Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Scene for June 1, 2012

The official theatre season is coming to an end as hurricane season begins; while the meteorologists have been predicting a relatively quite storm season, the Summer Theatre Season is expected to be very active this year - albeit a relatively bloodless one now that Promethean has closed.  No dancing zombies this year.  Which, given the reality of face-eating junkies in Miami, is probably just as well.

Here's what's playing on The Scene this weekend:


City Theatre opens its latest iteration of its Summer Shorts Festival at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.  You'll have to drive to Miami by June 17th to see it, because it's not coming to Broward County this year.

Alliance Theatre Lab is opening Mark Della Ventura's Small Membership at the Main Street Playhouse, through June 24.

The Broward Stage Door
opens The Immigrant, based on the true story of the playwright's grandparents coming to America.

Conquest of the North Pole opens at the Playground Theatre's Sandbox.

you still haven't missed...

David Auburn's Proof plays at Palm Beach Dramaworks through June 17, 2012.

last chance to see...

Becky's New Car winds up its run at Actors' Playhouse this Sunday, June 3, 2012.

Time Stands Still  at GableStage also concludes its run on June 3, 2012.

passing through...

The Lion King sits down at the Arsht Center through June 10, 2012.


The Prisoner of 2nd Avenue plays at the Tamarac Theatre Of Performing Arts through June 3, 2012.

for kids...

Actors' Workshop and Repertory Company presents a brief run of columbinus; it closes June 3.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Palm Beach DramaWorks: Proof (6 reviews)

Palm Beach DramaWorks opened their production of David Auburn's Proof on May 25th, 2012.
In this Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning drama, the daughter of a brilliant but mentally disturbed mathematician tries to come to grips with her possible inheritance: his insanity.
William Hayes directed a cast that featured Cliff Burgess, Kenneth Kay, Katherine Michelle Tanner, and Sarah Grace Wilson.

Hap Erstein reviewed for Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
As virtually everyone who has ever produced the play has taken pains to point out, David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize winner Proof is about mathematics, but it takes no particular understanding of that subject to enjoy this family drama.  It does help if you appreciate good writing and performances, which the Palm Beach Dramaworks production has in abundance.
Director William Hayes delivers it with simplicity and clarity, drawing first-rate work from his four cast members.
Katherine Michelle Tanner (Catherine) anchors the production as the moody, possible math genius, as tentative as stylish Sarah Grace Wilson (Claire) is assured. Kenneth Kay impresses as Robert, particularly in a flashback where his mind has gone unhinged, and Cliff Burgess earns prominence for outsider Hal, with both the character’s numerous comic lines and his unexpected tender side.
John Thomason wrote for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
In the play's smart and classy production at Dramaworks, Michael Amico's back-porch set — imbued with depth and dimension, like most of the theater's recent productions — is framed on both sides by pillars of chalkboard equations, scrawled and sprawled like some kind of visionary code waiting to be cracked.
Like Jake Gyllenhaal's Hal in the movie, Burgess cuts an awfully dashing math nerd, but he performs the part with a navel-gazing awkwardness that better reveals the character's insecure core. Tanner and Sarah Grace Wilson as Catherine's sister Claire are perfectly cast yin-and-yang siblings, easily matching Gwyneth Paltrow's and Hope Davis' film contributions. And Kenneth Kay, who appears in dreams and flashbacks as Catherine's father, is a professorial and subtly towering figure lording over Catherine from beyond the grave; his performance makes Anthony Hopkins' film version just a distant memory.
Proof is not a flashy play, like the Tony Award-winning Red, about artist Mark Rothko, or the kind of play that requires a physical transformation of an actor, like the Donald Marguiles play Time Stands Still, in which the protagonist is injured by a roadside bomb. I counted just one dramatic eruption of emotion in its two hours, paced by director Bill Hayes with engrossing briskness. The play's well-earned Pulitzer Prize is a result of nuance, not ostentation, and Dramaworks' low-key interpretation makes sure every meditation on madness and genius, trust and faith, and class and kin comes across with the elegance of a perfect proof.
Darrell Hofheinz reviewed for The Palm Beach Daily News:
In a play that’s all about proof, there’s plenty of doubt to go around.  And that’s a good thing for audiences at Palm Beach Dramaworks, where playwright David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Proof is on view in a taut, nuanced production marked by memorable performances from its four actors.
As the play begins, Catherine is clearly depressed. We eventually learn why, via her interactions with others as well as a series of extended flashbacks that are handled seamlessly, thanks in great part to Katherine Michelle Tanner’s adroit transformations as Catherine. Director William Hayes, who is also the theater’s producing artistic director, does his part, too, building dramatic momentum as surely as a mathematician works through an intricate problem.
As effective as Tanner is, she is matched in Sarah Grace Wilson’s pitch-perfect portrayal of the older sister, Claire...
As the father, Robert, Kenneth Kay delivers a deceptively quiet performance that builds steam until his tour-de-force second-act encounter with a home-from-college Catherine.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Human relationships are unpredictable, tricky to decipher and very difficult to correct.  Such is one of the underlying themes of David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Proof, enjoying a solid production at Palm Beach Dramaworks.
Director William Hayes is not a showy director. His theater is about serving the playwright more than indulging in theatrical pyrotechnics. This nearly invisible technique, and there certainly is technique at work here, results in a persuasive naturalism that allows the audience a clear view of Auburn’s themes, relationships and plot gyrations.
Like many of Dramaworks’ productions, this is another impressive night of theater that makes you think.
Tanner is an experienced actress from northwest Florida (perhaps a few years well past Catherine’s 25) who has exuded hidden fragility in local performances such as Laura in New Theatre’s The Glass Menagerie. It’s a significant asset in making Catherine a sympathetic protagonist despite her isolating stoicism and reflexive rejection of any perceived attempt to curb her sovereignty. Her fear of inheriting her father’s mental curse and the human contact that might confirm it resides just behind those deer-in-the-headlights eyes, occasionally covered by a lock of hair that the preoccupied Catherine can’t be bothered to tie up. It’s a solid, nuanced performance.
It’s terrific to have Kay back after his sojourn running a theater in North Carolina... Quietly but convincingly, without a shred of caricature, Kay gives us a three-dimensional character who seems as normal as the guy you borrowed the lawnmower from.
Wilson, who was in Dramaworks’ Dinner with Friends, has the thankless role of the woman who would be the villain of the piece if Auburn wrote black and white characters. However, Wilson succeeds in making it clear that Claire loves her sister and wants to rescue her, even if her hyper-efficient, brisk lifestyle is anathema to Catherine’s soul.
Burgess, who was so good as the angry prodigal in All My Sons early in Dramaworks’ season, creates a delightfully inept young man obsessed with the magic of his chosen vocation. But as Auburn wanted, Burgess’ Hal is not some dweeb from The Big Bang Theory, but a believable academic.
This is some of Hayes’ best work. Although it’s invisible to non-practitioners, Hayes’ labors are those of a craftsman like a fine cabinet maker. He has uncovered most of Auburn’s meanings, excavated them out of the souls of the cast and physically staged the chess pieces to further illustrate the relationships, such as the sisters sitting as far as they can from each other on a settee/glider... He has led his cast to create people not just uncomfortable in their own skins, but even more uncomfortable with each other. In his vision, these people are feeling their way around in the dark, well-meaning, but bruising each other whenever they attempt human interaction.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
...Proof begins working its magic even before the house lights go down. Set designer Michael Amico inaugurated the space with a richly detailed, period-perfect house and backyard for Arthur Miller’s All My Sons. For Proof, he has created another, smaller home whose details suggest an orderliness that eludes its suffering owner.
Surprises are carefully laced throughout the script, and if you’ve never seen Proof, you deserve to experience them in the moment. What can be said is that Auburn artfully explores the toll that Robert’s mental instability takes on his younger daughter Catherine...
Under Hayes’ guidance, the Dramaworks cast delivers a Proof with slightly softer edges than actors sometimes bring to the piece. Tanner doesn’t seem so much like a girl teetering on the edge of a possible breakdown; instead, she’s a young woman worn down by dreams and possibilities that are routinely dashed. Kay’s charming Robert exudes professorial command and charm, which makes a critical scene later in the play all the more chilling. Burgess is an affable Hal, maybe not quite as baldly ambitious as the character can be, but a math geek version of a knight in shining armor. Wilson’s fussy, prickly Claire is the just-right embodiment of a control freak who can’t cope with human unpredictability.

Michelle F. Solomon wrote something she's passing off as a review for miamiartzine:
The Dramaworks production has many highlights, chief among them not a bad seat in the house in the new theater, which celebrates its inaugural with Proof as its final season offering. It’s just a pleasure of a space. 

With that said, Proof does present obstacles to overcome. One of the biggest behemoths is its set... playwright Auburn forces his characters to convene on the porch for every scene, casual or dramatic. For a play that is supposed to be dealing with so much gritty reality happening in one family, the one-stop set only serves to weaken the dramatic action.
Actually, Ms. Solomon means the setting, not the set.  The playwright dictates the setting, the production builds the set based on the playwright's descriptions.  That's a critical difference, and one that a theatre critic has no business getting wrong.  And it's the mark of a rank amateur to criticize such choices of setting without offering illustrations of how, exactly, the setting detracts from the playwright's vision.  Auburn wrote a play set on a porch; if you don't like it, write your own damned play.  But unless you can demonstrate specific moments weakened by the setting, STFU.
As Catherine, Tanner has a lot of the play on her shoulders. What’s lacking in her portrayal is the weight the audience should feel of Catherine’s plight. Her biggest fear is that she’s not only inherited her father’s genius, but his madness, yet it’s difficult from Tanner’s presentation to really feel the threat of bordering madness.
Bill Hirschman also made this observation; I feel that both of them are wrong. If she displays symptoms of impending madness, then her fears are completely justified.  But the point is, she's not on the verge of madness, and never was.  It's only her fears, fed by her family. Catherine's problem isn't that she may go mad, but that she's afraid she may go mad.  It was one of of the flaws of the Broadway production, made by each star who play the role.  I haven't seen this production yet, but the thing that has always bothered me in other productions is the profoundly mistaken choice of playing the obvious. It's limited and boring.  I can't wait to see this one.  But first, let's finish going through Ms. Solomon's little article.
Wilson’s overly high-strung portrayal of the uptight financial analyst visiting from New York ups the ante for Tanner, and it produces some of the best moments. Delightful in every scene is Burgess as student-turned-math professor, Hal. His character in this production is the most developed and credit goes to the actor for that. Although the play surrounds the family patriarch, Robert doesn’t have much stage time, but when he’s present, Kay relishes each moment and is a solid foundation for the rest of the cast.

The haze over all of it is Hayes’s direction, which is a bit understated, leaving crucial moments lacking in necessary drama.
Pun intended, Ms. Solomon?  Feh.

Proof plays at Palm Beach Dramaworks through June 17, 2012.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mondays are Dark

It's Memorial Day Weekend, and we've been spending our holiday with family, which is why your reading list is a little late today.


They're Back!
Of course, the good news last week was the announcement that Women's Theatre Project has found a new venue to present their shows.  The Drama Queen reports that director Genie Croft, who also directs for the Boca Raton Theatre Guild, made the connection to the Willow Theater at Sugar Sands Park.  Both companies will be producing shows in the space.  Florida Theater On Stage notes that it's a much better venue than the cramped warehouse space they were in.  Congratulations to the entire WTP team!

Update on Crowdfunding
Butts In Seats has his latest story about the use of crowd funding for the arts.
If you have been reading my blog regularly over the last few months, you know I have been keeping an eye on the possibility of the crowd funding elements of the recently passed JOBS Act replacing non profit status as a viable method of creating and sustaining an arts organization.
Roll the Dice
Speaking of creative fundraising, Florida Theatre On Stage reminds us that Mosaic Theatre's Monte Carlo Night is this coming Saturday.
Dressed to the nines you can eat, drink, hear good music and play casino-type games such as blackjack, roulette, poker and craps beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. You have the opportunity to win thousands of dollars in cash and prizes at 15 gaming tables and a 50/50 raffle in which “silent players” may purchase tickets even if they are unable to attend.
Line-ups Announced
The 27th Annual Hispanic Theatre Festival has announced this year's line-up; The Miami Herald goes through the plays in detail for us.  Meanwhile, Florida Theater On Stage has Boca Raton Theatre Guild's line-up for next season.

Hometown Girl
The Miami New Times catches up with Syndee Williams.  The 25 year old Miami native is in town with the national tour of The Lion King, playing Nala.
Driven and passionate, she joined anything at school that would get her on a stage performing in front of a crowd. "I was in every single extracurricular activity there was," she says. "Chorus, dance, musicals. I did stuff for Latin History Month, even though I'm really not even Hispanic. If anyone was like, 'Syndee you wanna do —,' I'd be like, 'Yes! I'll do it!'"
Home is Where You Wear Your Hat
Howlround has been asking various theater artists from around the country about their search for their "artistic home."  Ashley Forman of Washington's Arena Stage talks about her experiences.
Like your childhood home, your arts home will leave a mark on you and will in turn be influenced by your unique voice. And like any home, an artistic home can be complicated—troubled, supportive, broken, or stable. Ideally when artists are at home, particularly young artists, they feel safe enough to take huge risks, knowing that if they fall they will be caught and if they fly they will be supported.
Talkin' Bout Those Generations
Over on the Minnesota Playlist, Sulia Altenberg talks about being a young actor caught between children actors and... mature... actors. actors treat me differently from their fellow actors when we are not rehearsing or performing. I clearly cannot connect with them on the same level. This is usually because:
    a. I am not from their generation, or
    b. I am not as worldly and experienced in life as they are, or
    c. I just don’t know the same people they know.
Theatre Podcast
If you're wondering about The Plaza Theatre, which took over Florida Stage's old digs in Manalapan, Arts Radio  Network has a podcast interview with producer Alan Jabcobson on its site.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Scene for May 25, 2012

The big news on the scene this week is that Women's Theatre Project has found a new home up in Boca Raton; they'll be presenting shows at the Willow Theatre in Sugar Sands Park during the 2012-13 season.  If you're trying to place the space, it's also home to The Boca Raton Theatre Guild.  You can read about it on Florida Theater On Stage and The Drama Queen.

Here's what's playing on The Scene this weekend:


Palm Beach DramaWorks opens its production of David Auburn's Proof.

you still haven't missed...

Becky's New Car plays at Actors' Playhouse through June 3, 2012.

Time Stands Still plays at GableStage through June 3, 2012.

last chance to see...

I Am Music; The Songs of Barry Manilow finish its run at the Plaza Theatre this Sunday, May 27, 2012.

The Thinking Cap Theatre production of Love Burns winds up its run at Empire Stage on May 26.  And Radio Plays somehow shares the space.

The Waterfront Playhouse winds up its world premier production of Home Exchange in Key West this Saturday, May 26.

passing through...

Les Misérables
comes to the Kravis Center through May 26.

The Lion King
sits down at the Arsht Center through June 10, 2012.


The Prisoner of 2nd Avenue plays at the Tamarac Theatre Of Performing Arts through June 3, 2012.

for kids...

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings returns to
The Playground Theatre, through May 25.

The World Premiere of Peter Rabbit and the Garden of Doom at Actors' Playhouse  at the Miracle Theatre through May 26.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Kravis Center: Les Misérables (2 reviews)

The national tour of Les Misérables opened at the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts on May 24, 2012.
Cameron Mackintosh presents a brand new 25th anniversary production of Boublil & Schönberg’s legendary musical, LES MISÉRABLES, with glorious new staging and dazzlingly re-imagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo.  Based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel, LES MISÉRABLES is an epic and uplifting story about the survival of the human spirit.
Hap Erstein reviewed for The Palm Beach Post:
What do you get for a musical that has traveled the world, playing to some 50 million theatergoers and setting box office records, to celebrate its 25th anniversary?  If you are producer Cameron Mackintosh and the show is Les Misérables, you mount a reconceived production and put it on the road to make new fans and more money.  Now, two years later, that new take on Les Miz has arrived at the Kravis Center, looking fresh and sounding terrific.
The Schönberg score (with English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer) is through-sung, opera-style, which puts substantial demands on the cast.  But you would never know it from the performance by Lockyer, who can belt the introspective Who Am I?, then soar in his upper register on the prayer aria Bring Him Home. Very much his equal vocally is Varela, who handles his two solos (Stars, Soliloquy) with authority.
Timothy Gulan and Shawna M. Hamic are fine as the larcenous Thernardiers, but their abrasive music-hall comic relief has always been the weakest link of the script.  More successful is Chasten Harmon as their lovelorn daughter Eponine, who handles the plaintive On My Own with pop-star panache.
Jan Sjostrom reviewed for the Palm Beach Daily News:
For sheer sweep, musicality and passion it’s hard to top Les Misérables. Producer Cameron Mackintosh’s 25th anniversary makeover gives the show a fresh look without eroding the qualities that have made it beloved.
Matt Kinley’s set design does away with the famous turntable. In its place are projected backdrops inspired by Hugo’s dark, impressionistic paintings. Judiciously used animation turns Jean Valjean’s flight through the sewers and Javert’s suicide into engulfing drama.
Peter Lockyer’s Valjean is a heroic figure with the voice of a seraphim. His rendition of the ethereal Bring Him Home seems to stop time. As Javert, Andrew Varela makes a shattering journey from certainty, expressed in his towering solo Stars, to tortured self-doubt.

Chasten Harmon brings dignity to the spurned Eponine and sings On My Own with heart-breaking pathos. Timothy Gulan and Shawna Hamic as Thenardier and his wife concoct their mercenary schemes with savage wit.

The ensembles developing individual characters are beautifully balanced, while the choruses evoking the broader social context tale stir the blood. In short, the retooled Les Misérables looks and sounds as good as new.
Les Misérables plays at the Kravis Center through Sunday, May 26, 2012.

Arsht Center: The Lion King (2 reviews)

The national tour of Disney's The Lion King opened at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on May 15, 2012.
Experience the phenomenon of Disney's THE LION KING. Marvel at the breathtaking spectacle of animals brought to life by award-winning director Julie Taymor, whose visual images for this show you'll remember forever. Thrill to the pulsating rhythms of the African Pride Lands and an unforgettable score including Elton John and Tim Rice's Oscar®-winning song "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" and "Circle of Life."
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
The animals come forth in a stately, stunning parade, their chants and rich choral blend giving way to The Circle of Life, the song that thematically underscores the power of Disney’s The Lion King. This impressive, impactful expression of director Julie Taymor’s artistry is not just a show for children, though its familiar story, extraordinary puppetry and colorful characters keep even the littlest ones mesmerized. No, The Lion King rules because it is a wondrous musical allegory that speaks to everyone.
At Thursday’s official opening night performance, the cast still seemed to be finding its way in its newest home, as a zebra bumped into Rafiki (the playfully commanding Buyi Zama), the stage sometimes looked chaotically crowded and the sound mix in certain spots muddied lyrics. Did the enraptured crowd care? Not a bit.
...the meerkat Timon, a life-sized puppet operated by the clearly visible and very funny Nick Cordileone...
...treachery intervenes in the form of a wildebeest stampede orchestrated by Mufasa’s envious, devious brother Scar (the deliciously villainous J. Anthony Crane), and little Simba must literally run for his life. Scar’s ruinous reign plays out over many years until the restless grown-up Simba (Jelani Remy) is found by his childhood friend Nala (a radiant, cat-like Syndee Winters) and summoned to reclaim his destiny.
The show’s key characters, including Simba’s mother Sarabi (Tryphena Wade), the cute young Nala (Kailah McFadden and Sade Phillip-Demorcy alternate), Mufasa’s chatty adviser Zazu (Mark David Kaplan), Timon’s odiferous warthog pal Pumbaa (Ben Lipitz) and the sneaky hyena trio of Shenzi (Rashada Dawan), Banzai (Keith Bennett) and Ed (Robbie Swift), are augmented by a versatile, impressive ensemble, actor-dancers who play everything from swaying grass to hunting lionesses to a lethal cheetah (Sharron Williams).
Roger Martin reviewed for miamiartzine:
As spectacles go, it's, well, spectacular. It's The Lion King, of course... And judging by the roars of approval from the packed house at the Arsht Center the other night it's going to be doing very well during its Miami run.
This extraordinary musical opens with the animals parading down the aisles to the music of Elton John and Tim Rice's lyrics and just gets more oohy and aahy as the show progresses.
Things that stayed with me after the show: the living sea of grass, the wildebeest stampede, the very professional acting of the two young children, the music, the dancing, the singing and the sense of the African veldt and its inhabitants. The wonder of it all on that stage at the Arsht Center. 

And one more thing that really stuck: Granny's bloomers being blasted right off her skinny shanks by the incredible loudness of it all. Of the dozen or so songs and chants, I could understand not one word of those in English. “Excess volume distorts.” Is that a trade secret purposely withheld from the sound men who travel with these road shows?
The Lion King plays at the Arsht Center through June 10, 2012.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mondays are Dark

Somehow we missed that this past weekend was the annual Florida Professional Theatres Association unified auditions.  Hope you're there, reading this between call-backs. 

Pass the word along; two disreputable producers whom we'll only identify as "G" and "J" are apparently up to old tricks; a recent employee of theirs contacted us, stating they were owed back pay, and a web search led them to our coverage.  Now they know to do the web search before taking the job, although they're disheartened to learn G and J don't worry much about paying off even when the court tells them they have to.

Here's your Monday reading list:

Big Guns
The Miami Herald visits the legendary Area Stage Company to look into their summer conservatory program.  Studying under John Rodaz, and his wife Maria Bandaz-Rodaz, would be opportunity enough.  But they've also got the man who discovered Liza Minelli and Marvin Hamlisch.
Broadway producer Arthur Whitelaw will never forget his first major production. A rather ordinary girl walks into a nondescript New York rehearsal room in the heat of July 1963, gives her name and asks if she can sing a song written by her 16-year-old accompanist — a bespectacled pianist no one yet knew.
It's Getting Better All The Time
Florida Theater On Stage ruminates on all the good stuff that's been happening in the South Florida theatre scene.  The actual scene, that is. Not the blog. 

All Wet at the Arsht
The Miami Herald reports that the Arsht Center had to dump The Lion King in the middle of the show due to a broken roof drain.

Or Not.
Saving The Word... has run into more disruptive audience behavior.
...there was what sounded like an adult woman with some kind of severe mental disability. I never saw this person, so that’s an assumption. What I do know is that most of the show was accompanied by a stream of noise from this person – low (but not quiet) moaning, brief louder wailing, snatches of singing, and a sound that resembled a cross between throat-clearing and blowing a raspberry.

As much as I feel for this person, and for the people with her, there’s a huge disrespect for the rest of the paying audience in evidence – not on the part of the woman with the disability (the sounds definitely did not come from a child), but from whoever was with her. If you took a child to that kind of event, and they made the kind of noise that would disrupt the experience for other members of the audience, you’d take them out.
Kravis Center Still Screwing the Help
It seems that G and J aren't the only ones in Palm Beach County that don't honor directives from a court of law.  The Palm Beach Daily News reports that I.A.T.S.E (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) has filed another charge against the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts with the National Labor Relations Board.  You may recall that the courts found that the Kravis Center violated their contract with the technician's union back in 2000, and the Center was ordered to negotiate a new contract and pay the union back for wages their members lost while the performing arts center illegally employed replacements.  Guess what the Kravis Center still hasn't done?

What, No Shakespeare?
New Theatre announces its new season, and Florida Theater On Stage reports that there's no Shakespeare in it.  The small company had gained some renown for its summer productions of The Bard, but even a cut-down version of any of his folio is a major undertaking.  It's an exciting season, even without any Shakespeare.

Openings from Broadway World
Broadway World reports that The Alliance Theatre Lab will be presenting Mark Della Ventura will be starring in his own play, Small Membership, directed by his friend, the Renaissance man David Sirois.  And they also tell us about Proof, opening at Palm Beach DramaWorks.

The Warhorse Tour; Behind The Scenes
When Warhorse plays The Broward Center next year, Stage Directions reports that its crew will be safe from falls.

The Palm Beach Theater Scene
The Palm Beach Post lists the various productions playing Palm Beach County over the next week or so.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Scene for May 18, 2012

The Rainy Season has come early to South Florida, while the 2012-2013 Theater Season comes into its final weeks.  But that doesn't meant that the theatre stops; it blends seamlessly into the Summer Theatre Season.  This isn't your grandpa's South Florida scene; we have 52 weeks of theater these days.

Here's what's playing on The Scene this weekend:


National Tours are the only theatre productions opening in the listings this week; scroll down to "passing through" for more information.

you still haven't missed...

Becky's New Car plays at Actors' Playhouse through June 3, 2012.

I Am Music; The Songs of Barry Manilow plays at the Plaza Theatre through May 27, 2012.

The Thinking Cap Theatre presents Love Burns at Empire Stage through May 26.  And Radio Plays somehow shares the space.

Time Stands Still plays at GableStage through June 3, 2012.

If you find yourself in Key West, The Waterfront Playhouse offers the world premier of Home Exchange through May 26.

last chance to see...

The House Theatre production of Death and Harry Houdini plays to a sold-out house at the Arsht Center on its final weekend.  It closes May 20, 2012.

Miami Beach Stage Door Theatre presents Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks at the Byron Carlyle Theater through May 20, 2012.

Little Shop of Horrors
plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through May 20; if you like the show, you'll like this.

Avenue Q'
s 'open ended' run at the Andrews Living Arts Studio is apparently coming to an end, unless they forgot to update their website.  It's gotten luke-warm notices, but the buzz on the street is that it's pretty good.

Laffing Matterz
winds up its third season at the Broward Center's Abdo New River Room; if you don't catch it now, you'll have to wait until November, when they launch a re-tooled show with a new cast.

passing through...

Les Misérables
comes to the Kravis Center through May 26.

The Lion King
sits down at the Arsht Center through June 10, 2012.


Main Street Players presents Jason Robert Brown's 13, through May 20.

The Prisoner of 2nd Avenue plays at the Tamarac Theatre Of Performing Arts through June 3, 2012.

opens at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, this weekend only.

for kids...

Sol Children's Theatre Troupe presents Little Women, The Musical, through May 20.

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings returns to The Playground Theatre, through May 25.

The World Premiere of Peter Rabbit and the Garden of Doom at Actors' Playhouse  at the Miracle Theatre through May 26.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Thinking Cap Theatre: Love Burns (2 reviews)

Thinking Cap Theatre opened its production of Love Burns at Empire Stage, on May 10, 2012.
LOVE BURNS brings together contemporary dramatic comedy, live music, freshly brewed coffee, and delicious desserts. Date with a Stranger and All about Al, two hilarious one-act plays by NYC-based playwright Cherie Vogelstein will form the foundation of the evening. Both set in a NYC coffee house, the plays explore romantic relationships, from the exhilarating jolt of a first meeting to the precarious contemplation of a break up.
Nicole Stodard directed a cast that included Mark Della Ventura, David Michael Sirois, Shira Abergel, and Ashley Price.

John Thomason reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
There's something warm and inviting about the interactive atmosphere, which immerses ticket-buyers into the kumbaya pleasantry of a small hippie java joint. But are the bells and whistles of Love Burns enough to make up for the thin — if anorexic — amount of live theater you actually get for your money?
I would be surprised if the first act runs longer than 15 minutes... Titled Date With a Stranger, it stars Ashley Price and David Michael Sirois...  The characters are too much like fictional constructs to be taken seriously, and emotional connection is nil. This kind of arch meta-theater struck me as profound in college, but it looks ever more juvenile today. The piece is wonderfully executed, for what it's worth — the two actors never seem to miss a beat, and it's awfully easy to miss one — but the result should have been a lot funnier to justify the labored form.
Luckily, the second show is a total 180 from the first. Written by the same playwright, Cherie Vogelstein, but in a more naturalistic style, All About Al is a generous showcase for the comic talents of Mark Della Ventura...  He has a chance coffeehouse meeting with Gil (Sirois again)...  The two actors have a magical, Martin-and-Lewis rapport, with Della Ventura as the wacky banana man and Gil the sulky straight man; they deserve credit simply for making it through the scenario without laughing. Every joke hits with perfect accuracy, and Della Ventura even injects something unexpected into the denouement: tragic pathos. Love Burns could have begun stronger, but director Stodard knows exactly where to end it.
Christin Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Like nearly every theater company, Thinking Cap Theatre has a mission statement. Founder and artistic director Nicole Stodard aims to present “…experimental, provocative and socially conscious work…plays that tell compelling stories in fresh and surprising ways.” With its newest offering at Fort Lauderdale’s Empire Stage, the young company is doing just that.
Choosing two short relationship plays by Cherie Vogelstein, Stodard creates an environmental evening that gets its own umbrella title, Love Burns. The director sets the plays, Date With a Stranger and All About Al, in a Starbucks-like coffee place called Hip Sip. The observant barista is played by Shira Abergel, who strums a ukulele or guitar as she croons songs about love and its flip side before, between and after the plays.
All About Al is two guys sometimes getting graphic about sex vs. intimacy. The actors’ real-life, long-time friendship feeds into their easy back-and-forth, Sirois embodying a guy who has it all in the romance department, Della Ventura sweetly appealing as the kind of shy guy who gets overlooked by women. Gil gains insight, but you can’t help feeling that, unlikely as the matchup might seem, Al would be better off with Lenny.

Love Burns takes disparate elements – a pair of edgy comedies, songs that range from creepy to dreamy, good-quality coffeehouse fare – to create an accessible experience that reflects what Thinking Cap is all about
Thinking Cap Theatre plays Love Burns at Empire Stage through May 26.

Plaza Theatre: I Am Music (reviews)

Plaza Theatre opened the world premiere of I Am Music; The Songs of Barry Manilow on May 10, 2012.  Apparently, the Plaza Theatre doesn't believe in telling us anything more than the title of the show on its web site, so we have no blurb.  But we can tell you that it's a revue of Barry Manilow songs.

Kevin Black directed a cast that included Ben Bagby, Craig Strang, Marisa Guida, and Mimi Jiminez.  Choreography by Black, John Hensley, Isabel Trelles, and Bagby.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
All of Manilow’s greatest hits are here; you can make up the set list yourself.  If you really are a fan of Manilow, you’ll miss his particular honey-smooth smooth tone and flawless phrasing. If you just want to hear lovely songs and didn’t make out to his voice on the radio in the backseat, you likely won’t mind.

That raw material was irresistible to creator/ director Kevin Black, who honed his creative teeth, in fact, developing shows for cruise lines. I didn’t know that fact until I Googled him after the show. But I would have bet you all a steak dinner at Ruth’s Chris that was the case even before I turned on the computer.
With one exception, the singers are all competent if not inspiring. Ditto for the dancers’ energetic if not always synchronized execution of choreography by Black, John Hensley, Isabel Trelles and Ben Bagby.
The asterisk here is the aforementioned Bagby. He’s in a different show and that’s a compliment. Doing quintuple duty as co-choreographer, musical arranger, musical director, singer and dancer, Bagby has the precision, polish and verve of a veteran Broadway song-and-dance man that the others are aiming for.
Still, credit the others with some moderately heartfelt moments: Craig Strang on “Trying to Get the Feeling Again,” Marisa Guida on “The Old Songs,” and Miami native Mimi Jiminez on “Somewhere Down the Road.” All four deserve a bow for pulling off the tongue-twisting challenge of the brilliant words and four-part arrangement of “American Bandstand.”
The mysterious David A. Frye wrote "special to" the Palm Beach Daily News:
The new jukebox musical, conceived and directed by Fort Lauderdale producer Kevin Black, features many of the familiar hits by the Boy Wonder from Brooklyn, performed by a competent, professional cast of four singers and four dancers who more than satisfied the opening-night audience.
Throughout the evening, each of those performers was given several chances to shine, but the use of pre-recorded backing tracks instead of a pit trio — understandably an unfortunate economic necessity — zapped a lot of the energy out of the show...
One after another, the hits just kept on coming, most notably a Top 40 twin-spin of Jump Shout Boogie followed immediately by the Manilow makeover of the theme from American Bandstand (complete with a full-blown jitterbug passage with dancers Teddy Talbot and Fallon D’Eliseo) that had toes tapping.

Other highlights included a sweet duet by Marisa Guida and Mimi Jimenez on I Made it Through The Rain, a beautiful dance sequence that introduced Ben Bagby (who also served as the show’s arranger and musical director) on Could It Be Magic and an explosive take by the entire company on the classic Copacabana.
In spite of a decent effort from a likeable, talented cast and some obviously catchy tunes, this new revue is lot like many people’s feelings about Manilow’s music: a bit cheesy, a bit Pollyanna, but built upon a positive, uplifting vibe and certainly entertaining.
I Am Music; The Songs of Barry Manilow plays at the Plaza Theatre through May 27, 2012.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mondays are Dark

We had a seemingly rare weekend to ourselves, and we tried to spend it away from the internet.  It turns out this Monday isn't so dark; Outré Theatre is staging a concert version of tick...tick... BOOM, and GableStage is hosting a reading of Richard Janaro's new play, The Closet.

Oh, and the Hollywood City Commission is meeting to discuss the fate of The Hollywood Playhouse this evening.  Click through to see how to contact Commissioners so you can weigh in on the issue.

Now here's your slightly tardy Monday reading list:

One More Chance
The Drama Queen reports that the Arsht Center has added one performance to the otherwise sold-out Death and Harry Houdini.  Frankly, we expect that these tickets have already disappeared.

Gordon McConnell and Beverly Beckman Blanchette have each been honored with a Randolph A. Frank Prize for the Performing Arts.  Read about in The Shiny Sheet or Florida Theater On Stage.  I was honored to work with Gordon on his first theatre projects in South Florida, and I've known Beverly since she was the drama teacher at Santaluces High School.  They've both worked long and hard in the field, and both deserve the recognition.  Kudos!

BroadwayWorld fills us in on Proof, which opens at Palm Beach Dramaworks next week.

Bianca Behaving Badly
It turns out that bad manners is an audience problem on both sides of the Atlantic, according to Shenton's View Friday’s performance, there were further trials brought about by the behaviour of the audience, and in particular, one person in the middle of the same row as me, who persistently took flash photographs throughout the performance. It was as blatant and unashamed as could be; she held up the camera and simply flashed away. one materialised. So I confronted the offender myself, going into full Patti LuPone ‘who do you think you are?’ mode as I did so — and receiving a few cheers as the exiting audience babble died down enough for my declaration ‘You stupid woman’ to be heard by everyone around me.

It was only as I was exiting the theatre myself that someone told me exactly who the person thought she was: Bianca Jagger. Who, I was also told, had already been asked to stop by those around her. But clearly she was above it all.
Lion King
The Examiner reports that when The Lion King opens at the Arsht Center tomorrow night, two South Floridians will be among the cast:
Syndee Winters, who plays the loyal lioness “Nala”, is a Miami native and graduated from Miami Palmetto Senior High School. Prior to joining The Lion King North American Tour, Winters worked as a dancer/choreographer throughout Miami. Sharron Williams, an ensemble dancer, was born and raised in Miami and is a graduate of the New World School of the Arts.
The Miami Herald gives us back story on the national tour, which launched from the Broward Center back in 2002.
"The Lion King is the gold standard for us,” says Thomas Schumacher, the Disney Theatrical Group president who was running the company’s feature animation division when the smash Lion King movie came out in 1994.“It has had more productions than anything else, has reached the largest audience and is now the biggest money earner. It’s not tied to fashion or fad; it’s enduring … It’s an allegory, a story about our families and us.”
Growing Up, Not Older
The Miami Herald reports that The Playground Theatre is expanding its programming next season.
The rechristened Miami Theater Center will incorporate elements that have helped make PlayGround distinctive: an ongoing company of actors, the luxury of extended rehearsal time, a focus on world theater that speaks to multicultural Miami, a lengthy period of collaboration between Ansin and designer-playwright Fernando Calzadilla as the two develop new work. Ansin’s standards are high – and getting higher.
On Reviews
HowlRound examines the value of being reviewed, and the merits of reading the reviews.

On Coming Back
Butts In Seats tells us about a theatre re-opening following its closing due to bankruptcy, leading to a rumination about Massachusett's North Shore Music Theatre, and our own Coconut Grove Playhouse, among others.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Actors' Playhouse: Becky's New Car (3 reviews)

Actors Playhouse at the Miracle Theater opened its production of Becky's New Car on May 9, 2012.
A smart, comic cruise through the perils of middle-aged longing and regret, Becky’s New Car, is a laugh-out-loud amusement park ride where the comedy spins out of control like a bumper car. In this new play, playwright Steven Dietz maps out a very funny and touching trip about “the life not taken”. Becky is married in her 40’s and working at a car dealership, when one night, by chance, she’s offered an opportunity to step into another life, and takes it. This fresh, new, delightful and devious comedy is about life, love, marriage, and the detours we make on our way to happiness.
David Arisco directed a cast that included Laura Turnbull, Allen Baker, Ryan Didato, Francisco Paduro, Ann Chamberlain, Kim Ostrenko, and Ken Clement.

Roger Martin reviewed for miamiartzine:
A word here about a couple of actors who never seem to have a bad day on stage. Laura Turnbull and Ken Clement. Put them together and don't take time to blink. You might miss something that would've stuck with you for a long, long time.

Actors' Playhouse has the great good fortune to have the two of them in Becky's New Car... While Turnbull is undoubtedly the star of the show, and Clement, in essence, is supporting, it is he who we remember as bringing the solidity, the surprised hurt, the ability to carry on, but not all that pleasantly, that raises this comedy, almost a farce at times, to its level of theatre art rather than just sitting there as another slick sit com. Clement digs deep.

And fortunately for us, it's not all about Clement, for Turnbull, on stage in almost every scene, has the house wound tight in anticipation each time she speaks. And she doesn't miss a step.
David Arisco's direction, Dietz' s writing and the performances on stage in Becky's New Car had me hustling back from intermission, eager for more.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Dietz’s insightful script, David Arisco’s assured direction and a deceptively deft cast led by the ever-engaging Laura Turnbull as Becky deliver a thoroughly entertaining comedy that will give your mind something substantial to mull over long after the house lights come on.
Arisco is perfectly at home helming this mixture of gentle comedy and modern angst. He keeps the evening moving smoothly and unerringly toward the quickening climax and the honest aftermath in the morning light.
As far as the cast, once again, Turnbull is so bloody good that only her colleagues will appreciate how her seemingly naturalistic style hides so much craft that the result borders on alchemy. Her Becky is so immensely likeable that we happily ignore the fact that she’s flirting with being unfaithful... it’s easy to forget how skilled a comedienne she can be, blessed with flawless technique.

Double that praise for Clement’s portrayal of the steadfastly decent blue-collar husband. Under Arisco’s direction, he exhibits superb comic timing and a deadpan delivery that can wring a laugh out of almost any line he chooses. But belying that doughy clown’s face, his real achievement is communicating Joe’s pain underneath his facile quips and stoic expression.
Baker, seen here primarily in those light summer revues favored by the Playhouse, creates a delightfully idiosyncratic multi-millionaire who you want to protect from the vagaries of the cruel world.
The rest of the cast is just as solid: ...Padura gets to veer out of control in silly rants, Didato.. convincingly exudes that unwarranted condescension that young adults feel toward their parents. Ostrenko renders a portrait of a rue-filled Scarlett O’Hara puzzling out a life after Tara. And Chamberlain... invests Walter’s daughter with warmth and intelligence.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
In Steven Dietz’s Becky’s New Car, a delightful and mildly interactive comedy that has just opened at Actors’ Playhouse, the heroine gets that new car. And at great risk, she test-drives that new life.
Director David Arisco, who has proven his talent at staging all kinds of theater, has an affinity for comedy. In this case, like a master mechanic, he knows how to fine-tune each laugh so that Becky’s New Car just sails along, even over the scattered potholes in Dietz’s script. He blends the slightly different comedic styles of a talented cast into a cohesive, funny, sometimes poignant whole.
Turnbull drives the play as Becky... The Carbonell Award-winning actress is, as always, a smart performer who can speak volumes with the smallest shift in her expression or intonation. Ken Clement embraces the regular-guy persona of Becky’s husband Joe but grows ever more interesting as he takes a little vengeful comedic glee in making Becky squirm and, in subtle but devastating ways, communicates Joe’s pain.
Allan Baker is a quirky hoot... A goofy, appealing farceur, Baker makes the stylistic difference in his performance work to help make Walter a clear alternative to Joe.
Becky’s New Car has its dents and dings. You know certain characters will wind up together from the moment you meet them. The swerve into seriousness threatens, near the end of the show, to send it flying off its solid, successful comedic ground. But given the play’s mostly smooth ride, you may be laughing so hard that those little imperfections won’t matter.
Becky's New Car plays at Actors' Playhouse through June 3, 2012.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hollywood Playhouse Hearing

 Via Facebook:

Calling all actors, writers, directors and crew and anyone else who cares about the Hollywood Playhouse!
We did it once; we need you to do it again. The Hollywood Commission meets in an executive session on Monday moving forward to enforce the reverter clause, fight a frivolous lawsuit by the bank and regain control of the Hollywood Playhouse so it will be utilized and it was intended by the people of Hollywood& a theater. The Mayor and Commission need to hear that they have support. All you need to say is, "Keep fighting to save The Hollywood Playhouse" or whatever you choose. If you've already written& thanks. If you haven't, here are the email contacts:;;;;;;

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Scene for May 11, 2012

Can you believe it? It's already time for the Cappie Awards!  The Critic and Awards Program (CAP) holds its tenth annual gala at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts this coming Tuesday, May 15.  It's the "capping" event to a year of high school theatre production.  Read our 2010 Cappies Story.

Another special event this weekend; Outré Theatre presents a concert reading of tick...tick... BOOM, the autobiographical musical by RENT creator John Larson.  It's this Monday at Nova Southeastern University's Performance Theatre at the Don Taft University Center.

Here's what's playing on The Scene this weekend:


Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater opens Becky's New Car, through June 3, 2012.

Thinking Cap Theatre opens Love Burns at Empire Stage, through May 26.  And they're also opening Radio Plays, also at Empire Stage, also through May 26.  Who says repertory theatre is dead?

The Plaza Theatre opens I Am Music - The Songs of Barry Manilow this weekend.

you still haven't missed...

Time Stands Still
plays at GableStage through June 3, 2012.

Miami Beach Stage Door Theatre presents Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks at the Byron Carlyle Theater through May 20, 2012.

If you find yourself in Key West, The Waterfront Playhouse offers the world premier of Home Exchange through May 26.

Little Shop of Horrors plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through May 20; if you like the show, you'll like this.

Avenue Q comes to the Andrews Living Arts Studio in what's apparently an open-ended run; luke-warm notices, but the buzz on the street is that it's pretty good.

Laffing Matterz plays the Broward Center's Abdo New River Room, for its third season of dinner and comedy; just two more weekends until they go dark for the season.

last chance to see...

The Red Barn Theatre in Key West's Short Attention Span Theatre closes May 12. 

A Measure of Cruelty winds up its world premier run at Mosaic Theatre on May 13.

passing through...

Hamlet, Prince of Cuba
plays a very limited engagement at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center through Sunday, May 13, 2012.

The House Theatre production of Death and Harry Houdini plays at the Arsht Center through May 20, 2012.


Main Street Players presents Jason Robert Brown's 13, through May 20.

The Prisoner of 2nd Avenue plays at the Tamarac Theatre Of Performing Arts through June 3, 2012.

for kids...

Sol Children's Theatre Troupe presents Little Women, The Musical, through May 20.

A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings
returns to The Playground Theatre, through May 25.

The World Premiere of Peter Rabbit and the Garden of Doom at Actors' Playhouse  at the Miracle Theatre through May 26.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Stage Door Theatre: 6 Dance Lessons In 6 Weeks (2 reviews)

Miami Beach Stage Door Theatre opened its production of Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks at the Byron Carlyle Theater on May 4, 2012.
It's hate at first sight when Lily, a formidable retired woman, hires Michael, an acerbic ex-Broadway chorus boy, to give her private dance lessons in her Florida condo.  As Michael teached Lily to dance, they both learn some unexpected lessons in life.
Dan Kelly directed Phyllis Spear and Larry Buzzeo.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks is a gentle message comedy about lonely people reaching out somewhat obliquely for human contact. But this occasionally charming pas de deux at Stage Door’s Miami Beach venue is thrown out of step because one partner is far more vibrant than the other. requires both actors invest the script with an extra level of energy and charisma for this to really have any electricity arcing on the stage. In this case, only Buzzeo delivers that. True, he has the showier role and he makes the most of it without going over the top. But Spear needs to dig a lot deeper into her inner curmudgeon and give Buzzeo a flintier, more vital force to work with. In fact, Buzzeo starts off strong, but eventually he needs an equal partner to feed his performance.
Director Dan Kelley brings out what he can in the script (he’d have made a perfect Michael a few years ago), but the only scene that really shines is in the confessional scene when the two characters admit their deepest tragedies.

Initially, it seems like a directorial mistake that the client clearly knows how to do every one of these dances, exactly how Fred and Ginger somehow knew each other’s moves telepathically the first time they met in every movie. But while it’s not handled well by the playwright, that actually is part of his point: She doesn’t need lessons in dancing; she wants human contact.
While this isn’t as strong as its last show Last of the Red Hot Lovers, hopefully Six Dance Lessons will start bringing in a steady audience for Stage Door’s new venue. For a region whose calendar was once dominated by light comedies, the number of professional troupes doing them now has dwindled.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
It was produced at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in 2003, with ex- Golden Girls star Rue McClanahan as Lily and former Star Wars hero Mark Hamill as Michael. But as the new Dan Kelley-directed production at the Miami Beach Stage Door Theatre demonstrates, Six Dance Lessons doesn’t need stars to connect with an audience.
An attractive Phyllis Spear is Stage Door’s Lily, a cautious gal who enjoys getting dressed up in glamorous dance outfits. Spear doesn’t quite overcome her natural accent to sound Southern, but she plays Lily’s judgmental nature and slowly thawing feelings towards her dance instructor decently.
Larry Buzzeo plays a flamboyant stereotype as Michael, dropping attitude and striking poses all over the place. He also has a tendency to indicate, acting out his dialogue as though the folks in the theater need the extra help... But Buzzeo is a good enough actor that, once Michael’s relationship with Lily deepens, their caring connection feels completely believable.
Miami Beach Stage Door Theatre presents Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks at the Byron Carlyle Theater through May 20, 2012.

SMDCAC: Hamlet, Prince of Cuba (reviews)

Asolo Repertory Theatre opened their co-production of Hamlet, Prince of Cuba in Sarasota on March 23, 2012.  On May 11, 2012, they will open it at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center for a very limited run through Sunday.
Hamlet’s intense struggle to understand the meaning of his life has captivated audiences for more than 400 years. Now, Miami-Dade audiences will be among the first to see a distinctively Cuban Hamlet, which reveals new perspectives on the classic work, while staying true to Shakespeare’s original story. With performances in both Spanish and English, this new adaptation is  a fresh and stunning portrayal of a son’s struggle to pursue justice, and the consequences that threaten to destroy the lives of those he loves.

Adapted by Michael Donald Edwards, translation into Spanish by Nilo Cruz.
Michael Donald Edwards directed a cast that included  Frankie J. Avlarez, Emilio Delgado, Mercedes Herrero, Gisela Chipe, Andhy Mendez, and Douglas Jones.

Wade Tatangelo reviewed for the Bradenton Herald:
It has all the hallmarks of a classic; Sex, violence, a complicated hero, a multi-faceted villain, a bit of humor and a tragic ending.  At its core, though, “Hamlet” is about that timeless theme of vengeance. On this level the Asolo Repertory Theatre’s production, adapted and directed by the company’s producing artistic director Michael Edwards, works extremely well
...Frankie Alvarez delivers a fresh take on the character who must ask “to be or not to be,” playing him by turns mad and melancholy, funny and fierce as he attempts to avenge the death of his father.

Emilio Delgado, who has played Luis the Fix-It Shop owner on “Sesame Street” since 1971, is equally brilliant as King Claudius.
Gisela Chípe is wonderfully unhinged as the theater world’s most famous erotomaniac, Ophelia.

Meanwhile, first-time Asolo Rep guest artist Andhy Mendez does a winning job of selling the climatic sword fight and more as Laertes, the brother of Ophelia and son of Claudius’ chief counselor Polonius (Douglas Jones).
...while Edwards notes in the program that “vengeance has also played a particularly destructive role in Cuba and in Cuban-American relations” we never see this manifest on stage.

In fact, the only reference to the Spanish-American War of 1898 is a rather jarring surprise appearance at the end of the play.
Hamlet, Prince of Cuba plays at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center through Sunday, May 13, 2012.

GableStage: Time Stands Still (4 reviews)

GableStage opened its production of Donald Margulies' Time Stands Still on May 5, 2012.
Sarah and James, a photojournalist and a foreign correspondent, have been together for nine years and share a passion for documenting the realities of war. When her battlefield injuries force them to return home to New York, they find their future together threatened by the prospect of a more conventional life. Penned by Pulitzer Prize Winning playwright Donald Margulies, Tony nominated Time Stands Still was hailed as one of the best new plays on Broadway.
Joseph Adler directed a cast that featured Gregg Weiner, Deborah Sherman, Steve Garland and Betsy Graver.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
The irony of the play Time Stands Still is that, in fact, time doesn’t stand still.  It’s the inability of people to change with it that constitutes one of several tragedies in Donald Margulies’ drama enjoying a solid production at GableStage.
In truth, this is not a thrilling or enthralling production; it’s one that keeps you thinking long after the lights come back up about whether we are jettisoning our responsibility as human beings to, first, feel something and, second, act on it. Adler, Margulies and Company have provided rich fodder for protracted post-show debates.
This production spotlights three of Adler’s strengths: eliciting multi-layered performances from actors, impeccable pacing and small bits of staging.
Sherman’s performance just adds more luster to two years of outstanding work.
This is Garland’s local debut, but he rewards the casting with a sensitive portrayal of a decent person who just cannot deal with the carnage and cruelty any longer. More than any of the others, Garland is so natural, so absent actor’s contrivances that he seems like your neighbor.
Weiner inhabits the skin of the 21st Century pragmatist who fights the good fight for journalism but knows when to compromise.

Arguably, Graver has the toughest role and she just knocks it out of the ballpark. A lesser actress would be unable to keep Mandy from becoming a stereotypical ditz. But Graver achieves exactly what Margulies and Adler wanted: a three-dimensional character who may not have the sophistication and life experiences of the other three, but who has a warmth and humanity that the others lack.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Margulies creates believable, contemporary characters whose life issues resonate with people who go to the theater. Time Stands Still is, however, more an intriguing character study than a fully realized, compelling play.
Impeccably produced, GableStage’s Time Stands Still unfolds on Lyle Baskin’s simple but handsome loft set, a place decorated with the books and photographs and world-travel souvenirs you would expect to find in James and Sarah’s home base.  Sound designer Matt Corey frames the action with mournful jazz, and lighting designer Jeff Quinn suggests both Mandy’s brightness and the moodier crossroads faced by Sarah and James. Ellis Tillman’s costume choices convey class, age and taste, from the dressed-down journalists to Richard’s expensive menswear to Mandy’s young, sexy style.

Adler gets strong, intricately detailed performances from all four actors. Sherman is a fierce, always believable Sarah, even when she and Garland are dealing with brief and unnecessary nudity that isn’t in Margulies’ script. Garland is, arguably, a bit too jolly and for a guy who’s dealing with guilt while working his way through the aftermath of a breakdown, but he and Sherman suggest a long familiarity. Weiner’s Richard is smart, manipulative and self-justifying, though he subtly melts in the presence of the life force that is Graver’s radiant Mandy.
Roger Martin hands in a 'perfect' review for miamiartzine:
Deborah Sherman is perfect as the acerbic, adrenalin junky Sarah.
Steve Garland is perfect as the man who wants to flee the war zones and raise a family. With Sarah.
Gregg Weiner is perfect as the old friend who tries to, but cannot, chase the demons away from Sarah and James.
Betsy Graver is perfect as the hot, hot babe who makes at least one person happy.
Joe Adler is perfect as the director who brings this dark piece to the light.
And that's five 'perfects' handed out so far, so let's keep it going with ten-out-of-tens handed also to set designer Lyle Baskin for the loft with the huge arched window through which Jeff Quinn's lights play over the Brooklyn industrial areas. Matt Corey's sound and Ellis Tillman's costumes also get the tens.
Chris Joseph did that thing he does for The Miami New Times:
It's a crisp production sustained by some fine performances and a script that moves along with the right measure of humor and drama.
As with every GableStage production, Time Stands Still is anchored by fine work. Adler draws crisp performances from his ensemble, particularly from Sherman, who deftly gives Sarah's pain and hardened outer shell some humanity. It would be easy to dislike this war junkie, even with her injuries. But Sherman makes her wholly human, someone we all know. Garland is genuinely affable and compassionate as the loyal-to-a-fault James, all while keeping an inner passion bottled up for the sake of his and Sarah's delicate relationship. Graver does a fantastic job of keeping Mandy's simple worldview grounded without turning the character into a cliché. The always-excellent Weiner as Richard is warm and funny; he really shows his versatility by playing a more compliant role than he usually plays.
Time Stands Still plays at GableStage through June 3, 2012.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mondays are Dark

Kind of a light week for theatre stories this week; everyone's in New York trying to get caught up for the Tony Awards.  But there's still a few worthwhile stories for your Monday reading list.

Enormous, but Muted
Playground Theatre has revived its production of A Very Old Man with Enormous Wingsmiamiartzine tells us about the overall production.  The Miami Herald notes that they are offering a "sensory friendly"
performance next week, part of its inclusion program aimed at children
with autism disorders.  The Herald also notes that Thinking Cap Theatre has a couple of projects opening soon.

Round Up
Florida Theatre On Stage rounds up stories that include M Ensemble postponing an opening, that Thinking Cap projects, and notes that the 10th Annual CAPPIES will be held this May 15 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.  The program, named for its real name, Critics and Awards Program, fosters a greater understanding of theatre beyond simply performing.

The Palm Beach Post rounds up a number of productions playing on Palm Beach and Martin County stages.

Well, They're Neon Lights, Anyway.
The song says the neon lights are bright on Broadway, but the current offerings are not quite stellar.  The Miami Herald reports that even though the current crop of shows on the Great White Way haven't garnered much critical praise, ticket sales are still strong.

Unlikely Bedfellows
Broadway World reminds us that this weekend is the 6th annual Miami Stories at New Theatre.  Miami Marlins' president David Samson serves as Master of Ceremonies for a night of plays written by a number of prominent Miami business folk.

Still Running
BroadwayWorld reminds us that Avenue Q is still running at Andrews Living Arts Studio.

Growth and the Arts
Mission Paradox has a three part series up.

To Be, Then Not To Be

Butts in Seats discusses the impermanence of art.