Monday, May 31, 2010

Mondays are Dark

Here's your Memorial Day reading list, posted a little later, but chock full of good stuff.

It's Summer (Shorts) Time
MiamiArtzine's resident writer wannabee James Cubby spoke with City Theatre's Literary Director Susan Westfall, while the Fort Lauderdale Theatre Examiner has a more straightforward blurb. As usual, the festival features the finest South Florida talent, and Stephen Trovillion.

The Boys are Banned Again
The Naples News reports that AFTRA has added Gary Waldman, Jamison Troutman, and their Victory Center for the Performing Arts to the "Do Not Work" list.  The producing team made South Florida headlines last year when they stranded a group of actors they had flown down to do The Life in Wilton Manors.

Just in Time for the Outing
South Florida Gay News points out that recent headlines about Dr. George Reker and a male prostitute raise awareness of the issues dealt with in Rising Action Theater's upcoming production of Escorts, the Docu-Musical.

Up to the Rooftops fills us in on Mary Poppins, which opens June 9th at the Broward Center.  Inside sources report that the English Nanny will fly away over the audience at some point in the show, as she did in the London production.

The Low Down on Low Down
1st Stage gives us a peek at the cast of Low Down Dirty Blues, Florida Stage's first production in their new home at The Kravis Center.

Shuffle Up and Deal fills us in on The Gin Game, opening in July at Palm Beach DramaWorks.  Featuring Barbara Bradshaw and Peter Haig, this has every chance of equaling last summer's DramaWorks offering, The Chairs.

Tony Connections
The Palm Beach Daily News tells us about several South Floridians who have a vested interest in the outcome of this year's Tony Awards.  And they are not names you've seen before on the Theatre Scene.  The Post reports that Sean Hayes will host the ceremony,

Speaking of Award Winners in NYC...
Playbill reports that Drama Desk winning Zero Hour is continuing its run in the Big Apple.  Jim Brocchu won a Carbonell last year for his work in this play at The Stage Door Theatre, thanking reviewer Bill Hirschman for an insightful critique that led to some rewrites.  The production has moved several times, and will move several more, and will even return to South Florida for two weeks at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre.

Speaking of Award Winners in Florida...
Alexis Scheer of The Playground won the New World School of the Arts Dean's Award forTheatre, and baked chocolate chip cookies; coincidence?  She also reviewed Unreasonable Doubt at Actors' Playhouse.

Speaking of Awards Ceremonies...
In case you missed this year's Cappie Awards, you can watch the entire ceremony/show on Channel 2's uVu Blog.

The Other Theaters in Coral Gables
No, the City Beautiful hasn't added companies to "South Florida's Theatre District," but UM's Jerry Herman Ring Theatre has announced its 2010-2011 season, according to BroadwayWorld.Com.  But UM isn't the only drama school in town: The Drama Queen not only covers the UM season, but also notes that Area Stage's conservatory extended the run of their student production of Cabaret.

Is Your Wallet Light?
The Artful Manager finds crucial information for "anyone who sells tickets, lures donors, or seeks support from local, state, or Federal government sources."

Poor Role Model?
Mission Paradox is so concerned about dynamic pricing, he not only wrote about it, he wrote a second part.  For those unfamiliar with the concept,  tickets start off relatively cheap, and get more expensive the closer to show time they are purchased; it's the model used by the airline industry.
Think about that for a second.

The airline industry is probably one of the most disliked industries in America.  There are like 2 profitable airlines and the rest are one step away from Chapter 11.

*This* is where we want to get our ideas?
Food for thought.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sarnoff's Big Play

The Miami Herald reports that City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff is still itching to remove the Coconut Grove Playhouse from the current board.  But in doing so, he reveals his dismal ignorance of the South Florida theatre scene.
"Do people really think they're going to do outdoor theater in the heat?'' Sarnoff said of the interim plan to present theater and arts events in the playhouse parking lot. ``This board doesn't have a long-term plan... First, it was a 600-seat theater with a college partner. Then it was a 300-seat theater run by GableStage with no college partner.''
First, the outdoor theatre plan: the fact is that the current Playhouse is condemned, and the $20 million the county holds isn't enough to restore the theatre to a level ready for production.   The plan for doing outdoor theatre is the only way that theatre is going to be done in the Grove anytime in the next few years.  And the idea of doing a play on the site of a theatre under construction has good roots in Florida: the Kravis Center hired Florida Stage to do Shakespeare while the Performing Arts Center was under construction.  It was a way of showing the community that there is a commitment to theatre on the site.  Both Kravis Center and Florida Stage are still going, so it wasn't a terrible idea.

Shakespeare Miami does an out door play in the Grove every year.  It's reasonably well-attended.  Pinecrest Repertory is doing outdoor theatre on the former sight of Parrot Jungle.  And Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival has been holding court in Jupiter's Carlin Park for nearly two decades.

So, answer Sarnoff's question "Do people really think they're going to do outdoor theater in the heat?''  the answer is "yes."  And if Sarnoff had bothered to do even a little research, he'd never have asked such a stupid question.

To address his next issue, I have to point out that The Scene has long been critical of the Playhouse Board's whimsically flimsy long term plans.  And while the earlier plans were doomed to failure, Sarnoff seems to think they are worth pursuing:
"First, it was a 600-seat theater with a college partner. Then it was a 300-seat theater run by GableStage with no college partner.''
Sarnoff is purposely ignoring that plans for the site still include a 600 seat theatre.  The college partner plan was dropped because - as we stated back in April 2008,  there are no colleges in Miami-Dade County in a position to enter into such a partnership.  They are all of them strapped for cash, and any partnership would require a financial involvement.  Colleges are looking for companies to bring money to them, not for companies to give money to.

So, the 600 seat theatre is still in play, and the old board managed to get the most critically acclaimed Artistic Director in South Florida to agree to leave the theatre he turned around from the butt of jokes to a regional player, for the ongoing disaster that has been the Coconut Grove Playhouse for the last decade.  They did that by dangling the 300 seat theatre, which is just the right size for a regional theatre.  Sarnoff can scoff all he likes, but the fact is that that's a damned fine piece of work.

Sarnoff's final argument is arguably his lamest:
Sarnoff also contends that GableStage and its artistic director, Joseph Adler, don't do the kind of theater that would work in Coconut Grove.

"In his last show [March's Blasted], there was a woman naked onstage saying f--k every third word. . . . I don't think that's going to sell in the Grove.''
OH MY GOD HE'S RI^^^....  wait a minute, Adler's addressed this issue:
Adler says the Coconut Grove events won't be regular GableStage productions but rather "things that might appeal to different segments of the audience.''
- Miami Herald, November 30, 2009
Sarnoff cites ONE show out of nearly two decades of productions.  GableStage has also produced The Diary of Anne Frank, an adaptation of Ray Bradbury's classic Farenheit 451, Golda's Balcony, Miss Margarida's Way, Of Mice and Men, The Syringa Tree, Master Harold and the Boys, and Frankie and Johnny and the Claire De La Lune, all titles that would have been right at home on the Coconut Grove Playhouse stage.

It pains me to say this, but it appears that Marc Sarnoff is even more ignorant than the current gang of incompetents that make up the current Playhouse Board. 

Maybe Marc should review some of our past stories on The Grove.

Coconut Grove Playhouse is Back - in the News

More on GableStage and the Coconut Grove

GableStage goes to Coconut Grove - UPDATED

Will the Coconut Grove Playhouse "Return?"

A Pair of Playhouses: Why are they Empty?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Scene for May, 28 2010

It's official; this is the final weekend of the 2009-2010 Theatre Season.  But don't despair, only one show is actually closing!  The rest press through into June.

No shows opening this weekend - it's Memorial Day.  Everybody's waiting to start the summer season next week.  Which only makes sense, seeing as it's the start of the Summer Season and all.

Apparently Empire Stage is opening this weekend, they just didn't list their show over at  If you are producing theater in South Florida, you really ought to take the time to put your show on the list.  I'm talking to you, M Ensemble!

Summer Season starts next week!

Catch a great show or three this weekend, before you set up the grill for Monday's holiday.


Milk Milk Lemonade opens Saturday at Empire Stage, and runs through June 27.

still playing:

The Pinecrest Rep prodcution of Oleanna plays at the Banyan Bowl through June 6, 2010.

Unreasonable Doubt plays at Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater through June 6, 2010.

When The Sun Shone Brighter plays at Florida Stage through June 20, 2010

Edward Albee's Three Tall Women at Palm Beach Dramaworks runs through June 13, 2010.

The Broward Stage Door production of Suds, The Rockin' 60s Musical has been extended through June 13, 2010.

Laffing Matterz slings laughs and food at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through June 20.  Don't miss the fun!

last chance to see..

The Sum of Us finishes its run at Rising Action Theatre this Sunday, May 30, 2010.

for kids: 

Young King Arthur
plays at the Actors' Playhouse through May 29, 2010.

Monday, May 24, 2010

How the Sun-Sentinel Fails the Community

Last week, I was speaking with the director of a local ballet school.  I sometimes feel guilty that I don't cover dance in the Theatre Scene, but just covering legitimate theatre is a large task, and lines had to be drawn somewhere.  But that's not the purpose of this article.  As you gather from the title, I'm once again on the soapbox about arts coverage.

You think it's difficult getting plays reviewed, try producing Ballet - or any kind of dance.  This director was complaining about the difficulties of getting the Miami Herald's dance critic, Jordan Levin, out to cover their performances.  Granted, it's a school, and they don't do that many performances, but they mount at least one completely original ballet a year, and that's news-worthy.  The nature of the complaint was that Levin covers everything that Miami City Ballet does, but very little else.  Furthermore, the one time Levin came out to review a show by this company, most of the review centered on how a particular member of the company had studied and danced for years - at Miami City Ballet!

So what does this have to do with the Sun-Sentinel?  Why am I picking on them yet again?  It's because of the next thing the director said to me;
"...try submitting a review to a grant panel that extolls the virtue of your competitor instead of the value of your work!  It's bad enough that we only have one or two articles to show for a year of work.  And when you think you've found another story in another paper, it's the same one again!"
If you're not in arts administration, you may never have been involved in writing grants.  Grants are critical to the financial health of the arts; it's expensive to produce plays.  Ever wonder why Broadway ticket prices are so high?  It's because Broadway producers don't get grants and donations to help underwrite the costs of production.  If local groups had to do it on ticket sales alone, ticket prices would nearly double.  Worse, they wouldn't have that money until showtime; that's a lot of debt to carry.

(Before the conservative elements start wailing about tax dollars, grants are as likely - and these days more likely - to come from private foundations or corporate endowments.)

So how do reviews relate to grants?  Well, part of the process requires the applicant to include documentation.  This includes payroll and accounting records, of course, but to prove that the applicant is actively performing and reaching out to the public, they have to include reviews of their performances, and articles about classes, outreach programs, and other evidence to show that the applicant is active in their community.

This is where the falling coverage from traditional media directly impacts our economy.  By not covering the activities of these organizations, our newspapers are basically cutting off our arts organizations from millions of dollars in grant money.  Funds that would be spent on equipment and labor and services - funds that would come back into our community.

The Miami Herald is about the only paper still making a strong showing.  The Palm Beach Post, to its credit, has taken a step back in the right direction by bringing back Hap Erstein on at least a limited basis. But the Sun-Sentinel is failing us, and failing us badly.

Grant review boards want to see a number articles with different points of view; reprinting a local story doesn't benefit arts organizations for the same reason it doesn't benefit its readers; it doesn't offer a point of view unique to the Sun Sentinel.  News coverage only works if you get numerous stories by numerous writers covering a single event.  A single story about that event reprinted a dozen times does not constitute "numerous stories," and it certainly can't be considered "coverage."

Re-printing articles from the Post and the Herald, the Sentinel gives only the appearance of covering the arts, without providing any actual news tothe community it claims to serve: if we can read the same story by the same reporter in the Herald or the Post first, why should we bother with the Sun-Sentinel?  What are they offering that is worth the cover price? 

If it is to survive, the Sentinel needs to start generating content.  This is what is expected from a daily newspaper.

Mondays are Dark

Sorry it's late, folks.  Internet problems held us up.  But here's your Monday reading list:

Concert Review
Hap Erstein reviewed Caldwell Theatre's concert version of Stephen Sondheim's Into The Woods for the Palm Beach ArtsPaper.
Cholerton and company have hit upon a format that is very appealing and relatively affordable.‭

The New Kid on the Blog
David Sirois joins the blogosphere with a blog called Playwright's Cabin.  So far, it has a surprising number of videos for a writer's blog, but I guess the best way to see the work is to see it performed.

It's full of Stars...
The Drama Queen reports from Broadway, and she's not looking at the sky...

Summer Starts in South Africa
...which is the setting of Mosaic's next production, Groundswell.  Read about it in the Palm Beach Post.  And while we're on the subject, check out the nifty video.

Another Look Back
1st Stage posts a list of every show produced by Florida Stage in their Manalapan home over the last 19 years.  It's a long list.

Drama Daily Discount
Drama Daily has links to discounted tickets for the previews of MilkMilkLemonade at Empire Stage.  You can also get a peak into the process.

Connecting to the Community
Over on Towards a Holy Theatre, Andie Arthur discusses arts advocacy, spurred on by reports of massive budget cuts in Broward County.
... I think that arts advocates need to think more broadly, more deeply. Instead of waiting to show how relevant, how vital we are to the communities we serve when we're in danger of cuts, we need to be doing this all the time.
She's right.  People don't know how intertwined with the community theaters really are - they only see us asking for money when the budget cuts come.  Even opening nights, we only show them the businesses that gave us stuff.  While it's great to acknowledge all those who gave us a handout, it blinds us to the fact that we still pay for a lot of stuff - willingly and gratefully.
I think the question we need to ask always (and if we have a good answer, shout it to the rooftops) is: "if this theatre were to go away today, how would the community suffer?"
Perhaps someone would like to list all the businesses they worked with to put on a recent production.  After all, we buy paint, lumber, hardware, fabrics, and a whole slew of other materials to produce a play. And a lot of patrons grab a meal before seeing a show, or a drink after.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Scene for May 21, 2010

We're zipping through May on a relentless march to June, and the official beginning of the Summer Season.  Lots of great stuff to see right now, so if it's raining outside, head to your nearest theatre.


Caldwell Theatre's eagerly anticipated staging of Into the Woods: The Concert plays this Friday through Sunday in Boca Raton.  It features a "Who's Who" of the best musical theatre talent in South Florida.

still playing:

The Pinecrest Rep prodcution of Oleanna plays at the Banyan Bowl through June 6, 2010.

Unreasonable Doubt plays at Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater through June 6, 2010.

When The Sun Shone Brighter plays at Florida Stage through June 20, 2010

Edward Albee's Three Tall Women at Palm Beach Dramaworks runs through June 13, 2010.

The Broward Stage Door production of Suds, The Rockin' 60s Musical has been extended through June 13, 2010.

The Sum of Us plays at Rising Action Theatre through May 30, 2010.

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

last chance to see..

Avi Hoffman's Too Jewish? ends its limited engagment at GableStage on Saturday, May 22.

The Quarrel ends its run at Gablestage  May 23, 2010

for kids: 

Young King Arthur
plays at the Actors' Playhouse through May 29, 2010.

Playground Theatre presents The Love of Three Oranges in Miami Shores through May 23, 2010.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pinecrest Rep: Oleanna (1 review)

Pinecrest Rep opened its production of David Mamet's Oleanna on May 15, 2010 at the Pinecrest Gardens Banyan Bowl (former home of Parrot Jungle).
In the no-man's land between misunderstanding and sexual harassment, we watch with impotent dread as the relationship between professor and student entirely breaks down, as their mutual respect evaporates and an unbridgeable divide opens which can only destroy one or both of them.  This is the gender war, and more than that.  It's the generation gap, and more than that.  It's the class struggle, and more than that.
Max Pearl directed a cast that featured Bertha Leal and Greg Schroeder.

Brandon K. Thorp
reviewed for the Miami New Times:
David Mamet's Oleanna, when treated with even half of the passion and smarts evident in Max Pearl's blistering Pinecrest Rep production, is an exhilarating play.
Greg Schroeder is a soulful actor, and his Dr. John seems to mean what he says, even if he cannot do anything about it. In the next scene he will take three minutes to deliver two sentences... This is not how you talk to an unlearned child accusing you of impenetrability. But John doesn't know that.
Bertha Leal is a young actress, and in some ways she is very green... Her attempt at a predatory smile (stick tongue against top two teeth, grin big, widen eyes to affect mock-friendliness) is a put-on, and makes her look even younger than she is.

Green or not, though, Leal is a prodigious talent. The contrast between her plaintive declaration of ignorance in the first scene — "What's a 'term of art'?" — and her haughty declaration of same in the second — "I don't know what a paradigm is" — is masterful.
The Pinecrest Rep prodcution of Oleanna plays at the Banyan Bowl through June 6, 2010.

Mary's Lunch With Michael

It's hard to believe that a man as busy as Michael McKeever even has time for lunch; his latest play opened Friday at Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables, he was appearing in Distracted at Mosaic Theatre until it closed this past Sunday, AND he's designed backgrounds for the Caldwell Theatre Company's staged reading of Into The Woods, the musical masterpiece by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine.

But he found time to sit down to lunch with Mary Damiano and talk about Unreasonable Doubt for South Florida Gay News.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mid-Week Happenings

The 8th Annual Cappies Awards are tonight at the Broward Center; a celebration of our next generation of performers and critics.

Conundrum Stages turns two, and throws itself a party a the Tamarac Theatre of the Performing Arts.  To celebrate, they've staged a "live reel" consisting of the best of their staged readings and performances from the last two years.

The Under the Bridge Players presents The Bandit Bash at the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film & Theatre.  In addition to 85 Pontiac Trans-Ams, they will have a replica of the 18 wheeler driven by Jerry "The Snowman" Reed in the Smokey and the Bandit movies.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mondays are Dark

Our thoughts go out to Fort Myers, where Florida Rep is holding a memorial service for Carol Provonsha this evening.

OSHA Issues Citation for Stagehand Death
The Palm Beach Post reports that OSHA has issued a $4,900 fine for violations that led to the death of stagehand Fenton "Andy Hollingsworth.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's citation, issued last week, said guardrails, or an equivalent, are required on all sides for a walkway more than 4 feet off the floor.

Something New at Older Theaters
Both Actors' Playhouse and Florida Stage have been around for over 20 years.  The latter often produces brand new plays, and the former has occasionally done them.  But this past Friday,  these theatres at opposite ends of the region both opened world premieres of new works by South Florida playwrights.  Christine Dolen wrote about both for The Miami Herald

It's interesting to note that Florida Stage's production is getting a lot more press, even though opening a world premiere is just "another day at the office" for them.  Jan Sjostrom covered the Florida Stage offering for The Shiny Sheet while Hap Erstein did the same for The Palm Beach Post.  Actors' Playhouse, better known for producing musicals, has only a single article  in The Miami Theatre Examiner to go with the  Herald story. 

The smaller Palm Beach company has embraced social media, making a good showing on Twitter and Facebook, and supplements press coverage with their own resources.  Their blog, 1st Draft, covers a field trip the cast of their show took to research Little Havana.  And their FurtherMore page gives patrons access to the creative process from start to finish.  Perhaps by creating a greater visibility, they appear to be a more viable story than the staid Playhouse.

Olly Olly Outdoor Play!
The Drama Queen on Oleanna at the Pinecrest Rep.

Babalu in Florida and TheatreMania report that the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is bringing in BABALU, a tribute to the music of Desi Arnaz, starring Lucie Arnaz and South Florida's Tony Award Nominated prodigal son, Raúl Esparza.  Desi Arnaz Jr. is also expected to make an appearance.  Expect this one to sell out.

Speaking of Sell-Outs
If Moxie the Maven is to be believed, the producers of the Legally Blonde national tour have sold their performers a real bill of goods.  I wonder if they'll start riding a bus...

Hey, If Minnesota Can Do It...
The Minnesota Playlist records a gathering of Twin City sound designers.  The Theatre Scene is willing to show up at any similar gathering in South Florida...

Because South Florida OWNS Godot...
The Playgoer posts an interesting little tidbit with a picture.

Meanwhile... Palm Beach, the Royal Poinciana Playhouse is still closed.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Florida Stage: When the Sun Shone Brighter (7 reviews)

Florida Stage opened the premiere of Christopher Demos Brown's When The Sun Shone Brighter on May 14, 2010. 
Mayor Jose Sanchez-Fors, Jr. of Miami is a charismatic politician of unlimited potential, but his own lust for power entangles him in a web of sex, lies and ambition. A sultry story from a new South Florida voice.

(This play contains brief nudity and adult themes)
The play is a landmark in that it is the last production to be mounted in the small theater they carved out of Manalapan's Plaza del Mar shopping center over the last nineteen years, their 120th play on that stage.

Louis Tyrell directed a cast that included John Herrera, Dan Domingues, Cliff Burgess, Bill Schwartz, Brandon Morris, and Natasha Sherrit.  (Brandon and Natasha are graduates of Palm Beach County's Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts).

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

Michael Martin reviewed for, and is predictably disappointed that Demos-Brown focused more on the mayor's moral turmoil about accepting the political support of an organization that apparenty murdered his father, rather than on the hypocrisy of a "moral majority" conservative with a wife and family involved in a long-term tryst with his homosexual lover:
Why is Joe attracted to Tony? How did the two get together? When did Joe discover his homosexual self? These questions, and many others, are never answered by Demos-Brown.
Of course, if Demos-Brown had decided that the lover would be a woman, would these questions even arise?  While the dramatic tension is intensified by the gender selection, a man running on a "family values" platform shouldn't have ANY lovers, right?
On a "brighter" note, the author does possess amazing writing skills that seamlessly allow the flow of one scene to the next without the use of arresting blackouts; and his written words are often punctuated by the infectious performances by the cast.

Domingues, especially, does an amazing job in portraying Joe’s diametrically adverse facades as the strong and confident politician, and an equally insecure closeted gay.

Herrera, too, shines with enormous vitality as he underscores Manny’s passion to help place a Cuban-American in a higher political office.

Only Burgess seems to have missed a bit of the mark. While he certainly brings Tony’s entitlement issues to light, the character appears to be too angry from start to finish. The audience needs to also see the juxtaposition of a possible softer side that perhaps attracted Joe in the first place.

Still, the play exudes an enormous potential for growth at the hands of this very talented playwright. Kudos to director Louis Tyrrell for ending the season on such a strong note.
John LaRiviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway;
Dan Domingues is charismatic as Joe, and has the right tension with long-suffering wife Natasha Sherritt. Cliff Burgess' Tony appeals to another side of Joe's character. There is an intellectual partnership between the two men matched with the physical. It is believable that Joe would engage in a relationship that has this appeal over one that was just based on sex. Still, the two actors seem a bit more like friends than lovers in their chemistry. John Herrera has great presence as Manny. There is an old world feel, like that of an Italian Don, about the way he behaves with Joe. It is at once both nurturing and threatening, and undeniably masculine. Herrera and Domingues work the complex connection between their characters beautifully.
But he didn't like everything
The opening scene contains a moment of truly unnecessary gratuitous nudity. It serves no purpose, as we don't need to see Tony naked to get that he and Joe are sexually involved. The introduction of the adopted son in rehab (whom we never meet) seems under explored, as there is no explanation of why he is there, and no sense of the relationship he has with his parents. It is a tad disappointing that we never see Joe called upon to demonstrate his role as a father, especially considering his strong memories of the relationship with his own father.
Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
When the Sun Shone Brighter at Florida Stage represents Florida's contradictions by cramming them into the person of Jose "Joe" Sanchez-Fors Jr. (played by Dan Domingues). He is an anti-Castro Cuban who would have cause to hate other anti-Castro Cubans but doesn't. He's the head of a beautiful archetypical Floridian family (tanned; smelling of sea spray, money, and Botox). He's a closeted gay man in a long-term relationship. He is a thief with dreams of genuine accomplishment, and he is an idealistic liar. He is unsettled, in other words — motivated by the raw human electricity of his outlaw pioneer spirit. He is a Floridian to his bones.
Playwright Christopher Demos-Brown never tries to illustrate Joe's success...(the play) is a meditation on history and on the nexus of power and personal responsibility... it is not...the study of politics as it is practiced by top-dollar senatorial campaigns... For this reason, the worst bits of When the Sun Shone Brighter are downright boring. Windy, pretty prose cannot quite mask a creeping irritation at having to listen to yet another exegesis of the beauty of Batista's Cuba.
Manny Arostegui (played by John Herrera, who can be the picture of wrath when the script demands but stiffens up in moments of levity)  ...a cop trying to solve his father's murder (Brandon Morris, lending his innate verve to lines more suited to a Lifetime original movie)  ...Tony Rinaldi (an unusually tanned and toned Cliff Burgess, who turns in a nimble, intelligent performance).
...Domingues' sweaty but slick interpretation gives a fine feel for the kind of reptilian half-life entered into by those who make their livings in politics.
The set is a simple affair: silhouettes of trees behind a big, polychromatic scrim; a few elegant pieces of furniture scattered across the vastness of the stage. Tyrell's Florida looks like a thin veneer of civilization spread across the uncontrollable chaos of nature. If there is a better conception of our state or the state of politics in general, I haven't seen it.
Mary Damiano reviewed for South Florida Gay News:
The last production in the ocean- side space that Florida Stage has called home for nearly 20 years is a fitting one, because it showcases what Florida Stage does best: produce provocative new work by talented playwrights.The fact that this play, When the Sun Shone Brighter, is by South Florida playwright Christopher Demos-Brown, is proof that when it comes to talent, we don’t have to look further than our own backyard.
...Demos-Brown has given us a glimpse into the world of political intrigue, where the truth plays second fiddle to ambition. It’s a remarkably tight play for a world premiere, with a carefully crafted structure, believable characters and a wealth of beautiful language.
Louis Tyrrell skillfully directs a strong cast. Domingues makes a camera-ready politician and pulls off Joe’s cockiness and sincerity. Burgess makes the most of the mostly thankless job of serving as Joe’s conscience, and he gets most of the funny lines. Bill Schwartz plays Joe’s dead dad Jose with a wistfulness that carries most of the play’s poetry. John Herrera, as Joe’s chief patron and political boss, is often the most compelling actor on stage, although too often he shouts his lines. He doesn’t have too, because his presence and performance are enough to keep the audience riveted.
Jan Sjostrom reviewed for the Palm Beach Daily News:
The story calls to mind The Godfather movies. But this is no movie knock-off. Playwright Christopher Demos-Brown makes full use of the possibilities of theater.
Louis Tyrrell conducts the script like a world-class maestro, sounding notes of anger, yearning and blind hypocrisy with an infallible ear and coaxing immaculate performances out of the cast.
John Herrera as Manny lovingly bullies Joe with a resolve that’s as steely as the wheels of the political machine he runs. Dan Domingues cannily navigates the gaping contrasts between Joe’s public and private selves, calling to mind too many real-world comparisons.
This is Demos-Brown’s first full-length play to be professionally produced. Florida Stage’s superb rendition heralds great things to come from a first-rate talent
Hap Erstein reviewed for the Palm Beach Post:
...the smartly written political drama by Christopher Demos-Brown now receiving its world premiere at Florida Stage... In his final production at the company’s Manalapan playhouse before the move to the Kravis Center this summer, director Louis Tyrrell both introduces a writer of great promise and gathers a terrific ensemble cast.

Foremost among them is John Herrera (Tony nominee for The Mystery of Edwin Drood)... Herrera dominates the production...
As Joe, Dan Domingues exudes confidence and affability...
Natasha Sherritt has a nice edge as Joe’s fed-up wife; Cliff Burgess oozes smugness as Joe’s boy toy; Bill Schwartz floats in and out of Joe’s brain as his late father; and Brandon Morris acquits himself as a Miami detective newly assigned to the murder case, a role that is more plot-motivated than flesh and blood.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami ArtZine:
When the Sun Shone Brighter, in a world premiere at Florida Stage, is Miami playwright Christopher Demos-Brown's powerful, engrossing account of Cuban exile terrorism in Miami and the slick machinations of a politician and his handler trawling therein.
Admirably played by Dan Domingues, the mayor has secrets and his uncle Manny, the formidable John Herrera, has to dig them out and spin them before the Senate race begins.  Lies.  Of course, Uncle Manny has secrets of his own.  Lies.
The production values at Florida Stage are always at the top and there's no change here, with Kent Goetz (scenic), Richard Crowell (lighting), Michiko Kitayama Skinner (costumes) and Matt Kelly (sound) contributing well to this last show at Manalapan before the move to the Kravis Center.

There's a good cast at work under Louis Tyrell's direction and Chris Demos-Brown is well on his way to a great new career.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
With When the Sun Shone Brighter, a provocative (and, for some, controversial) political drama now getting its world premiere production at Florida Stage, Christopher Demos-Brown deftly demonstrates that he gets that principle: drama first; politics second.
The acting, especially from the slyly charming Domingues, the larger-than-life Herrera and the sympathetic Burgess, is terrific.
Demos-Brown and director Louis Tyrrell keep the tension over whether Joe will triumph or be undone pulsing through the play, and even in the script's final moments, the answer remains intriguingly ambiguous.
That a hot-button play so relevant to Miami's Cuban exile history and present-day politics would get its first production two counties to the north might seem surprising. But Tyrrell and Florida Stage have built an enviable national reputation by taking chances with powerful material. And more often than not, as with When the Sun Shone Brighter, those risks pay off.
The world premiere production of When The Sun Shone Brighter plays at Florida Stage through June 20, 2010; future Florida Stage productions will be staged at the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

One Company, Three Names, and 19 Years

The theatre at 262 South Ocean Boulevard has had three different names across its marquee in the last 19 years.  Theatre Club of the Palm Beaches.  The Lois Pope Theatre Company.  Florida Stage.  The staff has had changes, although Louis Tyrell has remained at the helm the entire time, with Nancy Barnett by his side.  Suzanne Clement Jones has been Production Stage Manager,  and Lauren Mathers has kept a firm hand on the Box Office.

I was stage manager for the first show mounted in the Manalapan space.  So many changes, and they started during rehearsals: the company was then called Theatre Club of the Palm Beaches, and the show was originally going to be Tête-à-Tête, by Ralph Burdman, directed by Jose Ferrer, starring himself and Kim Hunter.  Alas, Ferrer was struck ill the day before rehearsals were to start, and at the last minute the play was replaced with Mitch Giannunzio's A Smaller Place, which Hunter had done the previous summer.  Director Vincent Dowling came with it, and brought in an actor he knew, Bob Elliot.  Of course, beyond the changes in script, cast and director, the set had to be completely re-designed and built in a fraction of the usual time frame, all while the theater itself was being constructed.

But the show must go on, and it did.  Here's a photo from opening night at the new theatre, October 1991:
Pictured: Jodie Dixon, Christopher Jahn, Tim Wilkins, and Kim Hunter
opening night of A Smaller Place, October 1991

The new theater had twice as many seats as the community college lecture hall we left behind, but while sales were brisk, we discovered a problem no one had considered during construction: the elderly patrons that made up the majority of the subscribers had difficulties managing the stairs that comprised the two aisles!  An urgent meeting a few days after opening to work out how to add railings to the space - which are still in place today, fabricated by Russ Baron and the scene shop on very short notice.  Disaster averted, Louis' next problem: despite doubling the capacity, the subscriber base reached 89% occupancy before the New Year.  The following year, it hit 98%.

We also quickly hit the technical ceiling, literally; the low roof didn't leave a lot of room for rigging.  We did do one show where we created a followspot up in the rafters; the operator, chosen as much for size as skill, climbed up a ladder onto what was basically a shelf, and stayed up there the entire performance.  Later, we dealt with requests to fly small peices of scenery, and dealt with low-hanging lighting units on occasion.

So it was no surprise to me  when Louis and Nan announced they were moving; they really needed to do it back in 1992.  And I may be the only one in South Florida who is not "concerned" about the move.   This company did miracles in a SUPERMARKET, fer crying out loud: imaging what they will accomplish in a space actually intended for performing!

Friday night, they opened their last play in the converted supermarket on South Ocean Boulevard, the world premiere of When The Sun Shone Brighter, by Christopher Demos Brown.  It  is a much stronger production than A Smaller Place; a cleaner script and crisp direction.  And while Kim Hunter was excellent, the larger cast of this production is more than a match for the late Tony and Oscar winning actress.  Kim would have been delighted with the level of talent and skill demonstrated on the stage she broke in.

19 years:  it doesn't feel that long ago. But of course, it was almost another age; cell phones were still the exception, no one had heard of the World Wide Web, and the word "text" hadn't grown that "ing" off the back.  And of course, some of us were skinnier and less gray.

pictured: Christopher Jahn, Nancy Barnett, and Rob Goodrich
opening night of When The Sun Shone Brighter, May 2010

There are tales we will carry with us from the last 19 years; the tale of the gray rock that isn't  remotely blue, the time a certain ASM stained a certain Company Manager, the time the chicken upstaged everyone by laying an egg, the cautionary tale of a certain stage manager  who decided to polish the mirrored plexiglass stage floor opening day and discovered that what made it shiny also made it very slippery, and the night a tornado hit the building during the final scene of a play - and the show kept going.  We found love, lost tempers, and poured blood, sweat and tears into that space - just a few ingredients in a recipe for excellence.

I doubt that the space will host another theatre company; it took the miracle of a grand sponsor for a journeyman company to find a home there; it's unlikely that another group could taken on the premium rates of a lease in the toney shopping center across A1A from the Ritz Carlton.

But on second thought, it wouldn't be the first miracle to happen there...

SIGHTINGS: Oscar Isaac

Oscar Isaac left South Florida for Julliard nearly a decade ago; he's now playing King John in Ridley Scott's new film,  Robin Hood.  Before heading off for New York, he played at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, Actors' Playhouse, the defunct Horizons Rep, Area Stage, GableStage, and the Key West Theatre Festival.

The Latin Movie Examiner talks with him about Robin Hood.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Scene for May 14, 2010

May is flying by so fast that it was Thursday too soon! 

The Cappies Awards Gala is this coming Tuesday; don't know what that is?  In a nutshell, it's for participating high school theatre programs inSouth Florida.  Keep an eye on The Scene, we'll be posting more about it shortly.

On a more somber note, Carol Provonsha's memorial service will be held at Florida Rep on Monday, over in Fort Myers.  For more information, read The Drama Queen.

GableStage still has some spots open for its fundraiser auction. CLICK HERE to sign up.  The event is May 22nd, and the deadline for tickets is May 19.


The world premiere of Christopher Demos-Brown's When the Sun Shone Brighter, the final production at Florida Stage's Manalapan space, is this Friday.  Since I opened the first play in that space, I will be there for this opening, too.  Hope to see you there!  It plays through June 20.

South Florida's premiere producer of musical theatre is premiering a non-musical; Actors' Playhouse opens Michael McKeever's Unreasonable Doubt, also this Friday.  It runs through June 6.

Read more about both plays in The Miami Herald. Christine Dolen points out that two brand new plays opening is a sign of a healthy theatre scene, and of course, we agree.

All the world's a stage, and Pinecrest Rep is doing David Mamet's  Oleanna outdoors.  It opens May 15, and runs through June 6 at the Pinecrest Garden's Banyan Bowl.  (Yeah, that sounds more like a salad offering at a chain restaurant.  But that's what they're calling it.)

still playing:

Too Jewish? will beplaying matinees at GableStage on Saturdays starting May 8 through May 22.  This will make the small Coral Gables theatre into a repertory stage for the duration, with AviHoffman pulling double-duty in this and The Quarrel.

Edward Albee's Three Tall Women at Palm Beach Dramaworks runs through June 13, 2010.

Sudsplays at Broward Stage Door through May 23.

The Sum of Us plays at Rising Action Theatre through May 30, 2010.

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

passing through

The National Tour of Spring Awakening is at the Arsht Center through Sunday only.

last chance to see..

The Quarrel ends its run at Gablestage  May 16, 2010

The Women's Theatre Project production of Going to See The Elephant closes May 16.

New Theatre  production of  Raised in Captivity also closes May 16, 2010.

Caldwell Theatre Company's production of Distracted ends on May 16.

for kids: 

Young King Arthur
plays at the Actors' Playhouse through May 29, 2010.

Playground Theatre presents The Love of Three Oranges in Miami Shores through May 23, 2010.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Social Media on Spring Awakening

Spring Awakening has been using a strong viral marketing campaign to sell tickets, so it's only fitting to bring you the reactions of bloggers to the show.

Hidden City enjoyed the show:
In spite of these peculiar dissonances, I really enjoyed the show. The cast is wonderful, with strong performances both musically and dramatically. The staging and direction are also quite good, using a small but symbolically-resonant design to keep the story moving and the audience entranced. And the story, while grim, was compelling, and stayed with me on the drive home. I can easily recommend the production.

Groundlings brings us the youth perspective (the blogger is fifteen years old) :
...I must admit that I did not have such high expectations for the show and was a bit skeptical about the whole thing....from just listening to the CD I didn't think the show would be able to
make fun of itself like it did, and I liked that a lot.
And what the hell, here's what the professional, Christine Dolen of the Miami Herald, thought about it:
The Tony Award-winning show at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts through Sunday, is on the second-to-last stop of its two-year national tour. Productions on the road for a long time can get a bit shopworn, fatigued, exaggerated. But not Spring Awakening, which remains -- start to finish -- a thrilling, innovative melding of vintage play and rock score.

Spring Awakening is playing at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts through May 16.

The Cappies; Preparing the Next Generation

Many of you probably have never heard of The Cappies; unless you've been involved in Broward or Palm Beach County schools performing arts in the last eight years, there's no reason you would have.

So what are they?
The name "Cappies" derives from "Critics and Award Program," (CAP) and it was created to train the next generation of theatre critics.  High school theatre and journalism students review productions at participating schools, and at the end of the year they award the best productions at a Formal Gala held at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.  This year's red-carpet event takes place on May 18, 2010.

The South Florida Cappies was the first such program in Florida; in the eight years since its inception, it has been joined by the East Coast and Central Cappies programs.  26 schools are participating; a mix of private and public schools ranging from Pembroke Pines to West Palm Beach.

Curious to see the product of these teen reviewers?  Cappies reviews get published in the Sun-Sentinel, which tucks them away in the TeenLink section of the paper.  We'll be adding this link to our sidebar of theatre resources, to make it easier for theatre patrons of all ages to find.  As you can see, this page affords teens the same service as the Theatre Scene - each show gets written up by several reviewers, so the reader can get a wide range of viewpoints.  And isn't this just what the Theatre Scene stands for? 

Building Community
Another aspect of the program that's notable; it includes both sides of the equation.  In many markets, critics are viewed as theatre outsiders, as opponents.  Even the word "critic" as become a pejorative, even becoming the crowning shot in Waiting for Godot's showdown of insults.  But the reality is and always has been that critics are necessary in a vibrant arts scene.  While word of mouth has always been the best form of advertisement,  critics have always been the mouths that reach the most ears.

By having theatre and journalism students work together, each learns what the other is trying to accomplish.  The critic can better understand how theatre works, and performers and producers learn why their work may be perceived one way or another.  Ultimately, a critic isn't (or should not be) telling us what's "good" and "bad," but what is well done, and what is poorly prepared. 

From the Source
Lori Sessions, the drama teacher at Broward County's JP Taravella High School, created the Cappies program in South Florida.  The Theatre Scene asked her a little bit about it:

How did you become involved with the CAPPIES?
I started the South Florida Cappies after reading about The Cappies in Washington DC. I have served as Program Director for 8 years and also have led workshops in other parts of the state to help them launch Cappies Chapters.

What has been the biggest obstacle to their success?  
Probably the changing newspaper environment.  A huge part of Cappies is getting reviews published-both to encourage young writers and also to celebrate the terrific accomplishments of these high school students.    With the decline of newspaper in print, getting reviews printed in mainstream media is a challenge.

What has been their biggest success? 
From my point of view it is the relationships fostered between the theatre programs at the schools and the increased attendance at and quality of Cappies shows.

Have any CAPPIES alumni continued to pursue either theatre or journalism as a career? 
Yes, there are many who are pursuing careers.  Unfortunately I would have to do more research on that.  From JP Taravella where I teach, one Cappies Alumni is performing as Boq in Wicked in San Francisco, another is performing as a dancer with Alvin Ailey 2, and a third is working as a director, choreographer in NY and California as well as working for the New York Film Festival.  I am sure there are many more-guess we need to start a facebook group to find that out!  :)   Of course this is only the 8th year so, many Cappies Alum are still in college.
What has been the greatest benefit of the CAPPIES? 
In this time when so many are trying to cut the arts from schools it is great we have a program that is trying to bring attention to the positives the arts provide for these students.
What would you like to see happen with the CAPPIES in the future? 
Get more schools involved and work on decreasing the cost for schools to participate.
The 8th Annual Cappies Awards Gala takes place at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday, May 18 at 7:00 pm.  A full list of the nominees can be found HERE.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mondays are Dark -UPDATED & CORRECTED

Must be Spring
The national tour of Spring Awakening opens this week at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, and you can read about in The Miami Herald and The Palm Beach Post. So where's the Sun-Sentinel story?  Well, currently in The Herald or The Post.  In a day or two, we'll find out which one the "editors" at the Sun-Sentinel decide to regurgitate. UPDATE:  Bill Hirschman included Spring Awakening in his monthly Sun-Sentinel article, published last Friday.  Scroll down, it's past the Waldman/Troutman update.  My bad.

It Happened One Summer...
or this summer, actually. and The Drama Queen tell us about the coming summer season at The Caldwell Theatre Company.

Home Ground
The Drama Queen also reports that the nomadic wanderings of Ground Up and Rising have ended; they found a home.  Oh, and they have a new website, too.  At least, it's newer than the MySpace page link that I had.  (Remember MySpace?  Me neither.)

Docu-what, now? reports that Escorts, "the Docu-Musical," is coming back to Rising Action Theatre.

Wiki Wiki Wiki
Joe Adler has a Wikipedia entry.  Not even Arnold Mittelman has managed that.  The only other South Florida artistic director I've found in Wikipedia is Paul Tei, but he's only mentioned in passing for his work on Burn Notice and CSI Miami.

Speaking of Paul Tei
James Cubby, who's reportedly some kind of writer, interviews Paul Tei for  Well, interview is actually too strong a word.  It's actually just a puff piece about Broadsword, and he got some quotes from Paul, none of which are particularly revelatory.

Conundrum Turns Two
Conundrum Stages tells us about their celebration plans.

This is what I've been saying...
From Britain's THE STAGE:
Almost nine out of ten respondents (89%) to our questionnaire believe that critics still play a valuable role in theatre...
Maybe it's a British thing.  Dammit.

South Florida at the Tony Awards
CORRECTION: Steve Rothaus posted Christine Dolen's Miami Herald story reporting that two South Floridians are nominated for awards this year.  You see, Christine wrote the story, but Steve put it up on his blog.  I don't get that; why isn't it on her own blog?

Noel Coward in Palm Beach
The Palm Beach Daily News reports that Palm Beach Dramaworks next Master Playwright Series installment on Noel Coward will included a staged reading of the play that the British playwright was working on when he died.  And it will be the first in the series to include music:
“We had to include songs,” said board chairman and program host Mark Perlberg. “This is Noel Coward.”
Well, of course.  Everyone knows that.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Caldwell Theatre Company; Distracted (5 reviews)

Caldwell Theatre Company previewed its production of Lisa Loomer's Distracted starting on April 11, and opened on April 16, 2010.

Jessie is nine. Jessie can’t focus. Mama helps. Dad ignores, the teacher scolds, the neighbors gossip, the homeopath pontificates, the psychiatrists prescribe, the audience laughs, but…NO ONE LISTENS. Welcome to Lisa Loomer’s wonderfully poignant, imaginative and entertaining play Distracted, which dives headfirst into the world of Attention Deficit Disorder.
Clive Cholerton directed a cast that included Laura Turnbull, Stephen G. Anthony, Brain Inerfeld, Michael McKeever, Kim Cozort, Lela Elam, Kim Ostrenko, and Nikki Bromberg.

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

John LaRiviere gets his review out just in time for the final performance for Talkin'
Lisa Loomer’s clever writing makes the potentially cumbersome subject matter completely palatable.
Turnbull convincingly embraces the role in both the happiest and most frustrating of moments. She is well paired with Stephen G. Anthony as Dad. Though the script deprives them of any romantic moments, they fit together with the comfortability of a couple who have known each other a long time.
Michael McKeever is truly funny in his "Dr." roles (Dr. Broder/Dr. Jinks/Dr. Karnes), but is most ideally matched with more clever writing by Loomer as the Actor with ADD who breaks character mid-scene to discuss his own history of ADD with the audience and fellow cast members. Kim Cozort is great as Dr. Waller on the verge of a divorce, but flounders with a fluctuating accent as neighbor Sherry, and never commits fully to her role as the teacher Mrs. Holly. Lela Elam is wonderful as the Nurse, but comes off as fake in her concern as Dr. Zavala. Newcomer Nikki Bromberg is perfect as Natalie.
Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
...if you blink you might not notice how masterfully director Clive Cholerton has framed Loomer's odd structural decisions.
Dr. Waller is played by the very intense, very funny Kim Cozort.
...the effervescent Kim Ostrenko...
There's a lot to distract you in Distracted, but what my mind keeps returning to is Tim Bennett's sparse set.
Skip Sheffield reviewed for Flix, Muzik, Showz Travel & More:
Director Clive Cholerton has cast some of South Florida’s best actors to play these characters.
Lots of serious issues are raised between the yucks: holistic therapy vs. prescription drugs, psychological counseling, the role of information overload and media bombardment and the sheer frenzy of modern life.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Loomer's play, about a couple trying to figure out how best to help their hyperactive 9-year-old son, has just opened in a masterfully acted production at Boca Raton's Caldwell Theatre Company. It is a keenly observed meditation on modern parenting and childhood, on conflicting and confusing treatment advice, on the damaging effects of getting hooked on 24/7 stimuli. And thanks to the company director Clive Cholerton has assembled, it also serves as a reminder of just how much acting talent chooses to call South Florida home.
As a plucky, determined, multitasking woman, Turnbull makes us root for her as she encounters one roadblock after another...
Stephen G. Anthony... wields humor with rapier-like precision
In Distracted, Loomer cleverly flips the dictum that children should be seen and not heard. Until the play's final moments, Inerfeld remains offstage, speaking (or shouting) Jesse's lines into a microphone cranked up to ear-splitting volume. And what lines! Jesse rants, demands, curses, defies. Hearing but not seeing such a difficult kid makes it easier to imagine him as a problem to be dealt with rather than a complicated young human being. He is, of course, the latter.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami ArtZine:
(playwright) Lisa Loomer... manages to slip in the mini-lectures about ADD and ADHD, and the pros and cons of the drugs, without slowing the pace or lightening the humor. And there is plenty to laugh at.
Gone far too long from South Florida, Kim Cozort opens her first scene with Dr. Waller snarling into the phone: “Take the damn Lexus but you will not get my dog.” Then she's Jesse's school teacher Mrs. Holly and neighbor Sherry and I'm laughing once again.
Kim Ostrenko hits triples as Mama's know-it-all neighbor Vera, a ditzy waitress and a UPS driver. Nikki Bromberg graduated from FAU just last year and is scary good as Natalie, the babysitter who's into cutting. Of course, if you want a dissertation on the fine art of using the F-word, don't miss Lela Elam, who doesn't flinch at full pronunciation.

And Michael McKeever in a studly wig is a sight you won't soon forget. He plays three doctors and an actor with ADD. Type casting?
There's no doubt Distracted smacks of sit-com and lecture halls and has an easy, predictable ending, but this production, directed by Clive Cholerton and well led by Laura Turnbull and Stephen G. Anthony, is generally great fun.
Distracted plays at the Caldwell Theatre Company through May 16, 2010.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The 2010 Summer Season

Not too long ago, summer was simply "the off-season," a time when theatres - and many businesses - closed down completely. Theatre professionals would head north to pursue gigs in Summer Stock.  Heck, most of the hospitality industry migrated north.

In the 1980's, Actors' Rep stayed open simply because they couldn't afford to be closed.  With 99 seats to fill, they were able to keep producing through "the summer doldrums."  In fact, they thrived the summer they offered Educating Rita in repertory with Agnes of God.  The former was a hit, starring Nancy Barnett in a tour de force performance, possibly her finest work.

Barnett may have taken that experience with her to The Theatre Club of the Palm Beaches; after their move to Manalapan, they started to offer what was usually the only musical in its season; a few performers backed by a small combo. The small company eventually became Florida Stage, and they are still renowned for "inventing" the summer musical.

Actors' Playhouse also started offering small-cast musicals, and now many theatres offer something for the "native Floridian," the one who doesn't head north as the temperature rises.  In some cases, the fare is safer than their "mainstage season," and in others, more experimental.  Either way, for most companies, theatre is a year-round operation in the 21st century.

The 2010 Summer Theatre Season is as busy as any as I can remember - make sure you escape the heat by slipping into a nice, cool theatre.


City Theatre, Signature Shorts, through June 27

Andrews Living Arts Studio, Godspell, through June 20

Mosaic Theatre, Groundswell, through June 27

City Theatre, Undershorts, through June 26

Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Mary Poppins, through June 27, 2010.

Alliance Theatre Lab, Coyote on a Fence, through June 27.

Rising Action Theatre, Mother/Son, through June 27.

Stage Door Theatre, The Drowsy Chaperone, through July 25.

City Theatre, Camp Kappawanna, through 27, 2010 (for Children & Families)

Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, Curious George Live!, through June 20, 2010

GableStage, Speech And Debate, through July 18, 2010.

Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, CATS, through June 27, 2010.

Actors' Playhouse, Pippi Longstocking, through August 7, 2010 (for Children & Families)


Florida Atlantic UniversityA Midsummer Night's Dream, through July 25th.


Actors' Playhouse, Are We There Yet?, through August 15, 2010.

Caldwell Theatre, Secret Order, through August 1, 2010.

Florida Atlantic University, Shipwrecked, through July 24th.

Palm Beach Dramaworks, The Gin Game, through August 15, 2010


Florida Stage, Low Down Dirty Blues, through September 5, 2010. (First show in their new home at the Kravis Center!)

Ground Up an Rising re-emerges to present Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman, playing through August 8


Women's Theatre Project, Wicked Sisters, through August 29.

Caldwell Theatre, The Comfort of Darkness, through September 5, 2010.

Gablestage, Fifty Words, through September 12, 2010.

Stage Door Theatre, Mack & Mable, through September 26.

New Theatre, The Tempest, through September 26.


Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Bare, the Pop Opera, through September 18.

Mosaic Theatre, Completely Hollywood (abridged), through October 3.

Ground Up and Rising, Hurlyburly, through October 3.

Stage Door Theatre, Steel Magnolias, through November 7.