His woman left him, he's broke, and it's almost five o'clock in the morning. But don't worry…out of his 1930's radio pop "Five Guys Named Moe" who cajole, wheedle, comfort, and jazz him with the songs of Louis Jordan, one of the most beloved songwriters of the 20th Century. In their multi colored zoot suits, the Five Guys harmonize, croon, wail, tap, and joke their way into the hearts of the audience. Irresistible!
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
A funny and captivating new musical revue, based on the best-selling book by Abigail Pogrebin, celebrates the lives of your favorite Jewish stars and public figures. Humorous and human songs shed light on Gloria Steinem, Aaron Sorkin, Gwyneth Paltrow, Norman Lear, Joan Rivers and many others, with original music by Broadway's finest composers and lyricists. Enjoyable and engaging entertainment, whether you are Jewish or not!
Thursday, December 25, 2014
Friday, December 19, 2014
As we come upon the solstice, almost every religion has an observance of some sort. And for our part, all of them are a good excuse to go see a show.
Broadway and film star Leslie Uggams stars in the classic musical based on the novel “Auntie Mame” by Patrick Dennis. It tells the ageless story of Mame Dennis’ eccentric, bohemian lifestyle suddenly interrupted when her late brother’s son is entrusted to her care. But rather than adopt to any societal standards about child rearing, money-making and romance – Mame does everything with her own dramatic flair. Many of Jerry Herman’s most memorable melodies grace this production including Mame, It’s Today, If He Walked Into My Life and We Need A Little Christmas.
Friday, December 12, 2014
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Fresh from its Off-Broadway run, MIRACLE ON SOUTH DIVISION STREET is the story of the Nowak family living amidst the urban rubble of Buffalo, NY’s East Side. Clara the family matriarch happily runs her soup kitchen and tends to the family heirloom, a twenty-foot shrine of the Blessed Mother, which adjoins the house. This beacon commemorated the day in 1942 that the Virgin Mary appeared to her father at his home-based barbershop. During the course of this very funny and original play, the entire family’s faith is shaken to the core as the family legend seems to be unraveling. The evening’s results are heartfelt and hilarious.
A down-on-his-luck New Yorker inherits an apartment in Paris and must live with his tenants, an old lady and her rigid daughter. Their lives soon intertwine in unexpected and profound ways.
A tough, suspenseful urban drama about a former 1960s revolutionary whose deceased wife has taken too many secrets to her grave. In his last-minute search for the truth, he hooks up with his estranged daughter only to learn that her story is darker and more complex than even he could have imagined.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Hate. Desire. Jealousy…Love.
William Shakespeare’s powerful tragedy tells us of a love that defies the boundaries of race, and of a hate that defies the boundaries of reason. Othello, a Moorish general in the employ of a European power, defies the conventions of his culture to marry a European woman and to rise through the ranks to become a respected and powerful soldier. But his misplaced trust in his ensign, Iago, leads him to discard it all as Iago manipulates and twists the soul of a noble man. Dealing with such varied themes as race, class, jealousy, and trust, Othello is a study in the self-doubt and fear that resides in the hearts of us all.
Friday, December 5, 2014
And just because it’s fun, you have two different versions of Fiddler on the Roof and A Christmas Carol. OK. so one Fiddler is a professional production while the other is college show, but the dueling Christmas Carols are on a more or less equal footing. One’s in Palm Beach County, the other in Miami-Dade, if you’re in Broward, flip a coin.
A life changing relationship sparks between a Rabbi and a Gospel singer when neither of them are able to move forward without the other's support in this Florida premiere of a new play by Richard Krevolin and Irwin Kula.
Friday, November 28, 2014
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
In a New York apartment the grandchildren of a recently deceased Holocaust survivor fight over his religious heirlooms, bickering over who deserves them more -- and exposing long-simmering family feuds. There's nothing like a death in the family to bring out the worst in people -- and this unhappy truth is displayed with delectably savage humor in Bad Jews.
Following an acclaimed sold-out tour of the United Kingdom, Cameron Mackintosh's spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's phenomenal musical success, The Phantom of the Opera, is coming to the Broward Center as part of a brand new North American Tour. Hailed by critics as "bigger and better than ever before," this production boasts many exciting special effects including the show's legendary chandelier, new scenic and lighting designs, new staging and choreography. The beloved story and thrilling score will be performed by a cast and orchestra of 52, making this Phantom one of the largest productions now on tour.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Old Jews Telling Jokes opened at the Broward Stage Door Theatre on November 1, 2014.
Get ready for an outrageous evening of one-liners, double-entendres and hysterical routines sure to triple you over with laughter! OLD JEWS TELLING JOKES showcases five actors in a comedy that pays tribute to and reinvents classic jokes of the past and present. The show also features comic songs—brand-new and satisfyingly old—as well as tributes to some of the giants of the comedy world and to the Old Jews Telling Jokes website, which inspired the show. Like rye bread, kosher pickles and bagels, this show is for everyone! You'll laugh 'til you plotz.
Peter Loewy directed a cast that featured Gail Byer, Adam Chisnall, Michael H. Small, Ashley Brooke and Ben Brayz.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Ecstatic and dangerously funny, Detroit rips up the floorboards to reveal the racing heart under a crumbling suburban dream. Written by Pulitzer Prize finalist Lisa D'Amour, this comedic drama takes place somewhere in the suburbs of a mid-sized city when Ben and Mary welcome into their lives the mysterious couple who moves next door. But as this foursome bonds over backyard barbecues, the neighborly connection they find threatens to unravel the lives they've built. Soon they find themselves increasingly pulled toward their wild new friends – to incendiary effect. A dangerous new comedy, named one of The New York Times' "Top 10 Plays of 2012," Detroit exposes the nerves that live just under the surface of American life today.
Two brilliant women scientists, mother and daughter, meet for the first time on the eve of a national conference. Both are evolutionary biologists who share a zeal for science and a bold, contrarian approach to their male-dominated field. As they struggle to find the connection that any mother and daughter cherishes most, the truth about their history and relationship unfolds. From the writer/producer of television hits like House of Cards and In Treatment comes this smart and compelling new play about science, family and survival of the fittest.
Friday, November 7, 2014
Island City Stage opened its production of POZ at Empire Stage on October 23, 2014.
Island City Stage presents the world premiere of the comedy POZ, the story of Edison, a handsome young man with leukemia who can only get insurance to cover his chemo if he's HIV+. Robert is an older man, HIV+, and a self-proclaimed "sex pig" trying to change his life. Each has what the other wants. But what will they do to get it? Toss in an aging stage star, an eccentric medium, an old-school queen and a ghost and you get POZ, an extremely funny, thought-provoking, totally unconventional love story.
Michael Leeds directed cast that included Janet Weakly, Jeffrey Bruce, Pierre Tannous, Christian Vanderpas, and Larry Buzzeo.
Thursday, November 6, 2014
The Wick Theatre opened its production of Swing! on October 23, 2014.
A joyful celebration in both music and dance, SWING! is full of incredible hits from the greatest era like It Don’t Mean a Thing, Hit Me With a Hot Note, Harlem Nocturne, G.I. Jive and Stompin’ at the Savoy. As this enthralling song-and-dance show makes abundantly clear, swing was never a time and place, it was always a state of mind!
Kelly Schook directed and choreographed a cast that included Alix Paige, Phillip Attmore, Michael Ursua, Amanda Torsilieri, Amelia Millar, Andy Frank, Ashley Klinger, Tommy Joscelyn, Ashley Klinger, Casey Weems, Charles South, Chris Brand, Lindsey Bell, Mandy Modic, and Chris Patterson.
Tuesday, November 4, 2014
A severe tropical storm displaces the soul of a man and the lives of his family when Forrest Hunter, a catholic missionary, living in a Caribbean island suffers an accident that leaves him injured not only physically but also mentally with a case of amnesia. Will his wife Ria and his adopted son Aparicio help him recover his memory so he can lead a normal life? Or is his past unreachable and unattainable? The answer is revealed through an unexpected sacrifice, a path of redemption, which turns out to be a celebration of humility, generosity and kindness. Hurricane is an uplifting allegory that soars beyond the limits of existence to the immense power of human will and the rediscovery and reconstruction of life.
Friday, October 31, 2014
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
El Guindi’s Back of the Throat is an unflinching and Strangelovian look at the post-9/11 stripping of Americans’ rights in the name of security. Khaled, an Arab-American writer, finds himself the target of a “casual” inquiry by two government agents. But as rumors swirl and grudges are exposed, the darkness behind such governmental euphemisms as “person of interest” and “extraordinary rendition” is revealed. Far from being preachy, El Guindi’s play asks the simple question: when they come for you, who will be your voice?
Passion. Deception. Betrayal. Experience one of the most captivating and tortured heroines in history. Don't miss this new adaptation of the world-famous drama about a reluctant housewife rebelling against the prison of stability.
An adaption of Henrik Ibsen’s classic play by Stephanie Ansin and Fernando Calzadilla.
Friday, October 24, 2014
Penned by local playwright Vanessa Garcia, this family drama revolves around secrets, identity crisis of a separated generation, and the sacrifices one must go through to live in democracy.
At home, she’s at the mercy of her loving but cruelly over-protective mother. But Carrie’s just discovered she’s got a special power, and if pushed too far, she’s not afraid to use it. Based on Stephen King’s bestselling novel, the musical of Carrie hasn’t been seen since its legendary 1988 Broadway production. Set today, in the small town of Chamberlain, Maine, Carrie features a book by Lawrence D. Cohen (screenwriter of the classic film), music by Academy Award winner Michael Gore (Fame, Terms of Endearment), and lyrics by Academy Award winner Dean Pitchford (Fame, Footloose).
Thursday, October 16, 2014
While the weather is cooling down, the theatre scene continues to heat up. Carrie the Musical and The Rocky Horror Show open this weekend, to get us in the mood for Halloween. Meanwhile, it’s your last chance to catch Mothers and Sons at Gablestage.
Here's what's playing on South Florida stages this weekend:
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
The beauty of ordinary life is celebrated in this Pulitzer Prize-winning play, as the citizens of Grover's Corners experience birth, love, marriage, and death, and the attendant joy, heartbreak, and transience of being alive.
For such a seemingly simple play, Our Town requires the audience to generously invest their attention and imagination. Thornton Wilder’s classic set in a small town in New Hampshire only works when its visitors travel more than halfway there.
But for those willing to make that journey, the gossamer delicate play can vibrate the heartstrings and the synapses, as it does in Palm Beach Dramaworks’ deft production.
Hundreds of third-rate productions by high school and amateur theaters have flattened it, hyped it and botched it by playing it too condescendingly cute or too ham-handedly literal or any of a dozen other potential missteps.
But resident director J. Barry Lewis and his troupe of 21 thespians – the most ever on a Dramaworks stage – hit that elusive sweet spot.
Besides the insightful leadership of Lewis, the play features an ensemble of actors, most reunited having played at Dramaworks on and off throughout its history… All create recognizable types in any community, yet invest each with a specificity and uniqueness that keeps them from being cartoonish stereotypes.
Kiser, in particular, is perfection as the mature-for-her-age youngster, then the awkward lovesick girl and then the toughest challenge as the deceased Emily who is stunned at what she learns about life. In a speech usually mangled by high school student actors, Kiser movingly bids farewell to Life as exemplified by acknowledging such shards as sunflowers and clocks ticking.
Holding the center ever-so-gently is Colin McPhillamy, so brilliant in Exit The King last year, creates a chatty genial persona for the Stage Manager. His slow high reedy voice bespeaks a veteran observer who has been a de facto philosopher for years without ever thinking of himself as one.
Lewis is best known for his ability to plumb and communicate the most intricate depths of intellectually complex works. But here he has simply dove deep into the emotional truth of the work. Although he certainly has shown an ability for moving people around the stage without calling attention to his work, the theatricality of this piece allows him to create some striking stage tableaus.
…Dramaworks’ stage mirrors the 1938 original. Scenic and lighting designer Paul Black has created the unadorned backstage of a 1930s theater, complete with bare brick back wall and weather-worn wooden catwalks under an iron girder, much of it evocatively painted by Rebecca Pancoast. The scenery is just plain tables and chairs left over from a rehearsal. The attention to detail is stunning down to broken slats in the vent for an air handler.
There may never be a perfect mounting of Our Town. It is a work of genius but it always gives you the sense that a better production is out there somewhere. It’s almost an unattainable goal for theater artists that they, thank goodness, never stop striving for. But Dramaworks certainly has delivered one of the deepest and most satisfying runs at it than we’ve seen in this region in a long, long time.
The classic play is being given an unpretentious and thoughtful production guided by J. Barry Lewis at Palm Beach Dramaworks in West Palm Beach.
The 21-member cast features many Dramaworks veterans and some of the finest players in South Florida. They include Elizabeth Dimon, playing the motherly Julia Gibbs; Margery Lowe as the gossipy Mrs. Soames; and Dan Leonard turning his dry wit to the portrayal of Charles Webb.
A welcome newcomer to Dramaworks’ stage is Emiley Kiser, playing Emily Webb with effortless radiance. Emily’s life and death provide the through line to the story. Our tour guide is Colin McPhillamy, portraying the stage manager with folksy matter-of-factness.
The show is not without humor. Leonard’s dry delivery of Charles Webb’s advice to George before his wedding is LOL funny. But the message to live our lives to the fullest while we can keeps surfacing to the end, when we’re wished a good night’s rest — a metaphor for the eternal rest that comes all too soon.
Dale King wrote for Palm Beach Artspaper:
True to its promise to provide “theater to think about,” Palm Beach Dramaworks opened its 2014-2015 season this past weekend with Thornton Wilder’s unadorned but hauntingly personal play, Our Town.
The inhabitants of Grover’s Corners include some of South Florida’s best-known thespians...
In their roles as George and Emily, Ferrarelli (in his professional debut) and Kiser are exceptional and very natural. They both aptly display a grasp of emotions perfectly suited to their parts.
Dimon warmly depicts Mrs. Gibbs, and Kay’s occasionally stern demeanor is nicely juxtaposed with Dimon’s loving touch. Patti Gardner plays Mrs. Webb with a charming flair. As her husband, Dan Leonard can also be stern, but is clearly a soft touch. The way he comforts his daughter’s fears before her wedding is delightful.
Adding finely observed touches are Michael Collins as Simon Stimson, the choirmaster whose drinking problem is spoken about in whispers; Lowe as Mrs. Soames, a friend and neighbor who adds a comic touch during the wedding by commenting over and over to the audience about how beautiful it is, and Felix as Professor Willard, whose geology-obsessed cameo is a hoot.
Director J. Barry Lewis draws fine work from all the players in this now-classic work of the American stage, and Dramaworks’ production lets Wilder’s austerely presented but powerfully realized slice of life speak for its eloquent self.
Leslie Gray Streeter wrote for the Palm Beach Post, who obligingly hid it behind their obscenely expensive pay wall:
“Our Town” is one of those classic American works whose power comes in its seemingly benign nature. Some seven decades after its debut, Thornton Wilder’s look at the cycle of life in a quiet New England town might seem as sleepy as Grover’s Corners itself. But as Palm Beach Dramaworks’ current adaptation proves, its emotional gut punch sneaks up on you in the quiet.
The play is traditionally performed on a minimal set, without props, so Paul Black’s hauntingly spare design — a stark wooden scaffold with two descending staircases — becomes a character itself... The very spareness of it is wrenching, because Wilder’s words, the competent actors and the imagination of the audience are enough to conjure the details of small town life as reliable as the newspaper and milk bottles delivered to the Webb and Gibbs families each morning.
Kiser, particularly, is heartbreaking as she navigates Emily’s life stages and begs to reverse them, helplessly, against the inescapable things that the other townspeople, and Wilder, and the audience, know must stand.
Dramaworks breathes new life into this reliable work, making even its inevitability fresh and stirring.
In celebration of Dramaworks’ 15th season, it has staged a beautiful, memorable rendering, with the largest cast in its history, many veterans of other Dramaworks shows.
Although it is the traditional minimalist set, with no props other than the chairs and tables... It is evocative of New England. It speaks of earlier times, a simpler way of life, but life, nonetheless, as we all still live it in all its cycles. The minimalist set asks us, the audience, to use our own imagination, enter the play, and to fill in the blanks.
So why does this play never tire, in spite of the number of times we’ve seen it? It is a play about everyman – us – and it is a celebration of what it means to be part of a community. It’s about the transience of life, something we become increasingly aware of as we age, putting our brief humdrum existence in context (“The cottage, the go cart, the Sunday-afternoon drives in the Ford, the first rheumatism, the grandchildren, the second rheumatism, the deathbed, the reading of the will. Once in a thousand times it’s interesting.”). It is a call to find beauty and meaning in the ordinary.
How fitting that the Stage Manger role should go to Colin McPhillamy… He is the consummate actor (and fellow blogger). He gives a tour de force performance inhabiting the role of the authoritative, omniscient guide for the audience, easily transitioning to briefly becoming a character in the play and then back again as the “stage manager.”
Emiley Kiser, a Dramaworks newcomer, plays Emily Webb... Emiley Kiser is the kind of actress who just radiates her youth, making the transition from teenager to young adult on stage, the perfect choice for the fabled girl next door in the mythical town of Grover’s Corner.
Ferrarelli plays his role with the breathless expectation of the future, a life with his childhood (albeit secret) sweetheart, one that he takes for granted will last, well, forever.
The other major roles are all played by Dramaworks’ veterans and their experience and love of working together shines in their professionalism.
…special mention should be made about the lighting, designed by the same person who handled the scenic design, Paul Black. With lighting, he captured the characters bathed in moonlight, drew the audience focus to certain characters while keeping others in dappled shadows, and making the characters in the cemetery seem, well, other-worldly. The lighting was not obtrusive, but greatly enhanced the production. Costumes of the period were spot on, thanks to Robin L. McGee’s efforts and when you needed to hear that railroad in the distance, sound designer, Matt Corey was right on cue. Indeed, it’s these little things that help make a brilliant professional production.
Finally, it takes a special director to bring all of these elements together into a seamless, fulfilling creation. J. Barry Lewis had never directed Our Town during his long career and it took a confluence of events… a theatre company reaching maturity, with actors uniquely qualified for the roles, and professional designers and a stage well equipped to bring out all Thornton Wilder intended. A deft director’s hand is critical to avoid the sense of sentimentality and to focus on the weighty universal truths behind the cycle of life of the play’s characters. He is careful to capture the humor Wilder interjects here and there as well as to counterbalance the tragic elements.
Winner of five Tony Awards, Rick Elice’s PETER AND THE STARCATCHER is the innovative and imaginative play with music based on the best-selling novel by Miami native Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. In this high-flying adventure, twelve actors play more than 100 unforgettable characters – plus most of the scenery and furniture – in an exhilarating journey to answer the century-old question: How did Peter Pan become The Boy Who Never Grew Up? This epic origin story proves that one’s own imagination is the most captivating place in the world!
So much is going on in this fizzy prequel to J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan prequel, Peter and Wendy, audience alertness is a must to soak up all the puns, plot and pratfalls. But if you’re not so inclined and miss a joke, or a plot point, Rick Ellice, who co-wrote the touring juggernaut Jersey Boys and wrote the Starcatcher script, keeps throwing things at the audience. Something will stick.
Twelve talented actors, most of them University of Miami theater students who work with seasoned Equity pros Nicholas Richberg and Tom Wahl, perform not only their main roles but dozens of others, including roles as scenery and props. Rolling waves in this seafaring tale? Give cast members a rope and have them simulate a roiling sea upon which the action unfurls… It’s theater-on-the-cheap writ large, and it looks fantastic.
Happily, the UM students, in the fourth coproduction between the school’s Department of Theater Arts and the Arsht’s Theater Up Close series, erase the lines between the pros and themselves.
Everyone is on equal footing — Richberg, as the flamboyant Freddie Mercury-like Black Stache/future Captain Hook, and Wahl, as Lord Aster, father of the young heroine Molly, along with Timothy Boehm-Manion, Joshua Jacobson and Timothy Bell as the orphans.
Sophomore Thomas Jansen, in the pantomime mame role as Mrs. Bumbrake… makes the most of his amusingly alliteration-heavy dialog. Jansen deftly spews bon mots like, “Betty’s blowing her bloomin’ breakfast,” as the storm-tossed sea — or thunderously flatulent love interest seaman Alf (Michael Mancini) — gets Bumbrake’s bloomers in a bunch.
Molly, played by Abigail Berkowitz, a UM musical theater major senior, is particularly well-pitched as the 13-year-old girl who blends precocious proto-feminist ideals with her strange new feelings…
Elice’s script, set in 1885, takes jabs at pop culture… Black Stache’s malapropisms —“As elusive as the melody at a Philip Glass opera” — amuse, but director Henry Fonte allows scenes to play on far too long. Black Stache’s mishap in the second act overplays its joke by at least five beats.
Likable when it should be lovable, the silly Starcatcher’s family-friendly take on never-ending childhood would benefit from a good trim and focus.
Probably the funniest thing I've seen on stage the past twenty years is Nicholas Richberg as Captain Black Stache, (get it?) the pirate, with his treasure chest. A little accident befalls him and his seemingly endless stream of OMG's takes funny to a level in the heavens. Richberg has the lead in "Peter and the Starcatcher" now playing at Miami's Arsht Center, and lead he does, brilliantly.
The show is a joint production of the Adrienne Arsht Center and the University of Miami Theatre Arts Department so we have student actors working with two professional Equity members, Richberg and Tom Wahl. Students they may be, but the kids hang step for step with the pros.
Fluidly directed by the UM's Henry Fonte with unique music by Wayne Barker. Set design by Yoshinori Tanokura with sound by Matt Corey, lights by Eric Haugen and costumes by Ellis Tillman. The musical director/conductor/pianist is NDavid (no typo) Williams and the percussionist is Mark Schubert. The prop design (including the sailing ships) is by Puppet Network and Monica Soderman.
A well-deserved standing ovation at the end for Peter and the Starcatcher.
Monday, October 13, 2014
Enter the passionate and violent world of a Lower East Side Bar and a Love Triangle gone wrong. MURDER BALLAD centers on Sara an Upper West-Sider who seems to have it all, but whose downtown past lingers enticingly and dangerously in front of her. Featuring a contemporary pop-rock score and a setting where the audience is placed in the bar and up close and personal with the actors, this sexy, explosive new musical explores the complications of love, the compromises we make, and the betrayals that can ultimately undo us.
Every couple of years, Actors’ Playhouse – home of the mainstream musical – says what the hell and mounts an edgy modern work that nourishes the creative soul of artistic director David Arisco and the theater’s more adventurous patrons… Add to that list this production of the off-Broadway cult rock opera Murder Ballad that mixes love, lust, loss, passion, fury, pain and violence in a fatal triangle as old as Mankind but as current as last week’s tabloid.
Mercilessly insightful lyrics about a doomed search for self-validating love and excoriating driving music are delivered with courageous abandon by a quartet of highly skilled musical theater actors, whipped on by Arisco who has posted what may be a personal best in staging.
The superb actors wring out every drop of toxic emotion with their bravura voices, their agonized facial expressions, their sensual body language without ever overacting or hitting a false note. Gruda may be remembered as the sister in Floyd Collins or Songs For A New World). Crawford spent last season in Zoetic’s Assassins and Dramaworks’ The Lion in Winter. Sanders was the father in next to normal and the standout, pouty sullen Torres, is a standout from New York originally from Miami.
Arisco creates memorable tableaus with the scenery he’s given… his command of movement without a choreographer is unparalleled.
Staging a show in the round is always a challenge and Arisco ensures most audience members never feel that they are seeing the actors’ backs too often. Even with performers singing to each other from the far ends of the performing area, he invisibly directs your attention where it should go, helped by Eric Nelson’s nimble lighting.
The rest of the creative team is also working at the top of their game. Mitch Furman’s sound makes every lyric crystalline. Ellis Tillman created costumes that seem as if they just came out of a Soho closet but which illuminate their personality. Gene Seyffer’s set design and Jodi Dellaventura’s set dressing/ props create the environment that must stand in for so many locations. This sung-through work is also a triumph for musical director Eric Alsford plus his whipcracking band Martha Spangler on bass, Roy Fantel on percussion and Sandy Poltarack on guitar.
Frankly, this may be one of the most original and entertaining offerings Actors' Playhouse has ever presented, and considering the theater's 27-year history, that's saying really saying something.
The usual accolades can be called upon for inclusion here -- "sexy," "seductive," and in this case, "superlative," but in fact, those adjectives only begin to describe this intimate encounter. The first thing that strikes the audience on entering Actors' Playhouse Balcony Theater is the stunning set by Gene Seyffer. The upstairs theater's usual standard seating has been totally uprooted, with the entire space transformed into an expansive recreation of a Greenwich Village tavern, complete with vintage wall decor, a working bar, guest tables, and a pool table.
…the songs are uniformly compelling and serve a much better purpose than merely moving the story along. Thankfully too, the lean but capable four-piece band under the direction of Eric Alsford is also adept, neither too showy nor too subdued when it comes to giving the score its due.
Gruda, Crawford, Sanders, and Torres are all accomplished singers, as good, in fact, as any to be found in any musical, on Broadway or off. Torres is especially magnificent, with a voice that can wail with anguish or emote as needed to guide the developments along. Artistic director David Arisco, whose diversity and daring when it comes to tackling new works is a marvel in itself -- again rises to the challenge of overseeing what could otherwise have been a calamity of confusion and missed and muddled cues. It's evident once again that Actors' Playhouse is indeed fortunate to have him and, that he, in turn, is also blessed to have the theater's palate of presentations to work with.
Actors' Playhouse described their new show as immersive. And that it is. Any more immersive and skivvies and bras would be hanging from the chandeliers. ...this is "Murder Ballard," the pop rock opera (well, almost) that puts the audience in the lower Manhattan neighborhood bar where the bartender and his girlfriend do the horizontal hoo hahs on the bar top, the billiards table and anywhere else that won't knock the patrons off their stools.
And is it any good? I'll say. Four wonderfully physical actor/singers backed by a driving band build the pressure from the first minute to the eightieth. No spoken words here, just ballads and belts telling the oldest tale of them all.
It's slick direction from David Arisco as he moves his players around, on and under the furniture. Fearsome fights and lusty maulings. Oh, how the other half lives. And these people can sing. Beautifully. Whatever it takes.
Actors' Playhouse has transformed their upstairs balcony theatre into the neighborhood hangout, the King's Club, complete with bandstand, bar, billiards table, and patron's chairs and tables. A major effort done well. A few rows of regular seating surround the stage, but if you want to see and feel the sweat, hear every brilliant note, just become part of the show, then grab a table and be prepared for a rare and exciting evening.
As predicted, the theater season has started with a vengeance. Eight shows opened across three counties last week, with more on the way. This week’s big opening is Slow Burn’s long awaited production of the musical version of Stephen King’s Carrie. Yes, its Broadway premiere was a flop of legendary proportions, but it enjoyed an extended off-Broadway revival in 2012.
Here’s your Monday reading list:
24 Hour Theatre Project
Florida Theater On Stage reports that Naked Stage’s annual 24 Hour Theatre Project is on track to play on October 27 at Palm Beach Dramaworks. But this year, the beneficiary isn’t The Naked Stage. This year’s proceeds will go to help long-time theatre supporter Dana Castellan cover the costs of her fight against cancer.
A Spanish Language Theatre Festival
Playing in Palm Beach
Speaking of Slow Burn
The move brings a significant theater producer to a county that has suffered the loss of major companies in recent years, even as smaller troupes have cropped up.
Currently, the company stages plays in West Boca, Aventura, and Fort Lauderdale, making it the only theater company producing shows in all three counties that make up metropolitan South Florida.
Professionals and Students
With University of Miami students working alongside seasoned professionals in almost every job, an apprenticeship has been forged that has had such a mutually synergistic benefit that sometimes the lines get blurred who are the mentors and who are the mentees.
The highly theatrical and adult-oriented origin story of Peter Pan is the fourth co-production of the Arsht’s Theater Up Close series and UM’s Department of Theatre Arts.
“This is my 19th time directing it,” Charnin says. “Over the course of the years, it morphs into different kinds of events. Sometimes, I discover it’s drifted so far away from its original intentions, I have to bring it back. ... This is more like the original.”
Life is a Cabaret Du Jour
Art is Life
Scroll down this Miami Herald article to find out where you can see Deborah Sherman perform her solo show, Frida: Unmasked this Friday. And then you can read on to learn about Thinking Cap Theatre’s new reading series.
Speaking of Thinking Cap
“At our production meeting, I said, ‘Put on your party hats and not just your thinking caps,’ “ says Nicole Stodard, the company’s founding artistic director. “We definitely haven’t done anything seasonal to date. It’s all been mission-driven work. I think it’s a good way to provide more fare for audiences and to get more people involved in the community and get people working.”
"The Last Romance is a warm, funny and insightful play about love after 65," says Whitelaw. "I hope our audiences will leave the theatre with a smile on their faces and a tear in their eyes. I know that after I read it, I did. Joe DiPietro is a talented young writer, who knows his characters and their territory."
Arthur Whitelaw directs this production. His productions have racked awards including the Tony, Oscar, Emmy, Olivier, Evening Standard, Drama Desk, Outer Critics, and more. Guess he wants to add “Carbonell” to the list.
The Palm Beach Daily News reports that there are no plans to demolish the long-dormant Royal Poinciana Playhouse, probably. But we haven’t heard much lately about plans to re-open it, either.
Thursday, October 9, 2014
Spring Awakening awakens at The Main Street Playhouse, through October 12.
Florida Atlantic University present The Cherry Orchard in its Studio One Theatre through October 17.
New World School of the Arts presents Rock’n’Roll, through October 19.
Nova Southeast University presents Betty’s Summer Vacation, through October 19, 2014.
Lake Worth Playhouse opens the musical Mame, through October 29.
Click Clack Moo is the centerpiece of Family Fun Day at the venerable Parker Playhouse this Saturday.
Miami Children’s Theatre opens Mulan, through October 30, 2014.
The world's best-loved musical returns in time-honored form. Directed by original lyricist and director Martin Charnin and choreographed by Liza Gennaro, this production of ANNIE will be a brand new incarnation of the iconic original. Featuring book and score by Tony Award®-winners Thomas Meehan, Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin, ANNIE includes such unforgettable songs as "It's the Hard Knock Life," "Easy Street," "I Don't Need Anything But You," plus the eternal anthem of optimism, "Tomorrow."
Why should you go to see Annie yet once again, besides delighting your children and the fact that this edition of a new-from-scratch national tour at the Broward Center is one of best Annie productions we’ve seen? Two reasons.
The first is that Martin Charnin, directing it literally for the 19th time since he helmed it in 1976, has banished a lot of the saccharine overkill and played the remaining cuteness and heart-tugging moments against a grimy, downtrodden Depression that resonates a good deal with our current world…not that this is a dark revisionist Annie..
The second reason to see this Annie is Annie. Savor the national bow of Davie resident Issie Swickle as she nails the title role with the polish and chops of someone a lot older than her nine years…
Now here’s a surprise: She can belt out a song with best of them and she has performer’s pizzazz without self-consciously mugging for applause. But Swickle’s not some blinding strobe light pulling focus from everyone else like such forces of nature as the original Annie, Andrea McArdle. She’s not a dynamo (although she reportedly has that quality), she’s not a mini-Merman (although she reportedly has that ability). She actually acts the part, not performs it – which is probably why Charnin chose her over about 500 other applicants. It’s especially evident in the non-belt numbers such as the wistful opening number “Maybe.”
…she has first-rate support from a no excuses cast top-to-bottom, starting with Lynn Andrews as greedhead Miss Hannigan and Gilgamesh Taggett as Warbucks . Taggett, who has played the role twice before, persuasively creates the gruff, emotionally shut off billionaire who learns what he has been missing… Try to resist when Warbucks has committed his heart and yet must deny his own happiness to ensure Annie’s when she says all she wants is to find her parents.
Andrews, bless her, does not spend a moment trying to win the audience’s favor by winkingly playing the role as a lovable comedienne like when Carol Burnett did it in John Huston’s misbegotten film version. Her Miss Hannigan is still a blowsy alcoholic abusive monster, but the villainess’ hapless and luckless pursuit of riches somehow seems almost pitiful in its doomed ineptness. Almost.
Credit to Ashley Elder as secretary Grace who holds her own in a part that usually fades into the background. Garrett Deagon and Lucy Werner are delightfully venal and rubber-legged as Rooster and Lily St. Regis (named after the hotel she brags, which prompts to Hannigan to ask, which floor).
And, of course, the moppets who are simultaneously appealing and might pick your pocket if you gave them a chance: Adia Dant, Isabel Wallach, Lillybea Ireland, Sydney Shuck, the impossibly cute Lilly Mae Stewart as Molly, and Miamian Angelina Carballo.
But the show is the real star: Meehan’s perfectly constructed book, Charnin’s witty lyrics and Charles Strouse’s infectious score. And this crew under Charnin’s direction lands number after number with a polish and perfection that makes you shake your head. There is not a single weak moment in the production.
This current incarnation of Annie very much resembles the origins, directed by original lyricist Charnin and is faithful to its initial concept in practically every way. The choreography by Liza Gennaro was simple and effective.
The cast of this current tour features several very strong singers. Of particular note is Lynn Andrews in the role of Miss Hannigan… Andrews' performance holds up well against the competition. She shakes her ample form around the stage with evil abandon and belts out the high notes with the best of them. She's so evil that you can't help but like her.
In the role of Daddy Warbucks Gilgamesh Taggett was one of the highlights of the evening. Taggett is a fine singer and has the perfect look for this role. He's settled into this character beautifully and gave us some of the best singing of the evening.
In the title role, native Floridian Issie Swickle does a great job. While her voice is not as rich as that of Andrea McArdle, the role's creator, it is a fine voice that rings out loud, clear and consistently on pitch. She has the look and the character down pat and she charms the audience from the moment she steps onto the stage.
In the role of Rooster Hannigan, the villainous brother of Miss Hannigan, Garrett Deagon gave a memorable performance. His tall lanky frame made his dancing one of the highlights of the evening. As Lily St. Regis, Rooster's cohort Lucy Werner was cute playing the dumb blonde.
In the role of Grace Farrell, the assistant to Warbucks, Ashley Edler was a blonde delight with a lilting soprano voice. As Molly, the youngest of the orphans, Lily Mae Stewart with her mop of curly hair and spunky personality drew the audience's attention each time she came on stage.
Annie - now in a two-week run at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts - is one of those shows that have worked their way into our consciousness… This road tour is no different in that respect, hitting all the checkpoints on the list. The kids are calculatingly cute. The villainous Miss Hannigan is a boozy hot mess. The score is still glorious and tuneful. And for us South Floridians, there is the added thrill of watching one of our own, Davie’s Issie Swickle, play Annie with a relaxed confidence.