Friday, October 29, 2010

Mad Cat goes Wong at Arsht

Mad Cat Theatre Company, the scrappy little Miami company that has thrived in the margins of the theatre scene is stepping up its game; in partnership with the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, they are producing Going Green the Wong Way, a play written by and starring Kristina Wong, and directed by Mad Cat's artistic director, Paul Tei.

“It’s not easy being green….”
-- Kermit the Frog



Kristina Wong in Going Green the Wong Way

Kristina Wong found the lyrics to Kermit‘s refrain to be all too true when she purchased a 1981 pink Mercedes that ran on vegetable oil. In her quest to pursue sustainable living, Wong  endured  a nightmare of never-ending car repairs and near-death pursuits for the used  vegetable oil to fuel  it. When  the car finally burst into flames on an L.A. freeway, Wong  lost the largest line item in her monthly  budget,  and  gained  the  inspiration for this  premiere  production.

Going Green the Wong Way brings our contemporary urban environment to life, revealing just how tricky it is to ―do the right hing.   Based on Wong‘s  true-life  adventures, but elevated to  surrealist heights, the production takes us from Wong‘s confrontational 6th grade science project, to her wandering years as a missionary  of  recycling,  to  her  true  calling  as  Los  Angeles‘  patron martyr  of  carbon-free  living.

Going Green the Wong Way boasts expert direction by Paul Tei, who recently directed and appeared in Mad Cat‘s extremely well-received run of BroadSword at the Adrienne Arsht Center.  


"As one of the first performing arts centers in the U.S. to undertake the L.E.E.D certification process, the Adrienne Arsht Center  is the perfect venue to premiere this wacky and wonderful work exploring the ups and downs of  going green" said M. John Richard, president and CEO of the Adrienne Arsht Center. "We are delighted to partner again with the exceptional Mad Cat Theatre  Company  to present a world premiere comedy tailor-made for Miami."

Mad Cat‘s award-winning design team includes original song stylings and sound effects of Matt Corey. The set design and props are done by Mad Cat newcomer but Adrienne Arsht Center regular, Elaine Bryan, and Wong‘s costumes were inspired by the contents of a neighborhood dumpster.*

Going Green the Wong Way plays at the Arsht Center from November 18 - 20.  Tickets are on sale now.

*All of the design elements for the show have been either donated, borrowed, or recycled. No animals were harmed in the creation of this production! 



**this blog post was published on 100% recycled electrons.**

Rising Action Descends to Idiocy

Running a theatre is a tough endeavor.  Everyone who reads The Scene knows that; audiences are fickle and hard to attract, newspaper ads have increased in cost and decreased in effectiveness; it's hard to get coverage that brings people in.

And when you get a bad review for a production that needs to succeed, it does more than sting a little.  And if you're a fringe company with a spotty track record, it hurts.  A lot.

Rising Action Theatre is such a company.  They've recently moved into a new location, a measure which lowers their operating costs.  But it's a few miles from their old home, and nothing lures  people out like a hit.  And with shows like Take Me Out and Flora, The Red Menace, they've demonstrated that they can do decent work.  So all they needed to do was mount a solid production to launch their new space.

Several reviewers felt they didn't do that with Fit To Be Tied.

Bad reviews happen in theatre.  Even the best companies have done shows that got panned, great actors have had performances ripped apart.  Professionals know this, and shrug off the bad notices.  After all, everyone is entitled to their opinion.  Better to look to the next production than get mired in the last.  Professionals also know that if you consistently get bad reviews from a variety of reviewers, you probably have a problem that needs addressing, particularly if they are all saying the same things.

But if you're Rising Action's David Goldyn, you throw a temper tantrum and draw a childish line in the sand.  That's just what he did when reviewer Mary Damiano called and asked for tickets so she could review their next show for The South Florida Theater Review.

According to the Broward/Palm Beach New Times, this was his response:
"We no longer want to offer you free tickets to get out your anger and frustation [sic] at our expense," Goldyn wrote. "You are welcome to purchase a ticket."
This isn't the first time David Goldyn has lashed out at Mary Damiano. She has reviewed shows there often, and while she's never given them a glowing review to my knowledge, neither has she displayed malice towards the company. She has been harsh, at times, and her review of Fit To Be Tied was one of those. 

But if you read through all her reviews linked through The Scene, you find that she doesn't always give out bad reviews, and doesn't demonstrate "anger and frustation" at any of them.  (Well, maybe a little frustration: a couple of actors Goldyn favors have never gotten a good review anywhere, to the best of my knowledge.) 

Theatre reviews serve two purposes:
  1. They publicize the show, making people aware that there is a production.
  2. The evaluate the show, helping people make informed choices about what productions might interest them.
In a world where the  Sun-Sentinel has effectively stopped covering theatre, every chance to get the word out must be pursued.  The only thing worse than bad publicity is no publicity at all.

Not long ago, a friend called and asked for some advice: they were producing a play, and they weren't sure if they should get reviewers in to see it.

Our response: it's a no-brainer: of course you want the show reviewed.

If you refuse to have or resist having your shows reviewed, it's because you believe your shows are going to get bad reviews.  And if you believe your show is going to get a bad review, it's because, deep in your heart, you know it's a piece of shit.  And if you're knowingly producing pieces of shit, you deserve to receive bad reviews.

It appears that Mr. Goldyn doesn't want honest theatre review; he just wants people to say nice things about his work.  And he'll piss on anyone who dares to point out that his work really isn't all that great.  The Theatre Scene believes Mr. Goldyn should spend less time trying to figure out how to work gratuitous frontal nudity into every show, and more time reading all those reviews and taking note of the common complaints that repeat over and over again. Because a professional knows that if you're hearing the same comment over and over again from all the reviewers, there just may be some merit to the complaints.

The good new for us is that The South Florida Theater Review intends to review shows at Rising Action Theatre, and will send whatever reviewer they've chosen, even if they have to purchase a ticket.  And of course, The Scene will continue to link to those reviews and stories.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Scene for October 29, 2010

If you wanted to see The Rocky Horror Show for Halloween, it closes Saturday, so you can't catch on Halloween.  Actually, I guess the Midnight show on Saturday is technically on Halloween...so there you go.

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

opening...

Florida Stage opens Cane, the first of its commissioned "Florida Cycle" of plays.

Naked Stage opens its production of Sartre's No Exit at the intimate Pelican Theater.


you still haven't missed...

Stage Door Theatre opens its production of On The Town, and it will play through December 5, 2010.

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

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

The Color of Desire, a new play by Pulitzer prize winning playwright Nilo Cruz plays at Actors' Playhouse through November 7.

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

My First Time  plays at Area Stage through November 7.

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.

Steel Magnolias plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through November 7.

The Hispanic Theatre Guild presents Amistad at Teatro 8, through November 7. (Spanish, with English supertitles).



last chance to see...

Slow Burn Theatre winds up its acclaimed production of The Rocky Horror Show on October 30.

Jack Goes Boating finishes its run at New Theatre on October 31.


passing through...

Channeling Kevin Spacey plays at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts for two nights: October 29 & 30.


for kids...

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

The Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre presents A Midsummer's Night Dream, through October 31.

Monday, October 25, 2010

GableStage: A Behanding in Spokane (3 reviews)

Dennis Creahgan, Erik Fabregat, photo by Geo. Schaivone.GableStage opened its production of Martin McDonagh's A Behanding in Spokane on October 23, 2010.
The title is just the starting point; take a man searching for his missing hand, two con artists out to make a few hundred bucks and an overly curious hotel clerk - the rest is up for grabs. This black comedy is by the author of two plays that won Best Play Carbonell Awards at GableStage - The Pillowman (2006) and The Lieutenant of Inishmore (2007).
Joe Adler directed a cast that included Dennis Creaghan, Erik Fabregat, Marckensen Charles, and Jackie Rivera.

Mary Damiano reviewed for South Florida Theater Review:
Joseph Adler, artistic director of the Coral Gables company, has a taste for bizarre situations, and enjoys theatre that makes his audience uncomfortable, because discomfort leads to discussion.  And while A Behanding in Spokane is more commercial than other McDonagh plays, it’s certainly a play to spark conversation.
Creaghan hits all the right notes as Carmichael, the vengeful resignation, the glimmer of hope, the dry sense of humor. Credit both McDonagh’s writing and Creaghan’s deliciously wicked performance for making Carmichael such a fascinating and sympathetic character.
Charles, who made such a splash earlier this year in Groundswell, is once again impressive here...
Rivera, so good in GableStage’s Speech and Debate last June, is very funny here, even though her role is often to represent the audience’s point of view...
Fabregat’s look and demeanor are perfect for his role as Mervyn. He gets some of the play’s best lines, and certainly the best monologue...  when Carmichael and Mervyn are alone together; their conversation has an edge and Creaghan and Fabregat are riveting to watch.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Director Joseph Adler, who won Carbonell Awards for his earlier productions of The Pillowman and The Lieutenant of Inishmore, really gets McDonagh's work, and his breezy staging goes a long way toward sustaining interest in a story that ultimately doesn't amount to much.
On set designer Lyle Baskin's dead-on version of a seedy hotel room, Adler's cast works hard at pulling off McDonagh's blend of menace, fear and comedy -- and, to a person, the actors succeed.
As Carmichael, Creaghan looks at least as unkempt as that hotel room (thanks in part to costume designer Ellis Tillman), and he's adept at keeping the audience on edge...
Charles and Rivera are terrific young actors who make you feel for this pair of dim-bulb hustlers -- Charles especially, as Toby is a black weed dealer who becomes the repeated target of Carmichael's vile racist trash talk.
Fabregat, Mervyn and McDonagh are made for each other, and this always-reliable actor turns in yet another sly, funny performance.
Roger Martin reviewed for MiamiArtzine.com:
... A Behanding In Spokane, Martin McDonagh's f-bomb laden, cringe-inducing ninety minutes of almost continuous laughter.
...this is an excellent cast.
Joe Adler's direction, Lyle Baskin's set, Jeff Quinn's lighting, Ellis Tillman's costumes and Matt Corey's sound are all well up to the GableStage standard.
Martin McDonagh's A Behanding In Spokane plays at GableStage through November 21, 2010.

Mondays are Dark

Today is the last day of the 2010 South Florida Theatre Festival; it winds up tonight with the closing party that starts at 7pm at Fort Lauderdale's Green Room.  The event will coincide with the presentation of the Remy and the Silver Palm Awards.

In the meantime, here's your Monday reading list:

Old Audience Blues?
The Producer's Perspective mulls over the demographics of theatre audiences.
I have to wonder if even Shakespeare himself was frustrated because he couldn't get college-age kids to put down their PBR, leave their sorority parties and come listen to some verse.
You Know...For Kids!
BroadwayWorld.com tells us about the season of Children's Programming at Actors' Playhouse.

Finally Finalized
The Caldwell Theatre Company has finalized its 2010-2011 season, according to BroadwayWorld.comVices..A Love Story is still coming back, it's followed by Clybourne Park, then Next Fall (directed by the Caldwell's founding artistic director, Michael Hall), and the piece de la resistance, the Florida premiere of God of Carnage.

I Am Absolutely Not Making This Up
The Drama Queen reports that Dave Barry will be headlining the upcoming GableStage fundraiser on November 13.  It's being held at Ransom Everglades School, which is, not coincidentally, across the street from the shuttered Coconut Grove Playhouse.

Something to note; in passing, the article mentions that the GableStage's Romeo & Juliet, which tours South Florida schools, was adapted by the artistic director of Ground Up and Rising - a smaller local theater company.  GableStage's artistic director, Joe Adler, is known for this kind of collaboration - and it's just the kind of connected-ness we should expect for a new Coconut Grove Playhouse. 

State of the Arsht
The Miami Herald examines the outlook for the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts as it enters its 5th season of operations.  After a rocky start, it's slowly starting to turn around its surrounding neighborhood, much as the Broward Center and the Kravis Center did in their respective cities.  Of course, they did it at a fraction of the cost, even adjusted for inflation and rising costs of living.  I'd love to see a dollar for dollar comparison of the three venues.

Hometown Boys Make Good
South Plantation High Schools Friends Of The Theatre honors its alumni, Cory Terry and Elan Farbiarz, the creators of Killing Channeling Kevin Spacey. 
It is always exciting when we are able to share alumni sucess stories. Today, we want to tell you about Cory Terry and Elan Wolf Farbiarz, graduates from the class of 2001, Paladin Playhouse alumni and now award winning playwrites.

Cory is the son of FOTT co-founder Donna Terry. Cory and Elan have written several plays together but one in particular, "Channeling Kevin Spacey",   has been received with great acclaim and success, even winning several awards at the Canadian Fringe Festival.
The play won three different fringe festivals (Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Toronto) in 2008, and makes its US debut at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on October 29 and 30.

TEMFest
I linked to this in last week's SCENE, but in case you missed it, The Miami Herald tells us about Teatro En Miami.

On the Boards
The Chronicle of Philanthropy dissects the anatomy of a board of directors.
Despite its appeal, the idea that it takes heavy hitters for an organization to be successful at fund raising is a myth. And not the benign, literary kind of myth that helped primitive people make sense out of a mysterious world. It’s the insidious, bad kind of myth that encourages boards to be lazy and complacent and executive directors to waste valuable time doing the wrong things.
In short: it's not about having deep pockets, it's about getting other people to give support.  Coming to every show as a board member is great, but getting your friends to come with you is better.

Meanwhile...
... The Coconut Grove Playhouse is still closed, and Miami News Today has opinions about that.  Some of them have merit - letting Miami-Dade County build the new theatre, for example, is probably not a good idea, given the County's lousy record for building projects on time and on budget.  But it's also obvious that Michael Lewis needs to heed his own advice, and talk to some experts about regional theatres, and how many seats they should have.  (The Grove failed in part because it had waaaaaay too many seats to fill)(Union contracts are negotiated, in part, on the number of seats).

...In West Palm Beach, the city has bought the Cuillo Center, so Palm Beach DramaWorks can move in.  West Palm Beat has a photo of the marquee, along with the story.  It seems that the venture will be called something like "Palm Beach DramaWorks at the Cuillo Center for the Performing Arts."  Which is not uncommon; Actors' Playhouse is properly "Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sightings: Cherilynn Marrocco

South Florida audiences may recognize Cherilynn Marrocco as Little Sally in the Actors' Playhouse production of Urinetown.  Or you may have seen her dance in The Miami City Ballet.  Or from any number of roles she's played in South Florida.

An amazing dancer, she's a gifted actress as well, and has worked at several South Florida theatres.

But she's featured in The Miami Herald article as a dance instruction who staged FAME at the Miami Children's Theatre.


Cherilynn Marrocco and Jim Ballard

Whatever role she's playing, Marrocco puts her whole heart into it.  Here she as  Little Sally, with Jim Ballard as Officer Lockstock, from the Actors' Playhouse production of Urinetown.

Friday, October 22, 2010

DramaWorks Move Really Happening

According to the Palm Beach Post, the city will be closing the deal to buy the Cuillo Center.
Under the new plan, Palm Beach Dramaworks, which needed to expand from its 84-seat theatre at 322 Banyan Boulevard, would pay the city $150,000 annually with the option to purchase the building for $2.8 million no later than 2017. Dramaworks is responsible for maintenance and repair of the building.
Plans are still on track to open in November 2011, thirty years from the first time the space opened for live theatre as The Stage Company.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Scene For October 22, 2010

The season is really cooking - the reviews are still coming in, and the plays are still opening.  Life is good.

And don't forget, there are only a few days left to the South Florida Theatre Festival; click through to their website to see what's coming up next.   But the SoFla Theatre Festival isn't the only theatre festival in South Florida this weekend; TEMFest 2010 is being run by Teatro En Miami, October 22-25.  Read about it in The Miami Herald.

But the closing party for the SoFla Theatre Festival is this Monday - we won't have another excuse to gather the Theatre Scene until the Carbonell Awards in the spring.  It's being held at The Green Room in Fort Lauderdale, a few blocks from the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, and it's as close to the center of South Florida as you're going to get.  It's free for members of SouthFloridaTheatre.com (aka The Theatre League of South Florida), but only $20 for non-members.

So here's what's playing on The Scene this week...

opening...

Stage Door Theatre opens its production of On The Town, and it will play through December 5, 2010.

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


you still haven't missed...

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

Slow Burn Theatre
revives The Rocky Horror Show through October 30.

The Color of Desire, a new play by Pulitzer prize winning playwright Nilo Cruz plays at Actors' Playhouse through November 7.

Jack Goes Boating plays at New Theatre, through October 31.

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

My First Time  plays at Area Stage through November 7.

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.

Steel Magnolias plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through November 7.

The Hispanic Theatre Guild presents Amistad at Teatro 8, through November 7. (Spanish, with English supertitles).




last chance to see...

The Infinite Abyss production of Angel Eaters at Empire Stage closes October 23, 2010.

Rising Action Theatre production of Fit To Be Tied winds up on October 24.


passing through...

The national tour of Dreamgirls plays the Arsht Center through this Sunday, October 24.

The critically acclaimed Zero Hour starts its limited engagement at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre on October 14, and runs through October.  Winner of 2010 Drama Desk, 2010 Helen Hayes Award, and 2009 Carbonell Award.

Old School Square presents The Great American Songbook through November 21.


for kids...

Sol Children's Theatre presents The Hunchback of Notre Dame, through October 24.

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

The Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre presents A Midsummer's Night Dream, through October 31.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Arsht Center: Dreamgirls (reviews)

The National Tour of Dreamgirls made its brief stop Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing arts October 20 - 24, 2010.
Full of onstage joy and backstage drama, DREAMGIRLS tells the story of an up-and-coming 1960s singing girl group, and the triumphs and tribulations that come with fame and fortune, resounding with unforgettable hits including "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" "One Night Only," and "Listen." This Tony® and Academy® Award-winning musical sparkles like never before!
Robert Longbottom directed and choreographed a cast that included Milton Craig Nealy, Talitha Farro, Brittany Lewis, Chaz Lamar Sheperd, Syesha Mercado, Adrienne Warron, Trevon  Davis, Moya Angela, Marc Spaulding, and Chester Gregory.

Mary Damiano reviewed for The South Florida Theater Review:
While the costumes are still gloriously ornate and over the top, in this updated, stripped-down version of Dreamgirls, lighting and projections take the place of scenery and set pieces. The result is alternately dazzling and dizzying...
Made famous on Broadway by Jennifer Holliday, who won a Tony Award for playing Effie, and in the film by Jennifer Hudson, who won an Oscar for the role, Moya Angela has some big shoes. Her performance lives up to legend, yet she also makes the song her own, delivering a rendition so impassioned and desperate it’s almost difficult to watch. Angela is dynamic, charismatic, and that song is only one of the star-is-born moments she has over the course of the show.
The best moments in Dreamgirls belong to Moya and Chester Gregory, whose Jimmy boasts Little Richard’s scream and pompadour and James Brown’s raw sexuality. Gregory is a delight in every scene,
The rest of the cast is terrific. Shepherd brings dimension to Curtis, the stereotypical greedy manager, Warren’s Lorrell shows off her pipes in her second act moment in the spotlight, and Mercado, as Deena, is at her finest when in her moment of transformation from girl to woman.
It’s a must-see for any musical theatre fan.
Dreamgirls plays at the Arsht Center through this Sunday, October 24.

Women's Theatre Project: Bridge and Tunnel (3 reviews)

Women's Theatre Project opened its production of Sara Jones' Bridge and Tunnel on October 14, 2010.
Karen Stephens stars in this dynamic one-woman show with fresh ingredients added to modern urban America's melting pot.  Stephens portrays 14 characters traveling the roads of assimilation in an ever-changing America.  The mix of voices emanates from the reaches of New York's boroughs with origins far beyond the city's limits.  Mohammed, a charismatic Pakistani accountant; Mrs. Ling, the Chinese mother adjusting to her daughter's alternative lifestyle and Lydia, a young Latina with a quick wit and an even faster tongue, are but a few representations in the gallery of characters.
Genie Croft directed Karen Stephens.  But while the show is a cast of one, it would be a mistake to consider this a "one-woman show." 

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Jones, who won an Obie Award for Bridge & Tunnel  in 2004 and a special Tony Award when the show moved to Broadway in 2006, dreamed up 14 distinct characters, people with different accents, ages, genders and body language. Pulling off Bridge & Tunnel requires an actor with versatility and impressive talent. Fortunately, The Women's Theatre Project and director Genie Croft found just such an actor in Karen Stephens, the solo star of TWTP's just-opened production of Bridge & Tunnel.
Much of Bridge & Tunnel  bubbles with insightful humor. But a few of the characters require a deeper, more nuanced portraiture, and what Stephens achieves in those sections is both low-key and dazzling.
Ducking behind a pillar or into TWTP's tiny lobby space, Stephens repeatedly swaps simple clothing items -- a jacket, a scarf, a cap -- and reemerges as a different, utterly persuasive character. But of course, clothes don't make the women and men of Bridge & Tunnel; the melding of an insightful writer and a wonderful actor do.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami Artzine:
An actress with remarkable chops, Stephens creates 14 characters, men and women, out of the stuff of her own talent and the sometimes brilliant writing of Sarah Jones...
Karen Stephens' real strength here is that she's endearing. She draws us in so successfully that we become one with the show, interacting with her characters. We're in that dingy little cellar, we can feel those 14 people. If the love story of the crippled Mexican in the wheel chair doesn't clutch you, you have a heart of stone.
Directed by Genie Croft, this is a smooth production making full use of a cramped playing area.
Mary Damiano reviewed for South Florida Theatre Review:
Bridge and Tunnel is a patriotic piece, as Jones presents a view of American through the eyes and hearts of those who choose to live in this country, sometimes risking everything for the chance at freedom and liberty.
Stephens seamlessly morphs from character to character, beginning with Miss Lady, a homeless usher who gives the obligatory pre-show cellphone speech, to Mohammed Ali, the show’s enthusiastic Pakistan-born host, then to Lorraine Levine, a Jewish grandmother.
Stephens is a delightful, dynamic performer, and she brings each character vibrantly to life. Her dexterity in switching from character to character is a marvel, and she treats the audience to an insightful and exhilarating evening of theatre.
The Women's Theatre Project presents Bridge and Tunnel at Sixth Star Studios through November 7, 2010.

Nobody Dies in Name Change

The hit play from Canada has a new name; via press release:
The award-winning comedy Killing Kevin Spacey, which is making its U.S. debut at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts next weekend, has had a renaming at the request of Kevin Spacey. The play will now be called Channeling Kevin Spacey, a title both Mr. Spacey and the writers behind the play agreed upon during an open dialogue concerning the play going forward.
Tickets for Channeling Kevin Spacey can still be purchased from Broward Center at the pre-established link online, www.browardcenter/killingkevinspacey, or by calling the center directly at 954-462-0222.  Tickets are $35, with performances at 8 p.m. on October 29 and 30.

Channeling Kevin Spacey won the Best of Fringe Awards in Edmonton, Toronto and Winnipeg. Called brilliant, creative and a hilarious romp by critics, the show revolves around a movie fanatic who is living a dull life that mirrors what he thinks of as the "weak characters" played by Spacey on screen.  When the man decides to change his lifestyle to reflect the hotshot roles of Al Pacino, he runs into hilarious and devastating consequences.

A breakout hit in Canada, the creators and Broward Center cast all have South Florida ties.  Producer and director Elan Wolf Farbiarz co-wrote the comedy with Cory Terry, and both men were raised in the area.  The cast comprised of Scott Douglas Wilson, Monica Mercedes Garcia and Arick Fudali are all currently living and performing here.
Trivia that has nothing to do with Kevin Spacey
A number of years ago, there was an all-female improv comedy group called Big Purse and Matching Shoes.  There were three women named Garcia in the troupe: Aymee Garcia, currently touring in Shrek The Musical;  Elena Maria Garcia, the Carbonell Award winning actress and co-founder of Bluedog Acting School, and Monica Mercedes Garcia, who recently returned to South Florida and has been garnering critical praise ever since.  The three women are only related by their participation in the group.

I did mention it was trivia, right?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Maltz Jupiter Theatre: Zero Hour (reviews)

ZERO_HOUR_WebThe limited engagement of Jim Broche's Zero Hour opened at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre on October 14, 2010.
In this special Limited Engagement, Carbonell Award winner Jim Brochu returns to Florida after his critically acclaimed productions in Washington and New York as funny man Zero Mostel.

John Lariviere reviewed for Talkin'Broadway.com:
...he paints a fascinating picture of the colorful, larger-than-life man that was Zero both on and off stage. Brochu's resemblance to Mostel is uncanny, and his portrayal is compelling. Though surely actor Brochu spent hours studying the mannerisms and facial expressions of Mostel, it all looks seemingly effortless. This cleverly written and brilliantly acted one-man show is a theatrical moment to be remembered.
Zero Hour plays the final weekend of its Limited Engagement October 21-24, 2010, at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre.

Slow Burn Theatre: The Rocky Horror Show (2 reviews)

Slow Burn Theatre Company opened its production of  The Rocky Horror Show on October 15, 2010,
Follow squeaky-clean sweethearts Brad and Janet on an adventure they’ll never forget, with the scandalous Frank’n’furter, rippling Rocky and vivacious Magenta. Get ready for a night of fun, frolics and frivolity in this thrilling production of Richard O’Brien’s classic original script! Bursting at the seams with timeless classics, including Sweet Transvestite, Damn It Janet and of course the pelvic thrusting Time warp, Rocky Horror is a non-stop party!! Complete with audience participation.
Patrick Fitzwater directed a cast that included Larry Buzzeo, Noah Levine, Alexa Capiello, Renata Eastlick, Rick Peña, Miguel Quintero, Anne Chamberlain, Clay Cartland, and Matthew Korinko.  Musical Direction by Phil Hinton, Scenery by Ian T. Almeida, lights by Lane Blank, sound by Traci Almeida, and costumes by Rick Peña.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
...Slow Burn Theatre Company is launching its second season at the West Boca Performing Arts Theatre with an out-there, impressively delivered Rocky Horror Show.
Under director-choreographer Patrick Fitzwater and musical director Phil Hinton, Slow Burn delivers a way-hot Rocky Horror, with strong work from designers Ian T. Almeida (sets), Traci Almeida (sound), Lance Blank (lighting) and the multitasking Peña (costumes). Buzzeo rules the roost as the magnetically shameless Frank, but Rocky Horror also features a breakout performance by Eastlick, who rocks out as Magenta and the scene-setting Usherette.
John LaRiviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway.com:
The Slow Burn Theatre sets the bar high in their latest production of Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Show. This well done production... is sure to titillate timid theatergoers and thrill "Rocky" aficionados alike.
There are many things right with this production. The sound is crystal clear throughout. The live four-piece band, led by music director Phil Hinton, keeps the score under control without letting the guitar and percussion run over the singers. The sound levels between the singers and the band are also perfectly balanced. Not a line is missed. Patrick Fitzwater provides very clean direction, and more choreography than one would ever expect from this show. He makes full use of the dancing of three male and three female "Phantoms" in as many numbers as possible, adding a great deal to the show.
Larry Buzzeo is wonderful as Dr. Frank 'N' Furter. Those who have seen the film will note how strongly his performance is influenced by that of Tim Curry. While there are times when they are nearly identical, there are also enough times when we see just Buzzeo. He manages to somehow maintain a small degree of masculinity even in the makeup, bustier and heels. Alexa Cappiello (Janet) has a much better singing voice than most actresses cast in the role, and gets in all the vocal riffs in "Touch-A Touch-A Touch Me"...
Slow Burn managed to find a Rocky (Miguel Quintero) that actually looks every muscled-inch the part. What Quintero lacks in acting finesse is compensated for by the fact that he looks so much the part and has natural stage presence.
Other than Buzzeo as Frank 'N' Furter, the actor with the strongest stage presence in the cast is Renata Eastlick who plays both Magenta and the Usherette.
The Rocky Horror Show plays at Slow Burn Theatre through October 30, 2010.

Mondays are Dark

We're in the final week of the South Florida Theatre Festival.  This week's events include 360 Storytelling at Sixth Star Studios on Wednesday, tours of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on Monday, and Conundrum Stage's reading of Poe Choices: Celebrating the Works of Edgar Allan Poe on Saturday, October 23rd.

And while  you're ruminating on these events, here's your Monday reading list:

Brochu is Back
The Palm Beach Post talks with Jim Brochu, who's back in South Florida to perform his hit show Zero Hour, a one-man biographical play about Zero Mostel.  It played to critical raves at The Stage Door Theatre a couple of years ago, before moving to New York City, where it has been playing ever since.  It's playing a limited engagement at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre through October 24.
"And then on my New York debut in 1970, in a show called Unfair to Goliath, Jelly Talmer in The New York Post  said, ‘If they ever do the Zero Mostel story, Jim Brochu is my choice for the lead.’ So 40 years ago, I was being compared to Mostel."
The article also includes a quick blurb about Slow Burn Theatre's current production of The Rocky Horror Show:
"Really the reason why we’re doing it is we just want to do a dirty rock ‘n’ roll show," concedes Patrick Fitzwater, co-artistic head and the production’s director. "Because right now, you’ve got Glee, Rent, Spring Awakening. So why not let today’s kids know this is where the rock musical’s roots come from."
Hap also interviewed Brochu for The Palm Beach Artspaper, where we learn how the show was booked into the Maltz:
“Two years ago, I did a cruise to Antarctica on the Crystal Symphony, where I did one performance of ‘Zero Hour,’ kind of a tab version of it,” explains Brochu. “The day after I got back, the phone rang, and it was (artistic director) Andrew Kato, asking me to bring the show to the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. And I asked, ‘Well, how did you hear about the show?’ He said, ‘Milton Maltz just came back from his cruise to Antarctica.’
It just goes to show, it's not what you know...

Dream(girls) Come True.
The Miami Herald tells us about the return of Dreamgirls; the show has been re-tooled for the 21st century, and features FIU alumnus Sayesha Mercado as Deena Jones.  It's coming this week to the Arsht Center.
"It took me six months of auditioning and callbacks,'' Mercado, 23, says over lunch at Joe Allen on Miami Beach. ``When I finally got the call that I had the part, I happened to be walking in front of Radio City Music Hall in New York. I was jumping up and down, screaming, and I didn't care. No one could steal my joy!''
Fringe Festival Winner comes to Broward
BroadwayWorld.com tells us a little bit about Killing Kevin Spacey, which took "Best of Fest" in  the Toronto, Winnipeg and Edmonton fringe festivals in 2008.  It plays at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on October 29 and 30.

Still Playing
BroadwayWorld reminds us that Steel Magnolias is still playing at The Stage Door Theatre.

The Lights Are Bright on the Bay
The Cultist tells us about the new Aventura Arts and Cultural Center.

Back on Broadway
Janet Dacal will be reprising the role of Alice in the new Wonderland musical, according to Playbill and the South Florida Theater Review.
Dacal graduated from Miami’s Coral Park High School and earned a communications degree from Florida International University. She appeared in local productions including playing several characters in Actors’ Playhouse’s Five Course Love which won her a Carbonell nomination.  - SFTR
Her dissertation included a film about bringing a children's theatre production from concept to complete staging, and included a certain South Florida theatre blogger.  She's a hard worker and an amazing talent, and we're sure this won't be her last star turn on Broadway.

After Cabaret...
Entre' Act Theatrix is presenting Cabaret at the Caldwell Theatre through October 24.  As the musical deals with Germany's descent into Nazism, the producers thought it would be fitting for survivors of the resultant Holocaust to share their experiences after the matinee performances.  Read all about it on BroadwayWorld.com.

Innovation, Outreach, and Collaboration
Jan Sjostrom of the Palm Beach Daily News examines the ways arts groups are dealing with the recession.  (Hey, Jan - get your ass across the bridge and review Candida, already!)

Meanwhile...
...in Coconut Grove, The Miami Herald reports that the ball might have finally started rolling to install GableStage as the new Coconut Grove Playhouse; the Miracle Theatre Examiner says Joe Adler promises to continue producing the quality plays, whatever the name of the company.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Killing Who What Now?

I keep getting calls.  "So what's this Killing Kevin Spacey all about?"

I could tell you that it won "Best of Fest" at the Edmonton Fringe Festival in 2008.  And that it also won "Best of Fest" at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival in 2008.  And Toronto.

The Star-Phoenix called it "a smart, tight comedy." Eye Weekly wrote "Good chemistry, tight direction and soul-blackening humour make Killing Kevin Spacey a Fringe must-see."

But that's just what happened.  So what's it about?

We've all imagined that we're the star in the movie of our own lives. We're attractive, intelligent, witty, and heroic.  Right?

But what if you're unhappy with the actor cast to play...you?   Charlie, a basically nice guy, suddenly realizes that he's Kevin Spacey, when he always thought that he was Al Pacino.  And sets out to change that...

Killing Kevin Spacey plays at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts October 29 and 30.

So stop calling me.  Call the Broward Center box office.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Scene for October 15, 2010

All the openings last week and this week have kept the critics busy, which means we've been busy trying to keep up with all of them.  Also, lots of other news, we'll have a nice, fat, reading list on Monday.

And don't forget we're in the middle of the South Florida Theatre Festival; click through to their website to see what's coming up next.


opening...

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

Slow Burn Theatre
revives The Rocky Horror Show through October 30.


you still haven't missed...

The Color of Desire, a new play by Pulitzer prize winning playwright Nilo Cruz plays at Actors' Playhouse through November 7.

Jack Goes Boating plays at New Theatre, through October 31.

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

My First Time  plays at Area Stage through November 7.

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.

The Infinite Abyss production of Angel Eaters plays at Empire Stage through October 23, 2010.

Steel Magnolias plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through November 7.

Rising Action Theatre is running Fit To Be Tied through October 24.

The Hispanic Theatre Guild presents Amistad at Teatro 8, through November 7. (Spanish, with English supertitles).


passing through...

The critically acclaimed Zero Hour starts its limited engagement at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre on October 14, and runs through October.  Winner of 2010 Drama Desk, 2010 Helen Hayes Award, and 2009 Carbonell Award.

The National Tour of Young Frankenstein plays at the Broward Center through October 17.  They're pulling out all the stops in honor of  their 20th season.  Expect giveaways and specials that somehow work "20" into their theme.


for kids...

It's a Pigeon Party at Parker Playhouse this Saturday, October 16.

Sol Children's Theatre presents The Hunchback of Notre Dame, through October 24.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Area Stage: My First Time (1 review)

Area Stage opened its production of My First Time on October 1st, 2010.
My First Time was drawn from the website www.myfirsttime.com, a website that invites you to share the story of, well, you know.
Ken Davenport, the producer of AltarBoyz,  developed a stage show that uses material from the site as well as contributions from the audience to create an experience as fresh as....
The show offers free tickets to virgins.  How do they know?  The Miami New Times explains it.

John Rodaz directed a cast that included Shira Abergel, Paula Barros, Jason Edelstein, and Joel Vazquez.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
With content ranging from salacious to sweet, My First Time  is a hybrid of theater, comedy show and the sheer recitation of facts (names of first partners, locations where virginity bit the dust, age at first experience) from both the website posters and the audience, as theatergoers are asked to fill out a virginity-related survey before the show. At 90 minutes, My First Time feels both long and repetitive, though director John Rodaz and his cast sporadically elevate the experience with some wonderfully theatrical moments.
With the exception of Barros, who plays everything with an aren't-I-cute perkiness, the actors have the versatility to shift at warp speed from one first timer to the next.
My First Time is playing Area Stage through October 16, 2010.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Theatre: Jack Goes Boating (3 reviews)

The New Theatre opened its production of Jack Goes Boating on October 8, 2010.
Laced with cooking classes, swimming lessons and a smorgasbord of illegal drugs, Jack Goes Boating is a touching and warmhearted play about learning how to stay afloat in the deep water of day-to-day living where date panic, marital meltdown, betrayal, and the prevailing grace of the human spirit abound.
Stephen A. Chambers directed a cast that included Beatriz Montañez, Christopher Vicchiollo, Clint Hooper, and Aubrey Shavonn.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
....pulling off Glaudini's play, getting it to sustain an audience's interest for a couple of hours, is deceptively challenging.
Director Steven A. Chambers does a deft job of bringing out the sizzle in Clyde and Lucy's interactions, the awkward tentativeness in Jack and Connie's conversations, and the supportive friendship of the two guys as Clyde teaches a terrified Jack to swim at the neighborhood pool. Chambers and the cast also riotously pull off a disastrous party scene.
Vicchiollo and Montañez have the easier acting jobs, as their characters revel in big, intense emotions. Damaged Connie and just-plain-strange Jack are tougher to make touching or compelling. Hooper, sporting sad little white-guy wannabe dreadlocks, plays Jack as so emotionally muted that he seems more comatose than stoned. He and Shavonn do make it to a sweet little happy ending. But oh is that a long wait for a short bit of bliss.
There's something very curious about these two reviews;

Mary Damiano
reviewed for The South Florida Theater Review:
The cast does a terrific job with the material and with illuminating the working class characters that populate Jack Goes BoatingHooper’s Jack is tall and rail thin, bearing no physical commonality to Hoffman, the play’s original off-Broadway Jack, but he embodies the shyness and tentativeness of the character.
Montanez’s portrayal of Lucy is spot on...  Shavonn brings Connie’s many insecurities to life.
Vicchiollo steals the show as Clyde.  Vicchiollo transforms himself into the stoned, jealous limo driver with a Zen-like approach to swimming.  His performance is polished... some the production’s best scenes.
The design elements in New Theatre’s production are a bore and don’t do the actors justice. Jesus Casimiro’s scenic design is uninspired and lacks proportion. Thomas Aratanha Fonseca’s lighting is particularly harsh and unflattering, so much so that at times, the characters look jaundiced.
Jack Goes Boating offers a glimpse into the lives of everyday people not often seen on stage.  They don’t lead fabulous lives, have fabulous jobs or live in fabulous apartments.  But when it comes to love and life, sometimes, they have something fabulous to say.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami Artzine.com:
If sitting in a sight-line-challenged-theatre watching four stoner-losers bring drivel to an art form is your life's desire then you're going to enjoy the hell out of New Theatre's Jack Goes Boating. If, however, you're like me, you're going to sit there not giving a rat's ass about the unlikeable characters on stage.
Not that the acting and direction isn't okay in this production. It is. But it just isn't okay enough and the actors end up as irritating rather than amusing or entrancing.
Not an easy show to stage, Jack Goes Boating has a swimming pool, an office, a living room, two bedrooms and space for a monologue jammed onto New Theatre's small stage. Jesus Casimiro has done well here and lighting designer Thomas Aratanha Fonseca keeps right up, as does sound designer Ozzie Quintana.
Did you catch that? Mary loved the acting, hated the design elements, while Roger blithely glosses over the acting and praises the same design elements that Mary panned.  An odd bit of yin-yang, if you ask me.

Jack goes Boating
plays at New Theatre until October 24, 2010.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mondays are Dark

We're into week two of the South Florida Theatre Festival; a number of shows opened last week, with more to come.  This week, there are several activities at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts; on Monday, you can tour the center, and on Tuesday you can attend a workshop taught by members of the cast of Young Frankenstein, and then stay to watch a reading of a new play, only 18, the true story of neophyte playwright Bonnie Tocwish's struggle with ovarian cancer her freshman year of college.  A certain theatre blogger will participate in the reading.

Speaking of reading, here's your Monday reading list:

Don't Cry for Us, Theatre Patrons
Not that he's complaining, but The South Florida Theater Review's Bill Hirschman points out how many plays are opening in the first two weeks of the South Florida Theatre Festival.

Yuck.
Both the Miami Theatre Examiner and BroadwayWorld.com seem to have signed on for perpetrating the lamest diminutive nickname for a theatre in recent history.  Sorry, guys, I know you're trying to create a brand for yourselves, but this one - words can't express how poor it is.  If you don't like "New Theatre", change it entirely; simply putting "the" in front of one half or the other simply doesn't work.  Seriously.  "New Coke" was a better idea.

But that shouldn't stop you from checking out New Theatre's production of Jack Goes Boating.  (On the bright side, at least we're not adding a REP or a PLAYHOUSE to the list.)

So who is GFour, Anyway?
I know that's the question I've gotten from people about the current production of Motherhood The Musical, now playing at the Miniaci Performing Arts Center.  Christine Dolen talks with the four "G's" in The Miami Herald.  We'll talk about the Miniaci PAC some other time.  Maybe.  (It's not much of a story, really.)

Candida
I confess, everytime I read the title of this George Bernard Shaw classic, I hear Tony Orlando sing "...we can make it together/The further from here girl, the better..."  I'm hopelessly contaminated by popular media, obviously.  Fortunately, Jan Sjostrom doesn't make that connection in her sit-down with Palm Beach DramaWorks in Saturday's Shiny Sheet.

Raising Cane
Andrew Rosendorf illustrates how a new play is constantly evolving over on 1st Draft.

Raising Funds
Elsewhere at Florida Stage, the Shiny Sheet reports that the company just secured a loan from the West Palm Beach CRA to cover their moving costs.
“We have been courting Florida Stage for years to come into the downtown,” Commissioner Bill Moss said. “If we are to live up to the hype of being the cultural center of the county, we need production companies like Florida Stage and Palm Beach Dramaworks and all the cultural organizations we can lure into the city.”
When I first moved to Florida, there were two companies in downtown West Palm; the defunct Florida Repertory Theatre, and the resurrected Actors' Repertory Company (now using its birth name, Actors' Workshop and Repertory Company).  Was it confusing having two companies a few blocks apart both referred to as "the Rep?"  You bet.  But it was great hanging out at the old Roxy's after shows.  Where will the new "theater bar" be?

South Goes Southwest
BroadwayWorld.com reports that Ken Kay will be appearing Noises Off over at The Florida Rep in Fort Myers.  (No relation to the WPB company referenced above.)  Meanwhile, his wife, the lovely Kim Cozort, is appearing in Candida, now playing at Palm Beach DramaWorks, which is scheduled to move into the space once inhabited by the old Florida Rep (no relation to the Fort Myers company just referenced).

Making Up for Lost Time
For years, Christine Dolen chastised Miami and its theatre companies for ignoring one of its brightest playwrights.  GableStage is producing The Brothers Size next years, and now The South Florida Theater Review reports that The New World School of the Arts will be bringing their alumnus back as the centerpiece of  fundraiser.

Dream come True
BroadwayWorld.com reports that when the national tour stops in at the Arsht Center, one of the Dreamgirls will be no stranger to South Florida.  Syesha Mercado, who plays Deena, was recently a student at Florida International University.  And yes, she's THAT Syesha Mercado

Poe for Yo'.
OK, that heading really sucks, but the event is already called Poe ChoicesConundrum Stages will be participating in a celebration of the works of Edgar Allen Poe.

Hap's Picks
Hap Erstein lists his "must see" plays for the 2010-2011 theatre season in The Palm Beach Post. (The Post hasn't shut down yet - hard to believe, innit it?).  One of them is Dreamgirls; and it occurs to me that the last time it played South Florida might have been the 1989 production at the Burt Reynolds Jupiter Theatre, which featured a boatload of Broadway talent.

Maltz loads for Bear
The Maltz Jupiter Theatre has just signed Tony Award winner Frank Galati to direct their upcoming production of Twelve Angry Men, according to TheatreMania.

Meanwhile...
..in Palm Beach, The Shiny Sheet reports that the Royal Poinciana Playhouse is still closed.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Actors' Playhouse: The Color of Desire (5 reviews)

Actors' Playhouse opened the world premiere of Nilo Cruz's The Color of Desire on October 8, 2010.
Nilo Cruz, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright for Anna in the Tropics, creates a world full of lyricism in The Color of Desire, a new play set in Havana, 1960. As the revolution heats up, a dashing American businessman hires a young Cuban actress for a role unlike any she has ever played: the woman he loved and lost. A vibrant exploration of the lost love affair between America and Cuba, The Color of Desire tells a story of intrigue, seduction and the pursuit of freedom with both great humor and profound emotional resonance.
David Arisco directed a cast that included Jim Ballard, Hania Guillen, Isable Moreno, Tersa Maria Rojas, Barbara Sloan, Sandor Juan, and Nick Duckart.

Mary Damiano reviewed for South Florida Gay News:
Belen falls in love with Preston (strappingly sexy Jim Ballard) a wealthy American whose business is threatened by Cuba’s new regime. Preston courts Belen, not because he is in love with her, but because he wants her to help him recapture a tempestuous love affair he once had with a woman to whom Belen bears a striking resemblance.
The Color of Desire lags when attention is drawn from Belen’s aunts (whose bickering banter lends a humorous touch) and the story of Belen and Preston, to ex-pat couple Caroline (Barbara Sloan) and Oscar (Michael Serratore).  As luminous as Sloan is and as funny as Serratore is, they detract from the real story.  These characters deserve their own play, but they don’t work as second fiddles here.
Guillen shines as Belen.  In the course of two hours, she transforms from an ebullient innocent to a wanton, bitter woman.  That transformation is illustrated by Ellis Tillman’s sumptuous costume design. 

But the reason to see The Color of Desire is the play itself.  Few playwrights are able to integrate poetry into dialogue, but Cruz is a master.  Don’t miss this world premiere production.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami Artzine:
...this is really where The Color of Desire loses its punch. Too much is made of the history lessons and too little of Belén's and Preston's relationship .
It is in these scenes where Cruz's famed lyricism is most on display, and where the stylized movements and dialogue slow down to almost a crawl. Yet still we need more. More of the former love, the fantasy figure, and more of Belén who starts out as an innocent and changes so quickly. And more, too, from Preston, who prefers fantasy to reality. And less of the well-known politics from fifty years ago.
This show is typical of Actors' Playhouse dramas: wonderful production values and staging and yet sometimes strangely wooden and desultory performances from the very professional actors.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for South Florida Theatre Review:
Cruz creates a premise that is intellectually dazzling and emotionally thrilling. But the actual execution, on paper and on the stage, ebbed and flowed unevenly at the world premiere Friday at Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables.
...the play meanders aimlessly until Preston reveals his proposal. And even then it’s not especially compelling until the couple make their first descent into the fantasy. That’s when Cruz’s genius meshes with David Arisco’s direction and the leads’ acting: The audience is as off-balance as the characters. We do not know if we are watching a recreation in the real world or a fantasy playing in his mind (or her mind) or a time traveler’s spying of the actual events in the past. It is an electrifying hall of mirrors scene worth the entire evening.

What simply does not work – and desperately needs to – is the growing dread of the impending and encroaching disaster.
Ballard, a fine actor in many shows, is only convincing here when lost in the fantasy and when he finally realizes his cherished life has been appropriated by the revolution. The rest of the time, there is little charisma.
Guillen, a stage actress better known for her television credits, is breathtakingly beautiful, but she radiates little heat as the tamped-down Belen. Again, it is only when she impersonates the sultry Emilia that she fully inhabits a character and in her final scenes when she rails against her fate.
But Sloan pulls off an equally difficult assignment: making us feel a twinge of sympathy for the shallow Ugly American as her world dissolves when the state takes her home.
Despite its flaws, The Color of Desire offers inspired theatrical moments.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Now getting its world premiere at Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables, Cruz's drama reflects, through the prism of its vividly rendered characters, a rapidly changing Havana circa 1960. Though it has a setting and era in common with Carlos Lacamara's Havana Bourgeois (which was also done at Actors'), this script is pure Cruz: artfully crafted, affectionately funny, sizzlingly passionate.
Under David Arisco's direction, the cast... beautifully serves the play.
Ballard, who looks Mad Men-handsome in suits, a dinner jacket and various states of undress, pulls off the feat of making a guy who is (let's get real) a married user into a mysteriously intriguing figure. The ethereal Guillen takes Belén on a journey from innocence to grand passion to ruined hunger, looking magnetically beautiful in even the simplest of the many gorgeous dresses costume designer Ellis Tillman has dreamed up for her.
Set designer Sean McClelland, lighting designer Patrick Tennent and sound designer Alexander Herrin conjure the different facets of Belén's world -- the costume shop, a simple nightclub with a view of both mountains and water, Preston's made-for-loving pad.

But ultimately, it is through the alchemy of an imaginative playwright's words that the audience travels back to a forever-altered place, a world in which dreams morphed into nightmares.

Brandon K. Thorp reviewed for the Miami New Times, and boy, did he seem to have a bad night out:

He rips into the director:
Arisco's love of the big and obvious makes him well suited to many musicals. His Urinetown was sublime (that show's considerable subtleties are encoded within the music itself), and his Les Miserables, though hardly my favorite production, was at least directed with a subtlety commensurate with the writing.  Nilo Cruz's The Color of Desire  is very much not a musical, yet Arisco cannot help but direct its actors in such a way that they seem, at every moment, on the verge of forming a kick line.
He slams the actors:
The actors are generally overearnest, and the ones who aren't overearnest are playing for the most obvious laughs. They know how to ape basic emotions with their faces, but they have no ability to incorporate these fleeting impressions into lifelike fictional beings.
He picks apart the Cuban accent of a Cuban actress:
Isabel Moreno speaks with a Cuban accent only on certain occasions, while on others her speech dissolves into a distinctively Northeastern whine... I cannot account for this, because Moreno lived in Cuba for decades.
He disses the playwright:
Cruz's play is probably about things such as identity and false consciousness, and the way totalitarianism can be practiced in miniature in the bedroom. But what it communicates most of all is the senselessness of producing a play's first draft. The script is full of howlers, each of which is made doubly offensive by the fact that its author once won a Pulitzer.
But by the second act, he liked the costumes:
...appealing details begin making their impressions — most notably Ellis Tilman's costumes, which, especially on the ladies, exemplify both the beauty and the ridiculousness of the decadence Cuba's revolution was meant to abolish.
And manages to bitch-slap the playwright while complimenting the smallest roles in the play:
...one can enjoy Nick Duckart, one of SoFla's finest actors, confined here to three small, almost nonverbal roles. Absent Cruz's words, he is free to do as he will ....
Compare these reviews to those for Rising Action's Fit To Be Tied; does it seem odd that Brandon is taking a position so wildly contrary to more mainstream reviews?  I mean, disagreements are to be expected, but this approaches diametric opposition.

The Color of Desire plays at Actors' Playhouse through November 7, 2010.