Sunday, September 30, 2012

Boca Raton Theatre Guild: Sylvia (4 reviews)

Boca Raton Theatre Guild opened its production of A.R. Gurney's Sylvia at The Willow Theater on September 28, 2012.
When a middle-aged, suburban couple moves back to New York City, their lives are upended when the husband adopts a most unusual canine.

Genie Croft directed Jacqueline Laggy, Patty Gardner, Mario Betto, and Keith Garrson.

Hap Erstein wrote for Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
The success of a production of Sylvia depends on the actress in the title role, and Jacqueline Laggy does an adequate, but unexceptional job. Amusing early on, with her flea-scratching and other doggy moves, she fails to build an arc for the character, so the performance grows repetitious.
As Greg, Garsson is kind of a puppy doggish schnook. Patti Gardner, the cast’s only Equity performer, makes more of Kate’s one-note exasperation that is there on the page. She is a standout...
Genie Croft directs the production effectively, making good use of Sean McClelland’s attractive two-level set. Still, the Theatre Guild show leaves a gnawing impression that there is a funnier play lurking within Sylvia than the company fetches.
Michelle F. Solomon wrote for miamiartzine:
Although Laggy dedicates her performance in the Playbill to her three cats, the actress has no fear when she unleashes her inner canine. With her shaggy hair and natural physicality, she is wonderfully fun and utterly convincing as the street-smart Sylvia.
The dog's devoted owner, Greg, is played by Keith Garsson, who has the difficult task of making sure the man-dog romance stays balanced so that his character is able to elicit the right amount of sympathy.... One of Garsson's most poignant moments as Greg is when he confides to Sylvia that he is seeing New York nights in a whole different light during their evening walks. It is a very real and touching moment.
Patti Gardner as Kate doesn't seem to dig as deep for her as role the workaholic wife who teaches English to inner-city students and is looking forward to a new chapter in her life. Gardner's Kate comes off as a one-note nag rather than a woman who feels that the pesky pooch could threaten her plans for a future alone with her husband.
Mario Betto is a bit too soft spoken (some of the older audience members spoke aloud that they could not hear him), yet he exudes a quirky likeability...
Croft's direction is skillful as she aims to keep the play light, yet brings out much of its poignancy.  Sean McClelland's two-tiered stage design allows for one set to serve as both the couple's apartment and as an outdoor park. Alberto Arroyo's costumes, especially the wonderfully creative looks that reflect Sylvia's transitions, act as a visual companion to the story.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
...there is no way to say this nicely: A show that has earned raves elsewhere elicits plenty of laughs early on, but peters out into a production where you check your watch because a mundane performance from one actor and terribly flat performances from another actor drag down what should be an effervescent comedy.
Sylvia... is played by... the lively and comely Jacqueline Laggy... Whether sitting back on her haunches or shaking her body like an ecstatic pole dancer, Laggy (along with director Genie Croft) has created precisely the engaging creature that Gurney sought. She’s especially funny cursing out a passing cat in a Noo Yawk accent, lacing well-chosen profanities among taunts like,” You’re disgusting. You’re a disgrace to the animal kingdom.” Laggy is the reason to see the show.
Patti Gardner has the less showy role as the neglected wife, but as always, Gardner’s solid work enlivens a show that badly needs it when Laggy is off stage. Gardner, who starred in the Guild’s fine Tale of the Allergist’s Wife last season, embodies the dependable professional who you never catch acting... Her portrayal of a recognizable next-door neighbor who decides to fight for her marriage provides this madcap evening its only realistic mooring and, therefore, its only chance for eliciting the audience’s empathy as well as its laughter.
Actors need partners to give them some vitality to feed off; the two men provide so little that Gardner’s ability to keep pitching is praiseworthy. Director Croft should stick these fellas with a cattle prod. Garsson, intentionally or not, plays Greg as such a washed-out nebbish that he cannot carry his share of the play. He starts off pretty well, but as Greg gets lost in Sylvia’s thrall, Garsson’s vigor dissipates.

But the weak link is Betto, reputedly a very nice man who writes and occasionally performs gender-bending shows featuring his Dame Edna-like alter ego “Miss Finesse.” ...he plays three roles... while Betto is obviously trying, he plays all three characters the same way...
Ron Levitt reviewed for ENV Magazine:
The Boca Raton Theatre Guild’s rendition of the acclaimed comedy  Sylvia a... is a silly look at anthropomorphism... The attribution of human feelings to one’s pet is at the heart of this unusual production and  the  effect it has on an  empty nester’s marriage,  and a quartet of South Florida actors, directed by Genie Croft allows its audience at the Willow Theatre at Sugarland Park to have a good time in the process.
Middle-aged Greg (a realistic Keith Garsson) finds Sylvia (the dog played laughingly by a human – Jacqueline Laggy) and brings her home to his wife Kate (the lovely Patti Gardner)...
A special note of praise goes to actress Laggy, who has a  most difficult role—that of the dog.  She begs, rolls over and reacts to her owner’s commands and shows the affection that a pet can have for its owner.  She even shows the pain of being spayed but still in love with her master.  Laggy turns in a sublimely funny interpretation.
Betto, too, tackles his/her three roles with giant steps. He is an actor not seen enough in local productions.
Boca Raton Theatre Guild's production of Sylvia plays at the Willow Theater through October 14, 2012.

Mosaic Theatre: Diary of a Madman (6 reviews)

Mosaic Theatre opened its production of The Diary of a Madman on September 20, 2012.
The Diary of a Madman was a recent hit in New York starring Geoffrey Rush as lowly civil servant Poprishchin, driven mad by bureaucracy. A burnt-out paper-pusher who ekes out a meager living in czarist St. Petersburg, Poprishchin spends his days doing menial tasks, anxious and teetering on the brink of lunacy. Or is it lucidity? Immobilized by a rigid social hierarchy, Poprishchin cuts adrift from reality: hallucinating a canine love affair, imagining himself well above his station, and conjuring entire realms both incredible and terrifying. Deeper and deeper he sinks into delusion, and - we, too, are eventually subsumed by a world in which reality is, at best, relative.
Richard Jay Simon directed Ken Clement and Betsy Graver.

Hap Erstein wrote for Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
...there is a potent satirical point to this portrait of a lackey scribbling his way to insanity, but it is overshadowed by the tour de force performance by the estimable Ken Clement as ninth-grade civil servant Poprishchin, a man who is wildly entertaining even as he loses his grip on reality. is a hypnotic performance arc that Clement and director Richard Jay Simon have charted. It leads us through a series of blackout sketches to a sobering conclusion, in which madness is no joke.
That impact is aided by the Mosaic design team, including Douglas Grinn, who crafts Poprishchin’s dilapidated quarters, K. Blair Brown and her threadbare, moth-eaten costumes, and John Hall, whose lighting charts the shadows of Poprishchin’s descent. In all, this is a Diary worth unlocking and peering into its comic abyss.
Roger Martin reviewed for maimiartzine: Nikolai Gogol's 1835 short story, The Diary of a Madman... David Holman, Neil Armfield and Geoffrey Rush snatched (Poprishchin) out of the pages and planted him on the stage. To our delight. And Richard Jay Simon furthered our delight by starring Ken Clement and Betsy Graver in his current production of Madman at his Mosaic Theatre.
Ken Clement, with his blond Dutch boy haircut, fluttering tongue and nervous giggles reads us his mind as he slowly spirals through laughter and pain into raging dementia. His is a marvelous performance... Clement's excellence is matched by that of Betsy Graver as the timorous Finnish housemaid...
Matt Corey's sound adds tremendous pleasure to The Diary of a Madman... Douglas Grinn, John Hall and K. Blair Brown, designers of the set, lights and costumes are all at their excellent best and the terrific work by both actors, strongly supported by Richard Jay Simon's direction, make this one of Mosaic's best.
John Thomason reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
What's astonishing is that Nikolai Gogol, writer of the original short story Diary of a Madman, wasn't capitalizing on the existentialist musings of Kafka or the postmodern comedy of Thurber; he anticipated them, having published his story back in 1835. This is worth remembering when the narrative's seemingly familiar ideas (Terry Gilliam's Brazil springs to mind too) begin to play out in this stage version, adapted by David Holman, Neil Armfield, and actor Geoffrey Rush. This was, and is, a profoundly forward-thinking and fiercely political work, and it came almost a century ahead of its time.
Mosaic cast Ken Clement, an imposing, pliable actor who could perform in The Three Stooges as easily as Death of a Salesman... His character undergoes an elliptical transformation from an embittered employee in control of his faculties to an untethered lunatic imagining himself the king of Spain, converting his meager furnishings into a makeshift throne. Clement is emotionally perfect, completely submitting to the lunacy, becoming a crazy person rather than "acting the part."
It's not an easy polarity to pull off, but Clement, director Richard Jay Simon, and Mosaic's design team do. Just as Blair Brown's costumes degenerate from respectable middle-class work attire to a serf's tatters, so too does John Hall's lighting design comment on the character's collapse in its own way, blinding him or shutting off the lights when necessary.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald: we meet the odd, earnest Poprishchin in The Diary of a Madman, his grip is beginning to slip. And over the course of two hours, he will become increasingly unmoored from reality. For the character, it’s tragic; for an audience, it’s a chance to relish the transformative, commanding, passionate work of actor Ken Clement.
Directed by Richard Jay Simon, with lovely supporting work from Betsy Graver as the women (real and imagined) in Poprishchin’s life, Clement forges a path from farce to tragedy, from tight control to the emotional freedom of madness. His Poprishchin is an unremarkable worker bee, a trapped man of extremely modest means who fancies himself meant for better things.
Simon and his collaborators, including sound designer Matt Corey (who artfully weaves Russian music throughout the play), lighting designer John Hall and costume designer K. Blair Brown, have kicked off Mosaic’s season with a challenging piece. Much of The Diary of a Madman is funny, some of it touching. But that humor builds to a devastating final scene. And it is to that deeper place that Clement has been steering us all along.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
The terror underlying Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd is that madmen walk among us ignored until their lives of quiet desperation explode or, if we’re lucky, they just melt down.

Their deteriorating orbit is tracked with impressive skill and infinite variety in Ken Clement’s bravura tour de force as the government drone Poprishchin  under Richard Jay Simon’s direction in Mosaic Theatre’s 12th season opener, The Diary of a Madman.
Simon’s production features dozens of silent grace notes such as when Poprishchin takes off a shoe exposing a bare toe sticking through a sock, or when Poprishchin twists the long loose arms of a jacket around his hands in a silent show of anxiety in extremis.
...pull the thesaurus out of the drawer to describe Clement’s performance under Simon’s guidance. Clement has proven year in and year out that he is among the finest actors in the region... Even at his most comic, he communicates an underlying sadness or even menace... Clement throws himself unreservedly into this meld of secret self-doubt papered over by self-delusion that veers into fixations.
Some applause, too, for Graver... Her befuddled serf muttering to herself as she works or trying to understand Poprishchin ‘s increasingly bizarre behavior is delightfully silly.
Kudos are due to Douglas Grinn’s set design... John Hall’s subtle lighting changes, K. Blair Brown’s costumes and Matt Corey’s procession of period Russian music
Richard Cameron reviewed for The Examiner:
Mosaic Theatre... has gone mad, even insane as it presents Florida with one of the most powerful performances yet, The Diary of a Madman starring Carbonell Award winner Ken Clement... Clement has set the bar high for the entire season.
Betsy Graver (Tuovi, Sophia, Tatiana) gives a hysterical performances in three very unique characters.
The Diary of a Madman plays at Mosaic Theatre through October 14, 2012.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Thinking Cap Theatre: The All-American Genderf*ck Cabaret (reviews)

Thinking Cap Theatre opened its production of The All American Genderf*ck Cabaret at Empire Stage on September 27, 2012.
The Florida premiere of Mariah MacCarthy's bitingly funny comedy about bodies and boundaries. This dance-theater mash-up  explores gender stereotypes from every conceivable angle, including the tomboy, the sensitive guy, the slut, the gay best friend, the man-hating lesbian and more. We hope you'll join us for a playful yet poignant theater-going experience!
Nicole Stodard directed a cast that included Noah Levine, Christina Jolie Breza, James Carrey, Nori Tecosky, Danny Nieves, Desiree Mora, Andy Herrmann, Andrea Bovino and Arturo Sierra.

John Thomason reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
...with a lesser cast, The All-American Genderfuck Cabaret might have come off as didactic hokum dressed in provocative clothing. But this ensemble sells the material with natural humor and tender conviction. There may not be a standout (save for Levine's emcee), but there is not a weak link, either. Everyone fits like puzzle pieces into director Nicole Stodard's vision of McCarthy's tapestry of American youth, playing off each other's infectious energy.
Levine's Taylor is a special performance. He plays the part with elastic comic timing and effortless, scene-stealing confidence that belies the fingernail-extension flamboyancy and emotional confusion that have too often defined transvestism in popular culture.
There's a particularly moving he-said, she-said account of a semiconsensual rape and how it affected both parties that wallows in the expansive gray area between right and wrong, yes and no. The scenes are extraordinarily acted by Carrey and Breza, who elevate these segments from isolated pieces of a narrative patchwork to this play's very heart and soul, representing everything McCarthy was shooting for.
The play's "soundscape," credited to Stodard and technical director David Hart, includes spontaneous, choreographed dance numbers to Beyoncé and Arcade Fire tunes. The nightclub scene, set during a '90s night, features a montage of nostalgic song excerpts ranging from Sir Mix-a-Lot to Radiohead, cleverly tailored to each character. Creating the drama and ambiance that is absent from Chastity Collins' no-budget set design, Nate Sykes' lighting design enhances a hellish nightmare sequence and another character's elaborate, circusy fantasy. There is a lot going on in this production in its second act, where it finally lives up to the cabaret concept offered in the title.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Thinking Cap Theatre’s uneven production of Mariah MacCarthy’s in-your-face fantasia has serious flaws, but it’s also undeniably funny throughout its first act and occasionally touching in the second act as twentysomethings stumble about in the minefield of gender stereotypes and sexual expectations.
The production and script have major flaws. It lasts way too long. Episodes are not acted or directed in a way that puts a definitive end to scenes. Some scenes such as dance breaks, while cute and imaginative, are extraneous. Some actors are a lot more vibrant and convincing than others, with the latter dragging down the pace of some scenes.

Still, director Nicole Stodard and her cast deliver the anarchic, droll style that MacCarthy was looking for. Stodard has also gotten some of the best work to date from several actors who have appeared in Thinking Cap’s other unconventional outings.  Most effective were Christina Jolie Breza as a personal trainer who hasn’t had sex in 2 ½ years and James Carrey as a thick-headed beau who eventually finds his way to a relationship.
Noah Levine gives the most indelible performance as the sardonic, flirty emcee who watches the human comedy with empathy emanating from his mascara-ringed eyes and a sensuous slash of downturned lips.
At its core, Cabaret is recommending a live-and-let-live philosophy that finds less worth in labels than true emotion.  As one character says, “Gender is not a two-party system…. It’s not black and white. It’s Technicolor.”
Thinking Cap Theatre presents The All American Genderf*ck Cabaret at Empire Stage through October 13, 2012.

GableStage: Ruined (6 reviews)

GableStage opened its production of Lynne Nottage's Ruined on September 8, 2012.
Winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Lucille Lortel and Obie Awards. This probing work about the resilience of the human spirit during times of war is a searing variation on Brecht's Mother Courage, translated to a brothel in the conflict-torn Congo. By the author of Intimate Apparel, a GableStage hit in 2006.
Joseph Adler directed a cast that included Lela Elam, Marckenson Charles, Renata Eastlick, David Kwiat, Sheaun McKinney,  Trenel Mooring, Robert Strain, Jade Wheeler, Jerel Brown, Devon Dassaw, Mcley LaFrance, Rico Reid, and Keith C. Wade.

Hap Erstein reviewed for Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
Despite its frequent flights of poetic language, Ruined is a brutal theatrical experience. True, the violence occurs offstage, but that does not prevent Nottage from describing it in harrowing detail, placing the words in the mouths of characters that she makes us care deeply about.

Increasing the impact at GableStage, where the play is receiving a gut-wrenching and eloquent area premiere, director Joseph Adler has gathered a large, impressive cast that brings the armed conflict and personal turmoil to vivid life.
At the center of the tale is Mama Nadi (a magnetic, maternal Lela Elam) owner of the way station where government troops and rebel soldiers alike stop by for a cold beer or a hot hooker.
Early on, she is visited by black marketeer Christian (a poetic Robert Strain) who persuades Mama — against her better judgment — to take in two teenage girls, Salima and Sophie (Jade Wheeler, barely recognizable from her recent button-down cool in Race).
Also impressive in the large cast are Marckenson Charles as Salima’s persistent husband, determined to stand vigil outside the bar to reunite with her, Sheaun McKinney as seething rebel leader Osembenga and a subdued David Kwiat as a trafficker in the gold and diamonds that have made the Congo worth fighting over
As usual, director Adler stages matters for maximum visceral impact, without sacrificing any of Nottage’s poetic flourishes or quiet moments. Design credits are first-rate, from Lyle Baskin’s bar set, with jungle foliage peeking through the porous walls to Ellis Tillman’s alternately vibrant and drab costumes and Jeff Quinn’s artful lighting.
Roger Martin reviewed for miamiartzine:
It's a dense, story laden script, this horrific tale of utter inhumanity, but Artistic Director Joe Adler has presented it in such spectacular fashion and the actors are of such excellence, that we are transported immediately into the sordid confines of a bar cum whorehouse in the Democratic Republic of Congo and for two hours we suffer the pain of the ruined girls and finally rejoice in their vestiges of hope
Lela Elam is Mama. It's the pivotal role and in handling it as she does, Elam lays claim, once again, to being one of the very best actresses on the South Florida stage. 
Guitarist Verdi M. Mayer, Jr and percussionist Maracuja provide music for the singing and dancing in Mama's Bar and in one outstanding dance scene Renata Eastlake's frantic bumping and grinding brings new meaning to a touch of lust.
Lyle Baskin has built a two story set that overflows GableStage's wide playing area and it is a thing of beauty... When the lights are lowered for scene changes, light leaks through the cracks in the back boards and we see the pounding rain and can almost smell the rotting jungle.
Chris Joseph reviewed for The Miami New Times, you just have to scroll through paragraphes of recap to get to it:
Artfully directed by Joseph Adler, Ruined is one of GableStage's most ambitious productions to date.
Lyle Baskin's complex set design perfectly frames Ruined... Lighting designer Jeff Quinn and scenic artist Case Moyer reinforce the bar as a place of refuge by simulating constant lightning and gunfire ominously flashing among the trees outside.
The cast is simply superb. Elam, as Mama, is a force of nature. She sweeps across the stage with thunder and aplomb, every now and then revealing the fear that simmers just beneath the surface of this tough madam. Wheeler evokes earnest sympathy as Sophie...
Ruined brims with moments of suspense, humor, and tension, but at times it drags when one too many story lines are at play.  Still, there's no denying this work's raw impact. Rape is the ultimate weapon in the Congo, and Ruined is able to entertain while shining a stark light on the faces of its victims.
Ron Levitt wrote for ENV Magazine:
It is understandable why Lynn Nottage’s Ruined won a Pulitzer Prize for drama.  It is gut-wrenching, gripping  theatre.

It is also without argument that Joseph Adler has directed a superb version of this prize-winning play at GableStage – a production which will keep its audience enthralled, even if it will look away from the stage occasionally to purposely miss the violence.
The women in this play are unforgettable: Elam, in the dominant role, is superb; a gorgeous and multi-talented Renata  Eastlick (as Josephine, a gyrating whore who seems to enjoy the profession heaped  on her; Jade  Wheeler as Sophie and Trenell Mooring as Salima, the two teens who are brought to Mama’s for her care and to work as prostitutes.   Wheeler is a standout as she belts Congo music  provided by guitarist  Verdi M, Mayer Jr,  and percussionist Marajuca.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
It is one of the finest pieces of local theater seen this season, featuring superb acting, notably from Lela Elam as an indomitable owner of a bar/brothel, and direction from Joe Adler that elicited those smooth performances.
His strength is nurturing actors to scrape the inside of their souls and lay it out for an audience to see. Nowhere is this more evident than in Mooring’s heart-rending recollection of Selima’s nightmarish months as the captive and unwilling sexual plaything of an army on the move. Adler and the actress deliver the tale with an anguish that lands the most moving scene of the entire evening.
Perhaps the real headline is the work of Elam and Adler in creating Mama.... a flawed human being rather than a symbol... She bravely embraces Nottage’s creation of a character at once vibrant yet controlled, uneducated yet street smart, selfish yet protective...  Elam’s eyes convey wariness, defiance, anger, affection, even a flash of secret longing for another life.
There isn’t a weak link in the large cast. Special mention is due Wheeler and Mooring. Wheeler here is unrecognizable from the self-assured lawyer from GableStage’s Race a few weeks ago...  hey persuasively expose inner layers of determination and resolve despite everything that has happened to them.
The statuesque Renata Eastlick exudes a magnetic carnality... The absolute abandon in which Eastlick/Josephine throws herself while nuzzling a patron or gyrating in a frenzied dance is stunning. But Eastlick also allows us to see Josephine switch gears when no one is looking and reveal a sullen contempt for her profession...
Robert Strain, also does some of his best work ever, inhabits the role of the cultured poetic soul reduced to peddling wares through the war-ravaged region.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
This superb production is the work of director Joseph Adler at his most artful and a large cast at theirs. These actors – particularly Lela Elam, Renata Eastlick, Robert Strain, Jade Wheeler, Sheaun McKinney, Keith Wade, Marckenson Charles and Trenell Mooring – are among the region’s best, and in a perfect world, their talents would be showcased far more frequently on South Florida stages.
Josephine (Eastlick), seems to be the most calculating and self-possessed of the girls. But watch Eastlick as her fierce, wildly lusty dancing gives way to an explosive expression of the anger and sorrow running just below the surface of her seductive façade.
Held captive and repeatedly victimized by soldiers, rejected by her young husband and family, Salima looks at the world through pain-filled eyes. The story behind that pain, revealed with heartbreaking simplicity by Mooring, is one of the play’s most devastating moments.
...McKinney and Wade are frighteningly effective as the government and rebel commanders. And Charles is quite moving as a man who realizes, too late, what stubborn pride has lost him.
It is Elam, however, who dominates the play as clearly as Mama Nadi rules her kingdom. Omnipresent, mixing seductiveness and pragmatic tyranny, Elam crafts a character whose vulnerability remains resolutely hidden. Yet the play’s final image, a moment exquisitely realized by Adler, Strain and Elam, underscores the transformative power of hope. Like Elam, it takes your breath away.
Ruined plays at GableStage through October 7, 2012.

Lake Worth Playhouse Gets Its Day

Photo by Juan Ferr Alvarez
Via press release:

September 26th 2012 (Lake Worth) – On Tuesday, October 2nd at 6pm at the Lake Worth Commission meeting, Pam Triolo, the Mayor of the City of Lake Worth, will proclaim October 5th as Lake Worth Playhouse Day. This is a tremendous honor for the Playhouse to have its own day to kick off the 60th season.

Accepting the proclamation on behalf of the Playhouse is Board President Michael McKeich with Anna (Katie Thomas) and the King (Brian Wohlust) appearing in character from the first show of the season, The King and I.
“It is an honor to be recognized by the City of Lake Worth in this special way.  The Playhouse has always shared a close relationship with our city and we are thrilled to be remembered on this day.”
– Jodie Dixon Mears, Artistic Director
The 60th season will feature the addition of two signature anniversary events:

The Speakeasy – Jan 23 – $35
A fun night of drinking, appetizers, cabaret singers, gambling and an interactive murder-mystery show time experience at the vintage speakeasy set in an original 1920s theater.

Diamond Jubilee – Feb 9 – $150
The Playhouse welcomes donors with an elegant, intimate evening of cocktails, dining, dancing and silent auction on the stage of the Lake Worth Playhouse’s historic theatre.  The theme of “Decades,” focuses back on the six memorable decades of the Playhouse’s history, featuring talented Playhouse volunteer performers showcasing classic songs from popular musicals performed throughout the Playhouse’s vast history of more than 340 main stage shows.  The apogee of the evening will turn to a Playhouse success story – the return of Mr. Burt Reynolds to the Playhouse stage where he performed more than fifty years ago.

For more information, visit the Lake Worth Playhouse website.

Founding in 1953, the Lake Worth Playhouse is an iconic South Florida community theatre, and a member of the South Florida Theatre League.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Scene for September 28, 2012

You may have noticed that we have a new contributor; Andie Arthur, executive director of the South Florida Theatre League will be doing a weekly column that will appear on Wednesdays. That means that on three days every week, you will find new articles; the Monday reading list, Andie's Wednesday contribution, and of course, The Scene on Thursday.

And we'll post links to all the reviews as they come out, as always.

We'll be working to update the Theatre Scene calendar, linked in the menu bar above.  Did you know that you can subscribe to it, so that it shows up on your mobile phone?

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


The Boca Raton Theatre Guild opens its production of Sylvia this weekend at the Willow Theatre.

Thinking Cap Theatre opens The All-American Genderf*ck Cabaret at Empire Stage, through October 13. You can read about it on South Florida Gay News.

Speaking of cabaret, The Plaza Theatre's cabaret series continues with Broadway at the Plaza II; it plays this weekend only.

Rent opens at the Main Street Players, through October 14.

you still haven't missed...

The Diary of a Madman plays at Mosaic Theatre through October 14, 2012.

Ruined plays at GableStage through October 7, 2012.

A Shayna Maidel plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre closes September 16, 2012, has been extended through September 30 has been extended again through October 28..

conservatory & community...

Nova Southeast University Theater Department offers You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, through October 7.

Florida Atlantic University opens Therese Raquin, through October 7, 2012.

Florida International University
is offering Songs for a New World through this Sunday, September 30.

last chance to see...

The AAPACT production of The Dutchman at the Wendell Narcisse Theater ends its run on September 30, 2012.

Andrews Living Arts Studio's production of  Steel Magnolias plays through September 30.

for kids...

The Little Mermaid plays at Showtime Performing Arts Theatre starting this Saturday, through November 17.

Peter Rabbit plays at Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater, through November 16, 2012.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Joining the Conversation

Hello. I’m Andie Arthur, executive director of the South Florida Theatre League, beginning a new series of guest posts for the Scene. I’m really excited and thankful for the opportunity.

One of the areas where I think we can improve as a community is to be more active in the national conversation. Often, we spend so much time in our silos, so dedicated to getting the next show up that we forget to see what we can learn from other theatre communities.

Time is precious, and if there’s a choice between reading five or six theatre blogs, or getting a grant done – clearly the grant must take preference. But I do think as a community, we lose some really valuable opportunities to share what we’re learning and to learn from others.

So in that vein, I’m planning these posts as a way to share what I’m reading about the national and international theatre community. Some of what I’m reading is practical information – great how to guides to social media or board development. Some of what I’m reading is more theoretical, but will provide insight into where the national conversation is. And some will be stuff that I think is really nifty and could change the way we look at how we create theatre.

Most of what I’m reading I find out from conversations on twitter, primarily through the #2amt and #newplay hashtags, but I also read You Cott Mail, ArtsJournal, and other arts blogs. I plan to primarily share things that are new to me, but I will sometimes share great older posts that deserve more attention.

So with that… I’m excited to begin.

Election Season

Sometimes the national conversation is larger than just the arts. The upcoming November election promises to be a vital one for the arts. Please check to see if you are registered to vote, and if you aren’t – register before October 9th, which is the deadline for Florida registration.

If you are registered, check out the Florida Cultural Alliance’s Candidate’s Survey and where your state level candidates stand on the arts.

Social Media

A Guide to best using Social Media to your advantage -- shown to be by the Theatre League Board Member and Free Lance Marketer Carol Kassie.

What Makes a Vibrant Theatre Community?

Travis Bedard, of Austin, TX, weighs in on what he feels is needed for a vibrant theatre community. It’s an interesting read in juxtaposition to Florida Theatre On Stage’s essays on the state of South Florida Theatre.

Giving Back to the Community

Sometimes the national conversation happens in our own backyard. Polly Carl of the Center for the Theatre Commons, gave the keynote speech for City Theatre’s CityWrights, a conference for playwrights. She talks about what went wrong in the regional theatre movement and asks how we can go back to creating a commons. She also talks about the role of the artist and the gift of art. It was a really beautiful keynote, and addresses so many of the larger issues the industry faces.

(And in terms of South Florida participating in the national conversation, local playwright Vanessa Garcia riffed on the keynote on her recent post on HowlRound.)


Diane Ragsdale asks some tough questions on the greater accountability of non-profit boards.

Gender Parity and Diversity

One of the largest, if not the largest, topics in the national conversation on the state of the industry is the discussion of diversity and gender parity. TCG has a measured post, looking at the most produced plays in the past four years, and how there’s generally only one female playwright and one playwright of color. They plan on addressing the wider issue of diversity at their Fall Governance Forum.

In less encouraging news, there’s this post, which showcases how far we still have to go in terms of sexism in our industry, and in even less encouraging news, I can’t ignore the fury surrounding Michael Kaiser’s comments to Felix Sanchez, the chairman of the National Hispanic Foundation of the Arts. I haven’t read any detailed responses to Kaiser, but there was a great discussion started on twitter about the current state of Latino/a artists.

The gender parity and diversity discussions aren’t only important because of justice, but also they’re important practical discussions to have in terms of audience development. We’re creating theatre in one of the most diverse communities in the country. Over 50% of Miami-Dade County Residents are from other countries, making this community the largest immigrant community in the country. And if our theatre doesn’t reflect that, it will be even harder to develop new audiences. But Sweden shows us that if an effort is made to make a change, quality change can happen and quality theatre will still result.

That is it for this week, and I hope you check in next Wednesday. Thanks again to Chris Jahn for giving me this opportunity.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mondays are Dark

It was a dark and stormy weekend - forgive the literary reference, but it was a good weekend to be inside watching a play. 

The scene isn't quite dark today, actually; Almost Maine plays tonight and tomorrow night at Lake Worth Playhouse's Stonzek Theatre

This week's "dark" theater is GableStage, currently running Lynne Nottage's Ruined.  GableStage was originally formed as the Florida Shakespeare Theatre back in 1979, staging outdoor productions at Vizcaya.  By 1987, they were working out of The Minorca Playhouse, producing a wider range of plays.  After Hurricane Andrew decimated the building, they found a new home, tucked away in a corner of the Biltmore hotel.  The company re-christened itself GableStage in 1999, the same year Joseph Adler took over as Producing Artistic Director.

In truth, this theatre is rarely "dark."  Adler is generous with his space, often letting new companies test the waters with play readings on his stage on his off nights.

Enough with the history lesson; here's your Monday reading list:

Caldwell Theater is Going... Going....
South Florida Business Journal reports that the court has granted Legacy Bank a $6.7 million dollar foreclosure settlement against the Caldwell Theatre Company.  The theatre will go up for auction on October 16 as a result of this action.  Legacy Bank itself is in financial trouble, which no doubt has made this a larger issue for them than it might have been otherwise.  It's a sad day for what was once one of the heaviest hitters on the South Florida theatre scene.

Sometimes They Come Back
Backstage recounts how California's famed Pasadena Playhouse went bankrupt - and came back from it.
The venerable 686-seat theater filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2010 with a debt burden of $2.3 million. But soon after the Playhouse, which dates from the early 1920s, received a $1 million gift from an anonymous donor that helped it restart production.
So it's not impossible.  Heck, Adrienne Arsht could have underwritten every theatre in South Florida for years with what she donated to the performing arts center that bears her name.  It's a matter of finding the right member of the 1%.

miamiartzine talks with Stephanie Ansin, artistic director of The Theatre Formerly Known as Playground.  Henceforth, the company is the Miami Theater Center.
Although they will still produce children's theatre, PlayGround is now part of Miami Theater Center. So is The Sand Box, a small black box in the same building that is primarily used for furthering young, adventurous companies. O Cinema, the art film house in Wynwood is now in partnership with MTC and will be showing films there that tie in with the stage production.
The Play- um, we mean, Miami Theater Center isn't the only company stepping up its game.  The Miami Herald reports on the ground breaking at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. The work includes renovation of all the performance spaces, and more:
The $50 million project, scheduled to take place in three phases and to be completed by January 2014, will add about 40,000-square-feet of space for arts and education programs, including a new educational center with a studio theater and classrooms, and a two-story waterfront pavilion on the north bank of the New River that will house a banquet hall, conference rooms and a restaurant.
The work on the Au-Rene Theater will be completed in time for the opening performance of Miami City Ballet on October 26.

Three Takes on the Upcoming Season
We can't remember if we already posted Florida Theater On Stage's season preview, but since they've posted it again, we might as well, too.  And while we're at it, here's the South Florida Gay News take on the upcoming season.  And oh, look, The Miami Herald has theatre critic Christine Dolen's five top productions for this season.

South Florida Represented
Playbill reports that Anastasia Barzee was among the performers in Sunday's OBAMARAMA: Songs for Justice!, a cabaret fundraiser held yesterday in New York City.  Ms. Barzee is a Miami native who graduated from UM, attended the Burt Reynolds Institute for Theatre Training, and performed at a few local venues before heading up to New York, where she is now a leading Broadway actor.  The Broward/PalmBeach New Times reviewed her album back in May, complete with a video.

Talking in the Green Room
Florida Theater On Stage chats with actor/director/stage manager/mother Amy London, who is also the current executive director of The Carbonell Awards.
What was the worst on-stage mishap you dealt with? Well, when I toured as (production stage manager) with Cotton Patch Gospel, in one Southern town we had threats from the KKK, and we were performing in a huge outdoor venue. We went on. I was seriously afraid of snipers. Police everywhere. It was bizarre.
State of the Arts
The Miami Herald talks with arts leaders in Miami-Dade County about the future of the arts in South Florida.
As Miami teeters between aspiration and achievement, it seems a good time to ask what the city needs to become the world-class cultural center it aspires to be.

Funding is always an issue, but the people we spoke to yearned for more intangible things: more leadership, business involvement, awareness of an already wide range of arts offerings, more focus on artistic substance and less on scene-driven excitement. And more bike paths and bus lines.
Red Flags
Quills and Callbacks lists all the warning signs that an audition listing isn't for a legitimate project.  They also list the hallmarks of a legitimate casting call:
  • Character breakdowns
  • Summary or overview of the project
  • Pay rate that seems in line with industry standards (and your common sense)
  • A date or general time frame for casting and production
  • A list of materials you need to send or prepare
  • Usually, but not always, there will be a production company name or visible email address.
Martha Swope Retrospective
You've undoubtedly seen Ms. Swope's photographs of Broadway productions; they appear in numerous textbooks.  But you may not know that her son lives in West Palm Beach, and you certainly don't know that Gordon McConnell and Christopher Jahn rented an apartment from him in the late eighties and early nineties. I remember the first time I met her; she was excited to learn that her son had actors under his roof, and she came to see us in shows when she was in town. Admittedly, her ties to South Florida Theatre are tenuous at best, but she's a sweet lady, and a great photographer.  You can read the story of her current exhibition on The New York Times, and see some of the photos with recorded commentary HERE.  They're worth a look.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Scene for September 21, 2012

Tomorrow is the official end of Summer; the Summer Theatre Season actually ended a few weeks ago.  But now that we're into fall, the 2012-2013 Theatre Season kicks in over the next few weeks.  You'll notice more shows opening now that we're coming into the official season.

A few days ago, we posted a notice that the Hollywood City Commission would be voting on whether or not to remove the deed restriction on the Hollywood Playhouse property this past Wednesday; the commission tabled the motion. So it looks like the Playhouse is going to stand empty for awhile longer, but at least it's still standing.

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


The Diary of a Madman
opens this weekend at Mosaic Theatre, where it plays through October 14.

Area Stage
presents Mientras te Olvido, a professional production in Spanish.  Through Sunday.

Stage Door Theatre brings their production of  Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill to the Byron Carlyle Theater in North Miami Beach, this weekend only.

you still haven't missed...

Ruined plays at GableStage through October 7, 2012.

A Shayna Maidel plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through September 16, 2012 has been extended through September 30.

conservatory & community...

Almost Maine opens tonight at Lake Worth Playhouse's Stonzek Theatre.  Through Tuesday.  The Playhouse is also offering Divas on Stage in their main hall on Saturday.

AAPACT presents its production of The Dutchman at the Wendell Narcisse Theater through September 30, 2012.

Andrews Living Arts Studio's production of  Steel Magnolias plays through September 30.

Lipservice presents Teen Lipservice, Volume 2 at Main Street Playhouse in Miami Lakes this Friday.

Columbinus returns to Actors' Workshop and Repertory Company, this weekend only.

last chance to see...

Alliance Theatre Lab production of Home Sweet Funeral Home winds up its run at the Pelican Theatre through September 23, 2012.

The UM Theatre Department presents Carrying Water in a Seive: Two Short Plays by Virgilio Piñera. Through September 22.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Game Change, Name Change

The Playground Theatre is undergoing its metamorphosis into The Miami Theatre Center:


Here are the new letters, waiting to go up over the marquee:


The company, which until now has been focused on original works for children, is expanding its mission, and the name change is intended to reflect that.

Andrews Living Arts Studio: Steel Magnolias (reviews)

Andrews Living Arts Studio opened its production of Robert Harling's Steel Magnolias on September 14, 2012.
Robert Harling’s 1987 comedy-drama about the bond among a group of Southern women in northwest Louisiana, set in Truvy’s beauty salon in Chinquapin, Louisiana, in the 1980s where all the ladies who are “anybody” come to have their hair done.
Nikki Hedges that features Cristina Flores, JoAnn Bromley, Elli Murray, Norita Bandel, Lory Reyes and Yanina Aranes.

Bill Hirschman
reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
What’s different about Andrews Living Arts Studio’s uneven new production is that, atypically, it’s the pathos that works far better than the comedy.
At the same time, Magnolia requires whip crack comic timing to make the most of Harling’s snappy repartee. That’s sorely missing from this production. The actresses are noticeably a second late in picking up their rejoinders most of the time. A few don’t have the lines memorized well enough to effortlessly spin the jousting banter. That robs the evening of the crucial electricity in the stretches when Harling’s wordplay is its primary strength.  It gives the entire outing a whiff of amateurism in an ostensibly professional production.
Reyes is the most polished and potent actress of the sextet, especially in her private scenes with her daughter and her meltdown in the final scene. But it’s Aranes who energizes the show when she enters a scene, especially her first appearance when she actually twirls into the room... Murray fits comfortably into the role of a curmudgeon with a heart...
One interesting casting choice was Bandel, an African American woman. Of course, no one would suggest this is an exclusively white play: Lifetime television network has slated a new version to be broadcast Oct. 7 with a cast that includes Queen Latifah, Phylicia Rashad, Condola Rashad, Alfre Woodard and Jill Scott.
You have seen or will see a stronger production, but this is one of the better offerings from Andrews Living Arts which has exquisite taste in choosing shows (Angels In America, Equus, Avenue Q) but often struggles to pull off its vision.
Steel Magnolias plays at Andrews Living Arts Studio through September 29, 2012.

Things Look Bleak for Landmark Theatre: UPDATED



The Sun-Sentinel has more details of the proposed deed alteration for the Hollywood Playhouse, including this quote:
"The property can never support itself solely as a community theater," Richard Bergman, attorney for TransCapital Bank, said. "[The deed restriction] prevented our client from using the property at its highest and best use."
The only problem with this statement is that Mr. Bergman is completely wrong; I won't go so far as to call him a liar, although it's tempting.

There is no reason that  a community theatre could not flourish on the site; the Playhouse did exactly that for decades.  Lake Worth Playhouse and Delray Beach Playhouse are both going strong.

Hollywood Playhouse really ran into problems only when it attempted to leave its community status behind to become a professional theatre company.  Running a professional company is expensive, with all those people needing to be paid.  But community theatre has only a fraction of those costs; after all, they don't pay the performers.  Most community theatres have minimal paid staff, relying on volunteers for the bulk of the labor.

And the Playhouse only sold the property when one of its board members - coincidentally a developer  - offered to purchase the property from them, re-develop it to include new facilities they could lease at a low price, and add residential component to cover costs for the project.

Interestingly, the deed restriction did not make it onto that copy of the deed, and a year or so later the board - including said developer - voted to close down.  Was there hanky-panky involved in that oversight?  Was it part of a plot to steal the property at a fraction of its value?  

Fortunately, another board member discovered that the deed was flawed, and got it fixed, otherwise the Playhouse would be long gone.  Since no one could find any record of any legal action that would have been necessary to remove the deed restriction, the deed was corrected, the Playhouse remained, and a certain developer ground his greedy teeth and smiled, claiming he was glad that the record was set straight.

Of course, none of that matters if the city votes to remove the restriction; one of the few venues suitable for community theatre productions available in Broward County will be erased, and the citizens of South Florida will be robbed of the legacy that was intended for them.Via Facebook, from Rene Barrett:

To Friends of Hollywood Playhouse:

We have taken the time to speak to Mayoral Candidate Cliff Germano, to City Commissioners and with the Chairman of TransCapital Bank. The bottom line is this: If the Hollywood City Commission approves the agreement document as written, a purchaser of that property has the flexibility to tear down that building. Non-exclusive use means that they can build anything on that property, as long as there is a community room for public use.

“WHEREAS, the Declaration will provide for the following:
  1. In addition to any lawful use of the Property, the Property will retain its law non-conforming use as a place of public gathering;
  2. The Property may be used on a non-exclusive basis as a Community theater;”

Notice that it says “may” be used as a community theater. In short, the City is ceding all use of that property to the buyer. The City has retained the right to access that community room five times per year for five years and then gives up all future rights to that property.

If you want the Hollywood Playhouse building to survive, and for Hollywood to continue to have a “Little Theatre”, now is the time to show up at the city commission meeting Wednesday at 1:00 PM and speak up, or write to the City Commissioners:;;;;;;

Four Commissioners have spoken in favor of keeping the City involved with the Hollywood Playhouse. They are Beam Furr, Patty Asseff, Fran Russo and Linda Sherwood. These Commissioners have been unable to commit to an alternative plan and have failed to move the Commission to authorize anyone to develop a plan to save the theater.

As a result, your trust has been violated by a minority of this Commission in back-room dealing This deal is not just a violation of the public trust in an attempt to divest the city of a resource, this is a violation of the Sunshine Laws (IMHO). At the last Commission meeting on July 18, 2012, Mayor Bober asserted that there is litigation and therefore the City Commission is not answerable to the public for its policies and negotiations regarding this property. This proposed agreement is the product of negotiation, not litigation. It also appears that this proposal is a product of Hollywood’s City Attorney and NOT TransCapital, pursuant to my conversation with the chairman. That statement by Mayor Bober was a public statement of disregard for the spirit and letter of the Sunshine Law.
Cc: Mayor & City Commissioners
We can only hope that the City will do the right thing, and not reward the skullduggery of the last decade or so.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mondays are Dark

It's another Monday, which means it's time for your Monday reading list.

Just a reminder that we're still collecting submissions for "dark" theaters to head this list every week; we've been lucky so far, but we have no reserve.  All we ask is that the theater is "dark," that is, no performance or rehearsal going on.  But there can be a set on stage, or it can be a shot of your seats, or any photo that we can look at and know that it's a Monday.

This week's theatre is The Aventura Arts & Cultural Center.  This is an intimate center run by the City of Aventura, tucked away back on the intercoastal waterway.  As you can see, they've just painted the stage.  The little scallop shelves are for their front of house fills.

Making Connections
One of the points that Florida Theater On Stage brought up in their recent articles is that local theater companies tend to be very insular; so concerned with getting their projects up and running, they're not really connecting to the arts scene as a whole.  And wouldn't you know, connecting is the topic of this article in Butts In Seats.

Tour a Classic
Critical Miami takes a tour of the Olympia Theater (a.k.a. The Gusman Center), and posts plenty of pictures.

Speaking of Tours
The Book of Mormon is going out on tour this season, after all, and Broadway World reports that it's coming to The Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

A Bit of This And That
Florida Theater On Stage posted some information on last minute shows, which seems odd, and it means you've missed them, but Bill also has information up about how you can help GableStage raise some money, and it won't cost you anything but a minute or two of your time.

This Company will Expire...
Theater Communications Guild reports on the planned demise of 13P, a company built to close upon completion of its limited mission; the production of a play by each member playwright.
In 2003, playwrights Handel and George, tired of endless new-play development cycles, gathered 11 other early and mid-career playwrights together... The group set out to make a producing collective with a bold tagline: “We don’t develop plays. (We do them.)” Each playwright would become artistic director for her production, and a volunteer staff would help with the nitty-gritties of production. A proper press representative would be hired, and Handel, who had fundraising experience from the Mark Morris Dance Group , would work to ensure the group’s future life. But the future had a clear endpoint: Each writer would have a play staged, and one play only. After that the group would dissolve.
It's worth considering this approach; how many companies start with a bold or clearly stated mission, only to run out of steam after a few years?  Perhaps it's time to change the scope of our approach.

Speaking of New Plays
The Drama Queen reports that Zoetic Stage has joined the National New Play Network.

It's a Small World.  Really.
Florida Theater On Stage talks with two holocaust survivors who reunited by chance while attending A Shayna Maidel at the Broward Stage Door Theater.

...the Coconut Grove Playhouse is still closed, which has led the State of Florida to begin proceedings to take it back from the current Board of Directors, according to The Miami Herald.  Things were progressing until Aries Development Group tried to feed their greedy maw.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Where do they stand?

As it's a major election season, the Theatre Scene is researching where our elected officials stand on the Arts. 

We're working with the South Florida Theatre League to increase awareness of theater within our greater South Florida community, and making sure that our elected officials know we're here is an important part of that. 

But the thing is, they need to hear it from you.  You, the voter.  You, the actor/director/designer/stagehand.  And you, the patron.

We're working on a survey of county officials, but in the meantime ee found this nifty PDF chart of Responses from Elected State Officials from the Florida Cultural Alliance.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Scene for September 14, 2012

We're rolling right on into the 2012-2013 theater scene; we just got word that The Book of Mormon is going to be part of the Broward Center's offerings, but as the tour is still in the planning stages, no dates have been announced.

We hope that you read the three essays published on Florida Theater On Stage last week; as we mentioned on Mondays Are Dark, they are worth the read.  The Theatre Scene is taking them to heart, and we are working on some articles that we hope will aid our theatre community in increasing its visibility.  And we know that the South Florida Theatre League has some exciting stuff in the works.

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


The Gritty Girl Ensemble presents the world premiere  Wake Up, Cinderella! in the Abdo New River Room of
the Broward Center for the Performing Art this Saturday only at 8pm.  Don't let the scaffolding put you off!

Andrews Living Arts Studio opens Steel Magnolias this weekend.  Through September 30.

The UM Theatre Department presents Carrying Water in a Seive: Two Short Plays by Virgilio Piñera. Through September 22.

you still haven't missed...

Ruined plays at GableStage through October 7, 2012.

Alliance Theatre Lab presents Home Sweet Funeral Home at the Pelican Theatre through September 23, 2012.

A Shayna Maidel plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through September 16, 2012 has been extended through September 30.

conservatory & community...

AAPACT presents its production of The Dutchman at the Wendell Narcisse Theater through September 30, 2012.

Area Stage Company presents a staged reading of T Bone and Weasel this Saturday only.

last chance to see...

New Theatre's production of Keeping A-Breast winds up its run at the Roxy Performing Arts Center this September 16, 2012.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Accessible Performances 2012-2013

Courtesy of Lew Balaban and Florida Access Coalition for the Arts, here are the accessible shows at some of South Florida's major venues. 

If you are involved with a venue that doesn't provide accessibility, contact FLACA to see how you can reach out to audiences with special needs.

And if you are a venue that provides accessibility through other means, feel free to post your information in the Comments section, or email, so
we can add you to the list.


Rock of AgesArsht Center – Signed 10/13/12.  OC/AD 10/14/12

Million Dollar QuartetBroward Center –  Signed 11/16/12. OC/AD 11/17/12


The Red Thread

Miami Theatre Center – 11/9/12 – 12/18/12

Catch Me If You Can – Kravis Center – Signed 11/18/12 – OC 11/17/12


The Three Sisters – Miami Theatre Center – Signed, OC, AD – 12/2/12

La Boheme –  Arsht Center - AD 12/2/2012

Sister Act – Broward Center – Signed 12/28/12. OC/AD 12/29/12


Jersey Boys – Kravis Center – Signed 1/6/13. OC 1/5/13

Mary Poppins – Arsht Center – 1/5/13 – OC/AD 1/6/13

Agatha Christie’s BBC Murder – Parker  – Signed 1/25/13. OC/AD1/26/13


Mary Poppins – Kravis Center – Signed 2/3/13.  OC2/2/13

Wicked – Broward Center – Signed 2/8/13.  OC/AD 2/9/13

Love of Three Oranges – Miami Theatre Center - Signed, OC, AD – 2/17/13

The Magic Flute – Arsht Center – AD – 2/10/13

La Sonnambula – Arsht Center – AD – 2/17/13


Les Miserables – Arsht Center – Signed 3/2/13.  OC/AD 3/3/13

Billy Elliot – Kravis Center – Signed 3/10/13. OC 3/9/13

Flashdance – Broward Center – Signed 3/15/13.  OC/AD 3/16/13

Fela – Arsht Center – Signed 3/23/13.  OC/AD  3/24/13

Jekyll & Hyde – Kravis Center – Signed 3/31/13. OC  3/30/13


Addams Family – Broward Center – Signed 4/19/13.  OC/AD 4/20/13

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – Arsht Center – Signed 4/6/13. OC/AD  4/7/13

La Traviata – Arsht Center – AD – 4/21/13

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – Kravis Center – Signed 4/28/13.  OC  4/27/13


Memphis – Arsht Center – Signed 5/11/13.  OC/AD  5/12/13

War Horse – Broward Center – Signed 5/17/13. OC/AD 5/18/13

Iannana –Miami Theatre Center – Signed, OC, AD – 5/19/13


Peter Pan – Kravis Center – Signed 8/4/13

AAPACT: Dutchman (reviews)

The African American Performing Arts Community Theatre (AAPACT) opened its production of Dutchman on September 7, 2012.
Amiri Baraka (Leroi Jones)’s groundbreaking play about race relations stunned audiences in 1964.  A sinister, neurotic white girl, Lula, with the provocation of her lovely, half-naked body and of her startlingly lascivious speech, lures to his doom a good-looking young black man, Clay, a stranger whom she has picked up in the subway and whom she mocks for wearing the clothes and employing the voice and manners of the conventional white intellectual. Some free and discounted tickets are available.
Teddy Harrell directed a cast that featured Yevgeniya Kats and Samuel Umoh.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Though written in 1964, Dutchman has lost none of its sting since its debut almost 50 years ago at Off-Broadway’s Cherry Lane Theatre. This play is the opposite of the safe-bet, crowd-pleasing fare that so many nervous South Florida theater producers choose.
Director Teddy Harrell Jr. has Umoh underplay Clay initially, giving the actor room to build toward his explosive, physically violent confrontation with Kats’ Lula. Kats has the tougher task, because Lula doesn’t behave the way any remotely sane woman would. She’s one of those crazy subway riders who would make you flee to the next car or get off immediately, no matter how far you were from your stop.

Umoh and Kats deliver the play, though more finesse from both would make Dutchman land more powerfully. And though this play is a political allegory that sometimes wanders into the surreal, the complete lack of reaction by the silent passengers to Lula’s racist diatribes — symbolic though that may be — just doesn’t fly.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
...The script of Amiri Bakara’s classic 1964 play of racial and sexual politics crackles with the explosive rage that Langston Hughes’ predicted in “A Dream Deferred.”

The fact that this production doesn’t find that passion or electricity until two-thirds of the way through the 40-minute play doesn’t prevent the audience from appreciating Bakara’s themes or enjoying the laudable aspirations of the ambitious production directed by Teddy Harrell Jr....  once the too languorous plot takes its key turn, the production barrels like a subway that has lost its brakes. It just takes a long while for this train to leave the station.
...why this production – which seems set in an Everytime – doesn’t quite work for the first two-thirds of the piece... Dutchman’s initial dramatic tension relies heavily on the potential of fatal fallout in 1964 if a black man was seen in public enjoying sexually-laced interaction with a white woman regardless of who initiated the contact.
Harrell has Umoh, a 2008 Barry University theater grad, play the first section as someone too laid back rather than someone carefully controlling his emotions. But when Bakara gives him that monologue, Umoh justifies his casting with a blistering performance accented with flashing eyes and an anguished voice.
...Kats makes Lula’s slightly unhinged actions believable, like a drunken party girl self-destructively testing the boundaries of what society will allow. She also puts across the underlying contempt and arrogance of a white person confident that she can toy with any black person. Munching on and tossing away half-eaten apples, Kats makes a convincing Eve luring Adam to his doom.
If the production is flawed, AAPACT deserve praise for courageously delivering a play that few other companies would even dream of chancing.
Kimberly Grant wrote for South Florida Times:
It would be easy to say that Dutchman, first performed in 1963, is a one-act play about a straight black man and a crazy white woman. But that would be a disservice to the underlying tone of the play.

The root of the story, depending on which audience member you ask, is how society eats up black men and spits them out. Or how women can sometimes bring out the worst in men. Or that there’s always a way out of any situation if you’re willing to take it.
In the actor arena, Umoh gives a method performance as the black Everyman of that era. Clay is living between the memory of his parents who have had to stay quiet in the face of racism, and the reality that change is on the horizon, while all the while seething in anger.

Kats, whose Leulah is two parts crazy and one part evil, tries to get in the headspace of a woman who clearly has issues with black men. However, it feels as if there’s a layer to Leulah that never gets explored... there’s not enough motive to explain her actions.
AAPACT presents its production of Dutchman at the Wendell Narciesse Theater through September 30, 2012.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mondays are Dark

The Au-Rene Theatre at Broward Center, mid-renovation
Last week, someone asked me how in the world I compile this reading list; I confessed that it's simply whatever catches my eye; there's no set formula.  That's why it's so eclectic.  Of course, sometimes folks send me a link to a story; while I can't promise that I will use every story, I will certainly read it.  And if it doesn't make the list, we'll post it on Facebook, or Twitter, or actually, we'll do both.

And we say that because it was kind of a slow week.  Still looking for more "dark" shots for the banner photo, too.

Here's your Monday reading list:

It's A Mystery..Or Is It?
How could we not start out with the hottest story out there?  Florida Theater On Stage posted a three part essay on South Florida Theatre.  It's been a long time since any journalist did such a comprehensive story on the performing arts in South Florida; Hirschman references some work that Jack Zink did about a decade ago.

Part 1 takes a look at the what our theater scene is - and is not.
There is no such thing as South Florida theater. Its primary asset and its primary handicap is its vibrant and divisive diversity. Any discussion starts there.
That's to say that there's a lot of theatre in South Florida, but there isn't anything one could ascribe as being of South Florida.  Over the last 30 years or so, we have added theaters, but not an artistic identity that defines the current state of the art.

Part 2 examines the current state of theater in South Florida
The single most profound problem facing South Florida theater is that almost no one knows it’s here.

It’s not that people are choosing to do something else with their entertainment dollars or their philanthropic resources. Theater simply isn’t on the radar screen for anyone but for a sliver of the population. Theater lovers just cannot comprehend how small their niche is.
Unlike New York City, South Florida isn't a destination for theatre-goers.  And Bill's right.  Sure, a handful of people will see theater while they are here; in fact, we added the Theatre Scene's calendar after discussions in an online forum where people kept asking "what's playing near Fort Lauderdale in March?" or some such.

Part 3 outlines the specific problems we face, and offers if not solutions, at least a starting place to build them.
Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all solution or even series of solutions. Some of the problems facing the Maltz Jupiter Theatre are different than those facing Actors Playhouse in Coral Gables, although they both mount large-scale musicals. The course is for each county, each community, each company to pull what works best for them from the menu of options that we’re about to explore.
We need to work together to get the word out that there is theatre in South Florida, that it's an option that's out there, all the time, every week.  We need to speak out to our elected officials and let them know that this is important.  We need to reach out to the media, and make them see that these are stories that the community should hear about.  Perhaps we need to work together; a small company may not be able to afford much advertising, but several of those small companies might be able to afford prime advertising.

Speaking of Media Events

Broadway World reports that the Arsht Center brought in food trucks for a special "opening weekend."  Box office opening, that is.

Dark Summer Leads to Bright Future
MarketWatch fills us in on what's been going at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts; their large hall (pictured above) has been undergoing renovation - and improvements.
Located on the Mezzanine Level of the Au-Rene Theater, the new Club Level offers patrons an exclusive experience. Club Level guests enjoy complimentary valet parking, open bar, hors d'ouevres, coffee and dessert, along with extra-roomy theater seats in a seating area adjacent to the lounge. With a view of the performance from the stage view windows within the lounge, guests will enjoy a truly unique theater setting.
It's baaaack
The Drama Queen reports that Naked Stage is bringing back the 24-Hour Theatre Project - to GableStage.  The event had been hosted by The Caldwell Theatre Company the last few years, but since the company is closed, Joe Adler has once again made his stage available to an outside group.

Ran Out of Gas
The Examiner reports that Laughing Gas Comedy Improv Theater Company has closed after 19 years of operations.