Monday, March 31, 2014

Mondays are Dark

CarbonellWe’re not actually dark tonight, as the 38th Annual Carbonell Awards Ceremony will be held at the centrally located Broward Center for the Performing Arts.  It's tight races all around for this year's nominees, with Slow Burn’s first eligible show making it a real horse race.

 

Once again, the South Florida Theatre League is hosting an after party at Club Revolution, just a couple of blocks from the Broward Center.  Admission is free to League members and Carbonell Awards ticket holders.

We hope to see you there at 7pm!

And now, here’s your Monday reading list.

 

Speaking of the Carbonells

Well, DUH, of course we’re going to lead with Carbonell stories!  Florida Theater On Stage reports that inexplicably, the George Abbott Award is going to the founder of Seraphic Fire, a vocal group that presents absolutely no plays whatsoever.  Don’t ask us, we don’t get it, either, and no explanation is given in this article.  But we get a good rundown on the rest of the leading contenders in many categories.

  

Mae the Gay Icon

South Florida Gay News fills us in on Dirty Blonde, the biographical play about Mae West opening this week at The Plaza Theatre

 

Miami Round Up

The Miami Herald reports that The Arsht Center is mounting another interactive spectacle, and Mad Cat Theater is going to Superfreakout at the South Beach Comedy Festival on Wednesday with their original piece Gerald Ford Superfreak.

 

But No Horses or Sleighs

Broadway World reports that Broward Stage Door Theatre will be opening its production of Over The River And Through The Woods this week. 

On A Somber Note

Last night it was reported that Stage Door Theatre  co-founder and executive producer David Torres has died. Our sympathies go out to his family and co-workers.

 

Sightings

Reallusion interviews animator/puppeteer/actor/director/composer/writer Paul Louis as it featured artist this week.  Louis, who just closed Spamalot at Actors’ Playhouse last night, is one of the co-creators of Real Men Sing Show Tunes And Play With Puppets.

  

An Unusual Benefit

The Student Press Law Center takes a look at the struggle that students engaged in when Trumbull High School tried to kill their production of Rent: School Edition.

The students’ campaign gained national attention, and those involved have been praised for their mature, levelheaded approach in response to initial opposition. Mark has also since been honored with an inaugural “DLDF Defender Award” from the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund for her role in reinstating the show.

These students fought and won: the show debuted last week.  But the struggle is far from over, as Playbill reports that Earl Metzler,  the superintendent of Schools for Timberlane  Regional High school, has canceled their plans to do Sweeney Todd next year.

"I want an all-inclusive performance that the community can enjoy… We were uncomfortable with the script and agreed that this was not the right time or place for the performance… We felt there were parts in there that just weren't acceptable. We shared that with the group and decided to look for a performance which was more suited for the community."

It should be noted that this is the school edition,  which means that it has been adapted to facilitate productions at high schools.  Censorship will never die as long as small-minded people are put in positions of responsibility beyond their competence.

 

Speaking of Benefits

Butts In Seats weighs in on the subject of whether or not you’ll benefit from paying to boost your Facebook posts.  It should be noted that Facebook has changed the way postings are spread around, which means that you may not see all the updates from The Scene because we won’t pay them to do it.  And why should we?  We have no product to sell; we’re performing a public service.

So if you do see a post from The Scene, please share it with your friends; you’re not helping us, you’re helping the show mentioned in the post.  And it could be your show.

 

Reviewing the Reviewers

No, The Scene isn’t the only outlet that reviews the quality of reviews being given: The Minnesota Playlist periodically looks at it, too.

One question I keep coming back to while writing these columns: who exactly is the intended audience for mainstream criticism? Are theater reviews meant for casual theatergoers trying to pick a show for a night on the town? Regular patrons interested in the nuances of a particular production? Theater people looking for useful feedback on their performances?

In this case, Ira Brooker looks at a review of Othello that doesn’t seem to have a clear purpose.

All of this gives me the impression of a critic who simply wished he was watching a different production than the one on stage. Papatola comes off as thoroughly unenthused about the traditional staging, getting excited only over McClinton's occasional dabs of unorthodoxy. But as uninspired as he seems to be, he can't find specific fault with much.

And that is a cardinal sin of reviewing: the reviewer must set aside their expectations or desires, and critique only what is offered to them.   Sure, maybe it would be fun to reverse genders in GUYS AND DOLLS, but you can’t blame the director for not doing that.  Or maybe the play is a tired old warhorse, but you knew that walking in the door.

So don’t second-guess the director or actor by telling them what choices the should have made: merely observe what their choices were, and how their choices worked.  And ideally, the criticism should not only inform the audience about the validity of the work, but also help the artists understand how their choices are being perceived.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The M Ensemble: Brothers of the Dust (reviews)

M Ensemble BOTDThe M Ensemble opened its production of Brothers of the Dust at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse on March 27, 2014.

This play by Darren Canady won the Osborn Award two years ago from the American Theatre Critics Association competition. Brothers of the Dust looks at a farm family in 1958 Arkansas: the brother who stayed to work the land and is discouraging his son from attending college, the wastrel whose entrepreneurial dreams imploded, and the poet pursuing a writing career in Chicago. As secrets emerge, the potential for discovery of oil on the family homestead pits each against the other in a clash of values.

Andre’ L. Gainey directed a cast that included Keith C. Wade, Roderick Randle, Charita Coleman, Mcley Lafrance, Ashlee Thomas, Brandiss Seward, and Darryl Vaughn.

 

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:

The production and performances veer from fiery and moving to occasional stretches in which it all goes stiff and stilted. But nothing can dim the consistent underlying glow of the script by young playwright Darren Canady whose vision and voice are unusually promising.

Artistic Director André L. Gainey has guided the cast in finding and illuminating the complex characters as they push and pull in a family dynamic both extreme and familiar from a hundred plays from Eugene O’Neill to Sam Shepard.

But it’s Canady’s writing that carries the evening – a discerning choice by M Ensemble’s Executive Director Shirley Richardson who met Canady through Facebook. Canady’s characters are more complex than immediately apparent.

As Roy, Keith C. Wade has the toughest assignment. The character must be stolid, dictatorial and yet sympathetic. Canady has created someone who has difficulty expressing his deep love of family. Because Roy keeps so much inside, Wade struggles a bit making us see the real Roy. But when he gets the chance to let loose with anger, Wade’s performance suddenly comes unleashed. After that, his shell-shocked shut-down reaction to tragedies not only makes sense, but seems plausible.

Darryl Vaughn’s performance, too, can seem a bit perfunctory and stiff at times. But when he finds Wilson’s groove, Vaughn perfectly communicates someone whose disappointment enables the most self-serving pragmatism.

Mcley LaFrance is consistently effective showing the conflicting turmoil of the genial would-be sophisticate Ollie whose evolving success as a writer in Chicago is imploding. He and Vaughn both illustrate the frustration of people who have achieved their goal of “getting out” and yet whose dreams have turned to dross. Early on, LaFrance exclaims the word, “Family” with mixture of joy and exasperation familiar to most of us.

The most impressive work comes from Charita Coleman who creates Mayetta as the foundation upon which the family operates… While she must keep her emotions in check to some degree for much of the play, her outbursts like the one at the very end of the play when she pleads for Roy’s understanding are among the most moving moments of the evening.

The supporting cast is pretty capable as well: Ashlee Thomas as the fish-out-of-water sophisticate Audra who just barely hides her disdain for the alien rural environs; Roderick Randle as the teenaged Jack straining to leave the farm for college against his father’s commands, and Brandiss Seward savoring the prime role as the tart-tongued out-for-herself Nella who gets some of the best lines…

These have been complicated times for M Ensemble, the oldest continuously operating African American company in the state… But at the same time, Brothers of the Dust and the recent Knock Me A Kiss and King Hedley II indicate how the quality of the work has trending upward. In any event, they are providing an opportunity that audiences should take to hear this new voice in playwriting.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:

M Ensemble and director André L. Gainey have just opened a fine, wonderfully acted production of Brothers of the Dust at the Light Box at Goldman Warehouse. Miami’s oldest theater company isn’t always qualitatively consistent, but this show is a gem that gets folks in the audience oohing and hooting.

Darren Canady, a gifted young playwright who teaches at the University of Kansas, won the 2012 Osborn New Play Award for Brothers of the Dust, a rich and searing drama set in 1958 rural Arkansas. Earthy and observant, the play isn’t a masterwork, but it is an engaging, sometimes amusing, ultimately powerful piece about the disintegration of an extended black family.

Beyond the resonant script, M Ensemble’s Brothers of the Dust really connects because of the excellent ensemble work of its cast.

Wade’s Roy is a hard, stubborn man for whom it’s tough to summon sympathy, but in the waning moments of the play, he breaks your heart. Coleman’s guarded exterior masks Mayetta’s loneliness, but she’s no doormat: In her own way, she’s as tough as Roy. Vaughn gets Wilson’s manipulative ruthlessness, and Seward is his more amusing match. Her delivery is pricelessly withering as she surveys the summer dress worn by Ollie’s sometime girlfriend and comments, “That is so … creative.”

  

Lafrance makes Ollie a charming, lusty bad boy with secrets. As editor Audra Thorpe, Ollie’s frequently betrayed boss and squeeze, Ashlee Thomas gets the rich city girl’s condescension just right. Randle makes Jack, whose college dreams are always shut down by Roy, a restless young man on the cusp of escape.

…Canady’s promising voice filtered through seven strong actors makes M Ensemble’s production a compelling exploration of family dysfunction and treachery.

  

The M Ensemble presents  Brothers of the Dust at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse through April 13, 2014.

Broward Center: American Idiot (reviews)

BAA_AmericanIdiotThe national tour of American Idiot opened at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on March 25, 2014.
A critical sensation on Broadway and in London, the smash-hit musical American Idiot tells the story of three lifelong friends, forced to choose between their dreams and the safety of suburbia. Based on Green Day's Grammy Award-winning multi-platinum album and featuring the hits "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," "21 Guns," "Wake Me Up When September Ends," "Holiday" and the blockbuster title track, American Idiot boldly takes the American musical where it's never gone before.
Michael Meyer directed a cast that included Jared Nepute, Carson Higgins, Casey O’Farrell,  Dan Tracy, and Olivia Puckett.  With choreography by Steven Hoggett.
  
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Buried under the profligate volume and frequently unintelligible lyrics, American Idiot remains entertaining for the unflagging energy of its performance and the power of its raw material, all rooted in youth’s millennial-old anger at the despoiled world they have been handed.
American Idiot is notable on several fronts shaped by director/bookwriter Michael Mayer of Spring Awakening, Green Day lead singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, choreographer Steven Hoggett (Black Watch and Once) and orchestrator/arranger Tom Kitt (next to normal). First, the propulsive infectious score taken from the smash album and 21st Century Breakdown is, indeed, damn good music. Sometimes it’s as slashingly dangerous as a single-edge razor blade, sometimes as blunt as a sledgehammer being swung by a maniac on PCP.
Second, the lyrics, when you can hear them in the ballads, are surprisingly well-crafted, poetic and affecting, especially “Wake Me Up When September Ends.”
Third, Mayer and Hoggett have infused the piece with inventive theatrical staging rooted in traditional craft. Hoggett in particular, who is a movement specialist as much as a choreographer, has created a visual style echoing the jangling physicality of people thrashing with internal angst bordering on hellfire.
It cannot be overstated that 80 percent of the lyrics, easily 80 percent, were indecipherable – ironic given the volume. For those who are not Green Day devotees, it would have helped if, like the Florida Grand Opera, the plot was sketched out ahead of time in the playbill and if supertitles were projected above the stage.
But undeniably American Idiot fairly depicts an honest cry of profound anguish that underlies its snide derision and profuse use of F-bombs. It is both an affirmation of a lifeview recognizable to its creators’ peers and an insightful field trip for anyone else who will open themselves to it.
 
That said, all the publicity is nonsense that this show will entertain a wide range of audience members. The only reason more people didn’t walk out was because there is no intermission and that didn’t stop some senior subscribers.
The cast, especially the dancers, throw themselves into the work with an enthusiasm and energy that makes you fear for their emotional health and their physical well-being. Standing out among the leads are Jared Nepute as Johnny and Robert Downey-lookalike Carson Higgins as the sardonic St. Jimmy. The five-piece band led by Evan Jay Newman may have the volume at 11 on a scale of 10, but they are drumhead tight.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
The older folks who bailed while the show was going strong would disagree, but American Idiot is an accomplished, moving piece of 21st century theater.
The way that American Idiot has been brought to life is in keeping with Green Day’s music, edgy and insightful and of the moment. Director Michael Mayer, who co-authored the script with Green Day vocalist-guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, keeps much of the 90-minute, intermission-free show flowing as frenetically as some of the more blistering music, though there are moments of lovely stillness, as when Nepute’s Johnny strums a guitar and sings When It’s Time.
The young cast is, from the outset, a powerful ensemble. A few actors push a little too hard, trying to sketch character through lyrics during fleeting moments in the spotlight. But leads Nepute, O’Farrell and Tracy are terrific singer-actor-musicians, with all those talents showcased as they sing the haunting Wake Me Up When September Ends.
American Idiot is not a typical Broadway touring show. Yes, it can be loud, but it’s also contemplative, cautionary and compassionate. And well done.
Rod Stafford Hagwood wrote for The Stunned-Senseless:
The Green Day musical “American Idiot” has more of a sensibility than an actual plot.
Now you know why we don’t subscribe to the Sun-Sentinel.  Once you strip away all of the exposition of plot, that’s the entire review of the show.
 
The national tour of American Idiot plays at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts through April 6, 2014.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Scene for March 28, 2014

It's an insanely busy week on the Scene in South Florida this week, with ten shows opening across the region, according to Florida Theater On Stage (but they're including the Opera.).  

And that's on top of preparations for the 38th Annual Carbonell Awards Ceremony on Monday.  At this point, we're told the event is sold out.  We figure that means that the South Florida Theatre League's Carbonell After-Party will be especially lively this year.
 
Here's all of the many shows playing on the scene this weekend:

opening...   

The National Tour of  American Idiot is rocking out at the Broward Center until April 6th.  You should go have the time of your life.

The M-Ensemble opens Brothers of the Dust at The Miami Light Box at Goldman Warehouse, through April 13.

Vanities plays at The Parker Playhouse as part of the Winterstage Series, closes Sunday.

Palm Beach Dramaworks opens Horton Foote's Dividing The Estate, runs through April 27.

Outré Theatre Company opens Mr. Marmalade at the Mizner Park Cultural  Arts Center, through April 13.

Juan C. Sanchez's Paradise Motel opens at the Miami Theatre Center, through April 12.

New Theatre opens Not Ready for Prime Time at the South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center in Cutler Ridge (yes, the New Theatre is opening a new play at its new space).

The Plaza Theatre presents Margot Moreland as Mae West in Dirty Blonde, through Aprul 13.

Island City Stage opens Have I Got A Girl for You, through April 27.



you still haven't missed... 

The Maltz Jupiter Theatre offers The King and I through April 6, 2014.
 
Zoetic Stage premieres Clark Gable Slept Here at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, through April 6.
 
Slow Burn Theatre Company’s production of Chess plays at the West Boca Performing Arts Theater through April 5,  and then plays at the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center the weekend of April 10 - 13.

GableStage presents The Mountaintop through April 13, 2014.

God of Isaac plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through April 23rd. 


last chance to see...


Actors’ Playhouse presents its long awaited production of  Monty Python’s Spamalot  at the Miracle Theater through March 30.
    

If you find yourself in Key West, The Waterfront Playhouse
offers Xanadu, through March 29.

Ginsberg Productions brings its version of the 1998 revival of Cabaret  to Key Largo this weekend only.


community/conservatory
 
Miami Acting Company presents A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum at the Banyan Bowl through Sunday, March 30.
 
Area Stage Company presents Dreams of Ann Frank through March 30.


for kids...
 
Showtime Performing Arts Theater presents Sleeping Beauty through April 26, 2014.
 

Sol Children's Theatre's production of Disney's Aladdin is sold out for the weekend, so we're not sure why we're posting it.  "Oh, no - too slow!"

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Busy Weekend on The Scene

BusyWeekAheadYou know that it’s a busy weekend when there are not one, but TWO stories about how much is going on this weekend.
Florida Theater On Stage and The Miami Herald both outline how busy their theatre reviewers are going to be.  And each has a slightly different take on it.
Perhaps producers are racing all at one time to get the last of the snowbirds’ discretionary dollars before they head back north; perhaps they think the geographical distance makes it unlikely their customers will travel to another county; perhaps they simply don’t look at each other’s calendars. No one knows.
-- Florida Theater On Stage
Actually, it’s not that much of a mystery, it’s just that the variables are only visible when you’re putting together the calendar.
  
First, you want to start a certain distance before or after certain holidays; Labor Day is really a weekend of backyard barbecues and family trips to the beach, and nobody goes out Thanksgiving day.  You won’t have any Jewish patrons during certain high holy days, and you won’t attract any field trips in during F-CAT testing.  Then consider what city functions are going on that may block streets or use up parking.  And now you find that there are clearly defined slots in which to schedule your plays.
The most scrutinized show will certainly be the one from New Theatre, now based at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center. The script focuses on producer Lorne Michaels’ creation of Saturday Night Live, which launched in 1975, and on its original cast: Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Laraine Newman, Jane Curtin, Garret Morris and, with Chase’s departure, Bill Murray.
--The Miami Herald
So why would THIS play be the most scrutinized?  Is it the subject matter?  Is it New Theatre’s track record producing new plays? 

No, it’s the casting of David Samson, president of the Miami Marlins, that makes this project stand out.  Not that those other things don’t count.  But this one will grab the attention of Marlin’s fans in addition to theater lovers.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Slow Burn Theatre Company: Chess (4 reviews)

Slow Burn OnstageSlow Burn Theatre Company opened its production of Chess at the West Boca Performing Arts Theater on March 21, 2014 where it plays through April 5th, before moving to the toney Aventura Arts and Cultural Center to conclude its run April 10-13.
With music by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, formerly of ABBA, and with lyrics by Tim Rice, this story involves a romantic triangle between two top players, an American and a Russian, in a world chess championship, and a woman who manages one and falls in love with the other; all in the context of a Cold War struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union, during which both countries wanted to win international chess tournaments for propaganda purposes.
Patrick Fitzwater directed a cast that included Amy Miller Brennan, Rick Peña, Matthew Korinko, Conor Walton, Elvin Negron, Sean Dorazio, Carla Bordonada, Ann Marie Olson, Kaela Antolino, Kaitlyn O’Neill, Spencer Perlman, Bruno Vida, Elijah Davis, and primary dancers Jamie Kautzmann and Hugo Moreno
 
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Slow Burn Theatre Company has once again tackled a difficult show that few if any Florida companies would attempt. And once again, it has come out the victor, at least as victorious as any production can be of this work that divides audiences.
Unstinting praise is due Slow Burn director and co-founder Patrick Fitzwater, musical director Manny Schvartzman and a stunningly fine cast for pulling off an evening that had Saturday’s audience cheering in the middle of the show. Some of the renditions surpass any recording or video we’ve heard or seen of these numbers.
The sung-through score has been called a rock opera, but that gives it short shrift. The difficult charts encompass powerplant ballads, pop songs, production numbers, operatically nimble recitatives, intricate chorale pieces and herky-jerky melody lines and rhyming schemes, when it deigns to rhyme at all.
Making it even more difficult is that the subject matter – cerebral and political power games – is not inherently visual and requires a great deal of imagination in its staging.
Fitzwater, as always doing double duty as director and choreographer, once again brings a choreographer’s visual bent to his staging with as highly stylized a tone as Slow Burn has ever attempted.
We’ve delayed spotlighting the ultimate strengths of the production: Brennan, Korinko, Peña and Bordonada.
The pure polished soprano issuing forth from the equally lovely Brennan stops respiration…  Brennan emerges clearly as a reliable reason to see any show she’s cast in. She has a cabaret singer’s vocal agility and a stage actress’ passionate expressiveness. Her performance of the angry “Nobody’s Side” and anguished “Heaven Help My Heart” are unparalleled.
Korinko… brings a quiet dignity to Anatoly – perhaps the only decent character on stage. But it’s his powerful and clean light baritone that overwhelms his scenes, including the Act I closer “Anthem” that is as moving a rendering as I’ve ever heard of it.
Peña… completely inhabits the brilliant, manipulative and abrasive Freddie. His tenor has never been stronger whether in the hedonistic “One Night In Bangkok” or sensitively exposing the damage of his broken childhood in “Pity The Child.”
Bordonada… has a strong piano bar/cabaret background that’s put to good use… when she and Brennan team up for the 11 o’ clock number “I Know Him So Well,” it’s a perfect storm of passion, power and talent.
Props are due the eight-member ensemble who work overtime whether it’s carrying out Fitzwater’s movement or nailing the complex choral numbers for Schvartzman. A bow is due Ann Marie Olson, Kaela Antolino, Kaitlyn O’Neill, Spencer Perlman, Bruno Vida, Elijah Davis, and primary dancers Jamie Kautzmann and Hugo Moreno who execute the pas de deux ballet moves as the chess matches rage behind them.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Slow Burn’s latest daring move is Chess… certainly among the more difficult pieces the company has taken on.
This time, despite some notable strengths and obvious creative passion, director-choreographer Patrick Fitzwater, music director Manny Schvartzman, the cast and design team battle the material to a draw.
Fitzwater fills what could be static chess matches with dancing “pawns,” but some of his choreography is overly busy. He and Schvartzman get powerful vocal work from the chorus, though Conor Walton has more visual presence than musical firepower as the Arbiter. Leads Miller Brennan, Korinko, Peña and Bordonada, as well as Negron and Sean Dorazio as a manipulative TV guy, are all impressive actor-singers. The never-better Miller Brennan and Korinko, in particular, achieve enlightening clarity and vocal beauty in their performances.
…despite having been revised a number of times, Chess remains challenging for both theater companies and audiences. Kudos to Slow Burn, though, for being devoted to such challenges.
John Thomason reviewed for Boca Magazine:
Director Patrick Fitzwater’s choreography is clearly inspired, and Sean McLelland’s set design, with its mixture of abstraction and literality, is exemplary. The actors’ blood, sweat and tears are self-evident. And yet, I felt no connection to their plight. A thunderbolt (or perhaps, given the subject matter, a nuclear bomb) could have struck any of the characters at any point, and I would feel nothing.
Part of the problem could be that “Chess” is an overambitious gamble of a show... “Chess” thrives on a taxing and chameleonic score from ABBA’s Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, along with some tongue-twisting, complex wordplay from lyricist Tim Rice. There are 23 songs in act one alone (some of them might be called songlets), often requiring actors to transition from singing and speaking and back again, and from wildly different registers without a break. The story itself, which situates Russo-American tension in the context of a love triangle and a chess tourney, is convoluted and dated...
That said, of any company in this region, Slow Burn’s track record of mounting similarly dramatic, operatic musicals with much success suggests that if anybody could do “Chess” justice, it’s Fitzwater and has indefatigable production team. It’s hard to complain about the lead actors: Korinko has the sort of voice that seems beamed from the heavens; Pena injects the right amount of entitled angst into his brash American chessmaster, playing Freddie like a pampered celebrity; and Amy Miller Brennan hits the right notes, vocally and emotionally, as the woman whose changing of allegiances throws the musical’s character dynamics into turmoil. She runs the gamut from defiance to loveliness, her voice shaking the rafters...
Then again, the entire finale was a mess on opening night, a shrill din of voices clamoring to usurp each other, a tower of incoherent babble. Rarely was the sound acceptable, in fact, from the very first notes to the last; any time more than two voices shared the stage, the vocals became incomprehensible.
So it’s no surprise that Slow Burn’s “Chess” is best when the vocals disappear, during the chess-playing instrumentals. It’s here that Fitzwater’s choreography is most innovative, manifesting the process of cerebral chess game through short ballet movements from his talented ensemble, whose pas de deux stand in for the chessmasters’ movements.
I’ve been transitioning this review from positive, present-tense assessments to negative past-tense assessments for a reason. The show’s good stuff will always be good, but I’m hopeful its weaknesses are not permanent, that as the show’s run continues, the spark of connection it currently lacks will eventually electrify the theater (and that the audio problems will mercifully iron themselves out).
Rod Stafford Hagwood was sent by the Stunned-Senseless:
On one side, you have Chess,” a cult-fave-rave with music from ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus and lyrics from Tim Rice being staged by Slow Burn Theatre, a talent magnet of a company based in Boca Raton.
   
On the other side, you have a musical that is so stout and dense no light can enter it.
It’s all a stalemate. So whether to see “Chess” is your move. But know that the choreography is too ambitious, and the set design has too many competing ideas competing. Combine the two, and the result is a serried mass.
On the plus side, the vocals are powerful where needed and beautifully lyrical where warranted. The cast has a knack, a real gift, for injecting acting into the songs. Like I said, Slow Burn Theatre is a real talent magnet. While the performers supply a deft hand, the show offers an iron fist.
   
Slow Burn Theatre Company’s production of Chess plays at the West Boca Performing Arts Theater through April 5,  and then plays at the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center the weekend of April 10 - 13.

Zoetic Stage: Clark Gable Slept Here (reviews)

ZOETIC_-_CLARK_GABLE_TLSF_BANNERZoetic Stage opened the world premiere production of Michael McKeever’s Clark Gable Slept Here at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Arts on March 20, 2014.
As one of the silver screen's brightest stars charms his way through the Golden Globe Awards ceremony, his staff tries to figure out what to do with the dead male prostitute on his bedroom floor. South Florida favorite Michael McKeever takes a look behind the closed doors of the Hollywood elite, and presents a jet-black satire on what it means to be a "man" in the make-believe world of motion pictures, where nothing is ever what it seems and closets are used for so much more than hanging up your Tom Ford tuxedo.
Stuart Meltzer  directed a cast that featured Michael McKeever, Lela Elam, Clay Cartland, Vanessa Elise,  and Robert Johnson.
 
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Death, drug overdose, murder, lies, hypocrisy, soulless creatures willing to do absolutely anything for greed and glamour – you really shouldn’t be laughing this much or this hard. But after all, it’s Hollywood.  Specifically it’s Michael McKeever’s Hollywood in his hilarious new play Clark Gable Slept Here getting its world premiere at Zoetic Stage in that other Never Neverland, Miami.
…this is such a rollicking ride under Stuart Meltzer’s direction that even the actors were struggling not to crack up on opening night. Well, if they hadn’t been giving such pitch perfect comic performances, maybe they could have kept a straight face.
Lela Elam brings a queenly but street smart mien to the ultra-practical fixer whose carefully coiffed appearance barely disguises the moral compass of a shark…  a glorious monster who is unashamedly immoral, not amoral.
For years, we’ve been trying vainly to explain or describe what Clay Cartland does specifically to make such hapless characters as the hotel manager so human and hilarious at the same time. As the resident straight man, he gets insufficient credit for the deft set-ups to others’ jokes and the pained reaction that makes him the only decent person in the room.
Vanessa Elise’s Estella happily satirizes and exploits stereotypes with a character who is, like everything else here, more than she appears.
There is one character who makes a surprise entrance, turning everything upside down. The performer will have to forgive us not naming them to avoid a spoiler, but suffice it to say that their performance is as funny and competently executed as the others.
As always, Zoetic keeps upping the bar for set design and properties thanks to Robert F. Wolin’s stylish ultra-modern Hollywood glam bedroom with sex toys and other accoutrements found by Jodi Dellaventura.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
McKeever’s dark comedy, the fifth world premiere from Miami’s still-young Zoetic Stage, skewers all sorts of Hollywood phoniness, from closeted stars to touching life stories borrowed from movie plots. Wildly funny and comically horrifying, the play is carefully crafted to reveal surprise after surprise, as if it were the theatrical equivalent of Botoxed Russian nesting dolls.
Zoetic, which presents its shows in the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater, draws from a deep well of South Florida talent in casting its shows…
The cast really does function beautifully as an ensemble, but Elam, looking ultra glam in a figure-hugging red gown and glittering heels, dominates the action when it’s Morgan’s turn to problem-solve. Performing a part that was written for her, the Carbonell-winning actress uses an array of artistic weaponry — dangerous seductiveness, razor-sharp comic timing, a commanding presence — to add another memorable performance to her body of work. And that, unlike the puffed-up Hollywood phoniness Clark Gable so deftly punctures, is for real.
Roger Martin reviewed for Miami ArtZine:
This is Michael McKeever writing and acting at his witty, cynical best. Laugh a minute? Oh, yes, and then some.
The hysterically funny Vanessa Elise is the maid who finds the body and who speaks no English and who gets screams of laughter every time she’s on the stage and thank goodness, she’s on a lot.
Clay Cartland… (is) Nervous Nellie personified; you should see him with a penis is his hand. Relax, it’s rubber. His physicality as the rigid manager is a comic delight.
If you don’t know McKeever, you should. You’re missing a man of extraordinary talent, and he’s wonderfully at home in this role he wrote for himself. The perfect man as the Hollywood insider, elegantly tuxedoed for the awards’ night, master of the the quips and the silences.
 
Lela Elam… gorgeously explodes around the penthouse in a bright red dress, top heavy with diamonds, the snake eyed cleaner.
So sure, I loved the cast, loved the writing, loved Stuart Meltzer’s direction. And even the last couple of minutes when a touch of morality slipped into this really funny ninety minute one act.
John Thomason wrote for The Miami New Times:
Director Stuart Meltzer keeps McKeever's words flowing at a rapid patter evocative of the period in which Clark Gable found gainful employment… The action slows only when paroxysms of laughter would have drowned out the next line, or when Meltzer wisely inserts a moment of silence to milk a great line for all of its comic potency.
…while McKeever's words reflect a pop-savvy understanding of today's Hollywood, the rest of the show suggests the madcap spirit of yesteryear. As in those classic comedies, the characters are characters, more archetypes than people, played broadly and hilariously by a perfectly curated cast.
Cartland's comic timing is peerless as usual, whether he's coming into incidental contact with a dildo or trying to explain away a gunshot to his hotel staff. It never feels calculated, and it is always inspired
Then there's Lela Elam, statuesque and busting out of a vivid red dress and glittery high-heels, as Morgan Wright, …another larger-than-life figure, an almost mythical personification of Hollywood self-importance and superficiality... In another role, her dramatic gestures would chew scenery and artificially overpower the action. Here, in a town that's fundamentally artificial, she's its grounding centerpiece.
But the show's biggest surprise is Vanessa Elise, a New World graduate and an actor who's relatively unknown on the South Florida theater scene. If this performance is any indication, she won't remain so for very long. Her maid's rambling, Spanish-language descriptions of discovering the prostitute's body received the evening's loudest eruptions of laughter. The nuances flew over my unilingual head, but Elise's talent for physical comedy — for the perfect gesture and facial expression at the perfect time — transcends language.
For those of us aware that the Dream Factory is just that, none of the points raised in Clark Gable Slept Here will feel like a revelation. But the play is so beautifully articulated that I wouldn't mind experiencing the whole thing again and savoring lines such as this one, Jarrod's description of Zane's airheaded wife: "She's like a shampoo commercial, without the depth."

Zoetic Stage presents the world premiere production of Michael McKeever’s Clark Gable Slept Here at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Arts through April 6, 2014.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mondays are Dark

Only one more week until the 38th Annual Carbonell Awards Ceremony – do you have your tickets yet?   There are still tickets available but they are selling fast and they are cheaper in advance.  And there is a lot of truly excellent theatre to celebrate this year.  And don’t forget, it’s all for a good cause: the Carbonell Scholarship Fund.
 
The ceremony will be held at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts at 7:30 pm, March 31.  And the South Florida Theatre League is still throwing an after-party right down the street.
  
Now here’s your Monday reading list:

Speaking of Awards

The Miami Herald reports that local playwright Christopher Demos-Brown has been selected as one of six finalists for the Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association new play award for his play Fear Up Harsh, produced this past season by Zoetic Stage.

In the same article, Mad Cat Theatre Company is seeking applications for its Nine Lives Scholarships.

{insert witty 50 Shades of Grey reference}

The Palm Beach Daily News reports that Joel Grey will participate in the Actors’ Fund Drive at Palm Beach Dramaworks.

Going Green

The National Tour of American Idiot opens at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts this week, and the Stunned-Senseless fills us in on it, and so does The Miami Herald.
 

Getting to Know Them

The Palm Beach ArtsPaper talks with director Marcia Milgrom Dodge about her take on The King and I, now playing at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre:
“Part of my way into the piece was to find a way to tell the story of ‘The Small House of Uncle Thomas,’ inspired as authentically from a Thai art form sensibility,” explains Dodge. “As I started doing my research, Thai shadow puppetry sort of smacked me in the face, calling me. So we are doing the ballet as Thai shadow puppet theater… The notion of employing shadow puppets “ultimately inspired the whole production design. There are shadow elements throughout the piece,” she says.

A Play About A TV Show

Cutler Bay News fills us in on Not Ready For Primetime, getting its world premiere production this by New Theatre.

Speaking of Opening This Week

SFGN fills us in on the next offering at Island City Stage, Have I Got A Girl For You, a standout at the 2012 New York International Fringe Festival.

Sightings

Actor/Playwright/Screenwriter/Director Zack Braff  reminisced about his path to success in The New York Times last week, and he mentions a musical director who is no stranger to South Florida theatre.
It was there I met Michael Larsen, the musical director of the camp. He told me that I wasn’t just a camper having fun, but that I also had talent. And he was tough — sometimes he’d scream at me — but I knew it was because he thought I had a shot.
Michael moved back up to The Big Apple a few years back, but there are many south Florida actors who have found memories of working with him.   Mazel tov!

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Scene for March 21, 2014

Spring is in the air in South Florida, whatever the hinterlands might be experiencing. Soon, the snowbirds will make their great migration to points north, and our traffic will be reduced to merely terrible, improved from the horrific parking lot crawl of The Season.
  
Just a remind that the 38th Annual Carbonell Awards Ceremony is a week from Monday – do you have your tickets yet?   There are still tickets available but they are selling fast and they are cheaper in advance.  And there is a lot of truly excellent theatre to celebrate this year.  And don’t forget, it’s all for a good cause: the Carbonell Scholarship Fund.
 
The ceremony will be held at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts at 7:30 pm, March 31.  And the South Florida Theatre League is still throwing an after-party right down the street.
 
Here's what's playing on the scene this weekend:

opening...   

The Maltz Jupiter Theatre offers The King and I through April 6, 2014.
 
Zoetic Stage premieres Clark Gable Slept Here at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, through April 6.
 
Slow Burn Theatre opens its production of Chess, the rarely produced musical from the creative minds behind ABBA.

you still haven't missed... 

GableStage presents The Mountaintop through April 13, 2014.

God of Isaac plays at the Broward Stage Door Theatre through April 23rd. 

Actors’ Playhouse presents its long awaited production of Monty Python’s Spamalot  at the Miracle Theater through March 30.
    

If you find yourself in Key West, The Waterfront Playhouse
offers Xanadu, through March 29.

last chance to see...

Storycrafter Studio offers A Kiss For Cupid until Sunday, March 23rd.
 
The Theatre at Arts Garage
winds up its premiere production of  Fighting Over Beverly on March 23rd.

The
Boca Raton Theatre Guild’s Primal Forces  freshman project, David Mamet’s The Anarchist, ends its run at the Andrews Living Arts Theatre this Sunday.
 
The Wick Theatre’s production of The Full Monty hangs it up on Sunday.
 
Laffing Matterz winds up its run at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts weekend.


community/conservatory
 
Lake Worth Playhouse offers One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest through March 16, 2014.
  
Lynn University presents the musical Sweet Charity this weekend only.
 
Area Stage Company presents Dreams of Ann Frank through March 30.


for kids...
 
Showtime Performing Arts Theater presents Sleeping Beauty through April 26, 2014.
 
The Wizard of Oz is playing at the J’s Cultural Arts Theatre through March 23.
 

GableStage: The Mountaintop (reviews)

mountaintop_adGableStage opened its production of The Mountaintop on March 15, 2014.

The night before his assassination, after delivering one of his most memorable speeches, Martin Luther King retires to room 306 in the now famous Lorraine Motel in Memphis. While a storm rages outside, a mysterious young maid arrives with some surprising news -- and King is forced to confront his past and the future of his people.

Joseph Adler directed a cast that featured C. Anthony Jackson and Karen Stephens.

 

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:

Certainly, The Mountaintop is about civil rights, it’s about Dr. Martin Luther King’s place in the struggle, it’s about King as a three-dimensional person, flawed but justifiably honored…. The result under Joseph Adler’s direction and superb work by actors C. Anthony Jackson and Karen Stephens is a moving exploration of the meaning of a life’s achievement leavened with copious amounts of humor.

Adler is a famously strong-willed director who uses actors as tools to create his vision on stage while considering their offered ideas. So while his direction is rarely flashy and self-conscious (other than a love of a dramatic use of sounds and lights), what you see often on his stage is a lot of Adler. Given the difficult shifting tones of this piece, it is his pacing and staging and sculpting that makes it work as well as it does.

….one linchpin has to be the actor portraying an iconic figure we have seen and heard scores of times. Jackson is not King’s doppelganger, but he has made a second career speaking King’s words. As a result, his resonant baritone embraces King’s public speaking patterns and cadences forged in the pulpit. But...(Hall), Adler and Jackson are portraying the human being, not the saint chiseled into stone… Jackson’s King is simply a man a profoundly admirable man with shining virtues, yes, but a recognizable human being whose multi-faceted character makes him relatable

Stephens is simply brilliant as Camae. No asterisks. Her work is breathtaking whether she’s defiantly but adorably whipping back some attitude in response to King’s sexism, or standing on a bed slyly lampooning King’s preacher’s cadences

The road may twist a bit, but the trip to The Mountaintop is worth the climb.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:

Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop has become one of the most-produced plays in American regional theater over the past two seasons. Why is that? Look no further than GableStage’s engaging, exquisite new production of the Olivier Award-winning play to understand the reasons for its success.

…director Joseph Adler has assembled a little dream cast in C. Anthony Jackson as King and Karen Stephens as Camae, a maid at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. Though the setup seems straightforward, though the action never leaves the place that will become the scene of King’s assassination, Hall layers surprise after surprise into her text, allowing Adler, Jackson and Stephens to take audiences on a wildly theatrical ride.

As for the performances, they’re of the quality that wins awards: funny at first, richly layered, deeply moving.

Jackson… has the casual and formal cadences of King’s speech down cold. The actor gives himself over to the complexities of Hall’s King, to the fear, desire, ego, despair and sense of mission. Ultimately, his warts-and-all King is a man who evokes compassion.

Stephens is a wonder in her GableStage debut. She’s funny, self-assured, alluring and in control. When Camae dons King’s suit coat and hops onto one of the beds to deliver a speech that morphs from reasonable to faux incendiary, Stephens nails King’s oratorical style. She and this production of The Mountaintop deserve an “amen” chorus.

Roger Martin reviewed for Miami ArtZine:

In one of the best productions of the season Joe Adler has brought to GableStage, two enthralling actors star in a witty version of the precursor to a tragic night.

Stephens, in a magical performance, is the young housemaid who forces King to face his wins and his losses, his heroics and his weaknesses. Jackson is brilliant in his portrayal of a man facing his end.

Adler’s excellent direction and the fascinating performances by Stephens and Jackson are well matched by the technical aspects of the blistering thunderstorms, the crashing blackouts and the pounding rain on the balcony outside the motel room. Thank Lyle Baskin, Jeff Quinn and Matt Corey for the excellent set, lights and sound.

John Thomason wrote for The Miami New Times:

…it's unusual and refreshing to see King… as a human being with problems shared by most of us. We're used to seeing him as more icon than man — a talking head on YouTube or, every third Monday of January, on CNN, where snippets of video revisit history's embodiment of nonviolence and racial harmony. In Hall's The Mountaintop, which is enjoying its South Florida premiere at GableStage, he's much more than his sound bites.

This production is never more engaging than in the first, electric half-hour between King and Camae. It is a flirtatious and mysterious testing of waters in which effortless wit, erotic tension, and precisely timed thunderbolts pull them closer, push them apart, and lure them closer again. Joseph Adler's direction emphasizes the rhythm in their conversations, drawing out unspoken desires with poise and patience.

Both of the main parts are acted exceedingly well. Jackson portrays King as a complex figure rife with conflicts and contradictions. In Stephens' authentic regional drawl, Hall's words sound better and funnier than ever.

The problem arrives with Hall's big reveal, the moment we've all been waiting for, which I won't spoil. Hall does a fine enough job spoiling her own work. It suffices to say this couple's power dynamic shifts as the play meanders toward a metaphysical morass, a narrative gamble that flies so wildly off course it might as well be a Malaysian airplane.

Yet Jackson and Stephens soldier on so well that, though the story's choices become disastrous, the production is never boring. It helps that it's gorgeous to look at. Lyle Baskin's three-dimensional scenic design incorporates a vintage "Lorraine Motel" sign, visible from the window of the motel room interior and authentically lit by Jeff Quinn, while a steady stream of realistic rain patters the ground. Thunderclaps from sound designer Matt Corey rumble in the near distance, setting an atmosphere of turbulence that begins even before the play starts.

GableStage presents The Mountaintop through April 13, 2014.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Off Stage Conversations

Hello, this is Andie Arthur, executive director of the South Florida Theatre League and I am here with Off Stage Conversations, where I take a look at what's happening in the national and international theatre community.

Why We Should Stop Blaming a Lack of Arts Education for Diminishing Theatre Audiences

When we talk about graying audiences, we often lament that kids these days don't get enough arts education. Mike Lew makes a really compelling case on why better arts education won't save theatres that have a problem with hospitality.
Audiences don’t have a problem with arts education. Theaters have a problem with hospitality. Most efforts at bringing in young audiences are condescending at best. Designated Twitter Seats... because kids can’t stop tweeting. Free Beer with Your Ticket... because all kids want to do is get wasted. No efforts made at changing up the actual plays.

In truth theaters have a serious curatorial problem when it comes to choosing plays that a young, diverse audience can get behind. The fantastic documentary Miss Representation introduces the concept of symbolic annihilation in the media, and it applies exceedingly well to the theater. Why would young people (or people of color, or women) bother coming to the theater when they’re so rarely depicted onstage, and when they're so rarely in command of the artistic process? Is our dwindling audience truly a reflection of the educational landscape, or is it a reflection of a chronic homogeneity onstage exacerbated by an attendant homogeneity in our staffing?
The whole article is full of really smart discussion on why we should stop bringing out this whole platitude and what we can do to engage the audiences we want.

Thoughts on Immersive Theatre

When I was in NYC for the Dramatists Guild Annual Meeting, I saw Sleep No More. I was incredibly intrigued by it, since this sort of immersive theatre is what is super trendy in theatre right now and all but non-existent in Miami. Even something as delightful as The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, which toured through her in February, seems fairly traditional from the completely immersive environment of Sleep No More. So I've spent the past month trying to find great articles that can place that experience into context. And eventually, I might try my own hand at figuring out why no one has tried this in Miami. (Besides money. Because that couldn't have been cheap.) Diep Tran writes for American Theatre Magazine on the entire phenomenon of immersive theatre, and Megan Reilly talks about in depth about issues with the audience in Sleep No More.

The Costs of Theatre

Cape May Theatre has a really lovely info graphic detailing their annual budget in a way that should really connect with their donors. We tend to be great about saying these things to our donors, but a picture of a beloved production with details makes an even stronger case.

Critics and Diversity

Wendy Rosenfeld talks about why critics should be involved in the discussion of diversity in the theatre community and how that is a part of their role in the theatrical landscape.
If I, Ms. Theater Critic, attend your theater and see a good but traditional production of The Odd Couple, or maybe Glengarry Glen Ross, or especially, Lend Me a Tenor, I am obliged to explain how and why this production works. However, as a critic tasked with analyzing the work in its larger sociopolitical context (Why this play? Why here? Why now?) I am also obliged to wonder, in print, why you’re producing these old ringers, and how, in the case of the third example, you can in good conscience, in a city whose population is 58 percent African American, present a farce whose conceit relies on blackface and an Afro wig, unless you are deliberately thumbing your nose at the neighbors.


Jon Fosse?

The Guardian interviews Jon Fosse, a prominent Norwegian playwright, who is one of the most produced playwrights in Europe -- but practically unheard of in the UK (or America).

Monday, March 17, 2014

Mondays are Dark

It’s Saint Patricks’s Day on this particular Monday, although most of the celebrations were held over the weekend.  Except for Fort Lauderdale, which inexplicably celebrated LAST weekend.
It was quite a feat to get to the Arts Garage in Delray Beach on Saturday, the day Atlantic Avenue was blocked off for the town’s St Paddy’s Day Festival and parade.  After circling with the masses of cars also looking for parking, we were fortunate to find some enterprising homeowner who opened their front yard for parking at $20 bucks a pop.  We’re pretty sure he can re-sod and still have something left from his take for the day.
Fortunately, parking was easy for our sojourn to Miracle Mile, where we caught the excellent production of Spamalot at Actors’ Playhouse.
Now here’s your Monday reading list:
 
True Wit
The Kravis Center opens its Noel Coward Festival on Tuesday, according to the Sun-Sentinel and The Palm Beach Daily News.
…audiences kept responding to Coward’s material. Revues such as “Temple of Dreams — Theatre Songs From the West End to Broadway” in 2011, “He Loves, She Loves” in 2012, and “Broadway Babies” in 2013 all relied on Coward’s compositions.
Speaking of Witty Playwrights
South Florida Gay News interviews Michael McKeever about his latest play, Clark Gable Slept Here.  The Zoetic Stage production opens at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts this week.
“It’s a very, very dark comedy,” promises McKeever, winner of multiple regional Carbonell Awards for his plays, who based the story on the real life experiences of a friend who lives in Los Angeles. McKeever’s friend was propositioned in a gym sauna by one of “those actors” who frequently find their names published in the tabloids.
“He told me how star struck he was at first — no names — but, within a few minutes, my friend was like, ‘Get this gross old man off me’!” McKeever explained. “I was simply in stitches as I heard the story and I knew I had the makings of a fun play, the story of movie stars who lead complete double lives.”
 
She’s Arrived
You know you’re a legitimate Broadway star when your caricature can be found on the walls of Sardi’s.  Theatre Mania reports that South Florida’s Rachel Bay Jones has joined that elite cadre.
 
He’s Ready for Prime Time
Over on BroadwayWorld, there’s an excerpt of an interview with the creator of the TV shows HANNIBAL and PUSHING DAISIES where he discusses the merits of another South Florida actor, Raul Esparza.
Reflecting on his first exposure to Esparza, Fuller remembers, "I love Raul. The first time I was exposed to Raul, seeing him and hearing him sing 'Being Alive' from Company, it just went right to my soul where he captured all of the angst from Bobby from Company and really transported me to that emotional state of the character. I just thought, 'Oh my God, this guy is a genius. I have to work with him in some capacity.'

Going the Distance
A few years ago, Jim Brocchu moved to South Florida, and then decided to tinker with a one man show about Zero Mostel over at the Broward Stage Door Theatre.  Zero Hour then toured for the better part of year before going to New York, where it extended several times.  Last year, Brocchu played the Stage Door again, this time with Character Man.  He’s taken it to New York, and The New York Times gives it a thumbs up.  Congrats, Jim!
…Jim Brochu had a hit with his one-man show, Zero Hour, …in Character Man, a blend of cabaret, theater and scrapbook, he pays homage to a much larger lineup of actors and produces a solidly satisfying evening… Walks down memory lane are rarely so inclusive and entertaining.
   
Hollywood Vs. Broadway Redux
For years, people argued that movies would kill live theatre; after all, the ticket prices are much lower, and film allows far more locations in addition to stunning visual effects that simply can't be done live.  But theatre has continued to thrive...until now, according to The Daily Beast.  It seems that Hollywood is killing Broadway from within:
If the recent past is any indication, there is no guarantee that those who loved the little movie will run to see the living spectacle. Nevertheless, everyone is seemingly getting into this film-to-stage act... This adds only more fuel to the accusation that originality and risk on Broadway have virtually disappeared.

Meanwhile…
In Coconut Grove, the Playhouse is still dark.  But the blog Not Now Silly is keeping track of what’s going on around the Playhouse’s ongoing revival.  And apparently the author is suspicious of everything:
The removal of the old growth trees on the E.W.F. Stirrup property was only one in a series of chess moves made virtually simultaneously as the Coconut Grove Playhouse deal begins to unfold.
It seems someone is writing a soap opera.  We’re curious to see where he’s going with this.