I don't review college theater productions for the Herald. Not because I'm snooty (well, I might be about some things, but not about college theater) but for other reasons. First, there's a lot of professional theater in South Florida, more than enough to occupy a theater critic full time. Second, if you've noticed, there's lots of competition for space in the Tropical Life section of the paper -- not just from critics writing about classical music, TV, movies, art and such, but from fellow features writers covering everything from health to fashion to food. And third, as great as college theater can be (sometimes, it's clearly better than the work at some allegedly professional theaters), it's being done by talented people who are still learning their craft, and they don't need a critical hammer coming down on them at that stage in their development.
All that said, there are two college productions opening in Miami in February that you might consider checking out.
First to open is Electricidad, Luis Alfaro's updating of Sophocles' Electra. Alfaro moves the story to present-day Los Angeles, making Electricidad the grieving daughter of a gang leader done in by a heroin habit and his vengeful wife. I saw a production of Electricidad in Chicago several years ago, and it's a very powerful script. The play runs Feb. 7-17 at Florida International University's Wertheim Performing Arts Center Theatre. And it's a bargain: $10 for general admission, $8 for seniors, students and alumni. Call 305-348-3789 for info.
A week later, Miami's New World School of the Arts opens its production of the Tony Award-winning George Abbott-Richard Adler-Jerry Ross musical The Pajama Game. Nicole Pettus plays Babe and Nicholas Duckarte is Sid in the show about a strike (and blossoming love) in a pajama factory. New World's dean of theater, Patrice Bailey, is directing, and she has planned something special for opening night Feb. 15: Abbott's widow Joy will be in the audience, welcoming theatergoers and making a few remarks about the work of her late husband, a longtime resident of Miami Beach.
The Pajama Game runs through Feb. 24 in the Louise O. Gerrits Theatre at New World, 25 NE Second Ave., Miami. Tickets are $12 ($5 for students and seniors). For info, call 305-237-3541 or visit the New World web site.