Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Scene for January 28, 2011

I thought it was busy LAST week.  But in addition to all the plays going on (and just opening), Florida Stage is getting ready to open the 1st Stage New Works Festival next week, and The Improvised Shakespeare Company is at the Broward Center for one day only on February 2.


Slow Burn Theatre opens  Kiss of the Spider Woman, through February 6.

Leslie Ayvazian's High Dive, featuring Barbara Sloan, opens Friday, and plays through February 15 at New Theatre.

you still haven't missed...

Actors' Playhouse runs  The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee through February 13. 

Sharon Gless stars as A Round-Heeled Woman at GableStage, through January 30  extended through February 6.  It's been playing to packed houses.

Clybourne Park plays at the Caldwell Theatre through February 6, 2011.  It's a beautifully done socially relevant piece.

MAME plays at the Stage Door Theatre through February 6, 2011.

It's Sex & Violence at Empire Stage through February 13, 2011.

The Palm Beach Dramaworks production of Freud's Last Session plays through February 6 has been extended through February 13, 2011.  This one has been selling out, so don't wait to order tickets.

Rising Action Theatre presents The Killing of Sister George, through February 13.

Frannie Sheridan's one woman show, Confessions of a Jewish Shiksa...Dancing on Hitlers' Grave plays at Area Stage through February 16.

Laffing Matterz  serves up the laughs at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, through May 14, 2010

passing through...

The new 25th Anniversary production of Les Misérables runs at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts, through January 30.  Tickets are selling fast, so call now!

Lansky, part of the Double Chai Series at The Aventura Arts & Cultural Center, plays through January 30.

Old School Square presents All Shook Up January 28-30, and follows it up on Monday and Tuesday with Sutton Foster doing her cabaret act.

Capitol Steps is playing at the Kravis Center through February 13.

last chance to see...

The Maltz Jupiter Theatre's critically acclaimed production of The Sound of Music closes this Sunday, January 30.  Everyone I know who's seen it is raving about it.

for kids...

Sol Children's Theatre Troupe presents The Magician's Nephew through January 30.

The Love of Three Oranges returns to The Playground Theater, through February 6

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day plays at Actors' Playhouse through March 12.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Are They Implying Something?

If you scroll down the Broward/Palm Beach New Times Website today, you'll see the link to their review of Clybourne Park, playing at the Caldwell Theatre, under a photo from the production.

Here's a captured image:

Are they implying that the show is over our heads?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mondays are Dark

Just an FYI that there will be no reading list next week - I will be out of town, and do not expect to have time to assemble one.  But let's see what we can do for this week:

Playwright Published
South Florida Theater Review reports that South Florida playwright Susan Westfall's short play Look At Me will be published in the 2011 edition of the Ten-Minute Plays anthology.

Hey, Joe Has A Stage...
The Drama Queen reports that GableStage will be hosting a fundraiser for Alliance Theatre Lab.  Mark Della Ventura will be reading his one-person play Small Membership tonight at 7:30pm.  And of course, the best look behind the scenes comes from The Alliance Theatre Lab Blog.

It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad (Cat) Comedy Fest
Mad Cat Theatre will be presenting a new play by artistic director Paul Tei at this year's South Beach Comedy Festival.  The Drama Queen and are talking about Tei's The Preservation Society.

Theatre Gets In The Blood
South Florida Theater News reports that Thespian Troupe 6951 is raising funds to take their production of DRACULA to the Florida State Thespian Festival in Tampa.

Bard in the Yard
When the City of Miami couldn't support Shakespeare Miami's outdoor performances at Peacock Park, they were invited to bring their production of Romeo and Juliet to Shell Lumber. and the Coconut Grove Grapevine stops in to check it out.

Finding The Show
The Producer's Perspective examines the problems non-profits have in marketing their shows.

Teen Scene
Groundlings' teen blogger saw The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (but actually the first preview, not opening night, which was Friday).
Though my family and I were cracking up almost the whole time (especially at the homeschool jokes),  I'm not sure all of the humor went over so well- during "Chip's Lament" the whole audience was sort of awkwardly silent and afterwards an elderly couple walked out.  That just made us laugh harder, which got quite a few weird looks.
Meanwhile.. Palm Beach, the Royal Poinciana Playhouse is still closed, and in the Shiny Sheet, Patrick Flynn blames Palm Beachers.  Wait, isn't Flynn a Palm Beacher?

The Palm Beach Daily News suggest that maybe if we're more civil, something could be accomplished.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Palm Beach DramaWorks: Freud's Last Session (4 reviews)

Palm Beach DramaWorks opened their production of Freud's Last Session on December 17, 2010.
On the day England enters World War II, the legendary Dr. Sigmund Freud invites C.S. Lewis to his London home, where they clash on the existence of God, love, sex and the meaning of life.
William Hayes directed a cast that featured Dennis Creaghan and Chris Oden.

Jan Sjostrom finally dragged her butt over the bridge to review for The Palm Beach Daily News:
St. Germain imagines a meeting between the two thinkers during which they debate their conflicting points of view. That could be dry stuff, and the one-act play is chatty. But it’s also entertaining, thanks to a dynamic performance by Dennis Creaghan as Freud and St. Germain’s caustic, witty writing for the character.
Creaghan’s feisty performance as the show’s superstar hitter is balanced by reliable fielding by Christopher Oden as Lewis.
St. Germain intensifies the encounter by setting it in Freud’s study in London — cozily evoked by scenic designer Michael Amico — on the day Britain declared war on Nazi Germany. Air raid sirens and radio coverage interrupt the men’s verbal sparring.
The war threat and Freud’s disease brings the antagonists closer together, a development director William Hayes exploits to good effect. Neither character leaves the encounter unmoved, and it’s likely few audience members will either.
Brandon K Thorp reviewed for the Palm Beach/Broward New Times.  Sadly, in what is probably his last review in South Florida, we never hear what he thinks of the production as a whole, or even the performances of the actors.  He mentions Hayes' "impressive" direction, but gives no examples of it.  How sad that one of the regions fiercest voices goes out with a whimper.  Me, I 'd like to believe that an incompetent editor gutted it, so I will.

So here is the one paragraph that almost reads like a proper review:
Creaghan, under the impressive direction of William Hayes, spends most of the play subverting the script's imagined parity between the two men. So does Oden, who makes Lewis seem flaky, even vaguely cowardly: He has the neophyte's puppyish enthusiasm for evangelism, but his voice quivers, and half the time he looks scared out of his wits. He has the language of his convictions but no commensurate courage. We know he is a veteran of the First World War; Oden's performance suggests he'd feel more comfortable in a foxhole than arguing with Sigmund Freud.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for South Florida Theater Review:
If you were the kind of college student who sat up till the wee hours with your roommate arguing philosophical questions, you’ll revel in Palm Beach Dramaworks’ intellectual fencing match, Freud’s Last Session.

But if you seek a story arc, epiphanies or even narrative closure, you’ve come to the wrong place.
This is a battle of equals. Dennis Creaghan’s Freud is an irascible force whose physical problems have not dimmed the razor edge of his crystalline intellect or his wicked nose-tweaking humor.
Christopher Oden’s Lewis is no didactic ideologue but a gentle searcher for the elusive specifics of a general truth he has believes in completely.
The pair cross-examine each other like intellectual duelists. They try to find flaws in each other’s arguments, not to demean or demolish the other’s ego, but in a shared search for truth.
...the inescapable failing of the script is that other than one slight twist at the end, neither man walks away changed; no one even gets an upper hand during the struggle. There is no character development. This is simply an entertaining airing of intriguing issues. So like a shark, it has to keep moving.
A plus in the Dramaworks’ production is that no set designer in South Florida creates period environments with the skill and attention to detail like Mike Amico. Freud’s study with its well-worn books, scores of collected antiquities and slightly mismatched furniture transported from Berlin exudes a sense of age encrusted with dust.
Hap Erstein reviewed for The Palm Beach Post:
Theater at its most basic is about language and ideas. That is well illustrated by Mark St. Germain’s two-character debate play, Freud’s Last Session...
Artistic director William Hayes is well-suited to helm the play in its Southeastern premiere here, for he knows to focus on the words, while taking care that this matchup does not seem static. That effort is helped considerably by a pair of nimble verbal jousters – Dennis Creaghan (Freud) and Chris Oden (Lewis).
Creaghan demonstrates why he is one of South Florida’s most versatile performers, disappearing behind Freud’s snowy beard and Viennese accent, while offering a compelling portrait of one of the most revolutionary thinkers of the 20th century.

Oden, who played Heisenberg in last season’s Copenhagen, emphasizes the reverence that Lewis has for Freud, attacking his nihilistic view of the world with respect and a bit of sadness. Together, they are fascinating, parrying and thrusting verbally, picking apart each other’s arguments with surgical precision.
Michael Amico contributes another visually intriguing, detailed set in which the analyst’s couch is a central focus.
Freud's Last Session plays at Palm Beach DramaWorks through February 6, 2010.

Actors' Playhouse: 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (reviews)' Playhouse opened its production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee on January 21, 2011, following previews on January 19 and 20.
...six young people in the throes of puberty, overseen by grown-ups who barely managed to escape childhood themselves, learn that winning isn’t everything and that losing doesn’t necessarily make you a loser. This hilarious tale of overachievers' angst chronicles the experience of six adolescent outsiders vying for the spelling championship of a lifetime. Spelling Bee is the unlikeliest of hit musicals about the unlikeliest of heroes; a quirky yet charming cast of outsiders for whom a spelling bee is the one place where they can stand out and fit in at the same time. Music and lyrics by William Finn, book by Rachel Sheinkin, conceived by Rebecca Feldman.
David Arisco directed a cast that included Henry Gainza, Stacy Schwartz, Robert Johnston, Brian Golub, Julie Kleiner, Rebecca Larkin, Gwen Hollander, Ben Bagby, and Gary Marachek.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for South Florida Theater Review:
Director David Arisco, musical director Eric Alsford and choreographer Barbara Flaten deliver a show that sends the audience out with a broad knowing smile.
Arisco leads a generally solid classroom of actors, both the contestants whose body language scream how uncomfortable they are in their own skin, and the equally maladjusted adults supervising the bee.
Marachek has reined himself back in from Fagin last month to give his patented arch top-spin while intoning the meaning of the words and using them in a sentence. Local stalwart Schwartz reminds us what a gorgeous voice she has and subtly communicates that Perretti is repressing the truth that she has failed to accomplish all she dreamed of when she was a contestant. Hollander is winsome and winning. Gainza, with the scene-stealing role, is appropriately over the top although we don’t see the underlying pain that makes Barfee’s defense-mechanism arrogance excusable.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald;
How do you spell "adorable?'' Technically speaking, of course, the answer is a-d-o-r-a-b-l-e. But if you check out the newest production at Actors' Playhouse, you'd swear "adorable'' equals The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
The cast is, to a person, terrific. And the Actors' Playhouse team -- director David Arisco, choreographer Barbara Flaten, musical director Eric Alsford, set designer Gene Seyffer, costume designer Ellis Tillman, lighting designer Patrick Tennent and sound designer Alexander Herrin -- achieves a just-right tone and look for a musical that is simultaneously goofy and sweet. And Spelling Bee is just edgy enough (it would be PG-13, if musicals got ratings) that this tenderhearted romp through a kids' world is a hoot for grown-ups.
The Actors' Playhouse production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee plays at the Miracle Theater through February 13, 2011.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Scene for January 21, 2011

It's a busy week on the scene, lots of good stuff playing this week. And for the first time, we have not one but TWO extended runs on The Scene; both Palm Beach DramaWorks and GableStage extended due to high ticket demand.  If you haven't seen Freud's Last Session or A Round-Heeled Woman, you've been given a few more chances to get tickets, but don't wait for it.


Actors' Playhouse opens  The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, through February 13.

you still haven't missed...

The Maltz Jupiter Theatre is alive with The Sound of Music through January 30.

Sharon Gless stars as A Round-Heeled Woman at GableStage, through January 30  extended through February 6..

Clybourne Park plays at the Caldwell Theatre through February 6, 2011.

MAME plays at the Stage Door Theatre through February 6, 2011.

It's Sex & Violence at Empire Stage through February 13, 2011.

The Palm Beach Dramaworks production of Freud's Last Session plays through February 6 has been extended through February 13, 2011.

Rising Action Theatre presents The Killing of Sister George, through February 13.

Frannie Sheridan's one woman show, Confessions of a Jewish Shiksa...Dancing on Hitlers' Grave plays at Area Stage through February 16.

Laffing Matterz  serves up the laughs at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, through May 14, 2010

passing through...

The new 25th Anniversary production of Les Misérables runs at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts, through January 30.

Lansky, part of the Double Chai Series at The Aventura Arts & Cultural Center, plays through January 30.

last chance to see...

The State Theatre Project production of BILLBOARD ends its run on Sunday, January 23.

for kids...

Sol Children's Theatre Troupe presents The Magician's Nephew through January 30.

The Love of Three Oranges returns to The Playground Theater, through February 6

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day plays at Actors' Playhouse through March 12.

Empire Stage: Sex and Violence (reviews)

Empire Stage opened its world premiere production of Ronnie Larsen's Sex and Violence on January 13, 2011.
Larson’s play essentially follows the twists and turns in the life of a straight, best-selling author after he becomes obsessed with the true story of a troubled Harlem transsexual  who murders her lover and stores his body in her closet.The writer, Jack, must fend off conniving homophobic publishers while researching the story with trannie Sezette, a relationship that soon becomes romantic.
The cast  included Mario Betto, Keith Dougherty, Thomas Falborn, David R. Gordon, Kitt Marsh, and Angel Perez.

J.W. Arnold reviewed for South Florida Gay News:
A night at Empire Stage is like a night at some Off-Off-Off-Broadway theater.The space is an intimate black box in a former warehouse, everything is held together with bubble gum and duct tape, and the company resourcefully stretches every tight budget dollar. In fact, on opening night, an electrical connection blew delaying the curtain (if they had one), but cast and crew alike held their composures and the show went on, despite the glitch.
Gordon, Perez and especially Marsh all deliver the solid performances local audiences have come to expect and the weakest link in the boring Sezette (Betto), who delivers every line in a droll monotone that is completely out of character for a larger-than-life female impersonator.
The biggest challenge for Empire Stage is Larson’s script.The first act is choppy and bounces between present day and 1979. Scene changes are way too long (perhaps in deference to the sound designer), at times halting the story, and the flashbacks are not clearly delineated.While the first act sets up a plausible, engaging premise, Larson loses focus and wanders all over the place in the second...
Despite the structural downfalls,Sex and Violence at Empire Stage will provide a fun evening out if you remember Fort Lauderdale is Off-Off-Off-OFF-Broadway.
Sex and Violence plays at Empire Stage through February 13, 2011.  The producers have extended a special offer to Theatre Scene readers; $20 tickets, which is $10 off, to anyone who mentions when reserving or purchasing tickets. This is for cash tickets only.  Online and credit card tickets are always $30.  This is the first time anyone has made this offer to Theatre Scene readers, and I'm curious to hear how it turns out.

Rising Action Theatre: The Killing of Sister George (reviews)

Rising Action Theatre opened its production of The Killing of Sister George on January 14, 2011.
A scathing examination of the public and private lives of so-called "cultural icons". "Sister George" is a beloved character on a popular BBC soap opera, a cheerful nurse who bicycles about the countryside singing hymns and doing good. In private life, June Buckridge the actress, is a swaggering, foul-mouthed, alcoholic lesbian in a long-term relationship with waifish Alice "Childie" McNaught. Due to low ratings, cut-backs and June's own bad behavior, the BBC decides to "kill Sister George" on the series. A visit from Miss Mercy Croft, a no-nonsense network executive bearing the bad news sends George into meltdown, which results in "Childie's" retreat to the arms of Mercy. A great success in London and New York.

Jane Kelly directed a cast that included Janet Weakly, Andi Maria Morrow, Merry Jo Cortada and Celia Myers.

Mary Damiano reviewed for South Florida Theater Review:
The lesbian relationship in The Killing of Sister George may have had some shock value when it was written nearly 50 years ago, but society has thankfully progressed enough that any controversy has now devolved into quaintness. And once the perceived luridness has fallen away, what’s left is a rather conventional and pointless story of a pathetic woman who can’t adjust to losing her job.
As June/George, Weakly, looking like a haggard Maggie Smith, disappears into the character, inhabiting June’s skin completely. Cortada, who plays officious Mercy, is most entertaining when she’s tossing sidelong leers in Alice’s direction. Morrow’s performance is genuine and she adds some depth to Alice. As a gypsy woman who lives downstairs, Clelia Myers is entertaining but out of place, looking more like she wandered in from a production of Blithe Spirit.
Director Jane Kelly fails to infuse the production with any energy or pacing, allowing it to limp sluggishly along to its conclusion. Perhaps if the intermissions had been condensed into two blackouts, or if the histrionics had been converted to camp, or if the soap opera story had been played with more of a knowing wink to the audience, then Kelly could have salvaged the play into something resembling entertainment. But none of that happened, so what is left is a boring production of a dated, mediocre play.
Rod Stafford Hagwood wrote for the Sun-Sentinel:'s a patchwork of performances from the four-woman cast stretching over a length of two and a half hours in three acts and two intermissions. As strong as an actor that Weakly is, she never even pauses to enjoy her triumphs over Alice, never savors the dynamics. Clelia Myers as a fortune-telling Gypsy neighbor Madame Xenia adds some much-needed laughs, but her performance — fine as it is — doesn't seem to be totally melded into this play. The same can be said of the set and the costumes.
As directed by Jane Kelly, The Killing of Sister George is a hypnotic character study of power struggles and lesbian stereotypes with a sort of tacked-on Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf reveal … that unfortunately seems anti-climactic after such marathon pacing.
The Rising Action Theatre production of The Killing of Sister George plays at the Sunshine Cathederal through February 13, 2011.

Broward Center: Les Misérables (5 reviews)

The national tour of Les Misérables opened at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts on January 18, 2011.
Cameron Mackintosh presents a brand new 25th anniversary production of Boublil & Schönberg's legendary musical, LES MISÉRABLES, with glorious new staging and spectacular reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo.
Laurence Connor and James Powell directed a cast that included Lawrence Clayton, Andrew Varela, Justin Scott Brown, Jenny Latimer, Betsy Morgan, Michael Kostroff, Shawna Hamic, Jeremy Hays, and Chasten Harmon. Scenic Design by Matt Kinley.

Hap Erstein reviewed for Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
Instead of cutting corners,‭ ‬the anniversary production of Les Miz that is playing its only South Florida engagement at‭ ‬Fort Lauderdale’s Broward Center has taken the high road of a complete new staging and design.‭ ‬It is a bold move that is not always effective,‭ ‬but is arguably better than recent moth-eaten tours to which we have been subjected.

Gone is the brilliant turntable direction... and gone are the gargantuan mobile barricades...‭ ‬Both are missed,‭ ‬and probably this current production is best enjoyed by those who have never experienced‭ ‬Les Miserablés before.‭ ‬Still...‭ ‬the new ideas contributed by co-directors Laurence Connor and James Powell and set designer Matt Kinley are enough to hold our interest.
The full-voiced cast is stronger than most touring companies,‭ ‬led by Lawrence Clayton,‭ ‬the first African-American to take on the role.‭ ‬The part is grueling in its demands and Clayton is more than up to the task,‭ ‬as his upper-octave,‭ ‬celestial‭ ‬Bring Him Home certainly attests.‭ ‬Also a standout is Andrew Varela as his nemesis Javert,‭ ‬as well as Betsy Morgan‭ (‬Fantine‭)‬,‭ ‬who delivers her gymnastic aria early on and is not seen again for‭ ‬more than two hours.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for South Florida Theater Review:
Is it worth buying a ticket to the 349th road show of the allegedly retooled production of Les Misérables that opened Tuesday at the Broward Center where there’s likely an entire wall with graffiti from companies that have trundled to the barricades on it stage?

The answer is a surprising and resounding yes.
...this is a muscular and passionate version that respects the source material (meaning the musical, not Victor Hugo’s masterpiece) but has been indeed, restaged, redirected and redesigned in ways that are clearly visible.
...what’s remarkable is how director Laurence Conor and James Powell, plus musical director Robert Billig and musical stager Michael Ashcroft have dove back into the meat of the story and gotten the cast to sing the well-worn score as if it was a fresh unknown piece that just came in the mail. Every last performer invests their work with a passion that is often moving without being treacly...
The cast – down to the fourth revolutionary from the left — contains some of the best performances of the material that most people have seen other than Colm Wilkinson in the lead. Andrew Varela’s Javert avoids the overwrought classic tics to depict a human being who just happens to have a trumpet for a voice. Betsy Morgan’s Fantine, Chasten Harmon’s Eponine, Shawna M. Hamic and Michael Kostroff as the venal Thernadiers, even the urchins rotating in Tuesday night all were unassailably solid.
Then there’s Lawrence Clayton as the man who steals a loaf of bread and never hears the end of it. While he does not have that alchemical charisma of Wilkinson, the tall and broad-shouldered Clayton has that sonorous voice and the acting gravitas to provide the evening with a compelling center.
And here’s a headline: You can actually hear the people sing! Road shows are getting a ragged reputation for second-class and even third-class sound as their crews show up a few hours before curtain and try to adjust their equipment. Not here. This is arguably the most clear, balanced sound of any tour in years.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Some musicals age better than others, and Les Misérables is among the timeless... the touring production now at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts has much to offer in its grand treatment of Victor Hugo’s classic novel about good and evil, love and loss in 19th century France.
The stunning set and lighting design, by Matt Kinley (who was inspired by Hugo’s paintings) and Paule Constable , is fluid and alive. Two scenes — the heroic Jean Valjean’s escape with the wounded Marius through the sewers and an emotionally ruined Javert’s leap into the Seine — are breathtaking.
As Valjean, Lawrence Clayton delivers a strong, dignified acting performance, but his pop- and gospel-flavored singing — except for the glorious, delicately nuanced Bring Him Home — blunts what should be a powerhouse role. This tips the balance in favor of Andrew Varela’s vocally dominant, commanding work as Javert, first on the stunning Stars and ultimately on the tragic Soliloquy. You’re not supposed to root for the villain in Les Miz, but now you do.
As the desperate Fantine, who turns to prostitution to support her little daughter Cosette (a sweet-voiced Katherine Forrester), Betsy Morgan decently acts the musical’s most tragic story, but her rough-edged vocals drain some of the dramatic potential..
Chasten Harmon is passionate and compelling as Éponine, the valiant young woman who loves the student Marius (Justin Scott Brown) but loses him to the grown-up Cosette (Jenny Latimer). Harmon weds an earthy pop style to musical theater power, delivering terrific versions of A Heart Full of Love (her heart-breaking trio with the attractive-yet-bland Marius and Cosette) and On My Own.
Directors Laurence Connor and James Powell have effectively restaged Les Miz in its new environment, even giving nods to the original’s famous turntable with a few tiny instances of circular movement (though the turntable got axed in the redesign). The two seem to have encouraged bellowing and overacting, but maybe that’s to compensate for the thuds backstage as scenery gets moved. Pushing the performances to dramatic extremes isn’t necessary. The show has endured for 25 years for a good reason: Les Miz is a well-crafted classic.
Beau Higgins reviewed for
The 25th Anniversary Tour of the Tony winning Les Miserables opened last night at the Broward Center and I am here to report that it is the best time at Les Miz I have ever had.
This production of Les Miz is adorned with simply wonderful set design by Matt Kinley, inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo (Mr. Hugo was a man of many talents.) The costumes by Andreane Neofitou and the lighting by Paule Constable reach the level of excellence of Mr. Kinley's set design, and this is no small feat.
Connor and Powell have done a mostly excellent job with their cast, with perhaps just one or two weak leaks in their performing chain. Virtually every singing voice in this Les Miz is sensational, as it should be. Why would anyone be cast in a singing role in Les Miz unless they were a great singer? We have all great singers and performers on that stage, down to the last member of the gloriously thrilling chorus.
I do believe that Lawrence Clayton was miscast at Jean Valjean. He has a lovely voice, but does not have the guts and the chops to tower over this production as the actor playing Jean Valjean should.
Bringing in the goose bump factor was Betsy Morgan as Fantine. Her honest, fragile acting and her soaring voice were well matched with the show's best song, I DREAMED A DREAM.
This production of Les Miz will be remembered by most of us for its production values and for the performance of Andrew Varela as Javert. As the officer of the law who mercilessly hunts Jean Valjean for years and years, Mr. Varela used his commanding stage presence and his masterfully powerful singing voice to make his performance one that is unforgettable.
Laura Souto Laramee wrote a pale imitation of a review for The Palm Beach Post:
Les Miserables is sure to spark your interest with great costumes incredible sets and a powerhouse of a cast. The show, which opened Tuesday night and plays for two weeks at the Broward Center’s Au Rene Theatre, is a musical masterpiece.
There is a huge, powerful cast of actors that have been part of extraordinary productions.
I hope she gets an "C" from her high school journalism teacher.  My own grading of this 'review' is somewhat lower.

Les Misérables plays at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts through January 30, 2011.

Maltz Jupiter Theatre: The Sound Of Music (3 reviews)

The Maltz Jupiter Theatre opened its production of The Sound of Music on January 11, 2011.
Seven rambunctious children and the most irreverent nun ever to kick a habit welcome your family into theirs with The Sound of Music. The final musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein follows the von Trapp family as they leave Austria to escape Nazi persecution. Featuring such musical favorites as My Favorite Things, Do, Re, Mi, Edelweiss, Climb Ev'ry Mountain and Sixteen Going on Seventeen, this heartwarming story is great for the entire family!
Marc Robin directed and choreographed a cast that included Catherine Walker, Michael Sharon, April Woodall, Elisa Van Duyne, Randall Frizado, Riley Anthony, Colleen Broome, Skye A. Friedman, Jose Kropp, Emily E. Rynasko, Molli Sramowicz and Jenny Piersol.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Round-Heeled Woman Held Over

The Drama Queen reports that the GableStage production of A Round-Heeled Woman has been extended to February 6.  This is on top of additional performances scheduled this week.

The critically acclaimed show, starring Sharon Gless, has been packing in a very diverse crowd:
Regular theatergoers aren't the only folks warming to Gless' glowing performance as Jane Juska, the retired teacher who decided to end three decades of celibacy at 66 by placing a frank personals in the New York Review of Books.  Adler says Rosie O'Donnell has already been to see her friend in the play.  And on Saturday, with the real Jane Juska in attendance, famed actress-director Liv Ullmann came to see it.
Do you have your ticket yet? Call now - GableStage only has 150 seats.

Mondays are Dark

Here's your Monday reading list-

Get Your Irish Up
Mosaic Theatre is still looking for contributions to its A Taste of Ireland Gala & Auction fund-raising event, according to  Suggested support ranges from merely buying tickets to the event, up to donating items to be included in the auction.  The Theatre Scene will be purchasing a tribute ad; we hope others will join in supporting one of the most vibrant theatres in the local theatre scene.

The Young Ones
The Miami Herald gives us the skinny on The State Theatre Project, which opened its first full-fledged production last week.  Many of The Project's company members have started making names for themselves as journeyman actors of the first stripe, but they still wanted to do more than break in on other people's stages. 

Speaking of Fund Raisers
BroadwayWorld reports that Florida Stage is holding an event at West Palm Beach's new Lake Pavilion.  Titled Divas Under Glass: A Cabaret Feast for the Senses, the event will also honor Leona Chanin, Sydelle Meyer and Lee Wolf, three women who have been strong supporters of the company.

Not Your Father's Sound of Music
The Sound Of Music has played Jupiter before, but this is the first time the Maltz Jupiter Theatre takes a stab at it, and the Palm Beach Post talks with the director about it.
"One of the things that’s sort of driven me crazy about The Sound of Music is people concentrate so much on trying to bring the film onstage," he sighs. "And the film was a very safe, homogenized telling that was palatable without it being too threatening or pushing too many buttons. But it’s a really magnificent play if you do it as a play."
M Ensemble in the Wilderness
The Drama Queen reports that the venerable M Ensemble, which gave up its home due to high costs and low revenues, has partnered with the Arsht Center to present the gospel musical Crowns.  It will star Tony Award winner Melba Moore, and the cast will include South Florida favorite Lela Elam, as well as Yaya Browne, Christina Alexander, Paulette Dozier, Chiquila Brown and Don Seward.

The Mother Of All Actors Comes To Town.
1st Draft reports that two-time Tony Award winning actress Frances Sternhagen is coming to Florida Stage to read one of the entrants in their 5th Annual 1st Stage New Works Festival.  She'll also be interviewed by producing director Louis Tyrell in place the of the festival's keynote address.

Speaking of Star Power
BroadwayWorld reports that Donna McKechnie is bringing her biopic show My Musical Comedy Life to The Playground Theatre.  It's part of the a new initiative at The Playground called Between Engagements.

Lansky and Music on the Water
The Aventura Arts & Cultural Center is packed with theatrical offerings according to The Drama Queen.
First up, from tonight through Sunday, is Say it With Music: The Songs of Irving Berlin featuring Judy Scott.  Also on the series are Time After Time: The Songs of Jule Styne (Feb. 9-13), A Grand Tour: The Songs of Jerry Herman (March 9-13) and The Night Is Filled with Music: The Music of the RKO Pictures Era (April 13-17).
Also on the horizon is the center's Double Chai Theatrical Series.  Whatever the odd origin of the name, the series includes the return of critically acclaimed production such as Mike Burstyn in Lansky and Jim Brochu in Zero Hour, as well as crowd-pleasers Circumcise Me and Meshuggah-Nuns.

Stretching the Great White Way
The Producer's Perspective examines the annual report from The Broadway League; specifically the way national tours affect the economy.

The Long Way to Wall Street
Gordon McConnell is doing Sylvia at Fort Myer's Florida Repertory Theatre, which was just reviewed by Terry Teachout in the Wall Street Journal.  Teachout liked the production, but he really likes Florida Rep:
I wonder how many of the citizens of Fort Myers know exactly how lucky they are to have access to a theater company like Florida Rep. It's easy for regional theatergoers to assume that to see the really good stuff  onstage, you have to go to New York. But after three visits, I feel secure in saying that Florida Rep is one of America's top repertory companies, a troupe that consistently chooses strong plays and produces them with polish and imagination. They've yet to steer me wrong.
Playing in the Park (Lumber) Yard
The Coconut Grove Grapevine reports that after the City of Miami's head banana Mayor decided it can't afford culture, the owners of Shell Lumber offered up their store as a fee venue for Shakespeare Miami's upcoming production of Romeo and Juliet.  They understand what the Mayor is too stupid to grasp; the arts draw people, and usually people who are looking for a dinner before the show and drinks after, stimulating the economy in these harsh times. 

But since he was also too stupid to keep the Film Office, which not only brought in film and television production dollars but also put Miami in the world's living room at no cost to taxpayers, we can't be too surprised. 

So if you're in the Grove, stop in at Shell Lumber and buy something - anything.  And drop a banana off at City Hall for Mayor Regalado.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

State Theatre Project: Billboard (3 reviews)

The State Theatre Project opened its first full production, Michael Vukadlnovich's BILLBOARD, on January 13 at Barry University's Pelican Theater.
Andy, a recent college graduate weighed down by student loans, gets paid a great deal to tattoo a corporate logo on his forehead. His artist girlfriend Katelyn is not impressed, his liberal best friend [Damon] thinks he's crazy, and now he has to live with it. The decision has both tragic and comic consequences as he comes to learn that the logo is more than just ink on his skin. But Katelyn sees a very unique artistic opportunity. She sees his body as an example of the extent to which consumerism has permeated our daily lives. Billboard is a comedy about the battle between commercialism, fame, art and love
David Hemphill directed a cast that featured Scott Douglas Wilson, Gladys Ramirez, and Justin McLendon

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
A learning curve comes with almost everything in life, including the creation of a theater company.

The State Theatre Project, a troupe consisting mainly of New World School of the Arts drama graduates, has spent a little more than a year building toward its first full-length production. The group's choice, Michael Vukadinovich's Billboard, certainly fits within its mission of producing socially conscious, issue-oriented work aimed at a younger audience. But the play and State Theatre's production at Barry University's Pelican Theatre aren't nearly so dramatically polished as their creators intended.
Director David Hemphill, his engaging cast and State Theatre's design team have tried hard to deliver a creative, multimedia-infused production on a tiny budget. Unfortunately, creativity doesn't fully compensate for lack of resources and staging flaws.
The artists behind the State Theatre Project are a talented bunch. And with better choices, greater resources and movement along that learning curve, there's a good chance that they'll evolve into the edgy company they envision.
Michele F. Solomon reviewed for The South Florida Theatre Review:
The State Theatre Project was founded just over a year ago with a stated mission to present socially relevant works. Vukadinovich’s Billboard, the company’s first full-length play, is a fitting selection, presented here in its regional premiere.
Billboard is a bit of a tough sell, a three-person dramedy with a single sparse set. The play’s biggest flaw is that it works too hard at conveying its message... nothing ever quite hits a fever pitch.
The three actors, Scott Douglas Wilson as Andy, Gladys Ramirez as Katelyn, and Justin McLendon as Damon, deliver earnest performances, and are at their best when allowed to dig deeper into their individual character’s psyches
David Hemphill, founder of The Project, directs Billboard with a comfortable ease, ideal for the intimate setting he’s chosen at Barry University’s Pelican Theatre..  However, he could have worked a bit more to help the three actors form a tighter ensemble. At times, it feels as if they are each fighting each other for single attention, rather than working as a cohesive unit.
Still, Billboard provides a worthwhile chance to experience a new play performed by a young troupe that holds great promise.
Roger Martin reviewed for MiamiArtzine:
There are the usual arguments about art and commercialism, the freedom of the artist, what is art and so on but nothing really happens...  It's as if the playwright, Michael Vukadinovich, knew he didn't have much going apart from the original forehead idea and needed to somehow fill out two hours.
The actors do what they can with this cluttered piece.  Justin McClendon and Scott Douglas Wilson certainly belong on the stage, but Gladys Ramirez shows her inexperience.  Had not director David Hemphill been acting in another show during the rehearsal period he surely would have tightened this rather loose production.
It's a shame to have to knock the first efforts of a young company but Billboard with it's 1960s higgldey-piggldey feel and which presumably reads better that it plays, is not the piece to showcase blossoming talent.
The State Theatre Project production of Billboard plays at The Pelican Theater through January 22, 2011.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Scene for January 14, 2011

Well, it's a little nippy today, but it's supposed to warm up for the weekend.  And the local theatre scene is smokin' hot this week, with critical hits playing at GableStage, Caldwell Theatre, Florida Stage, and Palm Beach DramaWorks.  And if that's not enough, children's plays have started back up.


The Maltz Jupiter Theatre is alive with The Sound of Music through January 30.

Rising Action Theatre presents The Killing of Sister George, through February 13.

The State Theatre Project opens BILLBOARD this weekend at Barry University's Pelican Theatre.  It plays this weekend and next.

you still haven't missed...

Sharon Gless stars as A Round-Heeled Woman at GableStage, through January 30.

Clybourne Park plays at the Caldwell Theatre through February 6, 2011.

MAME plays at the Stage Door Theatre through February 6, 2011.

The Palm Beach Dramaworks production of Freud's Last Session plays through February 6 has been extended through February 13, 2011.

Frannie Sheridan's one woman show, Confessions of a Jewish Shiksa...Dancing on Hitlers' Grave plays at Area Stage through February 16.

Laffing Matterz  serves up the laughs at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, through May 14, 2010

passing through...

Parker Playhouse presents Forever Plaid for one night only on January 16.

last chance to see...

Goldie, Max, and Milk plays at Florida Stage through January 16.

The Stage Door Theatre presents A Taffetta Wedding  through January 16.

Boca Raton Theatre Guild presents Neil Simon's Broadway Bound, through January 16.

for kids...

Sol Children's Theatre Troupe presents The Magician's Nephew through January 30.

Alexander and the Terrible,Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day plays at Actors' Playhouse through March 12.

It's Family Fest day at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts this Saturday.

The Love of Three Oranges returns to The Playground Theater, through February 6.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Creel Deal

Gavin Creel Photo Emily Sopha
BroadwayWorld reports that Gavin Creel will be appearing at Barton G's Prelude, the pricey restaurant at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.  And that's wonderful.
A multi-talented actor-singer-songwriter and 2-time Tony Award nominee for Best Actor for both "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and "Hair," in addition to his applauded performances in the 2004 Broadway revival in "La Cage Aux Folles," CREEL also appeared in the London's West End productions of "Mary Poppins" and "Hair," and regularly plays to sold-out New York and London audiences at such venues as Union Plaza, Joe's Pub and Pigalle Club.
But somehow they missed mentioning the master class he's teaching at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on Monday.
An alumnus of the nationally renowned University of Michigan Musical Theatre Department, Gavin is also an accomplished singer-songwriter and brings his unique style of teaching to enrich and inspire young performers. Each master class is limited to 10 on-stage participants who will work directly with Gavin on stage and 150 interactive audience members.
We have it on good authority that there are still a number of good slots available at through the Broward Center Website.

For those not familiar with his work, here's a clip of him performing a number from HAIR at the 63rd Tony Awards:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mondays are Dark

It looks like everyone is finally back to work after an extended holiday season.  Lots of good stuff in today's reading list.

Uncle Joe Has a Theatre!
Once again, GableStage artistic director Joe Adler has made his stage available to a freshman company, according to BroadwayWorld.  This time, The State Theatre Project will be presenting Nictor Nictoria, a one-person play written and performed by Shira Abergel.  The show plays tonight only.

Theatre Guild Steps Up
The Boca Raton Theatre Guild has stepped it up a notch from community playhouse to regional theatre, according to BroadwayWorld.  They've engaged Genie Croft (Women's Theatre Project) to direct Neil Simon's Broadway Bound, with a cast that features Carbonell winning actress Jessica K. Peterson (Caldwell, Florida Stage).

Mosaic's Curse
Tiles, Mosaic Theatre's Blog announces the cast of their upcoming production of The Irish Curse.

Talkin' Broadway  talks with some of the South Florida high school students participating in The South Florida Cappies.  The name "Cappies" derives from "Critics and Award Program," (CAP) and it was created to train the next generation of theatre critics.

And So It Begins Again
Over on 1st Draft, Heidi Harris reflects on submissions to this year's Young Playwrights' Festival. I read these student plays I am reminded of just how candid we are when we are young

Taking the Plunge
South Florida Theater Review reports that New Theatre as announced that its TBA play will be High Dive, featuring Barbara Sloan directed by Ricky J. Martinez.  It will open January 28.  BroadwayWorld gives some background on playwright Leslie Ayvazian.

Freudian Extension.
Palm Beach Dramaworks will be extending its smash hit Freud's Last Session through February 13.  South Florida Theater Review reports that the show has been selling out, and notes that it's unusual for plays to extend in South Florida.

That's Entertainment... not one of the shows announced by The Stage Door Theatre for their 2011-2012 season, but it coulda been.  South Florida Theater Review reports that it's a season full of entertaining shows, which begs the question "Does that mean some theaters choose non-entertaining shows?"  Just kidding - nothing wrong with solid crowd-pleasers.

The Playground's Ready for More Kids
BroadwayWorld reports that The Playground Theatre is re-mounting artistic director Stephanie Ansin's The Love of Three Oranges, opening January 12, 2011.

Speaking of Return Engagements

BroadwayWorld also reports that tickets have just gone on sale for Les Miserables at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts.  This a new production, mounted to celebrete the musical's 25th anniversary.

Bicker Bicker Bicker
Back in 2000, Kravis Center management broke its contract with International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts (I.A.T.S.E.) Local 500.   The Union took the Center to court, and won.  Twice.   The Kravis Center appealed, but the two decisions were upheld by a federal appeals court in December 2008, and the Center was ordered to negotiate a new contract with the Union.  January 2011, still no contract, and The Shiny Sheet reports that the Kravis Center has made things worse by taking out newspaper ads comprised of an open letter to I.A.T.S.E. members.

Meanwhile... Palm Beach, the Shiny Sheet reports that the Royal Poinciana Playhouse is still closed.
The case involves one of the two referendums designed to shield the Playhouse from demolition that Preserve Palm Beach has proposed and the town has fought as unconstitutional.
While it's admirable to fight to preserve a theatre, violating people's rights is probably too high a price to pay.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Caldwell Theatre: Clybourne Park (7 reviews)

The Caldwell Theatre Company's production of Bruce Norris' Clybourne Park went into previews on January 2, 2011, and opened on January 7.
Home is where the heart—and history—is in Clybourne Park, a "buzz-saw sharp new comedy" (The Washington Post) that cleverly spins the events of A Raisin in the Sun to tell an unforgettable new story about race and real estate in America. Act I opens in 1959, as a white couple sells their home to a black family, causing uproar in their middle-class Chicago neighborhood. Act II transports us to the same house in 2009, when the stakes are different, but the debate is strikingly familiar. Adamant provocateur Bruce Norris launches his characters into lightning-quick repartee as they scramble for control of the situation, revealing how we can—and can't—distance ourselves from the stories that linger in our houses.
Clive Cholerton directed a cast that included GregWeiner, Karen Stephens, Brian D. Coats, Kenneth Kay, Patti Gardner, Cliff Burgess, and Margery Lowe.

Erica K. Landau wrote for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times; let's see how she does:
Caldwell Theatre's adaptation of Clybourne Park is refreshing in its biting and direct exposition of the dumbed-down dialogue, latent racism, and recycled talking points that dominate discussions about race in America today. It rightfully points out the culpability in everyone, especially moneyed PC liberals, who, in all their obsession with sensitivity, are really just as clueless as the bigots they disdain.
So far, so good.
Kenneth Kay offers up a great performance as Russ, who, though he refuses to rethink the sale, does so out of spite, not a sense of idealism or fairness. Bev (Patti Gardner) is a Suzy Homemaker type who blithely condescends to Francine. Gregg Weiner puts in an appropriately grating performance as Karl, but his wife, Betsy, is given a comic and cartoony performance by Margery Lowe. The priest, Jim (Cliff Burgess), is exasperatingly superficial in his attempts to help Russ deal with a personal tragedy.
Very nice; she's given a cogent summary of the play, and skipped over the dreary "so and so played such and such" to tell us about each actor's performance. 
The second act is where the casting really shines. Each actor plays a new and unrelated character. Kay seamlessly shifts from a grieving wiseass to Dan, a gum-chewing construction worker. Lowe is no longer a deaf Lucille Ball, instead becoming the nervous PC liberal Lindsey. Weiner is still a racist jerk, albeit a totally different type. And Stephens' comedic delivery in her role as Francine carries right over to Lena. Clive Cholerton's direction shines here as well, as the time difference and its new plot lines fail to be jarring. Under Cholerton, the staging often communicates as much as the script: Knowing looks and side conversations come forward and melt seamlessly into the background, comedic side plots offer surprising appearances, smooth disappearances, and fresh reappearances.
...Caldwell's production adequately captures the discomfort and nuance of a highly charged script. And it does so by being uncomfortable but amazingly funny.
Skip Sheffield reviewed for The Boca Tribune:
Clybourne Park is billed as a comedy, and director Clive Cholerton and his cast do their best to delineate the laughs.

It is a comedy with bite however, rooted in a tragedy that is reveled toward the end of Act One. There are hidden meanings to the increasingly heated conversations, culminating in an explosive finale.
Clybourne Park was still finding its sea legs on opening night. The laughs were sometimes uneasy and a bit confused, but two powerful performances were already quite polished: Kenneth Kay’s smoldering, grieving father, and Karen Stephen’s dual performance as ironically-knowing servant and a proud preserver of family history.
Hap Erstein reviewed for Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter Weekly:
Director Cholerton has a versatile eight-member ensemble, each doubling as different characters in each act. Kay excels as emotionally deadened Russ, bearing a heavy burden, in contrast to Gardner’s Bev, a Donna Reed-like housewife who masks her sorrow with an irrepressible perkiness. Weiner handles a couple of showy, black-hat — hey, is that term racist? — roles, as venal Linder and materialistic Steve, the would-be home buyer.

Stephens plays servile Francine without irony, but she gets to rant in the second act as Lena, a self-assured woman who knows how to wield her power and deliver a punch line. And Lowe mines a lot of laughs as deaf Betsy, the butt of some cruel humor.

The Caldwell’s reliable resident scenic designer Tim Bennett contributes an aptly plain house interior, then distresses it during intermission to convey the passage of time. Alberto Arroyo’s costumes also cleverly delineate the two eras and the relative social stations of the characters.
John LaRiviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway:
Set design by Tim Bennett brilliantly transforms from the tidy, 1950s home in the first act to the 2009 dilapidated interior of a home in need of repair in the second act. Nice attention has been paid to details such as faded and ripped wallpaper, damaged and distressed woodwork, and small holes in walls where someone has tried to make electrical repairs.
Though the script perhaps doesn't give enough emotional connection between husband and wife Russ and Bev, Kenneth Kay and Patti Gardner manage to lay down the basic structure of their relationship fairly well. It seems clear enough that they dance on the surface of everyday things to avoid the grief of the loss of their son. Kay's role as Dan in the second act is negligible, though he seems to be chomping at the bit to establish his character.
Gregg Weiner, as Karl and Steve, is in both instances the man you love to hate. Karl is more small minded and intrusive, while Steve is more the guy who just doesn't know any better than to stick his foot in his mouth. Weiner seems to specialize in these roles as an actor—and rightfully so, as he does them well.
Margery Lowe finds her comedy moments as both Betsy and Lindsey. There is an endearing quality about her portrayal of the hearing-impaired Betsy, and we don't get many moments in the play to find anyone endearing.
Karen Stephens and Brian D. Coates skillfully master the art of subtlety in their performances, especially in the first act. As Francine and Albert, there is an underlying tension and restraint in their relationship with each other, and their mostly silent observation of what is happening around them that is beautifully acted. Their performances, though not the largest roles in the show, are memorable ones, leaving us wanting more of their characters.
While the staging and direction of this show is especially strong in the second act, it falls flat at the end. Our brief visit with the specter of the deceased son weakens the issues of racial tension without elevating the issue of personal loss. It leaves us wondering which is more important to the author, director and cast. While this ending needs to be cleaned, Clybourne Park is otherwise a cleanly acted show.
Roger Martin reviewed for MiamiArtzine:
Actors Kenneth Kay and Gregg Weiner discussing the declining grass growth rate in East Podunk or the saturation factor in a cocktail napkin would be a fascinating experience for anyone privileged to watch. Imagine then what happens when you toss them the inflammatory script of Clybourne Park now playing at Boca Raton's Caldwell Theatre. Simply good theatre.
This first act drives hard to its finish. There's nothing PC here as the master/servant, block busting, racist fears whistle around the stage. But it's not all black and white. Margery Lowe's acerbic turn as the deaf wife with the speech difficulties is hilarious. And Weiner's attempts to stop the home sale are repulsively funny. But it is Kay, desperately worn out by past events, who anchors the act.
Act Two and it's 2009. Lena and Kevin (Stephens and Coats, both formidably quiet actors) have now just sold the home previously owned by Bev and Russ... Once again the act starts slowly... Andrew Wind as Kenneth... is well worth the wait.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
The conversation about and among people of different races has changed over the half century since Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun had its groundbreaking Broadway premiere. Yet as Bruce Norris makes clear in his absorbing, insightful play Clybourne Park, that conversation remains loaded with altered but very real minefields.
On Tim Bennett's period-perfect set, which undergoes a transformation into complete shabbiness during intermission, director Clive Cholerton guides his cast to strong performances, with each actor (other than Wind) getting the chance to impress by playing two totally different characters. The clear standouts are Kay as the grieving father; Stephens, as two no-nonsense women; and Weiner, who makes both of his racist characters magnetically watchable.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for South Florida Theater Review:
Director Clive Cholerton’s production needs a little more stage time to master the extremely problematic and morphing tones that playwright Bruce Norris requires in his incisive script.

But Cholerton and a solid cast deliver a commendable job creating all too recognizable suburbanites flailing about in ham-handed attempts to politely cope with the economic and social friction as the racial makeup of their neighborhood evolves.
Among Norris’ conceits, perfectly carried out by this company, is that the increasingly racist argument is blithely held in front of Francine and Albert as if they aren’t there. When Stephens and Coats slip the mask of subservience for a few seconds at a time to reveal tightly banked anger, we squirm in shame.
...all of the actors do fine work in challenging assignments and they’ll likely improve as the run continues. Kay is especially effective as the damaged Russ with haunted eyes; Stephens’ wise eyes always show something is happening inside that her outward appearance is hiding, and Gardner does well with an especially difficult role creating a credible, sympathetic figure out of a seemingly shallow, even grating housewife. Note how she has a completely different voice when she plays the self-assured lawyer in the second act. Weiner is completely believable in his self-justified bigotry in the first act and his hapless everyman trying to break out of the correctness straitjacket in the second. Lowe is not only convincing as a deaf woman in the first act, but as the victim of raging hormones in the second.
Clybourne Park is about America not coming as far as we’d hoped, about humanity’s territorial instincts, about the difficulty of communication, of how groups of people are similar even as they are blinded by their differences and about the baggage of history. Even with flaws, the Caldwell produces an evening worth talking about over drinks after the show.
Clybourne Park plays at The Caldwell Theatre through February 6, 2011.

GableStage: A Round Heeled Woman (5 reviews)

The GableStage production of Jane Prowse's A Round Heeled Woman went into previews on December 30, 2010, and opened on January 8, 2011.
A retired school teacher who has not had sex in 30 years sets out to remedy the situation by placing an ad in the personals in the New York Review of Books. Her sexual adventures and the resulting emotional entanglements are both comic and touching. This is the true story of a woman who decides there is still time to pursue passion with a vengeance.
Jane Prowse directed a cast that included Sharon Gless, Antonio Amadeo, Steve Anthony, Howard Elfman, Kim Ostrenko, and Laura Turnbull.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
A Round-Heeled Woman, the memoir-inspired play starring a radiant Sharon Gless, is a sexy, funny, touching celebration of one mature woman's journey from unintended celibacy to a recharged sex life.

Yet on a deeper level, director-playwright Jane Prowse's script is about so much more: facing fears, taking chances, admitting mistakes, seeking forgiveness. Above all, the play is an ode to reclaimed joy.
Gless, the television veteran so very familiar from Cagney & Lacey, Queer as Folk and Burn Notice, proves as fearless as the woman she portrays. Whether changing clothes in full-on stage light, getting busy with the actors who play Jane's varied lovers or delivering a When Harry Met Sally-level orgasm, Gless goes all out. In both scenes that work well and scenes that still need work, the star is a compelling presence, both brave and vulnerable.
Gless' five fellow cast members, South Florida actors all, each play multiple roles. That's a challenge for the performers, who must slip quickly from one persona to the next, and for costume designer Ellis Tillman, whose deft work helps differentiate and define characters from different eras... All of those actors deliver what's asked of them, but the one who truly shines is Antonio Amadeo. Most memorably, he plays Jane's estranged son (both as an angry teen and a changed man) and Graham, an intellectually compatible and ultimately irresistible guy half her age. The play's sweetest, most dramatic moments belong to Gless and Amadeo.
...thanks to an inspiring true story and the charismatic star telling it, A Round-Heeled Woman is clearly a play with a future. You might not have as good a time watching it as Juska did living it -- but you'll come close.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for South Florida Theater Review:
As droll and insightful as the GableStage production of A Round-Heeled Woman is on its own merits, Sharon Gless brings a surprising dimension to the 66-year-old English teacher who
advertises for sex in the New York Review of Books... But what Gless
exposes with the briefest glance of fear or a quaver at the end of a
sentence is vulnerability. We can see her scraping away protective
barriers so that she can experience life, whether it be pain or joy.
Under Prowse’s direction, Gless’ Juska is a recognizable neighbor as terrified as any of us would be hazarding our self-image, self-worth and self-respect to search for human connections.  And because of that, Gless and Prowse win us over from the opening scene...
She’s supported by a strong troupe of local actors filling numerous parts... Best of all, Antonio Amadeo provides a gallery of characters ranging from Juska’s troubled son to a suitor half her age.
At its heart, this is not simply a play about society’s myopia about sex after sixty. It’s a fable about jettisoning your fear and going after the marrow of life.
Roger Martin reviewed for
There's a lot to laugh at in this show but there's also frustration, sadness and regret. A Round-Heeled Woman was written for the stage and directed by Jane Prowse and she moves the piece quickly through its many scenes.

It's not a perfect show, but as a star vehicle for Sharon Gless it works well. Amadeo, Stephen G. Anthony, Howard Elfman, Kim Ostrenko and Laura Turnbull, support in their various incarnations, some better than others, but strangely uncomplimentary dresses on Ostrenko and Turnbull distract in their several scenes as Jane's friends. And when I grow up I want to be Howard Elfman's dirty old man.
John LaRiviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway:
Supporting actors Howard Elfman, Steven G. Anthony, Laura Turnbull, Kim Ostrenko and Antonio Amadeo are certainly deserving of acknowledgement for rapid changes in costumes and accents. Not all of the characters are achieved with the same amount of skill, however, and one particular dance sequence featuring Antonio Amadeo comes off as kind of creepy. His leer is both over-the-top lurid and comic—never committing to either one. He redeems himself with a warm portrayal of Graham, however.
A Round-Heeled Woman is a production blessed by the right author, the right director and the right actress. Calling it luck would be incredibly naïve. Gless found a well-written book with which she connected, and found the creative team to make her (and Juska's) vision a reality on stage. As Jane she never leaves stage, but then we never really want her to leave... Her stand-out performance is one of the best seen in south Florida for some time.

Chris Joseph wrote an interminable amount of plot exposition, but eventually got around to reviewing for the Miami New Times:
Ms. Gless owned the stage with a humorous and earnest performance as the irrepressible Jane. She was equal parts innocent and sexually adventursome, and her genuine vulnerability and underlying heartache pulled us in as the coital odyssey unfolded. We rooted for her not only to have a hell of a time in the sack, but also to find what she was looking for. But mostly, we rooted for her to have a hell of a time in the sack.
Then Mr. Joseph starts chewing his foot:
...small theaters can be vulnerable to occasional hiccups such as bad lighting or stagehands seen and heard between scenes.
First, this isn't determined by the size of the theatre, but rather the professionalism.  Second, he doesn't offer specific cases to back his point.  I don't know what plays he's been seeing, or what he means by "small theatre," but the good theatre rarely have this problem. And finally, unless he's had this problem -often- at this theatre, it has no relevance in this review.  This is the kind of assinine remark you get from a reporter who is "telling the story of seeing a play" instead of a professional reviewer writing a critique of the play.
The production of A Round-Heeled Woman was flawless, never allowing audience members to glimpse ropes and pulleys. The direction, lighting, and musical score were impeccable. Characters appeared and disappeared throughout the stage and seized the emotion of the moment or the timing of a comical bit with precision.
Antonio Amadeo, who plays a dance teacher, John Ball, and Jane's troubled son, Andy, stood out. Amadeo's characters ranged from outrageous to tragic, and he pulled it off brilliantly with a versatile performance.
Stephen G. Anthony likewise lost himself in character...  And Howard Elfman was both likeable and loathsome...
Most local acting ensembles feature actors who convey every emotion with the same squint and arched brow. The cast of Round-Heeled, however, is not one of those ensembles.
And here we go again with the kind of posturing editorializing that is the hallmark of the amateur. "Most local acting ensembles"  do this? Really?  Name them.  I want theatres, productions, and actors' names.  If you can't demonstrate it to be true, or even mildly accurate, it has no business in the review.  Joseph did the same thing earlier, commenting about technical proficiency.  Is his remark accurate?  We can't know without specific cases, and in any case, is it relevant to a review of this play?  No, it is not.  He is supposed to be reviewing this play. 

The writing shows promise, but Mr. Joseph needs to take a course in reviewing theater.

A Round-Heeled Woman starring Sharon Gless plays at GableStage through January 30, 2011.