Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mosaic Theatre: Make Me A Song (3 reviews)

Mosaic Theatre opened its production of Make Me A Song: The Music of William Finn, on February 25, 2010.
Over twenty hits from one artist's exceptional career unite in splendid harmony in Make Me a Song: The Music of William Finn. Effortlessly woven together, these treasured tunes by the composer of the acclaimed Falsettos series and the Tony Award-winning smash hit The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee tell personal, haunting and often hilarious tales from Finn's rich and touching songbook.
Michael Larsen directs a cast that includes Stephen G. Anthony, Patti Gardner, Julie Kleiner, and Joey Zangardi, with musical direction by David Nagy.

Erika K. Landau reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
From the musical's opener of the same name to the closing, "Heart and Music," the numbers are at times so cartoony and overacted that it's hard to pay attention to the quality of writing that has defined award-winning playwright Finn's career.
When Joey Zangardi quivers his lip, it inspires more of a gag reflex than sympathy for his character. As the play goes on, Zangardi becomes more tolerable in the group number "You're Even Better Than You Think You Are," but it's hard to tell if his delivery has improved, if Finn's script becomes stronger, or if he is just bolstered by the rest of the cast.
Actress Patti Gardner shines as a school teacher...
Anthony transitions nicely from dry and understated — think unflappable college professor — to emotive, subtle, and sympathetic. Yet when Anthony's not the focus, it seems the music stops. Or rather keeps going and going and going.
Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
Even the best theater companies, actors and directors wind up with a what-were-they-thinking disappointment now and then. For the award-winning Mosaic Theatre, that show would be Make Me a Song: The Music of William Finn, the company's just-opened musical revue.
Though the actors are all solid musical theater performers, their vocal blend (sometimes augmented by Nagy singing along) is erratic, even off at times.
All four actors sound better vocally as the 90-minute show goes on. (Do they warm up enough before Make Me a Song starts? Doesn't sound like it.) Gardner's voice sounds particularly ragged, and it doesn't help that she is saddled with a couple of the more shrill songs...
Anthony shines on the a running vocal gag titled Republicans and on the comedic gem Stupid Things I Won't Do, a number Finn wrote for Elaine Stritch from his now-abandoned musical The Royal Family of Broadway. Kleiner and Zangardi bring generically pretty musical theater voices to the piece.
Ron Levitt reviewed for ENV Magazine:
By evening’s end, the verdict was in! Not only does Artistic Director Richard Jay Simon excel in selecting topnotch drama, but can do the totally unexpected – a rare theatrical musical – filled with enough laughs and story-line to provide nearly 90 minutes of complete enjoyment.
Finn sees his ex wife and son, his boyfriend and his spouse as “family.” This may not be a general definition but his delightful cast – Stephen G. Anthony, Patti Gardner, Julie Kleiner and Joey Zangardi – take you into the composer’s mind-set from both his successful Broadway and Off-Broadway show as well as delving into his real-time life.
Michael Larsen, who has a 25 year history in music direction , acting and teaching took over managing the onstage foursome – all four of who transformed Mosaic’s dramatic stage into a musical enclave.
Make Me A Song: The Music of William Finn plays at Mosaic Theatre through March 21, 2010.

Women's Theatre Project: The Year of Magical Thinking (4 reviews)

The Women's Theatre Project opened it's production of Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking on February 18, 2010.
An almost unfathomably shocking period in Joan Didion's life is revealed in this play, capturing the compassion, humor and be-wilderment of a fiercely intelligent woman whose world lurches suddenly from the ordinary to the unimaginable. The one-woman show is a love letter to a child and a tribute to an extraordinary, unconventional marriage, told with raw candor and a brilliant storyteller's gift for the absurd.
Genie Croft directed Angie Radosh in this one-woman show.

In a positive move for a beleaguered online magazine, Roger Martin reviewed for Miami Artzine:
Angie Radosh, as Joan Didion, makes us believe the unbelievable. Her husband is not dead, he's coming back; she hides behind her stoicism, she's a “cool one”, she can handle it all, because she knows he's just gone away. He'll be back. “Magical thinking” will make it so.
A ninety minute one-person play is a difficult thing. For the actor, the director and the audience. A momentary lapse on stage and one feels the need for other actors, fresh faces, new voices. Keep me engrossed, please. But Angie Radosh never lapses. She gives Didion's spare lines such grace and emotion that we are captured from start to finish. Not really a play, but a monologue, Angie Radosh and director Genie Croft do very well by The Year of Magical Thinking. See it.
Hap Erstein reviewed for the Palm Beach ArtsPaper (scroll down):
There is no denying the pain that shoots throughout the pages of Joan Didion’s essay on her close encounter with death and dying... How I wish she had left well enough alone, though, and not adapted her prose into a one-woman show. Over the years, I concede that I have developed a knee-jerk aversion to monodramas, with their lack of dramatic context...
...Angie Radosh is a stalwart stand-in for Didion, very restrained and under control, until the tears that she had been fighting all evening do eventually overtake her. But the thought occurs that this non-theatrical monologue, if it has to be recited at all, might as well be done as a radio play, since there is no action implied by Didion’s words.
Well, Hap did say he doesn't like one-person shows. Chacun à son goût.

Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
Recounting scenes from decades long gone, (playwright Joan Didion) conjures a world of ghosts, speaking in a voice that seems ground down by millennia.

Radosh captures that voice with pure chops, willing herself into old age and timelessness.
Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
Anyone who has lost a loved one will feel sudden deep jolts of connection with The Year of Magical Thinking, writer Joan Didion's now-dramatized memoir about coping with the sudden death of her writer-husband, John Gregory Dunne.
Under Genie Croft's direction, Radosh captures both the literary grace and the reportorial precision of Didion's style.
Navigating a script dense with facts and medical terms, Radosh is always engaging. And when tears at last glisten in her eyes, she shows us that once the numbness wore off and the emotions flowed again, a powerful and insightful woman could begin to heal.
The Year of Magical Thinking plays at The Women's Theatre Project through March 17, 2010.

Palm Beach DramaWorks: American Buffalo (3 reviews)

Palm Beach DramaWorks opened its production of David Mamet's American Buffalo on February 19, 2010.
In this New York Drama Critic's Circle Award-winner, three small time crooks, who fancy themselves businessmen pursuing legitimate free enterprise, are merely pawns caught up in their own game of dead-end, empty pipe dreams.
William Hayes directed a cast that features Dennis Creaghan, John Leonard Thompson, and Matthew Mueller.

Jan Sjostrom reviewed for the Palm Beach Daily News:
The production at Palm Beach Dramaworks stumbles in its pacing, which robs the play of some of its power.
I sometimes wonder if Jan is seeing the same show as the other reviewers.
Director William Hayes might have given the audience a better ride if he'd dialed down the anger and reined in an over-amped performance from John Leonard Thompson as Teach.

Thompson obviously is a passionate actor, and he's well-cast as Teach, whose short fuse inadequately masks his self-doubt.
This might not be a perfect production, but it captures much of Mamet's dark magic. We don't see much Mamet in South Florida theater. Dramaworks deserves praise for programming this tough, still disturbing, classic play.
That's an odd statement from Jan, considering how many Mamet plays have been and are being staged in South Florida this season. Perhaps she just means "South Florida theatre, if you mean only the theatres within a stone's throw of the Village of Palm Beach." Get off the island, Jan, and visit more than just three of the 30 producing companies in the area.

Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
Director William Hayes has his actors full of pumped-up bravado, paying constant tribute to their homemade ethos.
The actors are finely tuned instruments — there is not a weak link between them, and together they capture wounded pride, bewilderment, and pathological braggadocio as well as it can be captured on a stage. By the end of the second act, Hayes has cranked them into a symphony of suspicion and sorrow that is as lovely as it is sad.
Hap Erstein reviewed for the Palm Beach Post:
A season ago on Broadway, a badly miscast production of David Mamet’s American Buffalo cast doubt on the theatrical viability of this 1977 low-rent, high-profanity heist play. But now comes Palm Beach Dramaworks, which usually traffics in neglected classics rather than those with tarnished reputations, to show that this verbal sparring match still has plenty of punch.
With American Buffalo, Mamet established the foul-mouthed, fragmentary, elliptical street poetry that would be his signature style. It can sound artificial, but coming from an accomplished trio of performers under William Hayes’s nimble direction, the language comes off as natural. Every repetitive, misused word of it.
...the play works simply on the strength of it character-rich, ping-ponging dialogue, with no metaphorical leaps necessary.

There is not much plot to American Buffalo, but it is hard to miss that it is the work of a first-class storyteller and that is reason enough to see it.
American Buffalo plays at Palm Beach DramaWorks through April 4, 2010.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sins of the Mother SOLD OUT

via twitter:

For those of you using Internet Exploder, it say "SINS OF THE MOTHER is SOLD OUT! Instead, check out AMERICAN BUFFALO at Palm Beach DramaWorks, with sound design by our very own Matt Kelly"

Of course, you can also see what else is out there by checking out this weekend's The Scene.

Congratulations to Florida Stage!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Scene for February 26, 2010

It's raining cats and dogs as I prepare this week's Scene, and I'm fighting the cold I thought I kicked two weeks ago. It's been a very busy month here at the Theatre Scene, and it's been a busy month on the theatre scene, too. Kudos to Christine Dolen for her output last week, and to Brandon for getting three reviews into his two slots. Hap Erstein also diligently knocked out reviews for the Post and the ArtsPaper. A lot of reviews saw print this past week.

Sadly, the Sun-Sentinel was missing in action, and Miami ArtZine's new reviewer is an even worse joke than Rod Stafford Hagwood. Hopefully EdgeMiami and South Florida Gay News can take up the slack.


The Bully Pulpit plays this weekend only at the Burt Reynolds Under-the-Bridge Players through Saturday, February 27th.

Underdog Productions presents Do You Speak Mexican? Sunday night only at Area Stage. I don't think they're handing out flan this time.

Make Me A Song: The Music of William Finn opens at Mosaic Theatre, through Mar 21.

Sarah Kane's Blasted opens at Gablestage, and plays through March 21.

The Caldwell Theater Company opens The Old Man and the Sea on Sunday, it plays March 28, 2010.

still playing:

Come Blow Your Horn at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through Mar 7

Slow Burn Theatre Company's debut production, Bat Boy: the Musical, plays through March 7.

Sins of the Mother at Florida Stage plays through March 7.

The Year of Magical Thinking plays at The Women's Theatre Project through March 17, 2010.

Singin' In The Rain at the Broward Stage Door Theatre plays through Mar 28.

American Buffalo plays at Palm Beach DramaWorks through Apr 4.

last chance to see:

Tintypes at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre closes Feb 28.

Mahalia: a Gospel Musical at The M Ensemble winds up on February 28.

The One Community One Play production of Melt closes Sunday, February 28 at the Miracle Theatre.

passing through:

Other than My Health, I have Nothing (and today I don't feel so good), Bruce Smirnoff's one-man show, plays Saturday and Sunday at the Broward Center.

Tony & Tina's Wedding returns to the Broward Center through February 28, displacing Laffing Matterz until March.

The 39 Steps camps it up at the Parker Playhouse through Feb 28.

Platanos and Collard Greens plays at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts through February 28..

Jersey Boys returns to South Florida at the Kravis Center, through Mar 28.

for kids:

42nd Street is presented by the Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre at the Broward Public Library auditorium at the Main Branch in Fort Lauderdale through March 6, 2010.

A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings returns to the Playground Theatre through March 14.

Jack and the Beanstalk plays at Actors' Playhouse through March 27.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

SIGHTINGS: Tally Sessions

Urinetown4Tally Sessions is no stranger to South Florida audiences.  From his first appearance in Florida Stage's Spitfire Grill, to his award-winning performances in The Full Monty and Floyd Collins at Actors' Playhouse, Sessions is a crowd-pleaser.

He's pictured here with Rachel Jones in the Actors' Playhouse production of Urinetown.

He's currently appearing Off-Broadway in Yank, at the York Theatre, and although it's a small role, he's getting good press:
Todd Faulkner and Tally Sessions stand out as the more interesting of the military folk.
- Talkin' Broadway
Special mention should be made of the four actors — Andrew Durand, David Perlman, Christopher Ruth and Tally Sessions — who serve as Stu's military buddies. The roles may be stereotypes, straight out of central casting, but the actors manage to stamp their own personalities on them.
- New York MetroMix
Congratulations, Tally!  Hopefully, we'll have another chance to see you perform on a South Florida stage at some point.

Scene from The 39 Steps

The Herald has a clip from the Broadway production of Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps. The touring version is playing at the Parker Playhouse through this Sunday. If you haven't seen it, or aren't sure if it's your cup of tea, this scene gives you a good idea of what the show is like:

I don't think Hitchcock ever staged a death quite like that...

Florida Stage Announces First Kravis Center Show

<i>Low Down Dirty Blues</i>Florida Stage's first play at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts will be Low Down Dirty Blues, continuing its tradition of doing premiere musicals in the summer.
From the creators of the Tony-nominated show It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues. For decades, Blues artists have captivated audiences with the Dirty Blues, music packed with passion and soul,along with innuendo, insinuation and, above all, humor! Featuring songs made (in)famous by the likes of Mae West, Muddy Waters, Ma Rainey, Sophie Tucker, Howlin’ Wolf, Pearl Bailey and many others, Low Down Dirty Blues is a rousing, raucous, musical good time!
Tickets go on sale April 1 for the production, which will run July 17 through September 5, 2010.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

One Community One Play: Melt (3 reviews)

One Community One Play opened Michael McKeever's Melt at the Miracle Theatre on February 18, 2010.
As a new skyline forms over the city of Miami, histories, traditions, and heritage are slowly being lost. And, perhaps, new ones are being created. Three families - one Cuban, one African-American, and one Jewish - collide, intermingle, and eventually blend as Melt unfolds its intricately woven tapestry of family, history, and hope.
Stuart Meltzer directed a cast that included John Felix, Reiss Gaspard, Nicholas Richberg, Teresa María Rojas, Javier Siut, and Lela Elam.

Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Miami New Times:
Michael McKeever's Melt debuted two years ago at the New Theatre in Coral Gables. I missed it. It won the Carbonell Award for Best New Play and was mounted again, with either the same or nearly the same cast in New York City, and I didn't see it then either. Now, having caught it during a two-week engagement with a mostly new cast at Actors' Playhouse, I wish I had seen it both other times too.

Because Melt is the kind of play you come back to.
Through the personas of two women, two Jews, two Hispanics, two gays, and no WASPS, McKeever endeavors to tell the Magic City's untold story, or at least a version of it, and he succeeds.
Under the direction of Stuart Meltzer — who paces the play slowly but not stolidly, like an August day spent drinking caipirinhas in Wynwood — several of the actors perform minor miracles. John Felix and Teresa Maria Rojas seem to carry the city's history on their shoulders as they take their deliberate steps around the stage, and their words are weighted with the knowledge that, for every thought they share, there are a hundred that will never be spoken. And Lela Elam — after picking up her role only two days before opening, when another actor fell ill — crafts a nuanced, multilayered portrait of a lady who has spent her professional life attaining a street cred she secretly believes she may never deserve.
Full disclosure: I spent the last five minutes of Melt in tears, because apart from anything else, it is a lonely finger pointing into the darkness of yesteryear and tracing the rough contours of all that's lost — to deaths and goodbyes and redevelopments and displacements. It is also an impassioned plea from a writer, a director, and seven actors to please, not forget, or lose anymore.
Mary Damiano reviewed for South Florida Gay News:
Lela Elam, who stepped into the role of Adelle just a few days before the opening when actress Tara Vodihn was hospitalized, wasn’t off book on opening night, but her strong performance was not marred by referring to her script. Elam is amazing—in a monologue recalling her grandfather’s memories of Miami, she morphs into an old man with her voice and body language, and then just as seamlessly back into her own character.
One of the most touching scenes in Melt is between Marta and Isaac, the Cuban and the Jew, when the two bond over family and illness outside a hospital. Rojas and Felix are excellent as they size each other up, initially with annoyance, but gradually let their baggage fall away as they discover their commonality.
Melt is poetic and lyrical, although the decision to stage it with all the characters on stage weighs it down. To see the characters frozen in tableau while one scene is spotlighted adds too much solemnity to the piece. It’s too somber, and lacks the pacing that would make this production more compelling.

Still, Melt is a well-written and well-acted play, with well-written characters that audience members are sure to recognize from their own lives.
Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
Several members of Leadership Miami felt so strongly about the play's power to spur discussion that they invited nearly 900 high school students to see it in a one-time-only performance last year. Now, thanks to their efforts and their passion for the play, it has returned yet again, this time for a two-weekend run in the upstairs Balcony Theatre at Actors' Playhouse the Miracle Theatre.
(Actors' Playhouse is a production company, and they didn't produce this show. It played at the Miracle Theatre. - Ed.)
McKeever's graceful, funny, insightful writing makes his moving characters live and breathe. That Melt won the Carbonell, the region's highest theater honor, is no surprise.
The simple new production, staged by Stuart Meltzer, features two actors reprising their roles from the original (Felix and Siut), one who joined for the Gusman show (Richberg) and three who are new to the piece (Rojas, Gaspard and Elam). All are terrific: Rojas and Siut with their funny mami-and-son interplay, Felix with his heartbreaking decline, Richberg and Gaspard as loving partners with issues. And then there's Elam.

Elam is really new to the play: Replacing Tara Vodihn, who had to leave the cast because of a medical issue, Elam had 48 hours before Friday's opening night to learn the role of Adelle. And though the Carbonell-winning actress consulted a "notebook'' (really the script) in a few scenes, she flawlessly delivered several key speeches from memory.

The One Community One Play production of Melt runs through February 28 at the Miracle Theatre.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Season 2010-2011 From The Book End Theatres

The two largest producing theatres in South Florida - and our book-ends, if you will - the Malt Jupiter Theatre in Palm Beach County and Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater in Miami-Dade County, have announced their line-ups for next season.  While you might be thinking "subscription drives," the real reason to have the season line up this early is group sales. Various event planners have already started booking their bus trips for next year, and they won't wait until the spring to find out what's available.

The Drama Queen is enthusiastic about the next season at Actors' Playhouse:
"... simply put, it is potentially the best in the award-winning theater's long history." - Christine Dolen
The Color of Desire, a new play by Nilo Cruz; OLIVER!, the award-winning Lionel Bart musical; The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by William Finn and Rachel Sheinkin; August, Osage County, and Alfred Hitchcocks The 39 Steps.

You might be surprised that the Playhouse would do two shows that have seen productions this season: but Spelling Bee didn't really get a full-blown production.  As for The 39 Steps, the Parker Playhouse also hosted the tour of The Great American Trailer Park Musical, and patrons who saw both said David Arisco's production left the tour in the dust.  Admittedly, this is a stronger production this time, but the distance between Fort Lauderdale and Coral Gables is probably just far enough. has the line up for The Maltz Jupiter Theatre:
"This season, audiences can explore award-winning new works and discover new reasons to love American theatre treasures," said Andrew Kato, Artistic Director of the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. "We are especially proud of Academy, which got its start here in Jupiter."
The season line up in its entirety: Twelve Angry Men; Academy; The Sound of Music; Jolson at the Wintergarden, and Crazy For you.

Crazy for You started its post-Broadway life at the Jupiter Theatre, and set a box office record un-matched until this past season with Evita.  We're sure that if anyone can make lightning strike twice, it's Andrew Kato and his team.

More season line-ups as they are announced.

Aisle Say Today at 2pm

Just a reminder that Hap Erstein and Bill Hirschman will be 'broadcasting' on today at 2pm.

The line-up today:
  • Actor Dennnis Creaghan will discuss the stretch from the wealthy (if crooked) financier of The Voysey Inheritance to the much earthier crooked pawn shop owner in American Buffalo.
  • reviews of Angie Radosh in The Year of Magical Thinking
  • reviews of Slow Burn Theatre's debut production of Bat Boy: The Musical
Last year, the Theatre Scene "live blogged" the show. Today, we'll be live-tweeting it. Twitter updates a little easier than the blog, making for a better experience for those following it. And you can get updates on your cell phone, if that's what you prefer.

You can follow our twitter feed at And feel free to tweet back.

Mondays are Dark

Jeez, it's almost March. Wasn't it just New Year's? Here's your ArtZine-Free Monday reading list.

McKeever, Meltzer, & Melt
Mary Damiano of South Florida Gay News interviews director Stuart Meltzer and playwright Michael McKeever. They discuss their collaboration in life, and in theatre. Christine Dolen writes about the show (but not the creators' relationship) in The Drama Queen. Melt is also the Herald's Stage Pick.

Hap's Stream of Consciousness
In his Palm Beach Post theatre round-up, you start off reading about American Buffalo, and without warning - hold the fish! Whaaaat? (Actually, I think the editors simply forgot to format the article). Hap recaps American Buffalo at DramaWorks, Old Man and the Sea at Caldwell, and shouts out to Marion J. Caffey for his success with Street Corner Symphony.

Fish Story
...Channel 2's uVu Blog has come photos of the Caldwell production of Old Man and the Sea, while talks with director Clive Cholerton.

A New Sales Model
The Artful Manager discusses a concept he describes as "Netflix, only for live theater." The Executive Director of the company who came up with the plan says it's "Like a gym membership." The gist: instead of "five shows for the price of three," pay $25 a month and "see anything any time." talks with Carl Scandiuzzi about the new approach taken by his company, ACT.

It's Finally Landed
Barbara Stein and David Arisco have been kicking around the idea of producing Miss Saigon for years. The Miami Theatre Examiner talks with them about it, but never asks them about the helicopter. We'll just have to wait and see; fortunately, not much longer.

Back to Classics
After a string of mixed reviews for world premiere plays, reports that New Theatre has assembled an all star cast to do Peter Shaffer's Equus. Director Ricky J. Martinez did an amazing job with The Glass Menagerie last season, so expectations are high for Equus.

Theater 4 Sale, Gr8t Fixr Upper
The Palm Beach Daily News reports that the Cuillo Center for the Arts is up for sale. Originally built as the New Florida Theater in 1949, the building has been home to The Stage Company, Florida Repertory Company, and the Burt Reynolds Institute for Theatre Training, which gutted the space for an extensive make-over 11 years ago.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Slow Burn Theatre: Batboy: The Musical (3 reviews)

Slow Burn Theatre premiered on the South Florida theatre scene with their production of Bat Boy: The Musical, which opened at the West Boca Community High School Auditorium on February 18, 2010.
Ripped from the headlines of The Weekly World News, BAT BOY THE MUSICAL is a classic love story with a serious bite. This delicious twist on the modern day musical comedy tells the amazing story of a strange boy with pointy ears, his struggle to find a place in a world that shuns him, and the love that can create both miracles and madness.
Patrick Fitzwater directed a cast that includes Rick Pena, Joe Harter, Nikki Bromberg, Matthew Korinko, Lissen Ellington, Stephanie Simon, Sean Muldoon, Eric Jaffe, Anne Chamberlain and James Carrey.

John LaRiviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway:
The set and lighting design for this production are well crafted. The most memorable images are a tangle of tall trees backlit in blood red, and beams of lights cutting through fog. The sound is a bit too loud, as the singing and tracked accompaniment are harsh on the ears.
Director Patrick Fitzwater has brought about as much clarity to the plot as possible by playing the story straightforward rather than going for every obvious comic ploy.
The best singing, acting and chemistry comes from Simon, Korinko, Chamberlain and Rick Pena (Bat Boy). I suppose this is as it should be, but there is unevenness in the ensemble. With an ensemble that is slightly smaller than normally used for this show, it becomes more obvious. The voices are there, but some faces look completely blank for entire songs or scenes, and feet scramble to get in step. With that said, if you are a fan of Bat Boy: The Musical and the sound of contemporary Broadway, this is a solid, well-sung version and a decent way to kick off a promising new theatre's season.
Hap Erstein reviewed for the Palm Beach Post:
There are problems of scale and volume in its first ever production, but with its opening selection, Bat Boy: The Musical, the new Slow Burn Theatre Company could never be accused of playing it safe.
...the score by Laurence O’Keefe is full of witty lyrics and song genres that range from hip-hop to gospel to pure Broadway, justification enough for a revival of the material. If you are tired of the usual musicals and are hungry for something with a little, um, bite to it, Bat Boy: The Musical may be just what you crave.
Director-choreographer (and co-artistic director of the company) Patrick Fitzwater’s comic instincts are on-target, but he starts with the distinct disadvantage that Slow Burn performs at the cavernous West Boca High School auditorium while Bat Boy: The Musical clearly calls for a more intimate playing space.
Scenic designer Ian T. Almeida does wonders with his clever scenery — you have to love the stalagmite/stalagtite teeth on the back wall — but Traci Almeida’s sound is pitched way too loudly, as if she thinks someone will ever sit in the back half of the auditorium, and most of the crowd scenes are painfully shrill.
Although Slow Burn is not yet employing Equity actors, Fitzwater has several worthy principal performers. As the bat boy, Rick Pena sings well, is plenty quirky and also maintains audience sympathy throughout. Chamberlain makes her love for him credible, but she is upstaged by Simon as her Donna Reed-ish mom, whose conflicted feelings over Edgar are eventually explained.
Slow Burn needs to learn how to use its theater more effectively, but with the niche it wants to carve on the local theater scene, the company is a welcome addition even with its initial missteps.
Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
Bat Boy, which was inspired by a Weekly World News story about a half-human, half-bat found living in a cave... isn't provocative, incendiary or intelligent. It's a stylized, gleefully silly musical theater spoof...
Its major roles -- Bat Boy (Rick Peña), veterinarian Thomas Parker (Slow Burn founder Korinko), the doc's wife Meredith (Stephanie Simon) and their daughter Shelley (Anne Chamberlain) -- are played by talented actor-singers who can really belt it out. Ian T. Almeida's set, Traci Almeida's sound design and Lance Blank's lighting serve the show well, though the sound level on opening night was way, way too high. It's a musical, not an eardrum-bursting concert, folks.
The supporting players are less assured, particularly when executing director-choreographer Fitzwater's dance moves, and some... give the sort of performance you'll find in a not-so-hot community theater. Technical glitches abounded on opening night: blackouts that lasted too long, a nonfunctioning microphone for Peña at first, actors not always in sync with the recorded music track.
...if Slow Burn is to set the South Florida theater world on fire, its founders will have to raise their game in a right-sized space with better funding, more qualitatively uniform casting and greater attention to the little details that add up to a strong production.
The Slow Burn Theatre production of Bat Boy: The Musical, plays at the West Boca Community High School Auditorium through March 7, 2010.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Arsht Center: Platanos And Collard Greens (1 Review)

David Lamb's Platanos and Collard Greens opened at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on February 17, 2010. It was previously staged off-Broadway in New York back in 2003.
Spicy, sweet and delicious, Platanos and Collard Greens is the long-running off-Broadway hip-hop romantic comedy that asks if love between blacks and Latinos can survive. College kids Freeman and Angelita give it a try—until her Mom finds out and has a heart attack. It's a star-crossed love affair guaranteed to make you think while laughing out loud!
Doni Comas directs a cast includes herself, Phillip J. Smith, Karina Ortiz, Preston, Taylor, and Sandie Luna.

A patron's view: Midtown Chic-a caught the show, and blogged about it. It's just what you want to hear from your audience:
...this past weekend, Juan and his cousins, Jessika and Jared and I all walked over to the Arsht (best part of living in midtown – you can walk there!) to catch the Friday night show. Needless to say, from the moment we sat down to the moment it ended, we were all doubled-over with laughter and reciting memorable lines from the show.
I personally loved the combination of spoken word, hip hop references and musical talent shared amongst this clever cast. There were definitely times when I would look at Juan and whisper “Did she just say that?!” or “Oh yea, I’ve heard that one before!” that give it this element that was all a bit too close to home. But by the end of the show, we were all walking out with huge smiles on our faces.
...kudos to the Arsht for taking chances with features such as this. It opens the whole theatre experience to a broader audience.
(h/t to Rick at the South Florida Daily Blog)(and no, I'm not counting it as an official review, but since Artzine's write-up fell into the gutter, I thought I'd include it).

Christin Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
Though it has been compared to a modern-day West Side Story, it is in no way as polished or moving as its grand musical predecessor.

But it is, more often than not, an experiment in form that is a blast to watch.
Playwright Lamb, an attorney who turned his novel Do Platanos Go Wit Collard Greens? into a play that has found ongoing success on the college theater circuit, doesn't work from any kind of traditional dramatic structure. Instead, Platanos and Collard Greens is a mash-up of poetry slam, hip-hop, comic scenes, history lessons and the occasional flavoring of dramatic tension.
Platanos and Collard Greens becomes a crazy-happy evening of theater because of its deft performers. Smith originated the role of Freeman seven years ago, and he nails all of its humor and style. Preston Taylor plays OK, a wannabe superstar of the music biz, and the roar he gets as the cast takes its bows is completely deserved -- he is broadly but riotously funny. Comas, who also staged the show at the Carnival, makes Pops the kind of goofball dad who's completely fine with embarrassing his son.
...the two women who really seize attention in Platanos are, unsurprisingly, the ones with the funny roles. Florida International University grad Raven Garcia is a hoot as two different friends of Angelita's, terrible would-be singer Nilsa and club girl Julia. And Krystal Farris is stylized perfection as Malady, an ambitious girl who once crushed on Freeman but proved too much for him to handle.
Platanos and Collard Greens plays at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts through February 28, 2010.

The Scene for February 19, 2010 UPDATED

Somehow, I missed MELT, playing at Actors' Playhouse this weekend and next. It's being produced by One Community, One Play. I also missed The Year of Magical Thinking at The Women's Theatre Project.

It's a busy week in the theatre scene; four shows opening this weekend in regional theatres, three shows opening at performing arts centers, a new children's show, and the Carbonell Award Nominations are out. Sins of the Mother is the most-reviewed show currently playing while no one has published a review of Singing in the Rain.


Slow Burn Theatre Company launches its debut production, Bat Boy: the Musical, through March 7.

American Buffalo opens at Palm Beach DramaWorks and plays through Apr 4.

Sarah Kane's Blasted opens at Gablestage, and plays through March 21.

The Caldwell Theater Company opens The Old Man and the Sea on Sunday, it plays March 28, 2010.

still playing:

Tintypes opens this week at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, and plays through Feb 28.

Singin' In The Rain, opens Friday at the Broward Stage Door Theatre, through Mar 28.

Mahalia: a Gospel Musical plays at The M Ensemble through February 28.

Sins of the Mother at Florida Stage plays through March 7.

Come Blow Your Horn at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through Mar 1

last chance to see:

Sordid Lives winds up at The Rising Action Theatre February 21.

Making Porn ends its extended run at the Empire Stage on February 21.

passing through:

Tony & Tina's Wedding returns to the Broward Center, displacing Laffing Matterz until March.

A Tribute to Webber, Bernstein and other Broadway Masters plays at Coral Springs Center for the Arts on February 19 only.

Romeo & Juliet plays at the Kravis Center through Mar 21.

The A national tour of Cabaret stops this weekend at Crest Theatre.

The 39 Steps camps it up at the Parker Playhouse through Feb 28.

Platanos and Collard Greens plays at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts through February 28..

Jersey Boys returns to South Florida at the Kravis Center, through Mar 28.

for kids:

A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings returns to the Playground Theatre through March 14.

Jack and the Beanstalk plays at Actors' Playhouse through March 27.

Sightings: Vinnette Carroll

Yes, Vinnette Carroll died eight years ago, but American Theatre Wing has posted a interview she recorded with Christine Dolen and moderator David Diamond a few years before her death.  You can listen to it online, or download the mp3 file.

The old Vinnette Carroll Repertory Theatre is now Cinema Paradiso, home to the Fort Lauderale International Film Festival.

Is Miami ArtZine going down the Toilet?

If you consider a paper's theatre review as a sort of "canary in the mineshaft," the ArtZine is in trouble.

Mary Damiano recently left the ArtZine to become arts editor at the South Florida Gay News. When I heard this news, I shrugged, and wondered who they'd find to replace her. Maybe there was a hint of anticipation that we'd have a fresh new voice, with a background in theatre review.

Those hopes have been dashed. Instead of a step up, or at least a new perspective, theatre review in South Florida has hit a new low. Instead of an insightful reviewer who offers thoughtful and thought-provoking analysis, we have James Cubby.

On the positive side, the latest play review in the online magazine is brief. In fact, it's comprised of exactly FIVE SENTENCES. But that's the only positive note we can offer. One has to wonder what other shows James Cubby has seen. Why do I say that? Because of this sentence, which comprises a substantial portion of his review of The Cocktail Hour:
The Edge Rep production offers an excellent version of this play.
Who wouldn't be suspicious? The words "Edge Rep" and "excellent" in the same sentence is not a common occurrence. I'm not saying that it couldn't happen. Wouldn't it be great that after years of some of the worst productions in South Florida, the team at Edge had an epiphany that brought them to new heights? Sure it would. But if that's happened, that should be included in the review.

How did they do this turnaround (if it has occurred)? Well, according to Cubby:
The cast... all give stellar performances deserving of a much larger space than the small stage at The Literary Café.
So much for a well-written, insightful review.

And who is James Cubby, who wrote this five sentence review? He seems to have appeared full-blown from under a cabbage leaf. The results of a Google search indicate that he wrote a book that is "about to be published," and he did a low-budget film, once. What does not show up is a single theatre review prior to this one.

The problem we are left with is this: how IS the show at the Edge Rep? Is Cocktail Hour any good? It's possible. It's directed by Jerry Jensen, who has had some modest successes. Members of the cast have worked in professional theatres all over South Florida. So it is entirely possible that it is as good as Cubby claims. But since we have no idea if he's ever seen anything good, we can't tell. If he'd written a proper review, we might be able to give him the benefit of the doubt, but he didn't, so we can't.

Hopefully, someone will do a proper review of The Cocktail Hour. And when they do, we'll create the usual review page. In the meantime, Miami Artzine is on probation: I won't waste my time on it if this is what they consider quality writing on the arts.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Florida Stage: Sins of the Mother (7 reviews)

Florida Stage opened Sins of the Mother, a play by Israel Horovitz, on January 29, 2010.
Legendary playwright Israel Horovitz spins a haunting mystery exposing the tragic truths that bind the families of a small New England fishing town together as a closely held secret threatens to tear the town apart. An explosive new drama about revenge and forgiveness. A part of the 70/70 Horovitz Project, a year-long, worldwide event celebrating Horovitz's 70th birthday with 70 productions of Horovitz plays.
Israel Horovitz directed a cast that included Brian Claudio Smith, Francisco Solorzano, David Nail, and Gordon McConnell.

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

Terry Teachout reviewed for the Wall Street Journal:
It's an unpretentious yet memorable piece of work, a concise, sharp-edged snapshot of working-class life that packs the dramatic punch of A View From the Bridge or August: Osage County. The cast is ideal, the staging ferociously right. This is a show with no weak links, one that in a better-regulated world would now be playing on Broadway.
Not only is Sins of the Mother supremely well made, but the dialogue is so believable as to border on the stenographic... the play feels as though it might have been written by one of the characters, though it's hard to imagine a Gloucester fisherman who could weave so complex a plot.
Mr. Smith, Gordon McConnell, David Nail and Francisco Solorzano all give performances wholly worthy of the play, which Mr. Horovitz has staged with blunt, unsparing straightforwardness. Richard Crowell... has gone in the opposite direction here, creating a union meeting room so bare and decayed that looking at it makes you shiver.
This was my first visit to Florida Stage... From now on it will be a regular stop on my reviewing itinerary. Sins of the Mother is one of the strongest American plays to come my way in recent seasons, one that I fully expect to be taken up by regional companies all over the country. I'm eager to see it again—but I'll be surprised if anybody does it better than Florida Stage.
Wow. It does not get any better than that. Congratulations to everyone at Florida Stage: well done!

Jan Sjostrom reviewed for the Palm Beach Daily News:
The production is stunning, rather like a blow to the solar plexus. Not a word is wasted, not a performance is off-key, and the story packs the suspense of a thriller novel.
As director, Israel Horovitz steers a pitch-perfect.... As writer, he crafts a high-stakes story...
The show is beautifully produced, with sets by Richard Crowell that whisk from the grungy union hall to Bobby's tacky living room. Sins of the Mother is a great catch.
John LaRiviere reviewed for
Gordon McConnell is a deft character actor who manages to find depth to any character and decorate them with quirks. He does not disappoint in his portrayal of Bobby, as he has the right amount of grit and heart.
Brian Claudio Smith plays the double role of identical twins Frankie and Philly. He is perfect as Frankie—on edge—a wise guy who doesn't know when to stop pushing. He shows diversity in his portrayal of Philly, who is cool and odd. David Nail shows wonderful timing as Dubbah, and makes the most of his comedic moments and the slightly nerdy nature of his character.
It is said to be unwise for authors to direct their own work. It may be that playwright Israel Horovitz would have benefited from a crisp objective view of his play Sins of the Mother.
Erica K. Laundau "reviewed" for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
What results varies from highly entertaining dialogue and insights into Massachusetts-style gabbing to nuanced, dark, and often hilarious critiques of human nature.
Five paragraphs, and that's all she really says. Wow, the new kid sucks at reviewing! She barely mentions 2 actors in passing, and then only to note that characters are portrayed by them. The program listing would tell us more about the cast than Ms. Landau has.

What about the acting? What about the direction? What about the design elements? Why did she even bother seeing the play if all she's going to review is the script? Even the Sun-Sentinel's fashion editor does a better job than this, and he can't write in complete sentences. What a monumental waste of newsprint. Please, bring back Brandon.

J. W. Arnold reviewed for
Richard Crowell’s thorough sets—you have to see the show to truly appreciate his flawless attention to detail—first transport the audience from Florida Stage’s strip mall theater in Manalapan to a neglected union hall in Gloucester where Horowitz introduces four men who, in their own ways, must deal with the “sins” of their mothers...
One by one, the excellent ensemble of actors is forced to confront their demons.
Louis Tyrrell’s company rarely disappoints and, in addition to set designer Crowell, the technical team again delivers work on par with the cast. Matt Kelly’s sound design, Erin Amico’s costumes and Suzanne M. Jones’ lighting design, are first-rate.
Hap Erstein reviewed for the Palm Beach Post and and the Palm Beach Arts Paper:
In each act of his new wily, cynical tale, Sins of the Mother, the veteran stage master begins with low-key conversations that amount to a crafty dawdle. Audiences may even grow impatient with his repetition of minute details in what sounds like idle chat. But never doubt that Horovitz has calibrated each exchange, each lightly comic laugh line, as he inches towards resolutions both startling and satisfying. - Post
McConnell heads the cast as the production’s father figure, a critical role in a play full of parent-child tensions. Alternately hot-tempered and teary-eyed, he gives a pitch-perfect performance that culminates in a eulogy laden with irony. - ArtsPaper
The rest of the cast has been imported by Horovitz from other productions of the play. Sure enough, they could not be better, notably Smith who gives a stunning second-act monologue of barely contained paternal hatred. - Post
In his double roles, Smith is a standout... - ArtsPaper
Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
This new production is, like its author, dynamic. And no wonder: It was staged by Horovitz himself.
...Florida Stage's production is captivating to watch as well as gloriously acted -- particularly by Smith in the showy roles of look-alike but not-so-identical twins, and by McConnell, whose jitteriness suggests post-traumatic stress disorder and who feels so authentic as a guilty Gloucester burn-out case that you can almost smell the salt water wafting from the stage.
Sins of the Mother plays at Florida Stage through March 7, 2010.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mitch Carrey, 62

From Conundrum Stages, via Facebook:
We would like to remember actor Mitchell Carrey, who passed away this week at age 62. Mr. Carrey has been a professional actor with over 4 decades of experience. He has regional, Broadway and off-Broadway credits. As for this region, he has performed at area theatres including Harlequin, Dreamers Theatre and the Public Theatre of South Florida. Mr. Carrey has participated in our readings including Another Part of the Forest, Death of a Salesman and The Homecoming. He will surely be missed. Funeral services will be held on Friday, February 19th, 10am at the Star of David, 7701 Bailey Road in North Lauderdale. For more information, please call 954-722-9000.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

2009 Carbonell Award Nominations - UPDATED 2x

Update 2

Hap Erstein weighs in for the Palm Beach ArtsPaper.
 There was nothing miserable about the Actors’ Playhouse production of the epic musical Les Miserables, the nominating committee for the 34th annual Carbonell Awards said Tuesday as it showered the show with 12 nominations.
The Palm Beach Post picked up Jan Sjostrom, who also wrote this article for the Shiny Sheet, and also submitted the list of nominees.  In wicked mind-f*ck, the Post article only lists the Palm Beach County winners, while her Shiny Sheet article at least starts off with a breakdown of nominations by county:
Palm Beach County theaters led the way Tuesday with 38 nominations for the 2009 Carbonell awards. Miami-Dade theaters closely trailed with 37 nominations and Broward theaters brought up the rear with 25.
Don't cry for Broward County; they have a pitiful handful of theatres compared to Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

Christine Dolen blogs about the awards on The Drama Queen.  While she congratulates Paul Tei for his 2 nods (Best Director for Broadsword, and Best Actors in Speed-The-Plow), but points out that Greg Weiner will almost certainly take home an award:
..a best actor nod for Dumb Show at Promethean, two best supporting nominations for A Doll's House at Palm Beach Dramaworks and Farragut North at GableStage, and a chance to share in a best ensemble win for Farragut North or Broadsword.
And now I have to step up on a soapbox.  My problem with this has nothing to do with Greg, but with the egregious violation of categorical definition.  The entire point of Best Ensemble is that you can't point a finger at any one performance and say "that one."  Since an ensemble piece, by definition, doesn't have leading and supporting roles, there can't be nominations for either category.  They either need to drop the category, or do a better job policing the nominations.  'Nuff  said.

Christine also has an analysis as a feature in the Miami Herald.  She breaks down the nominations, and also has them broken down by theatre.  But here are some highlights:
The Actors' Playhouse production of Les Misérables earned a dozen nominations, the most of any show. Other strong contenders in the musical category are two biographical shows -- Barnum at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre with eight nominations and Cagney at Florida Stage with seven -- and the Caldwell Theatre Company's world premiere musical Vices: A Love Story, which also got eight nominations.
In the not-so-happy category, Coral Gables' New Theatre, which now focuses on new work, was shut out by nominators. Manalapan's Florida Stage, which has also built its reputation on premiering challenging new plays, got seven of its nine nominations for one musical, Cagney. And Mosaic Theatre's ambitious production of Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll yielded a lone nomination, while its staging of Sarah Ruhl's Dead Man's Cell Phone was ignored. also has the story and the complete list of nominations.
Actor Gregg Weiner and sound designer Matt Corey are tied for the most individual nominations with three each, yet Weiner could be the night's big winner if he takes home a fourth honor as a cast member of  Broadsword or GableStage's Farragut North which have both been nominated for Best Ensemble.

Double nominees, not including Best Ensemble nominations, include director Joe Adler, choreographer Chrissi Ardito, actor Todd Allen Durkin, music director Helen Gregory, set designer Sean McClelland and lighting designer Jeff Quinn as well as Paul Tei who is nominated in acting and directing categories.   Robert Creighton and Christopher McGovern also have two nominations each for Cagney at Florida Stage in Manalapan as Best Actor in a Musical and musical direction, respectively, as well as for creating the musical which is nominated in the Best New Work category.
Typically, the Sun-Sentinel has no coverage of their own, and have opted to take the Herald's coverage.  Why do people bother subscribing to this fish-wrapper?  Oh, I guess so they have something to wrap fish in, duh.  (And no, the link isn't broken; I can't link to coverage that doesn't exist.)


The Miami Herald has this year's Carbonell Award Nominations. The Actors' Playhouse production of Les Miserables is leading the nominations, which is no surprise, but Mad Cat has a particularly good showing this year. 

The 34th annual Carbonell Awards to be held on Monday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Amaturo Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Amy London will once again direct the production.

Best New Work: Peter Colley, Robert Creighton and Christopher McGovern, Cagney, Florida Stage; Mario Diament, A Report on the Banality of Love, The Promethean Theatre; Terry Lawrence, Speaking Elephant, The Women's Theatre Project; Carter W. Lewis, The Storytelling Ability of a Boy, Florida Stage; Susan Draus, Everett Bradley, Michael Heitzman and Ilene Reid, Vices: A Love Story, Caldwell Theatre Company.

Best Ensemble Production: Bombshells! A Musical Explosion of Life, Love and Telling It All!, Actors' Playhouse; Broadsword, Mad Cat Theatre Company; Farragut North, GableStage; Some Kind of Wonderful, Florida Stage; Viva Bourgeois!, Mad Cat Theatre Company.


Best Production of a Play: Broadsword, Mad Cat Theatre Company; Copenhagen, Palm Beach Dramaworks; Speed-the-Plow, GableStage; The Whipping Man, Caldwell Theatre Company; Why Torture Is Wrong and the People Who Love Them, Mosaic Theatre.

Best Director: Joseph Adler, Farragut North, GableStage; Joseph Adler, Speed-the-Plow, GableStage; J. Barry Lewis, Copenhagen, Palm Beach Dramaworks; Richard Jay Simon, Why Torture Is Wrong and the People Who Love Them, Mosaic Theatre; Paul Tei, Broadsword, Mad Cat Theatre Company.

Best Actor: John Archie, The Whipping Man, Caldwell Theatre Company; Todd Allen Durkin, At Home at the Zoo, Palm Beach Dramaworks; Paul Tei, Speed-the-Plow, GableStage; Ricky Waugh, Reasons To Be Pretty, GableStage; Gregg Weiner, Dumb Show, The Promethean Theatre.

Best Actress: Linda Bernhard, Playhouse Creatures, The Women's Theatre Project; Barbara Bradshaw, Why Torture Is Wrong and the People Who Love Them, Mosaic Theatre; Lela Elam, No Child, GableStage; Angie Radosh, Speaking Elephant, The Women's Theatre Project; Laura Turnbull, Rock 'n' Roll, Mosaic Theatre

Best Supporting Actor: Dennis Creaghan, The Voysey Inheritance, Caldwell Theatre Company; Todd Allen Durkin, Reasons To Be Pretty, GableStage; Erik Fabregat, Why Torture Is Wrong and the People Who Love Them, Mosaic Theatre; Gregg Weiner, A Doll's House, Palm Beach Dramaworks; Gregg Weiner, Farragut North, GableStage.

Best Supporting Actress: Elena Maria Garcia, Summer Shorts: Signature Shorts, City Theatre; Patti Gardner, Defiance, GableStage; Erin Joy Schmidt, Viva Bourgeois!, Mad Cat Theatre Company; Deborah L. Sherman, Dumb Show, The Promethean Theatre; Miriam Wiener, In a Dark, Dark House, Mosaic Theatre.


Best Production of a Musical: Barnum, Maltz Jupiter Theatre; Cagney, Florida Stage; Les Miserables, Actors' Playhouse; A Little Night Music, Broward Stage Door; Vices: A Love Story, Caldwell Theatre Company.

Best Director: David Arisco, Les Miserables, Actors' Playhouse; Bill Castellino, Cagney, Florida Stage; Clive Cholerton, Vices: A Love Story, Caldwell Theatre Company; Gordon Greenberg, Barnum, Maltz Jupiter Theatre; Margaret M. Ledford, Cannibal! The Musical, The Promethean Theatre.

Best Actor: Matthew William Chizever, Cannibal! The Musical, The Promethean Theatre; Robert Creighton, Cagney, Florida Stage; David Michael Felty, Les Miserables, Actors' Playhouse; Mark A. Harmon, A Little Night Music, Broward Stage Door; Brad Oscar, Barnum, Maltz Jupiter Theatre.

Best Actress: Natalie Venetia Belcon, Vices: A Love Story, Caldwell Theatre Company; Misty Cotton, Barnum, Maltz Jupiter Theatre; Jodie Langel, Evita, Maltz Jupiter Theatre; Kimberley Xavier Martins, A Little Night Music, Broward Stage Door; Holly Shunkey, Vices: A Love Story, Caldwell Theatre Company.

Best Supporting Actor: Darrin Baker, Cagney, Florida Stage; Marcus Bellamy, Vices: A Love Story, Caldwell Theatre Company; Nathanial Braga, Barnum, Maltz Jupiter Theatre; Gary Marachek, Les Miserables, Actors' Playhouse; Rudy Martinez, Evita, Maltz Jupiter Theatre.

Best Supporting Actress: Katherine Amadeo, Cannibal! The Musical, The Promethean Theatre; Miki Edelman, A Little Night Music, Broward Stage Door; Gwen Hollander, Les Miserables, Actors' Playhouse; Melissa Minyard, Les Miserables, Actors' Playhouse; Margot Moreland, Les Miserables, Actors' Playhouse.

Best Musical Direction: Eric Alsford, Les Miserables, Actors' Playhouse; Helen Gregory, Barnum, Maltz Jupiter Theatre; Helen Gregory, Evita, Maltz Jupiter Theatre; Christopher McGovern, Cagney, Florida Stage; Jon Rose, Vices: A Love Story, Caldwell Theatre Company.

Best Choreography: Chrissi Ardito, Bubbling Brown Sugar, Broward Stage Door; Chrissi Ardito, Cannibal! The Musical, The Promethean Theatre; A.C. Ciulla, Vices: A Love Story, Caldwell Theatre Company; Joshua Rhodes, Barnum, Maltz Jupiter Theatre; Jeff Shade, Cagney, Florida Stage.


Best Set Design: Antonio Amadeo, Macon City: A Comic Book Play, The Naked Stage; Michael Amico, Private Lives, Palm Beach Dramaworks; Joe Kimble, Broadsword, Mad Cat Theatre Company; Sean McClelland, In a Dark, Dark House, Mosaic Theatre; Sean McClelland, Les Miserables, Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre.

Best Lighting Design: Suzanne M. Jones, In a Dark, Dark House, Mosaic Theatre; John Manzelli, Macon City: A Comic Book Play, The Naked Stage; Jeff Quinn, No Child, GableStage; Jeff Quinn, Why Torture Is Wrong and the People Who Love Them, Mosaic Theatre; Patrick Tennent, Les Miserables, Actors' Playhouse.

Best Costume Design: Alberto Arroyo, The Voysey Inheritance, Caldwell Theatre Company; Danielle Campbell, Viva Bourgeois!, Mad Cat Theatre Company; Colleen Grady, Les Miserables, Actors' Playhouse; Brian O'Keefe, A Doll's House, Palm Beach Dramaworks; Alejo Vietti, Barnum, Maltz Jupiter Theatre.

Best Sound Design: Matt Corey, Broadsword, Mad Cat Theatre Company; Matt Corey, Cannibal! The Musical, The Promethean Theatre; Matt Corey, Macon City: A Comic Book Play, The Naked Stage; Alexander Herrin, Les Miserables, Actors' Playhouse; Steve Shapiro, Summer Shorts: Signature Shorts, City Theatre.

Playground Theatre Makes the Short List

No, children's theatre doesn't get any Carbonell Award recognition. Plays for children hardly ever get reviewed unless the reviewer is babysitting the niece some weekend. But The Playground Theatre makes PlumTV's list of Top Five Things to do This Weekend.

Rising Action Theatre: Sordid Lives (4 reviews)

The Rising Action Theatre opened its production of Sordid Lives on January 15, 2010.
When Peggy, a good Christian woman, hits her head on the sink and
bleeds to death after tripping over her lover's wooden legs in a motel
room, chaos erupts in Winters, Texas.
Larry Brooks directed a cast that included Terry Cuzzort, Fern Katz, Jessica Marion Welch, Betty Brody, Lacy Carter, Patricia J. Richardson, Richard Ribuffo, Larry Buzzeo, Emily Ocheltree, Geoff Ward, and Kitt Marsh.

Good Lord, the Broward/Palm Beach New Times let Erika Landau write another one; let's see if she'll actually say something about the production:
More cultish than classic, it garners big laughs from the audience by being over-the-top as opposed to well-written or, at times, well-acted.
OK, that's better than last time. "Well-acted" is specific to the production.
The play deals with the aftermath of the mother's death, vacillating between boring hillbilly chatter and charming, hilarious performances. An obvious highlight includes Bill Dobbins' rendition of Earl "Brother Boy" Ingram, Peggy's gay son, who has been undergoing "dehomosexualization" for the past 20 years with a therapist who has her own motivations...
Yeah, we'll call this an improvement, although a small one. How did the show's director use the cast and the design elements to tell the story? Did the performers achieve the "charming, hilarious performances" because of the director, or in spite of him? Were the performances what made the show work, or was it clever writing showing through actors merely delivering the lines? There's still a lot more to be told.

Mary Damiano reviewed for the South Florida Gay News:
The scenic design by Jonathan Jones is inventive and spot on in the first half of the play, especially in the bar scene, which is so realistic you can almost smell the beer. Michael O’Quinn’s costume design is also terrific, from the suit and leopard accessories of predatory Dr. Eve to the lingerie-inspired ensemble of the local honky-tonk ex-con troubadour.
Fern Katz delivers the best performance as Sissy, Peggy’s sister. With her crooked beehive and oversized glasses, she could easily devolve into a sight gag, but Katz keeps her funny and interesting. Lacy Carter delivers a sassy performance as wild child Lavonda; she could be “Golden Girls” Blanche Devereaux’s younger, white-trash sister. Emily Ocheltree makes a great drunk as barfly Juanita.
The men don’t fare as well, with the notable exception of Richard Ribuffo as bartender Wardell.
Although there are many weak links in the cast, the biggest problem in this production of Sordid Lives is the plodding direction by Larry Brooks. Under Brooks’ direction, Chopin’s “Minute Waltz” would take an hour. Shores’ dialogue has the ability to crackle, but without the timing or brisk pace a director can provide, it falls flat.
Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
Already playing to packed houses during its opening weekend at Rising Action Theatre, Sordid Lives is, at least as far as its intended audience is concerned, something of a critic-proof show. Like the folks who return time and again to The Rocky Horror Show, fans of Sordid know the drill...
Truth be told, Sordid Lives isn't a good or well-written comedy, and Rising Action's production displays the roller-coaster quality so common to this company. Director Larry Brooks is working with both novice and experienced actors, community theater-level thespians and pros, so it's no surprise that some scenes sizzle like Fourth of July fireworks while others fizzle like duds.
Sordid Lives mixes campiness with affection for its Texas-tawdry characters, but clever it's not -- not that that matters much to a laughing audience.
The Sun Sentinel sent their fashion editor:
The problem with cult theater is that the adoration is so rapturous, its peculiar brand of fans almost don't need anything as delicate and ephemeral as a theatrical moment.
After all, the cultists know each beat and every nuance. They vacillate between mouthing the lines along with the actor and almost squealing with delight when one of their favorite parts arises.
The Rising Action staging gets points for a honky-tonk set that is picture perfect, but little else. Do they know these people at all? Shores' sly black comedy about white trash deep in Aqua Net country — that's Texas for the uninitiated — is flattened by buzz-kill timing and monotone acting.
Sordid Lives plays at Rising Action Theatre through February 21, 2010.