Monday, January 30, 2012

Mondays are Dark

We hope you had a great weekend; we managed to catch the show at Gablestage, and all we can say is that it was fucking awesome.  (That's just for you, Joe.)

Actually, We Can Say This, Too
Terry Teachout, the Broadway theatre critic for The Wall Street Journal,  liked GableStage's production of The Motherfucker with the Hat more than he liked Cynthia Nixon in the Manhattan Theatre Club's production of Wit.  He blogged about the actual trip to Florida on About Last Night.
We were still low enough that I had no trouble picking out the six-story apartment house where I live, a few blocks south of the Cloisters. I held my breath as the familiar landmarks slipped past me, all shrunken to the size of my thumb: Yankee Stadium, Lincoln Center, Central Park, the Empire State Building, the great gash of Ground Zero.
Who is Miss Abigail, Anyway?
Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating and Marriage, opens this week at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts for a brief two performances. This national tour opened in Rochester NY, and makes its first stop in Fort Lauderdale.  Entertainment Weekly  reviewed the off-Broadway production;
...all of Miss Abigail's advice skews a little old school, but that's entirely the point — and also why the script, from the clever minds of Ken Davenport (Altar Boyz) and Sarah Saltzberg (25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), works so well. Press materials describe Plumb's Miss Abigail as ''Dr. Ruth meets Emily Post,'' and it's a spot-on designation.
Unfortunately, the tour doesn't feature Eve Plumb, (who played the hottest of Brady sisters, in our opinion).

Speaking of Ken Davenport
The Broadway Producer who authors The Producer's Perspective tells us how a jaunt to a Connecticut casino led him to this;
We created BroadwayRoadTrip.com, and on Saturday, February 4th, a bus full of people will depart Sturbridge, MA, come to see the Godspell matinee, get a talkback from me, and then return home that night.

My hope and my dream is that they enjoy their day with us so much, that when we ask them if they want to come see another show in a month or two... they’ll fill up another bus again, and bingo, bongo, we’ve got brand new multi-musical buyers.
Arranging bus tours to see shows is nothing new, at least not in Florida; but creating a destination portal to book them is. 

Miami Made
The Miami Herald reports on The Miami-Made Festival 2012, coming in March.
Separated this year from Miami Light Project’s annual Here & Now Festival (which runs Feb. 2-11 at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse), the stand-alone Miami Made is again free.
News Round Ups.
These are articles with too many separate stories to list,  but Florida Theater On Stage has one out, and so does The Drama Queen.

Happy Birthday
The Examiner reports that New Theatre is hosting a birthday party for its managing director Eileen Suarez and artistic direct Ricky J. Martinez on February 8.  We hope it's not a surprise party or not.

Getting it Together
Collaboration is key in producing theatre; Florida Theater On Stage talks with the team behind The Promethean Theatre Company, co-founders Margaret Ledford and Deborah Sherman, about their partnership with Nova Southeast University.
“One of the benefits in synergy with Nova is our proximity to… the young emerging artists and that opens our eyes to more possibilities,” Ledford said. “It also makes us look at our craft harder, and put into words what excited and still excites us and share that with them. (It’s) a fluid exchange of electricity, energy and excitement that can be both initiation and rejuvenation.”
Anyone who has seen a Promethean show can attest to the successful results.

Forward To Your Representatives
Education.com tells us Why Children's Theater Matters, and it's worth forwarding to your state and federal representatives - particularly, if you'll pardon the phrase, if they're Republicans.
...study after study has shown that the arts are more than fluff. Longitudinal data of 25,000 students involved in the arts, conducted at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education by Dr. James Catterall, shows that consistent participation greatly improves academic performance and significantly bumps up standardized test scores. Students who make time for the arts are also more involved in community service, and less likely to drop out of school. And we’re not just talking about upper middle class kids. These facts remain, regardless of a child’s socio-economic background.
Speaking of Children's Theatre
BroadwayWorld.com tells us about Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, opening this week at The Playground Theatre.
In this adaptation, directed by Stephanie Ansin and designed by Fernando Calzadilla, time, space and cultures collide as Alice tackles the challenges of her ever-changing dream world, with video projections enhancing every step of the way. Contemporary costumes, sounds, and objects infuse this classic tale with modern metropolitan Miami life.
You've Already Missed This....
... but The Sun-Sentinel, which can't be bothered to review a milestone production of Next To Normal at Actors' Playhouse, did manage to talk to the creative team of A Woman's World, presented by Infinite Abyss Productions at Empire Stage. It's a local production, performed with local talent; this is as South Florida as you can get.  It closed yesterday.

You can still catch Next to Normal, the Pulitzer-Prize winning play that the Sun-Sentinel can't be bothered to review, at Actors' Playhouse through February 12.

BTW, we're delighted that A Woman's World received this attention; we'd like to see more stories like this in The Sun-Sentinel.  But we expect them to print their own fucking reviews instead of barfing up ones we've already read in the original source.  You want more subscribers?  Write your own damned reviews.

Pardon our French. 

Speaking of South Florida Talent
BroadwayWorld reports that Raul Esparza is coming to The Arsht Center for an encore of his Lincoln Center concert.

They Need A Theatre League of Their Own
The Guardian asks Why Don't Theatres Talk To Each Other?
Last week I popped into the Southbank Centre, looking for a London International Mime festival, assuming I'd easily find one because the venue hosts a number of shows. But I couldn't find one in any of the many displays I found of the venue's own branded publicity and leaflets .
Thanks to the efforts of The Theatre League of South Florida, many companies do have leaflets for shows in other venues on display in their lobbies.   The League's website, South Florida Theatre.com, also has a searchable listings page to help patrons find what's playing. But it's woefully underused at the moment.  The easiest way to be listed on The Scene is to be listed on the League's website.

But we can do more; I know that Mosaic posts recommendations for shows at other theaters while they're dark.  Perhaps theaters in close proximity could develop a discounted ticket to encourage patrons to attend plays at both venues; imagine getting a discount to see a matinee at Actors' Playhouse and an evening show the same day at Gablestage - or vice versa.  Wouldn't it be great to make a day of it?

Speaking of Matched Productions
BroadwayWorld.com notes that both Palm Beach DramaWorks and The Broward Center for the Performing Arts are about to open plays by Lee Hall.  The Pitmen Painters opens at Dramaworks on February 17th, while the National Tour of Billy Elliott The Musical opens at the Broward Center on February 29.  Sounds like an excuse to see both shows to me.  Like you need one.

Make It A Night
2AMTheatre suggests that we facilitate post-show discussion of the night's performance.
An audience of 40 or so watched the movie. Afterwards, most of this group walked from the movie theater to the town’s art gallery, next door, where there was some wine, snacks, and a circle of metal folding chairs. After 10 minutes or so of mingling, we each took a seat in the circle. The two hosts of the evening, the same ones who booked the quality films on Monday nights in this small town, set the simple rules of conversation: we would go around the circle and each speak briefly about our impression of the movie, whether or not we liked it, what we thought. Then we went around the circle a second time, with any concluding thoughts.
Here was a space for setting all of that aside, not just communally in a darkened theater but in a conversation. The movie itself had only done part of that work. The art was only part of the experience. If the lights had come up in the movie theater and, as usually happened, we had all filed into the street with those we had arrived with, the greater connection would not have happened, and the town and the lives of those who live there would be worse for it.
Sounds like something worth considering.

Read more...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Composer Needs Singers

Composer and musical theater playwright Mark Hagan is looking for musical theater performers to perform demos of his work that will lead to national exposure, and hopefully, productions of the work.

He wrote to The Scene:
...I am a composer/musical theatre playwright living in Wellington. I have a few exciting projects that have been in development for several years, but i haven't been able to connect with any musical theatre performers in the area.

If you could post my contact information in your blog or If you know of any performers who might be interested in getting involved, I would be most grateful.
His projects include Ripper, "an original musical based on the Jack the Ripper mystery. The show's website includes a sample of the music, as well as his bio and contact information.

www.RipperMusical.com
www.NAJMrecords.com

Contact MCHM@MCHMmusicals.com if you are interested.

Read more...

Parade Productions: Brooklyn Boy (3 reviews)

Parade Productions launched itself into the South Florida theatre scene with Donald Margulie's Brooklyn Boy, which opened at The Studio at Mizner Park on January 26, 2012.
Brooklyn Boy has been called one of Donald Margulies’ funniest and most moving plays. With sparkling dialogue, humor, and just the right amount of poignancy, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright examines the consequences of success and reminds us that nobody’s journey through life can be made without some bad decisions, wrong directions, or regrets.
Kim St. Leon directed a cast that included Avi Hoffman, Blaze Powers, Jacqueline Laggy, Michael Gioia, Sy Fish, Ryan Didato, and Candace Caplin.

John Thomason reviewed for the Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
Parade Productions, South Florida's newest theater company, premiered its first show in Mizner Park last weekend, but signs indicated that even members of the team weren't entirely happy with the result. During the intermission of Brooklyn Boy, a 2004 dramedy from Donald Margulies, an usher made a point to tell me, out of the blue and in a reassuring tone, that "the second act is more upbeat.
The truth is, both acts are of a piece with each other; they share humor and pathos in equal measures, and they're both decent presentations of a decent play. Brooklyn Boy is, after all, lightweight Margulies, lacking both the penetrating insights on marital life of his Dinner With Friends and the complex moral meditations of his Collected Stories (though it contains faint echoes of both).
As always, Margulies proves expert at cutting through bullshit. Each scene is an examination of the false fronts we put on to appease the people around us, knowing that repressed truths will eventually surface, one way or another... Still, the play's weaknesses are legion. Margulies' allusions to You Can't Go Home Again are all too obvious and clichéd, and even the most flawless production values couldn't save a pitifully sappy metaphysical denouement.
But even when the material was stronger, I wanted more from a production that appears bereft of imagination. Hoffman, onstage every minute, seems to go through the motions, discovering his character's emotional core only in the last two scenes.
It feels labored in part because of the lackluster direction of Kim St. Leon, who too often positions her characters staring blankly through fourth-wall windows, rendering their dialogue all the more theatrical. And with actors tripping over their lines so many times, opening night had the air of a preview performance.
The scene-stealing Gioia, as Eric's onetime friend Ira, does the best job transcending the production's bumps and bruises. His every gesture, stutter, and pained facial expressional resounds with miraculous realism. Praise should also be reserved for Laggy, convincingly portraying a small role that requires opposing emotional currents, and for Powers, an FAU theater student who brings charm, depth, and naturalism to her scene with the seasoned Hoffman.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Hoffman’s performance is one of the virtues in the promising but flawed inaugural offering from Parade Productions, a professional company performing in Mizner Park under the aegis of Artistic Director Kim St. Leon and Executive Producer Candace Caplin. There’s a lot of talent here working very hard, but not a lot of electricity emanating from the elegiac, mildly funny, mildly moving tale.
Bravo to Hoffman for exploring serious roles such as the disillusioned Boomer in GableStage’s Superior Donuts last season. His natural geniality wins over an audience and he makes us see Eric’s shortcomings are outer manifestations of inner angst. Admirably, Hoffman avoids the comedy techniques that he does as well as anyone; the closest he gets are some mild slow burns and looks askance that are perfectly justified.
St. Leon elicits mostly solid performances, notable since all of the parts are far more difficult that they appear. Sy Fish has the hardest role. He makes the father’s injurious comments so thoughtlessly organic that we may resent him, but we understand that he is simply clueless to the pain he is causing.
One sign of how the show sometimes sags is the contrast when Blaze Powers (forgive the pun) jolts the energy level back up with her vivid portrait of the blunt-speaking young woman who happily accompanies Eric back to his room after a book reading. While Margulies makes her the stand-in for everything wrong with the shallow youth culture (“Fiction is so over,” she says), Powers makes the most of when the script gives her three dimensions to play.
Ryan Didato nails a cartoonish character so different than his assistant Ken in Red last fall at GableStage. Margulies, St. John and Didato deliver one surprise as Tyler reveals he actually has acting chops.

The weakest performance comes from Caplin as a stereotypical.. caricature of a driving Hollywood producer... Caplin lacks the essential whipsnap speed and bite... The tempo and energy of the play sags badly at this crucial moment in the second act.
The whole production has a professional feel under St. Leon’s leadership. This extends from David Sabel’s sound design to Sean McClelland’s scenic design set against the iconic vision of the brick stanchions and metal cables of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Though the company is new, the talent involved in this inaugural production mostly consists of seasoned South Florida theater professionals.
Kim St. Leon, the company’s artistic director (Caplin is its executive director), is a smart veteran director. And set designer Sean McClelland has done a deft job of creating the play’s multiple locations against the symbolic backdrop of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Brooklyn Boy has some funny moments, but Hoffman – a double Carbonell Award nominee for his 2011 performances in Superior Donuts at GableStage and Hairspray at Actors’ Playhouse – isn’t playing a comic role here. That fact seemed to throw some of his more chatty fans on opening night, but Hoffman is a solid serious actor whose proven musical and comedic abilities aren’t his only tools.
Brooklyn Boy, which could benefit from some judicious trimming, isn’t the greatest play from a man whose work also includes Sight Unseen, Collected Stories and Time Stands Still )a play that will be produced at GableStage in May). But it certainly contains resonant, sobering truths, and is a promising debut for Parade Productions.
Parade Production's Brooklyn Boy will play through February 12, 2012.

Read more...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Kravis Center: Divorce Party The Musical (reviews)

Divorce Party the Musical opened at The Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts  on January 27, 2012.
Still reeling from her divorce, Linda is rescued by her three friends who have come to turn her despair into a weekend of hilarity. Using popular songs with clever new lyrics, the ladies sing and dance their way through the wildest divorce party ever. From the Producer who brought you the off-Broadway hit Menopause the Musical, it’s the ultimate Girls’ Night Out, coupled with a healthy dose of comic mayhem and a touch of “naughty.”
Jay Falzone directed a cast that included Janna Cardia, Janet Dickenson, Felicia Finley, Soara-Joye Ross, Stacey Todd Holt, Scott Ahearn, Andrea Conte, and Samara Dunn.

Jan Sjostrom reviewed for the Palm Beach Daily News:
Granted, Divorce Party: The Musical is being performed for the first time at the Kravis Center’s Rinker Playhouse. There are bound to be wrinkles that need to be ironed out.

The first thing this show needs is a significant trim. It’s as though creators Mark Schwartz, Amy Botwinick and Jay Falzone, who’s also the show’s lyricist, director and choreographer, couldn’t figure out what to cut, so they left everything in.
The trouble is that there’s really not enough wit in this show to keep it from being kitschy and simple-minded. There are times when it’s downright crass — as when the male character appears dressed as a vibrator. To top it off, the show wanders off into discordant cheerleading about the value of sisterhood and self-worth. The performers, who are competent singers, dancers and actors, deserve better.
There are some bright moments. Oddly, both deal with ex-husbands, rather than the sisterhood. In one, Carolyn (Felicia Finley) imagines her ex-husband pouring out his heart to a pal to the tune Feelings. Ahearn plays that with just right touch of irony.
Hap Erstein reviewed for Palm Beach ArtsPaper;
Divorce Party The Musical seems cynically devised to attract the Menopause audience and cash in on that earlier show’s success. It too relies on parody lyrics to existing pop songs to celebrate female empowerment.
As with Menopause The Musical, director/lyricist Jay Falzone opts for fairly predictable rhymes and rarely develops anything past the single joke of the initial verse. In truth, none of the audience members I observed seemed to mind the uninspired writing.

Perhaps the most annoying thing about Divorce Party is that the audience appeared to be adequately entertained by it, so there is reason to believe it could become as successful as Menopause.
Divorce Party the Musical plays at The Kravis Center's Rinker Playhouse through February 19, 2012.

Read more...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Scene for January 27, 2012

A lot of great shows closing this week;  if you've been putting off seeing them...see them now!  It'll be a while before you see The Effects of Gamma Rays  or Urinetown again; and while someone might do Cabaret in the next year or two, it won't be anywhere near what they've done with this one.

But there are also some exciting things opening, and a lot of great plays to see.


opening...

Parade Productions launches itself into the theatre scene with Brooklyn Boy, its first production at The Studio at Mizner Park.

The Stage Door opens Neil Simon's Last of the Red Hot Lovers at its Coral Springs location.


you still haven't missed...

The critics are raving about Next to Normal at Actors' Playhouse. It plays through February 12, 2012.

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity plays at the Caldwell Theatre Company through February 12, 2012.  Another favorite with the critics!

Snoopy! The Musical plays at Area Stage through February 5, 2012.

The GableStage's critically acclaimed production of The Motherfucker with the Hat plays through February 5, 2012.

Laffing Matterz plays the Broward Center's Abdo New River Room, for its third season of dinner and comedy.


last chance to see...

The Slow Burn Theatre Company production of Urinetown plays at the West Boca Performing Arts Theater through January 29, 2012.

The Theatre Scene's current most-reviewed play is Palm Beach DramaWorks' critically lauded production of The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-on-the-Moon Marigolds, which winds up its run this January 29.

The Prisoner of Second Avenue finishes at the Broward Stage Door Theatre on January 29, 2012.

Cabaret plays that the Maltz Jupiter Theatre through January 29, 2012.

Infinite Abyss Productions winds up its original production of Snow White Trash at Empire Stage on January 28, 2012. 

Infinite Abyss Productions other show, A Woman's World, also at Empire Stage, ends on January 29.


passing through...

Shakespeare Miami offers up its yearly outdoor offering; A Midsummer Night's Dream.  It plays this weekend at Shell Lumber in Coconut Grove, and The Young Circle Amphitheater in Hollywood the following weekend. 

Soul Doctor: Journey of a Rock-Star Rabbi finishes at Fort Lauderdale's Parker Playhouse  January 29.

The smash hit Jersey Boys plays on in the Au-Rene Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through January 29, 2012.

Divorce Party: The Musical plays at the Kravis Center's Rinker Playhouse through February 19, 2012.



for kids...

Actors' Playhouse offers Alexander, Who's Not Not Not Not Not Going to Move! through March 9, 2012.

Sol Children's Theatre Troupe presents Narnia the Musical through February 5.

Snow White: An Enchanting Musical
plays at Showtime Dance and Performing Arts Theatre through March 10.

Read more...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mondays are Dark

We've been busy collating all the reviews that have been pouring in all week, but we still managed to pull together your Monday reading list.

On Brooklyn Boy in Boca
The Palm Beach Post talks with actor Avi Hoffman and director Kim St. Leon about the upcoming Broadway Boy, which launches Parade Productions in a couple of weeks.

Speaking of Avi
TheatreMania reports that Boynton Beach Club: A New Musical in Concert is set to play at the Park Vista Theatre next month.  It took us a few moments to realize that this is the theater at Park Vista High School that was home to Avi Hoffman's late New Vista Theatre Company.

New Tour
Broadway World tells us about the national tour of Miss Abigails Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage!, which started in Rochester NY and makes its first stop at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

South Florida Represents I
Miami Children's Theater headed up to Atlanta to participate in The Junior Theater Festival, and Groundlings was in their company.
On Friday (the 13th of course) a bunch of MCT kids, directors and chaperones got on a morning flight to Atlanta for the Junior Theater Festival.  JTF is an awesome yearly event that's sponsored by MTI, the amazing agency that licenses all kinds of shows including the growing Broadway Junior Collection. 
South Florida Represents II
The Drama Queen tells us about some other South Floridians heading out of state; Dave Barry has a musical opening on Broadway (we are not making this up!), and the legendary Barbara Lowery is being honored at The Sundance Film Festival.

South Florida Collaborates
The Roxy Theatre Blog talks about how the Roxy Theatre Group is working with the Greater Miami Youth Symphony to present How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

A Kwiat Moment
Miami Artzine shares some of the poetry of David Kwiat, actor, theatre professor, writer, and, well, poet.

A Tale of Two Plays
Palm Beach Arts Paper examines two plays that opened last week (Love, Loss and What I Wore at Parker Playhouse, and Divorce Party The Musical at Kravis Center), and comes to a not-so-startling conclusion:
Love, Loss’ minor, but it’s Shakespeare compared to ‘Divorce Party.
Ouch.

South Florida Gay News talks with Divorce Party's creator, Jay Falzone
Falzone describe the show as a parody about a phenomenon that has swept the country in recent years, divorce parties. In this new show, three women throw their own divorce party for a longtime friend who recently divorced...
The result is a show packed with plenty of comic mayhem and even a touch of “naughty,” as the characters, including one who is a lesbian, go through this new ritual to move forward with their lives.
Back with Broadway, Soon In Broward
BroadwayWorld.com reports that Seth Rudetsky's Broadway Chatterbox is back with all new interviews with Broadway celebrities.  Rudetsky is coming to the Broward Center with his Big Fat 70's Show in April, where he'll also give a master class on auditioning.

A List of its Own
South Florida Theatre News seems to have started a reading list of its own, the Actors' Blog Watch.

Meanwhile...
...in Miami, the Coconut Grove Playhouse is still closed.  Miami Today reports that it will be discussed by the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners on February 7.
According to Jorge Luis Lopez, an attorney representing the playhouse, the state has asked the county to work to expedite renovations on the theater. It asked that the county transfer ownership to the state, the former owner of the playhouse, should delays continue. Before the county can assume control of the playhouse and begin renovations it must agree to appropriate $20 million in existing designated funds toward the project and settle outstanding title issues
...in Palm Beach, the Royal Poinciana Playhouse is still closed.  The Palm Beach Daily News reports that an inspection of the property, carried out by order of the Landmarks Preservation Commission two weeks ago, may not have been legal.
Trouble is, commissioners stepped on shaky ground when they authorized such an interior inspection, because there was no prior evidence that neglect was taking its toll, Town Attorney John “Skip” Randolph told the board this week. That would typically involve a code-inspection officer or, perhaps, another official observing evidence that a structural problem likely exists.

“Structural” is a key word here, Mr. Randolph warned. Whether or not any problem inside the building might prevent it from being reopened as a theater — a question of the building’s “use” — is beyond the commission’s purview.
I hope they sell peanuts at the commission meetings, because it sounds like it's a real circus up there.

Read more...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Slow Burn Theatre: Urinetown (3 reviews)

Slow Burn Theatre Company opened its production of Urinetown on January 20, 2012.
Urinetown? What kind of musical is that? Well, it's just one of the most uproariously funny musicals in recent years, that's all! And don't let the title fool you - it's rated PG!! In a time when evil corporations control the world's toilets, a revolutionary hero emerges to save mankind from their wicked grip. An inspired, exuberant, wickedly funny romp with a Tony-winning musical score. This one is sure to be the talk of the town! My town! YOUR town! Urinetown!
Patrick Fitzgerald directed a cast that included Matthew Korinko, Jaimie Kautzmann, Larry Buzzeo, Cindy Pearce, Daniel Schwab,  and Lindsey Forgey.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Slow Burn Theatre’s production of Urinetown the Musical marks another milestone in the young troupe’s evolution as a reliable purveyor of edgy, offbeat musical theater that few other mainstream companies have the courage to produce.
Urinetown qualifies as perhaps their strongest overall production with a corps of strong voices delivering production numbers with verve, witty performers who know how to put across deadpan comic lines, solid musical direction by Manny Schvartzman, and above all, inventive staging and choreography by Slow Burn co-founder Patrick Fitzwater.
Slow Burn also has a talent for finding talent we’ve never heard of but will make a point of watching for in the future. The find in this show is Cindy Pearce as the pee palace proprietor Penelope Pennywise , a short and stout dynamo with a clarion Merman-like singing voice and a Mae West swagger. The way she snaps out the name, Bobby (Bahb-bay), at every opportunity with an exaggerated topspin is hilarious in and of itself.
We feel we have to point out that Cindy Pearce has appeared in a large number of children's shows around South Florida in the last few years.  It's not the first time Bill has pronounced an old hand to be a new discovery (Amy Anderson springs to mind); the reality is that there's a lot of great talent working on shows that reviewers never manage to see.  Just sayin'.
...the cast is filled with solid performers: Daniel Schwab as the hero who does a mean gospel roof-raiser, Run Freedom Run; Slow Burn co-founder Matthew Korinko as the droll narrator Officer Lockstock; Larry Buzzeo who graduates from Slow Burn’s flamboyant Dr. Frank N. Furter to the stylishly smooth Cladwell.. Nova Southeastern University student Jaimie Kautzmann in the linchpin role of an obviously grown up “Little” Sally; and Slow Burn vet Lindsey Forgey as the slightly naïve but ever earnest heroine Hope.
Slow Burn was given a Silver Palm Award last month as Outstanding New Emerging Theater Company. Urinetown just underscores the wisdom of that call.
John Lariviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway:
A five-piece orchestra accompanies a well sung show, and Patrick Fitzwater again provides very clean direction. He gets the comic style of the musical across with panache. The production also benefits from strong lighting and sound design by Lance Blank and Traci Almeida.

Matthew Korinko has a wonderful comedic touch as Officer Lockstock. His aside moments with Jamie Kautzmann as Little Sally are some of the funniest in the show, and also important in establishing the feel of musical. Jason Edelstein as Lockstock's sidekick, Officer Barrel, admirably finds a way to make an odd role interesting with his jittery, home-boy portrayal. Daniel Schwab does a nice job as the scruffy, under-dog Bobby Strong. Lindsey Forgey as Hope Caldwell is one of the strongest actors in the show, as she really gets all of her comic moments. Cindy Pearce is hysterical as Penelope Pennywise. She milks every possible double-take, double-entendre, entrance and exit in a nearly scene-stealing performance that makes it hard to watch anyone else when she is on stage.

This production of Urinetown is sheer fun from start to finish.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Urinetown had its South Florida premiere in 2007 at Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables, earning three Carbonell Awards. Now Slow Burn Theatre in west Boca Raton is delivering its version of a funny, thought-provoking musical that isn’t all that shocking, the cringe-worthy title notwithstanding.
Slow Burn director-choreographer Patrick Fitzwater has assembled a large, young-skewing cast that collectively delivers the powerhouse vocal goods under the fine musical direction of Emmanuel Schvartzman  ...the story gets told (and well sung) on Ian T. Almeida’s facility-filled set.
Matthew Korinko, Slow Burn’s co-artistic director and the company’s frequent star, is impressive as the comically villainous Officer Lockstock... Buzzeo is a gleefully over the top Cladwell, Cindy Pearce his female match (with Mae West overtones) as potty operator Penelope Pennywise. Lindsey Forgey is high-kicking and sweet-voiced as Hope Cladwell, the UGC “heiress” who falls for not-so-bad-boy Bobby.
Slow Burn is a musical theater company with moxie.... Sometimes, the choices tax Slow Burn’s resources, but somehow Fitzwater and Korinko manage to deliver musicals that entertain, provoke or do both. With Urinetown, Slow Burn demonstrates again it’s a company that is definitely heating up.
The Slow Burn Theatre Company production of Urinetown plays at the West Boca Performing Arts Theater through January 29, 2012.

Read more...

Stage Door Theatre: The Prisoner of Second Avenue (2 reviews)

The Stage Door Theatre opened its production of The Prisoner of Second Avenue at the Byron Carlyle Theatre in Miami Beach on November 4, 2011.  The show ran through November 27, and then re-located to their Coral Springs location for a December 23rd opening.
New York City is in the middle of the worst heat wave in decades, and a garbage strike is in full swing.   Mel Edison is being driven crazy by the two stewardesses who live next door and their all night parties.  Just when he thinks it couldn’t get any worse, he gets robbed, and his psychiatrist dies with $23,000.00 of his money. Don’t miss this wildly funny Neil Simon comedy..
W.F. Wilson directed a cast that included Dan Kelley, Derelle Bunn, Bob Levitt, Phyllis Spear, Gail Byer, and Margie Elias Eisenberg.

John Lariviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway:
At the time this admittedly dark comedy was written, the improbability of all that befalls the Edisons is what made it comical. It was a time when the corporate world was strong and companies did not just go out of business overnight. Today the tale is one told all over the United States. An upside-down housing market, high unemployment, companies cutting benefits, retirement funds disappearing, Occupy Wall Street, and a recession that is not yet over make The Prisoner of Second Avenue a far darker comedy than originally intended.

As the downtrodden Mel, Dan Kelley wrings out every possible ounce of comedy in his performance. His rubber-faced antics, character quirks, and fast-paced responses help lighten the play considerably... Bob Levitt as Mel's brother Harry has a nice moment in the second act when he scrapes off a bit of his crusty nature to reveal his feelings about Mel for probably the first time in his life. Phyllis Spear, Gail Byer and Margie Elias Eisenberg are well cast as the three sisters. They titter like birds sitting on a fence as they speak over one another with the comfortable familiarity born of long acquaintance.

Derelle Bunn as Edna conveys a warmth and affection for Mel amidst all he concern for his mental health. Both actors thankfully find the bittersweet humor of the play in the last scene. It is Neil Simon's version of survival by merely laughing through it all.

Ron Hagwood wrote for The Sun-Sentinel:
Imagine someone — today — dropped a bucket of water on you from the 1970s and the first thought you had was, "Wow, that water is still bracing after 40 years."

That's kind of how you might feel watching The Prisoner of Second Avenue at Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs.
"The Prisoner of Second Avenue" really hums along when it's just Mel and Edna in the first act. Simon's dialogue comes at such a rapid pace and Kelley has a real knack for blending punch lines seamlessly into the dialogue so it all avoids hokeyness. Bunn takes a while to ramp up, but hits it solidly by the second act, which may perhaps be more due to the script than the decisions of director W.F. Wilson.

Aaah, the second act. That's when Simon — normally a very canny writer — sends in the cavalry, even if the plot hardly needed a rescue. I would have loved to watch Mel and Edna bat it around a bit more, just the two of them. Instead we get Mel's brother and three sisters for a funny, if not an altogether unnecessary, intervention
The Prisoner of Second Avenue plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through January 29, 2012.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Actors' Playhouse: Next To Normal (4 reviews)

Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theater opened its production of the Pulitzer Prize winning musical Next to Normal on January 20, 2012.
One family is about to face the music. Next to Normal is an emotional powerhouse of a musical about a family trying to take care of themselves and each other. It is about one woman's struggle with manic depression and the toll it takes on her family. Next to Normal's surging score is intense, emotional and ultimately hopeful of how the family comes to terms with their past and faces their future. A truly remarkable, moving and powerful new musical.
David Arisco directed a cast that included Jodi Langel, Mark Sanders, Eddy Roiseco, Sarah Amengual, Nick Duckart, and Ben Liebert.

Roger Martin reviewed for Miami Artzine:
Every piece of music in next to normal is listenable...and enjoyable. And that's an awesome feat in modern musicals. And every line of dialogue rings true, because its written that way and because almost every line is sung beautifully by the terrific cast at Actors' Playhouse.
Jodie Langel, Mark Sanders, Nick Duckart, Sarah Amengual, Ben Liebert and Eddy Rioseco are simply bloody marvellous. As each enters you think ah, good, more pleasure. Such great theatre.

Eric Alsford leads musicians Martha Spangler, Roy Fantel, Sandy Poltarack. Elena Alamilla, Bogdan Chrusczc and Jill Sheer through an evening of gorgeous listening. And many, many thanks to sound designer Alexander Herrin who kept the levels and mix exactly right. Every word, every note, perfectly clear.
John Lariviere reviewed for Talkin' Broadway:
Jodie Langel's portrayal of Diana is an acting triumph of beauty and pain... Sarah Amengual turns in a strong performance as her attention-starved teenage daughter Natalie...
...the level of musicianship displayed by every member of the cast is worthy of praise. They demonstrate a real understanding of sharing their musical space. As vocal melodies and themes overlap and weave together, they are mindful of dynamic shaping, so that the most important line is always the one that is heard. Such contentious ensemble singing is rare, and both the ensemble and music director Eric Alsford deserve credit for performing a difficult score so well.
Next To Normal is not standard musical theatre fare. The dark and disturbing nature of the storyline rules this show out as an appropriate choice for children, teens or even a date... As oppressive as this may be, it succeeds powerfully in wringing empathy from the audience, effectively creating a memorable if disturbing theatrical experience.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Easily among the finest shows the company has presented in its long history, the musical by composer Tom Kitt and lyricist-playwright Brian Yorkey offers an intense examination of a woman’s struggle with bipolar disorder and the familial toll that fight takes. This is musical theater as serious as it is glorious, an insightful and moving drama that happens to be exquisitely sung.
Kitt’s music, so beautifully performed by the onstage orchestra led by musical director Eric Alsford at the baby grand, taps into rock idioms on songs like Make Up Your Mind/Catch Me I’m Falling, the angry Superboy and the Invisible Girl and the defiant I’m Alive. But the score also boasts the tender waltz I Dreamed a Dance, as well as ballads and contemporary theater songs that paint a harrowing portrait of a family in crisis.
Director David Arisco has assembled a cast and production team that serves this challenging, illuminating show in every way. The “family” members, plus Ben Liebert as Natalie’s would-be boyfriend Henry and Nick Duckart as two of the many doctors who try to hit on just the right treatment for Diana, have Broadway-quality voices that blend exquisitely. Alexander Herrin’s sound design is a triumph of clarity, blend and moment-to-moment levels that help make a complex show completely comprehensible.

The performances, particularly Langel’s brilliant portrayal of the passionate, suffering Diana, are on par with the best work you can find at the country’s top regional theaters, in exceptional touring companies or in first-rate New York shows. This production really is that good, that special.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Artistic Director David Arisco long ago proved his expertise at staging mainstream crowd-pleasers and there’s nothing wrong with a purely entertaining evening.

But next to normal and a handful of atypically adventurous Actors Playhouse productions show that Arisco can mount sublime theater when he is inspired by challenging material and is teamed with equally skilled colleagues.
...every aspect – the magnificent acting, the adroit direction, the music, the lyrics, the band, the lights, the sound – all seem transformed into the unified yearning of an outstretched arm reaching for salvation.
Musical director Eric Alsford has longed to do this show since seeing it, twice, on Broadway, and he makes the most of this opportunity. The score often involves two or even all six actors singing differing melody lines or harmonies or vocal accompaniments. Alsford smoothly melds them like streams feeding into a single waterfall, yet with the separate streams still identifiable.
Every single (cast member) is superb and clearly in love with the work – fine strong singers who lace their voices with passion and their acting with a recognizable humanity.
First among equals is Langel... This is a killer role both in its emotional demands and its vocal requirements, but she is up to it.
Sanders is perfect as the stolid if solid spouse... His warm baritone, often pushed into the falsetto stratosphere to express anxiety, gives the entire show a grounding. His penultimate number “I Am The One,” a duet with Gabe, is shattering.
Amengual has a preternatural talent for such a young woman. She has an expressive angelic voice living alongside an actor’s talent... She is fine throughout, but the intelligence, fury and angst she invests in “Superboy and the Invisible Girl” is a standout moment.
Rioseco is equally impressive as a joyfully anarchic tempter and destabilizer...  His rendition of the blazing “I’m Alive” is, no pun intended, electrifying.
The creative team members are all Actors’ veterans, but this is some of their best work. Patrick Tennent’s lighting is a marvel of the art... Ellis Tillman’s costumes, seeming simple, perfectly express character. Gene Seyffer’s jungle gym setting of the bones of a house, made up of pipes and platforms, is as if an X-ray has exposed what goes on in the suburban house next door.
Special kudos are due to sound designer Alexander Herrin. After the disastrous sound at last fall’s Hairspray, the sound here is as crisp, clean and comprehensible as the aging hall, the cacophonous score and the singers’ sometimes imperfect diction allowed.
A last kudo to producers Barbara and Larry Stein for taking a huge risk with such a powerful and thought-provoking work.
Next to Normal plays at Actors' Playhouse through February 12, 2012.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Arsht Center: NE 2nd Avenue (reviews)

Teo Castellanos' NE 2nd Avenue played at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts for a short run, January 18 through January 21, 2012.
Voted Best Solo Performance by Miami New Times and Edinburgh Fringe Festival Winner, NE 2nd Avenue conveys the profoundly rich and textured mix of real Miami neighborhoods.

The emotional, often humorous one-man play depicts the lives of a Puerto Rican small time drug dealer, a deprived African-American young lady, a Haitian jitney driver, a Cuban-Jewish grandfather, Rasta Man, African American adolescent trying to find his footing in life, a Cuban rafter and a gay man, who each take the audience on a memorable journey through the intense streets of Miami.
Michael John Garcés directed playwright Teo Castellanos in his one-man show.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Now Castellanos has returned to his breakthrough piece for a too-short run in the Carnival Studio Theater at Miami’s Arsht Center. The venue, which didn’t exist when he created his play, seems fated to host it: After all, the west side of the building that contains the Carnival Studio Theater is on the street that gives NE 2nd Avenue its title.
Castellanos, simply switching hats, shoes, accents and his physicality, morphs into eight characters the young man meets on a journey that will take him from Wynwood to North Miami.
Castellanos, who looks the same and moves as easily as he did a decade ago, has altered and updated the show a bit, mentioning such things as Art Basel and President Obama. Certainly, life along NE Second Avenue and in the larger world has changed in myriad ways over the past 10 years. But the playwright-performer and his insightful, multicultural Miami-made play are as engaging as ever.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Teo Castellanos’ shape-shifting depiction of eight denizens of Miami’s polyglot culture in NE 2nd Avenue is remarkable for how his body language physically defines radically different people.

But far more remarkable is his mastery of these diverse characters’ idiosyncratic sound: the vocabulary, the rhythms, the intonations and timbres – each resulting in a unique music.
This one-man show at the Arsht Center, funny and profound literally at the same time, is a sociological-anthropological field trip as if Castellanos was a hip-hop Margaret Mead. It takes us on a tour of the adjacent neighborhoods on the titular boulevard highlighted by encounters with a variety of inhabitants.
This entry in the Arsht’s campaign to produce local shows, Theater Up Close, is only here through Saturday but the shows may be sold out.
NE 2nd Avenue plays at the Arsht Center through January 21, 2012.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Scene for January 20, 2012

The Carbonell Award Nominations are out, and there's a lot of pleased hubbub about how many smaller companies made the cut this year; the awards ceremony will be April 2 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, so save the date!

In the meantime, here are the entries for next year's Carbonell Awards....


opening...

The much anticipated Next to Normal opens at Actors' Playhouse.

Slow Burn Theatre opens its production of Urinetown this weekend.

Infinite Abyss Productions opens A Woman's World at Empire Stage, through January 29.  It's running in conjunction with Snow White Trash, so you can make a night of it.


you still haven't missed...

Snoopy! The Musical plays at Area Stage through February 5, 2012.

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity plays at the Caldwell Theatre Company through February 12, 2012.

Cabaret plays that the Maltz Jupiter Theatre through January 29, 2012.

Infinite Abyss Productions presents its original production of Snow White Trash at Empire Stage, through January 28, 2012. 

Palm Beach DramaWorks critically lauded production of The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-on-the-Moon Marigolds plays through January 29.

The GableStage's critically acclaimed production of The Motherfucker with the Hat plays through February 5, 2012.

The Prisoner of Second Avenue plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through January 29, 2012.

Laffing Matterz plays the Broward Center's Abdo New River Room, for its third season of dinner and comedy.


last chance to see...

The Entr'Acte Theatrix production of Godspell winds up at the Borland Center for the Performing Arts this weekend.


passing through...

NE 2nd Avenue makes a dash through the Arsht Center.

Love, Loss, and What I Wore  plays at the Parker Playhouse through January 22, 2012.

Women Fully Clothed plays the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, one night only, January 19.

The smash hit Jersey Boys plays on in the Au-Rene Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through January 29, 2012.


Divorce Party: The Musical plays at the Kravis Center's Rinker Playhouse through February 19, 2012.




for kids...

Actors' Playhouse offers Alexander, Who's Not Not Not Not Not Going to Move! through March 9, 2012.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Parker Playhouse: Love, Loss, and What I Wore (reviews)

The National Tour of Nora and Delia Ephron's Love Loss, and What I Wore opened at the Parker Playhouse on January 17, 2012.
Finally a play that dares to ask: “Can’t we all just stop pretending anything is ever going to be the new black?” LOVE, LOSS, AND WHAT I WORE opens the closet on this and other sartorial queries by using clothes as a metaphor for matters far deeper than the average walk-in closet. This intimate collection of stories by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron is based on the best-seller by Ilene Beckerman, as well as on the recollections of the Ephrons’ friends.
Karen Carpenter directed an all-star cast including Emily Dorsch, Daisy Eagan, Sonia Manzano, Loretta Swit and Myra Lucretia Taylor. Produced by Daryl Roth.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Like The Vagina Monologues, the play features performers who sit at music stands with the script in front of them, allowing actresses to do short runs of the show without having to learn lines or memorize movement.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no acting going on in Love, Loss and What I Wore. Far from it.
Swit, slender, pale and chic, plays the engaging Gingy, a woman of a certain age and the gal who ties the evening together... Charting the ups and downs of Gingy’s life, Swit is always a radiant presence.
Eagan and Dorsch have a lovely, touching scene in which they play brides searching for the perfect outfit for their special day. Manzano, so well known as Maria on Sesame Street, gets two particularly pithy characters, one a politician with a rebellious past, the other a breast cancer survivor. The chameleonic Taylor is poignant as she shares a story about the meaning of a bathrobe, grandly hilarious as she sputters out a tale about her problems with purses.

Love, Loss and What I Wore, which had intermittent ear-splitting sound problems on opening night, doesn’t have the depth, emotional resonance or writing quality of The Vagina Monologues. But a versatile cast and relatable subject make for an enjoyable 90 minutes of theater.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
The evening features five women telling 90 minutes of stories, touching and uproarious, about how everything from Birkenstock shoes to an old bathrobe provide the touchstones of the authors’ lives. It often seems less theater so much as eavesdropping on a dish-fest that lingers over coffee in a restaurant after a two-hour lunch.
Helmed by director Karen Carpenter, the five women interact with each other, portray secondary characters in someone else’s story, often fire off examples of a theme like “The Closet” in what sometimes seems like a choral performance of contrapuntal voices. They also pay attention to each other, smiling as broadly at the tales as the audience members.
Beckerman’s ongoing story, told by Swit and augmented with her own drawings, is interrupted and enhanced with recollections written by 18 other women including Rosie O’Donnell, Alex Witchel, Mary Rodgers and Merrill Markoe. Other than Swit, each actress plays women of different ages, ethnicities and social backgrounds. Each tells their stories with a savor in their voice usually reserved for gourmet food.
...easily the high spot was the routine about how purses reflect the interior disorder of their owners’ lives. Taylor’s perfectly cadenced and paced storytelling was uninterrupted hilarity.
But the evening also ties clothing to more sober occasions such as Manzano’s  story of a woman who faces a mastectomy dressed to the nines to reaffirm her control and dignity, and whose imagining of a lacy white bra got her through reconstructive surgery.
Love, Loss and What I Wore is a surprisingly satisfying evening in the theater of reaffirming self-recognition.
Love, Loss, and What I Wore  plays at the Parker Playhouse through January 22, 2012.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Promethean Theatre: Boeing-Boeing (4 reviews)

The Promethean Theatre opened its production of Boeing-Boeing at the Nova Southeastern University Don Taft University Center Black Box Theatre on January 13, 2012.
The uproarious jet-propelled comedy that had audiences and critics cheering in London and on Broadway in a 2008 Tony-winning production, is coming in for a landing on the TPT stage!

Revived on Broadway in 2008, this 1960's French farce features self-styled Parisian lothario Bernard, who has international fiancees, each beautiful airline hostesses with frequent "layovers". He keeps "one up, one down and one pending" until unexpected schedule changes bring all three to Paris and Bernard's apartment at the same time. Grab your boarding pass for a rollicking good time.
Margaret Ledford directed a cast that included Sally Bondi, Lauren Butler, Matthew William Chizever, Mark Duncan, Monica Lynne Herrera, and Rachel Lomax.

John Thomason wrote for The Broward/Palm Beach New Times:
Margaret Ledford directs the play like the perpetual-motion machine that it is, but this oft-staged classic isn't as manic or zany as the best farces (think Lend Me a Tenor, Noises Off). A strong ensemble sells the familiar material with gusto and good humor. Chizever plays Bernard like an old Jack Lemmon archetype — flushed, flustered, and reaching the end of his tether. Rachel Lomax generates the most laughs as Bernard's Teutonic paramour, and Mark Duncan steals many scenes as his impossibly anxious estranged friend turned partner in crime. Only Sally Bondi, as Bernard's maid, fails to meet expectations, with an inconsistent French accent that leaves on a jet plane whenever it pleases.
J.W. Arnold reviewed for South Florida Gay News:
The challenge with farce is timing and, under the direction of Margaret Ledford, the cast is largely successful with the gags as one girl emerges the instant another is shoved unwillingly out the door. But, despite a brisk pace, the play—two acts and nearly two and a half hours with intermission—labors on at times and could benefit from some editing. It’s a 30-minute TV sitcom on steroids and we all know that steroids sometimes have some unintended side effects.
Chizever is a dashing Bernard, but it’s the deadpan performances from Duncan and Bondi that steal the show as his unenthusiastic co-conspirators. Butler, Herrera and especially the jack-booted Lomax also provide plenty of laughs, all dressed in their stylish period airline uniforms, courtesy of costume designer Ellis Tillman.
Until Mad Men returns to the airwaves in March, Boeing Boeing is the best option to get your retro fix, farce or not.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald, but starts off with a qualifier;
Some folks love farce. Others think farce belongs in a category with mimes, interactive theater and root canals: things we know exist but wouldn’t jump to experience. With a few exceptions... I’m with the latter group.
And now on to the review:
Director Margaret Ledford tries mightily to keep the play airborne on Kelly Berry’s swingin’ ‘60s set. The actors push hard to achieve the physical comedy farce requires, but too much of the movement looks strained or uncomfortable rather than artfully choreographed.
Chizever and Bondi, two very good actors, are out of their element here. His Bernard comes off as a blustering bull in a china shop, and her Bertha (sporting a pitiful French accent) is more bored beatnik than wily housekeeper. Butler’s Gloria and Herrera’s Gabriella are so over-the-top obnoxious that their “charms” remain thoroughly hidden. Only the lanky Lomax and milquetoast Duncan make their odd-couple characters work.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Promethean and its house director Margaret M. Ledford, best known for thought-provoking dramas and campy summer musicals, enter new territory with an out and out comedy that requires skill and discipline. As proven by the copious laughter in the hall, they acquit themselves well.

There’s a nagging indefinable something missing that would make it a home run. Maybe it’s a tautness, that feeling of an intricate watch spring whirring. It even sags a few times. But overall, Ledford and the cast deliver as entertaining a comedy as we’ve likely seen this season.
Duncan gives Robert a sad-sack puppy dog expression that bespeaks a virginal loneliness. He starts just a little too nebbishy to be credible and his character’s reticence slows down the first fifth of the play. But when the plot heats up and Duncan has developments to react to, so does his performance.
Chizever puts across a carefree confidence in the early scenes and then the appropriately unhinged terror as it all comes apart. Bondi is just okay here as the put-upon, muttering maid.
The women are as delightful as they are lovely. Herrera is soon to graduate from Nova Southeastern University... But she seems much older and more experienced an actress with her creation of the Italian spitfire who smolders and rages at her fiancé’s inexplicable behavior.

Butler, a recent Nova grad, is terribly funny as the supremely self-possessed, aggressive and lusciously sexy partner – a 1960 adolescent’s fantasy.

But the standout in the entire cast is the tall, willowy Lomax who chews up the scenery and everything else in sight with her wonderfully way over-the-top characterization...  Her performance underscores the tone of the rest of the show: Boeing Boeing is a comical Rat Pack Roadrunner cartoon.
The Promethean Theatre production of Boeing-Boeing plays at the Nova Southeastern University Don Taft University Center Black Box Theatre through January 29, 2012.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Area Stage: Snoopy!The Musical (3 reviews)

Area Stage Company opened its production of Snoopy! The Musical on January 14, 2012.
Join Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty, and the rest of the Peanuts gang in a romp through the struggles and joys that they endure in their daily life. With a wonderful cast of the characters you know and love, Snoopy! The Musical is a fun, kind hearted show that is great for the whole family!

Snoopy is a musical comedy by Larry Grossman and Hal Hackady, with a book by Warren Lockhart, Arthur Whitelaw, and Michael Grace.
Arthur Whitelaw directed a cast that included Joshua Gobarganes, Giancarlo Rodaz, David Harrison, Marilyn Caserta, Brigid Kegel, Marc Alvarez, and Anamari Mesa.

Michelle Solomon reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Arthur Whitelaw, who co-authored the book for Snoopy! The Musical, directs Area Stage Company’s production that features the Coral Gables-based company’s conservatory members and mixes in professional actors. It is quite a coup to have Whitelaw, whose credits in the professional theater and television span more than 50 years and who has won every major industry award.
Whitelaw can be credited with how comfortable the cast is with their roles both individually and as an ensemble in Snoopy! And it’s this ease, plus the hard work of the cast that saves the day.

Joshua Dobarganes as Snoopy is a showman, but his eager beagle should/could have a bit more muscle and a tad less sneer. While Snoopy’s character has always been overzealous and overly confident, he’s still likeable.
Standouts in the cast include Marilyn Caserta as Peppermint Patty whose natural talent shines through in her solos... and Marc Alvarez as Linus who has the audience sympathizing with his plight as his beloved blanket goes to the laundry in “The Vigil.” Giancarlo Rodaz steals the show as the hyperkinetic, yellow haired Woodstock.
While Snoopy is the stuff of comic strip legend as the coolest beagle around, Snoopy! The Musical just doesn’t live up to Joe Cool standards.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami Artzine.com:
Snoopy! The Musical is almost as old as Snoopy, the dog, who was first drawn by Charles Schultz in the Peanuts comic strip in 1950. Co-written by Arthur Whitelaw who also produced and directed, Snoopy! The Musical premiered in 1975. And Arthur Whitelaw is here, directing this version at Area Stage, as part of their professional team.
It may be an old show, this Snoopy! The Musical, but the cast is young. High schoolers, collegians and a couple of professionals, one equity. They're a talented group, enthusiastic and joyful, who do well by the twenty songs of Larry Grossman and Hal Hackady.
There's not a highly involved plot going on here... But for all that, Snoopy! The Musical is likeable family fare that showcases some kids who might go far in musical theatre.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Area Stage Company, a pioneering Lincoln Road company admired for its strong productions of challenging plays, has lately carved out a niche in its larger Coral Gables home with ambitious musicals performed by conservatory students.

With its new production of Snoopy! The Musical, Area is easing back into professional fare, tapping some of those talented students and a couple of pros for its blended cast. The seven actors have worked with a director who knows the material as well as anyone: Arthur Whitelaw, the veteran producer, actor, writer and director who helped write the musical’s script. Whitelaw also produced and staged the original Off-Broadway production in 1982 and directed a 2004 London production.
Whitelaw’s direction is fine, David Graden’s set and costumes are cartoon colorful, and the actors are mostly up to the not-too-taxing demands of the script and songs.
The performers handle Michelle Petrucci’s choreography well, crisply tapping to When Do the Good Things Start? to end the first act. ...Patty’s Poor Sweet Baby is overflowing with faux tenderness, thanks to the impressive Caserta, who clearly has a future in musical theater.

Dobarganes, the only member of Actors’ Equity in the cast, gives a big comedic performance in the title role, as he should. Yet more than once he wanders off-key, like Snoopy breaking free of a leash.
Snoopy! The Musical plays at Area Stage through February 5, 2012.

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2011 Carbonell Awards Nominations

http://carbonellawards.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/carbonell-logo2.jpgAs noted in Mondays are Dark, the nominations for the 2011 Carbonell Awards have been announced.  And as we mentioned then, it's a competitive field. 

There have been complaints over the years that the process is flawed, and polical; that some are nominated for political reasons instead of on merit: and those complaints are not without some merit.  After all, Arnold Mittelman recieved an acheivement award the day before his theatre, the Coconut Grove Playhouse, was shuttered.  There was a movement suggesting that the attendees stand and turn their back on him as he was awarded, and there was a very strained smattering of applause.

The Nomination is the Reward
But that was then; with new criteria to recommend shows for consideration and a year of unparalleled production quality, it's hard to argue that any nominee isn't worthy.

Florida Theater On Stage comments on some of the past controversy:
An overwhelming 43 nominations were racked up by Palm Beach County theaters. That eclipses the 30 for theaters in Miami-Dade County, which has usually been the strongest concentration of competitors in a program most theater people hate to consider a competition. Even Broward County posted a strong showing with 26 nominations.

The inescapable irony to longtime Carbonell insiders is that Palm Beach theaters have long criticized the awards for giving short shrift to the work done in the northern county.
Bill Hirschman also gives us a peak into the difficulties choosing just 5 nominations for each and every category:
Full disclosure: I am one of the ten judges who debated and joked and looked askance at each other from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 or so Sunday. The quality of the past year’s work was evident in the many impassioned discussions by well-meaning colleagues over categories that started out with as many 21 names on the table.  One category took five ballots to settle on five rather than six nominees as required by the rules.
Well, Maybe Not EVERY Nod...
The Miami Herald expresses surprise at one omission:
Notably absent from best musical contention is the boisterous production of Hairspray done at Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables. The show’s director and leading “lady” David Arisco (he played big mama Edna Turnblad) was also snubbed.
In a field where Promethean's Song of the Living Dead earned five nominations, that's worth noting.

Having seen both productions, let's reflect upon it. 
  • The Playhouse has more resources to put into it, but Promethean had to overcome its limitations.  
  • Hairspray's set was far more polished, but Living Dead had more special effects.
  • Hairspray had amazing big dance numbers, and Living Dead had... zombies. 
  • Living Dead was the greater unknown of the two productions, so Promethean took the greater risk... except that they're based at a college during a renaissance of zombie stories. 
  • Everyone who went to Living Dead expected to have fun - and did.
  • But we've talked to a few people who wouldn't have gone to see Hairspray
    except to see Dave or Avi (or another friend in the production) and
    came away amazed at how much fun they wound up having due to the energy
    pouring off that stage.
On reflection, we can't help but think that the tabulating still needs some tweaking.

Short List
The Examiner reports that while all ten of its list for Best Live Professional Theater received nods, 6 theaters didn't make their list.  Richard Cameron also has a list of "upsets."
The Carbonell upsets are no nomination for HBO's The Sopranos star Ray Abruzzo for Best Actor in Lombardi for Mosaic Theatre and Broward Stage Door known for it's canned music has mutiple nominations for The Light in the Piazza thanks to Director Michael Leeds who may be the only Broadway local credited Director that our Florida theatres continue to hire.  Once again Director Joseph Adler nominated for Red at GableStage is a sure Top Pick as GableStage production choices and production values continue to be the best for plays in south Florida with Mosaic Theatre falling close behind.
How many other Broadway directors are living in South Florida, anyway?

Thing That Make Us go Hmmm...
  • If Jupiter Theatre wins for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat last year (but this season), what does it do the chances for the Actors' Playhouse production, opening in a few months?  A number of years ago, Theater Club of the Palm Beaches won best production of a play for Eleemosynary; the following season, Miami Shakespeare mounted a production of Eleemosynary that was a cinch to win - but it didn't.  As TD of the production that DID win - Theatre Club's The Stickwife - I can tell you they got gypped.  Should the fact that a play won the year before enter into discussion for the next year's crop of nominees?
  • The Director is the person who brings all the elements of a production together; how is it that year after year, the list of nominated directors doesn't match up with nominated best productions?
All this said, we're very pleased with the spread of the nominations; it's hard to argue that "the same people" get nominated over and over again when there are so many new names on the list this year.

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Mondays are Dark

http://carbonellawards.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/carbonell-logo2.jpgThe nominations for the 2011 Carbonell Awards were published by the Carbonell Awards Organization last night.
In a year filled with extraordinary and varied theatre presentations, nominations were spread throughout the region, from Jupiter to Coral Gables, with 13 companies receiving nominations, and 28 of the 68 eligible shows that opened in 2011 given recognition.

Palm Beach County theatres soared ahead with 43 nominations, followed by Miami-Dade with 28, and Broward County with 27 nominations.
The awards ceremony will be held at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on April 2, 2012.  And this year, there are no forgone conclusions; it was a year of incredible high production value, and it's the first time we can recall where every single nominee makes complete sense.

When you're finished with the list, here's some other stuff to read:

Busy Busy Busy
The Miami Herald reports that it's the peak of theatre season in South Florida.
...this month is insanely busy on South Florida stages. More than a dozen local professional productions are running or soon to open, augmented by that reliable powerhouse Jersey Boys and other touring fare.
Shuffling those Tiles
Mosaic Theatre announces a change in its season line-up.

Speaking of Changes
Florida Theater On Stage reports that Costume World won't be buying  Stage Door Theatre after all.
Costume World's CEO Marilyn Wick confirmed Wednesday that the deal has stalled, although both parties said a slight possibility exists of salvaging the deal sometime in the future.
Since The Drama Queen reports that Stage Door just announced a 2012-13 season in the Coral Springs venue, we wouldn't recommend that anyone hold their breath.

Speaking of Season Announcements
The Alliance Theatre Lab announces their 2012 season; and it's bold.
We are extremely proud to announce that our 2012 Season will be dedicated to solely presenting original works. After the success of last season's Brothers Beckett, we couldn't be more thrilled to embark on this exciting adventure!
Note that this isn't the niche filled by the late Florida Stage, which produced soley NEW works.  Alliance is talking ORIGINAL works, which means they're creating plays from scratch.  Like we said, BOLD.

Cabaret Comes to Life
Edge Miami goes behind the scenes at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre.  Their production of Cabaret opened to rave reviews this past weekend.
"This is the 1998 revival that is more powerful and grittier than the movie we all remember so well," Kato said. "We are really lucky to be able to bring this to South Florida with B.T. Nicholl, the premier director authorized to produce this version."
Everybody Loves a Parade
The Sun-Sentinel talks with the founders of one of South Florida's newest theatre companies. 
"When you grow up dreaming of theater, you aren't thinking of competition," said Caplin with a laugh last Thursday afternoon from the sun-lit dining room of a Starbucks in Boca. As her friend and Parade partner Kim St. Leon watches on, Caplin bends over a turkey patty flecked with shredded lettuce and flicks the floppy kaiser bun across the plate. She carves off a piece of patty and takes a mouthful ("I'm a starving actress," she adds with a smirk) before continuing.

"You're thinking of creativity. Theater is a vital part of the human experience, the mirror that shows us what society is about. The key is, you want more theater than you fear the economy," she said.
Candace Caplin and Kim St. Leon's Parade Productions kicks off next week with Brooklyn Boy.

Speaking of New Theatre Companies
Talkin' Broadway talks with the founder of another new company in town; Alan Jacobson, who is opening The Plaza Theatre in Florida Stage's old digs at Manalapan's Plaza Del Mar.
Jacobson hopes to be self-sustaining, covering basic operating expenses through ticket sales and classes. His operating budget has not yet been set but he will be opening his first season with a small staff as he establishes the new theatre. The scheduled March closing of the nearby Ocean Avenue bridge for lengthy repair may slow traffic a bit, but not Jacobson's optimism. He has already received a $10,000 donation and is fielding multiple calls from parties interested in bringing their shows to The Plaza Theatre.
Shockingly Good
The hot ticket this month is Next To Normal at Actors' Playhouse, and it hasn't even opened  yet.  The Miami Herald explains what all the fuss is about.
The searing, shimmering rock musical Next to Normal, which began as a 10-minute musical workshop piece on electroconvulsive therapy (ECT, today's version of shock therapy), is an extraordinary addition to that genre. With a Tony Award-winning score by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, the musical about a woman's struggle with bipolar disorder was awarded the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for drama.
The 2010 Pulitzer, bestowed by the award's board (which bypassed the drama jury's three suggested finalists, including Kristoffer Diaz's The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, now playing at Boca Raton's Caldwell Theatre Company), was an unexpected thrill for Kitt and Yorkey. Theirs is just the eighth musical to win the drama Pulitzer, after Rent, Sunday in the Park With George, A Chorus Line, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Fiorello!, South Pacific and Of Thee I Sing.
We've heard from Playhouse insiders that the music wafting from the rehearsal hall is amazing.

New Theatre's Winter
BroadwayWorld tells us about New Theatre's next play; Robert Caisley's Winter, opening at their news space at The Roxy Performing Art Center.
Under the direction of Artistic Director, Ricky J. Martinez, the Winter's family saga comes to life with New Theatre veterans: Scott Douglas Wilson, Annemaria Rajala and Barbara Sloan and making her New Theatre debut Nicole Quintana. The company is rounded out by New Theatre Production Stage Manager, Jerry Jensen with Scenic Designer: Nicole Quintana; Costume Designer: K. Blair Brown and making their New Theatre debut Sound Designer: Alexis Bonilla and Lighting Designer: Eric J. Cantrell.
Yet Another (noun) The Musical Production
The Shiny Sheet has the story of a how musical about divorce came together; Divorce Party the Musical is playing at The Kravis Center.  Speaking of which, why hasn't Dave Arisco directed Musical of Musicals (the Musical) yet?

Wonderland Returns
BroadwayWorld reports that Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is returning to The Playground Theater in Miami Shores.
Original cast members Linda Bernhard and Marjorie O'Neill-Butler from South Florida are joined by New York actors Emily Batsford, Josh Carpenter, and Jeremy Greenbaum, Chicago actor Makeba Pace, and South Florida actors Troy Davidson, Edson Jean, and Nikki Lowe for the highly anticipated return of ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND
1-2-3; More Poetry
Conundrum Stages announces its 3rd annual evening of poetry on January 28.

A Joyful Noise
BroadwayWorld tells us about the Entr'Acte Theatrix production of Godspell, which played last weekend at someplace called The Borland Center, and plays this weekend at the Flagler Campus of the Palm Beach Day Academy.  It's an appropriate space: it used to be a Unity Church.

Meanwhile...
...in Palm Beach, the Royal Poinciana Playhouse is still closed.  But The Palm Beach Daily News reports that it's likely to remain standing for the foreseeable future.
Building Official Jeffrey L. Taylor has determined the Royal Poinciana Playhouse appears to be in good shape, though it needs a new fuse panel... Commissioner William Cooley pushed for the inspection in December, suggesting that the landmarked building's owner is allowing demolition by neglect.
...in Miami, The Coconut Grove Grapevine reports that vandals broke into the long-shuttered Coconut Grove Playhouse.
Well, the little skater boys decided to get in and destroy the place, you can't see it from the exterior, but they broke all sorts of glass inside, including computer monitors and other things.
The Grapevine also mentions that squatters were in residence at some point.

Read more...

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