Sunday, July 15, 2012

Actors' Playhouse: Real Men Sing Show Tunes (4 reviews)

Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater opened the world premiere production of Real Men Sing Show Tunes and play with puppets on July 13, 2012.
GET REAL! And GET READY for a song-filled adult comedy about REAL MEN behaving like, well...REAL MEN. Get an inside glimpse of what it takes to be a man in a modern world shared with women, children, and yes, even puppets. REAL MEN, who make a habit of juggling their balls every day; fatherhood, mid-life crisis, dating, marriage, potency, sexuality, and the lack of it. REAL MEN, answering the one pertinent question that’s on everyone’s mind...
David Arisco directed a cast that featured Stephen G. Anthony, Paul Louis, and Nick Santa Maria.

J.W. Arnold reviewed for South Florida Gay News:
...Paul Louis and Nick Santa Maria would have us believe that real men not only eat quiche, but sing show tunes…..and play with puppets, too. That’s the premise of the wacky musical revue the duo cooked up and premiered last weekend at Actors Playhouse in Coral Gables.

The testosterone courses through the Miracle Theatre as Louis, Santa Maria and fellow funnyman Stephen G. Anthony—accompanied by pianist and music director Manny Schvartzman—take the stage to enlighten the audience with a hilarious show about the joys of manhood...
The zany musical numbers are perfectly staged by Director David Arisco and complemented by bawdy puppets designed by Louis with help from costume designer Ellis Tillman.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theatre On Stage:
Real Men is a goofy, spoofy hoot that may have seemed all the funnier because, in full disclosure, I am a real man who regularly sings show tunes in the car and would play with puppets if I had any.
Developed in readings over a year by Louis and Santa Maria with director David Arisco, Real Men is light, bubbly summer fare, but it has a polish and a consistency that its forebears haven’t had.
The production also benefits that the numbers are performed by the authors and local stalwart Stephen G. Anthony, all of whom have highly-developed singing and acting chops that smoothly switch from loopy to introspective when the numbers turn contemplative.
The tunes are generally bouncy and the lyrics wittily observant about male foibles. Since men never lose their adolescent obsession with sex, much of the show has a decidedly blue tinge and a bit of well-placed locker room language. But there are some touching songs, such as “A Real Man” in which the trio reminisce about their fathers.
And then there’s the puppets. Louis and Santa Maria have been involved for years in puppetry through professional children’s theater. As a result, the show is graced with a score of creatures ranging from a tiny finger figure to a 10-foot tall Grim Reaper. As with Avenue Q, the Sesame Street-like puppets designed by Louis and built by Louis and costume designer Ellis Tillman are often both furry and filthy such as three buxom Hooters waitresses.
A tip of the hat is due musical director, arranger and pianist Manny Schvartzman, who has helmed several shows recently for Slow Burn Theatre Company in Boca Raton. Also due credit (and barely mentioned in the program) is the busy backstage crew and assistant puppeteers Gaby Macias, Kris Cardenas and Andrew Arisco.
Real Men is another entry in the Menopause the Musical sweepstakes – the search for a low-budget easily-transportable middlebrow mass entertainment rooted in universally-recognized social prototypes. Because of its quality, Real Men has a solid shot at the Holy Grail and the duo may well be on the road with it a long time.
Roger Martin reviewed for miamiartzine:
What else could you ask for in a season ending Summer show? Singable songs? Witty lyrics? Smart book? Good performances? They're all there and then some in Real Men Sing Show Tunes... and play with puppets at Actors' Playhouse.
Bow down now to some very talented people: Stephen G. Anthony, Paul Louis and Nick Santa Maria.   The three are veteran actors, comedians, singers, each with their own distinctive style but working well together under David Arisco's slick direction. More big props to Paul Louis and Nick Santa Maria who wrote the book, music and lyrics.
And fear not, this is not a weak male copy of the old girlie standbys with their lyrics set to familiar melodies. This is an evening of close to thirty original songs that really work. It's vulgar, of course, sometimes tender and always right on point.
I confess I like silly, and there's a lot of that going on here, but it's clever silly and that's just great.   As they say in the business: “This show's got legs.”
Howard Cohenreviewedwrote for used the tickets sent to The Miami Herald:
Think of the sketch-driven Real Men Sing Show Tunes as an episode of Saturday Night Live in which practically all the sketches work. If that sounds impossible — there’s such a thing as an SNL in which all the sketches work? — then you will begin to realize how sharp the writing is and how important the deft and daft stage work of director David Arisco is in making this production work as well as it does with its ingenious use of puppets, props and lighting.
Oh, yes, Real Men Sing Show Tunes can be crude. The tease, “Although puppetry is featured in this production, this risqué and witty musical is not suitable for children…only the childish and immature,” applies — except when it doesn’t. This canny trio slips in a poignant, thoughtful moment in the second act.
With this comedic production, Actors’ Playhouse closes its particularly strong 24th season and heads into its silver anniversary 2012-13 season on a creative roll.
Actors' Playhouse presents Real Men Sing Show Tunes and play with puppets plays at The Miracle Theater through August 12, 2012.

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