroline Strong, Cliff Burgess, Margarita Bernal de Santana, and Katherine M. Tanner.

The Sun-Sentinel has declined to review this production.*

Kevin D. Thompson reviewed for the Palm Beach Post:
The humor is biting and sharper than a Ginsu knife. But what’s even more impressive is that the show has stood the test of time and doesn’t feel dated even though it was written nearly 80 years ago. Relationship drama, after all, never really goes out of style.
The eye-catching sets by Michael Amico will almost have you feeling like you’re lounging on a luxurious terrace in The City of Love.
For a play like Lives, a combustible chemistry between the lead actors is imperative. Fortunately Harmon and Strong have it under J. Barry Lewis’ careful direction.
Harmon... is rakishly handsome and charming as Elyot. Strong (talk about an appropriate surname), is every bit his equal and is hardly anyone’s shrinking violet.

Jan Sjostrom reviewed for the Palm Beach Daily News:
It's a little overplayed. The zingers would have landed better if the performances had been dialed down to a subtler amplitude. That could come as the J. Barry Lewis-steered production mellows and the performers ease into their roles. The raw material is there.
Wynn Harmon's Elyot is a pleasure to watch, as he glides with world-weary grace through the stickiest of situations or loses his cool entirely in his vicious battles with Amanda, the only person who seems able to rile him.
Michael Amico works wonders again with Dramaworks' cramped stage, transforming it into side-by-side balconies at a luxury resort in coastal France and an upscale apartment in 1930s Paris. Brian O'Keefe's period costumes are so gorgeous they'd tempt many a clothes-loving patron to abscond with them.
Private Lives isn't an easy choice, since its sensibility is so grounded in British irony. Nevertheless, the show amuses, and might even delight with time.
Hap Erstein reviewed for the Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
...a robust, satisfying production at Palm Beach Dramaworks, though one that's pitched a bit too sitcom-broadly.
Director J. Barry Lewis’s cast is strong where it needs to be, with the dapper Wynn Harmon and the regal Caroline Strong as Elyot Chase and Amanda Prynne, a privileged pair of former spouses...
Harmon and Strong resort too often to shouting matches where underplayed withering rejoinders seem called for, but otherwise they wear these tour de force roles well enough.
...(set) designer Michael Amico manages two attractive and substantial sets for the evening, making me wish I had stayed seated at intermission and watched the transition between the acts.
The reason Private Lives is perennially revived is Coward’s well-polished dialogue, which offers a glimpse at how the upper crust misbehaves behind closed doors. Add in a couple of accomplished performers like Harmon and Strong and you have a summertime tonic, further proof of Coward’s talent to amuse.
Mary Damiano reviewed for
The cast excels at delivering Coward's clipped dialogue, especially Harmon and Strong, who have a grand time bantering bon mots back and forth. Harmon is suave and elegant as Elyot, with a demeanor that only Amanda can penetrate. Strong is perfection--an ice queen with her mismatched new husband, a firebrand with her ex. Together they sizzle and crackle, oozing passion with a mere glance.

As Victor, Amanda's groom, Cliff Burgess is the picture of stiff British manners, all logic and no passion. Katherine M. Tanner portrays Sybil, Elyot's bride, as a wide-eyed, simpering ball of jealousy and insecurity. Director J. Barry Lewis keeps up the brisk pace needed for this witty comedy.
Private Lives is the must-see production of the summer theatre schedule.
Private Lives plays at Palm Beach DramaWorks through August 16, 2009.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mondays are Dark

We Mean Everyone...
Everyone has had a rough year: the Star Tribune reports that even the venerable Guthrie Theatre, which literally created the term "regional theatre" and provided the model for the industry, posted its first deficit in 14 years.
By September... ticket sales headed south and never recovered. Even "A Christmas Carol" failed to make its box-office target. Overall last year, 463,412 tickets were sold, a new high that was up 9 percent from the previous year. But the number of performances was up 19 percent, translating into greater capacity, and the number of free or deeply discounted tickets rose 23 percent to 68,698.
You Can't Afford to Wait.  Really.
The Palm Beach Daily News reports that the Kravis Center, Florida Stage, and the Palm Beach Opera are adopting "demand-based pricing."  That means that once ticket sales hit a certain threshold, ticket prices start going up.

"When people want to get a hot ticket, they're willing to go to scalpers and secondary ticket sellers and pay $300 per ticket, and they don't bat and eye," (Todd Stuart, senior director of marketing for Broadway Across America's Southeast region) said.

Producers and presenters began asking themselves why they shouldn't get a piece of the action

Typical increases are $5 a ticket, and most organizations leave the cheapest seats along.

Uh, oh...
Diacritical reports that simply selling tickets isn't enough.
If you believe your business model is the classic consumer transaction (I make the performance, you buy the ticket) then you're done. Sorry. That's a Manufacturing Economy mindset, and while it worked when choices were limited, now that you're competing in the infinite marketplace offering 8000 or 8 million choices, it's increasingly unlikely that your "audience" is going to choose you as often as they did in the past.
The gist of the article is that to succeed, we need to build a community. Word-of-mouth has always been the best method, but the smart producers are finding ways to use social media - blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. - to extend the reach.

Speaking of Twitter
The Baltimore Sun reports that the National Symphony will be offer program notes over Twitter during their July 30 performance at Wolftrap.
“I have designed the tweets to go perfectly with ideas I have about the piece as I conduct it but also some interesting commentary to go along with the sights and sounds of Beethoven's day in the countryside: an adult musical pop-up book written for first timers and concert veterans alike."   - NSO Conductor Emil de Cou
However, only people watching from the lawn surround the outdoor theatre can participate, as electronic devices are not permitted to be used in the main house of the facility.

The Counter-Argument
It's no secret that the Theatre Scene feels that newspapers hurt themselves by failing to cover the arts.  But The Playgoer has a different take on it:
...maybe its time to embrace this "disaggregation" for arts coverage. We've already contemplated the bleak scenario of a theatre and theatre companies without newspapers to advertise, promote and cover them. But why wait until it's too late? It's time, maybe, for arts coverage--the kind of good, rigorous, analytical, and truly critical arts coverage featuring many different voices that's already been absent a long time from our "general interest" media--to go solo.
Maybe.  But a newspaper supplies a lot of resources beyond a salary - and that salary is important, too.

The Maltz goes to the Music Festival
The Maltz Jupiter Theatre is excited to announce that two-time Tony nominee, John Carrafa, will lead the team of Academy as its Director which will be part of the 2009 New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF)'s Next Link Project. Originally part of the Maltz Jupiter Theatre's inaugural Emerging Artist Series in Musical Theater Playwriting, Academy will perform in New York October 6 - 17, 2009 at NYMF.
Congratulations to Andrew Kato, who conceived and developed the piece for the Maltz Jupiter Theatre.

New Stuff
Alexis Scheer of The Playground reviews The New Ones, a collection of five original plays produced by New Theatre in conjunction with New World School of the Arts.  The show has come and gone, but Scheer's review is a good read.

Scheer also tells us about The New Play Project, in which high school students write, direct, and act in plays of their own choosing.  And if that weren't enough, they're performing them to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis. See The Playground for details.

Lining Up for Sexual Perversity
Actors, that is.  The Alliance Theatre Lab is overwhelmed by the response to their call for auditions - a month out, and two-thirds of the available slots have been booked.  But they do still have slots left, so call now if you're interested in working in this Mamet masterpiece.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

PB Shakes: A Midsummer Night's Dream (2 reviews)

Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival has been producing plays for 19 years. They've come a long way since that first production of The Scottish Play, which featured lighting designed by some guy who worked for FP&L, sets by a carpenter who once built a dock for Perry Como, and starred Keith In Boots. They've just debuted the new Seabreeze Amphitheater at Carlin Park with A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Kevin Crawford directs a cast that includes Kay Prins, Andrew Rinhart, Mary Stucchi, Patrick Wilkinson, Kris Parker, and himself as Bottom.

Hap Erstein reviewed for Palm Beach Arts Paper:
As usual, the Festival players are a ragtag group consisting of classically trained professionals, less experienced amateurs and student novices. Nevertheless, this Midsummer is reasonably well-spoken, clearly presented and it looks quite attractive on the Seabreeze stage, which allows more lighting options than the company had previously.
Any production of the play necessarily has to choose which of the three storylines to emphasize and Crawford seems to have wisely selected the quartet of lovers. Or maybe it comes off more vividly, thanks to fresh-faced, twinkle-eyed Mary Stucchi as Helena, who soon becomes the obsession of both Lysander and Demetrius. As Lysander, Andrew Rinehart grows in the role once a love potion turns him giddy.
Based on audience reaction, the Mechanicals’ broad comedy proved popular, though a bit too one-note hammy for my taste. As fledgling actors in the play-within-the-play, the group allowed Shakespeare to satirize some of the more extreme performance habits of his own troupe, as Crawford’s exaggerated histrionics as weaver Nick Bottom suggest. He brays with the best of them when transformed into a jackass -- literally -- to become the romantic target of Titania.
Pierre Tannous draws laughs in the role of the female Thisbe, though it is never clear whether his errant acting is intentional or not. And Seth Trucks is fitfully amusing as Snout the tinker, who is assigned the role of a wall between Tannous and Crawford.

Technical director Daniel Gordon contributes an ethereal multi-level, hill-and-cave set design, well complemented by his colorful lighting.
Kevin Thompson reviewed for the Palm Beach Post:
Perhaps feeling inspired by the new theater and opening night festivities, the show’s cast recited their lines with an extra amount of gusto and zip without going over the top. And if you’re at all familiar with Dream, that kind of amped-up enthusiasm serves that show well.
Kevin Crawford’s nimble direction kept the show moving at a brisk — and sometimes dizzying — pace. The festival’s artistic director clearly knows his way around the material since this isn’t the first time Dream has been produced.
Yeah, I know, it's not much of a review, is it? Thompson has never been much of a reviewer, and I guess the month since Yankee Tavern spent not reviewing plays has resulted in atrophy.

Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival presents A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Seabreeze Auditorium through July 26. Admission is free.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sightings: Danielle Karliner (updated)

Danielle spent six years as Managing Director for City Theatre, producer of the venerable Summer Shorts Festival. In 2007, she went back to NYC to pursue a degree at Columbia University, and new career opportunities.

She's been active in theatre since then, working with the Atlantic Theatre Company, Jujamcyn Theater, and worked on the Summer Play Festival 2009.

And now she's producing a play for the NY Fringe Festival.

Keep up the good work, Danielle!

UPDATE September 2, 2009: The Fringe Festival has ended: how did Danielle's show fare? Well, The New York Times gave it three out of five stars:
Though its many threads pull together convincingly at the end, the play—which could be a half hour shorter without losing anything important—occasionally sags under the weight of its ambitions. Still, Ether Steeds showcases the work of a promising playwright, in a theater well-favored with good AC and comfortable seats.
We'll call that a win!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Viva Mad Cat

She may be away on vacation, but Christine Dolen filed a story on Viva Bourgeois that appears in today's Miami Herald.
If you heard that a South Florida theater was getting ready to open Molière's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (The Bourgeois Gentleman), you might wonder which crazy company would be taking a chance on a large-cast classic in the middle of summer.

Chances are, you wouldn't guess Mad Cat, the vibrantly edgy company that performs in the tiny space at the Light Box. But Mad Cat it is.
She spoke with Mad Cat Theatre Company's artistic director Paul Tei (Burn Notice's 'Barry, the Money Launderer'), as well as several cast members.
Substituting creativity for cash, Tei and Mad Cat have built a solid reputation for quality, an avid following among younger-than-usual theatergoers and have reached their 25th show with Viva Bourgeois!.
Mad Cat is the real deal: one of the most chilling things I've ever seen was Portrait, an adaptation of an Edgar Allan Poe story. It was written by company member Yvonne Azurdia and directed by Tei. It's the only live show that literally raised goose bumps on me. I'm looking forward to their take on Molière.

The show opens tonight, and plays Thursday through Saturday evenings through August 22nd.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Scene for July 24, 2009

The summer is racing past: I thought the season was busy, but I haven't stopped, and neither has the rest of South Florida.


Viva Bourgeois at Mad Cat Theatre Company in Miami opens Friday. See what this Gen-X company does with Moliere; it will be worth the trip.

still playing:

Private Lives at Palm Beach DramaWorks , runs through August 16th.

Knish Alley plays at the Stage Door Theatre through August 30th, 2009.

Married ALIVE! plays at the Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater through Aug 16.

Vices: A Love Story sizzles at the Caldwell Theatre, and runs through August 2.

Still Jewish After All These Years: A Life in Theatre is being performed by its creator, Avi Hoffman, as the little theatre in Santaluces High School in Boynton Beach. It's his last-ditch attempt to raise money to save his troubled company, the New Vista Theatre. The tickets are modestly priced at $20. Call 561-482-4144. It plays through August 2.

Some Kind of Wonderful! at Florida Stage plays through August 30.

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

passing through:

Verve Central Productions presents Still Untitled at the Rising Action Theatre this weekend. It's an original work by Matt May, based on the memoirs of his friend Terrance Olear. Fittingly, May directs Olear in this production. Read more about it on

last chance to see:
Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival presents A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Seabreaze Amphitheater in Jupiter's Carlin Park. Admission is free, but it is outdoors, and weather can play a factor.

The 24th International Hispanic Theatre Festival, presented by Teatro Avante at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. It runs through July 26th. (In Spanish, some shows have subtitles: see website for details)

Ground Up And Rising's wandering production of On An Average Day is set close this weekend at ArtSouth in Homestead. You don't get much more South in South Florida.

for kids:

Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre presents Stuart Little through August 1, 2009. Peak behind the scenes at The Playground.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Caldwell Theatre: Vices: A Love Story (7 Reviews)

The world premiere of Vices: A Love Story, marks the beginning of Clive Cholerton's tenure as Artistic Director at the Caldwell Theatre Company.
Opening on July 8 2009, the show's book, music and lyrics were written by Everett Bradley, Susan Draus, Micheal Heitzman, and Ilene Reid. Choreography by A.C. Cuilla, Clive Cholerton directed cast that includes Holly Shunkey, Marcus Bellamy, Natalie Venetia Belcon, Carlos L. Encinias, Lara Janine, and Leajato Amara Robinson.

John Lariviere reviews for Talkin'
The production design includes extensive projection work that enhances the visual experience. Director Clive Cholerton has tackled the daunting task of marrying all the facets of this show with great finesse.
It is difficult to take one's eyes off dancer Holly Shunkey. At a state of rest, her body is already a work of art sculpted by her craft. In motion, her lines near perfection in their strength and beauty.
She is well partnered with the handsome Marcus Bellamy. Choreographer A C Cuilla has given the couple some wonderfully choreographed moments both sensual and elegant; and both dancers are fearless in their commitment to the demanding choreographic vision.
The way in which the elements of dance and technical design have been incorporated in Vices: A Love Story elevate it to more than its components. Passionate, humorous and visually engaging, Vices: A Love Story is the show to see in south Florida this summer.
Kevin D. Thompson reviewed for the Palm Beach Post:
In Vices: A Love Story, the Caldwell Theatre’s daring new musical, a ridiculously attractive young couple (Marcus Bellamy, Holly Shunkey) goes through the ups and downs all relationships inevitably do. The main difference: They don’t speak one word of dialogue during the rollercoaster ride. All their desires, frustrations, hopes, inner-most thoughts and vices, are beautifully, skillfully and, at times, humorously, conveyed through music and inventive dance routines.
That you’re able to feel for and care about a couple (we don’t know their names) that never talks in words is a testament to the wonderful performances by Bellamy and Shunkey, Clive Cholerton’s sure-footed direction and AC Cuilla’s delightfully precise choreography. Bellamy and Shunkey ooze a raw sexuality, a simmering chemistry and a giddy playfulness that’s impossible to ignore. It doesn’t hurt that both dancers are — how you say? — off-the-charts hot and know how to use their finely tuned instruments for maximum effect.
Vices works so well because it’s a true ensemble piece in which everyone in the cast is allowed to shine. The four supporting players — Natalie Venetia Belcon, Carlos L. Encinias, Lara Janine and Leajato Amara Robinson — are magnificent. Standouts include Broadway vet Belcon (Rent, Avenue Q), who will move you close to tears with All the Money, a stirring ballad about a woman summoning the courage to walk out on a bad marriage and Julliard grad Robinson is mesmerizing during an a capella version of Some Like It, a scintillating number about sexual temptation.
Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the New Times:
Vices begins with a sexy dance and a hard funk-rock instrumental that is leaner, meaner, weirder, and more modern than any bit of music I've ever heard played on Caldwell Theatre's big stage. Watching those dancers, hearing that noise, it seems obvious that Caldwell's new artistic director, Clive Cholerton, is a hip young rebel out to drag the venerable-but-fusty company in strange new directions.
An investigation of the various cravings that intrude upon our collective consciousness, Vices is alternately vicious, clichéd, and novel. It maintains none of these moods for more than five or six minutes at a time and seldom combines them. It is the kind of concoction that comes out of a kitchen containing a few too many cooks. In this cakes, the cooks' names are AC Ciulla (choreographer) and Michael Heitzman, Ilene Reid, Susan Draus, and Everett Bradley, all of whom are either writers, lyricists, or composers, and it would be interesting to see a breakdown of exactly who did what.At its best, this is what Vices does: Through sound and movement, it drags the visceral realities of obsession into the theatrical space.
In the play's most compelling moment, the object of desire is desire itself, to give yourself to something and disappear within it. Slick-voiced Leajoto Amara Robinson does an elaborate step routine, slinking around the stage like a kitty cat and subtly coming on to the audience. "Some like it," he sings, over and over again, almost winking — he seems to be saying, "And I bet you like it too." And we do. Whatever it is.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Variety:
Although it needs work, this production clearly promises a life Off Broadway or in regional theaters able to attract the right terpsichorean talent. Staged by Caldwell chief Clive Cholerton, the string of vignettes is only about 70 minutes long, but the running time feels perfect for the summertime audience's attention span.
All the individual elements are noteworthy, especially the inventive costumes by Alberto Arroyo, but the tentpole here is Ciulla's work. Writhing bodies interlock only to break free in leaps and long-limbed extensions. It all echoes modern dance and contemporary ballet with scant hint of Broadway other than a Fred and Ginger homage. The choreographer's graceful work alternates between the emotional ecstasy of physical passion and the herky-jerky buffeting of human beings in a tempestuous cityscape.

Ciulla's paintbrushes are jaw-dropping dancers Marcus Bellamy ("Tarzan") and Holly Shunkey (national tour of "Contact"). In addition to their skill and physical beauty, they invest themselves totally in the acting.

Each singer has a solo moment: Carlos L. Encinas croons a Busby Berkeley paean to chocolate; Lara Janine nails comedy numbers, but her rueful lament "Johnny" is devastating; Natalie Venetia Belcon belts and soars in numbers like "All the Money"; and Leajato Amara Robinson stops the show with the a cappella list song "Some Like It" (as in types of sex), accompanying himself with body-slapping percussion.
Be sure to click through to read the entire review; Bill's review is everything the next review is not.

Sadly, instead of a theatre critic writing an intelligent review, we get Rod Stafford Hagwood dumping his load of sentence fragments in the Sun-Sentinel:
The choreo-musical Vices: A Love Story may not be perfection.

But it's as close as we mere mortals will ever see.

With nary a sliver of sentimentality or a hint of staginess, the lean musical having a world premiere at the Caldwell Theatre Company doesn't hit one false note.

Not one.

Not with the singing, which at times is so delicious you wish for an intermission so you can come back for a second act.

Not with the dancing, which ranges from tiny isolations that accent the humor to soaring lifts that make you gasp.

Not even with the tight-as-can-be band perched high over the amorphous set.
The cast -- no, that's not enough -- the dream cast...
OK, I have to stop there. I'm going to be sick. I don't know if I can continue reading the Sun-Sentinel if this is how they think a review should read. I have no problem that he likes the show, but the idea is to give the reader a sense of the evening. Instead, we're left with the creepy feeling that Rod is going to start stalking the cast, crew and artistic team...

Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
Vices: A Love Story... is an inspired, edgy, thrilling new piece of theater, one that will most certainly have a life beyond the Caldwell.
Ilene Reid and Michael Heitzman get credit for story, music and lyrics. Susan Draus and Everett Bradley also wrote music and lyrics, with Draus arranging and orchestrating. Emmy Award winner A.C. Ciulla created the explosive, sensuous choreography, a vital part of a show whose central characters are played by dancers who never speak. Cholerton staged it and oversaw ongoing developmental work during rehearsals.

Musical director Jon Rose is part of a versatile four-piece onstage band. The design team makes vital contributions to the production's urban edginess.
Dancers Marcus Bellamy and Holly Shunkey ... are physically gorgeous, dramatically expressive, mesmerizing dancers. Shunkey is a Pilobolus veteran once toured in the dance-driven show Contact. Bellamy is going to be in the new Julie Taymor-directed Broadway blockbuster Spiderman. They are major-league talents.
The show's four actor-singers -- Natalie Venetia Belcon (she was Gary Coleman in Avenue Q on Broadway), Carlos L. Encinias, Lara Janine and Leajato Amara Robinson -- artfully give voice to the couple's desires, fears and self-destructive behavior, and they kill (in a good way) the myriad musical styles the composers throw at them.
Vices: A Love Story has it all -- wit, insight, style, plus a terrific score, great performances and brilliant dancing.
Hap Erstein reviewed for the Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
... slightly more than one month into the job, Cholerton has come up with a brash, energetic, sexy show on contemporary life and romance, easily the best new work from the company in the past 15 years.
Cholerton directs the production, but the prime force behind it seems to be choreographer A.C. Ciulla.
The score is never less than engaging, but without Ciulla’s choreographic ideas and their awesome execution by Shunkey and Bellamy, Vices might be just another musical revue. Still, the songs are arranged with a hip contemporary sound by musical director Jon Rose and there are plenty of standout numbers, including Belcon’s rafter-raising All the Money and Robinson’s body-drumming to Some Like It.
Factor in Sean Lawson’s stage-high projections and you have a winning package that could move beyond Boca intact. But even if the show is rethought and restaged, it is unfathomable that it will not have a life beyond the Caldwell.

Whatever the fate of Vices: A Love Story, a new Caldwell has been jump-started, and an already hot summer just got some welcome added sizzle.
Vices: A Love Story plays at the Caldwell Theatre through August 2, 2009.

Teatro En Miami Studio: El Celador Del Desierto (1 review)

Teatro En Miami Studio produces a large number of original plays in Spanish. El Celador Del Desierto (The Guardian of the Desert) marks the beginning of the company's second year in their Little Havana blackbox space, and is supertitled in English.

Playwright Ernesto García directs a cast that includes AnniaMaria Martínez, Sandra García, Leandro Peraza, Carlos Bueno, and Marcia Stadler.

Mia Leonin reviewed for the Miami Herald:
It's no mistake that Teatro en Miami Studio (Spanish-language theater's Little Engine That Could), chose Ernesto García's El Celador del Desierto (The Guardian of the Desert) to commemorate the company's second year in its cozy Little Havana black box. Teatro has produced more than 15 plays in only two years -- eight of them penned by García -- and El Celador underscores the Cuban-born playwright's stylistic proclivity to high lyricism.
A tightly choreographed dance and movement series at the beginning of the play and toward the end is energetically executed by Martínez, Leandro Peraza, Carlos Bueno and Marcia Stadler. Their macabre costumes and masks set the scene of a desolate, almost haunted desert, but the driving force of El Celador is the dialogue between the two women.
Martínez convincingly vacillates from desperation to fierceness as she struggles to overpower the grip Lengüita seems to hold over the desert wasteland and its mysteries. García delivers her lines with characteristic thunder, but she also brings an added humor to the role. This gives Lengüita a touching vulnerability by the play's end.
El Celador's English supertitles render a poetic translation that corresponds well with the original text in Spanish, making it accessible to English-speaking audiences. Moreover, it's a vivid window into a vein of theater from a Latin American tradition where the absurd and fantastic reign.
El Celador Del Desierto plays at Teatro En Miami Studio through August 22. (Spanish, with english supertitles)

New Face at the Maltz. reports that Maltz Jupiter Theatre has hired Julie Rowe to be Director of Education for the Conservatory of Performing Arts (CoPA).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I'm not complaining...

...but my readership has spiked in the last two days.  I can't pin it on any one story; the referrers look about the same (although is new).  It's just a lot more reads since Monday.

Thanks for reading!

Florida Stage: Some Kind Of Wonderful (6 reviews)

Florida Stage invented their version of the summer musical back in 1996; a small cast, and a recognized canon of songs with mass appeal to reach a broader audience during the summer months. Their latest offering, Some Kind Of Wonderful, opened July 1, 2009. It's a collaboration between Bill Castellino and Christopher McGovern that celebrates the wide range of pop chart toppers from the 1960's.
“Motown, soul, pop, hard rock, surf music and country. Connie, Barbra, Elvis, Patsy, Ella, Frank. In those days, every station played every kind of music.”
Bill Castellino directed a cast that includes Michelle Pereira, Dana Dawson, Eric Collins, and Irene Adjan. Christopher McGovern directs the music.

The Sun-Sentinel has declined to review this production.*

Another critic who can't seem to get to opening weekend, Jan Sjostrom reviewed for the Palm Beach Daily News:
Making the tired musical revue format fresh and exciting didn't seem possible. That is, until Some Kind of Wonderful! came along.
Castellino directed the production, while McGovern crafted the arrangements and serves as musical director and pianist. Their show is faithful to the period, but not slavishly so, tuneful, well-crafted and — here's the big surprise — belly laugh-inducing funny, when appropriate.
Band members McGovern, Jason Curry on reeds, Neel Shukla on percussion and Rupert Ziawinski on bass doesn't just plunk out accompaniments but are a dynamic part of the show. Curry's incredible saxophone riffs will give you chills.
Dawson undoubtedly is the most dazzling performer, with her charismatic stage presence and big, soulful voice. Adjan is not only a fine singer, but also a gifted comedian. Seeing her perform Crazy while wearing pink glasses, a bulky pink bathrobe and pink bunny slippers puts a whole new spin on the Patsy Cline tear-jerker. Pereira's rich, low voice stands out in sentimental numbers such as the passionate Besame Mucho.

Collins energizes upbeat tunes such as Who Put the Bomp and soars in the falsetto lead of Big Girls Don't Cry. Tarallo, who also plays guitar, excels in The Girl from Ipanema and other pensive numbers.
Don't miss Some Kind of Wonderful! It will light up your summer.
Kevin D. Thompson finally gets around to reviewing the show for the Palm Beach Post; I guess he's been doing CPR on the Post's listless PB Pulse.
Despite featuring tunes sung by the likes of The Beatles, Barbra Streisand, Elvis, The Supremes and Pasty Cline, Wonderful is barely a few notches above a high school musical.
The bouncy five-member cast gives it their all, but their voices simply aren’t strong enough to believably sell the songs they’re singing and to make the audience feel emotionally invested in them.
Still, the show is a perfect fit for South Florida’s more mature theatergoers who will no doubt enjoy walking down memory lane and feeling like they’re 18 again. But be warned: Some Kind of Wonderful is more like Some Kind of Just OK.
Apparently, Kevin is now grading the productions he reviews. Hint for ya, buddy- the teacher can't be late to class. This show opened two weeks ago - and you missed it. A whole bunch of other critics saw it. Critics are all supposed to be there the same night; perceptions might vary, but at least everyone should have the same show in front of them. And you were off somewhere else, and whatever you were doing, it wasn't reviewing opening night. You are in no position to start grading others, bucko. Kevin gets a D+ for his review (he did show up, which is more than can be said for the Sentinel).

John Lariviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway:
The ensemble musical highlights of the show are well written and sung arrangements of "Goin' Out of my Head," "Having A Party," a Beatles' Medley called "Meet The Beatles" and a comedic "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." Though revues should not truly have a star, Dana Dawson is the star of this production. She has a great singing voice and a delightful stage presence. Her flirtatious delivery of "My Guy" and soulful rendition of "At Last" are two of the most enjoyable moments in the show. If the rest of the show were of this caliber, Some Kind Of Wonderful would be one hot ticket. Unfortunately, Some Kind Of Wonderful flounders to find a throughline, follow a chronological order, or provide good thematic groupings.
Though this revue is set in the '60s, the singers can not agree on what year it is as they indiscriminately use current R&B and pop licks in songs without any stylistic grouping. Barry J. Tarallo is the most true to the correct style of the early '60s. His youthful voice is clear and effortless in songs like "Sealed With a Kiss" and "Your Cheatin' Heart." He also provides layers to the show by accompanying himself on guitar.
With so many "wonderful" songs from this time period from which to chose, the creators should have done a better job aligning the order of the songs to provide a better flow for this show.
In choreography, casting, costuming and transitions, this production of Some Kind Of Wonderful is desperately in need of revision to meet the standards previously set by both these creators and this theatre.
Ron Levitt reviewed for Florida Media News:
The show is a celebration of the music of this era – but in reality it goes well beyond the Camelot years. It is also a celebration of 2009 musical talent . The back-up musicians directed by Castellino are as much a part of the show as the five talented vocalists. McGovern at the piano (he’s also musical director), along with fellow musicians Jason Curry, Neel Shukla and Rupert Ziawinski are a powerhouse of sharps and flats as they offer some 40 unforgettable songs of 1960-65 vintage.
Irene Adjan, a South Florida gem, goes kooky (sunglasses and all) as she delivers Patsy Kline’ s Crazy and Neil Sedaka’s Breaking Up is Hard to Do. She is a steamroller of energy as she belts out her numbers…….Tenor Eric Collins – making his South Florida debut – is amazingly true to life as he does more than justice to Travelin” Man or an Elvis Presley rendition, His range is truly a gift……Dana Dawson, direct from New York, belts out At Last and It’s My Party as if she had been there 45 years ago, She is sensational…..Michelle Pereira does Besame Mucho and Moon River with such emotion that the audience had to cheer loudly. She is a powerhouse singer….and Barry J. Tarallo, another South Florida beloved vocalist, has never been better, Not only is his voice superb but he shows off his talent as a guitarist in Your Cheating Heart and The Girl from Ipanema (a variation which would make Sinatra proud). Tarallo – in any other show – would be the show-stopper!! He is dy-no-mite!!!
Richard Crowell’s simple set emphasizes the music; Erin Amico ‘s costume design seems to have come out of the 60s complete with two-tone shoes and vibrant colors, and Jim Hunter’s lighting genius and Matt Kelly’s sound tuning become extra-important in several scenes.

Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
What audiences most want from a revue is the chance to listen to terrific singers backed by fine musicians. Some Kind of Wonderful! supplies that in abundance, though subtle moments are in short supply. Nonetheless, the multi-tasking McGovern (he's the musical director, deft arranger and pianist) helps the cast and his fellow musicians (Jason Curry, Neel Shukla and Rupert Ziawinski) deliver on that promise of a good time.
Adjan, Dana Dawson, Michelle Pereira, Eric Collins and Barry J. Tarallo are all powerhouse singers who can pull it back to blend beautifully, yet each gets a shining moment or two or more.
Hap Erstein reviewed for the Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
...there is plenty of entertainment to be had in this show. Director Castellino approaches much of the material with an affectionate sense of humor...
Adjan and Barry J. Tarallo often play nerdy high school sweethearts Tammy and Tad, she of the pink-framed spectacles, he of an automotive obsession over his Ford Falcon. Michelle Pereira seems to have been dealt the more histrionic torch songs or at least she turns such potential throwaway songs as Where the Boys Are and Besame Mucho into high drama.

Spiky-haired Eric Collins all but defines guys gone goofy with love (Goin’ Out of My Head, The Birds & the Bees) and winsome Dana Dawson vamps her way through the faux-tragic It’s My Party (And I’ll Cry If I Want To) and Cupid.
Give McGovern credit for some fresh five-part arrangements, and for the wisdom to include frequent sensuous saxophone solo spots for Jason Reed. Rupert Ziawinski showboats well on bass, insinuating himself into a few dance numbers, and Neel Shulka rounds out the combo solidly on percussion.
Some Kind of Wonderful plays at Florida Stage through August 30, 2009.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Broward Stage Door: Knish Alley! (5 reviews)

The Broward Stage Door premiered Tony Finstrom's Knish Alley! on July 17th, 2009. Originally slated to open a week earlier, a cast change pushed it back a week.
...a wonderful new comedy, set in the early 1900’s, follows a troupe of Jewish actors as they travel to America on board an ocean liner to seek a new and better life on New York's Second Avenue, otherwise known as Knish Alley.
Dan Kelly directs a cast that includes Kally Khourshid, Kevin Reilley, Steven A. Chambers, Jaime Libbet-Smith, Todd Bruno, Miki Edelman, and David Hemphill.
The Miami Herald has declined to review this production.*

Hap Erstein reviewed for Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
Part historical fiction and part shameless collection of vintage punch lines, South Floridian Tony Finstrom’s Knish Alley is a good idea for a play still waiting to be developed.

The script, being premiered at Coral Spring’s Broward Stage Door, has already had several readings at area theaters, yet it still seems at least one draft away from being ready for production.
Broward Stage Door deserves credit for venturing into the risky terrain of new plays, but director Dan Kelley needed to nudge his playwright to edit down Knish Alley for its own good. The cast is as uneven as the writing. They are not the problem, but nor do they give the material much assistance.
Mary Damiano reviewed for
Playwright Tony Finstrom's play Knish Alley! is the first world premiere at Broward Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs, a theatre that presents popular musicals and plays for its core audience of retirees. Knish Alley!, a play steeped in stories of Yiddish theatre, is a good fit for that demographic.
The cast does an outstanding job, especially Kevin Reilley as theatre-mad, put upon Zelig. Reilley's accent never falters, his body language is perfection, and his persistent cough adds a note of poignancy. Reilley's portrayal of a tailor who comes to life when he gets to appear onstage, only if just to hold title cards for the audience, is funny and touching.
Knish Alley! is strong on emotion, nostalgia and sentimentality, but weak on tension, and Finstrom ties up this neat little package with a cheery red ribbon. It's a pleasant, though predictable, diversion.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for the Sun-Sentinel;
An old commercial advised, "You don't have to be Jewish to love Levy's Rye Bread, but it helps." In the case of Knish Alley, a world premiere at Broward Stage Door, it's essential -- and even then, this pastry often falls flat.
Finstrom's script is shot through with humor, but its quality varies wildly. A good deal of it are lame third-rate vaudeville jokes; some are first-rate vaudeville jokes ("He's been faithful -- lots of times"), and some is as genuinely comical as Marx Brothers banter. But it requires the Marx Brothers to pull it off and they're nowhere in sight. Director Dan Kelley has been unable to get this cast to master the timing necessary to put this material over.
A fifth of the jokes require the audience know some Yiddish because the humor lies in the use of words such as tochis or cultural references like Kuni Lemmel. No matter the number of yucks, the humor gets weighed down in truckloads of exposition and historical nuggets.
John Lariviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway:
Steven A. Chambers turns in a solid performance as Yoseph in this production, though he wanders in and out of his accent. Miki Edelman is enjoyable as his suspicious wife Fanny, but she and Chambers make an unconvincing couple. Kally Khourshid is sweet as Sophie and manages to establish a believable chemistry with Todd Bruno as her romantic interest. David David Hemphill is cute as the young and eager Jack, with his exclamations of "Good gravy!" Jaime Libbert-Smith is the least successful with her accent, as it seems to vary from country to country, never settling in any one spot. Her acting choices also seem very deliberate. Kevin Reilly is charming as Zelig. His Yiddish accent is thoroughly convincing and his mannerisms completely comfortable. He has the endearing feel of a grandfatherly storyteller who leaves us wanting to hear more.
There is an old world sense to the writing style of Knish Alley that makes it worn and welcome, and Finstrom's fondness for this era in history comes through in his writing. The playwright needs to remember that people go to the theatre wanting to be included in the experience, and they should not be left out of sharing in a moment because they don't have a working Yiddish vocabulary.
Ron Levitt reviewed for ENV Magazine:
...a budding playwright (a funny Kevin Reilley), a family of thespians (Steven A. Chambers, Miki Edelman, Kally Khourshid), a philandering stage star (Todd Bruno), a pregnant actress (Jaime Libbert) and a handsome, “I-wanna-be an actor” , cabin-boy (the excellent David Hemphill). Broward Stage Door Director Dan Kelley held the baton over this cast.
The second-act interchange between Reilley and Chambers in which they translate a Yiddish version of Shakespeare into American English – using “title cards” — is priceless vaudeville-style comedy.
Knish Alley! plays at Broward Stage Door Theatre through August 30, 2009.

Aisle Say, Mondays at 2pm

Just a reminder that Bill Hirschman and Hap Erstein will be on the air broadcasting on the internet, every Monday at 2pm on WRPB
This week the Siskel & Ebert of South Florida radio interview Avi Hoffman, plus they dish KNISH ALLEY!, the new play at Stage Door Theatre, offer up their trivia stumpers, and look at what’s playing and what’s about to open.

Also, if you have news and notes to announce, please send them to While we are based in Florida, we're always trying to make our show of interest to theater patrons and practitioners regionally and nationally.
Don't miss it!

Mondays are Dark

Yeah, We Know.
Maryann Devine has devised a list that identifies the wisdom of starting a blog to connect with your patrons. It also applies to Facebook and MySpace, and probably Twitter. It's hard work, keeping your blog up to date so people find it's worth reading.

No Respect
It's not just the Sun Sentinel South Florida papers that are giving critics short shrift: David Cote at Upstaged reports that the Tony Awards just dis-invited theatre critics from the award's voting rolls.
It... represents another regrettable step toward the marginalization of critics within the New York theatrical community. It is true that critics do not vote for the Oscar or Emmy Awards; but theater is an inherently more local and personal industry, in which critics have historically played an important role. (Not for nothing are Broadway theaters named after Walter Kerr and Brooks Atkinson.) But critics, and indeed criticism, are inconvenient to the modern theater marketer: Old-fashioned in our insistence on quality, unreliable in our support for expensive projects and less necessary in light of the diffusion of information in the Internet age.
Word of mouth has always been the best advertising, but the professional theatre critic is reaching more ears than anyone else, even now. Consider how hard you have to lobby to get recognition right now: then imagine how much harder it will be when the papers simply don't bother to cover theatre at all.

Madness Takes its Toll: but this ain't the Time Warp.
The Drama Queen tells us about FIU's Alternative Theatre Summer Festival production of Reefer Madness: The Musical, which opens tomorrow. One of the musical's creators also had a hand in Mystery Science Theatre 3000; if you liked THAT, you'll love THIS.

And Toners in Time, the first installment of the episodic theatre serial by Foryoucansee Theatre, returns for another weekend at New Theatre, so if you weren't part of the packed houses last time, get your $10 tickets now.

The Post's Pulse Finally Has One. Almost.
While the summer theatre scene has been pretty busy so far, the Palm Beach Post has been noticeably missing in action. But Kevin D. Thompson finally has some more stories up in the Post's largely listless PB Pulse website. He offers the feature story on Private Lives at Palm Beach DramaWorks, and gets the skinny from the Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival about their new home. (The latter has an awful headline).

The Price of Admission
So what does your ticket really pay for? John Kramel of Miami Artzine decided to look into it, and found out that whatever you're paying for at regional theatres, it's not covering the costs of the production:
The median ticket price for the event was about $28. Multiplied by the 660 tickets sold, the gross receipts were $18,480. However, if we divide the actual event cost of $70,000 by those 660 seats, we realize that without outside support, the average ticket would have been $106.
Pay attention to those names in the program: they're helping pay for your ticket.

Web Wisdom
You know my position on the importance of maintaining your website. Heck, even the Wall Street Journal's theatre critic knows that.

Well, Mission Paradox feels the same way, and breaks it down for you:
You should assume that no one is going to purchase your art/artistic event without at least a visit to your website and a Google search.
So quit ignoring the 800 pound gorilla that is your website, and do whatever it takes to get it current. And make sure your webmaster reads all these blogs about what we expect to see.

Real Lives Onstage
Steve Rothaus talks with producer Nial Martin for the Miami Herald. Martin wrote and produced His Double Life, a fictionalized account of how he dealt with his sexuality.

Meanwhile, The Drama Queen talks with Matt May about his play, Still Untitled, and the fourteen year journey that brought it to the stage. His play is based not on his own life, but a friend's. You can also read about it in Broadway World.

If it's Crisp, it's Coward
Palm Beach ArtsPaper's Hap Erstein talks with director J. Barry Lewis about his current project, Private Lives, which opened on Friday at Palm Beach Dramaworks.
Private Lives has had many celebrated and scorned productions over the years, but Lewis feels that putting a novel directorial twist on the play would be a mistake. “You don’t do a treatment on this piece,” he says. “You don’t try to reconceive it. What you attempt to do is honor it, to be as faithful to it as it exists on the page and bring that to life.”
Jan Sjostrom of the Palm Beach Daily News says the production is notable:
...aside from Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, its summer productions haven't picked up speed at the box office until the third or fourth week of the runs.

By switching to familiar vintage Broadway comedies, the theater hopes to fill more seats, while adhering to its mission of reviving classic and contemporary plays seldom produced in South Florida.
Meanwhile, Broadway World gives us some background on the play.

Theatre Camp in Miramar.
They're springing up all over; the Sun-Sentinel apparently spent a day at the new Miramar Cultural Arts Center. Hey! They wrote a story!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Elephant Talk Terry Lawrence wrote Speaking Elephant, which premieres next month at The Women's Theatre Project in Fort Lauderdale.

Mary Damiano interviewed Lawrence for Miami ArtZine:
How did the Women's Theatre Project production come about?
Being new to the area, I read a theatre review in the SunSentinel and saw that this company did work by women playwrights with all-female casts. I was finishing up this play that had all women and was by me. I think that's the sound of the universe knocking on my door.
You might have caught Ms. Lawrence on Aisle Say last week, being interviewed alongside Andi Arthur, and discussing theatre with Bill Hirschman and Hap Erstein.

The Women's Theatre Project production of Speaking Elephants opens August 6th, 2009 at Sixth Star Studios.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Note to Anders Gyllenhaal of the Miami Herald.

Mr. Gyllenhaal:
We understand that Christine Dolen will be away on vacation through August 5th. On behalf of the South Florida theatre scene, we'd like to remind you that it's more important to have an actual Miami Herald review than to have a review in the Herald. Please refrain from the inanity of regurgitating someone else's review simply so you can fill space. Such practices do not serve the best interests of your readers, the theater community, or event those of the Herald itself.

Respect your readers. Respect the theater community. And most important of all, pay heed to your own journalistic integrity. Send Christine out to review once she returns. We'd much rather have an actual Herald review late, than to find a re-print of a review we've already read in one of your competitor's editions.

And trust me, everyone who reads reviews will have read it in its original publication.

The South Florida Theatre Scene

(If you agree, you can send him a note at

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Scene for July 17, 2009

A theater holds its first world premiere; a long-standing institution debuts a brand new stage, and a yeoman company presents a crisply written classic. And those are just the three productions that are opening this weekend!

The Actors' Playhouse summer show Married Alive! got a warm reception, and Artistic Director Clive Cholerton hits it out of the ballpark with the world premiere musical VICES: A Love Story at the iconic Caldwell Theatre, the first show of his tenure as top dog.

All in all, it is a great week to see great theatre in South Florida.


Private Lives opens to the public on July 17th at Palm Beach DramaWorks in West Palm Beach. It runs through August 16th. Read what The Drama Queen has to say about it.

Knish Alley makes its world premiere Friday at the Stage Door Theatre, and runs through August 30th, 2009.

Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival debuts in the new Seabreaze Ampitheatre at Jupiter's Carlin Park with A Midsummer Night's Dream. Admission is free, but donations gladly accepted (they lost a county grant when they gained the new stage).

still playing:

Married ALIVE! plays at the Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater through Aug 16.

Vices: A Love Story sizzles at the Caldwell Theatre, and runs through August 2.

The 24th International Hispanic Theatre Festival, presented by Teatro Avante at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. It runs through July 26th. (In Spanish, some shows have subtitles: see website for details)

Still Jewish After All These Years: A Life in Theatre is being performed by its creator, Avi Hoffman, as the little theatre in Santaluces High School in Boynton Beach. It's his last-ditch attempt to raise money to save his troubled company, the New Vista Theatre. The tickets are modestly priced at $20, and I've actually played the Santaluces stage with a school tour a number of years back: it's a sweet little space, and conveniently located. Call 561-482-4144. It plays through August 2. Bring a friend, particularly if they are Adrienne Arsht.

Some Kind of Wonderful! at Florida Stage; it plays through August 30.

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

last chance to see:

Tu Ternura Molotov (Your Molotov Kisses) at Area Stage finishes its extended run July 19, 2009. (In Spanish, with English subtitles).

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 when you call! Closes Sunday, July 19.

The Sol Theatre Project winds up its final (?) production, Men on the Verge of a His-panic Breakdown on Saturday, July 18, 2009.

The New Century departs Gablestage July 19, 2009.

Bent finishes its critically well-received run at Rising Action Theatre Company July 19.

passing through:

Just in case Florida Stage's Some Kind of Wonderful! has got you hankering for more music of the 60's, the Fab Faux show why they are known as the world's greatest Beatles tribute band this Saturday at the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale.

for kids:

Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre presents Stuart Little through August 1, 2009. Peak behind the scenes at The Playground.

Thomas the Tank Engine and all the people of the island of Sodor can be seen in Thomas and Friends LIVE: A Circus Comes to Town. This weekend only at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Actors' Playhouse: Married: Alive! (2 reviews)

Married Alive! premiered at Actors' Playhouse on July 8, opening on July 10th, 2009.
Originally named From Niagara to Viagra, this hilarious new musical shows us the triumphs and defeats of marriage, from babies to empty nests, from job stress to wedded bliss. Married Alive will not only make you laugh, it will make a difference in your life.
David Arisco directed a cast that includes Gary Marachek, Marcia McClain, Julie Kliener and Jason Parrish.

The Sun-Sentinel has declined to review this production.*

John La Raviere reviews for Talkin' Broadway:
...Gary Marachek has enough broad comedic presence to add humor to any scene.
Marcia McClain is well matched with Marachek...
Jason Parrish is entertaining...
Julie Kleiner shows great versatility in this production... and does a nice turn as her own twin sister...
This production of Married Alive! is best described as effervescent fluff. Accompaniment is ably provided by musical director David Nagy on keyboard, and the show does not ever sound in need of more. The melodies are largely forgettable, with the exception of "Stupid in Love" and the '50s style "O Darlin'." A group rap number entitled "That's Right Suckas" is humorous because it is completely ridiculous. emerges as pleasant summertime entertainment.
Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
Book writer/lyricist Sean Grennan and composer Leah Okimoto don't dig for great dramatic insights in Married Alive!, and that's as it should be. For a fun-seeking audience (which is 100 percent this show's demographic), the occasional resonant tug at the heartstrings is just fine.

Director David Arisco's smart casting choices have made the qualitative difference between pleasant summer entertainment and a production that delivers all the laughs and poignant moments its creators dreamed up.

Singing on Actors' upstairs Balcony Theatre stage, Marachek, Kleiner and Parrish have voices that could probably be heard in the downstairs theater -- without amplification.

McClain's vocal instrument is a little more delicate, but just right for touching numbers like It Isn't Important and We Haven't Come So Far, her lovely looking-back duet with Marachek.
Married Alive! aims at nothing more or less than providing a burst of summer fun. And thanks to Arisco's well-chosen cast, it delivers.
I missed this review when it first came out on Sunday: it still doesn't show up with the other theatre reviews in the Herald, nor does it pop up when you click on the link to all of Christine's stories in the Entertainment section. I knew it existed by visiting the Playhouse website, and it took two searches of the Herald's site to find it.

Married: Alive! plays through August 16th at Actors' Playhouse.