Saturday, June 28, 2014

City Theatre: Summer Shorts 2014 (4 reviews)

city theatreCity Theatre opened its 19th annual  Summer Shorts one-act play festival at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, on June 2, 2014.
Thousands of theatre-lovers know that summer kicks off with the hilarious and provocative SUMMER SHORTS FESTIVAL, co-presented with the Adrienne Arsht Center. SUMMER SHORTS is America’s Short Play Festival, with an incredible line-up of scripts penned by the country’s best writers including City Theatre National Short Play Competition winners. SUMMER SHORTS is the most fun 90 minutes you’ll have all summer. This June it’s your turn to laugh your way into summer!
Margaret M. Ledford, Paul Tei, McLey Lafrance, John Manzelli, and Ricky J. Martinez directed Irene Adjan, Elizabeth Dimon, Tom Wahl, McLey Lafrance, David Perez-Ribada, Niki Fridh, and Mary Sansone.
Bill Hirchman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Many champions of the venerable Summer Shorts, even several of its leaders, have privately acknowledged over the years that the quality of the scripts selected and the ensuing productions have been frustratingly inconsistent… But over the past few years under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director John Manzelli and co-founder Susan Westfall, City Theatre’s concerted efforts have focused on boosting the consistent quality of the annual cornucopia of short plays… those efforts are paying off. This iteration of Summer Shorts is not only the most lushly and imaginatively produced with a noticeable extra bit of polish, but it simply is more consistently funny and entertaining than any edition in recent memory.
The most memorable to this playgoer has to be Tornado, a world premiere by Arlitia Jones, starring Tom Wahl and Mcley Lafrance and directed by Margaret M. Ledford. The non-comedy pieces in Summer Shorts often have been among the weaker entries. But in this case, the quiet tale of a man in a sportswear store buying a football outfit for his son is the outstanding piece of the night... What makes it work so well is Wahl’s committed performance under Ledford’s guidance whose joint work here I want to start lobbying to be at least nominated for the Silver Palms, Triple Crown, Carbonells, Golden Globes and Architectural Digest Design of the Year awards.
Shock and Awwww is a too-protracted goofball piece by Dan Castellaneta and Deb Lacusta (The Simpsons) in which two roommates are mind-controlled by their cat... It’s a spoofy nothing saved in part by a perfect match-up with the directorial sensibility of Paul Tei of Mad Cat Theatre Company. But Lafrance and David Perez-Ribada unabashedly invest their entire souls in this silliness
But the commitment to a professional no-excuses production extends to every aspect from Jodi Dellaventura’s sets to Ellis Tillman’s character-driven costumes to Matt Corey’s techno soundtrack to Preston Bircher’s infinitely variable lighting plots.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Ten little plays make up the 19th edition of Summer Shorts, and as usual, the programming is a mixture heavy on comedy but with just enough drama for those who crave meaning and emotional impact even in the shortest of plays.
This year’s batch includes world premieres, scripts from a pair of play-writing contests, and pieces first done elsewhere. Depending on the play, the writing is clever, funny, touching or not quite as tight and satisfying as the playwright imagines. While there aren’t any outright misses in the group, neither is the program loaded with brilliant examples of the short-play form at its most hilarious or moving.
Under the direction of Margaret M. Ledford, Paul Tei, Ricky J. Martinez and Manzelli, veteran Shorts actors Irene Adjan, Tom Wahl and Elizabeth Dimon deliver rock-solid performances alongside newcomers David Perez-Ribada, Niki Fridh, Mcley Lafrance and Mary Sansone. No one in the company indulges in scene-stealing shenanigans; instead, the seven pros serve up varied characters, accents and attitudes appropriate to each piece. Costume designer Ellis Tillman gives the actors a huge assist with an array of outfits that communicate class, character and style before the first line is uttered.
Overall? The 19th Summer Shorts is short on standouts but long on journeyman work.
Michelle F. Solomon wrote for Miami ArtZine:
City Theatre has made the short play format its life’s blood and has pretty much become the "go to" for short play fests with its Shorts Gone Wild, and the annual Summer Shorts — America’s Short Play Festival.  So, while I usually act like a long-form snob when it comes to short play fests, City Theatre’s Summer Shorts 2014 gives a good sampling of what can be accomplished on stage in a short amount of time.
This year, they present the plays as a sort of fashion collection... Each play is introduced with a fashion-show type voiceover, with each getting a named collection (who is that voiceover, she’s wonderful!). Mannequins and runway "dancers" adorn the stage. In between plays, while set pieces are being changed, dancers create tableaus. It’s a bit of stretch and doesn’t tie the plays together, but it is fun, kitschy and very South –Beach-y.
Old Flame, by Mira Gibson, directed by Margaret M. Ledford... Fridh and Perez-Ribada have good chemistry and Mary Sansone, who rolls into the grocery store on skates, is utterly daffy as Sophia the young girlfriend.
Halftime, by Richard Dresser, directed by John Manzelli and Mcley Lafrance... It’s a 10-minute monologue and Lafrance nails it.
Shock and Awww, by Dan Castellanta and Deb Lacusta, directed by Paul Tei... Perez-Ribada and Lafrance play it sophomoric, probably moreso even than the material calls for.
The Scottish Play, by Theo Reyna, directed by Tei... Dimon and Wahl show off their veteran talents in this one, and the play seems to have become a bit more polished since I saw it as part of Mad Cat’s Mixtape 2.
My Husband, by Paul Rudnick, directed by Ricky J. MartinezIrene Adjan is sheer perfection as the doting mother, Gabrielle.
Roger Martin reviewed for The Sun-Post Weekly:
It’s a pumped up affair this year, the nineteenth season for City, with blasting undefinable music, cute young dancers in strip club poses, (vogueing perhaps?) a rehearsal of something or other that included a whirling Asian sword dancer and a howling MC, who thankfully, as the last of the audience entered, announced that this bit was not up to performance standard and would not be included in the show. Thank you God.
Summer Shorts opened finally with a sultry female fashion show voice announcing that Mira Gibson’s Old Flame (as predictable as its title suggests) would be the first presentation. Okaaaay.

Then the dancers returned, more torso thrusting, for the scene change.
Apparently Roger didn't care for the scene changes, as he mentions the dancing and "strip club posturing" several times.
And to cheer you up after all the tears, another hit of the evening: Make John Patrick Stanley Go Home by Holli Harms. Irene Adjan, Elizabeth Dimon and Niki Fridh simply rock the joint. Adjan and Dimon enter, stand still, and they’re brilliant. These two should team permanently for comedy fame and fortune.
And at last, a piece worthy of inclusion in a short play festival: John Minigan’s It’s the Jews... Well written and with hilarious performances from Dimon and Perez-Rabada.
Theo Reyna’s clever piece The Scottish Play is a good opener for the second act.
The best written play of the evening, Paul Rudnick’s My Husband gets laugh after laugh for Irene Adjan and David Perez-Rabada. A funny script and brilliant comedy from the two actors.
Tornado, a weeper by Arlitia Jones, has Tom Wahl at his very best as a father buying sports gear for his son.
...another hit of the evening: Make John Patrick Stanley Go Home by Holli Harms. Irene Adjan, Elizabeth Dimon and Niki Fridh simply rock the joint. Adjan and Dimon enter, stand still, and they’re brilliant. These two should team permanently for comedy fame and fortune.
City Theatre presents the 19th annual  Summer Shorts one-act play festival at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, through July 6, 2014.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Scene for June 27, 2014

It’s been awful hot this week, the kind of heat you only get in a South Florida Summer.

And that means that it’s time for the Theatre League’s Summer Theatre Fest Reading Series!  

Every Monday from June until August, member companies will be hosting readings of plays by South Florida Playwrights. This coming Monday it’s another double-header; it’s a choice between The Pot read by The Main Street Players in Miami Lakes, or The Signature of Fear, read by Theatre XP in Key West.
While one of these gives you the excuse of driving to Key West, Main Street Players are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year

Here's what’s playing on the scene this weekend:

The Women’s Theatre Project opens Girl Play 2014 at the Pride Center this weekend.
The national tour of Spank! Harder plays at The Parker Playhouse this Friday and Saturday.

you still haven't missed...
The Theatre at Arts Garage production of Ring of Fire plays through July 13, 2014.  Many dates are already sold out as of this posting.
City Theatre presents the 19th annual  Summer Shorts one-act play festival at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, through July 6, 2014.
Broward Stage Door Theater offers Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh through July 6, 2014.  
Broward Stage Door Theater offers On the Radio: Sounds of the 70s through July 27, 2014. 

coming and going...
Spank! Harder plays at The Parker Playhouse this Friday and Saturday.

community and conservatory...
The Delray Beach Playhouse presents Make Someone Happy through July 11, 2014.
Florida Atlantic University presents August: Osage County as part of its Festival Rep program. It's part of their summer residencey program, so the students are working with professional actors Wayne LeGette and Kim Ostrenko.  Through July 26th.

last chance to see...
Entr’Acte Theatrix presents Avenue Q at the Delray Beach Center for the Performing Arts through June 29.
The Palm Beach Dramaworks presents the concert version of the musical Zorba! through June 29, 2014.
Annie plays at the Sol Children’s Theater through June 29, 2014
The Slow Burn Theatre Company production of High Fidelity plays through June 29.
The Plaza Theatre offers Cougar the Musical, through June 29.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Theatre at Arts Garage” Ring of Fire (reviews)

ring of fireThe Theatre at Arts Garage opened its production of Ring of Fire on June 19, 2014.

From the iconic songbook of Johnny Cash comes this unique musical about love and faith, struggle and success, rowdiness and redemption, and home and family. From the opening chords of vintage Country to Rockabilly, Rock n’ Roll, searing ballads and gentle songs of love and deep faith, Ring of Fire packs a score that provides a rich fabric in which to lay down the story of Johnny Cash. The great bio-pic “Walk the Line” told the story of the events of Cash’s life and the incredible struggles and triumphs of his life. Ring of Fire gives the music the spotlight, as a core group of talented actor/musicians celebrate the songs that are such a part of our collective experience.  Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire will both move and exhilarate.

Sherry and David Lutken directed a cast that included Sam Sherwood, Nyssa Duchow, Deb Lyons, Helen Jean Russel,Neil Friedman, Jon Brown, Eric Anthony, and David Lutken.


Michelle F. Solomon wrote for Florida Theater On Stage:

This music-heavy tableau, now on stage at the Theatre at Arts Garage in Delray Beach, offers more depth than what its title may imply. For those expecting a traditional musical, advice would be to give up the notion before walking in the door. You’ll have a better experience if you allow yourself to be swept away in each moment (and there are many moments) to truly appreciate it.

All of the actors/musicians are multi-talented, each showing their flexibility, mostly on guitars, but sometimes on bass, sometimes on washboard, sometimes moving from keyboard to drums.

The popular A Boy Named Sue about a now-grown man who goes looking for his father to even the score for being given a girl’s name is a highlight. This is where Sherry Lutken’s direction excels as seen throughout, with choreography and staging that serves to accentuate the song-stories. Here, Sherwood is the boy named Sue and Friedman is the father who left after bestowing the unfortunate moniker. The on stage barroom brawl looks spontaneous but it’s the nifty fight choreography that makes this such a crowd pleaser.

David Lutken soars in his interpretation of the lonely lament of Sunday Morning Coming Down, a song written by Kris Kristofferson, but which Cash made into a No. 1 hit.

Friedman gets the spotlight for Man in Black, two times actually with a Part 1 and Part II, but his approach lacks the strength that the complex song requires. He’s much stronger when paired with Russell, who shines in the lovely duet that will always remain a Johnny Cash-June Carter  treasure, Far Side Banks of Jordan. And he has a good ‘ol time with the farmer’s alley oop Look at Them Beans. Duchow stands out in her primary task as fiddler, capturing the Southern old-time fiddling style with detailed precision.

The production values here amp up the appeal. Richard Cromwell’s sturdy set captures the feel of a Southern backyard with its wooden fence... Michael Kelly’s sound, with its train rolling down the track and other ambient noise, creates atmosphere, and Larry Bauman’s costumes, from farm hand to flounce to prison wear, are a comfortable mix that are overstated when necessary (the Opry) and otherwise perfectly suited to complement the overall Americana tone.

Skip Sheffield (former reviewer for the late Boca Raton News) reviewed on his blog:

Wow! Just wow.

That seems to be the best way to describe “Ring of Fire: The Johnny Cash Musical” at Arts Garage in Delray Beach through July 13.  Despite the title, “Ring of Fire” is not as much about Johnny Cash the man as it is about the great American music he loved.

“Ring of Fire” is performed by a cast of three women and five men, performing in couples, en masse and separately. Each performer is a multi-instrumentalist and singer. Watching performers switch instruments is part of the charm of this show.

The versatility of the musician-singers is dazzling. I have not seen such a concentration of talent live onstage in many years. “Ring of Fire” is a joy to behold even if you don’t give a fig about Johnny Cash.

Kelsey Howard wrote for Boca Magazine:

Even those who are not well versed in Cash’s music can find a way to connect with each song and scene. The most jaded country music critic can’t help but fall in love with the legend that is Johnny Cash… The cast members are talented beyond belief, each playing multiple instruments and with singing voices that don’t hit a false note.

The Theatre at Arts Garage production of Ring of Fireplays through July 13, 2014.  Many dates are already sold out as of this posting.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Mondays are Dark

theatre_festival_homeActually, Monday’s aren’t so dark in the summer; the South Florida Theatre League  brings you Summer Theatre Fest, a series of free play readings hosted at member theaters across South Florida. They occur every Monday night through the end of August.

Tonight you have not one but two choices:  Palm Beach Dramaworks will be reading Julie Gilbert’s Juxtaposition, while The Krane will be reading their original work Outside at Books and Books in Coral Gables.
And before we forget, Florida Theater On Stage reminds us that the deadline to sign up for a Free Night of Theatre is today.

Here’s your steamy summer’s day reading list.


Final Exit, Jay Harris

Jay Harris was an integral part of the South Florida theatre scene, and he left us all too soon this past Friday.  He not only helped to shape the Carbonell Awards into its current format, he supported numerous small and excellent theater companies over the years, making him responsible for some of the finest plays ever performed in South Florida.  Florida Theater On Stage has posted an extensive obituary, as has The Miami Herald.  You can find his Legacy guest book through The Sun Sentinel.



The Miami Herald reports that… ah, screw it.  I already typed this once and lost it to the thunderstorm.  Here’s what Christine Dolen said:

Three South Florida playwrights are headed to prestigious fringe theater festivals this summer: Kim Ehly to the New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) with her play Baby GirL, Luis Sosa and Casey Dressler to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with their plays Mangos & Rice and The Wedding Warrior.

If you’d like to help, here are the links you need:

But wait, there’s one more festival: the same article reminds us that The Women’s Theatre Project and Pride Center will be presenting the fifth annual Girl Play festival.  A total of 18 scripts will be presented in batches of 6 plays in each program.  The Sun-Sentinel talks with some of this year’s directors about the offerings.

Oh, and Ground Up and Rising is rising up again in July.


It’s All Greek To Us

Florida Weekly tells us that Palm Beach Dramaworks is running the concert version of Zorba! this week, but Florida Theater On Stage sits down with its star, veteran Broadway actor William Parry (Sunday in the Park with George, Camelot, and Gypsy)

As he relates the philosophy of his title character in the musical Zorba, William Parry’s acting chops are so second-nature that he probably doesn’t realize that a slight Greek accent is slipping into his warm deep baritone and a brio is filling the small, hot conference room at Palm Beach Dramaworks…

…that distinctive voice is instantly recognizable to any fan of Stephen Sondheim who has listened to his musicals on CD over and over.

-- Florida Theater On Stage, June 18, 2014


Now in English

The Miami Herald reports that Micro Theatre Miami will be offering some programming in English.

The deal with Micro Theater is that the plays are short (about 15 minutes each) and inexpensive (just $5 gets you into a show). Each show is performed six times per night, so you can opt for a brief, cheap experience or see every play for $25 and still get out in under two hours, waiting time between shows included.

And there’s a mini-review of each of the current offerings.


New Times Besties.

It’s that time of year, when our local editions of The New Times publishes the results of their popularity contests – may the theatres with the most social-media-savvy patrons win!

The Miami New Times  honors  The Alliance Theatre Lab’s cast of Savage in Limbo, Erin Joy Schmidt, Karen Stephens, the South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center, the national tour of Elf, Nicholas Richberg, Ethan Henry, Tarell Alvin McRaney, the set of Zoetic Stage’s Assassins, The Actors’ Playhouse production of End of the Rainbow, Zoetic Stage, and their production of Fear Up Harsh,

The Broward/Palm Beach New Times recognizes Todd Allen Durkin, Valentina Izarra, Dennis Creaghan, Kim Ostrenko AND Betsy Graver, Slow Burn’s production of Parade, the set design of Island City Stage’s The Timekeepers, Slow Burn Theatre Company, The Timekeepers, Patrick Fitzwater, and the Theatre at Arts Garage production of The Longing and the Short Of It.


So It’s Not READING…

Arts Radio Network has a podcast up about Ring of Fire at Arts Garage.


Put Away The Scissors!

BroadwayWorld summarizes the stories of two productions that got caught messing with scripts to plays they were producing.  It seems that directors keep forgetting that the license for doing a published play includes a directive that the play can’t be changed in any way without consulting with the holder of the copyright.  It happened down here last year with a staged reading of a musical (corrected immediately) , and it happened a few years ago at the old Coconut Grove Playhouse (production shut down by the publisher).

So if you are a director, and you’re directing a published play, please remember that you can’t change the script, the order of the scenes, the lines, who says what line, or the gender of any character, unless you get permission from the playwright or his agents.  I state this for that one director we all know about who has so far gotten away with it.  But it won’t last.  And that kind of scandal is the last thing we need if we’re reviving a theatre that already got slapped for doing it in South Florida.  With much love, The Scene.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Palm Beach Dramaworks: Zorba! the Concert Version (reviews)

zorba.hPalm Beach Dramaworks opened its concert version of the musical Zorba! on June 20, 2014.

Zorba the Greek shares his joyous philosophy of life with Nikos, a young American student, as they each navigate love, romance, and heartbreak. The spirited score includes "Life Is," "The Butterfly," and "Only Love."

Full-length concert presentations include both the book and the score, and are performed with limited instrumental accompaniment, and minimal staging and design.

Clive Cholerton  directed a cast that included  Katherine Amadeo, Jim Ballard, Lindsay Bell, Ken Clement, Nick Duckart, Alyssa Fantel, Laura Hodos, Josh Lerner, Jose Luaces, William Parry, Roland Rusinek, Elizabeth Sackett, Laura Turnbull and Cassandra Zepeda.  Music Direction by Caryl Ginsburg Fantel


Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:

This edition, helmed by Clive Cholerton and starring Broadway vet William Parry as Zorba and local Nick Duckart as his mentee Nikos, fairly throbs most of the time with an infectious zest for life.

Even stripped down, Dramaworks’ offering is often a passionate and pungent experience delivering a show that few audiences other than theater geeks know well.

Parry was fortuitous casting…. He brings a warm seductive baritone that wraps around the audience. His Zorba exudes the brio of a character who sucks the marrow out of life with a satisfying sigh. Without ever echoing Quinn, Parry creates his own iconic prole of an Everyman with voracious appetites and an infectious vivacity.

The rest of cast, most familiar names from the region, throw themselves into the material completely, especially Duckart, Hodos, Turnbull and Amadeo. But credit is due to the ensemble including Ken Clement, Roland Rusinek, Josh Lerner, Elizabeth Sackett, Cassandra Zepeda, Jim Ballard, Jose Luaces, Alyssa Fantel, Josh Stoughton and Bell.

Frankly, you will likely never see Zorba! again with artists of this quality. A rumored Broadway revival with Antonio Banderas has floated into the ether. The expense and logistics of the show are too overwhelming for a full-fledged production, since even the title has insufficient name recognition except to Boomers and their parents.

So savor this Zorba! while you can.

Mark Lynch reviewed for The Palm Beach Daily News:

Thanks to Palm Beach Dramaworks, this neglected gem of a show is produced as a concert musical, in which the focus is squarely on the text and music and how they alone propel the story. In its purest form, this concert presentation features a bare stage, a piano, and actors with scripts seated or standing at music stands.

With Zorba!, director Clive Cholerton ambitiously expands the possibilities of this style. He has collaborated with scenic designer Dustin Hamilton, lighting designer Tom Shorrock, costume designer Linda Shorrock, and projection/sound designer Sean Lawson to craft a more specific visual experience…

In streamlining the script to just under two hours, Cholerton also has hit on a wonderful narrative device to drive the storytelling. A voiceless character, a dancer (Lindsay Bell, who is also the production’s talented choreographer) guides Nikos and the audience through the chronological and emotional journey of the story. In less capable hands, this approach could be waterlogged in movement clichés, but Bell imbues this assignment with emotional intention and nuance.

This is more than a good story well-told. This Zorba! is a first-class ensemble piece beautifully sung and dynamically performed by a committed cast. They bring conviction, generosity and outstanding attention to character detail. In a concert staging, this tall order is achieved with apparent ease.


The Palm Beach Dramaworks presents the concert version of the musical Zorba! through June 29, 2014.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Slow Burn Theatre: High Fidelity (reviews)

Slow BurnSlow Burn Theatre Company opened its production of High Fidelity at the West Boca Performing Arts Theater on June 13, 2014.
Book by David Lindsay-Abaire (Shrek the Musical, Good People), lyrics by Amanda Green (Bring It On: The Musical), and music by Tom Kitt (next to normal, If/Then). Based primarily on the Nick Hornby novel rather than the subsequent film version it inspired, the plot focuses on Rob Gordon, a Brooklyn record shop owner in his thirties obsessed with making top five lists for everything, always observing rather than participating in life. When his girlfriend Laura leaves him, he goes through a painful re-evaluation of his life and lost loves (with a little help from his music) and he slowly learns that he has to grow up and let go of his self-centered view of the world before he can find real happiness.
Patrick Fitzwater directed a cast that included Robert Johnston, Sebastian Lombardo, Noah Levin, Bruno Vida, Nicole Piro, Courtney Poston, Abby Perkins, Christina Flores, Sandi M. Stock and Kaitlyn O’Neill.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Like a scruffy stray found on the streets with little promise of being housebroken, Slow Burn Theatre Company’s summer musical production of High Fidelity shouldn’t be so appealing and downright winning. But it is.  The sense that the energetic cast and creative team seem to be having this much fun should enchant most anyone open to a summer lark.
Director/choreographer Patrick Fitzwater’s affection for the show obviously inspired the rest of the Slow Burn team.
Johnston …delivers an appealing and affable fulcrum for the show, a notable achievement since you often want to shake Rob by the shoulders and tell him to get a clue.
Piro… has a clarion singing voice and a charisma that makes the audience why Rob would ever do anything to mess up their romance. When she appears as a hot fantasy figure in Rob’s dream forcing herself into Rob’s list of five memorable breakups, she scorches the stage with “Number Five With a Bullet.”
The supporting cast has standouts as well. Levine, a stalwart in smaller theaters as well as Slow Burn, is hilarious as someone you want to strangle.
O’Neill, another Slow Burn vet, nearly stops the show with her rendition of a folky post-breakup lament “Ready to Settle”…
Lombardo throws himself completely into Barry’s self-involved crass attitude. Unfortunately, he is battling the indelible career-making performance of Jack Black in the film. He admirably tries to create a character distinctly different from Black, but you miss the incomparable Jack.
As always, Manny Schvartzman, doubling as music director, did a solid job leading the band…
Rick Pena again gave the cast note-perfect costumes
John Thomason reviewed for Boca Mag:
OK, so I should say up front that High Fidelity—both the Nick Hornby novel and the Stephen Frears cult film—is too important in my life to judge its musical-theater adaptation with any degree of objectivity…  I saw myself in it; I’ve been making esoteric Top 5 lists since I could count, not to mention I’m the kind of obsessive vinyl collector… So it was with much anticipation and trepidation that I sat down for Slow Burn Theatre’s production of the High Fidelity musical last weekend… It’s with great relief that I approve of the final product.
This is a pretty terrific production of a fun, if maddeningly boxy, show… Tom Kitt’s jaunty and eclectic music, beautifully arranged by Manny Schvartzman, is supplemented by lyrics from Amanda Green that pivot around key phrases from Hornby’s novel and twist them cleverly into rhymes. Rick Pena’s costumes are mostly spot-on, with his combination of unflattering geek-garb, punk-rock accouterments and slacker couture effectively capturing the look of the record shop’s denizens—not to mention a perfect Bruce Springsteen ensemble for actor Larry Buzzeo, who does a dead-on Boss impersonation late in the show.
…we get to see more of Noah Levine’s hysterical interpretation of the patchouli-scented vegan. I didn’t even mind that Ian never becomes anything more than a caricature; Levine is having such a great time that it doesn’t matter.
In one of the strongest scenes in the production, Rob and Laura wake up at the beginning of Act 2 in different strangers’ bedrooms—Laura with Ian and Rob with Marie—and their subsequent duet “I Slept With Someone” points to a chasm of regret that doesn’t exist in the original material. Piro, whose performance seems almost out of joint in the beginning of the musical, shows us how good she is in this moment; over the course of the song, we watch her entire world view gradually fall from elation to something like shame and embarassment. When Rob and Laura are finished singing, both are in the same “bed,” in their minds if not their realities, adrift yet connected.
As for Johnston, he’s terribly young to be playing Rob Gordon, and I just couldn’t accept his midlife tally of fractured relationships or even his recent one with Laura, played by the more age-appropriate Piro. But what can I say? The guy can clearly sing, dance and act, and he seems to have a genuine understanding of who Rob Gordon is.
JW Arnold reviewed for South Florida Gay News:
Even though the show material has plenty of shortcomings, co-artistic directors Patrick Fitzwater and Mathew Korinko, music director Manny Schvartzman and their young, vocally talented cast give the production their best efforts.
Robert Johnston… has to do most of the heavy lifting in the show. He’s front and center in virtually every scene and gives an appealing performance as the lovelorn Rob, a likeable guy who is negotiating his path to maturity right in front of our eyes. (Doesn’t hurt that he’s easy on the eyes, too!)
Larry Buzzeo provides much needed comedic relief in two supporting roles, first as a middle-aged customer referred to by the record store staff as TMPMITW (The Most Pathetic Man in the World) and later, Bruce Springsteen. Yes, The Boss.
Talented local choreographers are few and far between and Fitzwater always brings fresh perspectives to stage movement that stand out from the crowd. Throughout the show, his ‘80s and ‘90s dance moves — with a few hip hop moves thrown in — complemented the music and were well executed.
Lance Black’s Lighting Design – Lighting is crucial for a complicated storyline that includes flashbacks and breakouts and Black’s design effectively makes these changes clear to the audience.

Rod Stafford Hagwood wrote for The Sun Sentinel Stunned Senseless:
Boca Raton’s Slow Burn Theatre does a credible job with “High Fidelity the Musical,” giving the show an injection of youthful bounce and vibrant vocals. And the six-member band adds some flash to the score by Tom Kitt (“Next to Normal,” “If/Then”) and Amanda Green (“Bring It On: The Musical”) that dabbles in all kinds of genres from rock and soul to coffeehouse folk and gangsta rap.
There are some terrific turns by supporting cast members: a scintillating Nicole Piro as the love interest; a sharp bit by Kaitlyn O’Neill as a folksinger; Larry Buzzeo as a nebbish customer and a brash Bruce Springsteen; and Noah Levine as the show’s closest thing to a villain, a holier-than-thou holistic guru.
Hap Erstein reviewed for Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
Director-choreographer Patrick Fitzwater likes to lighten up for the summer after several darker musicals in season, putting his young cast through their athletic paces and never letting on that the show may not be top-drawer.
Rob’s shabby treatment of Laura should be enough to turn off the audience, but book writer David Lindsay-Abaire gets us on his side by having him narrate the show and address the audience directly. It also helps that Robert Johnston has an easygoing charisma in the role, immature but hard to hate.
Willowy blonde Nicole Piro, a Slow Burn veteran, is sufficiently alluring as Laura... Things must have really been bad with Rob if she would leave him for a creepy, pretentious guru wannabe like Ian (played with sly glee by Noah Levine). Fitzwater’s discovery for this production is Sandi M. Stock... who comes on strong with “She Goes.”
Bruno Vida... makes a vivid impression... Larry Buzzeo amuses as a fantasy Bruce Springsteen.. Kaitlyn O’Neill has fun as a morose folkie singing the downbeat “Ready to Settle.”
The show’s chief failing is its surface-deep, too glib writing, but High Fidelity was never very profound. It is, however, easy to identify with these characters and become involved with their dilemmas, and that’s not bad for a musical comedy.
Slow Burn Theatre Company presents its production of High Fidelity at the West Boca Performing Arts Theater through June 29, 2014.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Scene for June 20, 2014

You can tell by the daily thunderstorms that it’s summer here in South Florida.  And that means that it’s time for the Theatre League’s Summer Theatre Fest Reading Series!  
Every Monday from June until August, member companies will be hosting readings of plays by South Florida Playwrights. This coming Monday, you have not one but two choices: Palm Beach DramaWorks is reading Julie Gilbert’s Juxtaposition in West Palm Beach, while The Krane Theatre Company is reading Outside, by Juan C. Sanchez, at Books & Books in Coral Gables.
And we’ve been remiss in telling you about the Summer Fest’s Free Night Of Theatre< Click on the link.  Done.
Here's what’s playing on the scene this weekend:

Entr’Acte Theatrix presents Avenue Q at the Delray Beach Center for the Performing Arts through July 29.
Theatre at Arts Garage opens Ring of Fire: The Johnny Cash Musical, through July 13.
Palm Beach DramaWorks offers its last concert version of a rarely-produced musical.  Zorba! opens  Friday, and plays through June 29.

coming and going... 

The Alternative Theatre Festival presents Gizmo Love at Florida International University  through Saturday.
Andrews Living Arts Studio presents Amado Mio this weekend only.  WARNING: contains full frontal male nudity.

you still haven't missed... 
Annie plays at the Sol Children’s Theater through June 29, 2014

The Slow Burn Theatre Company production of High Fidelity plays through June 29.
The Plaza Theatre offers Cougar the Musical, through June 29.
City Theatre presents the 19th annual  Summer Shorts one-act play festival at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, through July 6, 2014.
Broward Stage Door Theater offers Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh through July 6, 2014.  
Broward Stage Door Theater offers On the Radio: Sounds of the 70s through July 27, 2014. 

community and conservatory... 
The Delray Beach Playhouse presents Make Someone Happy through July 11, 2014

last chance to see...

Island City Stage presents The Pride at Empire Stage through June 22.

The Alliance Theatre Lab’s pair of classic one-acts from James McClure; Laundry & Bourbon and Lone Star, closes this Sunday, June 22.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Stage Door Theatre: Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah (reviews)

allan_sherman_my_sonBroward Stage Door Theatre opened its production of Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah! on May 30, 2014.
Inspired by the Grammy Award winning song "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh!" and Allan Sherman's eight record albums, hilarious song parodies are woven into a merry musical about the life of Barry Bockman and his beloved, Sarah Jackman. From birth to summer at Camp Granada, to marriage, to suburbia and the shopping mall, to retirement in Florida, the audience is treated to a zany cast of characters.
Dan Kelly directed a cast that included James Parks, Eva Marie Mastrangelo, Ryan Halsaver, Sarah Sirota and Shane R. Tanner
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
What needs to be said first is that director Dan Kelley and five talented singer-actors — James Park as Barry Bockman, Eva Marie Mastrangelo as Sarah Jackman, and Ryan Halsaver, Sarah Sirota and Shane R. Tanner in multiple roles — give the show as decent a production as it’s likely to get.

What needs to be said second is that unless parody songs about a nice Jewish guy’s journey from birth to old age leave you convulsed with laughter, Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah may not be for you.
Under David Nagy’s musical direction, the performers blend beautifully and shine on their solos. Colleen O’Connell’s clever costumes are of a piece with the tone of the show, deliberately amusing and sometimes over-the-top tacky (on purpose).
Michelle F. Solomon wrote for Florida Theater On Stage:
Hello Muddah, hello faddah; here I am at Camp Grenada.” The musical based on the name of Allan Sherman and Lou Busch’s 1963 novelty tune is about as silly as the song it’s based on.  Yet despite its almost two hours of one-liners, caricatures and Borscht Belt humor, the current show at Broward Stage Door, in all its campiness, is energetically enjoyable… You’ll laugh, you’ll cry comic tears, you’ll leave the theater salivating for anything on rye from a Kosher deli.
Director Dan Kelley knows exactly how to pace his actors in their handling of  the comic lyricist’s quick turns of phrases, and how to punch up the many musings on modern Jewish culture. With so many scenes and multiple characters coming in and out, Kelley keeps what could be mass chaos into a funfest of controlled frenzy.
The cast, especially the secondary characters, are called upon to play multiple roles... Tanner is the standout, especially in his role as the over confident Uncle Phil, everyone’s annoying relative, who returns to haunt even after his death. Halsaver seems less confident as the stuttering teacher, Mr.Kalodner, but really cuts loose dressed in drag as a female department store shopper hunting for bargains. He’s also completely comically engaging as a man who actually encourages his wife to get bigger by the minute in the very funny Grow, Mrs. Goldfarb.
Sirota has to wear multiple hats (literally) and manages to create female characters that each have their own signature – a difficult task with the roles she’s given, which could, the way they are written, all end up sounding and looking the same.
But it’s Parks and Mastrangelo who are so wonderfully honest in their portrayals of Barry and Sarah that you really care how their lives end up. The two create characters that actually take shape from beginning to end.
Musical director David Nagy… gets credit for ensuring the cast maneuvers Sherman’s multiple and sometimes difficult lyrics. Kudos, too, to Colleen O’Connell’s many costumes that have to cover the decades, and Ardean Landhuis’s lighting, which also helps with the moods of the settings and time periods.
Rod Stafford Hagwood was there for The Sun-Sentinel Stunned Senseless:
The slap-shtick panache of sight gags and wordplay would be comfortable onstage in the Catskills, and much of it works here, particularly with a cast and three-piece band giving it everything they got. Think Weird Al” Yankovic, but not as mean.
To their credit, the (secondary) cast members sing with gusto and hit the punch lines as hard as they can. Sarah Sirota, Shane R. Tanner and Ryan Halsaver all play various characters, and play them with enough energy to power another musical with the afterburn alone.
Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah! is a cute show with performers mining the most out of familiar melodies. It isn’t more than that, nor should it be.
Dale King wrote for Palm Beach ArtsPaper:
The show is packed with many good performances. The songs are all pretty funny, and while some are dated, they still have comic punch. The five cast members — Ryan Halsaver, Eva Marie Mastrangelo, James Parks, Sarah Sirota and Shane R. Tanner — are excellent vocalists who combine for some striking harmony. They slip easily into the silliness that was Sherman’s strong suit. During the show, those five performers morph into 40 characters and make 60 costume changes — a daunting task in itself.
A big guy with a big talent, Tanner sings, acts and hustles, taking on 10 roles. He is particularly stunning as Uncle Phil, whose crazed stand-up comedy shtick is hilarious and as Mr. Bloom with an ode to his astronaut son who has landed on the moon.
Brooklyn-born Sirota isn’t far behind, portraying six characters with rapid-fire aplomb.
Dan Kelley does double duty as director and choreographer, keeping the on-stage chaos to a minimum. He works beside Colleen O’Connell who has come up with a raft of colorful, often off-beat costumes.
Broward Stage Door Theatre presents its production of Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah! through July 6, 2014.

Plaza Theatre: Cougar The Musical (reviews)

Cougarad-231x300Plaza Theatre opened its production of Cougar The Musical on May 22, 2014.

This smash off-Broadway musical comedy makes its regional theater debut at The Plaza Theatre. A trio of women – single, divorced, vulnerable and searching for their identity and self esteem – are ripe to fall under the life-affirming spell of newfound love and hot younger men.

Dodd Loomis directed a cast that included Katie Angel Thomas, Margot Moreland, Shelley Keelor, and Clay Cartland.


Michelle F. Solomon wrote for Florida Theater On Stage:

Like the Chippendale dancers, Donna Moore’s Cougar The Musical, now on stage at the Plaza Theatre, is meant to fire up a female crowd. And with just as much over-the-top cheez whiz as the Chippendales have, Cougar The Musical collides fantasy with reality and trots out every cliché about women in the throes of mid-life “what now?” as it can muster… This is really a No Man’s Zone, a pure estrogen fest, drawn in the same vein as Menopause: The Musical, though not as clever.

Dodd Loomis’s direction is smart and solid, and thankfully so — this is one of those shows with so many moving parts (not setwise, but an array of frenetic action), that it needs a good eye to keep it contained, which he does.

The actors are to be commended for giving their all, especially in some of the musical numbers that are difficult because of their over simplicity. The program credits the music to Moore and five other composers. Eric Alsford’s musical direction adds a much needed dimension to songs that hardly ever let up on the “I Am Woman Hear Me Roar” theme.

It is the abandon of all the actors that makes Cougar roar. Cartland is a hunk of burning fun as a cowboy who shows up in rodeo gear after an online meeting with Mary-Marie and as a stud with a swagger. But when he’s called upon to be Lily’s nice-guy younger boyfriend, Buck, Cartland segues easily into the more serious role. Yet, he can’t help but steal the show dressed in drag as Eve in Shiny and New..

Moreland’s no-holds-barred attitude as the lusty, busty Mary-Marie hits its peak when she takes the spotlight and performs a bold strip tease... This is one of the most affirming statements that the playwright makes and with Moreland’s help, is one of the most genuine moments in the show.

Angell Thomas can’t help but be likeable… She adds a dose of signature comic timing to the role of Lily, which gives the character more depth than what’s most likely written on the page.

The Plaza’s production is entertaining, less because of Moore’s cheeky musical script and more because of the cast and the show’s behind-the-scenes merrymakers, including costume design by Peter Lovello, scenic design by the always spectacular Michael McClain, lighting design by Preston Bircher, choreography by Elizabeth DeMarco… plus musicians, technicians and producing director Alan Jacobson.

Jan Sjostrom reviewed for the Palm Beach Daily News:

The three heroines in Cougar, The Musical aren’t the only ones suffering from an identity crisis. So is the show…  It can’t make up its mind whether it’s a spoof of transgenerational dating from the older woman’s point of view or a pop psychology pep talk.

Directed by Dodd Loomis, with choreography by Elizabeth De Marco, the production gets as much mileage as can be expected out of such material. The cast members throw themselves into their parts with hopeful gusto.

The show, written by Donna Moore, who also collaborated with five composers on the score, has its moments, brief though they are. -

Hap Erstein reviewed for the Palm Beach ArtsPaper:

Apologies in advance if you are a fan of Menopause: The Musical, Waist Watchers: The Musical or The D Word. There is a word that sums up these shows and it is “schlock.”  …The latest of this ilk in our midst is called Cougar the Musical, a show so impoverished it couldn’t even afford a colon in its title.

Cougar the Musical is credited to Donna Moore, who wrote the script and is one of a committee of six who worked on the music and lyrics. Unlike Menopause and Waist Watchers, Cougar features original songs or at least songs that are not parodies of pop hits. A few of them are actually quite catchy…

Regardless of what you think of the show, the cast will probably earn your sympathy for what they are required to do. That is particularly so for Moreland, who performs a comic striptease down to her animal-print undies. It should be reported, I guess, that the mainly female audience howled its approval of her bump-and-grind. They also enjoyed Cartland’s wince-inducing manicurist, complete with pidgin Korean accent.

The Plaza Theatre production of Cougar: The Musical plays through June 29, 2014.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Alliance Theatre Lab: Laundry&Bourbon and Lone Star (reviews)

laundrybourbonlonestarThe Alliance Theatre Lab opened its productions of James McLure’s  one-acts Laundry & Bourbon and Lone Star at the Main Street Playhouse on June 6th, 2014.
Laundry & Bourbon, conceived as a companion piece to precede Lone Star, centers on the comedic discontent and gossip of three small-town wives whose marriages have fallen short of expectations.
Lone Star is a hilarious study of a pair of Texas “good ole boys” on a Saturday night at a local bar. Roy, a brawny former high school hero, is back in town after a tour in Vietnam and seeks to reestablish his position in the town. Joined by his younger brother, Ray, Roy tells his military tales and amorous exploits. Among all though, Roy cherishers his country, his wife, and his 1959 Thunderbird. The underpinnings of Roy's world however begin to collapse as secrets are unveiled.
Adalberto Acevedo directed Lone Star with a cast that included Kristian Bikic , Daniel Nieves, and Juan Gamero.  Juan Carlos Besares directed Laundry & Bourbon featuring  Andrea Bovino, Gladys Ramirez and Breeza Zeller
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Obviously, these are comedies. Copious laughter embraces Alliance Theatre Lab’s production of James McLure’s related one-act plays, Laundry & Bourbon and Lone Star.
Bovino is perfectly adequate and Ramirez ..does a solid job as the wistful abandoned wife.
But it’s Zeller who shines brightest. Yes, she has the best-written part of the entire show with more than her share of witty rejoinders. But her comic timing is craftsman-perfect and her reveries about her lost love are quietly affecting.
Nieves has the strongest part in Lone Star, but McLure really only gives him a couple of emotions to play and Nieves doesn’t add any others, although he certainly delivers what’s written with brio and energy. Bikic is adept at being the straight man and he has a daffy way with such situations as when Roy is about to hit him with a two-by-four and Ray says with complete sincerity, “Please don’t kill me. If you kill me, I don’t know what I’ll do.” Gamero was so mush-mouthed that most of his dialogue was unintelligible.
Praise is due to Howard Ferré whose choice of 1960s country-rock standards playing behind the scenes is absolutely dead perfect, not just for the steel guitar sound but for the choice resonating lyrics of The Eagles and others.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Alliance Theatre Lab has chosen the plays for its start-of-summer production at the Main Street Playhouse in Miami Lakes. Comedies with dark undertones, the pieces provide three juicy roles for women (in Laundry and Bourbon), three more for men ( Lone Star). Directors Adalberto J. Acevedo and Juan Carlos Besares mine both scripts for lots of laughs, though if the production were judged as an artistic battle of the sexes, the gals would be declared the winners by a mile.
Laundry and Bourbon comes first, and it has to because of a plot point involving Roy’s chick-magnet car. Too bad, since it’s a better and funnier play.
Set on a scorching 1975 day in tiny Maynard, Texas, Laundry and Bourbon is a study in the compromises, sacrifices and little pleasures of small-town life for a trio of women…  As the tension cranks up between Bovino’s snooty gal and Zeller’s opinionated one, the play and Zeller — never better than in Laundry and Bourbon — just get more hilarious.
Though it’s funny, Lone Star is a darker play than Laundry and Bourbon, literally because it’s set at nighttime (lighting designer Howard Ferré conjures scorching sun for the gals, shadowy night for the guys) and thematically because the men are not-so-good-ol’-boys.
Roy, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, tries to keep his demons at bay with booze and a series of flings. Nieves plays him as a crude bully nostalgic for the days when he was the dreamiest thing in Maynard. Bikic’s long-suffering Ray is more likeable until he makes an out-of-the-blue confession. As Cletis, Gamero is a sweaty sight gag.
Between the laughs, Lone Star and Laundry and Bourbon are laced with sexism... You’d like to think we’ve come a long way since McLure wrote the plays, but check your Facebook news feed and you’ll see we haven’t. Nonetheless, the world McLure evokes in the one-acts is completely believable in terms of time, place and character. And Zeller’s performance is as deftly funny as comedic acting gets.
John Thomason reviewed for The Miami New Times:
These one-acts might feel as inseparable as a Lohan and a police report, but only one of them is particularly good. Taken together, this yin-and-yang diptych is half-masterpiece, half-slog.
The Alliance's Laundry and Bourbon is an exemplary piece of theater. If Ramirez gamely navigates through a role and a dialect that are not completely in her wheelhouse, the show is carried by a career-best performance from Zeller. Granted, she has the best lines: Her son "doesn't have the sense God gave a screwdriver," and a neighbor with six kids "does not have children; she drops litters." But it's the zest for life with which she imbues her character that spreads to the rest of the cast and enlivens McLure's writing.
There is much pleasure in simply hearing Zeller pronounce words in a uniquely impenetrable Texas drawl — "God" isn't the televangelist's "Gawd" so much as "Goad" — and her comic timing in delivering McLure's funniest gems is unmatched.
Lone Star is, frankly, a drag — a vintage car whose engine sputters and sputters but doesn't quite start. Part of the problem is that Gamero hasn't yet mastered his small part, rushing through poorly enunciated lines that left many members of the opening-night audience scratching their heads. Likewise, Nieves lacks the nuance that Zeller provided her character in the first act. He performs with too much control for a character with PTSD and an overdose of alcohol in his system; he acts less drunk, not more drunk, the more Lone Star he imbibes.
Even when he threatens other characters with violence, the tone remains flatly lighthearted, lacking a sense of imminent danger. This might have been a deliberate decision from directors Acevedo and Juan Carlos Besares. If so, it does a disservice to the writing, because the sparks of unpredictability and intensity that made Laundry and Bourbon so compelling are absent from Lone Star.
More likely, Lone Star is simply a weaker script, with characters who are more psychologically shallow and trite.
The Alliance Theatre Lab productions of James McLure’s  one-acts Laundry & Bourbon and Lone Star play at the Main Street Playhouse through June 22, 2014.

Island City Stage: The Pride (reviews)

pride_categoryIsland City Stage opened its production of The Pride at Empire Stage on May 22, 2014.

It is 1958. Philip is married to Sylvia, who is illustrating Oliver’s most recent children’s book. There is a frisson between Philip and Oliver when they first meet as they skirt around what cannot be explicitly said.

It is 2008. Fed up with his inscrutable infidelity, Philip leaves Oliver, alone and drowning his sorrows in role-play and scotch. Oliver enlists Sylvia, who introduced them, to counteract his loneliness.

Alternating between 1958 and 2008, The Pride examines changing attitudes to sexuality and the perennial themes of love, lust and betrayal.

Andy Rogow directed a cast that features Bruce Linser, Faiza Cherie, Sean Dorazio, and Michael McKeever.


Michelle F. Solomon reviewed for Florida Theatre On Stage:

The intimacy of Island City Stage’s production of The Pride inside the Empire Stage space adds an extra layer of closeness to an absolutely enthralling production. Pair this with artistic director Andy Rogow’s sensitive and seamless direction, along with his selection of actors who know how to inhabit roles and not merely play them, and Alexi Kaye Campbell’s British drama bursts at the seams with courage.

McKeever’s deep understanding of Oliver’s worlds, both in the 1950s and in the character’s modern incarnation, makes his characterizations utterly flawless.

Linser plays Philip close to the vest, yet as buttoned up as the character seems, Linser is able to convey the sexual tension and Philip’s struggle to quell his desires.

Cherie, as the troubled Sylvia in the past era and the bold Sylvia in the present, perhaps has the most difficult role... The character comes off as a supporting player merely there to assuage the dilemmas of the two men… Whether it is the fault of this production and its direction, or a problem in Campbell’s script, is difficult to decipher.

Dorazio offers comic relief in his supporting role and he knows enough not to overplay it so as not to dilute the play’s seriousness.

Perhaps what serves as the overarching perfection in this production is Rogow’s direction. His vision is masterful in a play that calls for a lot of nuance. He nails it as he weaves his characters in and out of eras. When an early era character needs to enter a later era scene and vice versa, the lighting, costumes and direction make it seem ghostly, never disturbing the action, but enhancing it. It is a beautiful, artistic rendering.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:

Fort Lauderdale’s Island City Stage, a small LGBT-focused company that launched less than two years ago, meets the play’s myriad challenges in its newly opened, season-ending production.

The script time travels repeatedly, so that an actor exits a ‘50s scene and re-enters as his or her 2008 namesake. Sounds confusing, but director Andy Rogow, the transformative actors, costume designer Peter A. Lovello and set designer Michael McClain keep the era of each scene quite clear.

Adopting British accents, the actors artfully delineate their different characters. McKeever’s ‘50s Oliver is a sensitive soul who longs to live an open, authentic life; present-day Oliver is a witty mess. Linser’s first Philip exudes barely controlled rage, while his present-day Philip is a decent and wounded man. Cherie is simply haunting as Philip’s lonely wife; as the contemporary Sylvia, she’s cheeky and wise. Dorazio is impressive in all three of his supporting roles, as the not-so-menacing Nazi, a chilling doctor and a garrulous magazine editor with a wrenching story to share.

John Thomason reviewed for The Broward/Palm Beach New Times:

The Pride rotates its scenes between… two periods, with Michael McClain's clever and economic living-room scenic design distinguishing the two by switching out a typewriter with a laptop and vice versa…  while certainly well-meaning, it is also verbose, stuffed to the brim with thickets of unnecessary dialogue. It doesn't help that Andy Rogow's direction too often teeters toward soap opera artifice, with characters declaring their thoughts while staring archly into the distance rather than at each other.

The acting is solid and impassioned across the board, with McKeever and Cherie its most moving and naturalistic performers; their shared moment on a park bench is the show's highlight.

Linser has a tougher go, saddled with playing a character who is, in the 1958 scenes, repressed and stiff. His emotions go from buried to volcanic, with little middle ground, and in the 2008 segments, he lacks enough stage time to accrue dimension.

There's enough prestige in this production to compensate for what sometimes feels like a long-winded after-school special that artfully tells us what we already know. Rogow's most masterly touch is his decision to bleed the chronologically disparate scenes together: He frequently grafts characters from the beginning of the next scene onto the end of the previous one, creating thematic fluidity and suggesting that, half a century removed, these perennially struggling lovers still haunt the spaces, and indeed the psyches, of their counterparts.

Roger Martin reviewed for Miami ArtZine:

There’s powerful acting at Island City Stage. The Pride, which opened in London in 2008 to acclaim, is being presented by Island City Stage and actors Faiza Cherie, Sean Dorazio, Bruce Linser and Michael McKeever do well with an awkward script.

Although there are many gay one liners this is by no means a farce. These characters are in pain and director Andy Rogow has drawn deeply moving revelations from his actors. McKeever, in particular, digs deeper than most would care to go. Extraordinary moments.

The Pride is well worth attending, but be warned. It’s confusing and program notes are of no help. Do your homework first.

Kathryn Ryan reviewed for The Edge:

Like a black and white movie, the monochromatic set and costumes in shades of grey are the perfect accompaniment to Aleki Kaye Campbell’s play, "The Pride," which vacillates between the 1958 and 2008. The visual metaphor works on a couple of levels. First, it emphasizes the very black and white attitudes prevalent in the late fifties and early sixties regarding homosexuality as explored in films like "A Single Man" with Colin Firth.

Director Andy Rogow’s seamless transitional devices between the two periods are also clever. The play and its characters move liquidly back and forth from each decade, telling two stories in juxtaposition to one another. Rogow uses simple, yet genius, methods to indicate the change in time period.

Peter Lovello’s costumes are dead on... Care and attention here is evident and welcome.

The acting is uniformly strong. The three main characters are in a love triangle reminiscent of the characters in Harold Pinter’s play "Betrayal."  As Sylvia, Faiza Cherie… is very moving in the scene at a park where she reveals her knowledge of the affair between her husband, Philip, and her employer, Oliver. She also plays Oliver’s best friend, a la Grace Adler of "Will and Grace" fame, with conviction.

Michael McKeever as Oliver again delivers a fine performance as both an author of children’s books in the 1950’s and a sex addict and journalistic bel-esprit in 2008.

Bruce Linser must also flip characterizations between decades. In one he is a self-loathing beast and the other a gentle man seeking monogamy. His depression is real and his disappointment apparent. In one scene he uses the pillow as a barrier between him and his former lover; this action of self-protection reads well.

Astute direction, fine production values and terrific acting make it worth the trip to see "The Pride" at Empire Stage.

Rod Stafford Hagwood wrote for The Sun-Sentinel Stunned Senseless:

Don’t be fooled by the smallish and threadbare set at the snug Empire Stage black-box theater in Fort Lauderdale. The story by Alexi Kaye Campbell is rich, and it’s expertly told by director Andy Rogow. The dialogue is tight, the pacing is taut and the structure is tidy.

the walk-on roles of the call boy, a magazine editor and a psychiatrist are played by Sean Dorazio. He, along with McKeever and Linser, is a formidable talent, carving out separate personas for each role, but leaving a wisp of a smoky connection lingering in the air between scenes and time shifts.

But it is Cherie who is magic and … and … I guess … noble. She hardly seems to be acting at all, but something closer to splicing atomic-level sense memory with Buddhist/Hindu reincarnation.

Island City Stage presents its production of The Pride at Empire Stage through June 22, 2014