Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Off Stage Conversations

Hello, it’s Andie Arthur, executive director of the South Florida Theatre League, with Off Stage Conversations, showcasing the important articles and discussions about theatre administration and the state of the art, as well as national and international theatre news.


Christine Dolen for the Miami Herald writes on attracting younger audiences, featuring three Theatre League member theatres, The Naked Stage, The Alliance Theatre Lab, and the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. I think Nathan Allen hits the most salient point: content. If you aren’t telling stories that interest younger audiences, why expect them to come? We don’t get angry when older audiences don’t attend children’s theatre – so why resent younger audiences for not connecting with material that doesn’t speak to them?


Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune has an interesting article on branding and brand extensions for theatre companies. It’s an interesting concept for some of our larger and mid-size theatres looking to expand their audiences, but who don’t want to alienate their current core.


Polly Carl has a piece out on how we define beauty or specifically, quality theatre. She looks at who controls the definition and the intersection of taste assumptions and class. It’s pretty dense academic writing, but I love that she’s asking these questions.


The Guardian has another piece out on subverting the use of programs – if a dramatis personae gives away too many spoilers, how should you handle it? I’ve been to a few performances where programs were distributed after the show, which is one way of handling it. Or a producer can make use of misinformation.


TCG has a posted their survey results on the state of health benefits for the industry.


Brandon Walker talks about the current state of Off-Off Broadway and how the most exciting work he sees is either on a community theatre level (full of passion) or at the highest professional level (full of money) – and asks what can be done to alter that. While most of his concerns speak directly to his NYC experience, we ought to be looking at how can we better the artistic experience as well as looking at all the budgeting concerns.


The Wall Street Journal talks about a recent Australian production of Death of a Salesman getting busted for copyright infringement, and how protective should copyright owners of classic work be with the script and new interpretations.


Have you ever wanted to write a play and just needed an excuse? Here’s an excuse – November is National Playwriting Month (along with doubling as National Novel Writing Month).

I’ll be back next week in a post-election haze. Hopefully a happy haze. Happy Halloween Everyone!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Stage Door: Rumors (reviews)

Stage Door Theater opened its production of Neil Simon's Rumors on October 19, 2012.
The deputy mayor of New York City and his wife are celebrating their 10th anniversary with an elegant party.

But when the guests arrive, the host has seemingly attempted suicide and the hostess is missing. Each arriving couple adds something new and twisted to the gossip and the cover-up.

One of Simon’s funniest works—wild, fast-paced hilarity.
Dan Kelly directed a cast that included Jill Taylor Anthony, Richard Brundage, Niki Fridh, Matthew Korinko, Christine DeFrece, Stephen Michael Guice, Leah Sessa, Glen Lawrence, Christopher DePaola, and John Michael Gordon.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Now at the Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs, the play has all the elements on a farce checklist: seven doors to slam (or not), stairs that will require one character to run up and down all evening (who needs a Stairmaster?), a crisis that drives the play, eight upper-class characters intent on avoiding or denying the truth. And, of course, a script full of deceptions, absurdities and laughs.
Spilling the specifics of the Rumors plot – most work, some don’t – wouldn’t be fair to audiences who deserve to discover them in the moment. But director Dan Kelley and his large cast (which also includes Christopher DePaola and John Michael Gordon as inquisitive cops) deliver a solid, well-acted farce.
The actors all deliver their characters with persuasive style, but three give standout performances. Lawrence’s Glenn is droll and manipulative, deadpan in the face of Cassie’s mounting rage. Fridh lands Claire’s her acid-tinged lines with deadly accuracy. And Korinko gets and makes the most of the play’s tour de force speech, Lenny’s lengthy account of the evening’s activities, a fake story that he seems to be making up as he goes along. That’s terrific acting.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Director Dan Kelley and an energetic cast race lickety-split down that groove of classic sketch comedy wackiness: A bunch of silly people struggle to cope with an absurdly deteriorating situation, marked by an ever-increasing spiral of anxiety and a torrent of witty repartee. So there’s no question that the chuckles and chortles are plentiful in their hands, thanks to some pretty dead-on comic timing from the cast.
The two most impressive performers are Korinko and Fridh  playing the tax accountant and his wife. Fridh gets many of Simon’s subversive jabs at the monied class, firing off rejoinders with the dry, arch topspin of an Elaine Stritch.  Korinko... projects the charm and charisma of a leading man along with a facility for Simon’s call-and-response humor masquerading as dialogue.
While this still is not Simon’s funniest work, second-string Simon is better than many folks’ masterworks.
Rumors plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through November 11, 2012.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Slow Burn Theatre: Avenue Q (2 reviews)

Slow Burn Theatre opened its production of Avenue Q on October 26, 2012.
Winner of the Tony “Triple Crown” for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book, AVENUE Q is part flesh, part felt and packed with heart. AVENUE Q is a laugh-out-loud musical that tells the timeless story of a recent college grad named Princeton who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q. He soon discovers that although the residents seem nice, it’s clear that this is not your ordinary neighborhood. Together, Princeton and his new-found friends struggle to find jobs, dates, and their ever-elusive purpose in life.
Patrick Fitzwater directed a cast that included Mike Westrich, Nicole Piro, Christian Vandepas, Courtney Poston, Pamela Stigger, Ann Marie Olson, and Trent Stephens.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Once again, the little theater with a below-modest budget and full-scale ambitions has simply nailed another production, this time delivering a raunchy, irreverent and joyous opener to their fourth season in way west Boca Raton.
Fitzwater is not a look-at-me director, but he always keeps his actors fluidly in motion and helps his cast find the emotional truth under the laughs. And while Avenue Q is meant to make fun of the artifice of puppetry by having the puppeteers visible, Fitzwater and Lighting Designer Lance Blank still pull off a bit of magician’s misdirection from time to time to conceal when an actor slips offstage to get another puppet or when one actor is voicing a puppet being manipulated across the stage by another actor.
The actors’ tirelessly expressive faces and body language combine with the puppets’ tilt of the head or ingenious arm movements choreographed as carefully as the human’s dance steps.
Led by the enthusiastic Fitzwater and co-founder Matthew Korinko, the troupe has a can-do dare-anything DIY attitude that is infectious even when some aspects of a show stumble a bit. Producers ought to be attending every opening night looking for talent to poach.
While it’s almost criminal to single out anyone in an ensemble this uniformly strong, it’s impossible to avoid praising Westrich and Piro’s singing chops, animated facial expressions and ability to make the puppets come alive. Piro often has to have arguments with herself, voicing both Kaye and Lucy with Poston actually operating one of the ladies at the other end of the stage. Westrich’s body language subtly switches from the angst-ridden Princeton to the slightly fey Rod.
A nod is due once again to Slow Burn’s loyal creative team who do wonders with so little money: Scenic Designer Ian T. Almeida, Lighting Designer Blank (who still needs a couple of lights downstage center) and Sound Designer Traci Almeida who has finally conquered the high school auditorium’s aural problems.
... puppetmaster Peña, a Slow Burn actor who usually doubles as the costumer ...based most of his designs on the original Broadway creatures created by Rick Lyon, although Peña has created his own take on Rod and Princeton.  His whimsical yet inexplicably human-seeming creations are absolutely the equal of anything the Henson shop has produced.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
The company performs way out west of Boca Raton in the high-school based West Boca Performing Arts Theater. Its shows don’t run very long, usually just six performances spread out over two weekends. But as its new production of Avenue Q so vibrantly demonstrates, seeking out Slow Burn is so worth the effort.
Mike Westrich is equally persuasive as the earnest, commitment-phobic leading “man” Princeton and the conflicted, clearly gay Rod. Nicole Piro voices the looking-for-love Kate Monster and bad-girl Lucy, with different body language and facial expressions for each character. Christian Vandepas, who usually performs alongside a glowing Courtney Poston, fashions a gee-whiz voice for Nicky and a lascivious growl for Trekkie Monster.

Trent Stephens is an ebullient presence as Brian, the wannabe comedian. Pamela Stigger plays the late Diff’rent Strokes star (Gary Colemnan), and though some of her solos wander slightly off pitch, she finds Coleman’s boyish charm. You could make the case that the role of Christmas Eve, which involves playing on Asian stereotypes including pronunciation, should always go to an Asian-American actress. Slow Burn’s choice, Ann Marie Olson, isn’t Asian, but she is funny and fabulous. When she takes the song The More You Ruv Someone to its torchy extreme, she stops the show.
Want to see the future of musical theater in South Florida, both on the stage and in the enthusiastic teens-and-up audience? Make the effort to find and savor Avenue Q.
The Slow Burn Theatre production of Avenue Q plays at the West Boca Performing Arts Theater through November 4.

Mondays are Dark

We've had a lovely break in the weather over the weekend, and now the weather's breaking bad all over the northeast.  We hope that Hurricane Frankenstorm Sandy diminishes before landing; but keep our friends and families living in the storm's path in your thoughts and prayers.

Today's "dark" theatre is Miami Theater Center.  This is the set for their upcoming production of Chekov's Three Sisters.  This company recently rebranded itself after building a reputation for opulent children's theatre productions as The Playground Theater.  In days of yore, this was the Shores Performing Arts Theatre, which brought us such productions as The Rocky Horror Show, Chaplin, Bat Boy the Musical, and Blood Brothers, among many others.

Here's your Monday reading list.

Holiday Programming
The Drama Queen notes that two different area companies are catering to the Halloween enthusiasts with productions of The Rocky Horror Show.  And a hometown couple returns to teach us what they learned as cast members of In The Heights.

Speaking of Halloween
The Broward/Palm Beach New Times sits down with Jim Hammond of The Puppet Network to talk about his Day of the Dead project in Fort Lauderdale. 

They're Back
BroadwayWorld brings us up to date on The Women's Theatre Project, which will be opening DelVal Divas this week at their new venue, the Willow Theater in Sugar Sands Park.

Arsht Sponsors Collaboration
The Miami New Times fills us in on Girls Vs. Boys, a collaboration of The House Theatre of Chicago and the theatre department of the University of Miami that opens this week at the Adrienne Arsht Center.
Writers Chris Mathews, Jake Minton, and Nathan Allen tested Girls vs. Boys at Northwestern University as they wrote the story, culminating in a 2010 workshop production of the musical in Chicago. But they thought it still needed some tweaking, so when the Arsht asked to restage Girls vs. Boys this season with the University of Miami's Department of Theatre Arts, they saw it as a chance to finally put on the finishing touches.
About Those Tickets
We caught the story on NPR last week, and then someone asked us about it, so we thought we'd point to this great article on The Next Web about Louis C.K.'s fight against ticket prices being driven up by excessive fees - and scalpers.  And remember; if you bought your tickets to see Louis C.K.'s shows at the Broward Center from any other source than Louis' website, you've probably just been ripped off.

The Playwrights' Thing
BroadwayWorld reports that Palm Beach Dramaworks' 6th annual Master Playwrights Series will start on December 10, and will focus on Lanford Willson.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Scene for October 26, 2012

The outlook calls for a bit of rain this weekend, as Tropical Storm Sandy swings past to our east.  Even though Theatre Season is here, Hurricane Season still has a month to go.  But this weekend, the storm is only brushing by.

So it's perfect weekend to see some plays!  A couple of appropriate plays for the season include Little Shop Of Horrors and not one but two productions of The Rocky Horror Show; the trick is that these plays'll treat you.  (And yes, that was as painful for us to write as it shoulda been.  OW.)

Be forewarned; there's a storm of plays getting ready to open next week.

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


Last Call opens - and closes - this weekend at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts.  This is a revised version of the play that wowed audiences at Empire Stage last year; same actor, same production team, just - hopefully - a slightly stronger piece.  Florida Theater On Stage has a story.

Slow Burn Theatre opens Avenue Q, through November 4.  Turn down your speakers if you're at the office; they're blasting music out with their web page. Wouldn't want the boss to find out - he'll want tickets, too.

you still haven't missed...

Actors' Playhouse presents a critically acclaimed Godspell at The Miracle Theater through November 4, 2012.

Stage Door Theatre opens Neil Simon's Rumors in its large hall in Coral Springs, playing through November 11

Talley's Folly plays at Palm Beach Dramaworks through November 11, 2012.

The critics are raving about the strong performances in Driving Miss Daisy, playing at The Plaza Theatre through November 18, 2012.  A reminder; the bridge in Lantana is out, you have to cross either down in Boynton
Beach and head up A1A, or cross up in Lake Worth and drive down A1A. 
Pretty drive. Worth the trip. Promise.

last chance to see...

New Theatre's production of Educating Rita at the Roxy Performing Arts Center winds it up this Sunday, October 28, 2012.

Stage Door Theatre's production of The Immigrant  at the Byron Carlisle Theatre in Miami Beach closes October 28.

A Shayna Maidel finally completes its twice-extended run at the Broward Stage Door Theatre this Sunday,October 28..

conservatory & community...

Andrews Living Arts Studios presents The Rocky Horror Show through October 31 - sounds like Halloween winner to us.

Entr'acte Theatrix presents The Rocky Horror Show at the Crest Theatre, through November 4.

Barry University stages Waiting for Godot through October 28.

University of Miami offers Boeing Boeing at its Jerry Herman Ring Theatre through October 27. 

Tamarac Theatre of Performing Arts presents The Pajama Game, through November 4.

Annie plays at the Pembroke Pines Theatre of the Performing Arts through November 18.

for kids...

Broward Center for the Performing Arts presents Sticks & Stones this Saturday only in their Amaturo Theater.

Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre puts on Little Shop of Horrors through October 28.

Sol Children's Theatre Troupe presents Rumpelstiltskin through November 11.  If your little one is a fan of the TV show Once Upon A Time, they may want to learn Mr. Gold's back-story.  Heck, admit it; YOU want to. So go.

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

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

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Continuing the Conversation

Hello, this is Andie Arthur, executive director of the South Florida Theatre League, with a late night edition of Continuing the Conversation, where I bring articles of interest from the national and international theatre community to the Scene.

This week, I wanted to start out with an older, favorite blog post that I often need to remind myself of: Talk About What’s Good. We spend a lot of time in this field gripping about it (myself included) and often venting feels good – but we also need to spend time focusing on what is working and do what we can do to encourage it.


Last week, I pointed out some disappointing racism in the international theatre community, but this week I want to highlight the Black Play Archive where “will allow users to search biographical, production, and publication details of works by Black British Playwrights.”


Ilana Brownstein focuses on what’s good and what possible changes are coming for the better in her article for HowlRound on Boston Theatre. I think it’s a good comparison point to Bill Hirschman’s articles for Florida Theatre OnStage – to see how regions are different and similar. As always there’s many good ideas that we could import from elsewhere. Brownstein mentions The Donkey Show as a training ground for young artists and audiences, creating a space for a completely different type of theatre. The Arsht produced The Donkey Show this summer – but what can we do as a community to provide these sort of exciting extended opportunities?


Know Theatre of Cincinnati is changing their programming. Instead of scheduling a traditional season, they plan to program on a rolling basis. It’s a brand new announcement, but as with 13P, it’s interesting to look at new models of institutions – what benefits are there to not following a traditional season line up? I’m interested to follow this story a few years down the line.


The Washington Post has a nice article about younger arts donors and focuses on how the nature of giving changes among the generations. I think particularly interesting that younger donors want to be actively involved in the organizations they donate to – a name in the program isn’t what they’re looking for.


So this isn’t really focusing on what’s good, but Kris Joseph has a great blog post on how actors need to own their own comfort levels. “Don’t sacrifice your dignity and self-worth for a gig” is a good message for us all.

And this is really just more sad news in a month of sad news, but today the Alliance for Audience in Phoenix announced that it was ceasing operations. The Alliance functioned as the Phoenix equivalent of the South Florida Theatre League. Their executive director Matt Leherman has been a tremendous help to me in my role here, and I’m really saddened by this.

Thanks and I’ll see you next week!

ON STAGE This Week

Florida Theater On Stage has a couple of articles about shows opening this week that came out after our Monday Reading List went up.  So we're telling you about them now, so you know a little bit more about these shows than our Thursday listings will tell you.

Florida Theater On Stage:  LAST CALL

There may be only one performer on stage, but it's not really a one-woman show:
Don’t call Terri Girvin’s Last Call a solo piece when it returns to the Broward Center this week.

She’s the first to say that the precisely timed sound effects ingrained into a comic monologue about her life as a bartender make her carefully choreographed odyssey more than a one-woman show.

“I’ve always felt that there are four people doing the show. I’m just the one you can see,” she said in a break from rehearsals Tuesday with her director and two sound engineers huddled over two laptops computer controlling 748 sound cues.
This show played at the much smaller Empire Stage last year.  You can read the reviews HERE.  But hurry - it only plays this weekend at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

Florida Theater On Stage: Amadeus

It's been awhile since AMADEUS has played Palm Beach County, you have to go back to the defunct Florida Rep back in 1989.  Mosaic stage it in Broward County in 2004.  Now Jupiter Theatre brings it back.
undefinedMaltz Jupiter theatergoers need to manage their expectations of next week’s run of the play Amadeus, better known for Oscar-winning (film) version about the mediocre court composer Salieri’s possibly murderous rivalry with the young genius Mozart.

Peter Shaffer’s 1979 masterpiece is not just different, it’s better. Much better, many critics would say. Regardless of the quality of the production, it is a different work of art, said director Michael Gieleta and star Tom Bloom who plays the narrator and audience surrogate Salieri.

“It’s shockingly different,” Bloom said before starting rehearsal last week.

Amadeus opens Friday and plays through November 11 at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mondays are Dark

It was actually a slow week for theatre stories in South Florida; not to say that nothing's going on; we'll probably see a lot in the next few days.

Today's 'dark' theatre is The Plaza Theatre in Manalapan.  Originally a gourmet grocery store, the Theatre Club of the Palm Beaches converted it to an intimate venue with help from Lois Pope.  Shortly after opening their new space, the company renamed itself The Lois Pope Theatre in her honor.  But when Pope insisted on a more involved role in programming, the benefactor and the theatre company went their separate ways, and the company re-branded as Florida Stage.  When they moved to Kravis Center to cut operating costs, a lot of us wondered what the future held for this theatre located in prime retail space.  Then Alan Jacobson adopted the space last year, bringing theatre back to A1A and Ocean Boulevard.

Here's your Monday reading list.

It's Not Just For Kids Anymore...
Social Miami talks with Diana Garle, who will be appearing in Chekov's Three Sisters at Miami Theater Center, formerly The Playground Theater. The production marks the launch of the company's adult, um, non-children's, programming.

Speaking of Launches
BroadwayWorld reports that Outré Theatre Company has cast their first full production.  The fledgling company opens Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party on November 23 at the Mizner Park Cultural Center.  That's the same venue used by Parade Productions, and marks a trend towards sharing spaces that includes Boca Raton Theatre Guild and The Womens' Theatre Project (who share The Willow Theater), as well as all those companies that work out of tiny Empire Stage.

Round Up
The Miami Herald stuck a headline about PBS and MOCA over this round up, but the article reminds us that The Naked Stage has a show opening next week, and their 24 Hour Theatre Festival follows on November 12.  Also, playwright Nathan Englander is in town, and Blue Plate Special: Episode 41 at Broward College.

Speaking of Naked Stage...
The Naked Stage blogs about its upcoming production of A Man Puts On A Play and this year's iteration of The 24 Hour Theater Festival.

Oh Yeah, Theaters and Titles and Deeds
Of course, the biggest story last week was the auction of the Caldwell Theatre Company's home and the word that the company really is dead.  Read our recap of Caldwell stories to find links those articles, as well as our recap on The Hollywood Playhouse.

Looking to the Future
The Miami Herald reports that the winner of a $20k grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will be decided by the public. Among the five finalists: The Arts Garage, which is home to Louis Tyrell's latest theatre venture.

Oops, You Missed It
Zoetic Stage's critically acclaimed production of I Am My Own Wife closed on Sunday, but you can get a taste of Tom Wahl's tour-de-force performance on WLRN's website.  It's  shame you missed it - it was excellent on every level.  Bill Hirschman was moved to say that it should win the Carbonell for "Best Ensemble."  High praise indeed for a one-man show.

Something New
When the Broward Center for the Performing Arts opens its renovated Au-Rene Theater with the Miami City Ballet this week, they'll be unveiling their new Club Level.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Actors' Playhouse: Godspell (5 reviews)

Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater opened its revival of Godspell on October 10, 2012.
This timeless story of friendship, loyalty, and love with musical parables based on The Gospel According to St. Matthew, features a sparkling score by Stephen Schwartz, the Grammy and Academy Award-winning composer of Wicked and Pippin. One of the most enduring shows of all time, Godspell has touched the hearts of countless theatergoers all over the world. Full of energy and excitement and filled with popular hits such as Day by Day, Learn Your Lessons Well and Turn Back, O Man, Godspell will be a musical experience for the entire family.
David Arisco directed a cast that included Josh Canfield, Clay Cartland, Henry Gainza, Jeni Hacker, Shea Hess, Nick Duckart, Heather Kopp, Kareema Khouri, Cindy Pearce and Don Seward.  Choreography by Barbara Flaten and musical direction by Dave Nagy.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Arisco’s smartest move in the new Godspell lies in his casting. His 10 singer-actors have terrific voices. Each gets some solo time, and the voices (backed by hidden but fine five-piece band) blend with beauty and power. The joy in this Godspell comes from its musical numbers.
The acting out of Jesus’ parables, however, is another story... Arisco’s actors are a mix of young and seasoned performers, but the director doesn’t let them linger at that border. He frequently pushes them into full-on cheesy goofiness... More than once, Arisco takes playful or cute moments and pushes them in goofy, corny or ridiculous directions.

But the cast members, bless ‘em, commit 100 percent to the tone and style of the show, here set in a post-apocalyptic American city. Designer Gene Seyffer supplies boarded-up buildings, a mini-water tower... and a pair of runways so that the cast can get up close and personal with the folks in the front of the orchestra section.
The treasures of this Godspell, the moments that will stick with you as you leave the theater, are its vocal performances. Canfield delivers a glorious Beautiful City, Duckart a rousing Prepare Ye (The Way of the Lord), and the two join for a light-hearted song-and-dance version of All for the Best. Henry Gainza delivers an exquisite All Good Gifts, and he brings a comic sabor cubano to his scenes. Heather Kopp sings a sweet, yearning version of the show’s hit song, Day by Day, and blends beautifully with Jeni Hacker on the By My Side duet. The equally powerful Kareema Khouri, Cindy Pearce and Don Seward, along with an alluring Shea Hess and a funny Clay Cartland, round out the cast.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
This earnest troupe led by director David Arisco has reinterpreted and re-imagined for the umpteenth time the venerable warhorse so that it seems fresh and familiar at the same time.
Few shows fall so completely in Arisco’s wheelhouse. Although he is perfectly able to direct a straight play like August: Osage County, his undisputed strength is musical comedy staging. Arisco has a limitless imagination for adorning a script with scores upon scores of grace notes and bits of comic business... But he also knows how to excavate a dramatic moment such as Jesus nearly whispering the prayers at the Seder and having Jesus kiss a reluctant Judas at the moment of betrayal. The apostles’ individual farewells at the Last Supper are especially moving.
The ten-member ensemble across the board is one of the strongest acting/singing casts that Actors Playhouse has ever pieced together. It isn’t that there isn’t a weak link; there isn’t even a mediocre one.
Unavoidably first among equals is Josh Canfield... Canfield’s Jesus is a gentle, playful teacher anxious to spread the gift of his knowledge. There’s no sense of divinity about his performance; instead Canfield radiates peace like a balm to a wounded flock. The persona is beatific, but as accessible and humble as a fresh graduate from the seminary who has chosen to work in the inner city...
Duckart, who played Pharaoh in Joseph and the doctor in Next to Normal, reaffirms his skills combining dramatic intensity and goofball comic chops as both John the Baptist and Judas.
Doing justice to the rest of the cast, each with a clean clarion voice and a personal vitality, would take a paragraph each. But we have to mention in alphabetical order Henry Gainza, dance captain Jeni Hacker, Shea Hess, the full-throated Kareema Khouri (Caldwell’s Working and G4’s Motherhood the Musical); the lovely Heather Kopp who leads a fresh take on the over-exposed standard “Day By Day,” the utility comedian Clay Cartland, Cindy Pearce who was the standout in Slow Burn Theatre’s Urinetown, and Don Seward. And a special nod to Christopher Kent who played in the pit, was assistant stage manager and gave an uncredited but heart-breaking rendition of “On The Willows” from offstage.
...set designer Gene Seyffer expertly fills the stage with a blighted cityscape... Arisco uses every inch of the multi-tiered playing space including two runways jutting into the aisles.
J.W. Arnold reviewed for South Florida Gay News:
In this incarnation, Director David Arisco takes the liberty of updating the show, adding references to Lindsay Lohan, Donald Trump, the Kardashians and even Facebook to the parable skits, as well as rap and hip-hop rhythms. But, like so many period shows that seem quaint today—Hair comes to mind—the updates confuse the context of the original work.
Costume designer Ellis Tillman keeps to the hippie theme with colorful outfits that undoubtedly were sourced at the local Goodwill store, but Gene Seyfer’s multi-tiered, post-apocalyptic cityscape — or is it present day Detroit? — seems a bit too stark, even though Arisco manages to utilize every inch throughout the show.
Henry Gainza offered one of the most poignant moments of the show with a heartfelt “All Good Things,” while Heather Kopp gave a fresh interpretation of the familiar “Day by Day.” Kareema Khouri and Cindy Pearce alternately belted out gospel licks and Clay Cartland excelled at the slapstick humor that has made him a favorite in South Florida theater circles.

Nick Duckart is one of the most talented young actors in the region and he again offers a memorable performance in the dual roles of John the Baptist and later, Judas.  ...Canfield has a crystal clear tenor voice and portrays Jesus in an unassuming way. He can carry the show—he must—but I found myself wondering throughout how Duckart might have portrayed Jesus, perhaps with a little more conviction, even gravitas.
Michelle Petrucci reviewed for Broadway World:
As a blanket statement with definite exceptions, the strengths of both actor and director are seen more keenly in many of the representations of the parables rather than the music numbers. Director David Arisco has found several innovative and fun ways to utilize sweet-faced Henry Gainza, creative comedian Clay Cartland and boisterous funny gal Cindy Pearce who hop in and out of over-the-top yet believable characters almost on a dime.
Kareema Khouri’s powerful “O, Bless the Lord, My Soul” and Jeni Hacker and Heather Kopp’s beautiful blend on “By My Side” stand out among Stephen Schwartz’s light-rock hits. The tongue-in-cheek duet “All For the Best” sung and danced by Jesus, masterfully tackled by Josh Canfield, and Judas, a sometimes dark and brooding Nick Duckart, was the highlight of the evening, featuring Barbara Flaten’s always entertaining choreography.
Ron Levitt gushed on ENV Magazine:
The latest version —  directed with stunning results and quick, sharp pacing  by David Arisco — debuted at the Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre...
...this adaptation of Godspell is one thing certain – a chance to display and for the audience to see some of the best young talent  of today.  As a showcase for musical comedy ability, one does not have to go any further than this theatre...
He then says something positive about every person involved with the production.  We couldn't figure out a fair way to select only a few, so just go read it.

Actors' Playhouse presents Godspell at The Miracle Theater through November 4, 2012.

Palm Beach Dramaworks: Talley's Folly (5 reviews)

Palm Beach Dramaworks opened its production of Lanford Wilson's Talley's Folly on October 12, 2012.
In this beautifully wrought Pulitzer Prize-winning "no-holds-barred romantic story," two mismatched, wounded souls open up to each other and grab their last chance at love.

Set in 1944 in Lebanon, Missouri, Talley’s Folly is part of the trilogy of Talley plays that also includes Fifth of July and Talley & Son.

J. Barry Lewis directed a cast that featured Erin Joy Schmidt and Brian Wallace.

Hap Erstein included it in a meta-review for Palm Beach Artspaper:

Palm Beach Dramaworks prides itself on serving up “theater to think about.” True, there are plenty of heady plays on its schedule this season, but it begins instead with Lanford Wilson’s Talley’s Folly, a charming two-character romance from 1979, more like “theater to sigh over with a constant smile on your face.”
...director J. Barry Lewis orchestrates this awkward two-step with heart-on-the-sleeve romanticism, a task made easier by the talents of company veteran Erin Joy Schmidt (Dinner With Friends) and New York actor Brian Wallace in his area debut. Schmidt has the more subdued assignment, taking Sally through a box step of emotions from anger to vulnerability, and back up to rage before arriving at acceptance. Wallace gets the showier role, constantly reaching into a bag of tricks to amuse, distract and persuade Sally, all the time barely concealing his own anxieties. Together they have that essential, indefinable quality known as chemistry.
As usual, resident scenic designer Michael Amico all but steals the show with his atmosphere-rich, dilapidated boathouse ― the “folly” of the play’s title ― where love first blossomed for Matt and Sally a year earlier. Ron Burns lights it expertly, charting the evening’s many moods and Brian O’Keefe costumes the two actors in simple, character-revealing period clothes.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Dramaworks’ new production of Talley’s Folly, now launching the company’s second season in its larger yet still intimate home on Clematis Street in West Palm Beach, is a perfect example of what this theater does so well.
Ron Burns gets the credit for the mood-setting lighting, while sound designer Matt Corey works his own reliable magic. Michael Amico’s artfully ramshackle boathouse set becomes a decaying playground for the production’s two fine actors.

Both deliver energetic, layered performances under the skillful direction of J. Barry Lewis. Wallace finds the funny, driven exterior of a man who has lost everything but itsn’t about to let his unexpected chance at happiness slip away. Schmidt, though outfitted in a particularly unfortunate print dress by costume designer Brian O’Keefe, makes quicksilver shifts from discomfort to anger to glimmering thoughts of what “yes” might mean.
Michelle Solomon wrote for miamiartzine:
In this delightful production, everything does go well as Palm Beach Dramaworks presents a thoroughly enjoyable and dramatically rich interpretation of Wilson's tender, romantic story about two lonely people and the boathouse that brings them together.
The play is magical in so many ways, and director J. Barry Lewis allows the lyrical beauty of the author's words to weave their spell. It starts with the monologue, which breaks theater's fourth wall as Matt speaks directly to the audience pointing out the set pieces, making note of the "footlights," basically informing us that we are about to see a play. As Sally (Erin Joy Schmidt) nears the boathouse, she's calling Matt's name — the lights dim and when they come up, the play begins. Magic.
Wallace is charming as Matt. It's enthralling to see the actor inhabit this spirited character — nosily examining every inch of the rickety boathouse, beautifully rendered by scenic designer Michael Amico.
Schmidt has a balancing act as Sally. In lesser hands Sally could end up as a supporting character to the Wilson's more robust Matt, but Schmidt understands the idea of completing the picture that Wilson wants to create of this couple, so she works hard at keeping Sally on equal footing.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
...Talley’s Folly doesn’t ask you to turn off your brain even as it embraces you with an enchanting pas de deux of emotions, at least in Palm Beach Dramaworks’ charming seduction starring Brian Wallace, Erin Joy Schmidt and the crucial third leg of the stool, director J. Barry Lewis.
We’ll praise the actors soon enough, but first acknowledge how expertly and invisibly that Lewis has helmed this piece. Once again, Dramaworks’ resident director has broken down the script moment by moment, helped his actors analyze every beat and then reassembled it with a marvelous pacing crucial to an intermissionless evening.
Wallace, a Jacksonville native who works up and down the East Coast, is mesmerizing as Matt, a man whose affability instantly wins over the audience by deploying a gentle and self-deprecating humor with a quick-witted and nimble patter.
Schmidt, with Lewis’ guidance, only allows Sally to melt by millimeters.  It is only when she is facing away from him that we occasionally see her yearning seep out through watery eyes... Schmidt creates a independent-minded Sally that any man would be a fool not to fall in love with.
Set designer Michael Amico, lighting designer Ron Burns and sound designer Matt Corey have outdone themselves by creating an atmosphere that is both refuge and crucible.
Leslie Gray Streeter wrote for the Palm Beach Post; either she lost her program, or an editor "corrected" it, but either way Erin Joy Schmidt's name is spelled wrong:

Over the approximately 90-minute proceedings, director J. Barry Lewis guides his two leads through what becomes one extended conversation about expectation, disappointment and the folly of hope, the whole of which takes place in that crumbling, once-grand structure.
Both Wallace and Smith (sic) adapt well to the physical constrictions of the play - watching a 90-minute real-time conversation might be incredibly tedious if you weren’t interested in both the conversants and the conversation. Wallace sells Friedman’s romanticism by selling the back story that grounds him, while Smith (sic) inhabits a woman who is at once prematurely embittered and girlishly hesitant.
Of course, we suppose it's possible that Ms. Schmidt as an understudy named "Erin Jo Smith," but we doubt it.  Far more likely this is just another entry in the long list of reasons people are no longer reading the Post.

Talley's Folly plays at Palm Beach Dramaworks through November 11, 2012.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Scene for October 19, 2012

Another week closer to Halloween, and you know what that means; Christmas decorations will be on sale, soon.  We've seen a few already. 

It may be all over for the Caldwell Theatre Company, but you might not notice for the plethora of shows playing across South Florida right now.  Lots of shows for the whole family this weekend, we hope you take advantage.

A couple of reminders; if you're going to the Plaza Theatre, the bridge in Lantana is out, you have to cross down in Boynton Beach and head up A1A, or cross up in Lake Worth and drive down A1A.  And if you're going to Sesame Street Live, it's at the Parker Playhouse, NOT the Broward Center.

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


The Plaza Theatre opens Driving Miss Daisy, which will play through November 18.  And if you happen to go, and you see Ken Clement on stage, and you think to yourself "Gee, didn't he just close an extremely wordy show just last week?" the answer is yes, yes he did.

Stage Door Theatre opens Neil Simon's Rumors in its large hall in Coral Springs, playing through November 11

you still haven't missed...

Actors' Playhouse presents Godspell at The Miracle Theater through November 4, 2012.

New Theatre presents Educating Rita at the Roxy Performing Arts Center through October 28, 2012.

Talley's Folly plays at Palm Beach Dramaworks through November 11, 2012.

Stage Door Theatre production of The Immigrant  plays at the Byron Carlisle Theatre in Miami Beach through October 28.

A Shayna Maidel continues its twice-extended run at the Broward Stage Door Theatre  through October 28..

last chance to see...

Zoetic Stage's critically acclaimed production of I Am My Own Wife winds up its run at the Arsht Center this Sunday, October 21, 2012.

conservatory & community...

Miami Acting Company presents Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys at South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, through October 21.

Lake Worth Playhouse presents The King and I through October 21.

Delray Beach Playhouse presents A Talent For Murder through October 21.

How I Learned to Drive plays at Miami Dade College's Kendall Campus through October 21.

plays at Miami-Dade College's North Campus October 12-20.

Barry University
stages Waiting for Godot through October 28.

University of Miami offers Boeing Boeing at its Jerry Herman Ring Theatre through October 27.  Funny that the Catholic college has a Saturday show, and UM doesn't.  Hm.

Tamarac Theatre of Performing Arts presents The Pajama Game, through November 4.

for kids...

Math Rocks the Amaturo Theater of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts Thursday (today). Don't let the scaffolding fool you. 

Sesame Street Live: Elmo Makes Music comes to the Parker Playhouse through Sunday.  Note that this at the Parker Playhouse and not the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, which is finishing up its renovations for next week's opening of Miami City Ballet.

Martha Speaks
plays at the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center, this weekend only.

Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre puts on Little Shop of Horrors through October 28.

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.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hollywood Playhouse Reprieve - for now


The Miami Herald reports that the Hollywood city commission voted to exercise the deed restriction on the Hollywood Playhouse property on Wednesday, and seemingly voiced support for bringing back theatre to the city.
“I think we can take this court,” said Commissioner Beam Furr. “At the worst we lose, and we have to buy it. Then we have a playhouse.”
Of course, in this economy, not everyone agrees.
But Mayor Peter Bober said he is not willing to risk taxpayer dollars when “the reality is we don’t have a strong case.”

“I am not going into the theater business,” Bober said, adding that while the city is in difficult financial straights it should not be putting money on the line for a theater. “I would rather hire more cops for a $1 million.”
Mr. Bober apparently hasn't done much research into the subject of the effects of having a theatre in town; the national average is that every dollar invested in a performing arts venue spurs eight dollars of economic return to the community.  And that will fund a few police officers.

Fortunately, even with a wimpy mayor, the city commission is willing to take the fight to court, if necessary.
“I am not convinced that our case is that weak,” said Commissioner Heidi O’Sheehan. “I think we have a good chance of winning.”
Make sure you contact the City of Hollywood and let them know your position on the matter.
Mayor Peter Bober:
Commissioner Patricia Asseff:
Commissioner Heidi O'Sheehan:
Richard S. Blattner:
Commissioner Frances Russo:
Vice Mayor Linda Sherwood:

You can just click this link to send a message to all of them:
Email the Mayor and Commissioners

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Continuing the Conversation

Hello, everyone. I’m back with this Wednesday’s update on the national and international arts coverage. I still haven’t decided on a title that I love for this column, but we’re keeping with Continuing the Conversation for now. If you have a brilliant idea for a title or an article you think I missed, email me at


We’re only a few weeks out from the election. The voter registration deadline has passed, but if you are registered – please take a moment to educate yourselves where candidates stand on the arts. has a run down, which includes Arts and Culture in the pull down and Americans for the Arts has their Congressional Report Card, where you can see where incumbents stand.

One vital arts related issue that isn’t going to come up in any debate is that there’s been discussion on ending 501c3 status as a way of closing tax loopholes. As the executive director of a non-profit organization who works with over 45 other non-profit organizations, this is a scary proposition.


Yesterday, I read this letter from playwright Bruce Norris and was flabbergasted. A theatre company in Germany was going to do Clybourne Park in blackface. It was a moment of sputtering shock – and luckily there’s a call out for this practice to change. There’s already a petition and hopefully, some good will come from outing the practice internationally.

However, before we begin to think that this is only a problem in Germany, remember the outrage from TheatreWorks’ whitewashing of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ production of The Motherfucker with the Hat.

It’s bad enough that talented actors of color are shut out by the automatic assumption that every role is white unless otherwise specified. (I remember the Goodman’s production of Proof with an all-black cast. There are plenty of plays that could work just fine with actors of color.) But this is just… depressingly racist.


In cheerier news, HowlRound has a great piece on concrete steps people can take to work for gender parity by Laura Shamas of the LA Femaple Playwrights Initiative.

I would love to see some activism on this locally. I’ve said it before on 2amtheatre, but we’re a highly masculine theatre community. The Women’s Theatre Project is great, but they’re a producing theatre, not an activist group.


The Washington Post recently posted an in-depth article about how Arena Stage has failed in its mission for one of its new spaces: the Cradle. The space was built and named with the idea of being a place for new work, and yet it isn’t being used for new work and The Center for the Theatre Commons (which was the outgrowth of the NEA’s New Play Initative) has moved from DC to Boston.

In the closings of the Caldwell and Florida Stage, we’ve had a lot of discussion about venues and their downsides. But I would love to see a discussion on how mission relates to venue, particularly when the Coconut Grove Playhouse situation is settled. I respect the Washington Post for holding Arena Stage to its vision on new play development.


In my last post, I discussed 13P and their production model. 13P has since put all of their materials online, which is a really great how to for new companies and playwrights who are looking to replicate the model.


The Guardian asks what’s the point of a program? Audiences have a curious relationship with their programs, and many read them at home after the performance. There’s a lot of discussion on moving programs online and into smart phone apps – it’ll be interesting to see where that goes in the future. And I'd love to have some studies on why audience members keep their programs -- what makes keeping a program worthwhile?

My favorite non-program program is still the House Theatre of Chicago’s trading cards, which is a part of the House experience that is sadly missing when they’re in residence at the Arsht. The only programs I have from my years in Chicago are my trading cards. I know Thinking Cap Theatre has talked about bookmarks (which would probably join my trading cards), and I’m interested to see what changes happen for the format in the next decade.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Caldwell's Final Curtain

We linked to a story about the Herald's story about the Caldwell's theater being auctioned off in Mondays are Dark.

But there are more stories out now, and the Caldwell was a South Florida treasure for 37 years; it deserves its own compiled list.

Sadly, it seems the Palm Beach Post hasn't noticed the ending of nearly four decades of a cornerstone of Palm Beach County's cultural heritage. Their most recent story is March 31.  They reported the company was going into receivership, but noted that "It won’t be apparent to the theatergoing public."

One reader contacted us and pointed out that while the building was being closed, that did not mean that the Caldwell couldn't present somewhere else.  Of course, their mortgage isn't the only debt they have, for example, they dipped into their Equity bond (money put aside to ensure actors will get paid in the event of an unexpected closure), which means that they have to replenish the bond before they can hire more Equity actors.  And of course, their other debtors will need to be paid before the company can launch a new performance series.

The Miami Herald summed up the problem in its story on Sunday;
In truth, the Caldwell ended its 37-year run as an important, influential South Florida theater company after its production of the musical Working closed on April 1. Sure, there were hopes that donors keep one of the region’s oldest companies from disappearing. But that didn’t happen. The Caldwell is toast. And that matters.
Florida Theater On Stage published their story on Monday, and it isn't any more optimistic.
When the house that the Caldwell Theatre Company built goes on the cyberspace auction block Tuesday, court records hold out little hope that the facility will end up hosting Shakespeare or Conor McPherson.
While the Caldwell technically exists on paper, the sale formally lowers the curtain on one of the premier regional theaters in South Florida’s cultural history — what had been the second oldest professional company still in operation until this summer.
Florida Theater On Stage followed up with an interview with founding artistic director Michael Hall:
Q: Do you have any regrets? Is there anything you would have done differently, especially about the new building?

A: None. I had 34 years of work that I loved. I enjoyed an amazing number of high points. Awards are great, but personal satisfaction of productions like Sight Unseen (1993 with Pat Nesbit, Peter Bradbury, Barbara Bradshaw and John FitzGibbon) and The Laramie Project (2001 with a terrific ensemble) is what resonates with me. Regarding the new theater, had developers come through with promises, the economy not faltered, Madoff and others not frightened donors, history might be different.
Was Its New Space A Mistake?

Just a quick note on the new space; many have criticized Caldwell and Florida Stage for their relocations, claiming that the moves were complicit in their problems.  After all, both companies folded shortly after their moves.

But the fact is that in both cases, the moves were necessary.  The Caldwell's venue in the old Levitz Plaza was literally being torn down; staying wasn't an option.  And there weren't any other empty theaters sitting around waiting for an occupant to come along.  Florida Stage had a 20 year lease that came to an end; their rent had been covered by a donor for that duration, but with its end, they would have to assume the full amount of that lease - the donor was not renewing.  But they were barely able to pay the expenses they had at that time; that additional expense was impossible.   The move to the Kravis Center reduced their costs; they just didn't reduce them enough.

The Examiner's Richard Cameron reflects on the closing; he was a former staffer.
There were days when the Caldwell's Managing Director would call patrons and ask "Can you please help us cover payroll this week?" Sitting in the same office as Public Relations one knew we got trouble. The outcome did not look good way before the layoffs. An intimate theatre with 300 or so seats and a ticket price of $23.00 cannot support the cost of royalties, full union cast and all that is needed to compete with Lake Worth Playhouse a non-paying actor community supported theater located just down the road.
Who buys a ten million dollar theatre at an online auction? And what will it go for? From the countess Florida Opera companies, Ballet companies and even new Theatre companies that rent spaces to present their art, the hope is one of them, or a Broadway producer will acquire this beautiful venue in a wealthy educated South Florida theatre supported community. Maybe this is where they could try out new works before they move on to the heavy cost of Broadway.
We hate to rain on anyone's parade, but the sad reality is that Caldwell's theater isn't up to snuff has a house for major musicals or operas or ballet.  They lack a fly system, something necessary for ballet and opera, who usually share sets with other companies.  That means that the sets already include elements that need to be flown.  And beyond that, the stage is too small for those applications.

But it's the perfect size for the regional theater it was. 

Its Glorious History

And what a regional theatre it was!  In the 1980s, it was making strides and breaking ground.  They were one of the first companies in the nation to include gay-related themes in its programming; Bent, The Normal Heart playing in repertory with The Boys in the Band, and Take Me Out.  They took their production of The Middle Ages to Los Angeles.  Broadway heavy hitters such as Charles Nelson Reilly, Len Caroiu, Rosemary Prinz, and Beth Fowler.  Leading man Mark Kudisch received his Equity card there.

For the better part of forty years, the Caldwell Theatre Company set the benchmark for quality theatre in South Florida.

You can read the review summaries we've collated for the Caldwell by clicking here.

Bidders and Business

So, you may well be wondering, is there a chance that someone will buy it to use as a theatre?  Florida Theater On Stage has a brief list of interested parties:
Over the summer, several parties have expressed interest in the facility at 7901 N. Federal Highway, even touring the building, according to the legal documents filed last month by the receiver, Brenner Real Estate Group.

Among them:
  • The advisory committee of an unnamed church, described as “extremely interested” in a lease with an option to buy.
  • A “specialty user” interested in a lease with option to buy and reportedly working with city and county officials for help in financing.
  • A company that develops health clubs
  • A “medical user.”
  • An unnamed charter school whose representatives were concerned about the price and insufficient parking.
The article also mentions that the receiver had inquiries about short-term rentals of the space; Entr'Acte Theatrix did in fact stage their production of Jesus Christ Superstar under such an agreement.

The receiver has been working to return personal property from the building to the various individuals, with one glaring omission; the heirloom chandelier belonging to the late Frank Bennett, which he had loaned to the company to hang in their lobby, as much because it was too big to hang in anyplace he could afford as to provide decoration and illumination for the company's lobby.  Broward Center displays a tapestry in the lobby of its Amaturo Theater along the same terms.  Hopefully, this will be resolved and the chandelier removed from its wrongful inclusion in the auction.  While it's a part of the theater's history, it is not part of the theater.

The End?

But is this end of the Caldwell? Yes, Florida Theater On Stage confirmed it in its post-auction coverage.
Artistic Director Clive Cholerton also confirmed Tuesday afternoon what most theater observers surmised for months: The 37-year-old Caldwell Theatre Company itself is no more. “There are no plans to resurrect it,” he said.
 “Something will fill this void,” Cholerton said Tuesday, and fulfill what the Caldwell began 37 years ago. “There’s some smart kid that’s going to be graduating from New World (School of the Arts) in the next year or so, or who has graduated, and will start the next wave and lay every brick perfectly …. This is by no means a death knell of theater in South Florida. Someone will do it bigger, better, stronger. Definitely.”
 And he's right.  Someone will - eventually.

In the meantime, there is a gap that isn't being filled by smaller companies, and won't be for years to come.  Actors, technicians, and designers will scramble to make up for the loss of income, and a few players will head out to other markets.  Our pool of experienced actors, designers, and technicians will shrink just a little.

And life goes on.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mondays are Dark

The Count de Hoernle Theater
Some Mondays are darker than others; two former cornerstones of the South Florida theatre scene are in the news this week as their already uncertain futures become murkier.

Our featured theatre this week, for obvious reasons, is The Count de Hoernle Theater, final home of the late Caldwell Theatre Company.  The company started off renting space from what is now Lynn University.  Their second home was a space they carved out of the Boca Raton Mall.  They were pushed out when that structure was torn down to be replaced with the Town Center Mall.  They wound up in another converted shopping center at the Levitz Shopping Plaza.  And when that structure was slated for demolition, they finally built their own space - just in time for the economy to kill the company.

Curtains for the Caldwell
The Miami Herald reports that Caldwell Theatre Company's final home  goes on the auction block tomorrow.  The 37 year old theatre company closed with its production of Working last April, and Entr'Acte Theatrix rented the venue from the bank to present its production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
... the Caldwell became a vital employer and nurturer of South Florida theater talent. Those American theater classics, later mixed with cutting-edge contemporary plays and some new works, provided decent pay for union actors and designers while building a loyal audience. Actors Barbara Bradshaw, Peter Haig, Pat Nesbit, John Felix, Tom Wahl, Elizabeth Dimon, Kim Cozort, Kenneth Kay, Terry Hardcastle, Dennis Creaghan, Harriet Oser, Angie Radosh and so many more became part of a loose-knit Caldwell rep company, appearing in play after play.
Just to underscore how connected the CTC was to South Florida; Tom Wahl is earning rave notices for his work in Zoetic Stage's I Am My Own Wife at the Arsht Center, Peter Haig is co-starring Educating Rita at New Theatre, Harriet Ozer opens next week in Driving Miss Daisy at the Plaza Theatre, and Elizabeth Dimon will be appearing in The Music Man at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre.  If you type in any of these names into the search feature at the top of this page, you'll find that these names come up often, in top-rated productions.

Speaking of Tom Wahl...
miamiartzine profiles the prolific actor, currently wowing crowds in Zoetic Stage's I Am My Own Wife at the Arsht Center in Miami.  South Florida Gay News speaks with both Wahl and director Stuart Meltzer about the production.

Speaking of The Music Man
Palm Beach Artspaper catches up with composer John Mercurio, whose most recent collaboration with Andrew Kato resulted in Through The Looking Glass, which premiered last week at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre.
“I think for me, the way in, whether it be book writing, music writing or lyric writing, is always telling a story. That’s my thing. That’s the only thing I ultimately care about. Some people say, ‘Who says you can do all three?’ And it’s not that I suddenly feel I can do this, it’s that I’m a storyteller,” he said. “I have this story to tell, and then I have to find the medium.”
Title Transfer for The Grove
Florida Theater On Stage reports that the state has reclaimed the title to The Coconut Grove Playhouse from its board of directors.  And while Miami-Dade County continues to pursue its plans of acquiring the property build a new theatre on the site, it may not be as easy as some people think
But the deal would depend on the specific details and requirements that the state puts on the deal. For instance, the law seems to indicate that the purchase must be at a fair market value – a six or seven-digit figure.
Life Goes On
Palm Beach Artspaper is optimistic in the face of the spate of closures.
The past season saw the second shoe drop in Palm Beach County. Boca Raton’s 37-year-old Caldwell Theatre Company closed its doors, soon after Florida Stage ended its operations, and area theatergoers are still reeling from both abrupt losses.

Add Broward County’s now-defunct Promethean Theatre ― or rather subtract it ― and the theatrical landscape is substantially thinner as we head into a new performance season.

On the other hand, Lou Tyrrell’s Theatre at Arts Garage in Delray Beach is back with a full season of new plays, echoing his developmental efforts at Florida Stage. A completely new company, Outré Theatre Co., debuts in Mizner Park in November, where Parade Productions returns for its second season. And Maltz Jupiter Theatre and Palm Beach Dramaworks are readying promising fare, coming off of their most successful seasons ever.
The Strong Silent Type
The Shiny Sheet finds that a play with only two roles actually has a third.
“The set is like a third character in the play,” said J. Barry Lewis, who directs production that opens Palm Beach Dramaworks’ season Oct. 12 in West Palm Beach. “It’s such a powerful visual statement. It speaks volumes as a metaphor.”
In this case, the set is Michael P. Amico's design for Talley's Folly at Palm Beach Dramaworks.  Arts Radio Network has a podcast of Bill Hirschman interviewing J. Barry Lewis about the production.

Speaking of Interviews
Florida Theater On Stage talks with Dom Scott, a New World School of the Arts graduate who just swung through town with the national tour of Rock of Ages.
“Miami is a very diverse cultural hub and… I was exposed to a lot of different people and cultures, and ways of living and ways of thinking,” he said. At Carver Middle School he took several of his regular courses in French. “Many of my peers there were Haitian. Many of my neighbors were Hispanic… and I went to New World where it was all kinds of different people.”

Meanwhile, on the SouthWEST Florida Theatre Scene...
Broadway World reports that the Gulfshore Playhouse is experimenting with "Pay-What-You-Can" previews for their upcoming production of Reza in Rep.
These Pay-What-You-Can previews will provide opportunities for all members of the community to see two Tony Award-winning plays at a professional regional theatre. Half of the proceeds from each performance will benefit two local charities. Both previews will take place at 8 p.m.
It's an interesting idea, if your previews don't tend to sell very well.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

New Theatre: Educating Rita (2 reviews)

New Theatre opened its production of Educating Rita at the Roxy Performing Arts Center on October 12, 2012.
In this sizzling award winning comedy, brash and free spirited hairdresser Rita enrolls at the local university and turns her boozy and burnt-out professor’s life upside down.
Stephen A Chambers directed Peter Haig and Dawn A.A. Plummer.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
...Russell’s 1980 two-character play – better known for the 1983 film – is an incisive, funny and affecting work affirming the possibility of personal resurrection and redemption despite the artificial barriers of class, income and upbringing.

But all of that is fatally muted in the performances of Dawn A.A. Plummer and Peter Haig under Steven A. Chambers’ direction.
Haig is a mystery. It would be hard to imagine better casting. He has proven his skill and insight in a score of performances from his fresh take on the beloved dying teacher in Tuesdays With Morrie to his ethically-challenged patriarch in The Voysey Inheritance to the unlikeable curmudgeon in The Gin Game. We point these out because Haig seemed to be just walking through the first half of the show Sunday afternoon and only got incrementally better in the second half.
Plummer is more lively and endearing, although even she took a while to find her feet. But she came across as cartoonish rather than real until the last two scenes; we were always aware of her acting the role rather than being Rita.

What Plummer and Chambers do pull off believably is Rita’s gradual evolution, so that when Susan enters the office for the last time, we believe she is both a different person and yet the same person we met two and a half hours ago. She also deserves credit for a reasonably convincing accent
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Though Russell’s play is now more than three decades old, its dialogue and themes are timeless enough that director Steven A. Chambers is largely able to pull off setting Educating Rita in the present day.
Frank is supposed to be a wreck on the verge of a career-ending meltdown, but costume coordinator Antoinette Baldwin puts Haig in always-spiffy professor garb, and what is supposed to be his “shaggy” hair is a perfectly coiffed wig. Haig rails or blusters now and then, grimacing and grinning, but he doesn’t go all in with the condescending nastiness and jealous longing that complicate Frank’s character.

Plummer does a decent job with Rita’s Liverpudlian accent, and she’s a likeable presence who gets the audience rooting for Rita to succeed. But her often low-key rendition of Rita the hairdresser doesn’t allow for enough of a contrast with the educated, enlightened, bound-for-success Rita.
New Theatre presents Educating Rita at the Roxy Performing Arts Center through October 28, 2012.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Scene for October 12, 2012

We should have a break in the weather this weekend, according to all the meteorologists; just another sign of the changing season.

Lots of shows playing across South Florida this weekend, including a number of productions for children, and number of collegiate and community theatre offerings.  There really is something for everyone this weekend; be sure to take advantage of the bounty!

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


Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater opens its production of Godspell this weekend.

Palm Beach Dramaworks opens Talley's Folly, kicking off its second season in its mo' bigger theatre on Clematis Street.

New Theatre opens Educating Rita at The Roxy Performing Arts Center.

Teatro en Miami opens TEMfest this weekend, through October 28, at various locations throughout Miami.

you still haven't missed...

Zoetic Stage presents I Am My Own Wife at the Arsht Center through October 21, 2012.

Stage Door Theatre production of The Immigrant  plays at the Byron Carlisle Theatre in Miami Beach through October 28.

A Shayna Maidel continues its twice-extended run at the Broward Stage Door Theatre  through October 28..

coming and going...

Rock of Ages takes a short stop at the Arsht Center, through Sunday, October 14, 2012.

South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center presents the Asolo Repertory Company's production of The Tragedy of Macbeth, Friday October 12 only.

Promoteo Theater reappears October 13 to present Toda desnudez sera castigada  (All Nudity Will Be Punished).

last chance to see...

This is the last weekend to catch Ken Clement's critically acclaimed performance in The Diary of a Madman at Mosaic Theatre it closes this Sunday, October 14, 2012.

Thinking Cap Theatre's production of The All American Genderf*ck Cabaret at Empire Stage closes this Saturday October 13, 2012.

Boca Raton Theatre Guild's production of Sylvia winds up its run at the Willow Theater this Sunday October 14, 2012.

New World School of the Arts offers Balm in Gilead through October 14.

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

conservatory & community...

Miami Acting Company presents Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys at South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, through October 21.

Lake Worth Playhouse presents The King and I through October 21.

Delray Beach Playhouse presents A Talent For Murder through October 21.

How I Learned to Drive plays at Miami Dade College's Kendall Campus through October 21.

RACE plays at Miami-Dade College's North Campus October 12-20.

Tamarac Theatre of Performing Arts presents The Pajama Game, through November 4.

for kids...

Treasure Island plays this Saturday at the Miniaci Performing Arts Center on the campus of Nova Southeast University.

Otherwise Known As Sheila The Great plays Saturday only at the Miramar Cultural Center.

Miami Children's Theater presents Once On This Island at the Robert Russell Theater at the Alper Jewish Community Center, October 12 through 20.

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.