Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mad Cat Theatre Company: BROADSWORD (5 reviews)

Madcat Theatre Company opened its bigger, better, production of Marco Ramirez' BROADSWORD at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on April 23, 2010.  This is a co-production between the two companies.
Sixteen years ago, the Jersey band BroadSword broke up. Now their lead guitarist has gone missing. What the hell happened to Richie and who's the strange man with the disturbing news? BroadSword is all about myths, music, fantasy—and heavy metal deals with the devil.

Get ready for the reunion of the year, featuring some of Mad Cat Theatre's hottest actors, including actor and director Paul Tei (Barry on TV's "Burn Notice"), Erik Fabregat, Eli Peck, Gregg Weiner, Sofia Citarella and Ken Clement.

Written by Marco Ramirez (of TV's "Sons of Anarchy")
Paul Tei directed a cast that included himself, Sofia Citrella, Erik Fabegat, Betsy Graver, Joe Kimble, and Erin Joy Schmidt.

Here's an audio review from South Florida Theatre News.

Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the New Times; which one, you ask?  Both of them.  The reviews are slightly different, but it's one viewer, so we've quoted the best of each:
Marco Ramirez — a South Floridian and recent Juilliard  grad — is a Millennial himself, and so are his characters, no matter their apparent ages. Like the YouTubing, anime-loving, comics-reading, videogame-playing demo he reps, Ramirez has little time for artificial divisions between high and low culture, or between "serious" art and entertainment. It's all in the mix...
...the change of location, along with a substantial rewrite from Ramirez, has done the show more good than harm. The band members — singer Tony (Erik Fabregat), bassist Victor (Eli Peck), and drummer (Paul Tei, who also directs) — seem freed by the new space afforded them (where they are backed up by Sean McClelland's lavish, technically marvelous set), more flamboyant, and less tied to the realism that is any actor's default mode in a small space. (Ramirez's work requires something a bit more flashy.) Ken Clement (who, like Peck, didn't perform in the workshop) grandly plays the musicologist, in a comic Wagnerian mode, earning laughs never anticipated in the script. And Gregg Weiner, playing the uncannily frightening manager who lured Tony away from the band 16 years ago, benefits immeasurably from the presence of moody backlighting.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
BroadSword the band, as noted, isn't real. But BroadSword the play sure is. And through May 9, the Mad Cat Theatre Company-Arsht Center production offers both a journey into a world conjured by rising-star writer Marco Ramirez and yet more evidence that made-in-Miami theater can be a wildly satisfying ride
Tei has utilized the black-box space in a way that should be instructive to touring companies that barely bother with creating atmosphere when they hit the Carnival stage.

Set designer Sean McClelland has created a big ol' New Jersey basement, one that extends out almost to the feet of the front-row audience members surrounding it on three sides
From Mad Cat's original production, Tei returns as bitter drummer Nicky, Sofia Citarella as hottie-turned-mom Becca, Erik Fabregat as Richie's older brother Tony (the singer-guitarist whose dreams of solo glory broke up the band) and Gregg Weiner as The Man in White, aka the devil or The Demon King. New to the show are Ken Clement as Dr. Thorne, a creepy-eccentric musicologist; Eli Peck as the low-key bass player Victor, and David Hemphill as the much-discussed but seldom-seen Richie.

There are some missteps. Weiner, who is charming and menacing when he enters the action, delivers his critical opening monologue too softly and casually. And because he's standing on a platform above and away from most of the audience, both mood and information get sacrificed. As a director, Tei allows for protracted silence as different characters poke around Richie's lair, but the quiet unnecessarily stalls this ``ghost'' story.

Still, Mad Cat's company chemistry sizzles throughout BroadSword, particularly in the exchanges between Tei and Fabregat...
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami Artzine:
Playwright and Julliard drop-out (what?) Marco Ramirez, with Director Paul Tei and Assistant Director Erin Joy Schmidt, have layered drugs, booze, sex, betrayal, death, the Devil and the search for the ever elusive tones between tones on screaming rock guitars into two hours of whiz bang theatrics. My ears didn't quite bleed, but if you're taking your 94 year-old grannie to the show, hide her hearing aids.
Sean McClelland's fine basement set is a large affair with stairs to the ground floor above, trapdoor to the street level, and a doorway to Hell. Musical instruments, books, torn chairs, old lamps, a beaten-up refrigerator, sheet music, tapes and tape decks, clothing and crumpled newspapers litter the floor.
BroadSword is like the set itself. There's stuff everywhere and you have to dig right in. And that's the fun part. They're all good, can't take your eyes off them, actors Fabregat, Peck and Tei really are terrific rock and rollers.
Mad Cat Theatre Company's production of BROADSWORD plays at the Arsht Center through May 9, 2010. 

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