Monday, April 18, 2011

Mondays are Dark

It's been a very busy week on The Scene - lots of material for the Monday reading list.  But first, congratulations to Andy Rogow.  He will be joining Rising Action Theatre as its Producing Director.  Rogow is no stranger to the South Florida theatre scene - he was the artistic director at the defunct Hollywood Playhouse, and a past president of the Theatre League.  We wish him well, and suggest that he gets David Goldyn to stop mouthing off at critics who pan Rising Action productions.

And now, your Monday reading list.

Cast Recording
South Florida Theater Review tells us that G4's production of Motherhood, The Musical is getting an original cast recording.  That includes Lisa Manuli, who won a Carbonell for her work on the show.  And we would be remiss if we didn't also mention Kareema Khouri, Margot Moreland, Laura Turnbull, and musical director Johnny Rodgers.

A Rose By Any Other Name...
1st Draft muses over the difficulties inherent in choosing - and publicizing - the title of a new play.
And then there's the length of the thing, never mind the words. I can't post a message on Twitter using the full title, because it takes up 29 of my 140 characters. For now, I'm abbreviating it as CHA-CHA.
Hopefully, no one starts confusing it with CAN-CAN.

Caldwell's Doing a Musical?  HOW?
South Florida Theater Review tells us that Caldwell Theatre, not known for doing musicals, is teaming up with Entr'Acte Theatrix to mount City of Angels.
The newly-formed Artistic Alliance joins the 35-year-old Boca Raton theater fighting its way out of debt with the fledgling Palm Beach group that gives freshly-minted performers an opportunity to work in a professional production.
Caldwell is Number One
Well, The Scene didn't win the Sun-Sentinel's Best of Blog (maybe we should stop calling it the "Stunned-Senseless"), but the Caldwell Theatre Company was selected as Palm Beach County's best theatre group in a Palm Beach Post reader's poll by a fair margin.

Mr. Grant Comes To Town
BroadwayWorld reports that Ed Asner will be appearing at the Caldwell Theatre in Dory Schary's FDR.  Get your tickets NOW.

Arisco Wins One
South Florida Theater Review reports that Actors' Playhouse will be mounting the regional premiere of the musical Next To Normal, one of last seasons' hottest tickets on The Great White Way.
Artistic Director David Arisco had been lobbying for the show for many months, but Executive Producing Director Barbara Stein was less than thrilled about the prospects for a musical that includes a number about whether to try electroshock therapy. The bare outlines of the material didn’t speak to her at all. “I didn’t see it in New York. I just really did not want to see it,” she said.
The article also touches on other artistic risks the Playhouse has taken over the years.

Word Play, and Word
The Miracle Theatre Examiner's post seems like a fluff piece using Broadway show titles, but there's a little more going on there.
At what point do we sell out our Equity performers who get pension and health to hire no-union performers?  Who's fault is it?  Actors' Equity is not making their union stronger by keeping talented non-union performers out from paying into the system.  It's like the Wisconsin teachers situation,  Actors' Equity won't accept the non-union talent so now who has the bargaining rights, The Producers?  What does this mean to the average theatre goer?
It's a valid point;  In The Heights just "ended" its tour in Miami.  But expect to see it back on the road in the next year or so -less an Equity contract. (Actors' Equity Association, a.k.a. "AEA" or "Equity," is the stage performer's union).  The Color Purple did the same thing last year.  But are ticket prices being reduced to reflect the lesser costs of these productions?  Or are producers lining their pockets at the expense of actors' benefits packages?

Not Just "Broward"
The Drama Queen reports that The Broward Stage Door Theatre just received a lease to mount productions at Miami Beach's Byron Carlyle Theatre.

Since we were just discussing companies dropping their contracts, we'd be remiss if we didn't note that The Stage Door dropped its Equity status a number of years ago, after reaching an impasse with the union during contract negotiations. 

Speaking of Unions
The Palm Beach Daily News reports that The Kravis Center is still failing to to come to a court-ordered agreement with the stagehands' union, IATSE Local 500.
The central point separating the sides is the union’s insistence that the Kravis employ only workers referred from its hiring hall for shows the center presents in Dreyfoos Hall.

Other points in dispute include whether the center illegally stopped employing union-referred department heads and violated the law by applying different wage, benefit and other terms for its own employees and those referred from the hiring hall.
The most ludicrous claim by Kravis Center management:
The union and the center have locked horns about back pay. The Kravis maintains that wages union workers earned at other venues while they were shut out of the center should be deducted from the nearly $3.6 million in gross back pay the board calculated it owes union workers.
Of course, if the Kravis Center hadn't broken the law in the first place, those workers would not have been forced to find other work.  There is no rational argument to support the Kravis Center's position.  Indeed, the courts have continually found against the Center on every issue, and that's likely to occur again.  Of course, it's led to a lively discussion in the comments section of the article.

Read more about this issue at

... in Coconut Grove, the man most responsible for running the Coconut Grove Playhouse into the ground is writing letters to The Miami Herald questioning how a capital grant will be spent to launch a new Playhouse.  That's right, Arnold "$4 Million Debt" Mittelman apparently feels that current plans will misuse the funds he tried to misuse back in 2004.
Answers from the county will go a long way in helping us understand how $20 million of taxpayers’ money, which was allocated for one purpose — saving and restoring the internationally renowned playhouse building — is now being spent on a 300-seat stand-alone theater project having little or no resemblance to the reason the county initially provided the funding. Perhaps there were elements of this process that allowed for public input, but despite my more than 20-year leadership of the Coconut Grove Playhouse, I was never asked a single question.
Hey, Arnie, that's probably because 
  1. you didn't spend any of the previous capital grants on preserving the building
  2. you tried to use a portion of the last capital grant to cover payroll instead of preserving the building
  3. while you were 'leading' the Playhouse, your own plans also revolved around tearing down the remains of the historic theatre - and
  4. you were pushing to turn the site - including the building- over to private developers who not only would have torn down the building, but would have added lots of retail space as well.
  5. you ran up a $4 million debt that shut down the organization.
And we'll address another issue he raised:
How could the city of Aventura have recently built and opened on schedule a 325-seat theater for $6.1 million — including donated city land —while the Grove project appears to be headed, with donated state land, to costing $20 million for 300 seats?
The Aventura Arts and Cultural Center is a pretty little theatre.  But it lacks every amenity needed to create original productions; it is a presenting house - it brings in small touring productions.  Very small touring productions.

The Grove was/will be a producing house: it will create productions from the ground up.  It will need space to build scenery, costumes, and props.  It will need offices (the AACC has ONE office shared by a small staff) for its artistic staff, its Administrative staff (the AACC is adminstered by the Broward Center for the Performing Arts), development staff (to raise money for productions), its FOH staff, and its sales staff.  And rehearsal space to prepare upcoming productions during the current shows.

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