Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Best in Miami Dade" has named The South Florida Theatre Scene as one of the "Best in Miami-Dade County Blogs."

We share this honor with Random Pixels and Loose Talk, and Food for Thought.

Thanks for reading!

The Scene for July 29, 2010.

In case you missed it, South Florida Theater Review finally launched this week. Bill's already got some reviews and articles up, and check out his extensive links page.

While there are no Opening Nights this week, there's still lots to see.  Anxious to see Florida Stage's new home at the Kravis Center, their production of Low Down Dirty Blues is the most reviewed show this week, with a whopping 8 reviews.  Secret Order trails with 5, with The Gin Came gaining at 4 reviews.

For those who were waiting to see Secret Order until Gordon was back in, well, he's back in, and it closes Sunday. Get your tickets now.  And if you've been waiting to see SUDS through its three extensions, well, the last extensions was the last extension, and it also closes Sunday.

you still haven't missed...

The Gin Game plays at Palm Beach DramaWorks through August 15.

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

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

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

Ground Up and Rising presents The Pillowman at the Little Stage Theatre through August 8, 2010.

last chance to see...

Secret Order plays at the Caldwell Theatre Company through August 1, 2010. Gordon McConnell has returned to the production.

The 25th Annual International Hispanic Theatre Festival
, presented by Teatro Avante, winds up August 1 at various locations in Miami.

The Stage Door production of Suds, The Rockin' 60s Musical close this Sunday,  June 13, June 27, August 1, 2010.

passing through...

Lea DeLaria  does her thing at Rising Action Theatre July 30- 31.

for kids...

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

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

Seussical Jr presented by the Conservatoy of Performing Arts Campers at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre this Friday and Saturday, July 30 and 31..

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Empire Stage: He's Coming Up the Stairs (3 reviews)

Empire Stage opened its production of He's Coming Up the Stairs on July 22, 2010.
Inspired by “Sorry, Wrong Number” – the stage and screen thriller about an invalid who overhears plans for her own murder – the seventy minute play follows a high society hypochondriac as she navigates New York’s social scene on what may be the last day of her life. Set in 1989, the show features a number of popular songs from the 80’s.
Kevin Thomsen directed a cast that included Brooks Braselman, David R. Gordon, Emily Shaffer and Vance Barber.

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

J. W. Arnold reviewed for the South Florida Gay News:
Scott reworks the thriller about a hypochondriac socialite who overhears the plot for her own murder on the phone and turns it into a gender-bending piece of high camp that is loaded with laughs.
Braselman delivers a fantastic, campy performance—the whole show really hangs on him—that is backed up by a strong supporting cast. And, the more melodramatic they get, the better: Gordon as the sleazy husband, playwright Scott as Ivana Trump, Vance Barber as Sally’s daddy and the greasy butler, and Emily Shaffer as her nurse and Jeff’s mistress. The chemistry is key and all deliver under Kevin Thomsen’s fast-paced direction.
Mary Damiano reviewed for South Florida Theater Review:
Tongues are firmly planted in cheeks for this riotous redux, in which the lead role of haranguing heiress Sally Winston is played in drag by actor Brooks Braselman, an actor who’ll do anything for a laugh.
The element that makes He’s Coming Up the Stairs work is that the cast and director are all in the same zany arena.  Every line is milked for maximum melodrama.  Emily Shaffer is wonderful as Sally’s nurse and Jeff’s mistress, but she really shines as young Sally in the flashback scenes.  Gordon is perfectly cast as the broad-shouldered hunk who married for money.
Garet Scott, who wrote the play, has a ball as Ivana Trump. Vance Barber is best as Sally’s daddy... Director Kevin Thomsen wisely keeps the pace brisk and the show short–an hour is just the right length for this level of hilarity.

But it all comes back to Braselman as Sally Winston.  For the energetic Braselman, over-the-top is an understatement–he’s consistently out in the stratosphere–and his audacious performance is a comic tour de force.
Eileen Speigler reviewed "special" to the Miami Herald, and inflicts a pointless food metaphor (and a poorly written review) on us:
If you feel like a nightcap after dinner, Empire Stage has whipped up a little number that will hit the spot.
Hypochondriac heiress Sally Winston (is) played with unflagging energy by Braselman...
Braselman's four fellow cast members play a variety of roles with a delicious dollop of cheese.
Hopefully, Ms. Speigler will get a job reviewing restaurants so I won't have to endure reading one of her theatre "reviews"  again.  "Dollop of cheese?"  Really? 

The Empire Stage production of He's Coming Up the Stairs plays through August 15, 2010.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Florida Stage: Low Down Dirty Blues (8 Reviews)

Florida Stage opened its production of Low Down Dirty Blues on July 17th, 2010.  This "blues-ical" is the first show presented by the company at their new home in the Rinker Playhouse at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts.
The Southeastern premiere of a sizzling and sassy new musical from the creators of the Tony-nominated show It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues. For decades, Blues artists have captivated audiences with the Dirty Blues, music packed with passion and soul, along with innuendo, insinuation and, above all, humor! Featuring songs made (in)famous by the likes of Mae West, Muddy Waters, Ma Rainey, Sophie Tucker, Howlin’ Wolf, Pearl Bailey and many others, Low Down Dirty Blues is a rousing, raucous, musical good time!
Randal Myler directed a cast that included Mississippi Charels Bevel, Felicia P. Fields, Gregory Porter, and Sandra Reaves-Phillips.  Musical direction by Dan Wheetman.

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

Bill Hirschman reviewed for the South Florida Theater Review:
There can be no argument that Low Down Dirty Blues, Florida Stage’s first offering in its new space at the Kravis Center, is a polished revue featuring charming singers who bring skill and sass to a sex-drenched songbook.

But the impact is blunted and muted by the physical set-up inside the Kravis’ Rinker Playhouse. As a result, there wasn’t much feeling that anyone’s roof was being raised at Sunday evening’s performance – although the lethargic crowd didn’t help.
Florida Stage’s new configuration of the Rinker is a three-quarters thrust stage, meaning the playing area projects deep into the auditorium and is surrounded on three sides by stadium seats. With the performers mostly tethered to the bandstand, that means that most seats were, ironically, further away from the action.
That problem aside, Low Down Dirty Blues is a glorious celebration of the music of Muddy Waters, Ma Rainey, Sophie Tucker, Howlin’ Wolf and Pearl Bailey thanks to the supple, assured voices of Mississippi Charles Bevel, Felicia P. Fields, Gregory Porter and Sandra Reaves-Phillips. They are ably backed by a tight ad hoc trio of locals: Will Barrow on honky-tonk piano, Mark Hamilton on guitar and Rupert Ziawinski slapping both the upright and electric bass.
Irv Rikon reviewed for the Century Village Data Sink; he starts off confessing that he's never really heard "real" blues, but apparently he's a convert:
 I'll quote the publicist, who describes what's here: "Featuring songs made (in)famous by the likes of Muddy Waters, Ma Rainey, Sophie Tucker, Howlin' Wolf, Pearl Bailey and many others, Low Down Dirty Blues is a rousing, raucous, musical good time." I quote him because he's right.
The thing I hadn't fully realized previously is that the blues have enormous range and variety. The first group of songs has sexual innuendos, but they give way to songs of pain and laughter and, finally, some with religious overtones. But always there's a spirit that's utterly infectious, and one gets caught up in it.
FLORIDA STAGE'S debut at the Kravis Center hits all the right notes.
Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times; the kind of review he's famous for:
Florida Stage has completed its move to the Rinker Playhouse, an inelegant, forgotten-looking corner of the Kravis Center. And it's the perfect venue for Low Down Dirty Blues, a jukebox musical I intend to forget the moment this screed is off to print.
Low Down seeks to re-create the atmosphere of a smoky Chicago blues club, and it mostly succeeds. The revels are all canned: There was no booze in the theater, nor any barfights, and I found distressingly little drunken sex in the bathrooms.
As we all know, in Chicago, you have drunken sex in the alley, not the restrooms.  Restrooms are for shooting up...
...the performers play bluesmen with verve if not much grit. Sandra Reaves-Porter  plays "Big Mama," a fictional blues belter whose put-on singing voice is a rumbly, swamp-cream purr — a weird and wild sound. The other singers' instruments are more attractive, if less interesting: Skinny old Mississippi Charles Bevel sings like a wilier Smokey Robinson, Gregory Porter  wraps a standard-issue R&B tenor around the lyrics with extraordinary sweetness, and Felicia P. Fields makes what are probably the sexiest noises ever to be heard at the Kravis Center.
Low Down certainly means well, but that's not the same as doing well. When Bevel sings a song called "Grapes of Wrath," about the dangers of class divisions... the audience applauds rather too loudly. Shortly thereafter, Porter sings an elegiac version of "A Change Is Gonna Come," and the audience applauds that too. The implication in all the applauding, and in our entertainers' smiling acceptance of that applause, is that the white folk in the audience are part of the solution rather than the problem, that the existential and political demands of the blues have been satisfied to the extent that they may now be repackaged as kitsch. Which they haven't.
Roger Martin reviewed for
Florida Stage's inaugural show in the company's new home in West Palm Beach is Low Down Dirty Blues and it's a strangely stultifying experience.
Perhaps it's the physical set up of the show. Nicely raked seating in three quarter thrust doesn't really work when the central playing area becomes Big Momma's Blues Club... with premium priced seating for audience members... puts the audience watching from the center quite a way back from the stage and forces those people sitting on the sides to crane their necks sideways for ninety minutes.
...perhaps it's because the excellent piano man, guitarist and bass player are almost lost in the dim lights and clutter at the rear of the stage.
...maybe it's because the four singers are a mixed bag, performing without much spontaneity and relying on well used tricks to sell the twenty-five great songs.
Things pick up, though, with the arrival of Gregory Porter with “Born Under A Bad Sign” and “Mojo Hand” and Felicia P. Fields with “I Got My Mojo Workin” and “My Stove's In Good Condition.” Porter and Fields are strong singers who don't need Bevel's choreographed moves or Reaves-Phillipps' mugging and Satchmo growls.
Jan Sjostrom reviewed for the Palm Beach Daily News:
As the title indicates, most of the tunes are sexy — made even more so by the performers’ playful and undeniably explicit delivery. Singers Mississippi Charles Bevel, Felicia Fields, Gregory Porter and Sandra Reaves-Phillips originated the show recently at Northlight Theatre in Skokie, Ill. Their familiarity with the material reveals itself not in rote performances but in camaraderie and on-
target rhythm and pacing.
The singers are backed by a red-hot band composed of Will Barrow, whose piano riffs seize the soul, guitarist Calvin Newborn, bass player Rupert 
John LaRiviere reviewed for Talkin'
...the selection of sensuous and soulful blues songs are gloriously sung by all four cast members. Sandra Reaves-Phillips (Big Momma) has fierce stage presence and a singing voice that is rich and dark and rough. It is a voice that personifies the sound of the blues. Felicia P. Fields' voice is smoother around the edges, and her stage presence is both playful and commanding. She is completely comfortable unscriptedly flirting at length with audience members. Mississippi Charles Bevel handles himself with a certain slickness that belies his age. His light and lyric voice is without weight or strain. Gregory Porter has a mellow, round baritone voice that approaches a romantic sound (if they wrote romantic blues songs). The four performers sing the blues as though they've lived it—and that really is what the blues and good theatre are about.

For the inaugural production in its new home at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, The Florida Stage has chosen a show that shines with talent and sizzles with style. Low Down Dirty Blues is 90 minutes of blues at its best!
Hap Erstein reviewed for Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
The show is enormously entertaining,‭ ‬thanks largely to its powerhouse four-member cast,‭ ‬but as with last summer’s erroneously named‭ ‬Some Kind of Wonderful,‭ ‬the nation’s largest company devoted exclusively to new and developing work demonstrates that it is far less rigorous when it comes to showcasing musical material.
Typical is‭ ‬My Handyman,‭ ‬growled and winked to perfection by Sandra Reaves-Phillips as Big Momma,‭ ‬proprietress of the club.‭ ‬
She is soon joined by Mississippi Charles Bevel,‭ ‬a slight,‭ ‬dapper,‭ ‬low-key performer,‭ ‬adept at his acoustic guitar and a punch line,‭ ‬as he demonstrates on a number called‭ ‬Jelly Roll Baker.‭ ‬Next up is hulking Gregory Porter,‭ ‬who booms out the ominous‭ ‬Born Under a Bad Sign.‭ ‬All three are terrific,‭ ‬and yet they seem mere preface to the arrival of Felicia P.‭ ‬Fields,‭ ‬a mountainous woman with the sound to match.‭ ‬Fields,‭ ‬prominently in the original cast of‭ ‬The Color Purple,‭ ‬arrives announcing in song‭ ‬I Got My Mojo Workin‭’‬,‭ ‬and the spell she casts over the proceedings is palpable
The first-rate sound bodes well for Florida Stage’s future in the space,‭ ‬though much of it is probably due to the acoustic design of Victoria DeIorio.
The Rinker in this new configuration has great potential for Florida Stage’s future,‭ ‬and‭ ‬Low Down Dirty Blues is likely to make the company plenty of new fans.‭
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Florida Stage is christening its new digs at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts with a summer musical that delivers as much as its title promises, and then some.
The new show is, in fact, little more than a collection of almost two dozen blues songs, most of them not the overdone ones you might find on what one singer calls "...the set list from hell.'' Snippets of biography from unnamed blues singers barely thread some numbers together, so a better developed story line could help make Low Down both more enlightening and entertaining.

Still, the stories within each song are gloriously told by the show's four veteran actor-singers, all of whom could give master classes on how to turn lyrics into blazing theatrical moments.
Mississippi Charles Bevel... turns his solo Grapes of Wrath  into an unforgettable examination of the consequences of unequal opportunity.
Gregory Porter brings a sensuous, adroit R&B style to each of his numbers...
Last to arrive onstage is the show's most glorious asset. Felicia P. Fields earned a Tony nomination for her portrayal of Sofia in Broadway's The Color Purple, and she is simply an enthralling singer-actor.
Florida Stage presents Low Down Dirty Blues through September 5, 2010.

Caldwell Theatre Company: Secret Order (5 reviews)

The Caldwell Theatre Company production of Bob Clyman's Secret Order opened July 7, 2010.
William Shumway is a brilliant young research scientist who claims to have discovered the cure for cancer.  Dr Brock runs the most prestigious research laboratory in the world.  Visions of Nobel prizes dance in their heads.  That is, until the cure is derailed.  Shumway tells Brock of the problems...or does he?  Brock guides Shumway to the truth...or does he?
Tom Bloom directed a cast that featured Gordon McConnell,Nick Duckart, Howard Elfman, and Katie Cunningham.

Gordon McConnell fell ill opening weekend, with director Tom Bloom stepping into his role for performances on July 11.

Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
Congratulations to the Caldwell Theatre, which has pulled off that rarest of all theatrical feats: the production of an intelligent summertime show.
Nick Duckart, Howard Elfman, and Gordon McConnell  turn in typically strong performances. McConnell, as an aging Nobel laureate whose best science is behind him, is a marvel of rhythmic naturalism. But the real surprise here is Kate Cunningham, a relative newbie to life and to Florida. Her portrayal of a 21-year-old medical whiz rips across the stage like a bolt of lightning.
Irv Rikon reviewed for the Century Village Data Sink:
In truth, Secret Order  is suspenseful, a play in which you come to care about these people, but it's neither comedic nor a thriller. It does contain a few comic lines, but these seem rather out of place in a play that deals with the serious topic of cancer. And there's very little mystery of the type one associates with "thriller." The play is straightforward, and you know from the outset the players and something of the general direction in which they're headed.
Still, there's much to like here... Tim Bennett's set is a marvel of design and economy. Tom Bloom's directing could use more dynamics — that first-act pace is too slow — but overall, it achieves the desired effect.
John Lariviere reviewed for Talkin'
Secret Order has some intelligent banter and an interesting premise, but loses steam along the way. The pacing of the show is filled with peaks and valleys, and there are just too many valleys to keep the momentum or our interest. Nick Duckart and Katie Cunningham are wonderful both separately and together. Howard Elfman as Saul Roth provides a bit of unexpected and welcome levity to the plot. Gordon McConnell establishes a great character, but at the performance attended repeatedly went up on his lines, slowing down the pacing of the show, which at two hours and 40 minutes is just too long.
Hap Erstein reviewed for the Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
There are plenty of ideas worth pondering here‭ ‬--‭ ‬science versus commerce,‭ ‬personal interests versus community welfare,‭ ‬adhering to accepted work standards versus saving lives‭ ‬--‭ ‬but they are introduced so inertly,‭ ‬buried in verbiage.‭ ‬There is a natural interest in these topics,‭ ‬but you are likely to have your‭ ‬patience tested over the course of the two-and-a-half-hours-plus running time of‭ ‬Secret Order.
The script centers on young William Shumway,‭ ‬played by Nick Duckart‭ (‬The Whipping Man‭) ‬initially as a Midwest bumpkin.‭ ‬His performance grows more subtle,‭ ‬as the character becomes more acclimated to the urban environment.‭ ‬If Shumway remains in over his head,‭ ‬Duckart never is.
McConnell... is well cast as Robert Brock,‭ ‬projecting an impatient arrogance,‭ ‬bullying his way through all situations,‭ ‬with a gruff exterior that he gradually lets us see beneath.
Roger Martin reviewed for
The Caldwell Theatre's summer show Secret Order is described in the Playbill as a comedic thriller. No, it's not. Not really. It's got some smart, funny lines but not much humor. A few thrills, perhaps, but it's mostly absorbing scenes of people doing what people do – striving to win.
A good cast here at the Caldwell. The younger actors, Duckart who gets better with each show, and Cunningham, work well with veterans McConnell, unusually line booting here and there, and Elfman, who is always solid and excels in the second act.
There's a minimalist set by Tim Bennett and lights by Tom Salzman with Randy Tico contributing bubbling beaker music. Directed by Tom Bloom, Secret Order is a cynical show that never quite goes where one expects and is all the stronger for that. And not once did I look at my watch.
Secret Order plays at the Caldwell Theatre through August 1, 2010.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Palm Beach DramaWorks; The Gin Game (6 Reviews)

The Palm Beach DramaWorks production of D. L. Coburn's The Gin Game opened on July 16, 2010.
In this Pulitzer Prize winning comic-drama, Weller and Fonsia play gin rummy on the porch of a seedy nursing home. They share intimate details of their lives, which eventually become weapons used against each other. Psychological warfare ensues, and this relentless gin game becomes a metaphor for life.
J. Barry Lewis directed a cast that featured Barbara Bradshaw and Peter Haig.  Frequent acting partners in the 1980's, this marks the first time the pair have performed together in 20 years.

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

Brandon K. Thorp nearly slips a review through for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times; as usual, the New Times has published a review that lacks the actual workings of a review; no mention of the production's success or lack thereof, no mention of the directors or designers, and through paragraphs about the characters in the play, we find snippets about the actors:
On Haig's face — one of the busiest mugs in the business — can be read a well-learned mistrust of intimate engagement with his fellow human beings, one that is at war with the gentility taught to all American boys of his character's generation.
Bradshaw plays Fonsia as cool bordering on bloodless, the set of her jaw and cast of her eyes as tense and precise as a piano wire... Bradshaw's subtlest performance in years...
The rest of the review seems to have been edited out, leaving only character and plot summaries.  How sad.

Hap Erstein reviewed for the Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
... J.‭ ‬Barry Lewis,‭ ‬the company’s chief director,‭ ‬seemed to have cast the play well with Peter Haig and Barbara Bradshaw...‭ ‬Individually,‭ ‬they are fine,‭ ‬but the play is a fragile duet and even after a week’s delay of the press opening,‭ ‬they seemed to be occupying completely different plays.
‬...Haig takes a broad approach,‭ ‬pumping his foot like a sewing machine pedal to the rhythm of his dealing,‭ ‬barking out the cards by number,‭ ‬erupting with foul-mouthed anger with each defeat.‭ ‬Bradshaw underplays straitlaced Fonsia Dorsey,‭ ‬subtly suggesting her thoughts through facial expressions...
Both performances are right for the characters,‭ ‬who are vastly different,‭ ‬but for the rhythms of the dialogue to work,‭ ‬the actors need to mesh better.
Jan Sjostrom reviewed for the Palm Beach Daily News:
The play rides on the skills of Barbara Bradshaw and Peter Haig to fix attention on a duel that unfolds in serial games of cards.

It’s a demanding assignment... Bradshaw and Haig are equal to the challenge, helped by J. Barry Lewis’ sure-footed direction.
Bradshaw’s transformation is particularly chilling. The gentle Fonsia becomes almost feral. The well-chosen details of Bradshaw’s portrayal... make it apparent that Fonsia is more than a match for Weller, despite his brutally insightful attacks.
Haig’s Weller, who is irascible from the start, travels a lesser distance. But his dry delivery of the play’s wittier passages ensures that the play’s dark and light sides stay in balance.
As usual, Michael Amico’s set design establishes the perfect environment...
Irv Rikon (long time Palm Beach County journalist) reviewed for the Century Village Data Sink; should watch see this play if only to see the two stars, Barbara Bradshaw and Peter Haig, at work. They are better than Hume and Jessica, Charles and Julie and others I've seen in these roles. All were good and praiseworthy. But this pair is the best.
 I should say a few words about J. Barry Lewis, who directed. Flawless directing. Mr. Lewis likewise belongs among that special group of people who do things just right virtually every time.

Marilyn Bauer reviewed for  TC Palm:
Haig has honed his performance as an old coot consumed with a rage simmering just below the surface. He moves effortlessly between moments of pure charm to irascibility to an aggression born of disappointment and neglect.

Bradshaw’s Fonsia is a whelping mass of vindictiveness, a passive-aggessive Xena, Warrior Queen meting out punishment on the men who have done her wrong. Bradshaw is adept in physically portraying the many sides of this broken women, not an easy task since Fonsia’s core is concealed behind a facade of respectability.
Director, J. Barry Lewis has staged the tight action beneath a single hanging lamp with the space around the card table a destination of its own.
It is a little gem of theater, well-acted and provocative.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for South Florida Theater Review:
D.L. Coburn’s warhorse may be a comedy in its early stages, but its protagonists, played by Barbara Bradshaw and Peter Haig, are nobody’s cutesy codgers. Under J. Barry Lewis’ direction, these are life-scarred veterans whose obsessions and secrets nudge the play toward the darkness in spite of the laughs.
Palm Beach Dramaworks’ production is merely entertaining company during most of the first act and could benefit from a little more topspin. You sense there are unplumbed nuances. If not for the skill of Bradshaw, Haig and Lewis in creating a grounded reality, the proceedings would feel like a diverting cartoon. But when they have some genuine drama to chew on in the second act, the play catches fire.
Fonsia gives Bradshaw another showcase for her talent for comic roles with an underlying pathos, recently on display in Why Torture Is Wrong and Dead Man’s Cellphone at Mosaic Theatre and The Chairs at Dramaworks.
Haig’s harried expression and a voice that is inexplicably reedy and deep at the same time have elevated dozens of local productions. Here, he credibly runs the gamut from goofily endearing, with a toothy grin, to unleashing a destructive tantrum that blisters the already blistering paint on the porch.
Dramaworks once again benefits from a stable of outstanding designers with an attention to detail. Brian O’Keefe’s costumes are perfectly chosen....Michael Amico’s decaying porch setting is an appropriately dingy environment for the neglected denizens, down to the battered metal glider and rickety card table. He excels in tiny telling touches of set dressing...
The Gin Game plays at Palm Beach DramaWorks through August 15, 2010.

It's Heeeeeere!

Finally, we have another source for excellent theatre reviews: the South Florida Theater Review has come online.

We'll be working the reviews in to our summaries later today.

Welcome to the blogosphere, Bill!

Mondays are Dark

Here's a summer doldrums edition of your Monday reading list.

South Florida's newest theatre company is holding its first fundraiser tonight; read about Zoetic Stage and McKeever's Briefs on, the Palm Beach ArtsPaper, and the Fort Lauderdale Theatre Examiner (who goes one-on-one with playwright Michael McKeever, whose work is the basis of the evening).

There be Treasure..
1st Draft fills us in on Florida Stage's participation in PB Culture Council's Treasure Hunt.  And you don't have to talk like a pirate to participate.  You can, you just don't have to.

Conundrum Stages fills us in on one of their recent summer projects.

Another Opening...
... but this one is in Chicago; Playbill reports that Shrek: The Musical opened the first performance in the National Tour on Sunday.  Among the players; South Floridian Aymee Garcia.

Also Heading Out of Town
The Naples News Stage Door reports that Wayne LeGette has been cast in Tuesdays with Morrie at the Gulfshore Playhouse, over in Naples.  It will playing October 29 through November 21.

Talkin' Broadway is talkin' Broward; Center, that is.  South Florida's first multi-use dedicated facility for performing arts is about to turn twenty years old, and they want to hear your stories.
The Broward Center is inviting patrons to share their favorite memories in the "Best Broward Center Memory" contest by submitting a brief story along with a photograph (if available). Ten lucky winners will be chosen to enjoy a night for two at the theater during the exciting 2010-2011 season. Each winner will receive two tickets to a Broward Center performance, complimentary valet parking and access to the Mercedes-Benz of Fort Lauderdale Intermezzo Lounge for that evening to enjoy complimentary cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Winning entries and stories will be featured in upcoming 20th anniversary-themed publications, and on the Broward Center for the Performing Arts website.
Sounds like a party!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Scene for July 23, 2010

The good news is that the system that formed earlier this week by Puerto Rico has basically fallen apart, so there's little chance it will become Hurricane Bonnie.  But the bad news is that we'll probably get a lot of heavy downpours over the next couple of days.  But the good news is that there's lots of plays to see inside.

Beat the heat, slide inside and see a show.  All the kids are doing it!

BTW, Monday is the first fundraiser for Zoetic Stage.


Ground  Up an Rising re-emerges to present Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman, playing through August 8 at the Little Stage Theatre in Miami Beach.

He’s Coming Up the Stairs! opens at Empire Stage  and runs through August 15, 2010

you still haven't missed...

The Gin Game plays at Palm Beach DramaWorks through August 15.

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

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

Secret Order plays at the Caldwell Theatre Company through August 1, 2010. Gordon McConnell has returned to the production.

The 25th Annual International Hispanic Theatre Festival
, presented by Teatro Avante, runs through August 1 at various locations in Miami.

The Stage Door
production of Suds, The Rockin' 60s Musical has been extended through June 13, June 27, August 1, 2010. (Yes, they have two theatres in their facility).

last chance to see...

The Palm Beach Shakespeare production of MacBeth plays at the Seabreeze Ampitheatre through July 25, 2010.

Shipwrecked at Florida Atlantic University and plays through July 24th, in repertory with A Midsummer Night's Dream which plays through July 25th.

Mr Charles/Mexico City plays at Rising Action Theatre through July 25, 2010.

Stage Door Theatre's critically acclaimed production of The Drowsy Chaperone plays through July 25.

passing through...

The Boca Raton Theatre Guild presents Angie Radosh in The Year Of Magical Thinking, July 22-25.  Genie Croft directed Radosh in this play earlier this year  at The Women's Theatre Project.

for kids...

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

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

The Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre offers Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat through July 25. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

PB Shakes: Macbeth (1 review)

Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival opened its revival of Shakespeare's Macbeth on July 15, 2010, at the Seabreeze Ampitheatre.  This marks the third time the company has mounted "the Scottish play."  It was the Festival's first production back in 1988, and they did it again 14 years ago, with the same Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

Kevin Crawford directed a cast that included himself, Heidi Harris, Andre Lancaster, Krys Parker, Trinna Pye, and Gretta von Unrue.

Hap Erstein reviewed for Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
Directing the production and playing the title role is Kevin Crawford,‭ ‬long the company’s best asset.‭ ‬His performance dominates the evening with his signature skill with the Elizabethan language,‭ ‬rendering the text with clarity and attention to the poetry.
Crawford is again partnered by Heidi Harris as his goading wife,‭ ‬who pushes him to take control of the political situation and realize the royal prophecy of the witches.‭ ‬In the intervening years,‭ ‬Crawford has grown burlier and Harris more buxom,‭ ‬but they still make a combustible couple,‭ ‬striking sparks of passion onstage while rendering these two towering roles with greater maturity and nuance.
Concentrate on Crawford and Harris,‭ ‬because the performance quality drops off substantially when it comes to the supporting players.‭
The Palm Beach Shakespeare production of MacBeth plays at the Seabreeze Ampitheatre through July 25, 2010.

XXV International Hispanic Theatre Festival (reviews)

The Miami Herald has been posting reviews of various plays within the festival; since we don't expect to see numerous reviews of each play within the festival, we'll be summarizing the reviews under this one banner.

Mia Leonin of the Miami Herald reviewed several plays:

Oco Teatro Laboratório 1737265 from Brazil's production of Os Sonhos de Segismundo (Los Sueños de Segismundo). 
The Arsht Center's Carnival Studio Theater provided excellent acoustics for Tiago Chaves, whose live percussion guided the play's alternately festive and dramatic tones. Diana Ramos as Clarin and Rafael Magalhaes' Segismundo stood out for their physicality and expressiveness.
...overall this literary exploration made flesh was one worth witnessing.
Uruguay's Compañia de Nidia Telles production of Gracias Por Todo (Thanks for Everything), a monologue written by Julio César Castro and performed in Spanish:
A veteran actress, Telles plays Graciela with energy and candor; however, I longed for a meatier text or direction by Carlos Aguilera that could bring out more of Graciela's individuality and quirkiness -- and Telles' abundant resources.

Spain's Abalanta Theatre Company's Flores Arrancadas a la Niebla (Flowers Plucked from the Fog), written by Arístides Vargas:
The result is a complex emotional portrait of what it means to be a refugee. Rodríguez and Sabio play their roles with admirable humor, honesty and stamina.

At 1 ½ hours without intermission, Flores felt a bit long. However, Pepe Bablé's solid direction keeps the play on track, and the metaphors, especially of the orchid as a symbol of beauty, separateness and disintegration, lends cohesiveness.
El Rey Que No Oia, Pero Escuchaba (The King Who Could Not Hear, But Listened):
At the end of a week packed with theater, Sunday's outstanding performance of El Rey Que No Oia, Pero Escuchaba (The King Who Could Not Hear, But Listened) still managed to leave its mark.
El Rey was performed in Spanish and Mexican sign language by Seña y Verbo Teatro de Sordos, a professional theater company of deaf and hearing actors from Mexico. The five-member cast's indelible facial expressions and vivid gestures were captivating. Hopefully, this is not the last Miami has seen of this excellent company.
Antonio Orlando Rodriguez covered the presentation of Amarillo by Mexico's Linea de Sombra company. His review:
...there are no characters of a traditional type. There is no dramatic progression; there are no disputes generated by conflicting forces. But there is a dramatization of another sign, well molded, which brings us close to an important social phenomenon in an attractive, revealing and extremely theatrical way.
The text, carries undisputed importance in the production, though it shares prominence with body language, illumination, music and new semantics.
Raúl Mendoza, an energetic performer with remarkable communication skills, ends up bearing the greatest responsibility for setting the production's pace and temperature.
The voice of singer Jesús Cuevas generates a provocative sound landscape, -- and the production's meticulous digital design deepens the artistic exploration of the exodus and its repercussion on the human condition.
Christine Dolen reviewed Filo al Fuego, produced by Teatro Promoteo, a local company.  Her review:
...despite the disparate abilities of its actors, Teatro Prometeo's production is like its boxers: hot, sweaty and intermittently thrilling.

Mia Leonin covered Havana-based Teatro El Público's rendition of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Las Amargas Lágrimas de Petra Von KantHer review:
(Fernando) Hechevarría's agile transformation from self-serving despot into groveling lover in a matter of seconds is impressive. What could be downright confusing in less talented hands is hilarious and heartbreaking under Díaz's sharp direction.
Performances by Alicia Hechevarría as Petra's teenage daughter, Carlos Caballero as Pierre and Mónica Guffanti as Petra's mother round out the exceptional cast.
On Friday, a rousing standing ovation of several minutes served as the final testament to the power of Teatro El Público's performance -- and its significance. The group is the first Cuban theatrical company to perform in Miami but not the last. On July 23, FUNDarte brings Cuba's Teatro Buendía to Little Havana's Manuel Artime Theater.

The 25th Annual International Hispanic Theatre Festival, presented by TeatroAvante,  runs through August 1, 2010.  

McConnell Returns reports that Gordon McConnell will be returning to the Caldwell Theatre Production of Secret Order.

Welcome back, Gogo.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mondays are Dark (UPDATED)

Perfect casting
I don't know how I missed this, but the Palm Beach Daily News sat down with the cast of DramaWork's The Gin Game.
Peter Haig and Barbara Bradshaw have performed together in 26 shows. They’re paired in their 27th in The Gin Game, playing 70-something inmates of a retirement home who chip away at each other over serial games of cards. The Pulitzer Prize-winning two-hander is Palm Beach Dramaworks’ summer production.

 The production is a reunion for the old friends, who haven’t shared the stage for 20 years.
Most Teachers Get Apples
The Treasure Coast Palm talks to some acting students who are studying with Burt Reynolds.
Each class starts with Reynolds on a small stage delivering a short lecture, followed by students presenting various scenes from different scripts as a camera rolls, recording the performances. Reynolds watches the scenes on a monitor to the side of the stage, then returns to the stage with his instruction or criticism.

Students applaud nearly every time Reynolds enters or exits the stage.
I wonder what Sandy Meisner would say?

Academy Wins in Korea reports on the continuing success of the musical created by Jupiter Theatre's Andrew Kato, and John Mercurio.
Academy has been to South Korea's Daegu International Musical Festival and has returned with the top prize.

The show, one of 24 musicals presented during the 22-day festival, was a hit at Daegu, and won the top award for Best Musical.
"Academy has gone global - from Jupiter to New York to South Korea and back to Jupiter," said Andrew Kato, one of the show's creators and artistic director of the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, where Academy will receive its world premiere production with the help of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Kudos to Andrew and John, and their entire Academy team.

The Low Down on The Blues
Over on 1st Draft, Jonathon Wemette digs into the music that drives Florida Stage's current production of Low Down Dirty Blues.

Low Down Party
The Shiny Sheet briefly describes Florida Stage's first opening night at the Kravis Center.

The Huffington Post's Lauren Gunderson wonders why theatre keeps going.  It made me think of this Shakespeare quote:
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here...
Critical Definitions
Towards a Holy Theatre reflects on the often misunderstood truth of criticism.

... in Palm Beach, The Shiny Sheet reports that the Royal Poinciana Playhouse is still closed.
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.
The town filed a lawsuit in June against Preserve Palm Beach and Flynn arguing that the referendum is unconstitutional, because the actions permitting the demolition of a property covered by the amendment would qualify as a development order covering fewer than five parcels. Such development orders are immune from referendums according to state statute, the town said. Miami, The Coconut Grove Grapevine reports that the Coconut Grove Playhouse is still closed.
The Coconut Grove Playhouse is getting worse and worse. This morning... the wooden facade fell off, exposing the scaffolding behind it, we almost thought it was the start of a new paint job, but it's just decay.
There still is no response from the current board on the fines slapped on the building from the City...
Maybe we'll get more posturing from Marc Sarnoff.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


There's signs of life over at the future home of the South Florida Theater Review. 

Better than "404 Page Not Found."  Hopefully this is a precusor to actual content.

We'll keep you informed, as always.

Stage Door Theatre: The Drowsy Chaperone (5 reviews)

The Stage Door Theatre opened its production of The Drowsy Chaperone on June 11, 2010.
Welcome to The Drowsy Chaperone, the musical comedy with tons of laughs and the most 2006 Tony Awards of any musical on Broadway. It all begins when a die-hard musical fan plays his favorite cast album, a 1928 smash hit called The Drowsy Chaperone, and the show magically bursts to life. The audience is instantly immersed in the glamorous, hilarious tale of a celebrity bride and her uproarious wedding day.

Dan Kelley directed a cast that included Laura Oldham, Eileen Faxas, Matt Ban, Jeffrey Funaro, Matthew Alexander, Jonathan Van Dyke,  Sari Feldman, Caitlin Maloney, Joshua Nicholson, Phil Gosselin, Andrew Ford Trix, Nadeen Holloway, Shain Stroff, Chris Chiansini, Caroline Kittrel, and Eliana Ghen.

Hap Erstein reviewed for Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
(Broward Stage Door Theatre) renders it very capably with just the right touches of affection and whimsy.

Much of the credit goes to the company’s former artistic director,‭ ‬Dan Kelley,‭ ‬who stages the production deftly with a perpetual wink as well as playing the show’s central character,‭ ‬known simply as Man in Chair,‭ ‬with complete commitment to his musical comedy world.‭ ‬Every now and then one sees an ideal match of performer and role like this.‭ ‬If Man in Chair were not written as a wedding gift for Bob Martin,‭ ‬one of the show’s co-authors,‭ ‬you would swear it was tailor-made for Kelley,‭ ‬fluttery hands and sly comic takes and all.
Among the standouts are Laura Oldman‭ (‬Janet‭)‬,‭ ‬who opening anti-want song,‭ ‬Show-Off,‭ ‬puts her through a dizzying display of narcissistic talents,‭ ‬from plate-spinning to snake-charming to ventriloquism.‭ ‬Matt Ban’s Adolpho is,‭ ‬by necessity,‭ ‬broad,‭ ‬but he earns his laughs with surprisingly precise comic timing.‭
The ever-inventive Chrissi Ardito supplies the vintage feel-good choreography,‭ ‬Ardean Landhuis gives solid support with his scenic design and lighting and David Nagy’s music direction is adroit,‭ ‬although the orchestra is pre-recorded.
The Drowsy Chaperone is not a great show for the ages.‭..‭ ‬But it is a lot of fun,‭ ‬and Kelley’s production delivers on every wacky bit of schtick it contains.
John Lariviere reviewed for Talkin'
One cannot help but compare productions, and having seen two national tours of the same show, this one shines for some extraordinarily good directing by Dan Kelley.
The scenic design is right on the money, complete with a refrigerator and a Murphy bed that double as an entrance for the characters of the musical within the show. The costumes, especially for the men, are sensational in their attention to detail, use of color, and exaggerated period style.
As Man in Chair, Dan Kelley shows an artful awareness of the audience that helps make the character's conversations with the audience seem impromptu.
Eileen Faxas is tops as the drunken diva, the Drowsy Chaperone. This is a great role for her to showcase her comedic ability... and Faxas really delivers.
Laura Oldham is the perfect musical theatre ingenue...
This delightful production of The Drowsy Chaperone at the Stage Door Theatre is a welcome and entertaining Summertime offering.
Mary Damiano reviewed for The South Florida Gay News:
The Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs is currently staging a handsome production of the Tony-winning musical The Drowsy Chaperone.
Kelley’s Man in Chair has the required wistfulness and enthusiasm, but ultimately he comes off as more bitter than endearing. The show really comes to life with Oldham’s appearance, belting out the show-stopping “Show Off.” Oldham sparkles in the role, even when everything around her falls flat. The other terrific show-making performance comes from Matt Ban as pudgy, over-the-hill Latin lover Aldolpho. Ban’s teeth marks are all over the scenery, which is perfect for his character.
Chrissi Ardito’s choreography adds dazzle to the production, while the lighting and set design by Ardean Landhuis are clever and evocative. Kimberly Wick’s smart costume choices enrich the nostalgic mood of the show.’s a pleasant and delightful diversion.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami
Dan Kelley, endearing as Man In Chair, doesn't just watch the show, he wanders in and out of it, revealing, explaining and delivering some of the funniest lines in a piece that's full of funny stuff....There's a lot going on and the seventeen person cast delivers every bit of pleasure therein.
A tip of the topper, though, to Laura Oldham performing “Show Off.” And Matt Ban in “I Am Adolpho.” And, aw hell, everyone else performing all the other numbers. They were perfectly swell.
Production values are uniformly high, with direction by Dan Kelley, assisted by Chrissie Ardito who also did the wonderful choreography... And the costumes, ah the costumes, they're by Kimberly Wick.
There's a lot of good theatre going on around here this year and this show is right up there at the top with its excellent direction and strong, talented cast.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for The Sun-Sentinel:
As star and director, Kelley has nailed the deceptively difficult tone of Drowsy — an affectionate spoof of 1920s paper-thin musicals mixed with a joyous message about the power of artistic artifice to enrich our troubled lives. Other than last season's A Little Night Music, this easily ranks as the best work that Stage Door has produced in years.
Rubber-faced, inherently funny and vulnerable, Kelley was born to play the woebegone narrator, capturing his adoration of musical theater as essential as oxygen to his ability to gingerly face the prosaic and treacherous vagaries of real life.
The unusually solid supporting cast is led by Laura Oldham as the perky, plucky bride-to-be, Janet van der Graaf. She needs no spotlight to shine in her major turn in which she protests "I don't want to show off no more" while dancing her shoes off, trilling and belting, doing splits and gurgling ventriloquism.
Chrissi Ardito once again provides quality choreography and helps Kelley with the direction since he is on stage for 98 percent of the show. Stage Door's restricted budget hasn't stinted on Adrean Landhuis' set and Kimberly Wick's costumes. The pre-recorded score by David Cohen is satisfyingly crisp and lush.
The Drowsy Chaperone plays at The Stage Door Theatre through July 25, 2010.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sarnoff Spews about the Grove. Again.

The Coconut Grove Playhouse is back in the news again.  Well, sort of. How can you do a story on The Grove and fail to acknowledge the fact
that Joe Adler is in fact poised to bring theatre back to town?

CBS4 does exactly that.  They give Commissioner Mark Sarnoff a great deal of time to bluster and and look outraged, but they basically fail to accurately report the facts.
Commissioner Sarnoff offers a solution, but it will be a fight because he wants the state to take over the property, even though the playhouse is privately owned. He essentially wants a new board of directors.
Really?  Sarnoff offered a solution?  When did he do that? Because nowhere in this CBS4 News Video did he actually say anything that could be construed as a solution.  He bitched.  He whined.  I expected him to pound his chest.

But he offered not one solution.

Sarnoff has correctly identified that the old board is a problem.  No news there.  But replacing an incompetent board with an ignorant board won't bring plays to a stage.  Theatres are built around artistic vision, not politics, or even economics.  Until someone who knows how to put plays on a stage and butts in seats is involved, there's no hope for the enterprise. 

And if any Miami politician is involved, the project is doomed.  Every single time a Miami politician gets involved, costs skyrocket, and deadlines get missed.  Been to Miami International lately?

Besides, new management is in the works.  If Gio Benitez had done some actual journalism, he'd have found that CBS4 reported this back in December:
The remaining Playhouse board has focused on maintaining the 82-year-old building, bringing the company out of debt, and looking to the future of the Playhouse. Now, the award-winning GableStage and its producing artistic director, Joseph Adler will raise the curtains on a new building.
Go watch Gio's video with Sarnoff.  Neither of them mention Adler, or the ongoing negotiations between The Grove's board and GableStage.  Did Benitez actually get a degree in journalism? From a real school?

If Commissioner Sarnoff was actually serious about bringing back the Playhouse, he'd be meeting with Joe Adler.  Or at least he'd be talking about why he's not meeting with Adler.

The bottom line is this: Mark Sarnoff can't save the Playhouse.  He doesn't know how to do that.  Every time he opens his yap, he makes it apparent.  What's his "solution?"  Take it away from the current owners.  And then what will he do?  Appoint a new board.  And who will be on this board?  No one who knows anything about saving a theatre company.

And who knows how to save a theatre company?  Joe Adler.  Adler took over the failing Florida Shakespeare Festival, and saved it.  We now know it as GableStage, one of Florida's most critically acclaimed theatres.

How many theatres has Sarnoff launched?  None.

Joe Adler, on the other hand, has helped out numerous small companies, helping them get on their feet.  Success stories include Promethean, Mad Cat, and Naked Stage.  All of them got a helping hand from Joe Adler.

Make no mistake: Sarnoff and his political cronies will not save The Coconut Grove Playhouse.  They will drive a final stake through it, and leave Grovites with nothing.  He's after the $20 million earmarked for capital development by the Coconut Grove Playhouse. And like every other occasion that Miami's politicians have gotten their hands into the cookie jar, the inadequate funds will be quickly squandered without bringing a single play to Coconut Grove.

Friday, July 16, 2010

New Cultural Center presents Familiar Face

Avi Hoffman is the first act to play the brand new Aventura Arts and Cultural Center.  The City of Aventura Blog interviews Hoffman, who is performing his iconic plays Too Jewish and Too Jewish, Too!

The space itself is a beautiful facility, located on the city's
waterfront.  Being the first to perform in a new theatre is a great privilege, enjoyed by a select group of performers, and Avi is all that. 

Congratulations, Avi!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Scene for July 16, 2010

Summer is moving relentlessly along; we're already halfway through July.  And it seems everyone is moving:  Florida Stage has moved into its new home at the Kravis Center,  the Theatre Scene has moved (to larger digs), and Sound Designer Steve Shapiro is moving to Pittsburgh to take on a faculty position.  And if that's not bad enough, he's taking Elizabeth Lang, master electrician, with him.

But seriously, best of luck in the hinterlands; you'll certainly be missed here, and they'll be lucky to you have you up there.


Florida Stage opens Low Down Dirty Blues, the first production in their new home at the Kravis Center.

The Gin Game opens at Palm Beach DramaWorks, and runs through August 15.

you still haven't missed...

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

Secret Order plays at the Caldwell Theatre Company through August 1, 2010. As of publication, Gordon McConnell is still out but recovering, and director Tom Bloom has stepped in until Gordon recovers.

Shipwrecked at Florida Atlantic University and plays through July 24th, in repertory with A Midsummer Night's Dream which plays through July 25th.

The 25th Annual International Hispanic Theatre Festival
, presented by Teatro Avante, opens this weekend and runs through August 1.

Mr Charles/Mexico City plays at Rising Action Theatre through July 25, 2010.

Stage Door Theatre's production of The Drowsy Chaperone plays through July 25.

The Stage Door
production of Suds, The Rockin' 60s Musical has been extended through June 13, June 27, August 1, 2010. (Yes, they have two theatres in their facility).

last chance to see...

Avi Hoffman's Too Jewish? or Too Jewish, Too! plays at the new Aventura Arts and Cultural Center though this Sunday, July 18.

Speech and Debate  ends its critically acclaimed run at Gablestage on July 18. The critics - and audiences - are raving about this one.

for kids...

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

Sol Childrens' Theatre Troop pesents The Commedia Tales of King Arthur, July 17-18.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Actors' Playhouse: Are We There Yet? (2 reviews)

Actors' Playhouse opened its production of Are We There Yet? on July 7, 2010. Written by James Hindman, Ray Roderick, and Cheryl Stern with music by John Glaudini.
Fresh, funny, and entertaining, this light hearted but genuine musical comedy tackles the question we so often ask ourselves on life's roller coaster journey of ups and downs, Are We There Yet. The typical bumps, u-turns, and road blocks that we are all too-familiar with are played out on stage in a riotous fashion through the eyes of the modern American family that may seem strangely similar to your own. This refreshing and reflective comedy that has been called the parents' edition of I Love you, You're perfect, Now Change! may finally prove that the answer to life's question is simply a sense of humor.
David Arisco directed a cast that included Meghan Moroney, Allan Baker, Lisa Manuli, and Christopher Kent.

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

Roger Martin reviewed for
The actors sell this show well and that's the fun part. The sad part is that they don't have a better product. The music is by John Claudini but despite the fine performances you won't be singing these songs in your bath tub. But there is some good news: we have to watch adults playing children for only a brief period.
Costume designer Ellis Tillman helps the show considerably, especially with his baby rapper outfits and the money suits in Cha-Ching, one of the better numbers. Gene Seyffer's scenery, Patrick Tennent's lighting and Alexander Herrin's sounds all work well for what the show is: Summer Fare Light.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
...if all you want from an evening out is the chance to laugh or sigh at sketches and songs about familiar situations, well, why not? Such revues can be clever -- think I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change -- but Are We There Yet? doesn't begin to rise to that level.
Fortunately for Actors' and its audiences, the production features four fine singer-actors -- Allan Baker, Christopher A. Kent, Lisa Manuli and Meghan Moroney -- as well as energetic musical director David Nagy and inventive direction from David Arisco. The work of costume designer Ellis Tillman, who for one number creates suits and dresses that appear to be made of money, also displays a wit absent in the contributions of Hindman, Roderick and Stern.
Are We There Yet? plays at Actors' Playhouse through August 15, 2010.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Zoetic Stage's First Fundraiser Florida’s newest professional theatre company, Zoetic Stage, will kick off a summer of fund-raising events with an evening of the best of Michael McKeever’s short plays entitled McKeever’s Briefs. Presented as a staged reading, the collection of comedic short plays will be directed by Zoetic Stage Producing Artistic Director Stuart Meltzer and performed by Zoetic Stage company members Irene Adjan, Stephen G. Anthony, Elena Maria Garcia, Margery Lowe, Barry Tarallo and Tom Wahl.

The fundraiser will take place at the Count de Hoernle Theatre (Caldwell Theatre Company) on Monday, July 26, 2010 at 7:00 PM. A $15 suggested donation is appreciated. There will be a talk back with McKeever, Meltzer and the cast after the performance, followed by a reception in the lobby.

Michael McKeever is South Florida’s most produced and prolific playwright. His plays have premiered in many of South Florida’s top theatres including Florida Stage, New Theatre, Actors Playhouse, Caldwell Theatre Company, Palm Beach DramaWorks & City Theatre. McKeever’s plays are produced throughout the United States and Europe. His play South Beach Babylon will open the inaugural season for Zoetic Stage. A press release about South Beach Babylon will be released soon.

McKeever’s Briefs is a compilation of the best short plays from Michael McKeever. Meltzer says about McKeever’s Briefs, “This evening is truly a ‘greatest hits’ collection for the Elvis Presley of South Florida theatre. Audiences have laughed, loved and applauded these gems in ten-minute play festivals throughout the country. They are constantly in demand.
Three of these plays are Heideman Finalists, which is the highest honor for a ten-minute play presented through the Actors Theatre of Louisville.”

Plays included in McKeever’s Briefs are:
American Gothic
You know the painting. The man, the woman, the pitchfork. Well, the woman . . . she wants out.

Craven Tutweiler(The Real Life Story of)
(Heideman Finalist)
Three very different women discuss the remarkable rogue who changed their lives. With oddly graphic details.

Tina Thompson Tries the Tuba
Tina is trying the tuba ... and, apparently, Tommy Turner. Don't tell her boyfriend Terry Tarlitz. A terribly ticklish tale of taking chances and trying new trades.

Laura Keene Goes On
(Heideman Finalists)
It's April 1865, and legendary actress Laura Keene is not going to let a little thing like an assassination stop her from going on. Look out!

Peter, Paul, Mom & Mary
Peter is in for a real shock when he is called home for an emergency- his mother has a special visitor destined to shake up the neighborhood.

Move on, or Sondheim at Studio 54
Nick is your average married guy, typical in every way. Then he sees a Sondheim show. A funny, insightful show about the power of a single song.

(Heideman Finalists)
Dorothy has just skipped off down the Yellow Brick Road.  Leaving the inhabitants of Munchkin Land to deal with her shattered house and the apparently dead witch under it. They're not happy. A morality tale with Munchkins.

Meltzer was the Artistic Director of City Theatre in Miami for two years, where he oversaw and expanded the Summer Shorts Festival, introducing the company’s wildly successful adult-themed undershorts. His New York and South Florida directing credits are extensive. A Miami native, Meltzer has worked as Head of Theatre at Gulliver Preparatory, and full time faculty at NewWorld School of the Arts. He received his M.F.A. in Directing from the Actors Studio in 2002 and B.F.A. from the New World School of the Arts in Miami.

For more information about McKeever’s Briefs or to make a reservation please contact Producing Artistic Director, Stuart Meltzer, at (954) 235-6208 or

Monday, July 12, 2010

Herald Video: Save the Gusman!

Rising Action Theatre: Mr Charles/Mexico City (reviews) Action Theatre opened its double bill consisting of Paul Rudnick's Mr Charles, Currently of Palm Beach and David Leddick's Mexico City on July 9, 2010.
Mr. Charles is a late night local television host who is too gay for daytime TV!  Along with his hunky assistant  (who appears in and out of several outfits), he shares his views on everything gay and answers questions from the studio audience.  This short comedy is coupled with David Leddick's original play with music Mexico City, and both will star Mr. Leddick himself.
David Kingery directed a cast that featured David Leddick, Stefan Pinto, and Merry Jo Cortada.

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

Christine Dolen reviewed for the Miami Herald:
Mr. Charles, which has had two other productions in South Florida (last summer at GableStage and in 2003 as part of City Theatre's Summer Shorts Festival), was also performed last summer by the Rising Action cast at a different Fort Lauderdale venue.
Rudnick's play is a brisk, brief, nutty romp through the world of the gay host of a middle-of-the-night cable access show -- not that the Rising Action version, directed by David Kingery, explores much of its potential.
Pinto's mission in playing Shane... is the show's beefcake, appearing in a series of ever-skimpier costumes until a strategically placed bouquet is all that stands between the enthusiastically narcissistic Shane and total nudity. Bodybuilder Pinto has the hunk part down cold, but a polished comic actor he's not.
...but the success of Mr. Charles turns on the actor playing the title role. And unlike Stephen Trovillion (Summer Shorts) and John Felix (GableStage), Leddick doesn't have the acting chops to deliver much beyond droll, wry line readings. And the happily flaming Mr. Charles is so much more than that.
Leddick delivers a similar performance (albeit in a vintage-styled wig, short skirt and heels) in his own Mexico City, an odd 45-minute piece that aspires to be a cross between the work of Charles Busch and the late Charles Ludlam.
Mexico City has a couple of interesting twists (plus a completely gratuitous, brief appearance by Pinto as the concerned hunky neighbor), but it lacks the style and wit that infuse the work of Busch and Ludlam.
Mr Charles/Mexico City plays at Rising Action Theatre through July 25, 2010.

Mondays are Dark

The Latest Addition
Miami's Roger Martin tells us a little more about the newest theatre on the scene, Zoetic Stage, founded by Michael McKeever, Christopher Demos-Brown, and director Stuart Meltzer.  Martin also explains the company's name:
...and yes, I had to look it up. "Zoetic" means, according to the Dictionary of Obscure Words, “living” and “vital”. Knowing these guys, I'd say that's pretty apt.
Did we mention that two of the three founders are playwrights? 

Zoetic has lined up a powerful company to start with:  Irene Adjan, Stephen G. Anthony, Jeffrey Bruce, Nick Duckart, Lela Elam, John Felix, Elena Maria Garcia, Maribeth Graham, Amy London, Margery Lowe, Amy McKenna, David Perez Ribada, Jerry Seeger, Kim St. Leon, Barry Tarallo, Laura Turnbull and Tom Wahl.

High Hopes for Low Down
The Palm Beach Daily News looks into the inaugural production at Florida Stage's new home, Low Down Dirty Blues.
Wheetman and Randal Myler created Low Down Dirty Blues, the musical revue with which Florida Stage will make its grand entrance Saturday at its new digs in the Kravis Center’s Rinker Playhouse.

“Whenever you’re going through hard times, music can be a vehicle for releasing anger, frustration and grief, and getting on with your life,” Wheetman said. “The blues is very much like that. In the black culture they often talk about how when they hear someone sing the blues, they smile. There’s an acknowledgement that we’re all in this together.”

Put that way, the blues sounds like a remedy for the recession doldrums and an apt accompaniment for Florida Stage’s belt-tightening, options-opening move to the Kravis.

In case you're wondering about how their move is going, 1st Stage has pictures showing the company's move, including a shot of the Rinker Playhouse and its new seats.

Other Big News at Kravis Center
And just in case you think that Florida Stage is the only big thing happening at the Kravis Center, the Shiny Sheet has news for you.

Elsewhere in Palm Beach County
The Palm Beach Post talks about Secret Order, which opened at the Caldwell this last weekend, with Gordon McConnel, and talks with Kevin Crawford about his upcoming turn as director and actor in Macbeth, at the Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival.  Hap Erstein notes that Crawford and actress Heidi Harris starred in the Scottish Play the last time the company mounted it, some 14 years ago.  But he neglects to mention that it's also the first play the company ever presented. And while Crawford scoffs at the curse, some of us recall that the set had to be radically re-constructed overnight...
Well, OK that was actually due to a misunderstanding between director Kermit Christman and his contractor, who had no scenic experience but "built a deck for Perry Como, once." But that's kinda curse-like, right?

Still Waiting...
We're already about two weeks into July, and still no sign of life at South Florida Theatre Review.  Broward County's black hole of theatre coverage continues...

Giving Back
TheatreMania reports that Raúl Esparza, one of South Florida's Broadway stars, will be teaching a workshop for YoungArts Miami.  The workshop is tomorrow, and it's only open to Miami-Dade high school students.  Esparza came to town to appear in the critically acclaimed Babalu, with Lucy Arnaz.

... in Palm Beach, the Royal Poinciana Playhouse is still closed:
A judge will be asked Wednesday to toss out a town lawsuit requesting a judicial opinion on the constitutionality of a referendum that would beef up protection of landmarked buildings.
Flynn and the PAC seek to preserve the landmarked Royal Poinciana Playhouse from any future action by the council or Landmarks Preservation Commission that would allow its demolition. The long-shuttered Playhouse has been in the crosshairs of developers who want to put up condos on the waterfront site.