Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bill's Monthly Buzz

Bill Hirschman, who sees too little in print these days, does what's become his monthly wrap-up in the Sun-Sentinel.  It breaks down like this:

1. Changes at the Carbonell Awards Organization; Amy London was added to the board and elected president, and hired as a paid executive/fundraiser.  A very positive step for the organization.
Two longtime board members are stepping down; Jay Harris and Savannah Whaley will resign after the awards ceremony.  Les Feldman, who had served as board chairman, stepped down several months ago.  They've seen the Awards through some rough times; they are to be commended.  Two new board members have been added: Jody Horne-Leshinsky of the Broward Cultural Council, and Scott Schiller, of the Arsht Center.

2.  Good nods, and got robbed:  Bill also discusses some of the bold nominations, and the shows that should have been nominated and weren't.  The most glaring example of how the Carbonell Awards nominations process completely failed is the omission of the stellar work that was New Theatre's Glass Menagerie.

3. Looking Ahead:  the announced seasons of the three performing arts centers.

4. Looking Around: plays opening in the next few weeks.  Of course, we'll be listing them as they open right here, but it's worth seeing what Bill has to say.

Want to see more of Bill in the Sun-Sentinel?  Tell these guys:

Howard Greenberg, Publisher,
Earl Maucker, Editor-in-Chief,

Suggested content:

Dear ________
It was refreshing reading Bill Hirschman's recap of the local theatre scene in today's Sun-Sentinel.  Of course, a lot of theatre news has been missed because he's not writing a weekly recap, which means we must seek out other places for news when he's not writing for you.  Christine Dolen's reviews are also good, which is why we visit the Herald web site to read them.  It's always a let-down when we open the Sentinel and see reviews we've already read.  Please publish more reviews and theatre stories by Mr. Hirschman, so that you will have fresh and original content for us to read.
Thank you! 

Video of Radio

It's crazy, I know. But here's some video footage of Dr Radio, making its world premier at Florida Stage.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hellos and Goodbyes

We're doing a little long-overdue spring cleaning here at the Theater Scene, clearing out some dead links, and adding in some new ones.

The Hollywood Playhouse, which hasn't been all that active, is in foreclosure.  The good news is that a deed restriction limits the property to theatrical production, so it won't become condos anytime soon.  But who can raise money to take it over at as a theatre is the question of the day.  With the current economy, only an established company is really in a position to take it on, but most of the Broward companies are working on a smaller scale.  Perhaps several companies could take it on in a cooperative venture?  Time will tell.

The Cuillo Center for the Performing Arts ceased operations last year, and although Bob Cuillo stated that he would re-open the former Burt Reynolds Institute for Theatre Training/Florida Repertory Company/StageCompany, he's put it up for sale.  Reportedly, one West Palm Beach theater company has already passed it over, saying the price is too high given the condition of the building.

Andrews Living Arts Studios: this is a brand-spanking new company, located in Fort Lauderdale, not far from the Women's Theatre Project.  Its founder is Robert D. Nation, who made a name for himself in South Jersey (yes, New Jersey really is broken down into "North" and "South.").  Their premier production of The Fantasticks has been extended to April 2nd and 3rd.

The SoBe Arts Institute: founder and artistic director Carson Kievman might have started off on the wrong foot by stating in a recent Miami Herald interview that South Florida "doesn't have access to as many great performers as in other cities,'' and declaring that acting talent in the region is "sparse."  He has a  point; compared to New York City, where he worked at the Public Theatre under Joe Papp, we've hardly any actors at all. Just ask Richard Jay Simon, who as at least twice dropped projects because of casting difficulties.  Our acting population numbers in the hundreds statewide, compared to New York's hundreds of thousands of actors.  But the prolific composer and artist ought to have picked up some tact over the years. 
We hope that he'll recover from that mis-step, and live up to his lofty goal for SoBe Arts to become another The Julliard School or CalArts.

New Media Outlets:
You might have noticed some additions in the OTHER SO FLA NEWS AND REVIEWS section.  EdgeMiami is a gay publication that has good coverage for theatre, and the South Florida Gay News is a newcomer that has been covering theatre since January.  And Miami ArtZine is back in the links, having wisely hired someone who can write to handle theatre reviews.

In OTHER PERFORMING ARTS, the South Florida Music Scene (no relation) stopped posting months ago.  But we've added Creative Pulse, whose mission is to connect artists with businesses, and ArtMurmur, a CityLink blog for the arts.

As always, your input is welcome - let us know what you're looking for, or what sources you haven't seen us use.

History Repeats

Just as it did last season at the Broward Center, Jersey Boys broke box office records at the Kravis Center; read about it on BroadwayWorld.

Of the two venues, the Broward Center did just a little bit better:
Broward Center $1,568,290
Kravis Center:   $1,349,235

But anytime box office records are broken, it's a good thing. Congratulations to the Kravis Center, and the entire team behind Jersey Boys.

Simon puts Shinn in the Spotlight

Director Richard Jay Simon interviews playwright Christopher Shinn, who wrote Mosaic's next project, Dying City.
Q. You told me in a previous discussion that you feel the greatest American play of all time is Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night. What influence did that play have on you and the crafting of Dying City?

A. I just thought about how brave O'Neill was to write such a dark play. I thought, I want to be in that tradition. If he can do it, so can I. And sometimes I get nervous about writing characters who are actors (worrying it's self-indulgent). Whenever I do that, Long Day's Journey Into Night always give me permission to forge ahead!
You can find the entire interview at Mosaic Theatre's websiteDying City will play at Mosaic Theatre from April 15 through May 9, 2010.

Today on Aisle Say:

Don't miss Aisle Say today 2 p.m, Bill and Hap handicap the Carbonells with Brandon Thorp, Iris Acker and Jennifer Sierra Grobbelaar.

Also, Bill reviews Dr. Radio and Hap talks about the Humana Festival.

Mondays are Dark

Wow! It's an epic week for theatre-related stories!  Must be spring...

Color returns to South Florida
The Fort Lauderdale Theatre Examiner and report that The Color Purple returns to South Florida on April 6th.  If you missed it during its sold-out run at the Arsht Center, you can call the Broward Center now and get your tickets.

Trading Places
The Miami Herald reports that Actors' Playhouse Executive Director Barbara Stein swapped places with Ricardo Wilson, Executive Chef at Fleming's Steakhouse.  Sort of.
Stein chopped some vegetables and prepped some dishes, while Wilson actually performed onstage - something Stein doesn't actually do at the Playhouse.  But it's all good; they both gained insights, and Barbara got the story in the paper. Kudos!

Get'em While They're Young(er)
Bill Hirschman wrote this Sun-Sentinel story about how area theatres are trying to find new and younger audiences.  Young, of course, is relative.  In Palm Beach County, they're trying to reach youngsters as old as 60.  In Miami-Dade, they bring them in as young as 6.  And in between, it's the ages, well, in between.

Boil, Boil, Toil and Trouble....
South Florida's least-loved theatre producers are moving ahead with their new project in  Fort Myers, according to The Stage Door.

Reading up on Dr. Radio
You've got lots of options if you want to know about Florida Stage's latest production: Jonathon Wemette gives us the backstory on Florida's Stages own 1st Stage blog, Christine Dolen describes the cast as "ridiculously talented" in The Miami Herald, while Hap Erstein at the Palm Beach Post interviews co-creator Bill Castellino.

The 12
No, it's not the long-awaited musical version of 12 Angry Men; it's the rock musical that takes up where Jesus Christ Superstar left off.  The Sun-Sentinel has the story, written, in a hint of what's to come, by the paper's Religion Editor. 

I'm Glad Someone's Excited...
..because I'm sick to death of Mamma Mia.  And I'm an ABBA fan!  But it's coming back again, just as it has for the last 5 years in a row. It's been 1/12th of the Touring Season since 2005. Jenny Block at EdgeMiami celebrates the occasion of the show's return (to the Arsht Center, this time) by interviewing Jennifer Noth, a member of the ensemble and understudy for Donna and Tanya, and the only person with the show that no one has talked to yet.

The Next Step
The Miami Theatre Examiner reports that scrappy Mad Cat Theatre Company and the powerhouse Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts are hooking up to present Marco Ramirez' Broadsword. A critical and box-office success last season for Mad Cat, we'll know by opening night if it's the "Carbonell Award Winning" Broadsword.  (No, Paul, an award won't make the production any better, but it will make it a little sweeter.)

Playwright Spotlight
Hap Erstein talks up Deborah Zoe Laufer's offering at the Humana Festival in the Palm Beach ArtsPaperFlorida Stage had been scheduled to produce Sirens, but Laufer pulled it to do some work on it. Which, from the buzz at the Festival, worked out well for the play.

ADDY it up
Speaking of the Arsht and awards, Broadway reports that the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts took home 11 awards for their advertising and marketing excellence.  Did anyone subtract the penalty points for the annoying pop-ups on the Herald website or the obnoxious way they blast sound on their home page when you check in from the office to see what's playing? No?  Damn.
Regardless, one would hope that the Arsht's continuing string of successes will assuage the worries of critics who decried the expense of the theatre.  It's making money, it's bringing plays to the local market, and it's working with local companies to bring home-grown productions to the stage.  Let's see the Marlins match that.

Speaking of the Arsht...
BroadwayWorld reports that Broadway Across America has announced the Arsht's 2010-2011 Broadway season.

Meanwhile, In Palm Beach...
... The Royal Poinciana Playhouse is still closed.  But TC Palm reports that Blythe Danner has joined the Palm Beach Theatre Guild's Committee of Famous People Who Once Did A Play at the Poinciana Stars.  Ms. Danner starred in Harold Pintner's Betrayal at the Playhouse.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Coconut Grove Playhouse is Back - in the News

The long-shuttered Grove is in the news again:  The Coconut Grove Grapevine reported on Thursday that Miami City Commission Chair Marc Sarnoff introduced a resolution to ask the State of Florida to take back the Playhouse from its current board per the restrictions in the Quitclaim Deed, and to convey it to a newly formed not-for-profit corporation called the The Grove Playhouse Theater, Inc.
Sarnoff called the Playhouse a "big economic driver for the Grove" and said it is now time for the reverter clause to be used. The theater should have been opened within 30 days of closing, but it has been four years now.
No mention was made about the agreement between the Coconut Grove Playhouse board and GableStage.

The Miami Herald picked up the story on Saturday, and the first thing mentioned is that deal:
What seemed like an almost-done deal -- bringing back a smaller version of Miami's historic Coconut Grove Playhouse with GableStage producing theater there -- may not happen at all if a resolution just passed by the Miami City Commission spurs action from the state of Florida.

But the Herald article gives us more information about the Quitclaim Deed:
Among the deed's requirements: The playhouse property can be used only for theater, theatrical productions, theatrical education or related arts uses. If the property isn't used for that purpose, after 30 days it automatically reverts to the state. The theater, whose board is still trying to resolve the $4 million in debt that led to its abrupt closure, hasn't operated in nearly four years.
Could the $24 million currently on hold for use by the Coconut Grove Playhouse be transferred to an organization created in the manner the Commission plans?  No one has said.

The Herald quoted CGP Board Chair Shelly Spivack:
"I am terribly disappointed in the city and surprised. We have a plan . . . to bring quality professional regional theater to Coconut Grove and to revitalize the property. Until I am told otherwise, we are the Coconut Grove Playhouse.''
Of course, those "plans" haven't been original or executable.  In fact, "find corporate partners" and "redevelop the site" are goals, not plans, Shelly. 

The only thing you've accomplished in four years is getting GableStage to agree, in principle, at some undetermined point in the future, to change their name and relocate to an un-built, un-designed space somewhere on the site of the current Playhouse (which you plan to tear down).

And that seems to have happened mostly because Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Director Michael Spring got involved.

If the board of the Coconut Grove Playhouse really intends to have a future in bringing theatre in Coconut Grove, they'd better get their heads out of their collective asses and start involving the public - and the Commission - in their plans on a very visible basis.  The Grove won't be saved through secret meetings and silence; the board needs to out on the street and all over the media, engaging the public.

Thanks to the South Florida Daily Blog for the links.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Actors' Playhouse: Miss Saigon (3 reviews)

Actors' Playhouse opened its production of Miss Saigon on March 5, 2010. Anticipation ran high for this production following the company's success last year with Les Miserable.
Alain Boublil and Claude-Michael Schönberg, along with Richard Maltby, Jr., bring Puccini’s Madame Butterfly to the modern world in a moving testament to the human spirit and a scathing indictment of the tragedies of war. In the turmoil of the Vietnam War, an American soldier and a Vietnamese girl fall in love, only to be separated during the fall of Saigon. Their struggles to find each other over the ensuing years creates an unparalleled drama and a must see musical theatrical experience.
David Arisco directed a cast that included E.J. Zimmerman, Christopher de Prophetus, Herman Sebek, Chris-Ian Sanchez, Amy Miller Brennan, Darryl Reuben Hall.

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

Hap Erstein reviewed for Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
What director David Arisco has done is a major accomplishment... Yes, scenic designer Sean McClelland and lighting wizard Patrick Tennant manage to approximate of the arrival of a helicopter on the roof of the American embassy in Saigon and other effects, but at least as impressive is the passion the cast infuses in the saga.
....Herman Sebek, deliciously oily as The Engineer, so captivating and conniving in his 11 o’clock solo of sleaze, The American Dream.
...EJ Zimmerman as the delicate Kim, with a powerful vocal instrument.
...this is an impressive show in all respects. So now what does Actors Playhouse do for an encore?
John LaRiviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway:
Herman Sebek is truly spectacular as The Engineer. He surely owns the smooth and villainous comedy of this role.
At first, EJ Zimmerman has a voice that sounds too small for the role of Kim. But as the show progresses she demonstrates her strength through her vocal stamina, and the simple purity of her sound is well matched to the nature of her character. It is nicely juxtaposed with the strong, mature sound of Amy Miller Brennan who plays Ellen in the song "I Still Believe."
A handsome Christopher deProphetis, who plays Chris, is lacking some of the acting maturity called for in his role as a true leading man.
Chris-Ian Sanchez, who plays Thuy, has a legit singing voice that is glorious. He is guilty of some major over-acting in the last few seconds of his death scene, however, and it comes off as melodrama.
Prior to the opening of this production of Miss Saigon the audience was abuzz discussing how the Actors' Playhouse was going to handle the famous helicopter scene. No need to worry, as the scenic, sound and light design all work together to create the moment quite effectively.
This production of Miss Saigon is splendid in spots and is worth seeing, but doesn't quite measure up to the high standards established by Actors' Playhouse in last year's standout production of Les Miserables.
Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
As demonstrated by last season's production of Les Misérables, Actors' Playhouse and its artistic director, David Arisco, are more than capable of pulling off the complex megamusicals that dominated Broadway before the ascendance of movie-inspired and jukebox musicals. And the opening of Miss Saigon this weekend simply provides more proof: A home-grown production of a challenging Broadway musical can be just as entertaining -- and moving -- as most of the touring shows that visit South Florida.
Arisco, his cast, musical director Eric Alsford, choreographer Chrissi Ardito and the design team deliver a Miss Saigon full of heartbreak, flashy style (the costumes are by Ellis Tillman) and the kind of powerful singing that an operatic through-sung musical demands.
On Sean McClelland's versatile, impressionistic set (which, in collaboration with lighting designer Patrick Tennent and sound designer Alexander Herrin, even achieves a persuasive version of the show's famous helicopter), the cast plays out a story that ranges from exquisite beauty (The Ceremony, in which Chris ``marries'' Kim) to fabulous tawdriness (that ode to excess, The American Dream).
Arisco has filled a number of the show's key roles with Asian-American performers who are Saigon-experienced, a decision that pays off thrillingly...
Miss Saigon plays at Actors' Playhouse through April 4, 2010.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Scene for March 26th, 2010

It was like a mini-Carbonell party on Tuesday after In The Heights, the night Oscar Cheda took to the stage as Kevin.  Amongst the several dozen theatre folk who came out were fellow performers such as Christopher Kent, Lisa Manuli, Terry Cain, and Gia Bradley, and directors Amy London and David Arisco.  It was a nice cross-section of the theatre community.

BTW, congrats on Syracuse, Alexis!

There's lots more happening on the Theatre Scene this weekend.


Dr. Radio previewed last night and tonight, and opens Friday at Florida Stage, and plays through May 2, 2010.

Broward Stage Door opens Love, Sex and the IRS on Friday.  It will play through May 9, 2010.  With luck, someone will actually review this one.

Although it's technically next week, Mama Mia opens at the Arsht on Tuesday.  If it feels like it was just here, well, it was.  But it seems to be giving Fiddler on the Roof a run for the title of "if you stage it we will come again and again" musical.

still playing:

Andrews Living Arts Studio presents The Fantasticks through April 3, 2010.

The Alliance Theatre Lab opens its production of Orphans tonight. Through April 4,

Twelfth Night opens at the SoBe Institute for the Arts, and runs through April 4.

Miss Saigon plays at Actors'Playhouse through April 4, 2010.

Equus plays at New Theatre through April 4, 2010.

American Buffalo plays at Palm Beach DramaWorks through Apr 4.

Reefer Madness plays at Rising Action Theatre  through April 11, 2010.

Laffing Matterz slings laughs and food at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through June.

last chance to see:

Sarah Kane's BLASTED runs through March 28 at GableStage. Not for the faint of heart; but worth it if you dare.

Anything Goes struts its stuff at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, through Mar 28.

The Old Man and the Sea plays at the Caldwell Theatre Company through March 28, 2010.  Gordon McConnell has taken over the title role for this final week of performances.

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

passing through:

Ground Up and Rising re-appears to present Shakespeare's Othello on Saturday, March 27.  Best part: it's free.

In The Heights settles in at the Broward Center's Au Rene Theater through March 28, 2010.

Jersey Boys continues its run at the Kravis Center, through Mar 28.

for kids:

Oliver Twist, The Musical is presented by the Sol Children's Theatre Troupe through March 28.

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

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

SoBe Arts: Twelfth Night (3 reviews)

SoBe Institute for the Arts premiered on the South Florida theatre scene on March with its production Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.
Shakespeare's consummate romantic comedy takes wine, women, and song to unexpected extremes, upending a stately Elizabethan garden in a raucous midwinter feast of language, love, illusion, and the original Renaissance music.
Carson Kievman directed a cast that included Joshua Ritter, Michael Joseph, RyanRodriguez, Amy McKenna, Glen Lawrence, Ken Clement, Jody Owen, Merry Jo Cortada, Michelle Antello, and Johnny Vargas.

Roger Martin reviewed for Miami ArtZine:
Of the fourteen person cast in Twelfth Night, two are Equity, two are steadily working non-union professionals and the rest are, gee, I don't know what. There are some great credentials floating around here, including those of the director, but the end result is a mishmash of desperation, ineptitude, and molasses.
If someone in the company knew how to rag a door and hang black curtains perhaps we would not have been treated to the incessant clicking of door handles and the brightly lighted view of Washington Avenue.
Without the benefit of having seen the space, I will point out that if the door were a fire exit, it's actually illegal to hang a curtain in front of it. But if that's the case, it's prudent to setup the stage so it's not in sightlines - or so it's not opened in the course of the show.
Seating is on either side of the vom and beyond the playing area looking back towards the lighting instruments. This is where one unfortunate audience member spent the three hour show first shielding her eyes with her program, then donning her sunglasses, and finally using both sunglasses and program.
If I'm harsh here it's because I'm disappointed. The cast, the crew and the audience deserve something better than this.
Eileen Spiegler reviewed for the Miami Herald:
Shakespeare's work has been modernized and analyzed so many different ways, we forget the pleasure of his words played simply as they are written. The inaugural production of SoBe Institute of the Arts' Music & Shakespeare series brings it back home in Twelfth Night.

Director Carson Kievman... wanted to do the play as it was in the 17th century, so he incorporated singing accompanied by live harpsichord and guitar, played by Adam Chefitz and Carl Ferrari, respectively.

The period music does add something special, even if Andres Lefevre, a talented singer who plays Feste the fool, has trouble with the high notes early on.
...the action is jump-started when Olivia's uncle, Sir Toby Belch, and his merry pranksters enter. Charismatic local theater veteran Ken Clement plays Sir Toby to the bawdy, drunken hilt, and it suddenly feels like they're getting at the original Shakespeare, who wrote for the people. Clement has great chemistry with perpetually tipsy Sir Andrew (Glen Lawrence) and meets his match in Merry Jo Cortada as Maria, Olivia's servant, who brings her infectious laugh and has no problem playing with the boys -- or playing them.
...McKenna acquits herself best as an Olivia who's more likeable than needy, followed by Sanchez's sweetly heartfelt Viola.
Although I wished for more force from some characters, the cast is ultimately winning in the classic play on mistaken identity that turned the social order on its head, allegedly echoing the medieval festival for which it's named. When Viola and Sebastian are reunited and all is revealed, it is a genuinely moving moment.
Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Miami New Times, and he is less than enthusiastic about the production:
In a story in last week's Miami Herald, Carson Kievman said South Florida "doesn't have access to as many great performers as other cities" and that acting talent is "sparse" in these parts. To Kievman, director of the SoBe Institute of the Arts — and director of the anemic Twelfth Night  now floundering at the Carl Fisher  Clubhouse — I say, Fie! With an attitude like that, you should be grateful to have any actors at all.
I wish there was more to this production than a collection of venal oversights and slip-ups, but there isn't. Twelfth Night is allegedly a comedy, yet I cannot remember hearing a single honest-to-goodness belly laugh. The mean energy level in the house wasn't high enough to generate one. Shakespeare's tale of cross-dressing, misplaced love, and filial devotion should be a barnstormer — lusty, fast, and zany. This Twelfth Night is torpor-bound...
The production's hook, as I understand it, is that it incorporates the very music Shakespeare originally intended to accompany his play. To give it voice, you selected a talented young man... with an entirely inappropriate vocal range. He squeaks his way through almost every song. Only late in the evening, when Lefevre snatches a single opportunity to deploy his surprisingly sturdy baritone, do we realize this is a man with singing experience beyond the shower.
Lefevre is a capable actor in scenes that allow him to speak rather than sing, and other members of the ensemble also display a fair amount of chops. Amy McKenna  is elegantly icy in her early scenes as Countess Olivia and downright charming when she begins to thaw. Jody Owen, as the steward Malvolio, is lovably hapless — there is no one I'd rather see grinning foolishly while cross-gartered in yellow stockings. But their solid work doesn't have a hope of saving your show. The only really credible efforts to do so come from Ken Clement (Sir Toby Belch), Merry Jo Cortada (Maria), and Glen Lawrence (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), who work their asses off in scenes of drunken revelry to inject some spark, some humor, some verve into a stillborn production. For a few giddy moments, they succeed.

But that's their success — those South Florida actors — and not yours. Luckily for you, there are many, many more of their ilk around. If you'd like to attract them to your casting calls — and you can, given the success of past work — please consider giving them reasons more compelling than the promise of screeching doors, scenes interrupted by highway traffic, dumb lighting schemes, and contempt.
This particular review read too much like a letter to a director instead of, well, a review of a play.  So Brandon didn't like the singer's voice for parts of the show; but was the concept itself sound? If the singer had had the range, would the music enhance the play?  Brandon doesn't t say.

SoBe Institute for the Arts's production Shakespeare's Twelfth Night runs through April 4th, 2010.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Alliance Theatre Lab: Orphans (3 reviews)

The Alliance Theatre Lab opened its production of Orphans at the Main Street Theatre on March 18, 2010.
First produced by the famed Steppenwolf theatre, Orphans is the story of two brothers -- Phillip, a wildchild naif whose illiteracy and innocence belie a feral intelligence, and Treat, a switchblade-wielding thief who manipulates his brother into remaining dependent on him. Into this den of dysfunction comes Harold, a not-so-legitimate businessman who takes the "Dead End Kids" under his tutelage. At its core, Orphans is a warped and disturbing father-and-son story.
Adalberto J. Acevedo directed a cast that included David Sirois, Justin McLendon, and Travis Reiff.

 Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Miami New Times:

It's not easy to be funny when you're choking on your necktie. It's not easy to project ephemeral things such as character, motivation, and soul when you're bound, gagged, and tied to a chair. Travis Reiff does that and more...
The sheer preciousness of it all is an invitation to ham, but the brave actors of the Alliance Theatre Lab resist. They give Kessler's old script a loving treatment, as intimate as the tiny theater's warmly lit stage.
That this is so moving has less to do with the tricky script than with bravura performances from all three leads, particularly from the young McClendon. His whole performance is a great, big hope engine... If you want to see something recklessly, gustily beautiful in a theater, see this.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami
My wife was in tears, and so were other audience members, such was the power on stage at The Alliance Theatre Lab's Friday night performance of Orphans, written by Lyle Kessler.
Adalberto Acevado directed and Justin McLendon, Travis Reiff and David Sirois performed at such a pitch that “I laughed, I cried” became the truth once again. Rocketing around the stage, leaping furniture, slapping, tripping, wrestling, slamming into walls and onto table tops, Sirois as big brother Treat and McLendon as little brother Phillip create the perfect “you're the stupid, sickly little brother who can't read and can't leave the house, and I'm the big brother who's protecting you by beating you down.”
Adalberto Acevedo designed the set, a messily cluttered living room that pulls us in, and the very effective sound, and Skye Whitcomb designed the excellent lighting for Orphans, a well presented, well acted and well directed show.
Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
The Miami Lakes-based Alliance Theatre Lab has just opened an engrossing, accomplished production of Kessler's play. Director Adalberto J. Acevedo effectively explores the script's many emotional colors -- whimsical humor, explosive violence, long-buried need -- with a trio of actors who impressively deliver both the charged and tender moments in the play.
Acevedo's artfully lived-in set and deft sound design, Skye Whitcomb's emotion-underscoring lighting and Jennipher Murphy's costumes (which tell their own story of change) effectively serve the story, drawing us more deeply into the dysfunctional universe...
Alliance's Orphans cast digs into Kessler's characters with obvious relish. Sirois' Treat is the personification of frustration, explosive anger and unacknowledged need. Reiff's often-jolly Harold is a manipulator whose emotional tool kit includes his own brand of menace. And McLendon's childlike Phillip provides both plentiful laughs and utter sweetness.
Orphans has been around a long time... But as Alliance's production demonstrates, the mystery Kessler conjures and the emotional truths he explores haven't become dated at all.
The Alliance Theatre Lab presents Lyle Kessler's Orphans at The Main Street Theater through April 4, 2010.

Broward Center: In The Heights (4 -1/2 reviews)

The National Tour of In the Heights opened at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on March 16, 2010.
...winner of four 2008 Tony Awards including BEST MUSICAL... IN THE HEIGHTS is an exhilarating journey into a vibrant Manhattan community - a place where the coffee is light and sweet, the windows are always open, and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music.
Thomas Kail directed a cast that includes Kyle Beltran, Daniel Bolero, Rogelio Douglas, JR., Arielle Jacobs, Jose-Luis Lopez, Genny Lis Padilla, Isabel Santiago, Elise Santoro, Sabrina Sloan, Shaun Taylor-Corbett, Natalie Toro, Sandy Alvaraz, David Baida, Christina Black, Natalie Caruncho, Oscar Cheda, Dewitt Cooper, Wilkie Ferguson, Rayanne Gonzales, Dominique Kelly, Rebecca Kritzer, Joseph Morales, April Ortiz, Daniel Cruz, Kristina Fernandez, Morgan Matayoshi, Carlos Salazar and Seth Stewart.

Mary Damiano reviewed for South Florida Gay News:
The first national tour has moved into Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale and is wowing audiences with its energy and exuberance.
It’s a uniquely American story of a sizzling melting pot, presented in a fresh and dynamic way. Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s score and lyrics is full of hip-hop, salsa and Broadway showstoppers, while Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography keeps the ensemble in perpetual, spectacular motion.
If there is a complaint about In the Heights, it’s this: Because nearly every character gets at least one soul-bearing solo, the show runs longer than it should. That’s small beef, though, because In the Heights is enjoyable from beginning to end.
So, no stand-out performances, Mary?  The direction didn't do it for you?  Just the score and choreography?

Michael Martin reviewed for Edge Miami:
What spices up the banal storyline is Andy Blankenbuehler’s choreography set to Miranda’s unique score that mixes a traditional Latin vibe with modern day hip-hop more popularly associated with the youthful characters at the center of focus.

Beltran, in particular, wows as he raps to an energetic hip-hop beat while relating Usnavi’s side of the storyline. Miranda also starred as Usnavi in the Broadway production and was nominated for a Best Actor Tony. Beltran easily fills the lead role’s shoes of his own accord, however, and dazzles on stage.

Taylor-Corbett’s portrayal of Sonny also stands out among the ranks. The young actor proves himself a gifted comic whose dry delivery has all the right punch to elicit huge laughs.

Overall, the production is top notch, and Miranda’s clever fusing of musical styles makes it easily understandable why the musical won the 2008 Tony for Best Original Score.
Hap Erstein reviewed for the Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
Miranda gives them each a spotlighted solo to express their yearnings, while they choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler never lets them stand still long, and they rarely walk when they could just as easily dance. His sensuous movements combined with the sinuous melodies prove remarkably infectious.
Director Thomas Kail, who made his Broadway debut with In the Heights like so much of the creative team, has a vibrant cast that is on par with the original company and very similar in physical appearance. Beltran may not be quite as charismatic as Miranda, but he has a musical, sing-song voice and an open, inviting spirit.
Jacobs is a cool beauty who opens up her heart to us very winningly, Elise Santora (Abuela Claudia) has a surprisingly strong voice for a little woman, and Shaun Taylor-Corbett has personality to spare as ambitious young Sonny, the bodega go-fer.
It is rare enough to encounter an original story in a Broadway musical these days, or at least one that is not a slavish remake of a popular movie. In the Heights has plenty of antecedents and influences, but it feels fresh, and it introduces in Miranda a talent that should be around for a long time to come.
Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
As it has on Broadway for the past two years, the show practically enfolds its diverse audiences in a joyous embrace, managing to be touching, funny, sentimental and endlessly relatable.
...this barrio in the shadow of the Washington Bridge -- a place so authentically evoked by set designer Anna Louizos that it seems certain you could scoot down the subway steps and catch the A train.
Under the direction of Thomas Kail, who played a key role in helping Miranda and Hudes shape the show for its New York premiere, the excellent touring cast delivers its own spin on a big Broadway hit -- not the least of which is start-to-finish fabulous dancing, in the many styles the show requires, thanks to the work of Tony-winning choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler.
Beltran has the unenviable job of following Miranda in the pivotal role of Usnavi, but his rhyming-acting-dancing skills get us rooting for Heights' unlikely hero.
Santora brings the house down, as she should, when she expresses Abuela Claudia's philosophy in the rousing Paciencia y fe.
In the Heights, which may well prove to be the best touring production to hit South Florida this season, really does deserve an overused (but in this case accurate) description: It's a feel-good show, a contemporary musical that makes you want to sing and dance your way up the aisle and back out into a world that isn't so very different from the one that just warmed your heart.
The Sun-Sentinel continues to air their utter disdain for their readers by allowing their fashion editor inflict another awfully written 'review' :
It's next to impossible to just sit during "In the Heights."

First you start tapping your toe.

Your fingers begin drumming.

Then your shoulders start to sway.

Before long you're bobbing your head and … and…
But don't let all the now-ness fool you.
"In The Heights" has all the edge and danger of a Tyler Perry play..
Why do they continue to send this terrible writer out to review plays? Do they hate their readers so much? Do they just hate theatre? Do they just hate the memory of Jack Zink, or do they believe that his memory and years of great writing will blind us to the outright crap they're publishing now? If you're as offended as I am, drop a line to Entertainment "Editor" Ben Crandall.

In The Heights plays at the Broward Center through March 28, 2010.

In The Heights at Home

It's no secret that the Theatre Scene isn't impressed with Rod Hagwood's reviewing style.  But when he's "just" reporting, he's quite a good read, as evidenced by last week's story about the homecoming for the cast of many people involved with In the Heights.
“[South Florida] is a very fruitful breeding ground for artists with Hispanic backgrounds,” Lacamoire said. “But the show is not an inside joke. People who don’t speak Spanish will get it. ‘In the Heights’ is really about family. But I do think Floridians will be getting the show on another level. You’ll see characters in the show you see in South Florida, whether you’re going to the hair salon or the mechanic.”
We missed the story last week because the Sun-Sentinel inexplicably had it hidden away in the Fashion section.  OK, that's probably because Hagwood is the fashion editor for the paper, but fashion isn't mentioned anywhere in the story, it obviously belongs in the theatre section.  It's a shame that it took over a week for management to recognize something so obvious to the reader.

Hagwood should drop his condescending tone and sentence fragment openings from his reviews and adopt this much cleaner, open and informative voice.  We'd all be better for it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Apropos of Nothing

The LAT times has a great interview with Ed Asner.  Nothing to do with South Florida theatre, it's just a moment with a legendary performer.
So I gather retirement doesn't hold much appeal for you.

It is the yawning abyss. I will fight and scratch and claw to keep from falling into that abyss.

Mondays are Dark

Or Not So Dark..
The Drama queen reports that this Monday is pretty busy for theatre lovers, and she's not referring to this column, or even Aisle Say at 2pm.  GableStage and Barry University are both staging play readings tonight.  It seems that both companies cribbed from the list of past and present Carbonnel Award nominees and winners for their cast lists.

Speaking of Readings

The Palm Beach Theatre Guild really does more than lobby for the preservation of the Royal Poinciana Playhouse.  The Shiny Sheet reports that on April 1st, J. Barry Lewis will be directing Barrie Ingham, Frank Converse, and Michael St. Pierre in a staged reading of The Day that Lehman Died, a play about the demise of the the financial services firm.

MadCat Goes Large
The Miami Theatre Examiner reports that Mad Cat Theatre Company will be presenting their critically acclaimed Broadsword at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. Sure, they'll be in the smallest performance space, but you could fit the entire Miami Lightbox (their current base of operations) into the Carnival Studio Theatre, with room to spare.

Photos of Orphans
No, not pictures of abandoned waifs - pictures of Alliance Theatre Lab's latest production of the play with that title, on their weblog.

Presto, Change-o!
The Drama Queen reports that Mosaic Theatre is replacing Boeing Boeing with Christopher Shinn's Dying City. Casting difficulties was cited as one of the reasons for the change.

Poster How-to
The Producer's Perspective brings us a lesson in how to make a great poster for a Broadway show - taught by the man who created the posters for The Lion King, Sweeney Todd, and Sunday in the Park with George.

The Future
Jan Sjostrom of The Shiny Sheet tells us about a young up-and-coming set designer.

Ahh, to be young in Spring...
EdgeMiami talks with Taylor Trensch, who will be appearing in the national tour of Spring Awakening when it stops at the Arsht Center in May.

Arsht Announces 2010-2011 Season

The Miami Herald has the season lineup for the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Save The Arts Rally

RALLY for the Arts!
Put aside the excuses and come out to support the arts in our schools! Tuesday, March 23rd at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, 4:30 to 6pm.

EVERY Art, Music, Dance and Drama teacher should make a determined effort to be there - the more numbers we have, the better we look! The more noise we make, the more they hear us! This is the one meeting you can't afford to miss!

Let's not allow these cuts to happen without a good fight!
Wear black (for mourning) -bring signs, music instruments, friends, parents, relatives! We'll have "Life without the arts?" t-shirts available for $5 each.

Plan to meet in the auditorium of the museum at 4:30, or whenever you can get there.

(from Facebook: Florida Theatre Auditions & Show Info Group.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Theatre: Equus (3 Reviews)

The New Theatre opened its production of Peter Shaffer's Equus on March 5, 2010.
The primal and electric story about a 17 year old stable boy and the psychiatrist who seeks to understand the sexual and religious mystery which led the boy to commit an unspeakable and unbelievable act.
Ricky J. Martinez directed a cast that included James Samuel Randolph. David Hemphill, Josh Foldy, Laura Turnbull. Linda Bernhard, Melissa Smith, Stephen a. Chambers, Ricardo Rodriguez, and Vanessa Thompson.

Roger Martin reviewed for Miami
EQUUS, the 1973 Peter Shaffer warhorse, excuse me, has been trotted out once again, this time by New Theatre in Coral Gables and what a good thing this is, for we get to see a blazing start to a new career and a star turn by a veteran.
Ricky Martinez has given us his best show in a long time with solid acting from all, brilliant at times from Randolph and especially Hemphill, who displays a rare emotional range.
Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Miami New Times:
New Theatre's Equus begins with a vision of a beast you've never seen before... In a moment, you realize you are seeing two creatures artfully posed together — Alan Strang (David Hemphill) and a horse named Nugget (Ricardo Rodriguez)... for several long moments it is unclear exactly where Strang ends and Nugget begins or which limbs belong to which creature.
The tableau is not essential to the story... But it is precisely the kind of creepy/lovely touch that director Ricky J. Martinez has added throughout the show, revealing how much life and richness are left in Peter Shaffer's old play.
Martinez's direction is sure, smart, and sometimes thrillingly imaginative. He's done a fine job of imagining his show's visual elements... By using the actors who play the secondary characters to add sound effects from the shadows... Martinez conjures an aura of fathomless mystery, providing a sensual counterbalance to Dysart's learned, hyper-sane patter.
Randolph isn't faking a word... He becomes Dysart from the brain out and becomes him completely.
Yet for all of Randolph's blazing intelligence, New Theatre's Equus will be remembered primarily as David Hemphill's coming-out. His Alan Strang is a career-making performance of shocking intensity...
Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
One of New Theatre's best productions in several seasons, Equus benefits first and foremost from director Ricky J. Martinez's smartest decision: He cast wonderful actors as Dysart and Strang. He has also surrounded his leads... with strong supporting players, particularly Linda Bernhard as magistrate Hesther Saloman, and Laura Turnbull and Josh Foldy as Strang's parents.
...Randolph delivers a virtuoso's interpretation of Shaffer's text.
David Hemphill... delivers the breakout performance of his young professional career as Strang. He's utterly convincing as a damaged teen whose entwined religious fanaticism and erotic fascination have led to tragedy. Hemphill's work in Equus is textured, effective, fascinating to observe.
Equus plays at New Theatre through April 4, 2010.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Scene for March 19, 2010

Whew! It's been a busy week! Hope you survived Amateur Night Saint Patty's Day, and recover quickly so you can see a show!

Oscar Cheda returns to South Florida with the national tour of In The Heights; he's in the ensemble every night, but on March 23 he'll be filling in for a lead. Tickets are flying fast for that night!

In case you've been asking yourself "whatever happened to the talented Missy McArdle," we're pleased to tell you she's appearing in Food Fight at the Broward Center, directed by Andy Rogow, whom you may remember from the Hollywood Playhouse, back when there was a Hollywood Playhouse. Andy informs us that he'll be directing some shows at the Tamarac Theatre of Performing Arts next season; details to come.

And on Monday, good ol' Joe Adler at Gablestage has again lent his space to a new company: on Monday, The State Theatre Project will present An Evening Of Living Newspaper. Read about it on The Playground. Also avail yourselves of her reviews of Equus and Miss Saigon.


The Alliance Theatre Lab opens its production of Orphans tonight. Through April 4, 2010.

Twelfth Night opens at the SoBe Institute for the Arts, and runs through April 4. Background story in The Miami Herald.

still playing:

I missed this one last week, but a new group called Andrews Living Arts Studio in Fort Lauderdale opened The Fantasticks last week, and runs through March 28, 2010. I'm told it's an extremely intimate 50 seats.

Sarah Kane's BLASTED runs through March 28 at GableStage. Not for the faint of heart; but worth it if you dare.

Anything Goes struts its stuff at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, through Mar 28.

The Old Man and the Sea plays at the Caldwell Theatre Company through March 28, 2010.

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

Reefer Madness plays at Rising Action Theatre through April 11, 2010.

Miss Saigon plays at Actors' Playhouse through April 4, 2010.

Equus plays at New Theatre through April 4, 2010.

American Buffalo plays at Palm Beach DramaWorks through Apr 4.

Laffing Matterz slings laughs and food at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through June.

last chance to see:

Make Me A Song: The Music of William Finn plays at Mosaic Theatre through March 21, 2010. A delight for William Finn fans.

The Dumb Waiter plays at the Promethean Theatre through March 21, 2010

passing through:

Food Fight plays at the Broward Center's intimate Amaturo Theatre through March 21.

Wicked plays at the Arsht Center through March 21.

In The Heights settles in at the Broward Center's Au Rene Theater through March 28, 2010.

Jersey Boys continues its run at the Kravis Center, through Mar 28.

for kids:

The Little Engine that Could chugs through the Miramar Cultural Center on Saturday. If you haven't been to this new theatre yet, it's only six minutes south of Pembroke Lakes Mall.

Oliver Twist, The Musical is presented by the Sol Children's Theatre Troupe through March 28.

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

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kravis Center: Jersey Boys (2 reviews)

The National tour of Jersey Boys opened at the Kravis
Center for the Performing Arts
on March 10, 2010.
This is the story of how four blue-collar kids became one of the greatest successes in pop music history. They wrote their own songs, invented their own sounds and sold 175 million records worldwide – all before they were 30! (winner of the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album and the 2009 Olivier Award for Best New Musical)
The book is written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music by, of course, Bob Gaudio of the Four Seasons. Des McAnuff directs a cast that includes Joseph Leo Bwarie, Matt Bailey, Ryan Jesse, and Steve Gouveia.

Reviews from its stop at the Broward Center last year.

Hap Erstein reviewed for the Palm Beach ArtsPaper: (is) the show that demonstrated that “jukebox” did not have to be a pejorative, thanks to a compelling script full of Garden State attitude by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice -- both musical theater neophytes -- taut, cinematic staging by Des MacAnuff and a cast that was as capable with the dramatic script as they were replicating the The Four Seasons’ signature sound.
Just as the group was soon overshadowed by Valli, the musical belongs to diminutive Joseph Leo Bwarie, who has the acting chops and freakish vocal range to be a very convincing Valli. Still, Matt Bailey, Steve Gouveia and Ryan Jesse each get their spotlight moments as his back-up singers, with Bailey a standout as abrasive, irresponsible group originator Tommy DeVito.
...go enjoy Jersey Boys and notice how well-crafted it is.
Jan Sjostrom reviewed for the Palm Beach Daily News:
Jersey Boys has a lot going for it catchy hits freighted with nostalgia, a snappy delivery, a rags-to-riches story with a Sopranos-style reckoning, crisp choreography.

What the production currently at the Kravis Center doesn’t have is the kind of acting that makes you forget you’re watching a show and thrusts you inside the story. Instead, you wait around for the hits to keep on coming.
Fortunately, they do. Ryan Jesse (Bob Gaudio) Joseph Leo Bwarie (Frankie Valli), Steve Gouveia (Nick Massi) and Matt Bailey (Tommy DeVito) are at their best in this Four Seasons biomusical when they’re dancing in lockstep and Bwarie’s thrilling falsetto is glancing over the surface of their seamless harmonies.
..the chart-toppers... roll out like fireworks at the Fourth of July.
Quieter numbers fare well, too, and Bwarie proves to be as capable a singer in the velvety solo passages of Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You and My Eyes Adored You as he is in the full-group dazzlers.
For really convincing acting, though, look to the smaller parts, such as Kara Tremel’s mouthy Mary Delgado and Jonathan Hadley’s savvy Crewe.
Jersey Boys plays at the Kravis Center through March 28, 2010.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rising Action: Reefer Madness (4 reviews)

Rising Action Theatre opened its production of Reefer Madness on March 11, 2010.
The hit madcap 30's musical based on the anti-marijuana propaganda movie (now a cult film) of 1936!
Winner of 3 Best Musical Awards: The LA Ovation Award, Backstage West Garland Award, LA Drama Crtics Award for Best New Musical!
Kevin Coughlin directed a cast that included Conor Walton, Chelsea Greenberg, Bill Dobbins, Larry Buzzeo, Lindsey Forgey, Nicole, Niefeld, and Joel S. Johnson.

The Palm Beach Post has declined to review this production.*

Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times, giving this shoestring production more reviews than Miss Saigon at Actors' Playhouse (which Brandon has stated he won't review):
The original Reefer Madness served as an antipot propaganda flick, produced in 1936 by moralists. It's a sobering flick, considering that the forces of disinformation are still at it. Reefer Madness  the musical, meanwhile, now enjoying a lovingly over-the-top production at Wilton Manors' Rising Action Theatre, is really, really funny.
...this Reefer Madness is a tightly wrapped horror show that covers up scene after scene of truly frightening imagery with a bright gloss of good humor.
Dobbins' face is masterfully contorted — it seems made entirely of angry, vibrating triangles, and his eyebrows writhe around like angry caterpillars.
Walton's portrayal is pure postcard America... so square that you want to throw a joint onstage to hasten his inevitable decline.
...his great love is Mary Lane — a pipsqueak emanation of American girlhood, played with coltish glee by the lovely Chelsa Greenberg.
...this production... has the strongest aesthetic sense of any I've seen at Rising Action. The set is right out of Dr. Caligari, full of unnatural angles and mean green and purple lights.
Each of the singers individually has the vocal power to overcome the prerecorded music coming out of the P.A., but they don't have the power to overcome one another: The ensemble numbers are mixed terribly for want of any mixing at all.
The historically uneven theater doesn't have much money, and even in this show, you get the sense that the production values are only a level or two above community theater. But a sense of fun or danger or excitement can compensate for a lot, and Rising Action's got it like no one else.
Mario Betto reviewed for the Miami Theatre Examiner:
Bill Dobbins brilliantly plays the authoritative lecturer (the narrator) and eases into a variety of cameo characters... Lindsey Forgey in the role of Sally delivers a memorable performance and shines in the number Jimmy Takes A Hit.  Conor Walton... is perfect for the role. (his) performance as the innocent teen turned stoner is entertaining and vocally solid in numbers Romeo & Juliet and Jimmy Takes A Hit. Chelsea Greenburg who plays the naive Mary turned bad girl delivers a lovely rendition of Lonely Pew and is paired well with Walton.
The company is well directed by Kevin Coughlin who keeps the storyline flowing and focused.  The company frequently missteps Dave Campbell's clever choreography, yet delivers in the opening number Reefer Madness and The Orgy. Linda Matrone's lighting design compliments the show's gamut of emotions while the pre-recorded sound designed by David Hart seemed muffled at times.
John LaRiviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway:
This production of Reefer Madness is pretty tightly staged, and contains some clever use of choreography and costuming. The actors certainly cast aside all inhibitions for "The Orgy" and its explicit nature. The ensemble performance is solid and even in both dancing and singing.
Bill Dobbins, who plays the Lecturer, does a wonderful job maintaining the commanding voice and persona of this stern, Rod Steiger-esque character... Larry Buzzeo has a singing voice that is a bit ragged around the edges, but he turns in a nice performance as Jesus in "Listen To Jesus, Jimmy." Nicole Niefeld as the battered looking Mae is best in the song "The Stuff" and in the closing scene with a well-placed hoe. Conor Walton, though overly presentational, is perfectly cast as the squeaky-clean Jimmy. He is well matched with Chelsa Greenberg as the pert Mary Lane. She oozes purity from every pore, right up until her first puff of cannabis...
Eileen Spiegler reviewed for the Miami Herald:
The production at Fort Lauderdale's Rising Action Theatre takes it a little, uh, higher, gleefully embracing every caricature and building to a hilarious chaos.
Coughlin and his cast are spot-on with the silliness.
It's all in fun, and worth shedding your inhibitions for an enjoyable night of theater.
Spiegler still doesn't write much of a review, but at least she did mention the specific production.

Reefer Madness plays at Rising Action Theatre through April 11, 2010.

Maltz Jupiter Theatre: Anything Goes (2 reviews)

The Maltz Jupiter Theatre opened its production of Anything Goes on March 9, 2101.
All aboard for this tuneful, tap-dancing, splashy trans -Atlantic romp awash with romance, intrigue and delightful Cole Porter score. Audiences are certain to get a kick out of this lighthearted gem of mistaken identities and misbegotten romance all set aboard the luxury ocean liner where Billy Crocker tries to woo the girl of his dreams. The smashing score includes You're the Top, I Get a Kick Out of You, and It's De-Lovely. Great for the entire family!
Marcia Milgrom Dodge directed a cast that included Bret Shuford, Tari Kelly, Richard Vita, Tom Beckett, Catherine Walker, and Anita Flanagan.

SIGHTINGS: Avi Hoffman

Avi Hoffman is a familiar figure on South Florida stages; he even opened his own theatre company down here.  But the rest of the nation knows him for his TOO JEWISH plays, and The Jewish talks to him about them.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mondays are Dark

Sunday afternoon, a national tour of Porgy and Bess teamed up with Orchestra Miami for one performance.  Geg Stepanich spoke with conductor Elaine Rinaldi, and cast member Reggie Whitehead for the Miami Herald.

Meanwhile, Christine Dolen of the Miami Herald gives us some more background on In The Heights, which opens Tuesday at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.  She talks with Lin-Manuel Miranda, Alex Lacamoire, and Oscar Cheda.  IN fact, it turns out that Cheda and Lacamoire have a prior history:
The two met when Cheda was performing with a community theater group called the Lakewood Players in Kendall. Cheda got cast in The Pajama Game, and Lacamoire was hired to play piano. But because Lacamoire was just 13 then, Cheda would give him rides to and from rehearsals.
It's a small world.

Arsht wants your submission

Actually, they want you to submit a proposal to create an original work, according to

Spotlight on Caras

The Shiny Sheet reports that Steven Caras of Palm Beach Dramaworks will be be the subject of a PBS documentary.  Caras, currently Development Director at the ten-year-old theatre company, started as the youngest male dancer ever hired for the New York City Ballet, and branced into many other disciplines.

Cruz on Creation
uVu has a video of Nilo Cruz speaking to student at the New World School of the Arts back in October.

Healthy Concessions
The PlayGround Theatre is asking for feedback on what kind of health-conscious snack patrons would like - on Facebook.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Heights reaches Broward Center

No, that title isn't backwards, and we're not talking like Yoda. While we can argue whether or not the Broward Center has reached new heights, the fact is that In The Heights is opening at the Broward Center next week. This show has extensive ties to South Florida, including actor Oscar Cheda and composer Alex Lacamoire.

The musical is this week's Stage Pick in The Miami Herald (which is odd, because you can't see it this week), and you can find the full history of the play at
In addition to winning the 2008 Tony Award for Best Musical, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the show’s creator, won the Tony Award for Best Music and Lyrics, Andy Blankenbuehler won for Best Choreography, and Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman won for Best Orchestrations. The original cast recording won the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album, and Universal Pictures has acquired the rights to produce a feature film based on the smash hit musical.
-- BWW
EdgeMiami sits down with Kyle Beltran, who is playing the role Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote and originated himself.
"It’s funny, Lin is a rapper by trade, but I am a singer/actor by trade. So it’s a bit weird for me in this role because Usnavi is not meant to be a singer. A lot of the time I had to pull back my desire to sing it, sing it, sing it, because he’s a speech-singer; but whenever you create a character, you start from scratch. You’re not playing yourself, you sing like the character sings. And Usnavi’s primary form of communication is rap -- through rhyme-versed. That is what comes most naturally to him and is what the role demands."
--Kyle Beltran, to Edge Miami
It's an extensive interview, interspersed with video clips - definitely a good peak behind the scenes of the show. In this clip you can see Lin-Manuel, Robin DeJesus, Karen Olivio, and Kyle Beltran, and the entire cast of the tour, including Oscar Cheda.

In the Heights opens Tuesday, March 16 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and runs through March 28.