Monday, August 30, 2010

Mondays are Dark

Not in the news but worth noting; area playwright Tony Finstrom says the current production of Mack & Mabel at Broward Stage Door rivals the original Broadway production, while Evil Dead the Musical has been selling so well that Promethean Theatre has added two additional nights to the run.

But enough gossip, here's your Monday reading list:

Broward goes BARE, or is it Completely Hollywood?
The South Florida Sun reports that the next musical at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts is Bare: The Rock Opera.  They also report that Completely Hollywood is opening at Mosaic Theatre.

Shows for Kids in Aventura
The Miami Herald looks at the programming for Aventura's new Arts and Cultural Center, and finds it kid-friendly.

Ever wonder who you're talking to when you order tickets?  1st Draft introduces you to the box office staff at Florida Stage.

Zero Returns
Jim Brochu and his one man show Zero Hour are coming back to South Florida. Read about it in Playbill, TC Palm, and The play will have a limited engagement at the Maltz Jupiter Theater on Oct 14-17, and Oct 21-24.  Brochu had a hit with the play two years ago at the Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs, before taking it to a critically acclaimed and oft-extended run in New York.

Briefs Reprise
South Florida Gay News and The Drama Queen have stories up on Zoetic Stage, which includes some discussion of their fundraiser tonight at Actors' Playhouse.

Death; It's for Kids!
Actually, that's death masks.  The Sun Sentinel visits the Puppet Network, which is run by Jim Hammond.  Hammond toured with The Lion King, and has started producing children's plays that incorporate puppets.  His company will also fabricate scenery and props.

South to Southwest
Some South Florida actors will be appearing over on the Gulf Coast this next season, according to The Stage Door

... The Palm Beach Daily News reports that the Royal Poinciana Playhouse is still closed.  The referendum that the Palm Beach Theatre Guild wanted on the November ballad has been found unconstitutional.
Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge David Crow ruled Thursday in favor of
the town in its challenge of the constitutionality of the PAC’s proposed
referendum requiring voter approval before certain landmarked buildings
could be razed.

The court “does not doubt the sincerity and motives of the defendants and those citizens of the town who signed the petition and those who support it or desire to preserve what many feel are historic landmarks in the town,” Crow wrote in his order. “However, no matter how laudable these goals may be, that decision is not by popular vote when that popular vote is in conflict with Florida statutes,” he wrote.
Patrick Flynn vows to fight the ruling.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Opening Night at the Stage Door

 South Florida Theatre Review sounds hopeful about Mack & Mabel, opening this weekend at Broward Stage Door:
Stage Door is known for its hit-and-miss track record, but its hits have been pretty spectacular lately, notably A Little Night Music and The Drowsy Chaperone.
Additionally, Stage Door has a promising roster of talent on tap. The talented Michael Leeds directs; local baritone Shane Tanner plays Sennett, finally giving him the leading role he has long deserved; New York actress Mara Gabrielle plays the winsome Mabel, and the always dependable Ken Clement plays Fatty Arbuckle.
The show went into previews last week, and has its grand opening tonight; Mack & Mabel plays through September 26 at the Stage Door TheaterDrowsy Chaperone totally lived up to its reviews, let's hope they do it again!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Scene for August 27, 2010

I can't believe it's already the last weekend of August.  WTF?  I swear it was only just the 4th of July.  The productions are thinning out, but there's still a lot of good stuff playing.

Zoetic Stage will be presenting a reading of McKeever's Briefs, a collection of previously produced plays by Michael McKeever,  at Actors' Playhouse on August 30 at 7pm.  This is the second fundraiser for South Florida's most exciting new theatre company.  Their inaugural production, the world premiere of South Beach Babylon, will be staged at the Arsht Center's Carnival Studio Theatre in December.

Here's what's playing this weekend in hot and humid South Florida....


New Theatre's latest summer Shakespeare, The Tempest, opens on August 27, and plays through September 26.

you still haven't missed...

The Comfort of Darkness
plays at The Caldwell Theatre through September 5. 

Florida Stage presents Low Down Dirty Blues through September 5, 2010.

Promethean Theatre's production of Evil Dead: The Musical has been selling out NSU's BlackBox Theatre.  It plays through September 12.

Fifty Words plays at GableStage through September 12, 2010.

Mack and Mable opens at the Stage Door Theatre, where it will play through September 26.

last chance to see...

Wicked Sisters at The Women's Theatre Project winds up its run on August 29.

passing through...

Rising Action Theatre offers up cabaret;  Judy and Liza Together plays August 26 - 28 at The Manor.

for kids...

The Sol Children's Theatre Troupe presents Hansel and Gretel through August 29, 2010.

The Little Yellow Diary plays at Maltz Jupiter Theatre August 27-29.  Read about it on TC Palm.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

GableStage: Fifty Words (4 reviews)

FIFTY WORDS by Michael WellerGableStage opened its production of Michael Weller's Fifty Words on August 14, 2010.
When their young son is away on his first sleepover, a married couple has their first night alone together in years. Will they renew a vital spark that's been nearly smothered - or will provisional civility explode into fiery chaos? An expansive look at modern marriage that is alternately funny and frightening.
Joe Adler directed Erin Joy Schmidt and Gregg Weiner.

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

Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Miami New Times:
I cannot be exact, because I was too enthralled by the play to take my usual notes.
Even if Weller's words don't resonate with you, it's hard to believe that Schmidt and Weiner won't. Smooth as some of their lines are, there is very little smooth about them. Weiner treats the stage like a precipice, with bad falls in every direction.
Weiner is a brilliant actor, but this kind of fence-sitting ambiguity isn't usually his thing. It is Schmidt's thing, and director Joseph Adler  should be commended for dragging his actors in unfamiliar directions. Schmidt, who often spends her time onstage as though she's stuck in the gaps between two opposing and equally galling emotions, here seems to know exactly what she feels and exactly how to say it. Of course, what she says isn't necessarily rational.
Roger Martin reviewed for
Give Joe Adler a script like Michael Weller's Fifty Words, add actors Erin Joy Schmidt and Gregg Weiner, and you'll get a ninety-five minute one act that goes by in a couple of heartbeats. You want love? You want hate? You want lust? You want weakness, strength, pride, rage, futility? Hell, you'll get just about every emotion extant when Schmidt and Weiner sit down to dinner at GableStage.
The power in this piece is not only in the writing (Weller must have eavesdropped on every marriage ever consummated) but also in Adler's direction and the performances of Erin Joy Schmidt and Gregg Weiner. Weiner's stage presence is such that he fills the stage and at first you wonder if there will be room for Schmidt. But she is so strong in her own right that soon there is no doubt. They are equals. These are their words, their actions. Their relationship. This is not scripted, not a stage play. This is real. We believe.

Lyle Baskin has built the interior of an affluent Brooklyn brownstone so realistically that you want to move right in. Especially with Jeff Quinn's exquisite lighting and Matt Corey's sound.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Newly opened in an intense, masterfully acted production at GableStage, Weller's play -- laced with acute observations, astutely placed laughs and passion that turns ugly -- paints a portrait of a marriage in meltdown. For all but the lucky few, the minefields that come with living life in tandem may seem painfully familiar.
Weller, best known for Moonchildren (1971), Loose Ends (1979) and Spoils of War  (1988), gives the audience a voyeuristic view of a couple whose routine interactions are giving way to something deeper and more dangerous.
Director Joseph Adler and the two artfully nuanced actors at first keep the action low-key and real...
Roaming over Lyle Baskin's handsome brownstone set, which looks like the lair of a successful architect, Weiner and Schmidt deliver precisely calibrated performances matched by the subtle artistry of Jeff Quinn's lighting and Matt Corey's jazzy sound scape.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for South Florida Theater Review:
...a superb opening-night performance Saturday night in GableStage’s season-closing production.
Playwright Michael Weller’s equal partners in this dissection of squirm-inducing truths are director Joe Adler, and actors Erin Joy Schmidt and Gregg Weiner, all at the top of their game.

What is amazing about Schmidt and Weiner’s work is how believable their characters remain as Adam and Jan whipsaw between depths of devotion and revulsion, which would seem implausible in lesser hands.
Adler’s vision and leadership are once again exemplary. To all but theater professionals, his touch is nearly invisible, eschewing showy stage movement and histrionics that call attention to himself. His pacing is nearly perfect with each spouse beginning to talk before the other has finished their thought. You have to marvel how Adler, once again, elicits performances so riveting that two characters can sit at a table for 10 or 15 minutes and never lose your attention.
Fifty Words plays at GableStage through September 12, 2010.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mondays are Dark

Show your Support
MiamiArtzine tells us how we can help save the Gusman Center (the old Olympia Theater), and how to support South Florida's newest theatre company, Zoetic Stage.

Something To Do Between Takes
Playbill reports that Sharon Gless will star in A Round Heeled Woman at Gablestage this next season.  Gless, who is a cast member of the TV show Burn Notice (which films in Coconut Grove), originated the role in the play's premiere last year in LA.

There has been some uninformed chatter from a certain Miami City Commissioner that Joe Adler, in line to become Artistic Director of a revived Coconut Grove Playhouse, has made choices that wouldn't play in Coconut Grove.  But it seems to me that this show is exactly the right thing for the Grove. Just sayin', Mark.

GFour Delivers reports that Motherhood The Musical, the next big thing from the producers of Menopause The Musical, opens September 24 at Nova Southeast University's Rose and Alfred Miniaci Performing Arts Center.  No word on the status of Puberty The Musical, inevitably opening at some point in the future.

The Wisdom of the Pharoahs
The Producer's Perspective learned somethings from King Tut; not the boy king, but the traveling exihibit that attracts throngs of people wherever it plays.  One of the things he learned was offering an extra feature for a small fee.  In this case, it was a $5 fee to see a 3D movie about mummies as well as the main exhibit.  Promethean Theatre is doing something very similar; when you arrive at the theatre to see Evil Dead the Musical, you have opportunity to sit in 'The Splatter Zone' for a few extra bucks.  Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like; you're paying to be drenched in stage blood.  Cool, huh?

Half Done carries the word that Palm Beach Dramaworks has cast the plays that make up its 11th season.
"Most directors agree that casting a production well is half the job of mounting a hit show. I'm thrilled to announce that we've assembled some of the finest actors in the industry to tackle some deceptively challenging but artistically rewarding plays next season. These local and visiting artists embody all the necessary talent to ensure another triumphant season of highly entertaining and thought-provoking theatre at Palm Beach Dramaworks," stated Dramaworks' Producing Artistic Director William Hayes.
Another Theatre Moves
The Drama Queen reports that Rising Action Theater has moved from it Oakland Park Boulevard space to the Sunshine Cathedral.  No word on if the move will affect the company's tendency to find reasons to strip their cast stark naked even if it's not specifically in the script.

Season Line-ups
BroadwayWorld reports that Caldwell Theater Company has announced their 2010-2011 season, while The Miami Herald has the season for GableStage.  Which means the Theatre Scene had better start compiling its Opening Nights listing.  Oh, did we mention Sharon Gless?

... The Palm Beach Daily News reports that the Royal Poinciana Playhouse is still closed.
The judges will hear the case at 10 a.m. Oct. 5 at the court at 1525 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., West Palm Beach. In December, Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge David Crow sided with the town in its challenge of the constitutionality of the referendum.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sun-Sentinel Effectively Dead

No, they haven't announced that they're shutting down.  But since it's been over two months since they published any theatre story worth reading, we've decided that enough is enough, it's time to stop pretending that Broward County's only daily paper provides any meaningful news coverage for our area of interest.

The Theatre Scene has removed the link to the Sun-Sentinel's CULTURE page; there is no point in a theatre blog linking to a site that no longer covers theatre.

The Sun-Sentinel's dim-witted management might argue that they do cover theatre, and point at all the articles  they've reprinted from the Herald and the Post.   But since we have already linked to those articles when they  originally appeared in the Herald and the Post, there is no point in our linking to them.  The Scene recognizes what the Sun-Sentinel does not; theatre lovers in South Florida are not served by being directed to old news.

It's sad to note that it's only been a couple of very short years since the Sentinel outpaced the Herald for theatre coverage.  This was entirely due to the late Jack Zink's tireless efforts,  and from our perspective, the Sun-Sentinel's cultural heart died with him.

If you happen to see an actual, original, theatre story in the Sun-Sentinel, by all means pass it along and we'll post it.   But as of today, we're no longer expending the effort to dig through the mess that is the Sun-Sentinel website to look for something that just isn't there.

On the bright side, dropping the Sun-Sentinel will have absolutely no impact on the number of shows and reviews appearing on The Scene.  The sad fact is that if the Sun-Sentinel closed tomorrow, you'd probably never know it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Promethean Theatre: Evil Dead The Musical (4 reviews)

Photo: George Schiavone
The Promethean Theatre opened its production of Evil Dead the Musical on August 20, 2010.
Five college students go to an abandoned cabin in the woods, and accidentally unleash an evil force that turns them all into demons. It's all up to Ash (a housewares employee, turned demon killing hero), and his trusty chainsaw to save the day. Blood flies. Limbs are dismembered. Demons are telling bad jokes... and all to music.
Margaret Ledford directed a cast that included Matthew William Chivezer, David Dearstyne, Noah Levine, Troy Davidson, Jamie Mattocks, Kaitlyn O'Neill, and Lindsey Forgey

Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
Matthew Chivezer, the Bruce Campbell stand-in, has such fabulous physical instincts... his every twitch is a pose. Eyebrows akimbo, chest bulging, declaiming his lines in a baritone of Bunyonesque American bigness — Chivezer isn't exactly mimicking Bruce Campbell's iconic turn, but he's jazzing on it, and he's awesome.
Also awesome: the tricked-out craziness of Promethean's set.
Troy Davidson is a glorious over-actor... Noah Levine  is splendid, shucking his way through the haunted woods as a wizened old hillbilly... David Dearstyne, as a pipsqueak assistant who grows cojones  only when possessed by a demon, is a creature of nigh-perfect comic timing. Expect big things. And as a buxom, no-shit-taking professor type whom Dearstyne is supposed to assist (and wed, apparently) — Lindsey Forgey is pure, burnished brass.
...this is very much an out-there, in-your-face comedy. Evil Dead: The Musical  has little interest in ambiguity, unlike the film that inspired it. The music is broadly composed genre-riffage; the gags are mostly physical and leave you wondering about nothing much. I'm not sure if that makes the show a fitting tribute to Sam Raimi's old warhorse, but it does make it more entertaining. If you like that kind of thing.
Roger Martin reviewed for
It's called Evil Dead The Musical, for God's sake. How classy can it be? Zip, zero, nada on The Great Theatre Scale. And that's being generous. But on the Broadly Funny, Well-Produced, Enjoy The Hell Out Of The Evening Scale, Promethean's latest show shoots (and bleeds) right over the top.
Matthew William Chizever with his engaging stage presence is the excellent big boy hero, and right up there with him are Troy Davidson, Lindsey Forgey, Noah Levine, and David Dearstyne.
 Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Thanks in large part to the skillfully cheesy way Chizever plays the beleaguered hero, Evil Dead is one bloody funny bloodbath.
Under Margaret M. Ledford's inspired direction and with campy-clever choreography by Chrissi Ardito, Evil Dead is even more successful than Cannibal!  was. Everything has a tonal unity, from Ellis Tillman's trampy costume for the sleazy chick to the talking, wall-mounted moose head, which sounds suspiciously like Bullwinkle J. Moose from the old Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons.
The cast has a blast, with Chizever doing hilarious battle with his own possessed right hand, Lindsey Forgey shining as both a dim-bulb pickup and a professor's plucky daughter, Troy Davidson going gleefully over the top as Ash's sexist buddy.

Kaitlyn O'Neill morphs hilariously from Ash's bookish sis to voracious demon. Jamie Mattocks brings a future victim's sweetness to the part of Ash's girl, Noah Levine revels in his role as the dentally challenged hick, and David Dearstyne evolves from milquetoast boyfriend to song-and-dance demon.
Mary Damiano reviewed for South Florida Theatre Review:
“You’re not going to learn a thing tonight,” Deborah Sherman, the company’s producing artistic director, told the opening night audience. But those who didn’t know it already did learn something–Promethean knows how to treat its audience to a bloody great time.
Matthew William Chizever is a worthy successor to the role that Bruce Campbell made famous...  Forgey excels in her double role, as dimbulb Shelley, and as brainy, clothing-challenged Annie... O’Neill possesses a glass-shattering voice, and the ability to spew exceedingly bad puns with glee. Davidson milks every laugh out of his extended death scene, while David Dearstyne is endearing as Ed, the stereotypical forgettable extra.
Margaret M. Ledford has assembled the top-notch talent, both on stage and behind the scenes, necessary to produce this monster of a show. Ledford keeps the pace brisk so the laughs flow as easily as the blood.
The Promethean Theatre presents Evil Dead the Musical at the Black Box Theatre at Nova Southeast University through September 12, 2010.

Caldwell Theatre: The Comfort of Darkness (5 reviews)

Passionate love affair between Dr. Anton Mesmer and the beautiful blind pianist Maria-Theresa von ParadisThe Caldwell Theatre company opened its production of Joel Gross' The Comfort of Darkness on August 13, 2010.
Inspired by the passionate love affair between Dr. Anton Mesmer and the beautiful blind pianist Maria-Theresa von Paradis, THE COMFORT OF DARKNESS is a romantic drama about the pioneer of hypnosis, and a forerunner of Freudian psychology. Dr. Mesmer is handsome and charismatic, and the play is sexy, mind-bending, and "Mesmerizing!"
Clive Cholerton directed a cast that featured Stevie Ray Dallimore, Jessalyn Maguire, Jane Cortney, and Kenneth Kay.

Mary Damiano reviewed for South Florida Gay News:
The Caldwell’s world premiere of The Comfort of Darkness is handsome indeed, with Alberto Arroyo’s sumptuous costumes and Tim Bennett’s elegant set.  It’s a shame the play does not live up to the production.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald: might legitimately take issue with calling the playwright's execution of his genre "inspired.'' For the new play, ``turgid'' is more apt.
Under Clive Cholerton's direction, the cast labors mightily in this dramatic lost cause.
The handsome Dallimore pretends his dialogue isn't cheesy (though it is), bringing a swashbuckling virility to his delivery and movements; whether an actor should take that approach in a play not about pirates is another issue.
Kenneth Kay brings a bemused air to the role of Dr. Otto von Stoerk, Mesmer's influential and skeptical friend. Jane Cortney is appealing in the confusing role of Francisca Oesterlin, Mesmer's former patient, current assistant and possible future stepdaughter-in-law. Maguire, unfortunately, comes off more like an 18th century Valley Girl with a crush than as a complex, vulnerable artist. On the plus side, she looks lovely in Alberto Arroyo's lavish costumes.
John Lariviere reviewed for;
This production of The Comfort of Darkness has beautifully detailed period costuming by Alberto Arroyo, and a drawing room designed by Tim Bennett that frames the action of the play with elegance. The absence of any accent work common in period pieces such as this deters the audience from total emersion in the feel of the period.
Huh. And here I was taught that only rank amateurs use accents when everyone would be speaking the same dialect.  Since everyone is from Vienna, it would make utterly no sense for the characters to speak with a Viennese dialect.  We are supposed to hear them as they hear each other, and they are not hearing a dialect.  10 demerits for Mr. Lariviere, who apparently is unversed in contemporary professional standards of acting.
The first act is drowsy, and the play as a whole is too long. There are conspicuously long moments of silence meant to be fraught with passion or intensity that are weakened by the lack of pacing that surround them. It seems odd that none of these moments are enhanced musically with suitable pieces. Not only was the real Maria Theresa a singer, pianist and composer, but Mesmer would often conclude his treatments by playing some music on a glass armonica. Obviously, a clearer bond between the two characters might have been established by using this musical connection.
Jane Cortney is a bit stiff as Franzl. Though her second-act scene with Maguire as Paradis, when she reveals her true nature, is very well written, she does not go far enough with it emotionally.
Kenneth Kay (Dr. Otto von Stoerk) establishes an easy rapport with Stevie Ray Dallimore, who is dashing as Dr. Anton Mesmer. Though obviously talented, Dallimore is missing that spark that should make Mesmer dynamic and compelling. Jessalyn Maguire is lovely as Maria-Theresa. She touches on the innocence, immaturity and bottled-up passion of the character. Her acting in a scene where she turns the table on Mesmer by passive-aggressively taking control, has great subtext.
Roger Martin reviewed for
This summer show at Boca Raton's Caldwell Theatre is a world premiere. It's got a lovingly elegant set, wonderful costumes, top lights and sound, good direction by Clive Cholerton and features some fine performances, but still it seems just to float along, neither particularly exciting nor particularly boring.
Ken Kay plays Dr. Otto von Stoerk with constant flair. He's great fun to watch. Just a tad less successful is New York actor Stevie Ray Dallimore as Dr. Anton Mesmer. He has to deal at times with melodramatic and turgid writing. Neither Jessalyn Maguire as Maria -Theresa von Paradis, nor Jane Cortney as Franzi Oesterlin really stand out, although Jessalyn Maguire has mastered the art of wearing and moving in 18th century dress.

The gorgeously well-detailed costumes by Alberto Arroyo, Tim Bennett's set and John Hall's lighting are, as usual, of the highest standard.
Bill Hirschman covered it for the South Florida Theater Review:
...there is little convincing, compelling or sensual in this well-intentioned production about 18th century physician Franz Anton Mesmer’s tragically temporary cure of – and concurrent love affair with – the blind harpsichordist, Maria-Theresa von Paradis.
The toughest challenge for director Clive Cholerton and the cast is to depict the improbable scenario with a straight face.
Alberto Arroyo’s costumes are lush and lovely, John D. Hall’s lighting conveys many moods and times of day, and Tim Bennett once again provides a gorgeous period drawing room.
...the victim here is Stevie Ray Dallimore as Mesmer. He brings passion, charisma and energy to the first two- thirds of the play, providing evidence that Gross’ verbiage and vision may not be a mistake. But eventually, even he flags. You can’t dance a pas de deux by yourself all night.
The Comfort of Darkness plays at the Caldwell Theatre through September 5, 2010.

"..and Keep Looking UP!"

The Miami Herald reports that Jack Horkheimer, The beloved Star-Gazer, has died at age 72.

When I first moved to Florida back in 1985, my grandmother dragged me in front of the TV one night.  "Have you seen this guy?" she asked.  "He's terrific."  Jack was perched on the rings of Saturn, telling us what wonders we should step outside and look for.  "...and Keep... Looking... UP!"

Back in 2003, Actors' Playhouse was mounting a production of Return to the Forbidden Planet.  It's loosely based on the classic sci-fi movie Forbidden Planet, which brought us Robbie the Robot.   In turn, the film was based on a Shakespeare play, leading producer Barbara Stein at one point to describe the play as "Shakespeare meets The Tempest."

The musical has some narration, to set up Act 1 and Act 2, and to conclude the play.  It was written to be done on video, played on the mainscreen viewer of the spaceship that made up the set.  And our director, David Arisco, had a brilliant idea.
"In South Florida, when you think of space, who do you think of?  The Star-Gazer!  Wouldn't that be cool?  The Star-Gazer as the Narrator for Return to the Forbidden Planet?"
He was absolutely right; how could it be anyone else?

So he got hold of Jack Horkheimer, Channel 2' Star Gazer, and I found myself helping to carry a load of video equipment into the Museum of Science.  I wasn't the videographer; I was there more to play production assistant and do whatever needed to be done to make it happen.  Science geek that I am, I wasn't going to miss an afternoon with Jack Horkheimer.

Jack came out of his offices, and we shot in front of an image of the solar system that was on the museum floor.  He was gracious, and tickled that he was going to appear "on the stage."  "I always wanted to act" he said.

He wore his trademark blue sweater, and worried about his trademark toupee; it became my job to assure him that it was on straight.  It's not that he was terribly vain about it, he just wanted to "look right" for the kids.  His Star Gazer persona was very important to him, making it a real honor that he was willing to lend it to Actors' Playhouse.

It came out beautifully. And the critics agreed.
Perhaps the most inspired touch is casting the Miami Space Transit Planetarium's executive director, Jack Horkheimer, as the Star Gazer, who provides wry onscreen narration in iambic pentameter.
- Ron Mangravite, Broward/Palm Beach New Times, October 16, 2003
It is absolutely one of my favorite moments in theatre production.  It was a "celebrity casting" that worked seamlessly, marrying the production solidly with the community.

Sleep well, Jack.  We'll keep looking up.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Scene for August 20, 2010.

The summer is just blowing past, isn't it?  Kids are heading back to school, and soon we'll hit labor day.

And it just keeps getting hotter...


Promethean Theatre's heralded production of Evil Dead: The Musical opens this weekend at NSU's BlackBox Theatre.

Mack and Mable opens at the Stage Door Theatre, where it will play through September 26.

you still haven't missed...

The Comfort of Darkness plays at The Caldwell Theatre through September 5. 

Wicked Sisters at The Women's Theatre Project runs through August 29.
Florida Stage presents Low Down Dirty Blues through September 5, 2010.

for kids...

The Sol Children's Theatre Troupe presents Hansel and Gretel through August 29, 2010.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mondays are Dark

The Miami Herald talks with M Ensemble about their upcoming move to a new space being developed by The Miami Light Project.

Moving On
Jonathon Wemette, Artistic Associate at Florida Stage and a long time Theatre Scene supporter, is heading back to school.  But before he gets caught up in Yale's Theater Management MFA program, he says good bye on 1st Draft. Best of luck!

Moving up
Mosaic Theatre has become a full Equity contract theatre, according to South Florida Theater Review. (Actors' Equity Association is the union for professional stage actors and stage managers).  The company has used Equity actors in the past, but by "special arrangment."  Now the company has a fixed contract with the union that not only makes it easier to hire Union actors, but will allow them to help actors enter the union.

Richard Simon's "little theatre that could" isn't the first Equity theatre in Broward County;  the defunct companies that held AEA contracts included the Off-Broadway Theatre, the Vinette Carol Repertory Company, and the little Hollywood Boulevard theatre. Even the Stage Door Theatre employed union actors for a time. Have I missed any?  Did the Hollywood Playhouse ever get beyond "guest artist" status?

Another First For Actors'
Well, a first production, anyway.  The Drama Queen reports that Actors' Playhouse will be premiering See Jane Run, a new musical by Maribeth Graham and Dana P. Rowe.

Word of Mouth, um, Text
Butts in Seats mulls over what happens when social media picks up your event promotions.
What people are choosing to include in information to their friends often isn’t what I think sells the show.
In this case, the author notes that sometimes stuff gets out because of Twitter's 140 character limit, or poor copy-and-paste practices.  But I remember an artistic director complaining that whenever he was interviewed about a show by the media, he always felt that they missed he reasons he chose the show and fixated on something he thought mundane.

Which begs the question: do any of us really know "what sells the show?"

Lucie does some 'splainin'.
American Theatre Wing posted an MP3 of and interview with Lucie Arnaz. At about 49:50, she talks about working at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, including keeping Sonia Flew open.
"...I called my buddies over there... Bacardi... the next day... gave us a check for $50,000.   But the board of directors was already so crazy that they had shut the door to the theatre and locked us out for three days, not knowing we were in this campaign raising mode, and then all the people we had emailed to help us said 'we're not going to throw good money after bad - the place is closed!'  It was a disaster."
The more things change, the more they stay the same; the Grove board still can't seem to manage to talk to people.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Top Ten Search Strings 8/12

This week's top ten keyword searches; it's an interesting one:
  1. south florida theater scene
  2. equity theaters in south florida
  3. miami theater scene
  4. live theatre in south florida
  5. south florida live theater
  6. south florida theatre scene
  7. south florida theatre league blog
  8. auditions in south florida
  9. brodway shows in south florida
  10. kim cozort
Pretty weird, huh?

I suspect it's because she appeared on THE GLADES last week,  which also featured David Perez-Ribada.  David, alas, did not appear on the list.  I don't know why; sexism in action, I guess.

Kim is no stranger to South Florida stages, and her husband, Kenneth Kay, is opening In the Comfort of Darkness at the Caldwell Theater this week.

photo copyright A&E TV.

The Scene For August 13, 2010

We're hitting the dog days of summer; it's hot, it's humid, and prone to torrential downpours.  So slip into a cool, dry theatre and leave it behind for a couple of hours.  Oh, and don't forget that Michelle Rosenfarb is staging a reading of her play The Gates of Choice at GableStage this coming Monday. 


The Comfort of Darkness opens at The Caldwell Theatre, and runs through September 5.  The South Florida Theatre Review has a story about it.

you still haven't missed...

Wicked Sisters at The Women's Theatre Project runs through August 29.

The Gin Game plays at Palm Beach DramaWorks through August 15; the buzz is building around this one!

Florida Stage presents Low Down Dirty Blues through September 5, 2010 - south Florida's most reviewed play this week.

last chance to see...

He's Coming Up the Stairs! plays at Empire Stage  through August 15, 2010

for kids...

The Sol Children's Theatre Troupe presents Hansel and Gretel through August 29, 2010.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Women's Theatre Project: Wicked Sisters (4 reviews)

The Women's Theatre Project opened their production of Alma De Groen's Wicked Sisters on August 5, 2010.
...a sharp-fanged, humorous look at the shape of women's lives.  A scientific genius dies and his widow, Meridee, hosts lunch for three friends.  The four women have known each other since their youth but their lives have gone in divergent directions.  As secrets unravel through their reminiscences, theories of evolution based on "deadly" competition begin to have an uncanny resonance and Meridee's genteel idyll dissolves into a battleground.
Genie Croft directed a cast that featured Miki Edelman, Elizabeth Dimon, Jude Parry, and Linda Bernhard.

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

Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
It's difficult to say whether playwright Alma de Groen's script would feel so awkward if the ladies would content themselves with mere  cattiness. As it is, de Groen very soon forces these characters to discuss the moral implications of Darwinism, materialism, and the work of Meridee's late husband. His last great contribution to science is the computer in the corner. Its digital life forms, with their brutish vitality, could act as a brilliant metaphor for the caprices of nature and could even serve as a reminder of why these women might need one another. Unfortunately, de Groen never wanders too far down that road, preferring instead to fill her script with cheap, deep thoughts. "If there is no spirit, what is it that's hurting so fucking badly?" one lady asks, as though we didn't already know: These ladies are miserable because they're mean. Long before it concludes its investigation of metaphysics, Wicked Sisters is all out of mysteries.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Though the play contains truths about women's lives, it is made less compelling by improbabilities ... and irrelevancies ...
Director Genie Croft has cast the production well, her greatest asset being Dimon, who expertly conveys the aching heart of a flawed woman. The flamboyant Bernhard chews much of designer Dan Rogers' workmanlike set -- which is OK, because that's the kind of woman Lydia is -- but her ``Australian'' accent toggles between New South Wales and the American South. A radiant Parry effectively communicates both Hester's kookiness and her simmering need for revenge. Edelman, who seems a bit too benumbed at first, comes through dramatically once Meridee starts spilling the truths of her life with Alec.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for South Florida Theater Review:
Despite the efforts of its hard-working actresses, the American premiere at The Women’s Theatre Project couldn’t disguise that De Groen has grafted four different plays onto each other in succession.
Each facet is mildly interesting, even making you laugh or ponder occasionally. But while superlative playwrights can whiplash you convincingly between comedy and pathos, this script seems too schizophrenic to be cohesive, compelling or consistently comprehensible.
De Groen has achieved some admirable goals. She gives four terrific actresses of a certain age the meaty roles they deserve.  And, she gives an articulate voice to the concerns and challenges facing these characters. She also cross-examines the myth of unshakeable sisterhood and the subtle aftershocks of the feminist movement.
Wicked Sisters is not a wasted evening of theater – there’s too much talent at work here for that to happen. But it’s not a fully satisfying one either.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami
...under Genie Croft's direction any hope of subtly working to a climax is lost. From the top of the show, declamatory speeches and busily awkward blocking are the order. And oh, the accents. They range all over the English speaking world, only very occasionally passing through the Australian continent.
Wicked Sisters does not draw one in. Lydia and Hester, played by Linda Bernard and Jude Parry, are overly broad and while Elizabeth Dimon and Miki Edelman as Judith and Meridee are more grounded, they too, as they also drink their way through the show, lose their subtlety. This remains a not particularly well written play, not particularly well presented.
The Women's Theatre Project production of Wicked Sisters plays at Sixth Star Studios through August 29, 2010.

Mondays are Dark

ALA Finally Gets Some Press
Andrews Living Arts, the tiny theatre started earlier this year by Robert Nation, has had precious little coverage in the news - until now.  The Miami Herald sent someone up to Fort Lauderdale to talk with the veteran producer who has just returned to his childhood hometown.  It's pathetic that Fort Lauderdale's own daily rag couldn't be bothered to send someone up the street. 

The Kids Are All Right
The Miami Herald stops into Area Stage, where the conservatory students are preparing for RENT: The School Edition.

The Shoestring Snapped
We linked this story already, but M Ensemble is important enough for us to point out the So Fla Theater Review story again.
After a decade in a down-at-the-heels strip shopping center in North Miami, the company is abandoning its 68-seat vestpocket stage this summer, general manager Pat Williams acknowledged Thursday.

Segue: Another Fundraiser.
The Miami Theatre Examiner gives us the skinny on next Sunday's reading of Michele Rosenfarb's The Gates of Choice at GableStage.

Wonderland Steps Up
The musical written by Hollywood native Frank Wildhorn starred Miamian Janet Dacal when it premiered in Tampa last December.  The South Florida Theater Review and Playbill have the news that Wonderland: A New Alice, A New Musical will open on Broadway in March, 2011.

Palm Beach Overview
The Palm Beach Post interviews the playwright of Caldwell Theatre's next show, The Cover of Darkness, reports that Gordon McConnell made a full recovery and was in fine form for the final weekend of Secret Order, and tells us that Hap Erstein wil be teaching theatre appreciation.  No, really.  You can sign up for his course and everything.

Another Opening tells us all about Motherhood, the Musical, produced by G4 Productions and opening next month at Nova Southeastern University's Miniaci Performing Arts Center.

Caldwell's Follies
The South Florida Theater Review reports that the Caldwell Theatre will be continuing its critically acclaimed concert performances of Sondheim musicals with FOLLIES, playing October 1-3, 2010.

... in Palm Beach, the Royal Poinciana Playhouse is still closed.  The Shiny Sheet has the skinny.
A judge has denied Preserve Palm Beach’s motion to dismiss the town’s lawsuit contesting the constitutionality of a referendum shielding certain landmarked properties from demolition.

“It’s a travesty of the people’s rights,” said Patrick Flynn, Preserve Palm Beach’s chief officer and president of the Palm Beach Theater Guild. The guild wants to re-open the shuttered Royal Poinciana Playhouse as a theater.
The referendum that Flynn and his PAC have filed is an attempt to end-run state law, which specifically excludes what they are trying to do to in an effort to save the moldering Playhouse.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

10 Audition Don'ts

Mosaic Theatre held its season auditions last week.  As always, these auditions bring out actors of every calibre, and directors see the gamut of audition behavior - the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Artistic Director Richard Jay Simon shares the top ten bad behaviors he saw this last audition cycle.

10) Know and properly pronounce the playwright from which you are performing a monologue. His name is Tony Kushner, not Tony Kooooshner. Itmar Moses is not pronounced Eye-T-Mar Moses. The author of 4.48 Psychosis is not Sandy Kane, it's Sarah Kane. Respect the dead, dammit! I could go on...

9) Respect the theater and the process by sticking to the 3 minutes you are given. More than half of auditonees went over the time limit and that illustrates that you cannot follow directions and didn't take the time to properly prepare for the audition.

8) Pick up a copy of RJS's pet peeves* at your local bookstore and make sure you are not guilty of excessive thigh slapping.  *(ed.:  there are many good books on how to audition, all of them mention physicality)

7) It's never a good idea to fudge your way through a monologue. When the auditor knows your speech better than you, that can't be a good thing.

6) Keep a current headshot. A large percentage of auditionees submit headshots that look nothing like them. You do yourself a disservice.

5) Be nice to the greeter who signs you in. I always ask who works up front if there were any assholes. Odds are if they are a problem there then they would be in the rehearsal room as well.

4) Do not have your OWN cell phone go off in YOUR audition! 

3) Everyone will tell you to treat an audition like a job interview. Dress accordingly. There are exceptions to the rule but give yourself the best chance by not showing up looking like a bum - and wear some deodorant!

2) Contrasting monologues: look up some definitions of the word. Here is one: To show differences when compared. You have a great opportunity to show off your talents and show variety! Take advantage of that. Also, I would suggest knowing the season or the brand of the theater for which you are auditioning. It's probably not wise to audition with Richard III and Hamlet for a theater that doesn't touch classics.

1) DO NOT BRING A GUN INTO YOUR AUDITION AND USE IT. This was the first time that I have ever seen this and hopefully will not again. I kid you not that this actor pulled out a gun, I think it was real, cocked it and pointed it near the audition panel.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pictures from The Zombie Prom

Pictures from the Promethean Theatre fundraiser at The Monterey Club can be found on the Broward/Palm Beach New Times. 

The event was a fundraiser for Promethean, which will be opening Evil Dead: The Musical on August 20, 2010.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Scene for August 6, 2010

The summer is moving right along; it's already August!  Soon, the kids will be back in school, and after that, the Snowbirds will return and choke our highways and byways.  But right now, it's easy get around town, and get out to see a show...


Wicked Sisters opens at The Women's Theatre Project, and runs through August 29.

you still haven't missed...

The Gin Game plays at Palm Beach DramaWorks through August 15; the buzz is building around this one!

Florida Stage presents Low Down Dirty Blues through September 5, 2010 - south Florida's most reviewed play this week.

He's Coming Up the Stairs! plays at Empire Stage  through August 15, 2010

last chance to see...

Ground Up and Rising winds up its critically acclaimed production of The Pillowman at the Little Stage Theatre through August 8, 2010.

Are We There Yet? plays at Actors' Playhouse through August 8, 2010.

for kids...

Actors' Playhouse presents Pippi Longstocking through August 7, 2010.

The Aluminum Show plays at the Adrienne Arsht Center through August 8, 2010.

Dora The Explorer stars in Storytime Live! this weekend at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Play Reading/Fundraiser at GableStage

via email:

Sunday, August 15th at 7:30pm
2009-2010 Plays


We are proud to announce that local playwright and Carbonell Award nominee, Michelle Rosenfarb, was recently accepted into the MFA Dramatic Writing Program at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and will commence this prestigious program in the fall.  To help support her educational endeavors, we will be presenting a Benefit Play Reading of her award-winning script, The Gates of Choice. All proceeds will go to the playwright. 
Critically acclaimed, The Gates of Choice received its world premiere production at New Theatre in Coral Gables during their 2008-2009 season, and is the script that gained Ms. Rosenfarb attention on the theatre map.
In the Israeli Ultra Orthodox quarter of Mea Shearim, a young Hasidic woman facing an arranged marriage, finds refuge and answers in a taboo relationship. Fueled by her curious nature and longing for identity, she delves further to find "the truth" forming the foundation of her religion, her community, and her family.  While the play is specific in nature, the theme is universal: the rules of our father, may not be the rules for us.
The talented ensemble will include performances by some of South Florida's best:
Directed by:
* A brief talk-back with actors and author will follow the performance.


TO RESERVE TICKETS: 305-445-1119

GableStage is located in the eastern section of the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Avenue,
Coral Gables. Valet parking is available. Free parking is available in the
Biltmore parking area west of the hotel.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tweaks and Updates

We've been tweaking things here at The Scene; you'll notice that we finally figured out how to get the social networking buttons working at the foot of each post, making it easy to share posts with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, or whatever.

Speaking of social networking, we've also created a Facebook Page.  This will replace the Facebook group, which was a good start, but hard to update.  The new Facebook page will automagically update when we make a post here.

We've also worked out the kinks with our Twitter feed - we think.  So again, when we update The Scene, a tweet should follow soon after.  Hopefully we haven't setup some weird feedback loop where Facebook and Twitter keep updating each other once a post hits.

As always, thanks for reading!

Ground Up and Rising: The Pillowman (3 reviews)

Ground Up an Rising opened its production of Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman on July 23rd, at the Little Stage Theatre at SoBe Arts.
Winner of the Olivier Award and Tony Award for Best Play, The Pillowman  by Martin McDonagh centers on a writer in an unnamed totalitarian state who is being interrogated about the gruesome content of his short stories and their similarities to a series of child murders. The result is an urgent work of theatrical bravura and an unflinching examination of the very nature and purpose of art.
Arnaldo Carmouze directed a cast that included Sheaun McKinney, Bechir Sylvain, Arnaldo Carmouze, Claudio Pinto, Jennifer Lorenzo, David Gallegos, and Curtis Belz.

Mary Damiano reviewed for South Florida Theater Review:
Murder and imagination take centerstage in the harrowing play, The Pillowman, by Martin McDonagh, now enjoying a strong production by the Miami theatre company Ground Up and Rising.
The cast is excellent.  As Katurian, Belz first comes off like a two-bit petty thief, but his performance evolves and matures over the course of the play, transforming Katurian into a sympathetic antihero.  Sylvain mines the gold from his richly drawn character, in both his violent outbursts and his epiphany.  McKinney’s performance is controlled and compelling–he can do more with silences and a smile than most actors can do with a page of dialogue–and he is riveting to watch.
The most impressive performance, on stage and behind the scenes, is from Carmouze, who also directs.  As Michal, he has just one extended scene, but he’s so natural, so realistic, that his performance is both funny and heartbreaking.  His direction wrings both the horror and humor from McDonagh’s play.
Eileen Spiegler wrote about it, "special" to the Miami Herald:
The Ground Up & Rising cast does its best with the often rambling dialogue, especially McKinney and Sylvain in their good cop/bad cop patter. There's a snap to their exchanges that makes you want them to keep talking (``He's so moody,'' Tupolski sighs of Ariel's bursts of violence). The problem is, they don't seem dangerous.
The play is missing a sense of the sinister, in large part because of McDonagh's meandering, overlong script. Ominous music in scenes might be meant to punch things up but only makes the lack of tension more obvious. And while the comic lines come easily, they don't elicit the nervous, uncomfortable laughs jokes about torture should.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami
Gee, it's nice to go to a little black box theatre, see a show put on by a small company with little money, and just enjoy the hell out of it because of the acting. That's all you really need, the acting. And the story. So if you put Ground Up & Risings' terrific cast into Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman you get an evening that's enthralling.
Katurian, the writer, is played by Curtis Belz, new to me but an actor I'd like to see again, and very soon. Sheaun McKinney is Tupolski, the “good” cop who is anything but, and Bechir Sylvain is the “bad” one. Both have a lot going on.
Arnaldo Carmouze doubles as both ingenious director and actor and, despite the old adage, fills both roles very well indeed. His Michal, the slow brother of Katurian, is wonderfully knowing. No bumbling idiot here. Belz and Carmouze are a delight to watch together. There's love on the stage with these two.
...Belz and McKinney excel as fascinating story tellers.
Ground Up and Rising presents The Pillowman at the Little Stage Theatre through August 8, 2010.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Spotlight: SoFla on National TV

South Floridians Brandon Morris and Erik Fabregat will be seen on this week's episode of BURN NOTICE.  Thursday at 9m.  Last week you might have seen Sandy Ives or David Corey.

Last week on THE GLADES, you would have seen Adam Cronan and John Manzelli, as well as our favorite coffee shop, Urban Brew at Himmarshee.

BTW, if you or someone you know is appearing on a TV show, drop us a note, we'll put out the word.

Mondays are Dark

The Sound of Silence
South Florida Theater Review ponders a problem greater than a cell phone going off mid-show; an audience who won't react. 

Sing The Blues

1st Draft tells us about a blues competition at BB King's Club.

Mom's the Word

From the producers of Menopause: The Musical comes a lyrical pre-quel with a not-so-subtle title: Motherhood: The has the story.

From the Sun-Sentinel, wait, that's a POST story....that's a HERALD review, another one from the POST, HERALD, HERALD...nope.  No news in the Sentinel.  Never mind.

Growing Pains
The South Florida Theatrer Review talks to Florida Stage about their recent move to The Kravis Center, and how they are adjusting. 
But the first show in the new venue has already taught a lesson. The debut of Low Down Dirty Blues proved that the action and the set have to move closer to the audience. As a result the 34 additional seats that the company gained in the move may well be sacrificed to bring the play closer to the laps of the audience.
Growing and Going Places
The South Florida Theater Review reports that The Naked Stage is moving its 24 Hour Theatre Project to Palm Beach County this year.  The fundraiser for Naked Stage and will take place at The Caldwell Theatre on October 4, 2010, with an 8pm curtain.  By the way, Naked Stage co-founder John Manzelli was seen on A&E's The Glades last week.

Diversity through Exclusivity
Marjorie O'Neill-Butler wrote an article about The Women's Theatre Project for MiamiArtZine.Com.   O'Neill-Butler, a board member of TWTP, explains that the company's mission of producing plays by women, about women, produced by women, and performed by women, is intended to foster diversity.  Some critics point out that this excludes works by such renowned women playwrights as Wendy Wasserstein or Beth Henley, leaving the company without access to the name recognition that such plays bring with them.
The mission statement of TWTP states that they do plays by women, about women and for everyone. It is their choice to impose this limitation on themselves. Although there are other companies promoting female writers and actors, apparently this is the only company in the states that works with only women in their main stage productions. Our local theatre critics have had difficulty with this mission, saying it is limiting. Or wondered aloud in their reviews “where are the men?” Has any critic in a review of an all male play ever asked “Where are the women?”
This is the age of "niche theatre."  Several decades ago, the common wisdom for theatre programming was to try to be all things to everybody, to attract a wide base.  But then Florida Stage started doing new plays exclusively, selling out entire seasons of plays that no one had ever heard of.  And in time, other theatres have learned to find their own unique niche, finding a narrower range or genre, and mastering it completely.

Why not a gender-specific niche?

TWTP opens its production of Alma De Groen's Wicked Sisters this Thursday, August 5.  The men will be in the audience.

Hop on the Bus, Gus...
BroadwayWorld reports that 50 Words will be making its southeastern premiere at GableStage next month.  I hope they won't get lost or misconstrued....

Early Development
Later this season, Actors' Playhouse will be producing the world premiere of Nilo Cruz's The Color of Desire.  But you can about the process of developing it on Cape Cod Online.

The South Florida Theater Review brings us up to date on Academy, the award-winning creation of Andrew Kato of the Maltz Jupiter Theatre.