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12 posts from November 2007

November 05, 2007

Cuba in Chicago

Three Cuban-American playwrights with Miami connections are represented onstage at Chicago-area theaters at the moment.  It's a coincidence, this presence of voices steeped in the memories of a homeland all three men left as children, but there they are.

0409270093 Nilo Cruz, the first Latino playwright to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (for Anna in the Tropics, which was commissioned by and premiered at Coral Gables' New Theatre in 2002), has a production of his play A Park in Our House at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater through Dec. 9.  Set in Havana in 1970, it is inspired by memories of the years before a Freedom Flight brought Cruz and his family to Miami.  A Park in Our House became the first Cruz work produced in South Florida when Florida Stage -- in the ritzy seaside Palm Beach County town of Manalapan -- staged it in 1998.

Luis Santeiro, great-grandson of former Cuban president Gerardo Machado, came to Miami in 1960 at the age of 12.  An Emmy Award-winning writer for Sesame Street, he had several plays produced at the now-in-limbo Coconut Grove Playhouse -- including, in 1991, The Lady from Havana, inspired by the love-hate relationship of his mother and grandmother.  That play is running through Sunday, Nov. 11, at the Illinois Theatre Center in Park Forest.

Eduardo_machado The third play is The Cook by Eduardo Machado, whose memoir-with recipes -- Tastes Like Cuba (Gotham Books. $27.50) -- has just come out.  Machado, who left Cuba during Operation Pedro Pan, didn't grow up in Miami but has a number of relatives here.  Nor has The Cook, inspired by Machado's visit to a paladar (a restaurant in a private home), been produced in South Florida. Yet. It runs through Nov. 18 at Chicago's largest regional theater, the Goodman.

For a bit more on this Cuba-in-Chicago convergence, check out this story from the Sun-Times.

November 01, 2007


Mea culpa, blog readers.  Life has been way too hectic lately, so the Drama Queen part of my multiple tasks (personalities?) has been M.I.A.  In penance, I offer you a little bit about a lot of different theater-related things.

Look00_legal_wknd_pk_2 * Did you catch Legally Blonde (the musical) when it aired recently on MTV?  If not, you have another chance Saturday (Nov. 3) at 7 p.m., when the still-running Broadway musical will be shown again.  It's certainly not the best movie-into-musical experience you'll ever have (the Reese Witherspoon movie was, oh my gawd you guys, so much better), but the musical revisits most of the best bits and lines from the movie.  And Orfeh (as confidence-challenged beautician Paulette) and Laura Bell Bundy (as pretty-in-pink and surprisingly savvy Elle Woods) are vocal powerhouses.

Jay_jensen_2 * The influential and irrepressible Jay Jensen, the longtime Miami Beach Senior High School drama teacher who passed away in February after a long battle with cancer, has been inducted posthumously into the Educational Theatre Association Hall of Fame.  Jensen, whose famous former students include filmmaker Brett Ratner, actor Andy Garcia and Broadway producer Adam Epstein, was the subject of the 2006 documentary Class Act.  He was also a philanthropist, arts volunteer and, until his death, a teacher whose most valuable gift to his students was communicating -- and inspiring -- passion for life.

* From the whatever-can-go-wrong-will-go-wrong department, the Rising Action Theatre has had to postpone its opening of Terrence McNally's Some Men -- again -- due to construction delays/glitches in getting its new 100-seat theater space in Oakland Park up and running.  Playing it safe, the company is now planning to present McNally's play in April.  The theater itself will open Nov. 30 (though that date could change) with Stephen Brinberg's award-winning cabaret show Simply Barbra (as in Streisand).  For more info and updates, visit the Rising Action website.

GodotThe Classical Theatre of Harlem, fresh from runs of Romeo and Juliet and Ain't Supposed To Die a Natural Death at the Carnival Center last month, is bringing Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot to a place that knows way too much about waiting: post-Katrina New Orleans.  American Gangster cast member J. Kyle Manzay (left), T. Ryder Smith (center) and Wendell Pierce (a New Orleans native who was in HBO's The Wire) will appear this Friday and Saturday, and again Nov. 9 and 10, in a production directed by artist-activist Paul Chan.  All the site-specific performances are free and begin at 7 p.m. This weekend's shows are on a vacant lot in the Lower Ninth Ward; next weekend's in the front yard of an abandoned house in Gentilly.  For more information, visit the Creative Time website.

* Want a theater road trip without having to go quite as far as New Orleans? Check out the Broadway-bound A Tale of Two Cities at Sarasota's Asolo Repertory Theater through Nov. 18.  There aren't many seats left, despite the fact that the lavish production got mixed reviews, like the one by Sarasota Herald-Tribune theater critic Jay Handelman in Variety.  Broadway veteran James Barbour, who played Lancelot last season to Michael York's Arthur in the touring version of Camelot at the Broward Center, stars as Sydney Carton in the based-on-Dickens musical.  Check with the Asolo box office at 1-800-361-8388 if you're interested in one of the now-scarce tickets.