Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mosaic Theatre: Collected Stories (4 reviews)

Mosaic Theatre opened its production of Collected Stories on November 11, 2010.
This acclaimed drama by Pulitzer Prize winner Donald Margulies chronicles the relationship between two female writers - a celebrated New York author and her young protégé. As their fascinating story evolves, and the line between fact and fiction blurs, the twists and turns of this complex relationship weave a play that's as smart and witty as it is powerful.
Margaret M. Ledford directed a cast that featured Barbara Bradshaw and Kim Morgan Dean.

Hap Erstein reviewed for Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
Most productions of Donald Margulies‭’ ‬wily,‭ ‬articulate drama‭ ‬Collected Stories portray the relationship between renowned short story writer Ruth Steiner and her persistent protégé Lisa Morrison as the literary equivalent of‭ ‬All About Eve...

But in the hands of director Margaret Ledford,‭ ‬deftly drawing a pair of remarkable performances from Barbara Bradshaw‭ (‬Ruth‭) ‬and Kim Morgan Dean‭ (‬Lisa‭)‬,‭ ‬the play becomes something more balanced and nuanced,‭ ‬asking us to consider the artistic and personal ethics involved,‭ ‬leaving it up to the audience to decide how they feel about the ownership of the story.
Dean,‭ ‬returning to South Florida for this production,‭ ‬reminds us why she quickly became one of the most accomplished young actresses in the region in the few short years she lived down here.‭ ‬
Bradshaw is such a wryly comic performer that she rarely gets a juicy dramatic role like Ruth,‭ ‬but she holds her own tutorial in how to mesmerize an audience when she does.‭ ‬Here she gives a very layered characterization,‭ ‬alternately steely and maternal,‭ ‬tough and gentle.
There are plenty of reasons to see this Mosaic production,‭ ‬and the play itself is high on the list.‭ ‬But at the top are‭ ‬surely the two memorable performances that breathe such vitality into Margulies‭’ ‬words.
Roger Martin reviewed for MiamiArtzine:

Simon once more has demonstrated his theatrical nous, having Margaret M. Ledford direct Barbara Bradshaw and Kim Morgan Dean in this cleverly emotional tale of the Queen is Dead, Long Live the Queen.
Marguiles' script is terrific. As are the actors. Bradshaw and Dean are the story, live, on stage. Totally engrossing.

Douglas Grinn's two level New York apartment is utterly believable. Ruth has lived here for 32 years and it shows. Jeff Quinn's light, Matt Corey's sound and K. Blair Brown's costumes are all first rate.

Richard Jay Simon has presented some outstanding theatre in the ten-year life of Mosaic and Collected Stories is among the best.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
...for a demonstration of just how mesmerizing a superb performance can be, check out Barbara Bradshaw's work in Mosaic Theatre's Collected Stories.
With artfully illuminating direction by Margaret M. Ledford and Mosaic's typically strong design elements (particularly Douglas Grinn's handsome set), this production becomes a fascinating, humor-infused battle between two strong, very different women.
The play, which was a finalist for the drama Pulitzer, incisively explores everything from the politics of the New York literary scene to the shifting balance of power as one career fades and another burns bright.
Margulies also brings to vivid life the moral and emotional price of intellectual thievery. Think that sounds dry? Bradshaw, who has a wonderful onstage partner in the inventively expressive (Kim Morgan) Dean, will make you think again.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for South Florida Theater Review:
The temptation is to liken Barbara Bradshaw and Kim Morgan Dean’s performances in Mosaic Theatre’s Collected Stories to shooting stars intertwining on their blazing path across the heavens.
But the miraculous artistry on display Friday was pointedly not pyrotechnic. These virtuosos seemed so naturalistic that you almost never caught them acting, and yet, under Margaret Ledford’s direction, the pair deliver portrayals of a mentor and student that are mesmerizing.
It’s a good script, but these are stunning performances, deftly directed. Naturalistic acting is hard work. You apply myriad pauses and looks and intonations, and then try to erase any sign of that technique.
Some playgoers remember Bradshaw’s range from decades past, but most audience members recall only her recent string of brilliant portrayals of slightly dotty mothers and doyennes in absurdist comedies... So it will surprise some newcomers that her dramatic chops are every bit as honed and effective..To be that convincing and to inject such a variety of line readings into such a long monologue is the work of a master actor.
Dean has always been a hypnotic actress projecting raw talent, beauty and charisma in such shows as Playhouse Creatures at The Women’s Theatre Project and Mosaic’s Body of Water. But her recent foray to make it in New York City has only deepened her skill.
The Mosaic Theatre production of Collected Stories runs through December 5, 2010.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mondays are Dark

The holiday weekend made it a light week for theatre stories, but we managed to scrape together a few.  Here's your Monday reading list...

A on Z
The Arsht P.O.V.  talks about hosting the inaugural production of Zoetic Stage; Michael McKeever's South Beach Babylon,

Waxing Zoetic
Meanwhile, while the Miami Herald talks with various members of the fledgling theatre company.

Turkey Talk
In a Very Special Thanksgiving edition, The Producer's Perspective tells us why we refer to a failed show as a turkey.

Jupiter's Academy
The musical that wowed the New York Musical Theatre Festival and went to the orient returns to The Maltz Jupiter theater; TC Palm on Academy.

The Waiting is Over

Waiting for Godot made its US premiere at The Coconut Grove Playhouse in January of 1956 - it was the show that launched The Grove.  Bert Lahr played Estragon in this legendary production.  Months later a new production of the play appeared on Broadway, where Lahr reprised his role as Estragon.  The play did lousy box office in both locations, although  Lahr's performance was a critical hit.  Well, About Last Night reports that a recording of the Broadway production has been re-issued.

Speaking of The Grove
The Grove's next artistic director, Joe Adler, will be presenting Sharon Gless  in A Round Heeled Woman at GableStage. Read about it in TheaterMania.

As Long As We're Talking About The Grove
The Coconut Grove Grapevine finds a newspaper from December, 1970, and runs down the Theatre Scene for us:
The Calendar of Events included Summertree, a play being performed at Players Theatre; The Ring Theater was presenting The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, staring Mercedes McCambridge; Butterflies Are Free was playing at the Coconut Grove Playhouse staring Ann Southern and Beau Bridges. Prices were $2.95 to $4.95 for matinee and $4.95 to $6.95 for weekend performances
SFT: The Next Generation
South Florida Theater Review reports on Florida Stage's 2010-2011 Young Voices Monologue Festival.

Good News works Both Ways
Over on Tiles, Mosaic's artistic director, Richard Jay Simon, announces that he's hired Avi Hoffman to direct their upcoming production of The Irish Curse.  It's good news for Hoffman - hey, when isn't landing a job a good thing? - but it's also good news for Simon, who is getting married in two weeks.  This will be on less thing for him to worry about.

... The Royal Poinciana Playhouse is still closed, according to the Palm Beach Daily News.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Scene for November 26, 2010

Since all the theaters will be dark on Thursday, and we'll all be distracted by the festivities, we're getting this week's SCENE up a little early, so you can discuss what to see over turkey.  I hope that as you reflect on all the thing you are thankful for that you include South Florida's vibrant theatre scene, which gives you nine different professional productions to choose from this weekend.  Not only do we have a lot of choices, most of them are very well done.

Here's what's playing on The Scene this Thanksgiving holiday weekend...


Yes, a show really did open this week: DREAMGIRLS opens today at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, and plays through Sunday, November 28.  (Well, this really probably should be under "passing through," but you gotta admire the chutzpa.)

you still haven't missed...

Oliver! plays at Actors' Playhouse through December 26.

VICES: A Love Story returns to the Caldwell Theatre through December 12.  This show was a summer sensation for the company two years ago, but many of the theatre's snowbird subscribers missed it.

The critically acclaimed production of Collected Stories plays at Mosaic Theatre through December 5.

The Rising Action Theatre presents The Boys in the Band at The Sunshine Cathedral through December 12, 2010.

Stage Door Theatre's  production of On The Town plays through December 5, 2010.

Laffing Matterz is back at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, through May 14, 2010

passing through...

Burn the Floor does its thing at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through November 28.

last chance to see...

The Florida Stage production of Cane, the first of its commissioned "Florida Cycle" of plays, closes its premiere run November 28. 

Holiday Deals

It's the gift-giving season, and several local theaters are getting into the spirit with Black Friday sales...

The Kravis Center is offering 15% discount on seats in Level B for the Thanksgiving Day Show.  Unusual - most Equity contracts list Thanksgiving as a mandatory dark day.  I guess it's a non-union tour.

Mosaic Theatre
is having a Black Friday sale - see their blog for details.  But I'll tell you, it's more than just tickets.

Actors' Playhouse is also having a Black Friday sale, but you have to call the box office or visit the ticket window to get the details.

The Theatre League will be holding its annual meeting and Holiday party on December 6 - no details yet, but save the date.

Conundrum Stages is having a holiday party on December 14.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mondays are Dark

The latest gossip: Rachel Bay Jones is going on for Patti LuPone in Women on the Verge; not a replacement, per se, but she will playing Lucia on several dates; December 3,  December 11 (both performances), January 4, and the matinee on January 5th.

The Oliver! Twist
Actors' Playhouse is presenting a musical about the trials and tribulations of an orphan boy.  But the company is also hosting a photo exhibition of children needing homes.  The Miami Herald's South Florida Arts Scene has the story.
The Children’s Trust Miami Heart Gallery is a photo exhibition featuring portraits of the children taken by top photographers. It will be on display in the lobby of the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, and will be available for viewing by non-theatergoers from noon to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday and before performances, with a special exhibit pass available at the box office.... Fifty percent of the children previously featured in the Heart Gallery have been adopted.

Basel & Babylon
The Biscayne Times explores how Zoetic Stage's upcoming premiere of South Beach Babylon ties into the the South Beach art scene and Art Basel.
The play, which follows five South Beach artists during the run-up to Art Basel, was written by a local, award-winning playwright who is part of a new repertory theater that hopes to become a driving force in the arts scene by producing homegrown productions and taking them national. What a neatly wrapped and timely cultural present.
Spirit of Jack Zink
Tiles, Mosaic Theatre's Blog announces this years' Jack Zink Spirit Awards, and the story gets picked up by the South Florida Theater Review.

And I Am Telling You, It's Not Gone
Dreamgirls is coming back to South Florida; this time it's stopping in Palm Beach. Read about it in the Shiny Sheet.

Speaking of a Dreamgirl
Avery Sommers, who played Effie at the Burt Reynold Jupiter Theatre (back when such a place existed), is opening the season of cabaret at Palm Beach's toney Colony Hotel, according to BroadwayWorld.com.

Tip of the Hat
The Naples News Stage Door linked to our review page for Mosaic's Collected stories, noting that Barbara Bradshaw and Kim Morgan Dean have both appeared in Southwest Florida, too.  The other connection?  Fort Myers' Florida Rep was going to do the show, but dropped it in favor of Sylvia.  We'd be remiss if we did not link back.  Thanks, Chris!

Today in History
Well, actually, it was Saturday in History when Florida Stage kinda sorta saved the day, according to Playbill:
2002 Without an understudy and up a creek due to the illness of the lead actress (Misty Cotton) in its staging of The Spitfire Grill, the Laguna Playhouse in California puts out an all-points bulletin to find a replacement to star in its three week-old production. New York composer James Valcq gets a frantic request from California: Are any Percys from recent regional productions willing and able to jump into the production? Valcq has the answer: New York actress Kathryn Blake, who was nominated for a 2002 Carbonell Award for her performance in the Florida Stage production. She jets to California and jumps back into the role for the rest of the run.
If You Think South Florida Schools are Bad...
... wait until you read this Playbill story about Flagler County High School banning a production of To Kill A Mockingbird.  The root of the hypocrisy of the school's principal, Jacob Oliva: the novel is part of the school's current curriculum.

We've been kicking around the idea of creating a more detailed list of SoFla's professional theatre companies, perhaps dedicating a web page to it, but it turns out that ArtsAmerica.US has already done it.  Well, they're missing a few.  And it's a little out of date.  Same concept, though.

Brandon Takes On Opera
We don't cover opera here on the Theatre Scene.  But that doesn't mean we can't point out a review of Turandot by  Brandon K. Thorp.  It's Brandon at his gonzo-critic best.
Most operas are too long for the modern sensibility. They are full of too much unnecessary, redundant exposition. There is a great deal of posturing by singers while the orchestra elaborates on unimportant themes. So I recommend spending the blather time at the Arsht Center's Bombay Sapphire Lounge sipping on a very tall Johnny Walker Black with a splash of soda water.
BTW, Brandon, I don't know why you believe that's called a Hitchens; Scotch and soda has been around long before Christopher Hitchens put pen to paper.
...the night's most compelling singing comes from the comparably unknown Elizabeth Caballero, a young lyric soprano who has largely made her career with FGO. Her tones are limpid, creamy, Tebaldian. And she can act. As Caballero sings, you really might believe that a girl could fall in love with a man self-centered enough to sing away the night as innocents are murdered because of his googly-eyed obstinacy. Which is touching, I suppose, if a little depressing. We already knew love makes us blind. Did we need to know it makes us sociopaths as well?
It's a great read, whether or not you like opera, know anything about Turandot, or even would consider going.

It reminds me of...this.....

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Broward Center: Burn The Floor (3 1/2 reviews)

The national tour of Burn the Floor opened at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts on November 17, 2010.
From Harlem's hot nights at The Savoy, where dances such as the Lindy, Foxtrot and Charleston were born, to the Latin Quarter where the Cha-Cha, Rumba and Salsa steamed up the stage, Burn the Floor takes audiences on a journey through the passionate drama of dance.

The elegance of the Viennese Waltz, the exuberance of the Jive, the intensity of the Paso Doble - audiences will experience them all, as well as the Tango, Samba, Mambo, Quickstep, and Swing. It's Ballroom dance with a sexy 21st century edge.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
World-class ballroom dance is a combination of pleasure and pain.
Mostly, though, for both dancers and those who love watching them, the pleasure vastly overrides the pain. Now at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Burn the Floor, the touring celebration of all things ballroom, is one glorious, sizzling, joy-filled demonstration of that truth.
Directed and choreographed by Jason Gilkison, an Australian international ballroom dance champ, Burn the Floor predates those hit TV shows that now supply many of its dazzling dancers, performers who keep the show (which was created in London in 1999 and which had a Broadway run last season) hot and current. Against the backdrop of platforms holding a pair of percussionists, plus a stair-top perch for a pair of topnotch singers, 19 dancers spend two thrilling hours demonstrating that ballroom dancing is anything but stodgy.
So You Think You Can Dance veterans Pasha Kovalev and Anya Garnis command the spotlight a number of times, most sensuously as singer Peter Saul performs the haunting Burn for You. Venezuela-born Karen Hauer flirts with danger (and several of her male costars) as she dances blindfolded.
South Florida takes center stage whenever Janette Manrara, another So You Think You Can Dance vet, saunters on. The former bank employee oozes hotness... Her segments with Australian So You Think You Can Dance champ Robbie Kmetoni become a study in the sheer athletic power of dance.
Another Floridian, former American Idol contestant Vonzell Solomon, supplies much of the vocal firepower in Burn the Floor.
The other dancers in the touring cast... are equally skilled, sculpted, gloriously watchable performers. So much so that when Burn the Floor leaves town Nov. 28, there may be scorch marks on the Broward Center stage.
John LaRiviere reviewed for TalkinBroadway.com:
One of the most creative and beautiful moments in the show is the rumba "Weather Storm." The languid music is well chosen to match the mood of this piece that features a single, blindfolded female dancing with a group of males. The strength and control of both the male and female dancers in the paso doble is picturesque. The only possible dance disappointment in the show is the waltz couple moments that seem uninspired except for a second act scene where two couples mirror each other on opposite sides of a scrim. Singer Vonzell Solomon is smashing in all her vocals and is wonderful addition to this production. Unfortunately, the same can not be said of male singer, Peter Saul, who is underwhelming.
Television shows such as So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With The Stars have awakened an appreciation and thirst for the world of dance across America... With enormously talented dancers, and enough commercialism to appeal to the masses, Burn The Floor more than delivers in quenching that thirst.
Laura Souto Laramee wrote something less than a review for The Palm Beach Post:
Burn The Floor opened Tuesday at the Broward Center’s Au Rene Theater, delivering heart-pounding movement through music. For those of you that live vicariously through others gift of dance and enjoy Dancing With The Stars you will not want to miss this show which burns with energy, and is simply hot, hot, hot!
Two cast members from South Florida, Janette Manrara and Vonzell Solomon, brought loud applause and cheers from the crowd. Married cast members Ashleigh DiLello and Ryan DeLello also added to the entertainment with routines that mesmerized while appearing effortless.
Once again, Fort Lauderdale's fish wrapper snubs the theatre community by having  fashion editor Ron Hagwood cover the show for The Sun Sentinel:
Under white-hot lighting and amid an ab-palooza, the frenetically paced dance spectacular swivels and shimmies with so much sizzle you half expect the joint to be raided. This much flashy hotness has got to be illegal (seriously, only the movie "300" has more exposed chests and mid-sections).
Jeebus, someone needs to tell  Ron that cramming in as many adjectives as possible does nothing to turn his dreck into a valid theatre critique.  The editors of the Sentinel should make Ron Hagwood take a course in theatre critique if they're going to continue to inflict him on us.  And they should probably send whoever is supposed to be editing, too. 

Burn the Floor plays at The Broward Center through November 28, 2010.  You can also take advantage of their new dining package.

Mad Cat Theatre: Going Green the Wong Way (2 reviews)

Mad Cat Theatre Company partnered with The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts to present the comedy Going Green The Wong Way November 18-20.
Performance art meets stand-up comedy when Miami’s award-winning Mad Cat Theatre returns to the Adrienne Arsht Center! This time, founder and artistic director Paul Tei teams up with irreverent West Coast theater artist Kristina Wong in her “oh-no-she-didn’t” world premiere comedy.

GOING GREEN THE WONG WAY recounts the adventures of Wong’s life-long attempt at sustainable living and the challenges & triumphs of being eco-friendly.
Paul Tei directed  a cast that featured Kristina Wong, Troy Davidson, Eli Peck, and Margaret Prusner.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
As unafraid of mocking herself as she is of spoofing anything and everything, Wong brings a take-no-prisoners approach to her style of comic theater. Nothing in Wong's world is too edgy, crazy or gross to be used in the service of making theatergoers laugh. And oh do they laugh.
Wong, director Paul Tei and his Mad Cat collaborators have grown what could have been performance art or a stand-up routine into a fully developed theater piece.
Comic eco cohorts -- Troy Davidson as Reuse, Eli Peck as Recycle and Margaret Prusner as Reduce -- give Wong the chance to play off different characters, enhancing the production's theatricality. The show will be going, going, gone before you know it, its three-day, four-performance Arsht run ending late Saturday night. Which is too bad: Wong's sometimes-blue Going Green is a hoot.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for South Florida Theater Review:
Comic Kristina Wong loves dancing near the precipice of what society considers acceptable topics in mixed company, then diving over it. She revels in the profane and the gross, not for shock’s sake, but simply as tools in her kit that she sees no reason not to employ.
Her convention-obliterating comedy is perfectly in tune with the anarchic ethos of the show’s producer, Mad Cat Theatre, and its director, Paul Tei. Not every portion of the 90-minute world premiere at the Arsht Center is hysterical; some sections land a little flat. But large stretches are uproarious.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami ArtZine:
...directed by Paul Tei, GGTWW is Wong's funny tale of how she tried to do the right thing and Save The Earth.

Wong's enthusiasm sells this show. She's fun to watch and the more outrageous she becomes, as she spills the beans (ouch) about high school, first sex (sort of), door to door canvassing for Eco pledges, recycling, driving a highly inflammable Mercedes powered by used cooking oil, toilet paper and sanitary napkins, the more the laughter.
Mad Cat Theatre's production of Going Green The Wong Way played at the Arsht Center November 18-20, 2010.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Scene for November 19, 2010

Lots of stuff closing this week, I guess to avoid working Thanksgiving weekend - although there will be shows playing that weekend.  And it's a big week for opening nights in Coral Gables, at Actors' Playhouse and New Theatre.

Here's what's playing on The Scene this week...


opens at Actors' Playhouse, and plays through December 26.

you still haven't missed...

VICES: A Love Story
returns to the Caldwell Theatre through December 12.  This show was a summer sensation for the company two years ago, but many of the theatre's snowbird subscribers missed it.

The critically acclaimed production of Collected Stories plays at Mosaic Theatre through December 5.

The Rising Action Theatre presents The Boys in the Band at The Sunshine Cathedral through December 12, 2010.

Florida Stage presents Cane, the first of its commissioned "Florida Cycle" of plays, through November 28.  It's the currently the most-reviewed show in South Florida.

Stage Door Theatre's  production of On The Town plays through December 5, 2010.

Laffing Matterz is back at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, through May 14, 2011.

passing through...

Mad Cat Theatre presents Going Green The Wong Way at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, this weekend only.

Burn the Floor does its thing at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through November 28.

last chance to see...

The Alliance Theatre Lab production of  The House of Yes plays at the Main Street Playhouse through November 21, 2010.

Naked Stage's production of Sartre's No Exit plays at the intimate Pelican Theater through November 21.

Gablestage's  production of A Behanding in Spokane ends November 21.

Palm Beach DramaWorks production of George Bernard Shaw's Candida closes November 21.

GFour Productions finally ends its extended world premiere run of Motherhood The Musical at the Miniaci Performing Arts Center, on the campus of Nova Southeastern University.  It closes November 21.

Thinking Cap Productions presents S/HE at The Wine Cellar Restaurant through Saturday.  It's dinner and a show for the impossibly low price of $32.50

Something Something Uber Alles plays at Miami Dade College's North Campus through Sunday.  Apparently, they don't even have a Facebook page, so you'll have to check out The Drama Queen for contact info.

for kids...

King Midas and His Friends plays at Actors' Playhouse through November 19.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
returns to The Playground Theatre, through December 19, 2010.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Caldwell Theatre: Vices, A Love Story (5 reviews)

Holley Shunkey & Albert Blaise Cattafi
Caldwell Theatre Company's reprise production of Vices: A Love Story went into previews on November 7, and opened on November 11, 2010. 
The most exciting theatrical event to hit South Florida in years returns. Fueled by innovative dancing and driven by distinct and eclectic music, Vices… proclaimed its originality every step of the way. The Palm Beach Post declared it as the #1 show of 2009. If you missed it the first time, or if you’re dying to share it with friends, now is the final chance before it takes the rest of the world by storm.
Caldwell premiered Vices back in July 2009, as a summer show.  Demand from snowbird subscribers (who aren't around in summer) was so high that the company re-mounted it.

Clive Cholerton directed a cast that includes Holly Shunkey, Carlos L. Encinias, Lara Janine, Albert Blaise Cattafi, Danielle Lee Greaves, and Will Lee-Williams.  Choreography by A.C. Cuilla.

Hap Erstein reviewed for The Palm Beach Post:
...it is a pleasure to find that the initial encounter was not a hallucination, but a solidly entertaining contemporary tale of romance conveyed largely through dance.
And what expressive, steamy moves they are. Choreographer AC Ciulla collaborates with a pair of young, lithe, athletic dancers – Holly Shunkey and Albert Blaise Cattafi – to physicalize the first frisky evening of a blossoming relationship. Do not arrive late to Vices at the risk of missing a terrific, sensuous, gymnastic pas de deux from these two unnamed characters...
If Vices: A Love Story has a shortcoming, it is that it runs short at 75 intermissionless minutes. But how refreshing to be left wanting more as opposed to frequently checking your watch .
Bill Hirshman reviewed for South Florida Theater Review:
If you saw the Caldwell Theatre Company’s world premiere musical Vices: A Love Story a year ago, rest assured the reprise is as sultry and sensual as you remember.

What worked before works even better now; what didn’t work still makes you scratch your head.
Director Clive Cholerton and choreographer AC Ciulla, freed from the pressure of building the piece under deadline in the rehearsal hall, have created a sleeker, smoother version of last season’s popular success.
While this new edition is essentially the same production with scores of tweaks, it’s more polished, more self-assured to the point that you might think some of the material is new. The cast moves with more confidence; the singers deliver the music with more verve. The sets, lights, costumes and especially Sean Lawson’s projections have been spruced up as if everyone had time to do it the way they wanted to originally.
Nowhere is the extra topspin that Cholerton has gotten from the cast more noticeable than in the work of Shunkey, a lithe gamin dancer who gives an evocative acting performance as she weaves and writhes. The way her face lights up with lust, joy and sadness is hypnotic. She was stunning in the original incarnation... But now she simply inhabits the part.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
This slender, contemporary musical could have been a case of too many cooks in the rehearsal room. Instead, it became (and remains) a triumph for all involved.
...thanks to the work of Cholerton, Ciulla and musical directors Eric Alsford and Caryl Ginsburg Fantel, the cast functions as a seamlessly talented ensemble, though each performer makes the most of his or her many chances to shine.
Shunkey and Cattafi are both mesmerizing, dramatic dancers able to clearly communicate the nuances of the story line.
Along with scene- and theme-setting projections by Sean Lawson, the singers provide context. Together and in impressive solos, they cover a wide stylistic range, from torch songs to faux Gilbert and Sullivan, from a Manhattan Transfer-style scat to the return-to-disco Do You Mind If I Smoke? All four have sung on or off Broadway, and as the show unfolds, their powerful voices grow ever stronger.

Vices: A Love Story could still use some tinkering to strengthen its transitions, and though its score is impressive, not every number is a gem. But seldom will you find a show that makes late autumn feel quite this hot -- in South Florida or anywhere.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami Artzine:
Give thanks to Susan Draus, Everett Bradley (he performed the brilliant “Some Like It” at this year's Carbonell Awards Show), Michael Heitzman and Ilene Reid who wrote the music and Heitzman and Reid who wrote the story. And give thanks, too, to director Clive Cholerton who brought the show back to open Caldwell's winter season.
The erotically electric dancing by Albert Blaise Cattafi and Holly Shunkey (she won the 2010 Carbonell for Best Actress in a Musical for this show in its previous incarnation) is the stem around which Vices revolves, tracing their relationship through first meeting, seduction, marriage, temptation and heartbreak. Choreographer AC Ciulla also won a 2010 Carbonell for his work here.
The story may sound ordinary but the rocket presentation is extraordinary. There are twenty musical numbers featuring Cattafi and Shunkey joined by Carlos L. Encinias, Danielle Lee Greaves, Lara Janine and Will Lee-Williams. All sing and dance well. Each have solo numbers and here they shine...
John LaRiviere wrote for Talkin' Broadway:
Both Shunkey and Cattafi are so present as actors in their dancing, and as one with the rest of the cast, that one can forget that the dancers aren’t actually saying the lines spoken and sung around them. Director Clive Cholerton, choreographer AC Cuilla, and the cast of Vices: A Love Story have deftly woven together the acting and staging of this show to create dance that springs from emotion and songs that feel organically tied to the dance.
It is difficult to take one's eyes off dancer Holly Shunkey. At a state of rest, her body is already a work of art sculpted by her craft. In motion, her lines are all strength and beauty. She is blessedly partnered by the equally talented Albert Blaise Cattafi. His dancing is fresh and masculine. Individually they each have the "it" factor so many technically gifted dancers lack. They both know how to be entirely present in the moment and how to act with their whole body without ever speaking. Shunkey has a wistful, introspective quality, while Cattafi brings a sense of humor and playfulness to their story. Together they dance with extraordinary passion and a fearless commitment to each other and to the choreography. Theirs is an achingly beautiful performance not easily forgotten and certainly not to be missed.
Vices: A Love Story plays at the Caldwell Theatre through December 12, 2010.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mondays are Dark

Hope you had a great weekend!  Here's your Monday reading list:

Consider Yourself...Informed

The Miracle Theatre Examiner reports on the latest play at the Miracle Theater; the Actors' Playhouse production of Oliver!, and it's big news:
"The scope of this production is enormous, says Arisco. "We're working with two Olivers, two Artful Dodgers, two groups of 16 kids, a cast of 22 adults, a crew of 10 and an orchestra of nine. This is truly one of our largest productions to date."
Oh, The Humana Fest Of It All...
The Drama Queen reports that Marco Ramirez, the South Florida playwright who is also a writer on the the TV show Sons of Anarchy, has been tapped for the Human Fest.

Plays with a Bite
South Florida Gay News reports that Thinking Cap Productions started a play at The Wine Cellar last week.  The ticket includes appetizer, entree, dessert, and the show.  Nichole Stodard is directing S/HE, performed by Arsimmer McCoy and Damian Robinson.

They're Back!
Mosaic Theatre had its own blog a couple of years ago, but it petered out and was soon taken down before it gathered unsightly cobwebs.  Which was a shame, because artistic director Richard Jay Simon had some great stuff up.  Well, last week, Tiles: Mosaic Theatre's Blog returned from limbo, and you'll find it in our blog roll on the right-hand side of the page.  Welcome back to the blogosphere!

Wong & Tei
Miami ArtZine on Going Green the Wong Way, presented by Mad Cat Theatre & the Arsht Center this week.  Paul Tei directs Kristina Wong in her one-woman show.  The real news: Tei landed a gig working for Disney.

The Miami Herald reports on Lanza, a new musical that is a result of a colloboration between music producer Phil Ramone (yes, THAT Phil Ramone), and University of Miami's Frost School of Music.

The Story of a a Fizzle

Broadway World tells us about New Theatre's world premiere production of Fizz, a new comedy by Rogelio Martinez.  Remember New Coke?  So does Martinez.

Sound Advice
The Artful Manager advises us that looking ahead is much more important than looking back when mulling over sunk costs.

...in Coconut Grove, the Arsht Center might want a piece of a new Coconut Grove Playhouse, according to Miami Today News.
"Michael Spring, [the county's] representative, has said… they only have a enough money to build a small regional theater," said Mike Eidson, partner at law firm Colson Hicks Eidson and new chair of the center's board, during an interview last week. "What I'm talking about… is to try… to find the resources to build a second theater… an 800-seat regional theater or almost national theater that can put on any play."
The article reports that the Center would not be investing any of its funds in the venue.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Scene for November 12, 2010.

Hope you enjoyed your taste of winter, and that you remembered to turn your clocks back.  I hear there are still a few tickets left for the GableStage Fundraiser hosted by Dave Barry in Coconut Grove this Saturday.  All proceeds to to benefit the GableStage Educational Program.

Here's what's playing on The Scene this week...


VICES: A Love Story
returns to the Caldwell Theatre through December 12.  This show was a summer sensation for the company two years ago, but many of the theatre's snowbird subscribers missed it.

Collected Stories opens at Mosaic Theatre, and plays through December 5.

you still haven't missed...

The Rising Action Theatre presents The Boys in the Band at The Sunshine Cathedral through December 12, 2010.

The Alliance Theatre Lab production of  The House of Yes plays at the Main Street Playhouse through November 21, 2010.

Florida Stage presents Cane, the first of its commissioned "Florida Cycle" of plays, through November 28.  It's the currently the most-reviewed show in South Florida.

Naked Stage's production of Sartre's No Exit plays at the intimate Pelican Theater through November 21.

Stage Door Theatre's  production of On The Town plays through December 5, 2010.

Gablestage opens its production of A Behanding in Spokane, through November 21.

Palm Beach DramaWorks presents George Bernard Shaw's Candida, through November 21.

GFour Productions presents the world premiere of Motherhood The Musical at the Miniaci Performing Arts Center, on the campus of Nova Southeastern University.  Through October 31, 2010.  Extended through November 21 by popular demand.

Laffing Matterz is back at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, through May 14, 2011.

last chance to see...

Twelve Angry Men
winds up its all too brief run at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre this Sunday, November 14.

for kids...

King Midas and His Friends plays at Actors' Playhouse through November 19.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
returns to The Playground Theatre, through December 19, 2010.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rising Action Theatre: The Boys in the Band (2 reviews)

Rising Action Theatre opened its production of The Boys in the Band on November 5, 2010.
In his Manhattan upper east side apartment, Michael is throwing a birthday party for Harold--a self avowed "32 year old pock mark Jew Fairy." complete with a surpise give--Cowboy- a street hustler. As the evening wears on, fueled by drugs and alcohol, bitter unresesolved resentments among the guests come to light when a game of truth goes terribly wrong.
Michael Leeds directed a cast that included Nigel Revenge, Andy Herman, Sam Sherburne, Alan Saban, Christopher Michaels, Johnnie Bowls, Brandon St John, Angel Perez, and Manuel Uriza.

Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for The Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
Somehow, Leeds, the Tony-nominated director and composer of Swinging on a Star, has found himself directing at the non-equity Rising Action Theatre Company: a gossiped-about, critically maligned, underfunded little theater that has yet to assemble a single uniformly competent cast, even for a small show. There, Leeds has directed a very large show: Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band, an uncommonly demanding ensemble piece about gay men in New York in the pre-Stonewall '60s. He almost pulled it off.
With the exception of the hapless Saban, every one of the actors on Rising Action's stage is competent, and most have at least a moment of brilliance. For a few, the brilliant moment lasts all night. Michaels' effeminate Emory is the gay-man-as-fireball, a screaming comet of wicked glee. I would be perfectly pleased to never hear another gay man call his fellows "Mary" so long as I live, but the way Michaels does it makes me want to join a sorority...
Bowls is an actor who listens intently to his fellows onstage and responds to their peculiarities in real time, thinking through each word as we watch. He's quietly mesmerizing.
...Revenge has one of the most deadly deadpans you'll ever see — filled, variously, with turmoil, mirth, indulgence, forgiveness, and brittle anger, all reduced to a flat feline stare.
...St. John, as the stone-stupid cowboy, once again parlays his deadly dearth of dramatic ability into improbable enjoyability. He is like a one-man John Waters flick.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
...the play gets a tart, extravagantly funny, pain-filled production, thanks to director Michael Leeds and his gift for drawing effective performances from a large cast with varying abilities and backgrounds. Each actor gets a moment, or many, to shine. And thanks to Leeds, most capitalize on their time in the spotlight.
There are, however, some missteps in both the physical production and in certain acting choices. Set designer Jonathan Jones' flashy rendition of Michael's '60s crib, for instance, requires the actors to ascend a little staircase, then appear through an exit at one side of the stage, crossing between the stage and audience to enter Michael's "upstairs'' bedroom. Awkward.
Just as awkward is the moment when, as other characters are speaking, Cowboy tenderly caresses Harold's thigh, then gets a few back-at-ya pats on his pretty blond head. Whatever the fleeting relationship between birthday boy and his for-rent buckaroo might be, sweetness isn't a believable part of the equation.
The Rising Action Theatre presents The Boys in the Band at The Sunshine Cathedral through December 12, 2010.

Maltz Jupiter Theatre: Twelve Angry Men (2 reviews)

The Maltz Jupiter Theatre Production of the classic courtroom drama Twelve Angry Men opened on November 2, 2010.
What seems like an open-and-shut murder case becomes a twisted puzzle of prejudice and intrigue. Twelve jurors are corralled in a room for the duration of their deliberation. As justice is tested and evidence weighed, the entire jury is forced to look past the show of the courtroom to unearth the shocking truth. Faced with playing the hangmen, these dozen men first must face themselves. Twelve Angry Men is a timeless masterpiece and a great examination of our judicial process.
Frank Galati directed a cast that included John Arnold, Michael Beecher, David Breitbarth, James Clarke, Patrick Clear, Brandon Dahlquist, Matt DeCaro, David Howard, Doug Jones, Michael Mahler, Tyler Ravelson, Barry Tarrallo, and Martin Yurek.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mondays are Dark

A brief cold snap made for a good weekend to huddle around the computer with a hot cup of coffee.  Lots of good stuff on your Monday reading list this week.

Sadly, the only "new" article from the Sun-Sentinel is last year's review of VICES.  Once again, the Sun-Sentinel contributes nothing to local theatre coverage.  Zip. Nada.  Bupkis.

Hail to the Chief
South Florida Theater Review reports that Meredith Lasher, who has been president of the Theatre League of South Florida since 2006, has stepped down.  Margaret M. Ledford, resident director of The Promethean Theatre, has been elected to take her place.
Lasher did an excellent job increasing the role of the League in regional theatre; and Ledford has a strong connection to the local theater scene.  Congratulations are due to both!

Bob Carter
The Palm Beach Post interviews Bob Carter, two-time founder of the Actors' Workshop and Repertory Company.  Nancy Barnett and I both made our South Florida debut at the old Actors' Rep, as did Gordon McConnell.  It was West Palm Beach's first resident theatre company, predating The Stage Company and The Florida Repertory Company.

Critically Speaking
Parabasis examines what the role of a critic should be, in response to a recent article by the New York Times' Ben Brantley.
Of course, I guess it all comes down to what a reader believes the responsibilities are of someone in Brantley's position.  If one sees his job as simply seeing-something-and-then-saying-something, then really, this Critic's Notebook is just fine. But if one believes-- as I do-- that a Critic's Notebook should actually cast a critical eye on something as a way of enlightening the reader, then it's a  total failure.
The Producer's Perspective reflects on how to get more students to participate in their high school arts programs, and comes up with one of those ideas that is striking in its obvious but untested simplicity:
And then I thought... Why doesn't every high school musical have a Producer? ...Think about it... You could grab a kid who might not even be thinking about a career in the theater, but instead he or she might be planning on and attending business school.  What better way to learn about business than to do it?
Not only does this get "non-artsy" students involved in the arts, it may bring a generation of arts-oriented business people into the arts.

Nothing Wong with that...
South Florida Theater Review tells us about Going Green the Wong Way, presented by Mad Cat Theatre and the Arsht Center.

Big Drama Queen on Campus
The Drama Queen runs down the theatre scene at South Florida colleges.  Productions include RENT directed by a former Broadway cast member, Hedda Gabler, Bodas De Sangre, and The Diviners, which is at FAU, which is where I last saw a production of that play.

Also on Campus
The Drama Queen also reports that Michael Yawney and Matthew David Glass are presenting Somethng Something Uber Alles at Miami-Dade College's North Campus.

Despite Histrionics, Show Goes On
Even though Rising Action's artistic director threw a hissy fit when a local reviewer panned Fit to be Tied, it's time to look ahead to The Boys In The Band.  J.W. Arnold obliges with his piece in The South Florida Gay News.

(But I can't help but point readers at the ironic third entry on the Rising Action Theatre's Press Gallery.)

More on "Miami" Stage Door
It looks like the Stage Door Theatre will do more than simply present plays at Miami Beach's Byron Carlyle Theater: The Miami Herald reports that what's being negotiated is a management contract.
The proposal presented to commissioners Wednesday is a five-year contract with The Broward Stage Door Theater, a nonprofit theater in Coral Springs. Stage Door would be in charge of managing and maintaining the Miami Beach theater, paying the city $1 a year for rent.
Not to disparage the Stage Door, but the city should make sure that maintaining the space has clear benchmarks, clearly stated in writing.  The 26th Street Theatre was a wreck (although to be fair, I don't know what Stage Door's agreement with their landlord was), and their current home has HVAC units that desperately needed replacing the last time I was there.  Again, perhaps that's a landlord issue, and maybe they have no control over the condition of the converted movie house they are headquartered in, but a clear contract will only protect interests on both sides.

Hey, What's Ken Kay Up To?
He's still in Fort Myers, in the Florida Rep production of Noises Off.  You can find all the reviews linked at The Naples News Stage Door.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Alliance Theatre Lab: House of Yes (4 reviews)

Alliance Theatre Lab opened its production of Wendy MacLeod's House of Yes on November 4, 2010.
The Pascals, for whom the clock stopped with the Kennedy assassination, are shut in as a Thanksgiving hurricane swirls outside. Arriving ahead of the storm's eye are Jackie-O's twin brother, Marty and his fiancee Lesly. The obsessive Jackie is keen to renew her long-running incestuous affair with Marty, which is fine by the mother, who's still lamenting her husband's desertion, and by puppyish younger brother Anthony who immediately desires Lesly. The resulting battle over Marty becomes something of a class struggle between the Pascals' poetic insanity and Lesly's plebian pragmatism.
Adalberto Acevedo directed a cast that featured Jehane Serralles, Brigitte Kali, LaVonne Canfield, David Sirois and Justin McLendon.

Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for The Miami New Times:
The House of Yes is a delightful play that will nevertheless make you squirm... And if the Alliance Theatre Lab didn't exist, South Florida audiences probably would never get to see it.
So thank goodness for Alliance, which not only has the will to produce an oddity such as The House of Yes but also knows how to pull it off. Alliance director Adalberto Acevedo, who is probably the most twistedly exciting director in SoFla, believes in the ethic of "going big or going home." He inspires his actors to gamble, to wander far beyond the ordinary repertoire of gestures, attitudes, and poses.
Serralles plays Jackie O. with a kind of Technicolor derangement that's enthralling and scary, one part Margaret Hamilton wicked witch, one part Delilah.
...Mrs. Pascal... is played by LaVonne Canfield as a great edifice of consumptive womanhood..
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Wendy MacLeod's The House of Yes is a way-out-there absurdist comedy that not many South Florida theaters would even consider presenting...  Fortunately, such a script is precisely what appeals to the folks at the Alliance Theatre Lab, where dramatically challenging and intense plays keep the troupe's adventuresome audiences coming back for more.
Director Adalberto J. Acevedo keeps his deft cast walking a tightrope between comedy and tragedy, and though repetition will undoubtedly tighten the play's timing (which would be a good thing), the power of the piece is undeniable.
...the actors play these mostly twisted characters as if this family dynamic were the most natural thing in the world, a device that makes The House of Yes all the more disturbingly watchable.
Sirois expertly navigates Marty's journey from near-salvation to emotional capitulation, and Canfield makes Mrs. Pascal a truly disturbing matriarch. Serralles is initially far too over-the-top crazy. But once the mentally mercurial Jackie-O again has access to her drug of choice - Marty - the twins become equal partners in MacLeod's version of a Greek tragedy.
Bill Hirschmann reviewed for the South Florida Theater Review:
Wendy MacLeod’s viciously funny The House of Yes struggled to escape Thursday from under The Alliance Theatre Lab’s muffled, muted production.
There are a few stunning moments, likely due to Acevedo who smoothly moves people around the tiny stage in Miami Lakes. In one scene, before we are certain of just how close the twins have been in the past, they put their heads together, seemingly nose to nose, with Jackie’s long black hair masking where their faces are touching. Are they communing soul to soul? Are they kissing? It is a delightfully unnerving moment of uncertainty.
This is no one’s best work. Sirois was compelling last season... But here he’s just oatmeal. McLendon brings a contemporary David Spade-like feel to the youngest sibling. But he’s so low-key, it’s as if he doesn’t want to get caught doing anything. Kali has the thankless Janet Weiss role but does little more with it than look befuddled or appalled. Canfield is occasionally menacing with dark looks and darker murmurings, but she missed uncounted opportunities to make the most of her daffy, demented character.

Only Serralles creates a vibrant persona and seems in sync with MacLeod. That’s not just because she has the showiest role and the best lines; she has discovered and delivers most of MacLeod’s delightfully inappropriate gear-grinding comments
This is not a terrible production, just a lackluster one for a play that needs to be as spectacularly unhinged as the storm raging outside the Pascal living room.
Roger Martin reviewed for MiamiArtzine:
Wendy MacLeod's play, The House of Yes, spawned a successful movie in 1997 and it's easy to see why at the Alliance Theatre Lab's current production of the show. It's a bright, vicious and ultimately tragic ninety minutes, teetering on the edge of cartoon land but with Adalberto Acevedo's direction never crossing over.
There's a mess of subtext going on here and make of it what you will, but this production, with its brightly polished staging and fine acting lets you simply enjoy the sex, the death, the craziness and the fun of it all.
The New World School of the Arts should get a loud cheer here as all five excellent cast members are graduates who shine on Alliance's stage.
The Alliance Theatre Lab production of  The House of Yes plays at the Main Street Playhouse through November 21, 2010.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Scene for November 5, 2010

UPDATE: somehow, Alliance Theatre's House of Yes opening fell off the post. Alliance does powerful work, so of course it should have been included.

I had the opportunity to see the preview of the new Laffing Matterz  this week; mostly new cast, and mostly new material; the food is better than ever, and so's the show.

Five shows end their runs on Sunday; if  you've been putting off seeing them, you're going to be very, very busy this weekend. 

Here's what's playing on The Scene this week...


Twelve Angry Men
opened Tuesday at Maltz Jupiter Theatre, and will play through November 14. (I saw a Twitter from someone who was raving about this after seeing a final dress on this one.)

Rising Action Theatre will be opening The Boys in the Band, through December 12.

Alliance Theatre opens its production of House Of Yes; it plays through November 21.

Laffing Matterz
is back at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, through May 14, 2011.

you still haven't missed...

Florida Stage presents Cane, the first of its commissioned "Florida Cycle" of plays, through November 28.

Naked Stage's production of Sartre's No Exit plays at the intimate Pelican Theater through November 21.

Stage Door Theatre's  production of On The Town plays through December 5, 2010.

Gablestage opens its production of A Behanding in Spokane, through November 21.

Palm Beach DramaWorks presents George Bernard Shaw's Candida, through November 21.

GFour Productions presents the world premiere of Motherhood The Musical at the Miniaci Performing Arts Center, on the campus of Nova Southeastern University.  Through October 31, 2010.  Extended through November 21 by popular demand.

last chance to see...

Bridge and Tunnel at The Women's Theatre Project closes November 7.  Karen Stephens reprises her critically acclaimed performance under the direction of Genie Croft.

The Color of Desire, the new play by Pulitzer prize winning playwright Nilo Cruz plays at Actors' Playhouse ends its world premiere run this Sunday, November 7.

Steel Magnolias winds up its run at the Broward Stage Door Theatre on Sunday.

My First Time  finishes up at Area Stage on Sunday.

The Hispanic Theatre Guild production of Amistad at Teatro 8, ends November 7. (Spanish, with English supertitles).

for kids...

King Midas and His Friends plays at Actors' Playhouse through November 19.

It's Family Fest at the Arsht Center this Saturday, November 6.

The Playground Theatre presents Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, through December 12.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Stage Door Theatre: On The Town (reviews)

The Stage Door Theatre opened its production of the musical On The Town on October 20, 2010.
ON THE TOWN is the story of a 24-hour adventure involving three sailors on leave from their ship. Memorable musical numbers include Come Up to My Place, Lucky to Be Me, Some Other Time and New York, New York. This exhilarating Broadway show was also made into one of MGM’s biggest movie musicals starring Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelley.
The cast included Tyler Fish, John Ramsey, Joey Zangardi, Nikki Allred, and Erin Romero.

Mary Damiano
reviewed for the South Florida Theater Review:
The Stage Door production starts out well enough—the recorded tracks of Bernstein’s music sound wonderful, as the clever, abstract scenic design by Stage Door Scenic and Tim Webb brings a chaotic, off-kilter version of 1940s’ New York City to life.
The couples are well-paired.  Zangardi and Powell dance well together, while Fish and Romero exhibit the most chemistry. Allred and Ramsey do a nice job as the show’s centerpiece couple...
Romero is the standout as Hildy, especially when she belts out her big number, the double-entendre-filled I Can Cook Too. Her comical expressions, her no-nonsense delivery, and her way with a song make Romero one of the best reasons to see On the Town.

Unfortunately, she is one of the only reasons to see it, because On the Town fizzles more than sizzles. The cast does its best, but the caliber of dancers is uneven, and that’s especially noticeable during the ballet sequences. The theater’s stage is too small to handle the larger dance numbers, and the cast looks crowded.  Allred and Powell are stuck in awful wigs... The pacing between the musical numbers is too slow, so most of the comic lines fall flat.

Ultimately, On the Town lacks the sparkle needed to make it  a must-see production.
On The Town plays at the Stage Door Theatre through December 5, 2010.

Florida Stage: Cane (7 reviews)

Florida Stage commissioned Andrew Rosendorf to write Cane; the first in a series of plays that the company refers to as "The Florida Cycle."  The play made its world premiere on October 29, 2010.
In 1928, a farmer is losing his land to rising water. Today, the same area is days away from having no water at all. The past and the present are deeply connected in a story of betrayal and bloodshed, water and wind, family and fortune. Inspired by Florida’s rich history, this gripping mystery from an extraordinary new talent explores how a state once so wet has become so dry.
Louis Tyrrell directed a cast that included Dan Leonard, Trenell Mooring, David Nail, Julie Rowe, and Gregg Weiner.

Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
In the first act, the dynamic between Wilson and Brooks is as taut as piano wire, driving toward its violent conclusion with a kind of star-crossed inevitability. Weiner is expansive and elusive — a warm cloud of goodwill hovering about a cool and calculating core, the existence of which may be unknown even to his character. Nail, in one of the finest performances of the young theater season, imbues Noah with a beat-up dignity that is painful and ennobling to see. The men are surrounded by fully formed supporting characters: Dan Leonard plays an educated local do-gooder with an engaged crankiness that calls to mind both Mark Twain and Gladys Kravitz; Julie Rowe plays Wilson's hard-bitten wife as resolute but dreaming of a life with radio and culture and free of bugs; and Trenell Mooring, a great beauty, brings a silent survivor's intelligence to the character of the black farmhand, Harriett.
In the second act, the reappearance of these same actors as their previous characters' descendents seems contrived, like a grab for unnecessary symmetry... Perhaps trying to link Florida's past with its present and future is a mistake — perhaps the divide between the two is too great and any equivalence is necessarily artificial. Whatever the reason, Cane could do with some trimming, lest this feast of biblio-Floridian archetypes devolve into mere crackers and cheese.
Mary Damiano reviewed for the South Florida Gay News:
Rosendorf seems to nail the desolation and pioneer spirit of Florida in the early 20th century. His characters have an authenticity to them. His dialogue here is excellent, full of the everyday poetry and lyrical rhythms from people of that era.

Unfortunately the interesting situations he sets up in the first act remain unfulfilled in the second act. Perhaps the second act takes place too many generations after the first, perhaps it would have been better to keep the entire play a period piece. The second act feels as unrealistic as the first act feels authentic, and that shift is too jarring. Worst of all, the most interesting thing that happens in the second act is a story told to us in a lengthy monologue by Zora (Mooring) Harriett’s great-granddaughter. When the most memorable part of the second act is something the audience has been told, not shown, there’s a problem.
John LaRiviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway.com:
The set... completely immerse(s) the audience in the time and place of the play. The ...staging is beautifully choreographed. Though they are playing to three sides, the focus is always clear to the audience, and always seemingly spontaneous.
The cast masterfully makes each conversation feel fresh and organic, and tangibly establishes the tension between their characters. Gregg Weiner's performance nears brilliance... Weiner has a knack for making what he says look like it really is the first time he's ever said it. David Nail creates a dirt covered Noah Brooks that is fascinating in his physicality...
Aside from the presentational nature of Zora's (Trenell Mooring) monologue in the second act, and an ending that doesn't really tie everything together, Cane features excellent writing and some truly impeccable acting.
Jan Sjostrom reviewed for the Palm Beach Daily News:
Cane demonstrates Andrew Rosendorf’s potential as a creator of well-crafted, character-driven plays. But as yet he’s a sprinter, rather than a marathon runner.
The nearly perfect (first) act is powered by a taut, emotionally charged story, persuasive performances and the design team’s recreation of the wicked weather and brutal setting, with the leaky dike towering overhead.

Act Two, set 80 years later in the same locale, fails to deliver on the first act’s promise.
The performers play the descendents or the equivalents of the characters they portrayed in the first act... The device isn’t enough to tie the two acts together. Furthermore, the second act’s story line and characters are underdeveloped, and the play’s ending is inadequately supported by the scenes that precede it.
Director Tyrrell makes the most of the uneven material, aided by standout performances from Gregg Weiner, playing the shrewd Wilson males, David Nail as the Brooks family members, and Julie Rowe as the two Mrs. Wilsons.

With Florida Stage’s mission of developing new work not every production can build on a fully realized play. Rosendorf’s talent needs more nurturing, and clearly deserves it.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for the South Florida Theater Review:
Andrew Rosendorf demonstrates deft craftsmanship in his new play Cane, which had its world premiere Friday night at Florida Stage, the playwright’s first produced full-length work. But craftsmanship is not enough. Cane still needs more work to generate that indefinable electricity necessary to engage an audience’s emotions.
But even with its shortcomings, the human drama that Rosendorf has created makes it worth seeing as an early step in a developmental process that will likely continue.
Rosendorf demonstrates a good ear for the stylized dialogue of ordinary people, a major challenge when capturing the slightly stilted cadences of 1920s Americans. He’s especially effective in writing arias for characters who manage to be nearly poetic while still speaking everyday language. His most moving moment comes as Wilson cradles his injured wife and lulls her to sleep with a description of his dream homestead.
The performances were all workmanlike, although again, never electric. Weiner and Tyrrell deserve credit for making the earlier Wilson a complex human being... Weiner embodies a man being crushed in a vise of economic and familial pressures. Unfortunately, the Wilson of the second act is written as a pragmatic opportunist with no redeeming qualities.
Tyrrell has skillfully adapted his directing style to the three-quarter thrust stage.
Richard Crowell has designed a tall dike looming against the back wall, two ramshackle stores and a slope of rain-rutted muck and stone jutting into audience. Crowell’s sense of place unique to the edge of the Everglades is enhanced by Matt Kelly’s soundscape of chirping birds, light rain splatters and torrential downpours, as well as Suzanne M. Jones’ chiaroscuro lighting effects. Erin Amico’s costumes are pitch perfect from the soiled rags of the indigent farmer to the not quite stylish outfit of Junior Wilson’s wife
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
This world premiere is the first professional production of a full-length play by the theater’s playwright-in-residence, a writer whose short plays have already brought him national recognition. Rosendorf’s talent is evident in Cane, though like most new plays, it needs more work if it is to have a life beyond its inaugural production.
Though Cane is steeped in Florida history, Rosendorf and director Tyrrell know that, grand outdoor dramas aside, history lessons don’t work onstage. So the two have sought to illuminate the many facets of life here — from the forces of nature to human political maneuverings — by crafting a gripping tale of specific people...
This is pretty turgid stuff, and try as they might, the cast’s skilled actors can’t mask that fact. Mooring must struggle in the second act to infuse a monologue by Harriet’s descendant Zora with more poetic feeling than Rosendorf has supplied. And Leonard, who has morphed into a slightly loony photographer, can’t quite pull off the trick of making either of his unnecessary characters more than a purveyor of information.
Hap Erstein reviewed for the (Thanks, Mr.Burke!) Palm Beach Post:
The first work in the open-ended series is Cane by Andrew Rosendorf, the company’s playwright-in-residence, an ambitious, epic tale contrasting the overabundance of water at the time of the deadly 1928 hurricane with the dearth of water today.
The trick with an issue play like this is to involve us with a human story and then slip in the cautionary conservation message between the lines. It is a balancing act that Rosendorf seems to have mastered in his first act. He hooks us in with a melodramatic, yet compelling tale of a farmer-merchant’s attempt to buy the land of a cash-strapped World War I veteran.
After intermission, the play jumps forward 82 years, which is challenge enough for an audience that has become emotionally invested in the characters, only to find them gone. That could be surmountable, but Rosendorf’s solution is both overly didactic and under-dramatic... That is unfortunate, because in the early going, Rosendorf demonstrates that he is clearly a writer to be reckoned with...
...the gale-force first act of Cane is a terrific showcase for Florida Stage’s new home in the Kravis Center’s Rinker Playhouse. In this expansive, high-ceilinged space, scenic designer Richard Crowell is able to build a craggy, steeply raked earthen floor that rises at the back to simulate the precarious mud dike of Lake Okeechobee... lighting designer Suzanne M. Jones contributes some ferocious lightning and a waterless rain effect.
Director Louis Tyrrell has a worthy five-member ensemble, each capable of creating two vividly different characters.
Cane plays at Florida Stage through November 28, 2010.