Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Scene for February 1, 3013

Man, it's February already. Wasn't it just Chrismahannukwanzaa?  What happened to January?

It's a big weekend for theater in South Florida.  We're running behind on our review round-ups, and all the shows opening this weekend won't make that any easier.  But we figure it's a good reason to be behind.

There are plays running in every conceivable corner of South Florida this weekend, so set the DVR to record the Superbowl and go see a show.  The commercials can wait.

Here's what's playing on The Scene this weekend:


Palm Beach DramaWorks opens A Raisin in the Sun this weekend in West Palm Beach.

Slow Burn Theatre Company opens Side Show this weekend at the West Boca Performing Arts Theatre, but it's worth the trek to the edge of the Everglades.

New Theatre opens Agnes of God at Roxy Performing Arts Center this weekend, through February 17.

Parade Productions opens The Whole Caboodle this weekend at the Black Box Studio at Mizner Park. Through February 24.

The World Goes 'Round opens at the Miami Beach Stage Door Theatre, through February 24.

you still haven't missed...

Gloucester Blue plays at the Theatre at Arts Garage through February 17, 2013.

Chapter Two plays at the Plaza Theater through February 10. the bridge is still out, but it's pretty drive along A1A when you cross at Lake Worth or Boynton Beach.

Damn Yankees plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through February 10.

plays at GableStage through February 10, 2013.

Other Desert Cities plays at Actors' Playhouse through February 10, 2013.

If you find yourself in Key West, check out Six Dance Lessons In Six Weeks at The Waterfront Playhouse.  It plays through February 16.

Laffing Matterz is back at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts; new show, new chef, new seasons of laughs.

coming and going...

The National Tour 0f Mary Poppins swings through the Kravis Center this weekend.

passing through...

The National Tour of Wicked plays at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through February 17, 2013.

community and conservatory...

Delray Beach Playhouse offers Ethel Waters: His Eye Is On The Sparrow through February 10.

Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr. plays at  Area Stage Company through February 3.

Lake Worth Playhouse offers The Drowsy Chaperone through February 3.

The teen version of In The Heights plays at Showtime Performing Arts Theatre through February 10.

last chance to see...

Agatha Christie's The BBC Murders winds up its run at the Parker Playhouse this Sunday, February 3, 2013.

Island City Stage's production of Chris Weikel's Pig Tales: An Urban Faerie Story plays at Empire Stage through February 2, 2013.

for kids...

No Bullies Allowed plays at the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center on Monday morning.

Sol Children's Theatre Troupe offers The Ash Girl through February 3.

Tarzan plays Saturdays at Showtime Boca through March 9.

Miami Theatre Center presents The Love Of Three Oranges, through March 10.

Cinderella plays at Actors' Playhouse through March 21.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Off Stage Conversations

Hello. I'm Andie Arthur, executive director of the South Florida Theatre League, and this is Off Stage Conversations, where I take a look at what discussions are going on in the national and international theatre community.

More On Female Playwrights and Stories

Last week, I posted this blog post by Melissa Hillman, on how early career female playwrights often don't give their characters agency. This article sparked a lot of debate (some in the comments of the original piece) and caused two interesting follow ups. Playwright Lauren Gunderson (who wrote Exit, Pursued by a Bear) points out that the act of writing is activism and playwrights need to be aware of the worlds they are creating. Hillman also has a follow up with her reaction to the reactions.

Other Kinds of Activism

Feministing interviews Jax Jackson, a transgender performer in the Goodman Theatre Company's upcoming Teddy Ferrera.

The piece mentions that "the few mainstream stories that are being told about people of color, women, LGBT folks, etc. leave these very same people out of the picture." This is why that it's exciting that a major regional theatre is casting a transgender actor in a transgender role.

Personal Advisory Board

Marisela Treviño Orta and Lois Dawson both take a quick look at a personal career advisory board. These articles are about a year old, but I love the idea so much that I'm posting them anyway. I think it makes sense for creators to have not only personal cheerleaders, but people who can help them navigate tricky situations. It's so important as an artist to surround yourself with people who get you, your work, and who challenge you to be better at what you do.

More Plays to Read

Original Works Publishing offers a Free Play Monday promotion with Amazon, where there is a free kindle play download every Monday. So while it is Wednesday, mark down in your calendar to check them out on Monday.

Another way to read more plays on the cheap is Indie Theater Now, which offers various subscriptions, including 25 plays for $20.99.

Both of these are cheap (and sometimes free) ways to check out new work happening around the rest of the country.

New 2amt Series on Dramaturgy

2amtheatre has started an interview with dramaturgs series (in addition to their director interview series run by Thinking Cap Artistic Director Nicole Stoddard).

Can 13P be recreated?

Alex Barron writes for HowlRound on the difficulties for playwrights trying to recreate the 13P model. There are some really great comments here so unlike the rest of the internet, I highly recommend reading the comments. Even if you aren't a playwright, there's some great discussion on the artist as producer that I think is addressed here.


Most of our South Florida theatres don't sell merchandise. (And I'm sure that many more would be horrified at the thought.) But for Mad Cat and any other theatre thinking about getting into that scene, Phil Johnson has a look at why people buy and how to appropriately price things.

Interview with NEA Chief of Staff Jamie Bennett

Jamie Bennett, NEA Chief of Staff, discusses Rocco Landesman, creative placemaking, and behind the scenes at the NEA.

Our Town Over the Years

Kate Powers takes a look at how different directors have approached Wilder's Our Town.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mondays are Dark

Of course, the Carbonell Awards nominations are out, but we'll be dealing with all of those articles later in the week.

Today's featured "dark" theater is the Carnival Studio Theater at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.  It's actually a black box theater, which basically means that its maximum 350 seats can be set in numerous configurations.  It's currently the permanent home of Zoetic Stage, but Mad Cat Theatre Company has staged several performances there, and the Alliance Theatre Lab will be bringing The Brothers Beckett there in March.

We'll tell you about that and more on your Monday reading list.

Best Wishes to Bud
The Palm Beach Post reports that Burt Reynolds is apparently on the mend, after being admitted to a hospital for "flu-like symptoms." Reynolds is a native of the Palm Beaches, and built the Jupiter Theater, which anchors the north end of the South Florida theater scene to this day. We wish him a speedy recovery.

Fundraising can be Murder
So why not skip right to it?  The Drama Queen fills us in on the Alliance Theatre Lab's latest fundraising activities.  It's all in a good cause; they are taking their original production of The Brothers Beckett to the Arsht Center in March.

News from the Palm Beaches
Florida Theater On Stage reports that the Plaza Theatre has announced that despite critical acclaim for their recent spate of straight plays, they're adding more cabaret shows to the schedule.  The good news is that the acts include Jodi Langel, who wowed the crowds who came to see Next to Normal at Actors' Playhouse, and Missy McArdle, a solid performer with a storied history in the local theatre scene.

Over at Dramaworks, Broadway World reminds us that the latest installment of their Master Playwright Series continues  on February 4th & 5th with an overview of French playwright Jean Genet followed by a staged reading of The Maids on February 11th & 12th.

Our Kind of Town...
...Chicago is... opening soon at the Boca Raton Theater Guild, and The Examiner talks with director Keith Garrson.  The cast includes a newcomer to South Florida, Krisha Marcano, whose resumé includes Broadway and stints the Martha Graham Dance Company and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.  Local favorites include Avi Hoffman, Patti Gardner, Sally Bondi, and Ken Clement.

Speaking of Casting News
Broadway World reports that Miami Theater Center has announced that it's added Shaneeka Harrell to the cast of The Love Of Three Oranges.
"MTC has developed a reputation for its outstanding-quality productions, but having Shaneeka join the cast raises the bar even higher," said Artistic Director Stephanie Ansin. "Shaneeka is really at the top of the field, having worked on Broadway and as an assistant choreographer with Bill T. Jones. From the first moment of her audition, she blew us away. It usually takes a few weeks of rehearsal for actors to master the physicality of our roles, but she walked in already able to execute the hardest choreography - and the headstand! So we've been able to focus her rehearsal time on the nuances of her multiple characters - and the process of transitioning among them,"
The rest of the cast includes Troy Davidson, Diana Garle, Nikki Lowe, and Jeremiah Musgrove. Cast members making their debut at MTC include Donald Paul, Christina Breza, and Luckner "Lucky" Bruno, Jr.

Speaking of MTC
Broadway World also reports that Miami Theater Center has announced that they will be opening the world premiére of Christina Alexander's Hate! An American Love Story on February 8, 2013.
Alexander's edgy work delves into stories of love in America and the country's struggle to understand that different doesn't mean wrong. One actor - Ms. Alexander - plays eight characters who deliver 16 monologues in a multimedia work that offers varied perspectives of who and what define love in America.
Ms. Alexander is a Miami native and a graduate of New World School of the Arts, and holds degrees from UM and Barry University.

Speaking of Local Graduates
Playbill reports that FAU alumnus Marc Kudisch has been cast in the Yale Repertory Theatre production of Hamlet.  No, he's not playing the title role.  Paul Giamatti has been inexplicably cast in that role.  We're not saying that it's a bad thing, just that it's inexplicable.  After all, when one says "Hamlet" one's first thought is rarely of a pudgy, balding, middle-aged man.

More Upcoming Productions fills us in on The Amen Corner, opening next month at the African American Performing Arts Community Theatre (AAPACT).

Now for Something Completely Different
miamiartzine talks with the inimitable Mario Betto.
It’s hard to say which particular field Mario excels in most, because so far, he has achieved success in just about everything he puts his mind and hand to. His musical, Combing Through Life’s Tangles, about a transgender hairstylist, has been performed in professional theatres since 2006, and received rave reviews. Mario is also an officer of the Theatre League of South Florida, the current Chair of The Cosmetology Advisory Board at Sheridan Technical, and the founder of Hairstylists for Humanity, an organization that raises money for homeless shelters, abused women, cancer patients and hospices for people living with HIV/AIDS. And not least of all, Mario is currently a full time student at FIU.
One slight clarification; Mario stepped down as secretary of the South Florida Theatre League due to all the challenges he's taken on, and now serves on its Advisory Board.

Theatre at Arts Garage: Gloucester Blue (2 1/2 reviews)

Theater at Arts Garage opened the world premiere production of Israel Horovitz's Gloucester Blue on January 25, 2013.
The renovation of an old Gloucester, Mass. harbor house is the setting for noted playwright Israel Horovitz’ dark comedy of sex, murder, and mayhem. As two painters apply the specific “blue” selected by the lady of the house, old connections are revealed and mounting sexual tensions explode when her husband returns home and uncovers the scandals that have erupted in his absence. Accompanied by original music by Adam Horowitz (of the Beastie Boys), this comedic drama exposes the human spirit in this tale of class, deceit and romance..
Louis Tyrell directed a cast that featured Stephen G. Anthony, David Sirios, Michael St. Pierre and Andrea Conte.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Directed by Louis Tyrrell, who previously presented Horovitz’s shattering Sins of the Mother at the now-defunct Florida Stage, Gloucester Blue gets a solid, impressively-acted first production.
Set and lighting designer Stephen Placido’s budget is clearly a fraction of what the Florida Stage gang had to work with, but he effectively creates the small-scale upper level of an abandoned fish processing plant in Gloucester, Mass.
Editor's note: Stephen Placido designed sets for the first few seasons of Florida Stage, back when it was Theatre Club of the Palm Beaches and the company was literally run from Tyrell's kitchen.  The company's early success was due in no small part to Placido's contribution to the productions.
Gloucester Blue features a quartet of fine performances, particularly by Anthony and Sirois, whose characters are simply richer and more intriguing than the upper-crust types Conte and St. Pierre are playing. With his flawless accent and charismatic craftiness, Anthony creates a volatile yet irresistible stage villain in Latham.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Israel Horovitz’s Gloucester Blue, getting a gleefully mischievous world premiere at the Arts Garage, is a black comedy with all three Aristotelian verities – beer, blackmail and blood.
Tyrrell has molded the cast into a smoothly operating collection of characters that veer really close but don’t quite tumble into caricature.  He has physically cast well... Vocally, too, the two workmen deliver a consistent Massachusetts accents that sounded convincing to Floridians’ ears, plus a more refined sound for a married couple born with platinum spoons in their mouths.
The ensemble is dead solid from Sirois who invests Stumpy with an up-and-comer’s hope for something better to St. Pierre’s hapless husband inept in dealing with the real world. Conte is an experienced actress who hasn’t been cast down here frequently, but she perfectly slides into Lexi’s sense of entitlement that is so natural that it’s barely snobbery.

But Anthony is the standout as the scruffy, blunt force trauma of a human being whose native intelligence is masked by a persona of someone who drains a beer can and tosses it over his shoulder. Whether he is antagonizing Lexi or chummily putting his arm around Bummy as he threatens him, Anthony’s Latham revels in sticking it to those who laze about in a life of unearned privilege.
The intelligence and quality of this and the previous productions in Arts Garage’s short tenure should not be a surprise considering Tyrrell’s artistic pedigree for doing new and edgy works at Florida Stage. His work there with Horovitz on Sins of the Mother in 2010 encouraged the playwright to bring Tyrrell this script. With Gloucester Blue, this fledgling company under a Delray Beach parking garage cements its promise as theatrical force to watch.
Michelle F. Solomon reviewed wrote for showed up on behalf of miamiartzine:

Anthony is the guy you love to hate as Latham. With his dead on Massachusetts accent, Anthony’s Latham has layers. In fact, the depth of the actor’s portrayal is so rich that it makes the others seem overly transparent. It’s also the way Horovitz has this play built. He seems to know Stumpy and especially Latham so well, yet Bummy and Lexi are caricatures, wealthy Worth Avenue stereotypes...
Gloucester Blue is enjoyable enough with twists and turns in the plot that, while soap opera-esque in nature, are adventurous, but Gloucester Blue is oversold: the ad and playbills touting: “Sex, Murder, Mayhem & Sex.”
While the character of Lexi should turn up the heat and amp up the proceedings, Conte’s ice queen interpretation is chilling rather than thrilling. St. Pierre’s Bummy is loaded with angst but never seems truly as frightened as the dialogue calls for.

Louis Tyrrell’s direction heightens the anxiety and he’s able to keep the actors moving briskly through a small space. A few fight scenes and some murderous blows are tip top and frighteningly good.

No doubt it is difficult to perform and direct a new work. There are still nuances to be found and even some tightening of the script that could be implemented, especially in the overly long first act conversations between Stumpy and Latham and the ending that wraps up.

Applause, as always, goes to Tyrrell for taking on new challenges and adding another venue where audiences can see unusual works.
Gloucester Blue plays at the Theatre at Arts Garage through February 17, 2013.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Scene for January 25, 2013

A nice little cool spell has eased into South Florida; on Broadway, the temperature is down into the teens, but in this southern part of the Sunshine State, we're still in shirtsleeves. Be sure to call your friends in the Big Apple and rub it in.  It's the law, you know.

Florida Theater On Stage
talks with Louis Tyrell about Arts Garage and their next production, Gloucester Blue.  They also link to an interview they did with the playwright, Israel Horvitz.  Oh, and they made The Herald, too.

Here's what's playing on The Scene this weekend:


Did we mention that Theatre at Arts Garage is opening  the world premiere of Israel Horovitz' Gloucester Blue this weekend?

you still haven't missed...

Agatha Christie's The BBC Murders plays at the Parker Playhouse through February 2, 2013.

Island City Stage's production of Chris Weikel's Pig Tales: An Urban Faerie Story plays at Empire Stage through February 2, 2013.

Chapter Two plays at the Plaza Theater through February 10. the bridge is still out, but it's pretty drive along A1A when you cross at Lake Worth or Boynton Beach.

Damn Yankees plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through February 10.

plays at GableStage through February 10, 2013.

Other Desert Cities plays at Actors' Playhouse through February 10, 2013.

If you find yourself in Key West, check out Six Dance Lessons In Six Weeks at The Waterfront Playhouse.  It plays through February 16.

Laffing Matterz is back at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts; new show, new chef, new seasons of laughs.

community and conservatory...

The Sunshine Boys plays at the Tamarac Theatre of Performing Arts through January 27.

Don't Drink The Water plays at the J's Cultural Arts Theater, through January 27.

Delray Beach Playhouse offers Ethel Waters: His Eye Is On The Sparrow through February 10.

Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr. plays at  Area Stage Company through February 3.

Lake Worth Playhouse offers The Drowsy Chaperone through February 3.

Showtime Boca offers the teen version of In the Heights.  Who knew there was a teen version?

coming and going...

Spamlot makes a very brief stop at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts this Friday and Saturday only.

The Taming of the Shrew blows through the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, also this Friday and Saturday only.  But they turn right around and offer Cyrano de Bergerac on Sunday and Monday, by the same company.  You don't see a lot of touring repertory companies anymore.

Coral Springs Center for the Arts presents My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, one night only on January 25.

last chance to see...

Singin' In The Rain finishes its run at Maltz Jupiter Theater this Sunday, January 27, 2013.

Zoetic Stage winds up its production of  All New People at the Arsht Center for the Perfomring Arts this Sunday, January 27, 2013.

for kids...

Freckleface Strawberry plays Saturday at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center.  You can catch it on Sunday at the Miniaci Performing Arts Center at Nova Southeastern University.

Sol Children's Theatre Troupe offers The Ash Girl through February 3.

Tarzan plays Saturdays at Showtime Boca through March 9.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Plaza Theatre: Chapter Two (2 reviews)

The Plaza Theatre opened its production of Neil Simon's Chapter Two on January 8, 2013.
Recent widower George Schneider is encouraged by his younger brother Leo to start dating again. This sends George into even more depression after a series of bad matches. Then Leo introduces George to Jennie Malone and she’s a keeper. Still, it’s a bumpy trip on the road to Dreamland for these not-so-young lovers. George and Jennie stumble on, overcoming both their hesitation on the rebound and emotional neediness. In a subplot, Leo has a fling with Faye, Jennie’s neurotic married friend. The plot is loosely based on Neil Simon’s marriage to Marsha Mason.
Michael Leeds directed a cast that featured Mia Matthews, Wayne LeGette , Ken Kaye, and Kim Cozort

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
...director Michael Leeds and his sharp four-person cast keep the pendulum swinging, from sorrow to silliness, from the surge of love to the complexities of unfinished emotional business.
LeGette and Matthews have plenty of funny lines and handle them well, but theirs is the more serious play: a cute “accidental” meeting over the phone, a head-over-heels romance, an o’er hasty marriage and a painful reality check. The actors have a believable chemistry, and late in the play, LeGette fully commits to George’s startling, unsettling cruelty.

Read more here:

Kay and Cozort, husband and wife in real life, supply the laughs that are early-vintage Simon’s stock in trade. Inevitably, Leo and Faye have an assignation, and the actors’ way with farce pleasurably squeezes every last laugh out of that scene.
With each production, the theater is raising its game, and so it is with the Chapter Two team -- director Leeds, the actors, set designer Michael McClain, lighting designer Glen Rovinelli and costume designer Jerry Sturdefant. Chapter Two isn’t in the first tier of Simon’s many plays, but at the Plaza, it is getting a solidly entertaining production.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Director Michael Leeds and a solid cast at the Plaza Theatre in Manalapan have mastered Neil Simon’s challenging meld of witty comedy and throat-choking heartache, and make both perfectly plausible facets of life.
George (the note perfect Wayne LeGette) is a novelist not coping very well with paralyzing grief over the death of his wife... His brother Leo (the always dependable Kenneth Kay) is a theater publicist who has been trying to jumpstart George’s life with blind dates.
Although deeply wounded, neither LeGette nor Matthews’ characters  ever exude a shred of self-pity. Both actors create human beings struggling to get through another day. They make a convincing couple with more than enough chemistry to make their whirlwind courtship absolutely plausible. They both handle the comic lines with classic Simon timing, but they also dive fearlessly into the fear that sometimes keeps people from reaching out for love.
Chapter Two also says something about the Plaza Theatre. Producer Alan Jacobson’s undertaking seemed to carry a whiff of second-rate theater early on because it started out producing low-budget musical revues of varying quality and because it occupied the space where Florida Stage had mounted some of the best theater in the state. But it’s time to acknowledge that...with... full production values, proven directors and top-drawer casts, the Plaza has earned some respect. Yes, all these works have a name recognition factor to lure an older audience, but Jacobson has chosen darn good scripts and is insisting on executing them well.
Chapter Two plays at the Plaza Theatre through February 10, 2013.  Just a reminder that the bridge is out in Lantana, so you'll need to cross the Intracoastal Waterway by Lake Road on the north or Boynton Beach Blvd. or Woolbright Road on the south, it's a lovely drive up scenic A1A.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Off Stage Conversations

Hello Everyone! It's Wednesday, which means it's time for Off Stage Conversations, where I, Andie Arthur, executive director of the South Florida Theatre League, share some of the highlights of the national and international conversations going on in the field.

Female Playwrights and Stories

Melissa Hillman, Artistic Director of Impact Theatre and author of one of my favorite blog posts ever, asks why do early career women playwrights write passive female characters? It's an interesting question and looks at how we view stories. And the discussion about Chekhov, passivity in narrative, and women's stories has been pretty fascinating on twitter.

Arts Entrepreneurs

TCG has a roundtable discussion on arts entrepreneurs and training them.

More Perspectives on 13P

Samuel French's blog does their own retrospective on 13P featuring the perspectives of playwrights Rob Handel and Madeline George. I've mentioned 13P on the Scene before, but to recap -- thirteen playwrights decided to get together to produce their own work, one play by each playwright, disbanding the company once the goal had been achieved. As someone who fully believes that you need to create the art you want to see in the world, I fully believe in this model. Take the means of production into your own hands.

Secretary of Culture?

The Washington Post writes on the call for a cabinet culture post for Obama's second term.

Guns in Fiction

Playwright Tammy Ryan reflects on guns in her plays in the wake of recent shootings.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Actors' Playhouse: Other Desert Cities (3 reviews)

Actors' Playhouse opened its production of Other Desert Cities  at The Miracle Theater on January 16, 2013.
Brooke Wyeth, a once promising novelist, returns home after a six year absence to celebrate Christmas in Palm Springs with her parents, former members of the Reagan inner circle, her brother and her aunt. When Brooke announces she is about to publish a memoir focusing on an explosive chapter in the family's history, the holiday reunion is thrown into turmoil as the Wyeths struggle to come to terms with their past.
David Arisco directed a cast that featured Antonio Amadeo, Barbara Bradshaw, Erin Joy Schmidt, J. Kenneth Campbell, and Lourelene Snedeker.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Now getting an exhilarating regional debut at Actors’ Playhouse, the Pulitzer-finalist play by the creator of TV’s Brothers & Sisters is a witty, often intense examination of the infinitely varied ways we manage to hurt the ones we love.
Director David Arisco has assembled a cast of five formidable warriors, actors who play the complexities, flaws and vulnerabilities of each character.
...Bradshaw adds another vividly realized character to her resume, displaying the time-honed skills that helped her win the best actress Carbonell Award two years in a row (she’s won four over her long career). Campbell... is every inch the charming former movie star, his purring voice and controlled demeanor erupting volcanically once Lyman loses it over the threat that is Brooke’s book. Snedeker makes Silda a subversive if damaged-but-real life force, and as her nephew, Amadeo is playful and spirited, more like Silda than his conservative parents. Schmidt, making her Actors’ Playhouse debut, expertly navigates Brooke’s bumpy emotional ride from apprehension to outrage to shock.
Just as impressive as the fine cast is the way the design team has realized the Wyeths’ world. Tim Bennett provides the family’s sleek desert abode... Lighting designer Patrick Tennent colors that sky... Sound designer Alexander Herrin provides folk-flavored music that conveys the moment in time when the family’s world was forever altered. Ellis Tillman suggests character and class through his costumes, particularly in Polly’s put-together chic and Silda’s tackier, more colorful look.
Other Desert Cities ends with a coda that ties up several loose familial ends, but it isn’t nearly as dramatic as the final image Arisco and the actors paint on that devastating Christmas Eve. That’s the emotional apex of a soaring, exquisitely realized production.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Actors Playhouse’s rock solid production of last season’s Broadway triumph surgically peels away the Wyeth family’s layers of lies and fragile accommodations that allow humans to interact after perceived betrayals.
Powered by a fits-like-a-glove cast under David Arisco’s leadership... this Florida troupe slams home the shattering second act with more gut-scraping, heart-wrenching passion than we saw on Broadway.
Baitz, author of The Substance of Fire, Ten Unknowns on stage and creator of TV’s Brothers & Sisters, has penned a classically well-constructed script that excels in creating characters who seem to be one thing at first and then prove to be far more complex as revelation after revelation emerges.
We’ve backed into the production’s chief virtue: the cast under Arisco’s guidance. Aside from Campbell, it would be difficult to imagine a better cast from South Florida’s acting ranks. It’s not that anyone is typecast, but these roles are solidly in these actors’ wheelhouse.
Bradshaw long ago proved her huge range including these well-heeled doyennes. But the specific colors she brings to Polly and the depth that she invests in those colors is remarkable.
Matching Bradshaw step for step is Schmidt... Her bonhomie in the opening scene is absolutely persuasive, so it’s significant that she makes the reveal of her bottomless angst so convincingly part of the same character.... Schmidt fearlessly embraces Baitz’s view that Brooke is not blameless or totally pure in her motives.
Campbell... is a tad less compelling than the others... But Campbell nails the essence of a patriarch who desperately wants to keep his loved ones together...
Amadeo deftly creates a man trapped in trying desperately not to take sides while being actively supportive of the warring parties.
Snedeker is a past master at slinging witticisms like Dorothy Parker at the Algonquin Round Table. She teeters around the edges of the maelstrom with a physical and emotional unsteadiness that perfectly communicates someone fighting a losing battle to stay sober.
In the hands of all these artists, Other Desert Cities is a heart-rending odyssey of familial warfare that tests the strength of blood ties when so much emotional blood is spilled.
Roger Martin reviewed for miamiartzine:
Not too many laughs, though, despite the pr's “funny” and “comedy”. It's also talky and with enough exposition to elicit a sigh or two.

So it's a challenge for Director David Arisco and his veteran cast to make this the Miami version of “the best new play on Broadway” (The New York Times).
Awkward staging does not help, with characters too often facing the audience (what are they looking at and whom are they addressing?)

But it's not all a dour evening at Actors'. It's a well cast piece, each actor the epitome of the character. Tim Bennett's Palm Springs home is perfect for the wealthy desert dweller and Patrick Tennent's subtle lighting through the picture windows is a joy.
Other Desert Cities plays at Actors' Playhouse through February 10, 2013.

Mondays are Dark

Lela Elam, Desiree Mora and Scott Douglass Wilson
photo shamelessly stolen from Nori Tecosky via Facebook
Hard to believe we're already three weeks into 2013!  We hope that you take advantage of the juxtaposition of the national holiday and the Presidential Inauguration to watch the ceremony.

Today's "dark" theatre photo shows Thinking Cap Theatre in rehearsal for The Rover at Empire Stage. Empire Stage is probably the smallest venue in South Florida, and yet it's home to several theatre companies; Thinking Cap, Island City Stage, Crashbox Theater Company, and Infinite Abyss Productions all share Empire's stage.

Here's your Monday reading list:

Speaking of Empire Stage
Florida Theater On Stage reports that Outré Theatre Company has scheduled a staged reading of Nicky Silver’s Fat Men In Skirts at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22 at Empire Stage

Ya Gotta Have Balls
Alliance Theatre Lab isn't holding your traditional fundraiser to come up with the funds to mount their upcoming production of Brothers Beckett at the Arsht Center.  Florida Theater On Stage reports that the company has come up with a couple of unique fundraisers; first up is Murder, Fugettaboutit!, and interactive murder mystery with an italian dinner. They follow that up with two hours of bowling at an event they're calling Super Bowl for Beckett!  After all, why do a boring old Indiegogo fundraiser when you can do that AND the fun stuff?

More Than One Way to Skin A Cat Cast A Play.
 Backstage reports on an alternative approach to casting that bypasses the traditional audition.
When director Luc Besson hired me to cast "The Professional," the only role for which we held proper auditions was the character of Mathilde (Natalie Portman s screen debut). Not unlike Woody Allen, Luc refused to allow actors to see his script. Instead he had me interview actors on tape and send the results to him in France. The entire principal cast was chosen from those video interviews. No "traditional" auditions EVER took place
Reverse Name Dropping
Zoetic Stage is doing Zach Braff's All New People at the Arsht Center - and the playwright/actor/screenwriter dropped by for a photo with the cast, which he posted on his Twitter feed.

From Page to Stage
Florida Theater On Stage tells us about Jan McArt’s Theatre Arts Guild Florida New Play Workshop.  The company is dedicated giving playwrights a place to do an extensively rehearsed reading of their new plays.
...this series involves a playwright working with a paid cast and a director for six days, frequently re-writing the script based on the rehearsals. In performance, the actors will carry scripts, but they will move about, wear some costumes, use props and benefit from minimal lighting and set design.
The series started last week with a reading of Tony Finstrom's Back Stage Story, directed by Wayne Rudisill and featured McArt, Michael McKeever, Iris Acker, Jeffrey Bruce, Patti Gardner and Kevin Reilley.

Meanwhile.... Coconut Grove, the Playhouse is still closed. The Miami New Times reports that a big mess has gotten messier; the county was hoping that the state, which holds the title to the property, would hand it over.  But the State wants $5.8 million for it.  Worse, a mortgage company is foreclosing on a $1.5 million mortgage on the property; not sure how that works. Hollywood, the Playhouse is still closed.  But The Examiner reports that a buyer has closed on the property with the intent to produce theater, no thanks to Hollywood's largely useless city commission. 

Which playhouse will re-open first?  It seems to be a race between Hollywood and the Royal Poinciana, with the Coconut Grove more deeply mired in debt and political in-fighting than ever.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Scene for January 18, 2013

Aaand the plays keep coming!  Zev Buffman, a pioneer of the South Florida theatre scene is back in town.  Back when the local theatre community consisted of half a dozen venues, Zev Buffman was the producer winning the most accolades.  The first few years of the Carbonell Awards, it wasn't unusual for it to be a race between Buffman productions at different theaters.

Speaking of theaters of the past, we hear that the Hollywood Playhouse might be picked up by someone interested in producing theater there.  That still leaves all three playhouses (Hollywood, Royal Poinciana and Coconut Grove) in limbo, but they all seem to have a vague future ahead of them, now.

Here's what's playing on The Scene this weekend:


Actors' Playhouse opens its much-anticipated production of Other Desert Cities, through February 10.

Chapter Two opens at the Plaza Theater; the bridge is still out, but it's pretty drive along A1A when you cross at Lake Worth or Boynton Beach.

Damn Yankees opens at the Broward Stage Door Theatre this week, through February 10.

Agatha Christie's The BBC Murders opens at Fort Lauderdale's Parker Playhouse.

If you find yourself in Key West, check out Six Dance Lessons In Six Weeks at The Waterfront Playhouse.  It plays through February 16.

you still haven't missed...

Zoetic Stage presents All New People at the Arsht Center for the Perfomring Arts through January 27, 2013.
plays at GableStage through February 10, 2013.

Singin' In The Rain plays at Maltz Jupiter Theater through January 27, 2013.

Island City Stage's production of Chris Weikel's Pig Tales: An Urban Faerie Story plays at Empire Stage through February 2, 2013.

Laffing Matterz is back at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts; new show, new chef, new seasons of laughs.

community and conservatory...

The Sunshine Boys plays at the Tamarac Theatre of Performing Arts through January 27.

Don't Drink The Water plays at the J's Cultural Arts Theater, through January 27.

Lake Worth Playhouse
offers The Drowsy Chaperone through February 3.

Showtime Boca offers the teen version of In the Heights.  Who knew there was a teen version?

coming and going...

Blood, Sweat and Mouseketears! with Lindsey Alley this weekend only at the Aventura Arts & Cultural Center.

Late Night Catechism plays at the Maltz Jupiter Theater on Sunday, January 20.  That stage must dry out quickly...

last chance to see...

Mad Cat Theatre Company's production of Kristina Wong's Cat Lady at the Lightbox Project at Goldman Warehouse closes January 20, 2012.

The Women's Theatre Project's production of The Interview ends its run at the Willow Theater this January 20, 2013.

Broward Stage Door's production of The World Goes 'Round also closes this Sunday, January 20, 2012.

for kids...

Story Pirates plays Saturday only at the Miramar Cultural Center.

Tarzan plays Saturdays at Showtime Boca through March 9.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Parker Playhouse: The BBC Murders (reviews)

Agatha Christie's The BBC Murders opened at Fort Lauderdale's Parker Playhouse on January 15, 2013.
Lost during the London Blitz of World War II and post-war reconstruction, four Agatha Christie radio plays from the BBC Mystery Series have been rediscovered and adapted for the stage to create a thrilling night of intrigue and murder: Butter in a Lordly Dish, Three Blind Mice (which eventually evolved into the full-length hit The Mousetrap), Personal Call and Yellow Iris, which is set in a London cabaret and features musical numbers composed by Rupert Holmes.
Judith Walcutt and David Ossman directed a cast that included Gary Sandy, Amy Walker, Phil Proctor ,Richard Fish, Cassie Post, Lesley Staples, Elizabeth Dimon, Angie Radosh, Christopher Swan, Orson Ossman and Alex Jorth, as well as Foley artists Tony Brewer and Lauren Allison.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
...there’s the canny germ of an idea in producer Zev Buffman’s pet project to fuse radio, theater and modern technology into a hybrid exemplified in his latest production, Agatha Christie’s The BBC Murders at the Parker Playhouse. The end result is undeniably entertaining in a quiet smile kind of way, although this is clearly an early foray into this genre and, arguably, not the most enthralling material to do it with.
The key was to augment the works with a three-dimensional theater aesthetic and high-tech production values. ...the creative team starts out with classic radio sound effects by two Foley artists the evening continues, the audience becomes more aware of stage-high projections for settings, an increasing number of props and costumes, actors dropping their scripts and moving away from the microphones to interact and finally a quality of sound effects on state of the art equipment that are brilliantly engineered.
The other piece of the puzzle was hiring a terrific troupe of actors,
young and old, with glorious voices to play a wide range of roles like a
repertory company, folks like Gary Sandy, am experienced stage actor
best known for TV’s WKRP in Cincinnati; Phil Proctor, a
co-founder with Ossman of the counterculture comedy group Firesign
Theater; and the lovely Amy Walker who has a lead role in every play and
a different accent for each. (Check out her 21 accents in 2 minutes You
Tube video, click here)
The entire event has a delightfully tongue-in-cheek feel. Among the droll conceits is when the initial announcer asks the audience to stand and sing “God Save The Queen” (the lyrics are in the program and the tune is “My Country ‘Tis Of Thee.”) The production also pokes gentle fun at the old technology. Frequently, moments seem written in to take advantage of and spotlight the hand-crafted sound effects.
But the technology doesn’t overshadow the acting. This production directed by Walcutt and Ossman is blessed with a cast filled with unusually expressive and full-bodied voices that are musical instruments capable of a range of impeccable accents. Walker in particular has a plummy Downton Abbey sound when required or a soft Irish lilt. Surprisingly, while there must a melodramatic tinge to the proceedings , the style never seems over the top or out of place.
If The BBC Murders is not riveting suspense or confounding mystery, it’s quite well done, intriguing and perhaps a peek back to the future of theater.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
It’s tough to guess whether the model used in Agatha Christie’s The BBC Murders could serve as a template for other plays combining 21st century techology with nostalgia-infused theater art. But this much is true: The four linked Christie plays at Fort Lauderdale’s Parker Playhouse prove to be a delight for lovers of mysteries, radio drama and solidly entertaining theater. to one side, playing roles as vital as any of those performed by actors, are Foley artists Tony Brewer and Lauren Allison, the live sound effects wizards who supply everything from the creak of an opening door to the clink of a china teacup on its saucer. Their synchronization with actors who are miming the pouring of a stiff drink, skiing to an isolated manor house or delivering a fatal blow is dead on.
The entire cast is strong, and as with any repertory company, it’s fun to watch the actors change characters and accents from play to play.

Gary Sandy, a regular on the TV series WKRP in Cincinnati, is the leading man — or leading cad — in three of the four plays... Whatever Sandy may be like in his offstage life, he has a real knack for playing self-important bad guys.
If The BBC Murders has a leading lady (in addition to the genial Peterson as Christie, of course) and most valuable player, Amy Walker gets both titles... In all four plays, she’s terrific.
The company’s other performers... all prove adroit at delivering their multiple characters.
Agatha Christie's The BBC Murders plays at the Parker Playhouse through February 3, 2013.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Off Stage Conversations

Hello! It's time for Off Stage Conversations, where I, Andie Arthur, executive director of the South Florida Theatre League, share blog posts and articles on the national and international discussion of the field. There's a lot of good stuff this week -- both inspirational and practical.

I Believe

Taylor Mac gives a rousing theatre manifesto for the Under the Radar Festival. You can either watch the video or read the transcript. There are so many parts of this that I love, but I'm going to pull out this quote as my current favorite, "I believe my work and all “experimental work”, is commercial theater. I believe the non-profit sector is and has been incredible but that it’s taught audiences that theater is something most people won’t want to see."

Changing the Debate

Margy Weller writes for ArtsJournal on reframing the arts funding debate, and the trap that the arts get into being seen as entertainment and not as a public good.

A National Standard of Arts Education

Talia Gibas takes a look at what a national standard of arts education would look like in the United States and how we could learn from other countries.

Arts Marketing Round Up

Ron Evans writes on what arts marketers can learn from Five Guys.

PBS covers a new study on how the arts use social media and digital technology. It also tantalizingly mentions a yarn bombing promotional campaign, but doesn't give many details. As knitter, I would love to figure out how to use the needles to promote theatre.

Trevor O'Donnell has great post on where Arts Marketing Logic Fails. It's a great reminder that your marketing shouldn't be about your needs, but about your audience's needs.

Fundraiser Burnout

The Chronicle of Philanthropy notes that half of the top fundraisers/development directors would like to quit. Jennifer Berkshire gets into the broken fundraising cycle that puts unrealistic demands on development staff.

Board Development Roundup

Barry's Blog looks at what to do when board micromanagement is a problem.

Laramie Board Learning Project lists 10 ways to energize your board.

Non Profit Quarterly asks what do you talk about at your board meetings? The right answer is NOT reports.

5 Things the Dance Field Should be Talking About

Marc Kirschner writes on dance for the Huffington Post, but a lot of the issues he mentions could easily be translated to theatre. One of the things he specifically talks about is the relationship between NEA funding and digital innovation, which is of interest to all arts groups.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Buffman's Back with BBC Murder Mysteries.

Zev Buffman, CEO of Ruth Eckerd Hall
Zev Buffman is one of the visionaries who helped lay the groundwork for today's theatre scene in South Florida.  And after a decades-long absence, he's back with Agatha Christie's The BBC Murder Mysteries at the Parker Playhouse, an eminently newsworthy event that can't wait until your Monday reading list.

Florida Theater On Stage:
South Florida impresario and veteran Broadway producer Zev Buffman foresees a future for stage theater — in radio. Not just for any theater, but orphans like the Parker Playhouse that are too big for local theater troupes and too small for Broadway tours. And he wants to do it in part by reviving the genre of mystery/thriller plays.

Local audiences will see his first foray this month with his production of Agatha Christie’s The BBC Murders, four radio plays lost for a half-century, uncovered by Buffman’s detective work and adapted by grafting full-fledged theater techniques onto a vintage radio drama foundation.
The show features 20 actors, musicians and Foley artists including Gary Sandy, a seasoned stage actor best known for TV’s WKRP in Cincinnati; Phil Proctor, a founder of the counterculture comedy troupe Firesign Theater; actress/singer Amy Walker whose UTube video features her performing 21 accents in two minutes; Proctor’s wife Melinda Peterson impersonating Christie herself as the hostess and narrator, plus local actresses Elizabeth Dimon and Angie Radosh.
The Miami Herald:
From his 1962 debut with Pajama Tops at the Coconut Grove Playhouse until 1988 when he handed off his theatrical ventures to the company that became Broadway Across America, Zev Buffman was the dominant force in South Florida theater, not to mention a producer of Broadway shows and touring theater fare.
Buffman hopes that the unusual hybrid art form that is The BBC Murders will launch an ongoing relationship involving Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall, which he heads; the restored Capital Theatre in Clearwater; and the Parker, where his 21 years as the theater’s producer included Elizabeth Taylor’s 1981 stage debut in The Little Foxes.
Buffman, who gave the cast a Parker Playhouse tour that proved emotionally intense for him, says he’s excited about reentering a world that could, perhaps, take him back to Broadway.

“I’m a Peter Pan. But there comes a time when you think more deeply about what you want to do and how you want to spend your time,” he says. “I learned that theater is my home.”
Mr. Buffman has a record of producing hit productions; let's hope he hasn't lost his touch.  Welcome back, Zev!

Maltz Jupiter Theatre: Singin' In The Rain (2 reviews)

Maltz Jupiter Theater opened its production of Singin' In The Rain on January 8, 2013.
This high-energy romantic comedy overflows with splashy song-and-dance numbers, including glorious songs such as "Good Morning," "Make 'Em Laugh" and the show-stopping title number, "Singin' In the Rain." The golden age of movie musicals comes alive as we follow silent movie actor Don Lockwood's journey into the talkies of the late 1920s. Complete with glittery showgirls, comical characters and an onstage rainstorm, this delightful extravaganza will leave you happy again!
Marc Robin directed a cast that featured Curt Dale Clark, Brian Shepard, Emily Stockdale and Lauren Blackman.

Monday, January 14, 2013

GableStage: Hamlet (3 reviews)

GableStage opened its production of William Shakespeare's Hamlet on January 12, 2013.
The American Premiere of a 90-minute, high energy version of the most powerful and important tragedy in the English language, adapted for London's Royal Shakespeare Company by Miami's own Award-Winning playwright, Tarell Alvin McCraney.
Tarell Alvin McCraney directed a cast that included Edgar Sanchez, Mimi Davila, Peter Haig, James Samuel Randolph, Arielle Hoffman, Alana Arenas, Ryan George, and Dylan Kammerer.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
In his fast-and-furious Hamlet at GableStage, director-adaptor Tarell Alvin McCraney gets right down to business.

William Shakespeare’s great tragedy and longest play doesn’t begin with two Elsinore Castle sentinels spying the ghost of Hamlet’s murdered father. Instead, the play opens with a magnetic Edgar Miguel Sanchez launching into Hamlet’s famous Act 3 Scene 1 soliloquy, a contemplation of suicide: “To be, or not to be -- that is the question...”
As a director, McCraney has drawn effective, sometimes dynamic performances from his eclectic cast, actors who range over that broad playing area and sometimes spill into the audience. That physical proximity ratchets up the play’s excitement and tension, particularly in the deadly sword fight between Sanchez’s Hamlet and Ryan George’s Laertes, a scene that ends in multiple deaths and blood-drenched daggers.
Sanchez -- omnipresent, crafty, sorrowful, furious -- drives the play... Davila’s Ophelia morphs from a sweet, smitten schoolgirl into a way over-the-top, sexualized madwoman.

James Samuel Randolph, with his rich voice and facility with Shakespeare’s language, is an artful villain as Claudius and a frightening presence as the ghost of Hamlet’s father. As Gertrude, Alana Arenas subtly conveys the push-pull of her feelings for her new husband and her only son. Together, Arenas and Randolph make for a regal, commanding couple.

Peter Haig deftly plays Polonius as a quirky, energetic schemer whose plotting leads to his undoing. Dylan Kammerer supplies solid backup to Hamlet as the prince’s best bud Horatio. George flips from the generally angry Laertes to a goofy Rosencrantz, and as Guildenstern (and a singing, ukulele-playing Osric), Arielle Hoffman makes a beguiling Shakespearean debut. New World students Laura Di Lorenzo, Michael Napoles and Alfie Ramirez acquit themselves well as the court’s visiting acting troupe, and they add a bit of sabor español to the production.

Hap Erstein reviewed for the Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
...considering the severe edit on the play, the major plot points all survive in a coherent rendering of the play, with a minimum of stylistic gimmicks. You get the impression that McCraney does respect Shakespeare, but wants to turn on reluctant audience members to his powerful yarns.
Sanchez makes a lively and verbally accomplished Hamlet, with the deep-voiced James Samuel Randolph doubling capably as new king Claudius and the ghost of Hamlet Sr. Peter Haig is a crafty presence as Polonius, even if some of his most memorable lines are absent. For my taste, Mimi Davila’s Ophelia could tone down her steamy mad scenes, but others are bound to disagree.

I wonder whether those who devour Reader’s Digest condensed novels ever then seek out the unabridged texts. If McCraney’s Hamlet does draw in new audiences, that would be great, and even better would be if they then discovered the full play.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
This vibrant and youthful Hamlet honors the music of the Bard’s language by using solely his words edited by McCraney and Bijan Sheibani. But director McCraney places an equal premium on actors communicating a line’s meaning rather than being mindlessly captive to the poetry, a virtue reminiscent of Kenneth Branagh’s films.
The key soliloquies are here and many of the oft-quoted phrases, but Hamlet lovers will easily spot wholesale cuts... Still, there is not even a whiff of a dumbed-down Classics Illustrated approach. The cleanness and clarity after having pared away the verbal curlicues and fripperies just highlight the magnificence of what’s left.
A capable cast is led by an especially impressive Sanchez as a vital young man driven by a mission of revenge and consumed with guilt over his reticence. Wilier than most of the people around him, Sanchez’s canny Hamlet masks the churning bile with a warm, broad smile.
The cast is comprised of either South Florida residents or former Miamians.  Among the standouts is veteran Peter Haig who skillfully makes Polonius more of a self-important politician than the characterization of a fool that some actors stoop to. He’s been looking for a while for the right role and the right director; given this chance, he displays all the accumulated skill and technique that come from his extensive experience.
The same goes for local educator James Samuel Randolph who has performed Lear and Othello for New Theatre. His sonorous voice and his facility with the verse serve the robust Claudius well enough. But those gifts are especially effective when his ghost strides across the stage seemingly nine feet tall with a voice emanating from the bowels of Hell.
The surprise was Ryan George, another Miamian who McCraney cast in 2011 as the likeable if hapless ex-con in GableStage’s The Brothers Size. Tall, wiry and with a shaven pate, his fey Rosencrantz was passable, but his Laertes is arguably the most dynamic force on the stage.
Alana Arenas, a former Miamian who is part of Chicago’s Steppenwolf ensemble, makes Gertrude a cross between a royal consort still open to afternoon delight with her new husband and yet maintains the decorum of a lady wearing a different kind of crown to an AME church social.
McCraney’s staging is relatively spare and straightforward, although he inserts  visual touches such as using a long blue winding sheet to represent Ophelia’s grave. He chooses to have Sanchez speak the soliloquies directly through the fourth wall to the audience as if he was explaining himself to a friend rather than speaking to himself. He also uses Jeff Quinn’s lighting to handle most of the scene changes with cinematic fluidity. Matt Corey enhances the mood with imagistic and slightly surreal sound cues.
Hamlet plays at GableStage through February 10, 2013.

Zoetic Stage: All New People (reviews)

Zoetic Stage opened its production of Zach Braff's All New People on January 10, 2013.
Charlie is having a tough time with life and, on his 35th birthday, decides to call it quits. Ruining his plans is a parade of hilariously odd but engaging characters who are somehow sent to save his life.

From Zach Braff, the writer, director and lead of the hit film Garden State and star of the long-running TV comedy "Scrubs," All New People is a fresh look at unexpected and accidental friendships that arise in life's most trying moments.
Stewart Meltzer directed a cast that featured Amy McKenna, Todd Allen Durkin, Betsy Graver, and Nicholas Richberg.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Staged by Stuart Meltzer with a sensitivity toward the ebb and flow of the characters’ many moods, the play careens from being riotously funny to sobering, sometimes within the space of a few minutes. And yet again, Zoetic provides a showcase for some of South Florida’s finest acting talent.
Certain production elements could use tinkering... What needs no work whatsoever are four terrific performances.
Richberg’s task is the toughest one, as Charlie is often an emotionally switched off observer. But the final moments of his journey back toward light and life are lovely. McKenna is totally believable as the chatty, drug-loving Emma, yet it’s clear that every intricate element of her performance has been effectively thought out. Graver delivers one of the best performances of her young career, making Kim an irresistible life force. And Magic City regular Durkin crafts yet another magnetic character: funny, outrageous and, when Myron incongruously delivers one of Shylock’s speeches from The Merchant of Venice, leaping from laughter to moving drama in a heartbeat.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
South Florida theater critics have to kiss a lot of comedy frogs before they find a prince, so we’re exhilarated when we discover one as magical as Zoetic Stage’s hilarious and touching All New People.

This is how it’s done, folks. It’s not just that Zach Braff has written a hysterical yet insightful script about four insanely disparate and damaged thirty-somethings struggling with the aloneness of being alive. What Zoetic Artistic Director Stuart Meltzer and his quartet of actors do with that material is masterful in comic timing, narrative pacing, inhabiting characters, line readings, excavating meaning, variety of tone yet unity of approach, you name it.  Did we mention it’s seriously funny?
Hopefully, you’ll be too enthralled to notice, but Meltzer and company deftly negotiate a slow curve from wacky absurdist farce to tender compassion and later a hopeful resolution that emerges organically– and always leavening it with belly laughs.
Richberg... has the toughest challenge making the perpetually despondent Charlie not just likeable but interesting enough to be the fulcrum of the evening... he succeeds by delivering a genuine sense of aching sorrow under that hangdog expression.
Graver... has had several not-quite-as-dim-as-she-seems roles recently and the marvel is that she has made each different from the other. More importantly, Graver’s Kim brings an open honesty and sweetness to the party.
McKenna... nails Emma’s shakily constructed perkiness and communicates that earnest intensity that comes from struggling to focus when a mind is scrambled with whatever illicit pharmaceutical is available.
Saving the best for last is Durkin. He fearlessly becomes this crass, sexually obsessed glue sniffer who is clearly lonely for all his macho posturing. Just as he did in Zoetic’s Captiva, Durkin delivers uniquely naturalistic line readings that most actors wouldn’t find. Even better, his comic timing, that slight pause, that extra topspin is remarkable.
A side note: We wrote in our essays last summer that South Florida audiences and critics get so accustomed to adequate work that they come to mistake it for excellent work. This is especially true about comedy. It takes a production like All New People to make us recalibrate our standards and remind us what excellence looks like.
Marj O'Neill-Butler reviewed for miamiartzine:
Zoetic's latest, All New People, led by Artistic Director Stuart Meltzer, is now playing at the Arsht Center in downtown Miami and it's a funny and endearing production with four people living out an hour and a half of life saving side-splitting comedy.
Richberg, who is model handsome in real life, is unshaven and with a body that looks like it has given up breathing.   Charlie is in the depths of a deep depression with the intention of offing himself for his past deeds.

Just as he contemplates ending it all, in bursts a realtor, Emma, a stoned expatriate from England played all out physically and emotionally by Amy McKenna...
Todd Alan Durkin... who has a running role as a sleazy lawyer in the TV series Magic City, does a complete turn around in this role. He plays dumb ass to the hilt... And yet... in one of the plays quiet moments he tells a story about his life and his face illustrates pain and disappointment that is heartbreaking.

And finally, enter the escort Kim... Played by the wacky and quirky Betsy Graver...
They each have had their own tragedies that they share with Charlie. Not enough can be said about the ability of these four actors to deliver riotous lines and pitiable stories in the most natural way.
Zoetic Stage presents All New People at the Arsht Center for the Perfomring Arts through January 27, 2013.

Mondays are Dark

The record heat in South Florida's winter has seeped into our local theaters; things are cooking on local stages.

Today's "dark" theater is The Studio at Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center, which is home to Parade Productions and Outré Theatre Company.  The actual theater space is adequate, although the lobby and concessions could use serious reconsideration; a porta-bar in the foyer instead of using the banquet hall would go a long way to making intermissions more pleasant; it's a hike to get to that bar.  And like the Main Street Playhouse in Miami Lakes, parking can be a challenge during street festivals.

Here's your Monday reading list:

Not So Dark
Tonight is the kick-off production for the Theatre Arts Guild Florida New Play Workshop; Jan McArt returns to the stage in this reading of Tony Finstrom's Back Stage Story, and Florida Theater On Stage has the story.

When it Rains, it Pours.
Palm Beach ArtsPaper takes a look behind the scenes at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre production of Singin' In The Rain.
“The rain is actually over the entire stage. It’s sort of coming from everywhere. There’s a front curb that is actually seeping water onto the apron while he is dancing upstage. So that by the end of the act, when he goes crazy in the rain, the first four or five rows is going to need the ponchos we are giving them.”
Oh boy.  We didn't like getting wet at the Miami Seaquariam show; we'll stick to the back half of the theater, thank you.

Who Do You Call?
The Examiner wants to know which arts information websites you rely on to stay informed; and how you relate to them - as a patron, or as an artist? 

Sneak Peak at Broward Center Renovation
The Broward Center sent us a link to the online version of their most recent edition of centerstage, their in-house magazine.  It's all about the work being done on the center, with lots of renderings of the end results.

She's the "B" in "Big Apple"
The Miami Herald reports that Ava-Riley Miles has landed a role in the Broadway production of EVITA.  The third-grader is play the role of Child, "a newly-written solo spotlight in the second act."

Meanwhile... Palm Beach, the Royal Poinciana Playhouse is still closed, but the Shiny Sheet reports that there's a tenant prepared to invest $15 million in improvements in the 55 year old theater.
Rosow said that he’d met with two representatives from the group negotiating to lease the Playhouse, whose identity was not revealed because of a confidentiality agreement.

According to a joint statement from Sterling and the prospective tenant Munder read during the meeting, the potential lessee “has a documented history of professional success in both the performing arts and visual arts.” The group’s programming goals include “live performance presentations, including concerts and mounting regional productions, providing educational classes and children’s programming, advancing arts technology, and creating performance and presentation opportunities for local community arts groups.”
Well, if the deal falls through on this one, we know of a playhouse in Hollywood that a certain bank would love to unload...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Scene for January 11, 1013

The kids are all back in school, as the new year rolls along.  That means we'll soon see more children's shows opening; I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but that's the way children's programming works. 

Be sure to check out this week's Coming and Going section; there's lots of interesting stuff blowing through this weekend, it would be a shame to miss it.  Among this weeks, offering is Young Arts Week 2013; it's not strictly theatre, but it includes performing arts.

And while we've had a lot of great shows so far this season, there are even more great shows to come - it's a great time to be a theatre-lover in South Florida.

Here's what's playing on The Scene this first weekend of 2013:


Maltz Jupiter Theatre opens Singin' In The Rain, through Janaury 27.

Zoetic Stage
opens Zach Braff's All New People at the Arsht Center, through January 27. Be careful clicking on that link at the office; a video blares to life when the page loads.

Tarrel Alvin McRaney's adaptation of William Shakespeare's Hamlet opens Saturday at GableStage.

you still haven't missed...

Mad Cat Theatre Company presents Kristina Wong's Cat Lady at the Lightbox Project at Goldman Warehouse through January 20, 2012.

The Women's Theatre Project presents Faye Sholiton's The Interview at the Willow Theater through January 20, 2013.

Broward Stage Door's production of The World Goes 'Round plays through January 20, 2012.

Island City Stage's production of Chris Weikel's Pig Tales: An Urban Faerie Story plays at Empire Stage through February 2, 2013.

Laffing Matterz is back at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts; new show, new chef, new seasons of laughs.

community and conservatory...

The Sunshine Boys plays at the Tamarac Theatre of Performing Arts through January 27.

coming and going...

You have two chances to see the Lost Girls Theatre present Super Shorts: an Evening of Geeky Play Readings; Friday in Miami Lakes, and Saturday in Fort Lauderdale.

Showtime Performing Arts Theatre presents the revue Singing and Dancing in the Rain this weekend only.

This weekend be sure to check out a concert presentation of Camelot at Palm Beach Dramaworks. Yes, this is the Lerner and Loewe musical we've all come to love.

Palm Beach PlayMakers presents the results of its first playwrighting collaboration, a staged reading of Boxer Shorts, this Saturday only at The Delray Beach Playhouse.

Jan McArt returns to the stage for Back Stage Story on Monday, a reading of a new play by Tony Finstrom at Lynn University.

Defending the Caveman squeezes in two performances this Monday, January 14, at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre.

last chance to see...

If you find yourself in Key West, you have until this Saturday to check out The 39 Steps at The Waterfront Playhouse.

for kids...

One Night in Frogtown plays Saturday, January 12 at the Miramar Cultural Center.

The Wizard of Oz winds up its run at the Showtime Performing Arts Theater this Saturday, January 12.

Pinkalicious plays the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center this weekend.  But we heard that it may be sold out...