Thursday, August 30, 2012

Friday on South Florida Arts Beat

Jeff Kiltie of the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center will be appearing on this Friday's edition of South Florida Arts Beat

If you don't know him, Jeff Kiltie has stage managed dozens of productions in South Florida, and sat on the board of the late Hollywood Playhouse.  He's been Event Services Manager at  AACC since it opened.

Tune in at 1:00 pm on  91.3 WLRN.

The Scene for August 31, 2012

Well, it looks like most of South Florida got through Tropical Storm Isaac without much damage; some cancelled shows on Sunday seem to be the worst for the theatre scene.

A lot of shows are in rehearsal this weekend, but only one opening this Labor Day Weekend.  This may be the slowest weekend for theater this year as the summer season in South Florida runs out of sand, but don't worry; The Season is about to kick off in full form.  And "slow" doesn't mean that there's nothing to see; we have a nice selection for the holiday weekend.

Here's what's happening on The Scene this week:


New Theatre launches its BoomFrog Series with Keeping A-Breast, which opens Saturday and plays through September 16.

you still haven't missed...

Ground Up and Rising
performs its adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth this Sunday at the Miami Botanical Gardens.  Admission is FREE.

A Shayna Maidel plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through September 16, 2012.

Island City Stage presents The Twentieth Century Way, its inaugural production, at Empire Stage through September 9, 2012.

Irving Berlin Salutes America plays at The Plaza Theatre through September 9, 2012. Remember that the bridge in Lantana is under construction, so you'll have to cross in Boynton Beach or Lake Worth.  But the drive along A1A should be make up for the detour.

last chance to see...

The Donkey Show has apparently been extended again at The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts through September 2.  Which we only discovered by visiting their website.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mondays are Dark

Broward Center Braced for TS Isaac.
Of course, the big news this past week as been Tropical Storm Isaac, which blew in on Sunday, disrupting activities across South Florida.  Fortunately it didn't impact most Saturday performances - unless they were scheduled to be outdoors.  But it does mean that this Monday will be especially "dark" as Isaac works its way out into the Gulf of Mexico.

The rest of the good news is that we're coming through the summer doldrums, and the theatre scene will begin to pick up, starting with events opening this coming Labor Day weekend.  Even with our Twitter feed choked with photos of downed palm fronds, we found plenty of good readin'.

Just a reminder, we're still looking for photos of your "dark" theatre to use for the head of this column.  We do a new reading list every week, folks; help us out with a photo or two (you can post them on our FaceBook page).

Here's your Monday reading list;

Filling the Hole
The Miami Herald reports that GableStage has completed its season line-up with the addition of Cock, the Olivier Award-winning play by Mike Barret.  And it's given The Scene the opportunity to use the headline the Herald didn't have the guts to use; you can look forward to months of double entendre references.  Also, The Donkey Show will wind up its extended run at the Arsht Center this weekend with Harry "K.C" Casey hosting the show.

Speaking of The Donkey Show
The Miami Herald Friends and Neighbors pages gives us some local background on The Donkey Show at the Arsht Center.

Speaking of The Arsht Center
The Miami Herald reports that repairs to the Arsht Center's 6-years-old roof will cost $3.8 million, well under their $5 million deductible.  The City of Miamivhas already authorized that amount for the repairs.  By the way, the Arsht Center's Carnival Studio Theate made The Huffington Post's Most Memorable Theatres list.  We don't know why; it's a nice space, but it's not THAT nice.  What ev.

Speaking of Nice Spaces

The Examiner calls the Miami Beach Stage Door Theatre Company at the Byron Carlyle Theater "a gem."  (We ask that the usual anonymous Stage Door nay-sayer please post comments over at The Examiner; it's their story, not ours).

Weekend Updates
Florida Theater On Stage lets us know that while Ground Up and Rising had to cancel its performance of Macbeth this past Sunday, they still have shows this coming weekend, and that New Theatre will be launching its BoomFrog series this Saturday, and Alliance Theatre Lab is holding its first 10-Minute Play Festival next month.  Oh, and Outré Theater Company found a home.

Speaking of 10 Minute Theater Festivals
Howlround's Barry Martin isn't entirely convinced that actual plays can be that short.
Seems you can’t swing a dead cat or any other metaphorical animal these days without knocking into a ten-minute play. How the devil did this happen? Isn’t a play supposed to be at least long enough to fill up the space between dinner and bedtime?
The Drama Queen reports that The M Ensemble and The Theatre at Arts Garage have finally set their season line-ups. The good news; the plays are worth the wait.

Taking the Express
Florida Theater On Stage breaks the news that Nancy Barnett, former managing director of the defunct Florida Stage, has taken the job of Executive Director at Actors' Express in Atlanta, Georgia.  She'll remained tied to South Florida theatre for awhile longer, however; her son will finish out his senior year of high school in West Palm Beach, so he and Barnett's husband, actor Gordon McConnell, will hold down the fort.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Scene for August 24, 2012

It looks like we've got a patch of rough weather coming; you should already have your hurricane supplies, so it should just be a matter of putting up the shutters and topping off your gas tank.  So you should have the time to see a play this weekend, before Hurricane Isaac blows us all away.

Kidding!  With all the hot air gathered in Tampa for the Republican National Convention, there's no way a mere hurricane could get within spittin' distance.  But seriously, the track is trending south and west and away from us.  So plan on going out.

Here's what's happening on The Scene this week:


A Shayna Maidel opens at the Broward Stage Door Theatre this weekend.  Through September 16, 2012.

The Kinsey Sicks: Erectile Dysfunction blows through the Broward Center for the Performing Arts this weekend, one night only August 25. And don't let the scaffolding and cranes scare you away; they're getting a new roof, but the show is there. We promise.

you still haven't missed...

Island City Stage presents The Twentieth Century Way, its inaugural production, at Empire Stage through September 9, 2012.

Irving Berlin Salutes America plays at The Plaza Theatre through September 9, 2012. Remember that the bridge in Lantana is under construction, so you'll
have to cross in Boynton Beach or Lake Worth.  But the drive along A1A
should be make up for the detour.

The Donkey Show has apparently been extended again at The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts through September 2.  Which we only discovered by visiting their website.

last chance to see...

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill winds up its run at Broward Stage Door on August 26.

Actors' Workshop and Repertory Company winds up You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown on August 26.

Tamarac Theatre of Performing Arts runs Lenny through August 26.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mondays are Dark

Jolson at the Wintergarten, Maltz Jupiter Theatre, photo: C. McGovern 
It's another Monday, and another reading list!  Yesterday on our Facebook Page, we announced that we'd like to start featuring images of local theatres at the top of this column every week.  Specifically, "dark" shots, that is, photos of your theatre on a dark day.  It can be completely empty; it can show a set loading in, or lights being hung, or just the audience chamber - just so it's obvious that there's not a show going on. 

Christopher McGovern contributed this week's shot, the set of Jolson at the Wintergarten onstage at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, back in 2011.

Without further ado, here's your Monday reading list.


Mission Paradox reminds us that we should know our real numbers, not just the ones that comfort us.
Our ego makes us want to see the 2,000.  It makes us want to see the 1,000 people on the email and the 1,000 Twitter followers and call them our "audience".  Reality and maturity teach us the hard way that the real audience is closer to 200.
Another New One
The Drama Queen announces that a new company is on the scene; What If Works, Inc.
The mission statement reads this way:  "What if Works offers theatre, film and music graduates a creative bridge by which to transition from an academic environment to the professional world of entertainment while sustaining the power of literature through the exploration of works that champion compassion and social justice."
Their first production will be How It Hangs, by South Florida playwright Grace McKeaney.  It's apparently a mini-tour of South Florida; it will play August 23-26 at the City Church of Homestead, August 29th and 30th at Roxy Performing Arts Center, and The Sunrise Civic Center on September 8.

You Know, for Kids Students
BroadwayWorld announces its BWW Student Center, a database of every university theatre program in the United States,

One Down,  Many More To Go
Florida Theater On Stage turned One last week.  Congratulations!  We're lucky to have such a great source for reviews and in-depth news and interviews about South Florida theater.  And we're looking forward to another year of great stories, and many more after that.

Award-Winning Theater Wins Another
The Examiner reports that Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater has been honored with the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce's 2012 City Beautiful Award for Outstanding Historic PreservationTheaterMania has a photo of the presentation

A Case for Critics
The New York Times explains why critics should be critical, and why it's a good thing.

Fingers Crossed that Fingers Weren't Crossed
Miami Today reports that BURN NOTICE has a handshake deal with the City of Miami to stay on for one more season.  Now, the show needs to be renewed for one more year, and the Commission has to approve the deal.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Plaza Theatre: Irving Berlin Salutes America (reviews)

The Plaza Theatre opened its production of Irving Berlin Salutes America on August 16, 2012.
Kevin Black directed Melissa Boher Jacobson, John Lariviere, Missy McArdle and Jon Zimmerman. Musical Direction by Vic Glazer.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Four capable performers plus the pianist/ arranger delivered the musical equivalent of a familiar old down comforter and a hot toddy for a nightcap. There was nothing electrifying, no fresh insights for those born after World War II, just an unabashedly pleasant, entertaining evening and that’s what the audience wanted.
(Composer Irving Berlin is) served pretty well here by two genial crooners and two expressive chanteuses: John Lariviere, Jon Zimmerman, Melissa Boher Jacobson and, notably, Missy McArdle.
Three of them do a competent if not enthralling job, but it’s McArdle you’ll remember. Once a mainstay of South Florida musicals, she’s kept her hand in, but hasn’t had the high-profile she once enjoyed when she had seven Carbonell nominations. But all that experience, craft and effusive charisma combine to make her the standout.
Lariviere seduces the ladies in the front rows with a mellow “They Say It’s Wonderful,” Zimmerman skillfully weaves in and out of the written notes in “Blue Skies” and Jacobson’s lyric soprano caresses “I Got Lost In His Arms.”
Other than McArdle’s performance, this is classic old Florida theater, which won’t do much for young audiences or even middle-aged audiences, but ought to reassure their grandparents that the music of their lives was, in fact, really that damn good.
Irving Berlin Salutes America plays at The Plaza Theatre through September 9, 2012.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

TheScene for August 17, 2012

School is starting throughout South Florida in the next week or so: which means that soon we'll start seeing children's theater on the scene again.  In the meantime, school buses will start lumbering through your daily commute, and the kiddies will start darting in out of the parked cars;

While it won't stop, theatre production does start to dwindle; help them out, and make sure you see what's playing.  You'll be glad you did, and so will we.

Here's what's happening on The Scene this week:


The Plaza Theatre presents Irving Berlin Salutes America, through September 9.  Remember that the bridge in Lantana is under construction, so you'll have to cross in Boynton Beach or Lake Worth.  But the drive along A1A should be make up for the detour.

you still haven't missed...

Island City Stage presents The Twentieth Century Way, its inaugural production, at Empire Stage through September 9, 2012.

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill plays at Broward Stage Door through August 26.


Actors' Workshop and Repertory Company opens You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown, through August 26.

Tamarac Theatre of Performing Arts runs Lenny through August 26.

last chance to see...

The Donkey Show winds up its extened run at The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on August 18!

Teatro en Miami Studio presents Smile, through August 19.

Divorce Party; The Musical returns to The Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, through August 19.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Final Bow: Ron Palillo

Photo Credit: Palm Beach Post
Actor and director Ron Palillo has died, according to The Palm Beach Post.  He was 63.

Ron Palillo became famous for his portrayal of Arnold Horshack on the TV sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter. Intended as a platform to showcase comedian Gabe Kaplan as former gang member who returned to teach at his old high school, it instead launched the careers of the young men playing The Sweathogs, the gang that dominated the school. The group included John Travolta, Palillo, and Robert Hegyes.

Some South Florida readers may be aware that Ron Palillo has been living in South Florida, and teaching acting at the G-Star School of the Arts, a high school in West Palm Beach.

But he's also appeared on the South Florida theater scene. In 1996, he starred in the comedy Breaking Legs at the Jupiter Theatre; it was the last show to be produced under the management of the late Richard Akins.  Akin's college roommate Avery Schreiber directed the show, and the cast included himself, Palillo, Jill Brennan, Stewart Steinbertg, Vince Viverito, and John LaGioia.

Skip Sheffield reviewed for the Boca Raton News:
The role of Terence O'Keefe is essentially that of straight man to a cast of eccentric, colorful, and possibly dangerous characters. Under the direction of Avery Schreiber, Ron Palillo has taken great care to hone his numerous reactions to comic perfection. While Breaking Legs is a very broad and essentially silly comedy, it is the subtle nuances that make the Jupiter production so satisfying.
Rest in peace, Ron.  And thanks for all the laughs!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mondays are Dark

Naked Stage, naked. Via Facebook.
We hope  you're enjoying the new format of The South Florida Theatre Scene.  We know that we are.  It's really fun using the drop-down menu to see it in a different layout.  And the larger reading pan makes it easier to read.  We're no longer forced to scroll down a couple of feet of column.  Did you find the fly-out tool bar on the right hand side?

There's still time to take advantage of the Theatre League's A Taste of Summer Theatre.  All you need do is see plays at three qualifying theaters, and you must have done that by now, right?  Sure you have.

Anywho, here's this week's Monday reading list:

Making the Cut
The big news from Florida Theater On Stage is that Mayor Giminez 's proposed budget for Miami-Dade County does not cut funding for the arts. However, the budget still needs to be approved by the county commission.

Making the Grade
BroadwayWorld has launched a series called  Featured Regional Theater of the Week, and the week the honoree is South Florida's own Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater!  Personally, we think the photographer could have laid off the wide-angle lens, but it's a nice feather in the cap for Barbara Stein and David Arisco.

It's interesting that one of the previously featured theatres. The Morris Center has been restored to its 1921 glory, but now sports a marquee that includes LED panels.  The City of Coral Gables rejected the Playhouse's plan to install a similar system during their marquee renovation a few years back because "it wouldn't be historically accurate."  Funny how only the Gables' historic board feels that way.

Celebrating the Work of What's-His-Name
The Miami Herald fills us in on UM Theatre Department's upcoming festival celebrating the work of Cuban playwright Virgilio Piñera.  A prolific playwright in South America during the 1940's and 50's, his work is largely unknown to US audiences.
Stylistically adventurous, a modernist ground-breaker whose controversial Electra Garrigó preceded Eugene Ionesco’s absurdist The Bald Soprano by two years, the prolific Piñera was one of the world’s great writers, a novelist, poet, essayist and short story writer as well as a dramatist.
Risen Up
Florida Theater On Stage fills us in on the re-emergence of Ground Up and Rising, a small theater company that had dropped off the map they had been wandering around on for the last few years. 

Now they're back, and they have a plan. 

Which probably isn't as ominous as we made that sound.  They're not Cylons, fer gosh sakes.  At least, we don't think they are.

Return Engagement
The Miami Herald reports that Valerie Harper is returning with Looped, the biographical play about Tallulah Bankhead which went from West Palm Beach's Cuillo Center to Broadway back in 2009.  It will play the Parker Playhouse for a week starting February 26, 2013.

Taking the Stage
The Examiner takes a look at the African American Performing Arts Community Theatre, and tells us a little bit about their upcoming production of The Dutchman, opening September 5 at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center Wendall Narcisse Performing Arts Theatre, which has just unseated The Nova Southeastern University Don Taft University Center Black Box Theatre for "Most Awkwardly Named Venue in South Florida." 

Construction and Competition
Butts In Seats expands on an earlier article that dealt with arts organizations and construction projects.  But he goes on to explore how groups view other groups in the same region.
Still it raises a lot of questions about how accurately cultural organizations, and I daresay businesses as a whole, assess the impact of developments on the economic conditions of their communities. I suspect the assumptions arts and cultural organizations make are little different from those other businesses make about the impact that will result upon the arrival of a big box retailer like WalMart, Best Buy or Home Depot.
Of course, if you want to see a new play every week, you have to go to a different theater every week.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Island City Stage: The Twentieth Century Way (5 reviews)

Island City Stage opened its inaugural production of The Twentieth Century Way at Empire Stage on August 9, 2012
The Twentieth Century Way was awarded the 2011 PEN Award for Drama and the 2010 NY International Fringe Festival Award for Overall Excellence in Production of a Play, garnering critical accolades from publications like the New York Times and Variety. Based on a little-known incident in history, this theatrical thrill ride explores the collision of reality and fantasy as two actors, auditioning for a film, end up juggling roles that eventually lead to entrapment of homosexuals for "social vagrancy" in the Long Beach, California of 1914..
Michael Leeds directed a cast that featured Michael Westrich and Clay Cartland.

John Thomason reviewed for The Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
Now at Empire Stage, Twentieth Century Way is a dense, dizzying piece of absurdist theater, intellectually challenging and imbued with more layers than Tetris.
The direction, by Michael Leeds, is frequently spellbinding, keeping spectators on their toes with every surprise, double-cross, and rule-break. Hunched over and downcast, Westrich conveys his character's pool of untapped longing, and Cartland cuts a towering figure of sociopathic confidence. He's a tragic cipher hidden under multiple personalities, and it's impossible to take your eyes off him. Neither actor nails all his myriad accents, but it doesn't matter. Their chemistry is palpable, pulsating with homoerotic subtext that comes to a head in the play's final, revealing twist.
Ron Levitt reviewed for ENV Magazine:
Mix in two of the finest performances of the year with a disturbing-but challenging production, astute direction and an adult  script  built on historic fact aimed at a particular segment of society, and one should have a winner.  That’s exactly what appears to be the potential for The Twentieth Century Way making its Florida premiere here as the initial offering of the restructured Island City Stage in cooperation with Empire Stage.
Director Michael Leeds – with gusto – takes his audience on this historic trip with so many questionable stops.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
This initial production by Island City Stage, the resurrected phoenix that was once Rising Action Theatre, is an audacious and ambitious offering in which actors Clay Cartland and Michael Westrich slip in and out of a dozen roles under the direction of Michael Leeds.
The play is gloriously theatrical as the duo nimbly shuttle among characterizations like the supernumeraries in The 39 Steps. But the hard truth is that they get so involved in the technical demands of the transformations that they aren’t precise enough to clearly deliver the thematic subtleties of Tom Jacobson’s Byzantine script. Another few days of shakedown seem called for.
...the work of the actors and Leeds is admirable as they encompass vaudevillian comedy, streaks of pathos and stretches of Beckett. Westrich is not terribly persuasive or engaging in his role as the nasal stolid Mr. Brown, but he skillfully and assuredly disappears into an ever-morphing collection of distinct characters portrayed by Mr. Brown.
Cartland devours the showier role as the aggressive Mr. Warren. Cartland’s comic chops get a workout as Warren gleefully inhabits a parade of intentionally cartoonish characters with a United Nations-worth of broad accents.
Even with its flaws, the intriguing The Twentieth Century Way is welcome if only as the vehicle that returns Artistic Director Andy Rogow and a company with the mission of focusing on LGBT-themed theater. A nod, too, to Empire Stage for agreeing to be a co-producer and providing Island City a temporary home on the tiny vest-pocket stage in Fort Lauderdale.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
There’s a new theater company on the South Florida scene, and if its debut production is any indication, Island City Stage will be a troupe worth watching.
Each actor in the Island Stage plays numerous parts: the auditioning actors, cops, an investigative reporter and his crusty editor, a lawyer and various vividly drawn victims of Brown and Warren’s scheme. The challenge for director Michael Leeds and the two performers is to keep the story clear as the play hurtles forward, its distinctive characters appearing, vanishing and reappearing. Quite artfully, they succeed.

Cartland and Westrich employ shifting accents (you’ll hear guys from Brooklyn, Chicago, Minnesota, Scotland, Germany and more), changing costume pieces and altered physicality to portray the men perpetrating, caught up in, covering or dealing with the fallout from the entrapment scheme. Both give fearless, fine performances.
Roger Martin reviewed for miamiartzine:
The Twentieth Century Way is an eighty-five minute show of seemingly endless character, accent and costumes changes; an eighty-five minute display by a terrific comedy team that milked Tom Jacobson's serpentine script of every emotion.
Westrich is the quiet, almost stolid Mr Brown, persuaded by the flamboyant, wonderfully over the top Cartland, (Mr Warren) to engage in an improve session to determine who is the better actor. And by dint of the skill of these actors and the many characters they play, we see what really happened in 1914 California when “two out of work actors hired themselves out to the Long Beach Police Department to entrap 'social vagrants' in Public restrooms.
Michael Leeds directed this impressive first showing from Island City Stage, and he directed it beautifully. There's not a dead moment in a piece that's as demanding of the actors as any I've seen. You know the tyro question; how on earth do you remember all those lines?   Well, I confess, I sat there asking myself just that. And all the blocking? And costume changes? And accents?   Ah yes, very impressive.
Island City Stage presents The Twentieth Century Way at Empire Stage through September 9, 2012.

We've made some changes.

While you were sleeping, we've been tinkering.  Our second version of The Scene has served us well, but it was beginning to feel crowded.  The column allotted for our content was constrictive, and the other columns were beginning to feel cluttered instead of useful.  And we've been wanting to expand some of the information we make available.

Pretty much everything that was on The Scene before is here now; check out our refurbished menu bar.  And off to the right is a flyout toolbar that has a lot of useful tools.  We've expanded the list of theatres on The Scene, and we'll be filling it in with information about each theatre; currently, we've added their professional affiliations.  Soon, we'll include a brief description or overview of each company.

The best thing about this new format is that you have several options you can choose from; at the extreme left hand side of the menu bar, just under the blog title, is a pull-down menu that allows you to choose from.  While we prefer Magazine, you might prefer Mosaic or Flipcard, or the back-to-basics Classic view.

This is still very much a work in progress; please leave suggestions in the comments section to this post.  We know that some gadgets are missing, or aren't working properly, and there are probably some things we haven't noticed yet.

Thank you for your support, and we hope you continue to enjoy reading the South Florida Theatre Scene, Now With Dynamic View.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Scene for August 10, 2012

We seem to have been lulled by the sultry summer heat.  Or heat-stroked.  Either way, we simply lost track of the days of the week.

If you're looking for something really fresh this weekend, student from New World School Of the Arts are offering The New Play Project:Year Four under the auspices of The Company Company.  Proceeds to benefit the Multiple Schlerosis Society.  Need to know more?  Read This.

Here's what's happening on The Scene this week:


Island City Stage makes its debut on the theatre scene with The Twentieth Century Way at Empire Stage.  Through September 9.

Ground Up and Rising Theatre Company returns this weekend with a 'bare-bones' version of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.  It's the first in their Zero Point Project, and you can read all about on Florida Theater On Stage.

you still haven't missed...

The Donkey Show is going full tilt at The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts through August 12, 2012 and has been extended through August 18!

Teatro en Miami Studio presents Smile, through August 19.

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill plays at Broward Stage Door through August 26.


Actors' Workshop and Repertory Company opens You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown, through August 26.

Tamarac Theatre of Performing Arts runs Lenny through August 26.

Main Street Players presents Closer, through August 12.

The Best Man winds up its run at the Pembroke Pines Theatre of the Performing Arts.

passing through...

Divorce Party; The Musical returns to The Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, through August 19.

last chance to see...

The Naked Stage critically acclaimed production of The Turn of the Screw winds up its run at Barry University's Pelican Theatre this Sunday, August 12, 2012.

Mad Cat Theatre's original production of The Hamlet Dog & Pony Show finishes its world premiere run at the Miami Light Project at the Goldman Warehouse this Sunday August 12, 2012.

Actors' Playhouse closes its world premiere production of Real Men Sing Show Tunes and play with puppets  this Sunday, August 12, 2012.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mondays are Dark

We have two thoughts;
1. when the heck did it get to be AUGUST?
2. DANG, it's HOT.

This used to be the "off-season," but you wouldn't know it from poking through our theatre listings.  One thing that came up at last weeks Theatre League Producers Forum is that South Florida has 52 weeks of theatre.  Blissfully air-conditioned theatre.

Without further ado, here's your Monday reading list:

Latest Entry on The Scene

The newest theatre company in town the work of seasoned veterans; Andy Rogow and Michael Leeds are getting set to launch Island City Stage with a production of The Twentieth Century Way.  It opens August 11 at Empire Stage in Fort Lauderdale, and you can read about in on BroadwayWorld and The Examiner.

Tick Tock

Time is running out to get your theatre company into The Miami Herald's Season of the Arts Guide.

In Which We Learn Disturbing Truths
Or do we? Anywho, Florida Theater On Stage interviews "Florida theatre's Gene Hackman," actor Greg Weiner.

Tropical Round-Up
The Miami Herald rounds up Tigertail Production's next season, notes that legendary South Florida theatre producer Zeb Buffman is back on the scene with the BBC Murder Mystery Tour, and reminds us that City Theatre is still looking for a few good plays.

The Musical, not the City
Boca Raton Theatre Guild is production Kander & Ebb's Chicago, and The Examiner fills us on the galaxy of local stars who will be bringing it to life.

By Popular Demand
Florida Theater On Stage reports that The Donkey Show has been extended for a week.  The Arsht Center has been packing the house with people eager to experience this unique immersive theater production.

Kick in the Pants?
The Producer's Perspective tells us a little about Kickstarter, an online fundraising platform.  Any South Florida theatres try this yet?  Please fill us in!

If You Build It, They Really Do Come
Butts In Seats discovers that despite a seeming glut of PAC construction, most of them succeed. Not that it's that straightforward.  It seems most organizers underestimate costs and overestimate their fundraising abilities - as we well know from the Arsht Center, which was built waaaaay over budget.

Wonder What That's Like
Huh. The Naples Stage Door is taking a vacation.

THAT's why he as the "J."
This Theater Mania article startled us.  But it's a different one.

Will They Stay or Will They Go?

The Coconut Grove Grapevine reports that the wildly popular USA Networks TV show Burn Notice will probably get to stick around for another season; Channel 10 seems to think it's a done deal, while Miami Today News doesn't seem to be convinced. 

We can always turn that site into a park, but the golden goose is still laying eggs; let's stick with that while it lasts.  It's a lot of revenue for Miami, and a lot of jobs for South Florida actors.  The commission should stop trying to move the production to their white elephant Wynwood project, and let them film in the Expo Center for the foreseeable future.

Jobs and revenue.  Why would anyone screw with this?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Stage Door Theatre: Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill (reviews)

Broward Stage Door Theatre opened its production of Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill on July 20, 2012.
It’s 1959 and legendary musical performer Billie Holiday is just four months away from death as she steps to the microphone in a seedy bar in Philadelphia for one of her final performances. Though she is there to sing, the audience will find she has a lot more on her mind than music. In addition to featuring a dozen of her hits, Holiday tells the tale of who she is, in her own original . This production showcases the talents of the strong, yet, fragile woman who pioneered a new way of looking at music while presenting a story fused with drama as much as humor that plays like one of Lady Day’s legendary songs.
Dan Kelley directed Paulette Dozier, with musical direction by David Nagy, accompanied by Kai Sanchez and Howard Moss.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Built around a superb performance by Paulette Dozier, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill mounted at Broward Stage Door intersperses more than a dozen Holiday classics with the jazz chanteuse telling long stories about her tragic spiral.
Dozier and Kelley artfully and smoothly chart Holiday’s gradual descent, especially using body language. At first, there are the small graceful hand and arm gestures as she sings, body slightly leaning to one side, eyes always half-closed as if seeing an image in her head. Then, we see the increasingly wobbly figure who stumbles like a sleepwalker in a drug-induced haze.

But obviously, the requisite skill is in delivering Holiday’s repertoire. Dozier is more than a match for these two-minute slices of musical nirvana. While Holiday herself mocks her audiences’ expectation that she will sing her most famous songs, “God Bless the Child” and “Strange Fruit,” Dozier/Holiday doesn’t stint on investing consummate technique and profound emotion in her deeply affecting versions. The production is elevated by a dead solid band of Kai Sanchez on upright bass and Howard Moss led by musical director David Nagy.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
The show has been done in South Florida before; in fact, star Paulette Dozier played Holiday at the Boca Raton Theatre Guild several months ago.

What makes her performance special is that Dozier is primarily a jazz singer, as was Holiday. Yes, Dozier is also a Carbonell Award-nominated actress, but her power and expressiveness as a singer trump her acting, transporting the audience as she interprets just over a dozen songs written by or identified with Holiday.
The actress’ voice is richer and deeper than Holiday’s, and when she’s singing, her voice is reliably strong and dramatic. Listening to her work her way through this set — including What a Little Moonlight Can Do, Crazy He Calls Me, God Bless the Child, Strange Fruit and Hush Now — is an exquisite experience.

Watching this sad, tormented woman get wasted as she reminisces about the many lows of her life is unsettling, even painful, as it should be.
For Holiday, brilliance and ruin went hand-in-hand. That juxtaposition is always on display in Dozier’s performance.
Michelle F. Solomon wrote for miamiartzine:
The role of singer Billie Holiday in the play Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill isn't easy. In fact, it as demanding as any role can be. The actress portraying the 1930s-era songstress must have a versatile singing voice, be able to act with a range of emotion, plus capture the essence of a real person, and do all this while keeping an audience entertained for 90 minutes, straight through with no intermission. Although there is a three-piece band and the pianist has a small acting part, Lady Day is really a one-person show.
Dozier does a superb job of channeling Holiday, weaving in and out of an alcohol induced haze, singing the hits with the same depth and emotional urgency that the chanteuse mustered herself. Yet Dozier doesn't try to create a caricatured picture of the femme fatale, but imbues the role with a genial likeableness. She is a stronger singer than actress, and seeing her perform the Holiday songbook is, in itself, worth a night at the theater. Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill is a tour de force for any actress and Dozier gives Holiday her due.
The energy level of the production could also be stepped up a pace, which drags at times and is, in part, due to the dense stories that Dozier has to deliver. Director Dan Kelley has obviously helped this along, but it could use just a bit more of a nudge.

The live, three-piece band is spot on and helps to create the illusion of a small jazz club, circa 1959. David Nagy, who has a few speaking lines as Jimmy, Holiday's paramour, musical director, and handler, is extremely talented on piano, and is richly genuine as the concerned Jimmy. Nagy is also the production's musical director.
Lady Day at Emerson's Bary & Grill plays at Broward Stage Door through August 26, 2012.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Naked Stage: The Turning of the Screw (4 reviews)

The Naked Stage opened its production of The Turn of the Screw at Barry University's Pelican Theatre on July 27, 2012.
Based on Henry James' provocative tale of suspense, horror, and repressed sexuality, Jeffery Hatcher's adaptation of The Turn of the Screw gives the famous story yet another turn of its own.  A young governess journeys to a lonely English manor house to care for two recently orphaned children.  Her predecessor, Miss Jessel drowned herself when she became pregnant by the sadistic valet Peter Quint, who was himself found dead soon after.  Now, the new governess has begun to see the specters of Quint and Jessel haunting the children, and she must find a way to stop the fiends before it is too late.  But... are the ghosts real, or the product of her fevered imagination?
Margaret M. Ledford directed Katharine Amadeo and Matthew William Chizever.

Roger Martin reviewed for miamiartzine:
Damn, you want to see some great stuff, then just whistle across town to Barry University's Pelican Theatre and settle in for 85 minutes of intense theatre from the Naked Stage's production of The Turn of the Screw.
Katherine Amadeo and Matthew William Chizever are pure delight in this gloomy, ghostly tale of a young Victorian era governess hired by a London man about town to look after his orphaned niece and nephew in his country home.
Amedeo is brilliantly uncertain... Chizever's handling of his roles is a lesson in subtlety. His switches from male to female, from adult to child are remarkably believable. He has the essence of each character captured completely. Without visible effort...
Credit Margaret M Ledford for the masterful direction of a piece that rings all the changes in the spooky old house whose interior was extraordinarily well created on stage by Antonio Amadeo. The just right Victorian costumes are by Leslye Menshouse and the this is how it was in 1872 sound is by Matt Corey. Margaret M. Ledford also designed the inspired lighting. of the best shows of the year.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Attend the tale of The Turn of the Screw, Henry James’ psychological thriller given a superbly accomplished production as The Naked Stage’s first outing in almost two years.

Actually, many ingredients contribute to this witch’s brew top-lined by the flawless performances of Katherine Amadeo as a sexually-repressed governess in 1872 England and Matthew William Chizever inhabiting an emotionally-indifferent uncle, a venerable housekeeper, a troubled 10-year-old  boy and an ineffably evil spirit.

With the skill of an orchestra conductor, director Margaret M. Ledford has deftly wrought a world of half-shadows and whispers. She paces the evening masterfully, from Chizever’s slow delivery of passages like a connoisseur savoring the bouquet of a fine wine, to rapid-fire exchanges between angst-engorged characters, to the terror-fueled crescendo of  souls and minds twirling on the precipice of damnation and insanity.
Amadeo and Chizever’s work is so solid, so finely-crafted, so seamless that it’s hard to dissect or even describe.
Amadeo smoothly traces the governess’ arc from a naïf confidently eager to meet a challenge to a terrified unhinged victim.
Chizever pulls off the difficult trick of portraying four different characters... What Chizever accomplishes is making each so credible that you stop marveling at the acting and just forget it’s a young man playing a middle-aged domestic or a deeply disturbed boy.
Several times during the evening, one character or another asks, “Have I seduced you?”  The answer is yes.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Haunting theater doesn’t require a lavish set, tricky effects or a grand scale. In the case of Naked Stage’s Turn of the Screw, a strong cast, a clever director and imaginative designers deliver a spellbinding ghost story that creates the kind of unrelenting tension Henry James had in mind when he dreamed it up more than a century ago.
Turn of the Screw is all about atmosphere, mood and goosebumps. Director and lighting designer Ledford conjures all those things, in collaboration with Antonio Amadeo, whose predominantly gray period set keeps the focus on the expressive faces of the actor-storytellers; Leslye Menshouse, whose dark costumes do the same; and Matt Corey, whose sound design dials up the tension at key moments.

Almost an apparition herself, with her waif-like figure and porcelain beauty, Amadeo makes the 20-year-old governess a potential victim and determined fighter. She doesn’t definitively suggest whether the young woman is right about the ghosts or losing her grip on reality, and that ambiguousness just deepens the play’s mystery.

Chizever is crafty, commanding and chameleonic. Leaving the stage as one person then suddenly reappearing as another, he uses his malleable voice and physicality to populate the stage with distinctive, memorable characters. It is Chizever who supplies the emotional jolts in Turn of the Screw – the “boo” factor that thrill seekers and ghost story lovers crave.
Michelle Petrucci reviewed for BroadwayWorld:
As eerie candlelight dances across dark walls, two actors create an intensely creepy world that extends past the fourth wall and lures the audience into its chilling tale. With great use of theatrical magic, The Naked Stage manages to transform a tiny black box theatre into a grandiose haunted mansion with the use of slight shifts of light, simple blocking patterns and the dynamic believability of both actors.
Katherine Amadeo and Matthew William Chizever tell this story with honesty and clarity. She evokes a ghost-like presence as she turns mad. He deftly switches between sinister bachelor, warm caretaker and sly 10 year-old boy. In an instant, the play is riveting and all we can do is hold our breath until the very end.

To support these fine actors, Margaret M. Ledford has shaped this work into a beautifully twisted piece of art. Her lighting design works hand in hand with her keen direction... This company has a brilliant way of making us see that which is not there: as literal as the young girl, Flora, and a piano, or as figurative as the ghosts of Miss Jessel and Peter Quint.

The result is an absolute must-see piece of theatre.
The Naked Stage presents The Turn of the Screw at Barry University's Pelican Theatre through August 12, 2012.

The Scene for August 3, 2012


This summer is just flying by!  Once upon a time, this would be considered the off season, and all the theaters would have laid off their staffs for the summer. But that was then; now we have a lot of good theatre happening from one end of South Florida to the other.

Here's what's happening on The Scene this week:


Cathy Rigby returns as Peter Pan, this weekend at The Kravis Center. No cracks about her age; she's grown older, not up.

The Sounds of Rodgers & Hart will fill The Plaza Theatre this weekend.  But you'll have to cross the intercoastal in Boynton Beach or Lake Worth; the bridge in Lantana is undergoing reconstruction.

you still haven't missed...

The Naked Stage presents The Turn of the Screw at Barry University's Pelican Theatre through August 12, 2012.

Mad Cat Theatre presents its original production of The Hamlet Dog & Pony Show at the Miami Light Project at the Goldman Warehouse through August 12, 2012.

Actors' Playhouse presents Real Men Sing Show Tunes and play with puppets  at The Miracle Theater through August 12, 2012.

The Donkey Show is going full tilt at The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts through August 12, 2012 and has been extended through August 18!

Teatro en Miami Studio presents Smile, through August 19.

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill plays at Broward Stage Door through August 26.


Dog Sees God plays at Florida Atlantic University this weekend, presented by Alpha Psi Omega.

Main Street Players presents Closer, through August 12.

passing through...

Divorce Party; The Musical returns to The Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, through August 19.

last chance to see...

Palm Beach DramaWorks' long-awaited production of The Fantasticks is currently the  most-reviewed production in South Florida, closes August 5, 2012.  As expected, it's been selling out; but there are still seats available, but there are fewer left the closer we get to the last show.

Kutumba Theatre Project production of Baby GirL at Empire Stage closes August 5, 2012.

RACE winds up its run at GableStage this Sunday, August 5, 2012.

Andrews Living Arts Studio production of HAIR closes August 5th.

for kids...

Sol Children's Theatre Troupe closes Charlotte's Web this weekend.

Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater offers Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, through August 4.