Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Scene for July 29, 2011

These really are the dog days of summer.   Two excellent productions are closing: Stuff at the Caldwell, and Infinite Abyss Production's The Pillowman at Empire Stage.  If you haven't seen either, try to squeeze both of them in.  Stuff is the lighter-hearted of the two, with excellent production values. This Pillowman is stripped-down, but the intimate space adds to its impact.  Either way, you win.

Here's this week's Scene:


Stage Door Theatre kicks off its Miami Beach series with SUDS; the Rocking 60's Musical.  It runs through September 4, 2011 at the Byron Carlyle Theater.  If the title sounds vaguely familiar, it's because they ran it last year.

you still haven't missed...

See Jane Run! plays at Actors Playhouse through August 14, 2011.

Masked plays at GableStage through August 7, 2011

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

The Stage Door Theatre also offers Crossing Delancey  through August 14th, 2011

last chance to see...

The Infinite Abyss production of Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman winds up its run at Empire Stage  on Saturday, July 30.

Stuff winds up its premier run at the Caldwell Theatre Company this Sunday, July 31, 2011.

for kids...

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

The Fort Lauderdale Children's Theater is offering Hello Dolly at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through Saturday, July 30.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Boca's Better

On an otherwise unremarkable Tuesday, big news out of Boca Raton; they finally found something useful to do with the old Cartoon Museum; it's now the Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center.  And while it might seem like we have a glut of new Cultural Arts Centers, this one already has booked some real players.

First up; the Miracle Theatre Examiner and  The Drama Queen reports that the Caldwell Theatre Company is expanding with the addition of Caldwell 2@ Mizner, a studio theatre being programmed by veteran director Kenneth Kay.  Kay worked extensively at the Caldwell under Michael Hall, before heading up north to run his own company.  Kay returned to South Florida last year, initially to try to jump start a new company for Burt Reynolds that never quite took hold.  It looks like this new venture will focus on plays with smaller (or shall we say, "more focused"?) casting.
 “We want to create an identity for Caldwell 2@Mizner that is separate and unique from the Caldwell’s continuing mainstage operation in the Count de Hoernle Theatre,” said Kay.  “The physical scope of these plays will naturally be smaller, but the ideas and themes presented will be large and universal.. It’s simply great theater in a very intimate setting.”
But Wait, There's more...
That's the first half The Drama Queen; next up, a new company is announced, and announces its first production.  ENV Magazine also picked up this story:

Parade Productions announced that it will present Avi Hoffman in Brooklyn Boy, a play by Donald Margulies.  Also involved with Parade Productions is Kim St. Leon, who is recently returned to South Florida, and Mario Betto, producer of that musical set in a beauty salon.  You may remember Mario from last year's Carbonell Awards; he was the biggest blondest one there.

This is very welcome news; not just that some seasoned professionals are active on the scene again, but that they are creating an opportunity for more excellent theatre for South Florida.

Congratulations to both companies!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mondays are Dark

Sorry for the delay- we've been fighting off a summer cold here at The Scene.  But here's your Monday reading list:

Dinner and a Show
The Miami Theatre Examiner reports that Actors' Playhouse has teamed up with Ortanique and Anacapri to offer a dinner and show package.

On The Boards
Conundrum Stages is fundraising for its new alternative theatre festival.

On The Beach
The Drama Queen reports that Stage Door Theatre is opening the first of the shows they are presenting at the Byron Carlysle Theatre in Miami Beach; SUDS goes into previews on July 29, and will open the following week.  The play is scheduled to run through September 4th.
Also, a new company called Teatro en Broadway is presenting a Spanish version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Rim Rice musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Dade County Auditorium.

Living Dead Comes To Life
BroadwayWorld reports that Promethean Theatre's upcoming production of Song of the Living Dead is the first since the play premiered in Atlanta in 2008.  Hopefully, history will repeat; this show broke box office records for Dad's Garage Theatre Company.

More from Mad Cat
Mad Cat Theatre Company opens its next play on August 19.  BroadwayWorld has the skinny on So My Grandmother Died, Blah Blah Blah, a new play by Paul Tei.

Meanwhile... Coconut Grove, The Grove is still closed, according to the Coconut Grove Grapevine.
Sarnoff said that the current board, lead by Shelly Spivak, has not met for over three years, in fact, when he asked Shelly to come down to speak about the playhouse, her reply was something like, "You want me to drive all the way down from Broward for that?"
With a board like that, it's no wonder the place closed.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Scene for July 22, 2011

Nothing opening on South Florida stage this weekend, but there's still lots to do.  You can beat the heat by seeing a show, or you can luxuriate in the humid warmth at the Seabreeze  Ampitheatre in Jupiter.

you still haven't missed...

See Jane Run! plays at Actors Playhouse through August 14, 2011.

Stuff plays at the Caldwell Theatre Company through July 31, 2011.

Masked plays at GableStage through August 7, 2011

Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman plays at Empire Stage  through July 30.

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

The Stage Door Theatre also offers Crossing Delancey  through August 14th, 2011

passing through...

The national tour of Mama Mia! plays this weekend at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.  There's a surprising amount of South Florida talent in the ensemble and in the wings.

last chance to see...

The 26th Annual International Hispanic Theatre Festival is under way at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, through July 24.

Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival production of The Tempest, winds up its run this weekend at Jupiter's Carlin Park.  It's free, but they'll take a
donation.  It's also outdoors, so bring bug spray and bottled water.  And bug spray.

for kids...

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

Actors' Playhouse: See Jane Run (reviews)

Actors Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre opened the world premier of See Jane Run! on July 15, 2011.
A World Premiere by actor-singer-writer Maribeth Graham and composer Dana P. Rowe, See Jane Run! takes a bold and often surprising look at the 21st Century woman. From secret desires to manic disorders, nothing is sacred in this truly funny and moving glimpse of the female sex. Three women take the audience through a series of revealing songs and scenes, where we meet the contemporary every-woman “Jane” as she tries to decide what makes her run, who she’s running from and where she’s running to. This edgy musical is filled with aha! moments for every “Jane” out there, and for every man who is trying to figure her out.
David Arisco directed a cast that featured Maribeth Graham, Jeni Hacker, and Irene Adjan.

Chris Joseph gushes for the Miami New Times:  All in all,it's a pretty crappy piece of writing; we learn nothing of any value about the play.
...the world premiere of the hysterical See Jane Run... The musical takes a bold and hilarious look at 21st-century woman...Through song and dance numbers, three ladies take the audience on an odyssey... It's an honest, edgy, humorous, and revealing musical filled with twists and surprises that just about any woman will relate to.
This is not a review.  This is ad copy.  A review has to answer these questions: How was the script?  Which songs worked best?  What was "edgy" - a particular story, a specific performance, or the way it was staged?  What was the most poignant moment in dance?  What was more compelling - the stories being told, or the actors performance of them? What message did you take away with you after curtain call?

It's time for the New Times to dump this hack and his editor.  We deserve better than this crap.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
With lyrics by Graham, music by Rowe and a script attributed to both, the summer show has virtues and flaws, as most brand-new musicals do.
Graham, who is also one of the three talented See Jane Run performers, is a Carbonell Award-winning actress who started writing parody lyrics for the Carbonell ceremony, then moved on to original work for this new show. Her lyrics are smart, insightful and effectively wedded to Rowe’s music.
Yet overall, See Jane Run trips on the hodge-podge concept that serves as its storyline. The loose, apparent theme is this: Women face lots of challenges, but in the end (this being musical theater), they triumph. Yes, that’s simplistic. But with fizzy direction by David Arisco and appealing performances from Graham, Irene Adjan and Jeni Hacker, See Jane Run does have its moving, amusing moments.
A few recurring bits attempt to provide some thematic cohesion, as Graham plays a divorcee on a series of first dates, each woman sings a solo while writing a letter, the women deliver one-liners, and Graham and Hacker play women whose secret affair means more to one than the other. But more work – at certain points, lots more work – is needed on abrupt endings to songs and scenes, character clarification and weak transitions from one subject to the next.
Rowe, who also serves as musical director, is adept at writing everything from haunting ballads to rock-tinged numbers, and on the silly comic song You Tarzan, he has the women blending like reincarnated Andrews Sisters.

delivers a glorious, heartbreaking solo.... Adjan goes comically nutty on Funny at First, the musical retort of an unhinged stalker. And Hacker, a Miami singer-songwriter, deftly infuses her songs and scenes with heartfelt emotion... and physical comedy... that would do Lucille Ball proud.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami Artzine:
It's Graham's first attempt at a musical but her co-writer Rowe is well known for Zombie Prom and The Witches of Eastwick among others. There's no doubt Graham writes well.  There's funny stuff, a little sadness, regret and hope.  Not new subjects, but well presented in the main. 
The performers are just wonderful.  It's all peaches and cream, watching and listening to these three actors.
See Jane Run!, directed by David Arisco, is a pleasant show with hints of what it could become.  As it stands it's a little disjointed, a little jammed.  Thirty-two simplistic scenes in ninety minutes don’t leave much time for character development.
Ron Levitt wrote for ENV Magazine:
...a wonderfully creative feast of musical vignettes and comic skits put together by  actor/singer Maribeth Graham and composer Dana P. Rowe...
Appearing in her own world premiere, Graham is  joined by other veteran performers,  the multi-talented Irene Adjan and golden-voiced  Jeni Hacker - while  co-author Rowe is behind the scenes as Music Director.  It is a creative endeavor that acts as  a perspective on what makes females  tick in today’s  post-Women’s Lib society.   Actress Graham may be  a first-time lyricist/coauthor, but she apparently has found a new niche with veteran composer Rowe
Under Arisco’s directing baton, the  show combines comic sketches with funny but realistically powerful  moments, shedding new lights on the talents of all three  on-stage women.
See Jane Run! plays at Actors Playhouse through August 14, 2011.

Broward Center: Mama Mia (reviews)

The national tour of Mama Mia! opened a one week run at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on July 19, 2011.
On the eve of her wedding, a daughter's quest to discover the identity of her father brings 3 men from her mother's past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago. The story-telling magic of ABBA's timeless songs propels this enchanting tale of love, laughter and friendship, and every night everyone's having the time of their lives! With more productions playing internationally than any other musical, MAMMA MIA! is the World's No.1 Show!
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
...the thing about Mamma Mia! , a worldwide smash that has been running on Broadway for nearly 10 years and more than 4,000 performances. At this point, you aren’t going just to see a hit musical; you’re going for an almost-interactive experience, partying to a jukebox smash and becoming part of the show.
The performers do justice to all those blasts from the past: Super Trouper, Take a Chance on Me, S.O.S. and, yes, Dancing Queen. Tuckerman is a boyishly slim Donna, a belter with a curious quirk: Her voice almost disappears in her low register. Tucker brings a pop sweetness to Sophie, but she and the actresses playing her bridesmaids squeal and giggle as though they were auditioning for the next High School Musical.

Not that the party-hearty crowd dancing in the aisles at the end of the show gives a hoot about how Mamma Mia!, which has grossed more than $2 billion around the world, might be even better. Spandex, goofiness, boas and all, they like it just the way it is.
Laura Souto Laramee reviewed wrote for The Palm Beach Post:
Mamma Mia may be as uplifting and joyous as you heard, but it’s not just the songs that make this musical.
Tuckerman is sensational; her most powerful performance takes place in Act 2, where she belts out an inspiring solo on The Winner Takes It All.
Two other superb characters are Donna’s best friends Tanya (Alison Ewing) and Rosie (Mary Callanan), who combine with Donna to make up the trio “The Dynamos” and wear the best costumes of the night (although the men have a pretty good comeback in the finale...)
Ron Levitt reviewed for ENV Magazine:
With great fanfare, Mamma Mia! once again had a big opening night and ticket sales are red hot for this road show production which only  runs through  Sunday, July 24.
Kaye Tuckerman as the mother and Chloie Tucker as the daughter emerge as Broadway-caliber performers with beautiful voices. Mary Callanan and Alison Ewing (as mama’s two pals) vocalize well and get the most laughs in this simple but stylish production; and the three potential fathers –Tony Clement (who took over the role only  days ago when another actor fell ill), Paul Deboy and John Michael  Zuerlein – hit the mark completely. Happy Mahaney as the groom-to-be, is notable for his enthusiasm and charm.  In fact, the entire ensemble of 30 is noteworthy for their gusto and choreographic skills.
Mama Mia! plays through Sunday, July 24th at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mondays are Dark

We must have tipped past the half-way mark of Summer; lots of season announcements cropping up for this week's Monday reading list.

But Did They Cast Ken?
Once again, Joe Adler is hosting another free reading of a new play at GableStageBroadwayWorld gives us the skinny on All Eyes and Ears, a play by Rogelio Martinez.  And yes, Chaz Mena directs a cast that includes Ken Clement.  It also includes Alex Alvarez, Diane Garle, Laura Pons, John Manzelli, and Deborah Sherman. Oh, and it's TONIGHT.

Party Like It's 1599
Broadway World reports New Theatre is throwing its 2nd Annual Midsummer Night's Dream Party Fundraiser on July 30, 2011.
Join them for the celebration of New Theatre's 25 years of bringing "New Voices - New Works & The Classics" to South Florida with wonderful food, music, fantasy and watch a snippet of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream performed by some of New Theatre's amazing repertoire of actors.
Art for the Arts
The Shiny Sheet reports that Palm Beach Dramaworks has more than a new home; it has a bold new logo, and exciting posters to match.  Frank Verlizzo has come to town, and the theatre scene may never look the same again.

Getting it Right The First Time
Miami Artzine profiles Maribeth Graham who wrote and appears in See Jane Run!, a new musical making its debut at Actors' Playhouse.  The show features music by Dana P. Rowe, and opened this past Friday.
While some playwrights write many plays before getting one produced, this wasn’t the case for Maribeth Graham. “First play written; first play produced. Lucky me!” Maribeth reveals that the process to getting See Jane Run! produced wasn’t that difficult. “I have to say she seemed to find her way very quickly and Dave Arisco was in my mind for a director for SJR from the start. How great that Actors' Playhouse is doing more new works.”
Take A Chance On...
Mama Mia returns to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts tomorrow, and the Miami Theater Examiner reports that there's a contest to celebrate the show's ten years on Broadway.  The national tour is sporting some faces familiar to South Florida theatre-goers; Eileen Faxas and Christopher Hudson Myers are in the ensemble, and stage manager BJ Forman is calling the show.

Speaking of Broadway Musicals...
The Producer's Perspective crunches the numbers, and discovers that Broadway Musicals have been shrinking steadily since the 1950s. 

Promethean Unbound
The Drama Queen has the new season line up at The Promethean Theatre, and reports that they'll be adding some new programming.  But first, zombies.

A Clean Opening
The Stage Door Theatre starts its new Miami Beach series at the Byron Carlysle Theater on July 29 with a remount of Suds, a musical they ran in their Coral Springs facility to packed houses.  BroadwayWorld has the story.

Big Season for a Little Theater
The Miami Herald reports that the Arsht Center has booked a season of plays in its intimate Carnival Studio Theater.  The line up includes the first complete season from Zoetic Stage, a collaboration with the University of Miami, the return of Teo Castellano and his award winning piece, NE 2nd Ave, as well as another import from Chicago's House Theatre.  And you can get a subscription to the whole kit and caboodle.

Theatre Guild's New Season
BroadwayWorld reports that the Boca Raton Theatre Guild has an exciting season lined up, kicking off with Karen Stephens reprising her work in Bridge & Tunnel, a show that recieved critical raves when she did it at The Women's Theatre Project last season.  They'll follow that with Tales of the Allergist's Wife, Sweet Charity, and Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill.

We Sorta Missed This One
Since we no longer read it, we missed this Sun-Sentinel interview with Michael McKeever, discussing his latest play, STUFF.  It's playing at the Caldwell Theatre Company.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Infinite Abyss Productions: The Pillowman (3 reviews)

Infinite Abyss Productions opened its production of Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman at Empire Stage on July 9, 2011
With echoes of Stoppard, Kafka, and the Brothers Grimm, The Pillowman centers on a writer in an unnamed totalitarian state who is being interrogated about the gruesome content of his short stories and their similarities to a series of child murders. "Comedies don't come any blacker than 'The Pillowman,'" stated the New York Times. "Even those familiar with this British dramatist's [McDonagh's] blithe way with murder, mutilation and dismemberment may be jolted by the events described and simulated so picturesquely...(Advisory note: severed fingers and heads, electric drills, barbed wire and premature burial all figure prominently.)"
Jeffery D. Holmes directed a cast that featured Scott Dougls Wilson, Jim Gibbons, Todd Bruno, and Dominick Daniel.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
A success in London and on Broadway, The Pillowman has already been produced twice in South Florida, first in a Carbonell Award-winning production at GableStage, then by Ground Up & Rising. Now a small, young Broward-based company, Infinite Abyss, is doing its own intense production of McDonagh’s play...
Director Jeffrey D. Holmes has opted for a simpler version of what can be an eight-character play. At GableStage, for example, four performers acted out scenes from the arrested writer’s stories. Here, Holmes sticks with the four key characters...  Though Holmes’ approach is different, the power of The Pillowman isn’t diminished. McDonagh’s mixture of humor and horror, a hallmark of his work, is vividly communicated by the actors.
Wilson’s Katurian is at first both nervous and outraged at being dragged in for questioning. Then, as the reality of his situation becomes more clear, the actor blends in fear, desperation, panic, resoluteness and more. Bruno is initially a little too playful as Michal, but he achieves a couple of moments that are among the play’s most devastating.
Gibbons’ soft-spoken, smiling Tupolski seems reasonable enough (though he’s every bit as dangerous as his partner), and the actor is a cut above everyone else in navigating McDonagh’s stinging humor. For most of the play, Daniel’s Ariel is a violent bully. And yet, as with Katurian and Michal, the storytelling playwright makes it clear that once upon a time, these messed-up grownups were children whose lives were more nightmare than fairy tale.
Ron Levitt wrote for ENV Magazine:
...this production – produced by Infinite Abyss’s Erynn  Dalton and directed by Jeff Holmes  – is not a copy-cat  fabrication. Though leaner and sometimes meaner than the GableStage production and its earlier shots in London and on Broadway,  it very much stands on its own, with a special nod to several of the actors.
Although the entire quartet of actors tackle this difficult, wordy and action-prone play, there are two standouts: the powerful  Scott Douglas Wilson... and Todd Bruno...
These two – along with a low-key performance by Jim Gibbons and the volatile role played by Dominick Daniel... make for a highly rated ensemble in this familiar play.
Warren Day reviewed for The Florida Agenda:
Not all unique plays make for a good evening in the theater, and certainly most good evenings are with plays that aren’t all that unique. Yet a production company in South Florida, known as Infinite Abyss, obviously believes there’s no reason you can’t have both, as they are once again proving with their latest offering, the quite funny and very thought-provoking, The Pillowman.’s been given a superb production by the director Jeffrey D. Holmes, the producer Erynn Dalton and as fine an ensemble cast as you’ll see in Florida. Holmes has an uncanny ability to get outstanding performances from his actors, particularly his lead, as is the case here with the highly talented Scott Douglas Wilson as Katurian K. Katurian.
Infinite Abyss Productions presents The Pillowman at Empire Stage through July 30, 2011.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Scene for July 15, 2011

Oh, it's feeling like summer out there now, isn't it?  The good news is that the summer theatre season is heating up, too.  If you want to escape the heat, slip into a nice, cool theatre.  And if you want to sweat while seeing a show, well, PB Shakes is performing in the ampitheatre at Jupiter's Carlin Park.


The world premiere of See Jane Run! opens at Actors' Playhouse this weekend, and will play through August 14, 2011

Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival opens The Tempest, which will play this weekend and next.  It's free, but they'll take a donation.  It's also outdoors, so bring bug spray and bottled water.

you still haven't missed...

The 26th Annual International Hispanic Theatre Festival is under way at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, through July 24.

Stuff plays at the Caldwell Theatre Company through July 31, 2011.

Masked plays at GableStage through August 7, 2011

Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman plays at Empire Stage  through July 30.

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

The Stage Door Theatre also offers Crossing Delancey  through August 14th, 2011

last chance to see...

Rising Action Theatre;'s extended run of Two Boys in a Bed on A Cold Winter's Night finally wraps up on Sunday, July 17th, 2011.

for kids...

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

In case you've missed it to date, City Theatre is presenting its Lisa Loeb musical for tweens, Camp Kappawanna, this time at The Colony Theatre in Miami Beach.  Interestingly, you can't get tickets at either company's web site. This performance isn't even listed on the websites, or on, or even In fact, the only reason I know about is WLRN has been announcing it, and I found it on the producers Facebook page.  Not much of a marketing campaign, is it?  Buying tickets shouldn't be a scavenger hunt.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Caldwell Theatre: Stuff (4 reviews)

The Caldwell Theatre Company's production of Stuff, a new play by Michael McKeever, opened on July 9, 2011.
Born into a gilded world of opulence and breeding, the Collyer Brothers have it all. What they don’t realize is that their coddled world of privilege has left them completely unable to cope with the realities of the Twentieth Century. With great humor, insight and pathos, South Florida favorite Michael McKeever charts the comically twisted decline of New York’s most notorious hermits, from the height of their fortune in 1929 to their garbage laden deaths two decades later. With only each other to consol, support, love and loath, the Brothers Collyer shut themselves away from the disappointments of the ever changing world outside, only to find their greatest horrors lie within the walls of their own home.
Clive Cholerton directed a cast that featured Michael McKeever, Nicholas Richberg, Angie Radosh, and Marckenson Charles.

Roger Martin reviewed for Miami ArtZine:
On an incredibly detailed set that will have you singing its praises long after the show is over, these actors simply nail every line of McKeever's witty yet poignant script.
There is little to carp at here at the Caldwell.  Perhaps it’s a little heavy on exposition as memory in the first act and a little stagy in the blocking, but all in all minor flaws.   This is a well-written, well-acted and well-directed piece of Stuff.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
...South Florida playwright Michael McKeever takes his turn at telling the Collyers’ story in Stuff, a touching dark comedy debuting at Boca Raton’s Caldwell Theatre Company, where artistic director Clive Cholerton has given the play an absorbing first production.
Angie Radosh gives an artfully powerful performance as Susie Gage Frost Collyer, a woman who so prefers the glory days of her opera-diva past that she doesn’t pay attention to her grown sons’ conversation, hopes or needs. Elegant in Alberto Arroyo’s lovely period costumes, Radosh makes Susie a more subtle Mommie Dearest, a woman able to crush dreams with a smile.
Even more dazzling is Nicholas Richberg’s performance as Langley. As the younger (and arguably crazier) brother, Richberg brings style, energy and brio to his portrait of a man trapped by his compulsions and his self-assigned role as brother’s keeper. Endlessly creative, the actor makes each moment meaningful, and the bedrock tenderness between his Langley and McKeever’s Homer takes Stuff to a deeper place.
A final, much-deserved bravo goes to set designer Tim Bennett, who finds a way to transform the Collyer mansion from a stylish, orderly home into a place that makes the “stars” of Hoarders look like amateurs. When the curtain rises at the start of Act Two, Bennett’s set gets a sustained ovation – and deserves every second of it.
Ron Levitt wrote for ENV Magazine:
Who would have thought that a legendary story torn from real life headlines about two  eccentric brothers who cut themselves off from the world could be so much fun and have  such a message about caring  and devotion?
McKeever (as the exuberant  Homer) and Richberg  (as the more docile Langley) –  both a joy to watch –  have captured the twisted twosome to perfection.  They not only bring  hoarding to a new high but do it with hilarity and pathos. It is a much more human look at hoarding  than  has been  portrayed on some of the more idiotic reality cable TV shows.

...the amazingly talented Angie Radosh, as the Collyer  mother... from the moment she arrives on stage, walking down a stairway to the sitting room  of their home in 1929, challenges you to take one’s eyes off of her.
...playing a significant part in this highly original production is actor Marckenson Charles... He is a welcome addition...
The opulent Act One set by Tim Bennett is definitive early 20th Century upper crust NY, while the surprising changes made for the Second Act will amaze even the most clairvoyant theatre-goer.
...this is an achievement for Caldwell..… a feather in the cap for director Cholerton…..a bright light for the playwright McKeever (whose evident research is astonishing  in itself)…..a stunning acting challenge for the four actors:  McKeever, Richberg, Radosh and  Charles …..  and a worthwhile event for its audience.
John Thomason wrote for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
Angie Radosh is smartly cast as the matriarch; her character is a mothballed relic of a caste past, the kind of snooty debutante Blanche DuBois might have been before her decline.
The first act is unnecessarily lengthy, at a staid 70 minutes. McKeever's decision to dramatize the Collyers' lives as a contemporary comedy rarely works, appearing as inappropriate as it is ahistoric. The characters are arch sitcom caricatures, albeit of a more literate sitcom than many, and they sound like they're reciting lines. It's no coincidence that the best moments of act one occur when the characters are liberated from the shackles of snappy banter.
...the show's flaws are rectified in the second act, set nearly two decades later, after the brothers have succumbed to full-on, freak-show hoarderdom — the Grey Gardens gals gone more gonzo. Their lives are as much a shambles as their once-stately mansion, the juicy details of which have been well-documented and adhered to with factual accuracy by McKeever.
The transformed set is stunning, and the action in front of it is just as compelling. Marckenson Charles turns in another dynamic performance as a thief with a touching backstory, but McKeever is the revelation of this extended scene. He's usually limited to snarky, scene-stealing sidemen, but here he emerges as the play's dominant performer and its piteous core. Just as McKeever the playwright begins to shed his work's comic patina and finally explore these characters' disturbing depths, so too does McKeever the actor push his limits well beyond his comfortably witty boundaries, and the result is striking. It's a shame it took both McKeevers so long to discover it.
Having seen the play opening night, I have to say that John Thomason completely missed the boat in the first act. Or perhaps Thomason doesn't come from a family rich with family stories that get repeated at every gathering.

Stuff plays at the Caldwell Theatre Company through July 31, 2011.

GableStage: Masked (3 reviews)

GableStage opened the Southeaster Premiere of Ilan Hatsor's Masked on July 9, 2011.
An explosive Israeli play about three Palestinian brothers locked in a life-and-death struggle over issues of deception and betrayal. Set in a village on the West Bank in 1990, it depicts the tragedy of one family torn between duty, kinship, principles and survival.
Joseph Adler directed a cast that featured Nick Duckart, Caros Orizondo, and Abdiel Gabriel.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
...GableStage’s powerful new production of Masked... owes as much to classic Greek tragedy as it does to the specific, more recent history that Hatsor considers.
Director Joseph Adler and his three sublimely skilled actors deftly negotiate the emotional shifts of Hatsor’s script...
The charismatic Gabriel, a student at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Drama, plays Khalid as a young man in grief over their little brother’s fate yet anxious to preserve the family. Duckart makes Na’im a little cocky, sure of the rightness of his mission, a man of frighteningly swift emotional changes. And in the 70 or so minutes it takes Masked to unfold, Orizondo takes Daoud and the audience on a riveting emotional journey, from a confident heartiness to layer-by-layer revelation of his pragmatic truth.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami Artzine:
Joe Adler has mounted an intense piece. There's no laughter. No relief from the tragedy. It is Carlos Orizondo, as Daoud the family man, who gives us the line, “Life is too short for big wars.” The four brothers are trapped.

Dark and utterly compelling, there's not a wasted moment in Masked. Duckart as Na'im the rebel has the rare talent to disappear into his character. He is not a Duckart you've ever seen before. No handsome leading man, no flashing smile but a fighting man. Orizondo excels as the oldest brother, all reasonableness in an insane situation, self-preservation his goal. And Abdiel Gabriel's mother, like me, must be hugely pleased with his performance as the youngest brother. Matching chops with the other two actors? Oh, yes, very well indeed.
Chris Joseph wrote for the Miami New Times:
It's easy to forget that Ilan Hatsor's tinderbox of a play, Masked... was written 21 years ago. That's because Masked, through aggressive, brooding, and sobering performances from its three stars, plumbs the depths of the still-raw emotions of the divisive Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
...questions ramp up the intensity, drawing searing dialogue and blistering performances from the trio of actors, particularly Orizondo, whose restrained anguish as Daoud finally ruptures as the story unravels.
Gabriel skillfully pulls off Khalid's inner conflict, portraying his struggle with a youthful, idealistic zeal....
Duckart's intensely subdued performance as Na'im is the glue of the production. He is equal parts combustible supporter of the cause and loving, devoted brother, while dealing with guilt over their little brother's shooting.
...the rawness of the subject matter brings home the richness of this particular story, and director Joseph Adler gets his actors to hit the right notes at every turn. Masked is as performance-driven as any recent local production, and the fine acting lends weight to an intense script that delves into some divisive machinations.
Masked plays at GableStage through August 7, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mondays are Dark

Mad Cat's Driving Force
Miami Artzine interviews Ann Kelly, Chairman of the scrappy Mad Cat Theatre Company's Board of Directors, and its business manager.

Abba Back
The musical Mama Mia, comprised of songs from the catalogue of 70s supergroup Abba, returns to The Broward Center for the Performing Arts, and it's a homecoming for some involved with the production.  BJ Forman is the Production Stage Manager, and has worked most of the area's major theaters before heading out on the road.  Eileen Faxas is in the cast; you may remember her from the hit production of The Drowsy Chaperone at The Stage Door.  Christopher Hudson Myers did a star turn in AltarBoyz at Actors' Playhouse.  But it's James Michael Lambert who is featured in the Palm Beach Post article.  His uncle is, apparently, a former Miami Dolphin.  Sigh.

Another Opening, Another Show
Last week saw the opening of Michael McKeever's hot new show, Stuff, at the Caldwell Theater Company - and the Palm Beach Post talked with McKeever about it.  This week, the Miami Theater Examiner reports that Actors' Playhouse is opening the world premiere of See Jane Run!, a musical by Maribeth Graham and Dana Rowe, who are also no strangers to South Florida stages.  In both shows, the creators also play an active role by, well, playing a role, proving once again that the best way to ensure there's work for you is to write the play yourself.  If See Jane Run is half as good as Stuff, it will be very good, indeed.

Double Up
Both TILES and The Drama Queen announce Mosaic Theatre's new theatre season, the company's 11th.

Better Late Than Never
Normally, we see promo pieces BEFORE the show opens, but BroadwayWorld is late getting up stories about The Pillow Man at Empire Stage, and Masked at GableStage. Blame last week's holiday.

Better still, Early and On Time
The Miami Herald, on the other hand, tells us about next summer's offering at Actors' Playhouse.  How's that for lead time?  The Herald article also reports that New Theatre is throwing a fund-raiser in conjunction with its production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.  We're also reminded that there will be play readings staged my the Promoteo Theatre company at MDC's Wolfson campus as part of the XXVI International Hispanic Theatre Festival, running through July 24 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

Tempest Brewing
Palm Beach ArtsPaper talks with Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival's Kevin Crawford about its upcoming production of The Tempest

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Scene for July 8, 2011

We have several shows opening this week on The Scene - and one of them is a world premiere!  Since the rainy season seems to have kicked in, it's great time to escape the weather by seeing show.


This weekend marks the World Premiere of Michael McKeever's STUFF at The Caldwell Theatre, where it will run through July 31.

GableStage's latest offering is the regional premiere of Ilan Hatsor's Masked.  It plays through August 7, 2011

Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman opens at Empire Stage this weekend, where it will play through July 30.

Crossing Delancey opens at the Stage Door Theatre this weekend, and will run through August 14th, 2011

you still haven't missed...

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

for kids...

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

Monday, July 4, 2011

Monday Is NOT Dark

Happy Independence Day - we'll be back Thursday with The Scene.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Lisa Loeb; Composer

lisa-loeb-camp-kappawanna-broward-center.jpgThe Sun-Sentinel talks with recording artist and rock star Lisa Loeb, who wrote the songs for Camp Kappawanna, a musical for tweens currently playing at The Broward Center for the Performing ArtsCity Theater commissioned the the musical, which has a book written by local playwright Marco Ramirez, as part of their Summer Shorts Festival.
The show -- with a book by Marco Ramirez, about the follies of a 12-year-old girl's first time at sleepaway camp -- has been improved since it debuted at Miami's Arsht Center last year, Loeb said. "It's tighter, with more songs to keep it moving along," she said. "The kids really love it."
City Theatre's production of Camp Kappawanna plays the Broward Center July 1-3, 2011.

City Theatre: Summer Shorts 2011 (5 reviews)

City Theater opened this year's edition of their one act play festival, Summer Shorts, on June 2, 2011 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.  This year's program varies from previous years; instead of Shorts for Kids, they've brought back Camp Kappawanna, the original musical for kids that they commissioned last year from songwriter Lisa Loeb and playwright Marco Ramirez.  And instead of the adult-themed Under Shorts collection, they brought in Dirty Little Secrets, a cabaret by Jai Rodriguez of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

This year's cast included Jai Rodriguez, Gregg Weiner, Ceci Fernandez, Finnerty Steeves and Stephen Trovillion.  Directors included Hugh Murphy, Gail Garrisan, Margaret M. Ledford, Stephen Trovillion, John Manzelli, and Stephanie Norman.

John Thomason wrote for The Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
From the very introduction of this year's Summer Shorts program, you know that change has finally come to an exhausted tradition... The intro feels every bit like the opening of a peak-period Saturday Night Live episode, and the show maintains this energy throughout.
(City Theatre) plunked Rodriguez into its diverse cast of familiar faces and relative unknowns. The chemistry among them is impeccable, and these eight productions comprise the series' most consistently effective compilation yet.
Of the seven plays, five of them are miniature acting duets that carry all of this year's dramatic heft. In the opener, Aboard the Guy V. Molinari, a man (Gregg Weiner) bumps into a woman (Finnerty Steeves) on an NYC bridge as both try to sneak a closer view at Lady Liberty. Their mordantly funny conversation quickly becomes a tête-à-tête about the competing miseries of their daily lives — a discussion quelled only by a celebration of the temporary as a refuge from the long term.
...Dos Corazones... about two new mothers (Steeves and Ceci Fernandez), lying in hospital beds after giving birth, who speak different languages but manage to understand their shared problems. It's a poignant, inspirational piece, acted with the perfect balance of frustration, confusion, and empathy.
Everything before it, though, seems to lead up to Hate the Loser Inside. Trovillion plays a Bobby Bowden-like college football coach whose genteel exterior cracks, bit by bit, as he tries in vain to complete a simple TV commercial for kitchen furniture. Trovillion has a standout performance in every "Summer Shorts," and this is his bravura turn in 2011.
...the festival concludes on a hilarious note with Chronicles Simpkins Will Cut Your Ass, a revival that stars Rodriguez... It's one of the many success stories in a program that, for once, is completely worth its hefty $45 ticket price.
Hap Erstein reviewed for Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
This year’s edition of short-attention-span theater is one of the most successful in the company’s history,‭ ‬as strong a mix of outrageous comedy bumped up against poignant drama as City Theatre has ever mustered.
Nor should there have been any concern about the casting of Rodriguez,‭ ‬who fit into the company seamlessly and demonstrated his acting chops in both comedy and drama.‭ ‬The opening skit,‭ ‬Bienvenidos a Miami by Mark Swaner,‭ ‬directly addressed the issue of featuring a star interloper and Rodriguez quickly showed that he has a sense of humor about himself.

Mock-miffed by Rodriguez’s presence was Stephen Trovillion,‭ ‬a/k/a‭ “‬Mr.‭ ‬Summer Shorts,‭” ‬for his countless appearances in which he stole the performance honors from the rest of the group.‭ ‬Late in the production he does so again as sports coach Donny Broadhaus in‭ ‬Hate the Loser Inside,‭ ‬a comic turn so deft and delicious it brings to mind nothing less than Lucille Ball and her classic Vitameatavegamin routine.‭
For consistency and sheer entertainment value,‭ ‬this‭ ‬16th Summer Shorts is a winner,‭ ‬even if downsizing for economic reasons was the cause.‭ ‬You will probably enjoy the whole evening,‭ ‬but if you saw only Trovillion in‭ ‬Hate the Loser Inside you would get your money’s worth from the experience.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
June in South Florida brings scorching days, the start of hurricane season and something that’s a lot more enjoyable: another round of City Theatre’s Summer Shorts.
Rodriguez, who opens his late-night show Dirty Little Secrets next Friday , certainly gets his showcase moments during Summer Shorts. But he’s no spotlight-hogging star, blending deftly with fellow actors... Charismatic, versatile and a true ensemble member, Rodriguez is impressive.
And so, for the most part, is this year’s edition of Summer Shorts, staged by Hugh Murphy, Gail Garrisan, Margaret M. Ledford, Trovillion, festival artistic director John Manzelli and producing artistic director Stephanie Norman.
...Bara Swain’s Aboard the Guy V. Molinari... Weiner and Steeves are touching and funny...
...Mickey Herman Saves the $#&@ World by playwright Marco Ramirez and composer Jim Camacho... Weiner is dryly funny as the title character and Trovillion a hoot as the planet-destroying emperor.
...Richard Hellesen’s artful Dos Corazones, in which Spanish- and English-speaking new moms share heartfelt truths, is short-form drama at its best. Fernandez is sweetly rock-solid as Ana, Steeves a post-partum mess as the confused Cheryl.
...Trovillion demonstrates why the “Mr. Summer Shorts” title isn’t just an acknowledgement of the fact that he has appeared in more Shorts fests than any other actor. He is, simply, masterfully inventive both physically and vocally as Coach Donny Broadhaus in Hate the Loser Inside, Jon Kern’s play about a simple kitchen commercial gone horribly wrong.
The audience leaves Shorts, as it always does, laughing – which is just one reason why this good-time festival has endured.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami ArtZine:
As is usual with Summer Shorts, you can't love everything. This year it's difficult to love anything. Pulling from an announced 2000 submissions, the producers have come up with five new pieces and two plays recycled from previous years. There weren't two plays worthy of producing in the remaining one thousand nine hundred and ninety-five? God help the playwrights of America.
There's a good, veteran cast here, dealing the best they can with material that is less than stunning.  
The good acting aside, there's a cheapness about Summer Shorts this year. It's as if City Theatre can't really be bothered to put up a prime product. I'm not alone in thinking this. The first question at the dreaded talkback following the performance was why was there so little on stage. (I'm paraphrasing here.) As there were no directors or producers present, it was left to one of the actors to try to explain the presentation.
Ron Levitt reviewed for ENV Magazine:
The difference this year is that there are seven 5 to 20 minute “playlets,”  a much smaller cast than in previous years, and a headliner,  Jai  Rodriguez, who gained fame as the cultural maven of the Fab Five from TV’S Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, who – in addition to participating in the ensemble Shorts –  has scheduled a late night show entitled Dirty Little Secrets.

Otherwise, the 2011 version of Summer Shorts is pretty much on par with earlier versions – some plays smacking of genius, some just plain silly, and one, unfortunately, due to its bilingualism, acoustics and delivery — just too hard to understand.
In addition to Rodriguez who shows his versatility acting, vocalizing and dancing, also in the 2011 ensemble are multi-Carbonell star Gregg Weiner, Finnerty Steeves,  Ceci Fernandez, and  Summer Shorts’ veteran and perennial favorite Stephen Trovillion. It should be noted that merely watching Trovillion will put a grin on your face.
The highlight of the program, though, is Israel Horovitz’s What Strong Fences Make, a short play located  on the Israel-West Bank Border directed by Trovillion  and starring Weiner and Rodriguez.  It is a brief  but dynamic piece which has dramatic impact, summing up the Middle East situation in minutes.
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.

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

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