Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Scene for July 1, 2011

Hard to believe it's July already.  This summer is screaming past us.  And it's only just started to rain.

Enjoy your Fourth of July holiday weekend!


Song Man Dance Man opens at the Stage Door Theatre, and plays through August 7, 2011.

you still haven't missed...

Rising Action Theatre production of Two Boys in a Bed on A Cold Winter's Night runs through June 12, 2011 has been extended through June 26, July 17th, 2011.

last chance to see...

City Theatre presents Jai Rodriguez' Dirty Little Secrets at the Arsht Center through June 24; it will play the Broward Center on July 2.

City Theatre's Summer Shorts Festival plays at the Broward Center  June 30 - July 3, 2011.

for kids...

City Theatre's production of Camp Kappawanna plays the Broward Center July 1-3, 2011

Actors' Playhouse presents Madeline and the Gypsies, Saturdays at 2pm through August 6. 2011.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mondays are Dark

Well, with the holiday weekend coming up (how did it get to be July so quick?), the Scene is a little slow this week. 

In direct news, writer and reviewer Mary Damiano was in a car accident last week; she is home and recovering.  Get well soon, Mary!

Summer: It's Not Just for Hurricanes Anymore
The Miami Herald has the summer outlook; it's an active theatre season, with two premieres on the horizon.
In coming weeks, theater lovers can catch the world premieres of shows by Michael McKeever, Maribeth Graham and Dana Rowe, and a revamped version of an original by Paul Tei. The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is building its summer around the edgy, urban Cirque Eloize iD, and the center is also hosting the XXVI International Hispanic Theatre Festival throughout July.
The Big Follow-Up
The Palm Beach Daily News follows up on the closing of Florida Stage with several stories; An analysis of why it failed:
"Months of urgent fund raising had failed to produce results, they said. “We were trying to raise money right up to the end,” board co-chairman Richard Abedon said. Even if they had solved the immediate fiscal crisis, the problem of low ticket sales would have remained, he said.
The collateral damage beyond the loss of jobs and ticket fees:
In addition to its subscription series, the company’s new play festival midwifed new work and exposed patrons to the early stages of play creation. The theater’s long-term relationships with playwrights supported them and allowed audience members to track the evolution of a writer’s career.
And options for ticket holders for the shows that won't be happening:
The Palm Beach County Cultural Council is organizing a voucher program that will offer tickets and other discounts to Florida Stage’s 2011-12 season subscribers. More than 20 local cultural institutions, such as Palm Beach Dramaworks, Palm Beach Opera and The Society of the Four Arts, as well as the National New Play Network, an alliance of nonprofit theaters, are participating.

Getting It Together
The Shiny Sheet brings us up to speed on the alliance of The Caldwell Theatre Company and Entr'Acte Theatrix
The partnership benefits both groups, their leaders said. The Caldwell appreciates Entr’Acte’s mission, and without Entr’Acte’s backing the theater probably couldn’t produce a musical as large as City of Angels, Cholerton said. In addition, the rent the company pays for its own productions fattens the theater’s revenues. Entr’Acte’s performers will chalk up points toward an Equity card.
It's encouraging to see two companies come together to ensure that both survive.  And the best part is that in this arrangement; both maintain their distinct identities.

Getting the Word Out
The Minnesota Playlist discusses effective communications.
...a hugely beneficial step in planning is to think through target audiences. Too often, without meaningful consideration, we talk about the tools—be it websites or video trailers or guerilla marketing—before we figure out whom it is we really want to reach. “Everybody” is not the audience. Taking the time to consider and prioritize can mean the difference between success and failure.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Scene for June 24, 2011

It's officially summer, which isn't news to anyone who's opened their front door recently.  And a lot of shows are closing, and it'll be slow for the holiday weekend - next week.  This weekend is your last chance to see some really great shows.

coming and going...

Women's Theatre Project presents Girl Play - The Third annual Lesbian Play Festival this weekend, Friday through Sunday.

you still haven't missed...

City Theatre presents Jai Rodriguez' Dirty Little Secrets at the Arsht Center through June 24; it will play the Broward Center on July 2.

Rising Action Theatre production of Two Boys in a Bed on A Cold Winter's Night runs through June 12, 2011 has been extended through June 26, July 17th, 2011.

City Theatre's Summer Shorts Festival plays at the Arsht Center through June 26, then moves to the Broward Center from June 30 - July 3, 2011.

last chance to see...

Ages of the Moon finishes its run at Mosaic Theatre on Sunday, June 26, 2011.

The M Ensemble's first production in its new space, a play fittingly entitled Home, closes this Sunday, June 26th,

Fool for Love winds up its critically acclaimed run at the Alliance Theatre Lab on June 26th.

Entr'acte Theatrix presents How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying at the Caldwell Theatre through June 22, 2011.

for kids...

City Theatre's production of Camp Kappawanna plays the Kravis Center June 9 - 12, the Arsht Center June 15-26, and the Broward Center July 1-3, 2011

Actors' Playhouse presents Madeline and the Gypsies, Saturdays at 2pm through August 6. 2011.

Sol Children's Theatre Troupe presents The Mystery Plays, this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mondays are Dark

Well, we can no longer pretend that it's not summer. It's danged hot out there.  So here's something to read while you huddle in the AC.

Summer Make-Up
Broadway World reports that the Kravis Center will offer a complimentary ticket for each ticket purchased to see the defunct Florida Stage offering of Ella.
The "comps" can be used at any "Kravis Center presents" performance in the Rinker Playhouse, Persson Hall or Gosman Amphitheatre during the 2011-2012 season, based on availability.
It's a lovely gesture to the patrons of the late and lamented Florida Stage.

"Hi, Diddly Dee, the Actor's Life For Me..."
Over on First Draft, which has risen from the ashes of Florida Stage, a farewell to some companions, and reflections on the nomadic nature of Life in the Theatre.  (as opposed to life in a theater.)

All You Playwrights
The Drama Queen reports that City Theatre is hosting CityWrights, an information and entertainment filled literary conference at Miami's Epic Hotel.

"And The Winners Are..."
While the Theatre Scene inexplicably didn't get chosen for Best Blog, there are a slew of other theatre winners in this year's New Times Miami's Best of 2011: the Actors' Playhouse production of August, Osage County, the Alliance Theatre Lab's Brothers Beckett, GableStage, Gary Marachek, Sharon Gless, Antonio Amadeo, Aubrey Shavonn, David Arisco, the cast of A Round-Heeled Woman, and The M Ensemble production of the musical Crowns.

...In Palm Beach, the Royal Poinciana Playhouse is still closed.  On the one hand, The Real Deal reports that the town council has settled the lawsuit to preserve the Playhouse with Preserve Palm Beach. 
"I hope this shows good intentions on the part of the Town Council," Councilman Richard Kleid said. "I hope Patrick Flynn [PPB CEO] and the Preserve Palm Beach group would not bring any other actions along these lines because it's costly and time-consuming."
On the other hand, The Shiny Sheet reports that the closing of Florida Stage bodes ill for reviving an out-of-date venue too large for regional repertory theater.
The guild and PAC leader, Patrick Flynn, has earnestly pushed forward throughout the years, even though the Playhouse has been closed since 2004 and it would take millions upon millions of dollars to renovate it to acceptable standards — even before one performance was held.
Florida Stage had been around since 1987, had staged more than 150 plays (the vast majority well-received), had a knowledgeable and dynamic leader in Louis Tyrrell, had 30 full-time employees, and had worked in smaller, more-established venues than the aging Playhouse — yet could not survive.
Florida Stage turned down an opportunity to re-locate to Palm Beach when they realized that Palm Beach's "town serve" law would hamper their ability to draw in enough people to remain viable.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Scene for June 17, 2011

The only show scheduled to open this week was at Florida Stage, which as you undoubtedly know by now, closed its doors last week.

But while we may grieve (as well we should!), we can pledge to better support the remaining theatres by seeing one of the many shows still playing in South Florida, including two shows whose runs were extended.

you still haven't missed...

The M Ensemble opened its first production in its new space, a play fittingly entitled Home, by Samm-Art Williams.

The critics love Fool for Love, playing at the Alliance Theatre Lab, through June 26th.

City Theatre opens Jai Rodriguez' Dirty Little Secrets at the Arsht Center through June 24; it will play the Broward Center on July 2.

Ages of the Moon plays at Mosaic Theatre through June 26, 2011.

Rising Action Theatre production of Two Boys in a Bed on A Cold Winter's Night runs through June 12, 2011 has been extended through June 26, July 17th, 2011.

City Theatre's Summer Shorts Festival plays at the Arsht Center through June 26, then moves to the Broward Center from June 30 - July 3, 2011.

passing through...

HAIR winds up the peace and love at the Broward Center this Sunday, June 19.

last chance to see...

The New Theatre ends its extended run of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire on June 19.

Palm Beach DramaWorks' critically acclaimed production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane winds it up on June 19.

The Music Man plays at the Stage Door Theatre through June 19.

for kids...

City Theatre's production of Camp Kappawanna plays the Kravis Center June 9 - 12, the Arsht Center June 15-26, and the Broward Center July 1-3, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The M Ensemble; Home (reviews)

The M Ensemble opened its production of HOME, by Samm-Art Williams, on June 9, 2011.  This marked the 40 year old company's first production in their new home at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse, in the Wynwood section of Miami.
The odyssey of Cephus Miles, from naive idealistic farmboy to destitute drugged-out subeversive to prodigal son returned to the land is both uniquely specific and undeniably universal.  It doesn't matter what your race is: the struggle to put down roots can lead to the hellish instability of rocky soil long before a redemptive fertile ground is found.
Luther Wells directs a cast that features Andre L. Gainy, Charita Coleman, and Carey Hart.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Perhaps with a nod to their new digs, Williams and Richardson have chosen Samm-Art Williams’ Home as their first effort in the simple, sleek surroundings. The play, which earned a 1980 Tony Award nomination when the Negro Ensemble Company took it to Broadway, is a solid choice.
Three able actors play out the story of North Carolina farmer Cephus Miles (AndrĂ© L. Gainey), a man who rediscovers the blessings of home after a life of trials and loss. Director Luther Wells makes good use of the simple “box” space, letting the actors roam a platform stage with little in the way of furniture or decoration. The focus stays on Williams’ words, which range from poetic passages to comic exchanges, pure storytelling and heartfelt interaction (with an undercurrent of desire) between Cephus and the love of his life, Pattie Mae (Charita Coleman, who also plays other small roles).
Director Wells pulls fine, often funny performances from Gainey, Coleman and Carey Hart, who plays multiple characters...
The M Ensemble presents HOME at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse through June 28, 2011.

Alliance Theatre Lab: Fool for Love (reviews)

Alliance Theatre Lab opened its production of Sam Shepard's Fool For Love on June 9, 2011.
The scene is a stark motel room at the edge of the Mojave Desert. May, a disheveled young woman, sits dejectedly on a rumpled bed while Eddie, a rough-spoken rodeo performer, crouches in a corner fiddling with his riding gear. When he attempts to console May, who is distressed by Eddie's frequent absences and love affairs, she seems, at first, to soften—but then she suddenly attacks him. As the recriminations pour out, and the action becomes, at times, physically violent, the desperate nature of their relationship becomes apparent—they cannot get along with, or without, one another, yet neither can subdue their burning passion. The poignancy of their situation (they are half-brother and half-sister as well as lovers) is pointed out by the play's two other characters: a hapless young man who stops by to take May to the movies and becomes the butt of Eddie's funniest yet most humiliating jokes; and a ghostly old man (perhaps their father) who sits in a rocking chair at the side of the stage, sipping whiskey and commenting wryly on what he observes. Eventually May and Eddie tire of their struggle and embrace—but it is evident that the respite is temporary and that their love, the curse of the past which haunts them, will remain forever damned and hopeless.
Adelberto Acevedo directed a cast that featured Arturo Fernandez, Jameson Hammond, Jehane Serralles, and George Schiavone.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
...what actors and directors like Alliance’s Adalberto Acevedo relish in Fool for Love is the chance to leap into edgy theater territory, see-sawing between quieter emotional moments and a shocking, unpredictable physicality.
Fernandez’s Eddie is a tall, rangy guy, soft-spoken and sly, a kind of latter-day Gary Cooper — except that he punctuates his points by shoving May into the wall of the cheap desert’s-edge motel room where she’s holed up. Serralles’ May is desperately trying to avoid falling down the rabbit’s hole of desire yet again, flailing and kneeing Eddie, giving as good (or as bad) as she gets.
With Shepard’s recent Ages of the Moon now at Plantation’s Mosaic Theatre, South Florida is getting an unofficial Sam Shepard mini-festival through June 26. Moon is latter-day Shepard, Fool for Love vintage and vital. Both are worth a look.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami ArtZine:
Director Adalberto J. Acevedo has presented a tight, sharp, seventy-minute diamond.   Wear your shades.   And this is becoming the norm at the Alliance.  I don't know how Acevedo does it (I've seen rehearsal photos of him clutching a baseball bat) but he consistently gets fine, natural work from his actors.  Of course, the actors not being chopped liver helps in a mighty way.
Fernandez' Eddie is a lanky rodeo rider with a rictus sardonicus smile that disembowels with every flash and Serralles' May, cafe waitress, bruised both ways, careens between cuddly and cruel, loving and hating.  These two give us the darkness of love as if they had truly lived the affair.
The Old Man, rocking and drinking, commenting in the minds of Eddie and May, revealing their secrets, is a role made for Schiavone.  He excels.
The four actors, the direction, the set, the sound (ah, the doors slamming) by Howard Ferre, the lighting by Will Cabrera, the costumes by Aubrey Shavonn Kessler, hell, just the whole thing, show, once again, that The Alliance Theatre Lab is doing things the right way.
Ron Levitt reviewed for ENV Magazine:
Ably  directed by Lab founder Adalberto J. Acevedo and acted by a handful of talented performers,  Fool For Love  takes no prisoners in exposing a battling reunion by these two characters in a seedy  motel room a the edge of the Mojave desert.
...watching Arturo Fernandez as Eddie, the lanky cowboy, and Jehane Serralles as May, the volatile feminine portion of this impossible duo, is an acting treat. They are two marvelous performers who milk almost as much pathos from their roles as their characters do sipping bourbon (a mainstay of many Shepard plays). is a grim tale, but the acting is so intense, it is the kind of performing you want to experience from the audience seat. You may not like or want to know these characters, but you will admire the actors who play them.
The Alliance Theatre Lab production of Fool for Love plays through June 26th, 2011.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mondays are Dark

Hopefully, we won't get any last minute bad news like we did this week.  Here's your Monday readying list.

Hometown Boy in the Big Apple
The Miami Herald catches up with Nova Southeastern's University School graduate Josh Gad, who, along with other cast members, was nominated for a Tony Award for Book of Mormon. (Leo Norbert Butz won the award).

A Wicket Time To Be Had
Entr'Acte Theatrix will be presenting its production of How To Succeed in Business (without really trying!) at the Caldwell Theatre June 16-26th,and BroadwayWorld tells us about it.  It's a sad state of affairs that the theatre's location is described as being "opposite Steinway Piano," as if more people are likely to know the store than one of South Florida's older theatre companies.

Going to the Beach
Next month, The Stage Door Theatre will be producing shows at the Byron Carlyle Theatre in Miami Beach, in addition to its Coral Springs location.  Talkin' Broadway gives us some background on the venue, and announces the first show they'll be presenting.

Whispers from The Grave
Florida Stage may be closed, but its blog 1st Draft is still updating.
It's been five days now (depending on when you started counting) that we've been closed. The week has brought sadness, confusion, anger (especially on the part of some of our subscribers), frustration and loss. We're still figuring out how to close things down, and especially to figure out what happens next.
Keep an Eye on this Guy
The Miracle Theatre Examiner (which has nothing to do with the theater on Miracle Mile) talks with City Theatre's Stephanie Norman about Jai Rodriguez.

It's a-coming
We're told that the 'go-live' date for Bill Hirschman's new blog, Florida Theater On Stage, will likely be mid-July.  And on another bright note, Bill was awarded first place for Arts Criticism by the South Florida chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Keynote Speaker
WeeBelly was in attendance at a recent keynote speech by Arena Stage's Molly Smith.
Smith, equally, pointed out that Theaters as organizations deserve loyalty from those whom they helped. Smith posited the question of what would have happened to Florida Stage had every writer and actor who had his/her start at that theater come to the aid of that theater in its time of need? As artists we are obligated to our theaters and theater communities just as much as we insist that our theaters are obligated to us.
Well, sure.  And had we known, I'm sure a number of us would have stepped up.

I know, I know, the recent closing of Florida Stage has brought one question to mind: What would Gary Waldman do?  Well, it seems you'd start a blog consisting of all the great reviews you've gotten over the years while totally ignoring the fact that virtually every company you formed to produce those plays closed owing people money.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Scene for June 10, 2011

While it's crushing news that we've lost Florida Stage, the rest of the theatre community carries on.  Christine Dolen weighed in this morning on her Blog, and other stories will keep appearing; we'll be adding them to the article we've already posted.

But for now, there's plenty happening  this week on The Scene-


Late addition - The M Ensemble opened its first production in its new space, a play fittingly entitled Home, by Samm-Art Williams.

Fool for Love opens at the Alliance Theatre Lab, through June 26th.

City Theatre opens Jai Rodriguez' Dirty Little Secrets at the Arsht Center through June 24; it will play the Broward Center on July 2.

you still haven't missed...

Ages of the Moon plays at Mosaic Theatre through June 26, 2011.

The New Theatre presents Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire through June 12, 2011. has extended through June 19.

Palm Beach DramaWorks' production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane plays through June 19.

The Music Man plays at the Stage Door Theatre through June 19.

City Theatre's Summer Shorts Festival plays at the Arsht Center through June 26, then moves to the Broward Center from June 30 - July 3, 2011.

passing through...
HAIR plays at the Broward Center through June 19.

last chance to see...

GableStage's critically acclaimed production of Sarah Ruhl's IN THE NEXT ROOM or The Vibrator Play, closes June 12.

Rising Action Theatre production of Two Boys in a Bed on A Cold Winter's Night runs through June 12, 2011.

Infinite Abyss Productions ends its extended run of Hedwig and the Angry Inchon June 11.

for kids...

City Theatre's production of Camp Kappawanna plays the Kravis Center June 9 - 12, the Arsht Center June 15-26, and the Broward Center July 1-3, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mosaic Theatre: Ages of the Moon (4-1/4 reviews)

Mosaic Theatre opened its production of Sam Shepard's Ages of the Moon on June 2, 2011.
A gruffly poignant and darkly funny play. Byron and Ames are old friends, re-united by mutual desperation. Over bourbon on ice, they sit, reflect and bicker until fifty years of love, friendship and rivalry are put to the test at the barrel of a gun.
Richard Jay Simon directed a cast that featured Dennis Creaghan and Gordon McConnell.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
The volatile drama... onstage at Plantation’s Mosaic Theatre ...serves as a reminder of why Shepard deserves all that reverence. And it provides rich performance opportunities for a pair of South Florida’s best actors, Dennis Creaghan and Gordon McConnell.
Director Richard Jay Simon and his dynamic acting duo mine the comedy, conflict and machismo so typical of Shepard’s work, even as they explore the autumnal mood of Ages of the Moon. The playwright is now in his late 60s, shifting his attention from violent sibling rivalry and toxic family relationships to the things that bedevil men as they approach the end.
Working the little porch of set designer Douglas Grinn’s weathered brick house, McConnell and Creaghan offer a master class in acting that seems casually conversational even as it hints at the explosive moments to come. Creaghan communicates Ames’ misplaced indignation at his current fate and his dawning realization that he really screwed up this time. McConnell takes Ames and the audience to a place of unbearable pain when he recalls Byron’s lost love.

John Thomason offers another freshman effort for the Broward New Times:
Shepard has transcended the meager necessity of narrative, creating a minor-key, twilight-era masterpiece.
For its regional premiere of the work, Mosaic Theatre has assembled an impeccable duo, the Tyson and Holyfield of over-50 actors in South Florida.
Under Richard J. Simon's appropriately understated direction, McConnell and Creaghan appear effortlessly calibrated to Shepard's verbal oddness. So many Shepard characters are formed by the experiences of a lifetime of hard luck; these two tireless workhorses certainly fit into that flock, looking utterly displaced in a physical, emotional, and existential Nowheresville. Ages of the Moon may not be the playwright's ultimate work, but it has the tender wisdom of a swan song.
Thomason (or whatever passes as his editor) still isn't getting what makes a play review, but it's closer.  He never says why he compared the two to a pair of heavyweight boxers; is there a fight scene?  And an example of "effortless calibration" actually comes before that phrase, rather than after, when it would make sense, and support the use of the phrase:
McConnell, in particular, is great at conveying a sense of unease in his character. He can never quite get comfortable in his surroundings, sitting with one foot in his Adirondack chair and tapping the other one on the ground nervously.
We never get an example of Creaghan's work, unless the descriptions of his character are meant to illustrate that.  But if the review doesn't separate script from stagecraft, the reader is left in the dark.  It's a positive review, poorly constructed,  a mish-mosh of ideas poured out of a blender instead of carefully edited to create a well-crafted and informative review.  But at least the elements are appearing.

Rod Stafford Hagwood (now credited as "staff writer") vomits up 466 words for the corpse of the Sun Sentinel, and when you sift through an endless narration of the script, what we're left with is:
It is that unease about time and place that director Richard Jay Simon has loosely tethered this lean production, unfolding the play without any tricks (some of Shepard's funnier lines could have been milked to death; thankfully they are not). The actors avoid corny the way their characters would apple-tinis, that is to say they get nowhere near it.

And while the ending feels like a swing and a miss, it is the previous 60 or so spellbinding minutes in this one act that leave a wistful impression about poignant loss and growing older.
So, they "avoid corny," and it's "spellbinding."  Gee, thanks Rod.  Not sure why I still bother checking out the "Stunned-Senseless."  Morbid curiosity, I suppose.

Roger Martin reviewed for Miami ArtZine:
These two guys know all the tricks.  And the beauty part is that they don't use them.   So we get Dennis Creaghan and Gordon McConnell sucking us so far into their portrayals of Ames and Byron that we worry for their health.  Physical and mental.
The seventy minutes fly by like seven when these two start on their stories.  Horses, fishing, honeymoons, bikers, flagellants and women, always the women.   An evening with great monologues ...but this show is not all talk, talk.  Anything but.  Their physicality is a delight.

Ages of the Moon is a surprising piece, full of humor, and director Richard J. Simon picks out every nuance.

This is not a cutting session between two actors; it's a performance that makes you realize just how far these two, Creaghan and McConnell, have come in their profession.  Right to the top.
Ron Levitt reviewed for ENV Magazine:
There seems to be a proclivity  for brilliant  playwrights to script plays in which the main roles – two ageing characters  —   are getting ready for their  final days. And, few do it better than author Sam Shepard, whose latest trip into the vast unknown takes shape at the Mosaic Theatre here.
Led by Director Richad Jay Simon, Creaghan and McConnell  provide an entertaining look at two characters trying to find meaning in their final days.   Creaghan provides  a knockout performance as the volatile Ames, ready to take on anything which displeases him, and McConnell, as always, is at the top of his acting game. Watching these two veteran performers pace themselves is like a semester course in acting techniques.
The desolate, remote cottage porch  where all of the verbal action goes on is the visible  creation of  Douglas Grinn, a  worthy set for this production, and sound by Matt Corey and  lighting by John Hall add to the intensity of this play.
Ages of the Moon plays at Mosaic Theatre through June 26, 2011.

National Tour: Hair (4 reviews)

The National tour of the Broadway revival of Hair opened at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on May 31, 2011.
The Public Theater's new production of HAIR is the most electric celebration on Broadway! This exuberant musical about a group of young Americans searching for peace and love in a turbulent time has struck a resonant chord with audiences young and old. Featuring an extraordinary cast and dozens of unforgettable songs including "Aquarius," "Let the Sun Shine In," "Good Morning, Starshine" and "Easy To Be Hard." Its relevance is undeniable. Its energy is unbridled. Its truth is unwavering. It’s HAIR, and it's time.
Diane Paulus Directed a cast that included Caren Lyn Tackett, Steel Burkhardt , Paris Remillard, Phyre Hawkins, Darius Nichols, Kacie Shiek, Cailan Rose, and Josh Lamon.  Choreography by Karole Armitage.

Beau Higgins reviewed for
The direction of this production of HAIR by Diane Paulus and the choreography by Karole Armitage keep this "new" HAIR alive, moving, and bursting with life. HAIR is dangerously close to being creaky and frayed at The Edges. Fear not. The "creatives" and the exuberant cast make this HAIR one to love and one you will want to revisit as often as you can.
Galt MacDermot's music still enchants us and often, makes us feel decades younger... It is the book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado that are of chief concern with any production of HAIR. The opening song tells us we are in the age of Aquarius. I am not sure if we still are. Was the age of Aquarius something that took place in the 1960s and is gone forever? I don't know. I also don't know if young theatergoers will know what a hippie is or was and I'm not sure if they will get swept up in the joy of this show.
Steel Burkhardt as Berger and Paris Remillard as Claude are vocally gifted, easy on the eyes, and lead this tribe and this show as though they were longtime veterans of the musical theater. They are great.
Laura Souto Laramee attended on behalf of the Palm Beach Post:
For those of us 40-somethings out there, the nostalgic symbols and catchy tunes of “Aquarius” and “Good Morning Starshine” catch in the mind. The brilliant cast shows its love throughout the night wearing peace symbols, beads — or in many cases, very little.
Paris Remillard’s performance of “Manchester England” as Claude made one begin to realize that the full cast would be amazing. Of course there is the charismatic Berger, played by Steel Burkhardt — a star exuding ultra positive “Zen” energy.

Honestly, there are too many wonderful moments to mention during the first act but the scene many in the crowd enjoyed most is the performance of the title track, sung by Claude, Berger and Tribe (entire cast). The most provocative moment is, of course, at the end of Act 1 just before intermission where the 20-second nude scene occurs.
J.W. Arnold reviewed for South Florida Gay News:
Clothing, hairstyles, and music may change with the passing of each generation, but the angst of youth remains constant. This was my realization while watching Hair, the touring production that recently transferred to the Broward Center after a week-long run at Miami’s Arsht Center.
Allison Guinn and Josh Lamon deliver hilarious takes as Claude’s nerdy parents and Lamon follows up with a gender-bending visit from “Margaret Mead,” who grants her approval to the tribe’s countercultural ways. The cast is rounded out by a dozen other talented performers who gyrate and glide through an abundance of simulated sex scenes and eventually take it all off. Singing and dancing apparently weren’t the only requirements to get cast in this show and I’ll leave it at that.
Under Diane Paulus’ direction, this production, which first wowed Broadway crowds and earned a 2009 Tony for best revival, is exuberant and downright boisterous as the cast sings about “Hashish” and “Sodomy” and the virtues of “Black Boys” and “White Boys.” Choreographer Karole Armitage stages energetic numbers that take the cast into the audience frequently as they alternately celebrate sex and drugs and protest the constrictions of proper society and later the despised Vietnam War.
Consider this: The members of the tribe would be in their sixties today, eligible for Social Security and Medicare and all the other establishment institutions they once reviled. Their grandchildren, the statistics tell us, are still experimenting with sex and drugs. Marijuana is practically legal in many states. And, while those grandchildren are more likely to express themselves through text messages and Facebook posts, instead of signs and graffiti, many of them protest an unpopular war that is sending their friends to their deaths.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Now at Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and bound for the Broward Center next week, the Tony Award-winning revival of Hair serves as a boisterous, in-your-face kickoff to a summer that hopefully will be filled with more peace and love than conflict and hurricanes. As staged by hot director Diane Paulus and choreographer Karole Armitage, Hair is faithful to its concept-musical roots. In other words, the show is more thrilling vintage concert than a piece that bothers with a strong start-to-finish story.
What Hair has in abundance are infectious, well-known songs performed by a handsome cast with great voices. So what’s not to like?

Not much, unless you’re one of those interactive theater phobics who gets nervous when the fourth wall comes crashing down. That happens a lot in Hair, so if you’re in an aisle seat near the front of the orchestra section, be prepared.
With conductor-keyboard player David Truskinoff and a tight, fabulous band delivering concert-level music, the strong actor-singers work their way through a score immortalized on the show’s hugely successful original-cast album.
Though not for today’s actual kiddies — the cast stands proud and naked at the end of the first act, much of Armitage’s choreography is baldly sexual, and there is that song titled SodomyHair, for anyone else, is no mere blast from the past. It’s a blast, period.
The National Tour of Hair plays at the  Broward Center  through June 19.

One More Example of How To Do It Right

Florida Stage has closed its doors, but information is still coming through its blog, 1st Stage.  The final (?) entry; Closing FAQs.
Why has Florida Stage closed?
It started with the recession of 2008. The number of long-time subscribers began to dwindle...
But the best part is the last:
With the closing of Florida Stage, why should I support other arts organizations?
Click through to read their response.

If I had not worked at Florida Stage, it is unlikely that I would have created the South Florida Theatre Scene.  It's exactly the kind of outreach they are still exhibiting that drives this blog; the sense that a little more can be done to make the point.  And I learned that, or imbibed it or whatever, at Florida Stage.

Florida Stage is gone, now.  Its death should shock and awe all of us.  And it should launch us into action; save the theatres that are still around us.  Save them all.

It doesn't take millions of dollars, although if you have them, it's nice to share.  And if you do have them, well, now's the time.  But you can still help save your local theater.

All you have to do is buy a ticket to each show.  Better still, gather your friends, and each of you buy one.  Even the discounted tickets add up.

So go. See a show.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Florida Stage, 1987-2011 (updated 6/11)

6/11/11 - added links to Playbill, Palm Beach ArtsPaper and Talkin' Broadway.
6/9/11 -added links to Post story and The Drama Queen

Not only is this a story we didn't want to hear, it's a story we never imagined we'd be hearing.  Florida Stage was the model of "how to do it."  Their unheard of 90% subscriber base meant that shows were guaranteed to sell out, and they were achieving this level of sales based on dates alone - the titles were often announced months after the subscriptions were opened for renewal.   They were a company that was actually selling theatre, not shows.

They kept productions firmly within the budget grasp; when the cast grew, the set shrank.  As Theatre Club of the Palm Beaches, the company mastered a design style jokingly described as "two chairs and a wall."  But they always hired talented designers to make the most of what they had.  There might not have been much there, but what was there was the best it could be.

When the company left the "kitchen table" stage, they brought in experts to analyze their operation, and help them create an organization that was efficient and practical.  Louis Tyrell and Theatre Club marked the first time a not-for-profit won Businessman of the Year from the Chamber of Commerce.

But too many sponsors lost too much money when the economy crashed, too many of the patrons died off before they could be replaced, and too many of the patrons that remained were unwilling or unable to make the trip to downtown West Palm Beach.

Perhaps the company was a victim of its own success.

Consider that 90% subscriber base; 90% left only 10% of of the seats available to non-subscribers, and most of those likely went to friends or guests of the subscribers.  It's hard to bring in new patrons when you don't have any seats to sell them; your pool of prospective ticket buyers evaporates when they keep calling for tickets only to be told "Sorry!  We are SOLD OUT!"  And that happened frequently over the years.

It's not that Florida Stage wasn't reaching out to new patrons; they just didn't have anyplace to put them.  And when they finally had the seats, the economy had collapsed, with Palm Beach County being among the hardest-hit communities in the country.

The demise of Florida Stage is a cautionary tale to us all; if they can fail, any theatre can.

Here's a round-up of all the stories about the end of Florida Stage.  It's a story that caught all of us off guard.

Playbill gave it the kind of weight only a major media outlet could give:
The nationally recognized theatre in West Palm Beach specializing in developing new plays was crippled by the poor economy, its leaders said. It curtain fell because of faltering donor support, meager sales for the coming season subscriptions and even worse advance sales for a musical slated to open in ten days. "We're out of the business; we're done," said Michael Gepner, the director of marketing who was audibly shaken during a telephone interview Monday.
They also note how quickly this came upon us:
As recently as two weeks ago, administrators were optimistic about the long-term survival of the company, although upfront about the fiscal challenges. Fifty-six percent of the non-subscribing ticket buyers this past season were first-time patrons. Administrators believe that showed the move and the marketing was attracting a new and presumably younger audience with a future.

The Miami Herald tells us that the company that boasted a 90% subscription base for decades lost most of them:
Ticket sales for the planned summer return of the musical Ella have been small, but more worrisome were 2011-2012 season-subscription sales. During its best year in the Manalapan quarters it occupied until moving to the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach a year ago, Florida Stage had 7,000 subscribers. Fewer than 2,000 had signed on for the new season.
A lot of theatres have been losing subscribers, but many of them balanced the loss against single-ticket sales.  But no one could survive THAT kind of drop.
"It's the end of an era," said playwright Michael McKeever, whose The Garden of Hannah List and Charlie Cox Runs With Scissors had their world premieres at Florida Stage. " They gave me my career. The loss to me is devastating: You're looking at one of the flagship theaters in South Florida. For a theater of its caliber to shut its doors says an incredible amount about the times in which we live and the lack of respect for the arts."
The thing that probably stings the most is that this was a theatre that was dedicated not simply to doing plays, but to expanding the library of plays in the world.  Florida Stage wasn't a stepping stone, it was the starting line.

Christine Dolen followed up from a more personal angle on The Drama Queen:
And yes, for those of us who spend our nights watching plays then analyzing them for readers, losing a company that has made so many of those nights interesting or wonderful or thought-provoking just plain hurts.  Oh, there were plenty of times that I drove north to Manalapan or, in the past year, West Palm Beach for a Florida Stage show and drove home with the word "why" tumbling around in my brain.  Why that show? Why that staging? Why a particular actor?  But actually, even when I was less than crazy about a Florida Stage play, I could nearly always figure out why Tyrell chose the script.  Something about the writer's voice.  Or the ideas in the script.  Or the creative passion it stirred in him.
The Palm Beach Post's story is based primarily on the press release, but there are lot of comments attached to it.  It's pretty heated, and mostly hot air. A lot of the commenters are erroneously concluded that the move to the Kravis Center caused their debt; and that seems not to be the case. 
"By moving to the Rinker Playhouse, our rent and utilities were reduced by $200,000.  The wonderful Kravis Center facility and staff took over security, front-of-house and usher operations, and provided additional box office services, among many other collaborative efficiencies." - Louis Tyrell
The Palm Beach Post followed up the closing from the patron's point of view.
"Those are the breaks," said Nelkin, an arts patron from Boynton Beach. "We
could file a claim in the bankruptcy filing, but it's not worth the trouble."

Other subscribers are expressing unhappiness and anger.

"It's like stealing our money," said Bob Segal of Lake Worth.
And they talked to others in the arts community.
The Palm Beach County Cultural Council is looking into the idea of giving unhappy subscribers "compensation of some kind, including free shows at other theaters," Executive Director Rena Blades said.

She doesn't believe Florida Stage acted in bad faith. "A bankruptcy, from my understanding, is a snapshot in time. There comes a moment when there's no going back. It's just crummy for everybody."
It's important to realize that the staff really did not know the theater was about to close - the sales staff and development team were acting on the assumption that they would be delivering product.

Palm Beach ArtsPaper makes no bones about its position on the company's recent move:
Not mentioned among the factors in the bankruptcy decision was Florida Stage's move last summer from its former home in Manalapan to the Kravis Center's Rinker Playhouse.  Although that move resulted in a saving of $200,000 in rent and utilities, substantial numbers of subscribers were unhappy with the new venue. The subscriber base shrank at the Kravis for this past season to less than 2,000, compared to more than 7,000 at the company's high point.
Sure, the drop in subscribers comes on the heels of the first season at the Kravis Center, but you have to factor in that a lot of Florida Stage's subscriber base was in their 60s and 70s when the theatre opened twenty-odd years ago, and they retained most of the those same subscribers until this past year - chances are good that as many of them died as simply decided not to make the drive.  And a good many have probably found themselves unable to afford theatre tickets; it's not just the unemployed that are finding themselves short of income; a lot of nest eggs have been evaporating, since a fixed income doesn't square well with a steadily rising increase in the cost of living.

Maybe more subscribers lived in the south county than we think, and maybe they really did simply hate the venue that much.  But they moved nine miles.  You'd think they'd emigrated to another country.


Hap Erstein weighed in with a reflective piece in the Palm Beach Artspaper:
Florida Stage was such a model for regional theaters who devote themselves to  adventuresome new work that the theater critics for the daily newspapers in South Florida often nominated Florida Stage for a Tony Award. And there were reasons to believe that we were inching closer to gaining that recognition for the company.

Andie Arthur weighs in at 2AMtheatre:
This loss is really weighing heavily on me and my community. I know that we need to band together and work to ensure that the rest of the community won't suffer. As the executive director of the South Florida Theatre League, I'm going to do what I can to maintain that sense of family in this community. But for now we need to grieve and share our stories and love for this theatre company that has played such a large role in the South Florida Theatre community.

Talkin' Broadway mostly recapitulates the theatre's own press release, but does add some personal spin:
The history and impact of Florida Stage will live on as a legacy to Palm Beach County culture. The world-class artists who have graced its stage with their remarkable talents - from playwrights to actors, directors, designers, and the team of theatre professionals who are the true unsung heroes of the theatre - they will move on to create memorable theatre art wherever they go. And perhaps a new audience can be found and developed for the kind of thought-provoking new work for which Florida Stage has become renowned. Time will tell. 

There are still a lot of great theatres in South Florida.  But not one of them can fill the void left by Florida Stage.

Florida Stage Goes Dark

Yes, it's official.  Arguably the most successful theatre company in South Florida has shut its doors.

Florida Stage
For Immediate Release
Monday, June 6, 2011

Florida Stage files for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Protection

The theatre company ceases operations with the close of The Cha-Cha of a Camel Spider on June 5, 2011

Florida Stage, one of America’s premiere professional theatre companies
dedicated exclusively to the development and production of new American
plays, today announced the decision of its Board of Trustees to file
for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in the United States Bankruptcy
Court. This decision was based upon several critical financial
challenges currently facing the organization, specifically a marked
downturn in subscription sales for its 2011-12 Season, negligible ticket
sales for the summer production of ELLA, and a lack of response to the
company’s intensive fundraising efforts, which has resulted in an
accumulated debt of $1.5 Million and an exhaustion of funds to continue

“We have made the difficult, but necessary,
decision to cease Florida Stage operations,” said Michael Schultz,
Co-Chairman of the Florida Stage Board of Trustees. “Faced with such
financial challenges, declining ticket revenues, and insufficient
donations, we had no choice but to close the theatre company.”

Problems began with the current economic recession, starting in the fall
of 2008. The company experienced a decline in ticket revenue and
donations, which was further exacerbated by many of their contributors
who were victims of the Bernard Madoff scandal. Florida Stage
immediately began a budget cutting process, which resulted in furloughs,
layoffs, and a reduction of their overall budget from $4.1 Million to
under $3 Million. These proactive and important steps were simply not
enough to solve all of the issues they faced. In spite of what the
industry publication, Backstage, called "...the most anticipated shows
of the regional season", their revenue stream continued to diminish.

With their highly anticipated move to the Kravis Center, it seemed
clear that they had found a perfect solution to their situation. In
tough economic times, reduce redundancies, maximize efficiencies, and
expand collaborations. “We felt that our relocation to the Kravis Center
was a model of how to respond to the ‘new normal’ of the economic
downturn,” said producing director Louis Tyrrell, who founded the
company in 1984 as The Learning Stage, which brought theatre and
arts-education to hundreds of thousands of children over the years in
the Palm Beach County School District. “By moving to the Rinker
Playhouse, our rent and utilities were reduced by $200,000. The
wonderful Kravis Center facility and staff welcomed us warmly, and took
over security, front-of-house and usher operations, and provided
additional box office services, among many other collaborative
efficiencies. And moving to the center of the Palm Beach County
community, we were sure that an expanded audience would welcome us to
our new home, especially with the cross-pollination potential of both
the Florida Stage and Kravis Center audiences.” But, instead of audience
growth, the company experienced a continuing reduction in ticket sales.
The Florida Stage subscriber base has diminished from more than 7,000
at its height to less than 2,000 for the 2011-12 Season.

in these many years and nearly 150 plays produced, Florida Stage was
beloved by many, and developed a national reputation for its bold
mission of producing exclusively new work that was always provocative
and innovative, challenging theatrical boundaries. Despite their current
plight, there are deep emotions and an abiding commitment to this
theatre company. “Florida Stage is a milestone in my growth as a
playwright,” said playwright William Mastrosimone. “Its focus on new and
emerging work allows for established playwrights like myself to launch
new work, but more importantly, young playwrights have a home to grow
their talent so that the art may live for another generation.” And Helen
Merrill Award-winner, Deborah Zoe Laufer, whose first professional
production debuted at Florida stage, said, “Nobody has had more to do
with the fact that I’m a playwright than Florida Stage.”

its start in the Palm Beach County Schools, students were given their
first theatre experiences, which helped them discover their inner
selves, and through their own writing and performance opportunities,
they built their confidence and communication skills. In 1987, in
residence at the Duncan Theatre at Palm Beach State College (as Theatre
Club of the Palm Beaches), Florida Stage grew quickly, from 400 to more
than 4,000 subscribers in its first four years. Outgrowing the small
college lecture hall, they moved to the Plaza Del Mar in Manalapan in
1991 where, with the generous support of Lois Pope, the company
continued to expand.

Throughout this time, the generosity of
their Board of Trustees, individual patrons, foundations, corporations,
the Palm Beach County Cultural Council and Tourist Development Council,
the Betty Bell Educational Trust, the State of Florida, the National
Endowment for the Arts, and most recently, with the Florida Stage
relocation, the Board and staff of the Kravis Center, and the Mayor and
staff of the City of West Palm Beach, all contributed to the support of
the Florida Stage mission and the excellence of its acclaimed
productions, until the economic downturn and the loss of its core
audience began to take its toll.

The history and impact of
Florida Stage will live on as a legacy to Palm Beach County culture. The
world-class artists who have graced its stage with their remarkable
talents - from playwrights to actors, directors, designers, and the team
of theatre professionals who are the true unsung heroes of the theatre -
they will move on to create memorable theatre art wherever they go. And
perhaps a new audience can be found and developed for the kind of
thought-provoking new work for which Florida Stage has become renowned.
Time will tell.

"Most of all," said Tyrrell, "we appreciate the
audience that has been there for us throughout these last 24 years.
They are the reason Florida Stage was able to exist. They, our cherished
patrons, are the reason we were able to birth so many new plays that
have gone on to thrill and astonish audiences around the country. For
this, we are eternally grateful. For having to draw our curtain, we are

Mondays are Dark

It's that time again: time for your Monday reading list. But first, we should point out that this Monday isn't actually completely dark: Zoetic Stage is presenting a play reading at GableStage at 7pm.  And it's not by Michael McKeever.  Stuart Meltzer wrote tonight's offering, Better Than Damn Good.

It Goes to Eleven
Mosaic Theatre announces its next season. Mostly.

Stick Some Star Power In Them Shorts
City Theatre has signed on Jai Rodrguez to join the ensemble of Summer Shorts, and to perform his late-night cabaret, Dirty Little Secrets. The show will be replacing the adult-themed Under Shorts programming.  The Miami Herald talks with Rodriguez, and City Theatre producing artistic director Stephanie Norman.

Speaking of Stars
The Shiny Sheet reports that Steven Caras, late of Palm Beach DramaWorks, is the subject of a documentary playing on WXEL Channel 42 this Tuesday.  The show chronicles his work as a ballet dancer and dance photographer.

Girl Women Power.
Drama, Daily continues its series of interviews featuring directors interviewing other directors.  This time, women are featured.

When Bigger's Not Better
Smarts And Culture riffs on the inadequacies of certain combinations of words.

She's not in Kansas Anymore
Minnesota Playlist publishes an open letter to the Governor of Kansas, from an artist who doesn't live there anymore.
In the last 13 years I can safely tell you that no one--not one single person--has ever asked why I left Kansas. Because my career is in the arts. The assumption is that, because I wanted to make a career and a living in the arts, I had to leave Kansas.
It’s not impossible to make a living in the arts in Kansas – I have many friends who are making a go of it—but the opportunities are scarce. And you’ve just made those opportunities even scarcer by eliminating support for the Kansas Arts Commission.
There’s a financial consequence: In the last 13 years, I’ve paid approximately $22,000 in state income taxes and $15,000 in state sales tax. I bought a car, a house, had a wedding – all in Minnesota. That money could have gone to the Sunflower State instead of the Gopher State.
Repeat after me: arts jobs are jobs, too.

Despite cuts in funding, The Miami Herald reports that Miami, at least, is exploding with culture.  And they're not talking about yogurt.
In 2007, a study sponsored by the Cultural Affairs Council found that almost 13 million people attended cultural events in Miami-Dade, with a billion-dollar economic impact. While there are no more recent comparable reports, evidence suggests that arts attendance has soared since.
The Next Generation
We get a teen's take on the Palm Beach DramaWorks production  of The Beauty Queen of Leenane, courtesy of Groundlings.

A Tipple Tiff
The Playgoer stirs up heated debate about the new trend to allow patrons to bring their drinks into the house.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

New Theatre: A Streetcar Named Desire (reviews)

New Theatre opened its production of Tennessee Williams' classic drama A Streetcar Named Desire on May 27, 2011.
This modern classic follows the decline of a fading Southern belle and the sexy, beer-chugging barbarian responsible for her tragic fall.
Ricky J. Martinez directed a cast that included Elise Girardin, Travis Reiff, Angie Radosh, Clint Hooper, Steven A. Chambers, Kitt Marsh, Dawn A. Plummer, John McGlothlin, and Charles Sothers.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
New Theatre’s effort, staged by artistic director Ricky J. Martinez, veers multiple times from serviceable to fulfilling.
The reliable, inventive Angie Radosh gets the plum role of faded Southern belle Blanche DuBois...  Radosh conveys the many facets of a desperate woman’s character.
More impressive is Elise Girardin as Stella... Reed-thin and full of moxie, Girardin makes clear Stella’s erotic bond to her loud, quick-tempered husband. And that is some acting, as Travis Reiff’s Stanley is hardly a hunk in the manner of the first Stanley, the swoon-inducing young Marlon Brando. Reiff is almost low-key (except when he’s hollering “Stella!” and the like), and alongside the actresses playing the disparate DuBois sisters, he barely registers.
Sporadically, New Theatre’s Streetcar underscores the timeless power of a great play. But that thrill of rediscovering a classic? The excitement of watching a new group of actors bring famous characters to life? That’s not happening in Coral Gables.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami ArtZine:
Each of the actors has moments worth applauding and each at times seems directionless.  Luckily the good bits outweigh the poor and this Tennessee Williams masterpiece is worth seeing despite the flaws.
Travis Reif's Stanley is a soft man with an occasionally violent temper rather than a cunning brute who abuses because it pleases him.  He truly loves Stella and is all the weaker for it.  As a result, his fury seems forced.  There is little edge
Clint Hooper, a quiet, almost overly controlled actor, makes Mitch a shade, an out of place unlikely pal of Kowalski...
The two women, Elise Girardin as Stella and Angie Radosh as Blanche are much stronger.  Girardin is a natural as Stella... Radosh is ultimately the star of the show as she makes the most of this chance to play the infamous Blanche...
A Streetcar Named Desire plays at New Theatre through June 12, 2011.

The Scene for June 3, 2011

Well, our three-day Memorial Day weekend started on Memorial Day, so we're a little behind here at The Scene.  There are reviews out, and we'll be getting them linked later this afternoon.  But in the meantime, you can check out the links in the sidebar, and of course, the listings are below.

So here's what's happening this week on The Scene-


Sam Shepard's Ages of the Moon opens at Mosaic Theatre, and will run through June 26.

you still haven't missed...

The New Theatre presents Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire through June 3, 2011.

GableStage opens Sarah Ruhl's IN THE NEXT ROOM or The Vibrator Play, through June 12.

Rising Action Theatre production of Two Boys in a Bed on A Cold Winter's Night runs through June 12, 2011.

Palm Beach DramaWorks' production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane plays through June 19.

The Music Man plays at the Stage Door Theatre through June 19.

Infinite Abyss Productions production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch closes June 4th has been extended, with additional shows on June 10 and June 11..

passing through...

HAIR comes to the Arsht Center, through this Sunday, June 5.  But don't sweat it - it moves to the Broward Center on Tuesday, where it will play through June 19.

It's not quite a musical, but there's acting and costumes, so we'll add RAIN, A Tribute to the Beatles, to our list of shows.  It plays this weekend at The Kravis Center.  If the show reminds you of something called BeatleMania, well, the same core group put both shows together. 

last chance to see...

The Cha-Cha of a Camel Spider ends its premiere run at Florida Stage on June 5.

The Promethean Theatre Company production of Three Days of Rain ends its run at Nova Southeast University's Black Box Theatre this Sunday, June 5, 2011.

The 39 Steps closes at Actors' Playhouse on Sunday, June 5.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Stage Door Theatre: The Music Man (6 reviews)

The Stage Door Theatre opened its production of The Music Man on April 29, 2011.
A con man comes to a Midwestern town with a scam using a boy's marching band program, but things don't go according to plan when he falls in love with the town librarian. One of the most famous American Musicals ever written, the award winning score includes: “Trouble in River City”, “Seventy Six Trombones” and “Till There Was You”.
Dan Kelley directed a cast that included Jonathon Van Dyke, Colleen Amaya, Max Greenberg, Juliana Simone Carrasco, Kevin Reilly, Jason Whitfield, Adam Kee, Justin Lore and Jonathan Bauchman.

Ron Levitt reviewed for ENV Magazine:
In fact, what makes this regional production so worthwhile and charming are the number of new and old names attached to this particular show. Just look at the size of this cast!    Even if you consider the show hackneyed – even old-fashioned, you will want to know more about the people in the cast.  Many are just at the start of their careers and – even some of the veterans are hopeful that  you will remember who they are. One must give Broward  Stage Door credit for  giving so many chances for recognition to  those trying to make a name for themselves, thus earning a clap of your hands or even, a standing ovation.
The main reason for such applause at  performances of  Meredith Willson’s  legendary musical is a unique combination:   astute direction by Dan Kelley, the personality of its two stars –  Jonathan Van Dyke as the fast talking Professor Harold Hill  and  Colleen Amaya as the prim librarian; an ensemble that looks as if it is enjoying each performance  — and most especially a group of young dancers/singers  and  what could be a barber shop quartet, both of whom – under the guidance of Choreographer Chrissi  Ardito –  actually steal many of the scenes in this popular show.
John Thomason reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
The Broward Stage Door's commitment to the show's uniqueness is commendable. Boasting a topnotch, 26-piece cast, this is a standup production from a venue that seems to be improving with age.
Jonathan Van Dyke is an exuberant, physically engaging Harold Hill...  Colleen Amaya is even better as Marian Paroo, bringing a soaring, operatic voice to Hill's prim and proper love interest.
Stage Door's set design is merely functional, as usual, but Allen Wilson's costume design evokes the Midwestern period attire with fitting nostalgia.
John Lariviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway:
The pre-recorded instrumental tracks work well but at times are a bit tinny sounding. Because the show is about a live band, part of the joy is lost by not having live musicians.
Jonathan Van Dyke has the smooth style, good looks, and singing and dancing talents for a great Harold Hill. He is missing some of the essence of the cad in his performance, however. If we want to see Hill transformed by his love for Marion, he needs to be noticeably more manipulative or self-centered in the beginning.
Colleen Amaya
has a beautiful singing voice... She goes a bit too far in an attempt to give us a prim, upright Marian in the beginning of the show. It comes off at times as if she the actress is stiff and uptight. Van Dyke and Amaya do a good job, but are in need of minor directorial adjustments.
Missy McArdle is hysterical as Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn, and her cronies the "Pick-a-Little" ladies are a treat to watch. Kevin Reilley milks the role of Charlie Cowell, making the character so smarmy you might want to bathe. Usually the children on stage are given more credit than they might deserve because they are young and cute, but in this case both Max Greenberg as Winthrop and Juliana Simone Carrasco as Amaryllis could easily steal the show if given more scenes.
The ensemble is a joy to watch. Choreography by Chrissi Ardito uses the space and talents of the actors to the fullest... The most memorable parts of the evening are the large ensemble scenes, as they sing and dance the familiar and beloved Willson melodies.
Rod Stafford Hagwood reviewed for The Sun-Sentinel:
Yes, the production looks buttoned-down smart and goodness knows the jaunty choreography gives this old chestnut much of its gusto and gumption... If only the show could maintain the snap, crackle pop of the opening number "Rock Island," that syncopated showstopper that mimics the motion and sound of a train carrying traveling salesmen to their territories.
...what this production is a little light on the oiliness, slipperiness, and... bewitching charisma... everything is anticipated, so when Harold Hill does one of his linguistic twists... it seems practiced to perfection and thus the thrill is gone.
The blandness is broken here and there with standout performances from Colleen Amaya (a crystalline soprano) as librarian and piano teacher Marian Paroo and Michael-Alan Read (mugging shamelessly) as Marcellus Washburn. Kevin Reilley puts some much-needed risk into his characterization of Charlie Cowell, the leering, sneering salesman who tries to expose the fraudster. And child actors Max Greenberg as Winthrop and Juliana S. Carrasco effortlessly upstage almost everyone.
But the songs are as good as gold... and director Dan Kelley stages them confidently.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami ArtZine:
Dan Kelley directed the adequate 26-member cast, and that's damning them with faint praise.  Jonathan Van Dyke as “Professor” Harold Hill has the con man's charm and a good voice, but lacks bombast and punch and so we get, as an example, “Ya Got Trouble” as a performance piece rather than a showstopper.  Colleen Amaya as Marian the Librarian has a gorgeous voice but, as so many in the cast do, treats us to some fine examples of musical comedy acting.  Indeed, one young woman in particular could make big bucks teaching mugging.  You'll spot her, don't worry.
Young Max Greenberg as the lisping Winthrop is a delight as is Juliana Simone Carrasco as Amaryllis, but these are two very young actors and there's a lot of cuteness there.
Chrissi Ardito's excellent choreography shines despite the awkwardly designed set that left the dancers with little stage space. The truly wonderful costumes are from Costume World.
The Music Man plays at The Stage Door Theatre through June 19, 2011.