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19 posts from February 2008

February 29, 2008

You don't have to be gay to back this play

Michael Yawney's new play 1,000 Homosexuals was commissioned by Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, where it will have its world premiere in November.  Camposition, the producing organization partnering in presenting the piece, describes it as a "documentary/fantasy/comedy" about singer Anita Bryant's famous 1977 anti-gay rights crusade.

Anita_front As Yawney and company are working toward the play's premiere, Camposition is kicking off a campaign to recruit 1,000 "homosexuals" (the quotes are deliberate, as straight folks are also welcome) to support the show.  Anyone kicking in a $50 tax-deductible contribution is officially one of the 1,000.

The drive begins tonight from 7 to 10 p.m. during the opening reception of the Stonewall Library & Archives exhibition Days Without Sunshine: Anita Bryant's Anti-Gay Crusade.  The event is at the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens at 2000 Convention Center Dr.  For additional info, email campaign manager Susan Caraballo.

February 28, 2008

New plays for free

Everyone loves a bargain, so how's this, new play lover:  Next week, you can see five plays at two Miami theaters and pay absolutely nothing.

Lela_elam At New Theatre in Coral Gables, Lela Elam (shown at left in her most recent gig there,the world premiere of Lauren Feldman's Fill Our Mouths) joins Clint Hooper, Joel Kolker, Don Striano and Patrick Manley in reading Christopher Demos-Brown's Our Lady of Allapattah.  The play, about a detective, a con man and an image of the Virgin Mary, gets a staged reading at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 4.

From March 6 to March 8 at 8 p.m., Florida International University presents a festival of student-written plays.  The pieces are Not Alone by Amy Gonzalez, Slippery Rock, Pa. by Denisse Schwartz, The State of Our Union by B.J. Duncan andTitles by Teresa Ronquillo.  The program happens at FIU's University Park campus in DM 150.

February 27, 2008

A play is delayed

So this Saturday, a very busy day in South Florida theaterland, was supposed to be opening night of David Harrower's Blackbird at GableStage.  But fate and FPL had other plans.

Blackbird_2 "When the outage happened [on Tuesday], it affected our sound and lighting equipment in the booth," says Joseph Adler, GableStage's artistic director and a man who frets over every little detail in the company's productions.  "Our equipment is not new, and it fried some stuff. We're not sure if it will be repaired in time, or if we'll have to buy new equipment.''

Even if things get repaired before Saturday, Adler says, actors Gordon McConnell and Mary Rasmussen need to do their technical rehearsals on the set, with everything working.

"It's a very physical show," says Adler, a truth underscored by George Schiavone's photo here.

Blackbird  will now open Thursday, March 6, at 8 p.m., and Adler has tacked an additional week onto the run.  For details, call 305-445-1119 or visit the GableStage web site.

February 26, 2008

A new odd couple?

Randall_klugman_3 Back during Arnold Mittelman's 25-year run as producing artistic director of Miami's Coconut Grove Playhouse, beloved Odd Couple and Quincy veteran Jack Klugman appeared in three productions there:  in Arthur Miller's The Price, Tom Stoppard's Rough Crossing and Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys.  In the latter two, Klugman played opposite his longtime friend and Odd Couple co-star, the late great Tony Randall (that's Jack and Tony seated at right, during Sunshine Boys rehearsals).

Klugman is coming back to South Florida, not to be in a play but to support Mittleman's new theater ventures:  the American Theater Festival and The National Jewish Theater.  Together, the companies are presenting The Soul of Gershwin: The Musical Journey of an American Klezmer March 4 to March 9 at Fort Lauderdale's Parker Playhouse.  Before each performance, Klugman will greet the audience.  He's doing it to support Mittelman's companies.

Mittelman_3 On March 8, Mittelman returns the favor. After the performance, Klugman and Southern Wine & Spirits Chairman and CEO Harvey R. Chaplin will receive the theater companies' inaugural Creative Leadership Awards.  They'll get the honor during a post-show reception.  VIP tickets for the performance and reception are $150, available by calling 305-365-8038.  Regular tickets to The Soul of Gershwin are $30 to $65.

February 25, 2008

For Tracy Letts, joy and sorrow

Folks who share Joseph Adler's taste in theater -- wild, out-there edgy, no shame and no holds barred -- may remember with fondness (perhaps that's too genteel a word) the excellent productions of Killer Joe and Bug that Adler presented at GableStage.  Both plays were written by Tracy Letts, a Chicago-based actor and playwright who is also a proud member of the celebrated Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

Dennis_letts Letts is widely expected to be this year's winner of both the Pulitzer Prize for drama and the Tony Award for best play for August: Osage County, a dense, funny tragicomedy about the reunion of a dysfunctional Oklahoma family after the disappearance of its patriarch.  The role, that of hard-drinking college professor Beverly Weston, was played by Letts' father Dennis, a retired college professor who began acting at the age of 50.  On Friday, Dennis Letts (shown in a Joan Marcus photo of August: Osage County at left) died at 73 of lung cancer in Tulsa.

The elder Letts originated the role at Steppenwolf, then made his Broadway debut in the play, though he had received his grim diagnosis in the interim.  He performed in the play, which will soon move from Broadway's Imperial Theatre to the Music Box, until late last month.

Tracy Letts, who may soon know the joy of play-writing's highest honor, released this statement about his father:  "His choice to persevere with the New York production in the face of his devastating diagnosis is a testament to his love for the project and the people involved.  Dad had a full and fascinating life, and August: Osage County was the cherry on top."

February 22, 2008

It's a mitzvah AND a fundraiser

City Theatre's popular Summer Shorts Festival turns 13 this year (!), so to celebrate that rite of passage, Logocitytheatre_2 the company is planning a March 13 fund-raising event it is calling "Shorts Mitzvah."  In addition to honoring nine individuals who have helped make the short-play festival possible over the past dozen years, City Theatre is also trying to find audience members who have seen all 12 previous Shorts lineups.  If that applies to you, shoot an E-mail with a "short testimonial" (get it?) to City Theatre.

The March 13 event is at the Bank of New York Mellon's Brickell Avenue Financial Center at 6 p.m.  A $100 ticket gets you a reception, great views, the chance to bid in a silent auction and first details on an expanded Summer Shorts program, which will happen at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts Mary 29-June 22 and the Broward Center June 26-29.  For info or reservations, E-mail City's Kerry Clarke.

February 21, 2008

March madness

To anyone who wonders what's going on in South Florida theater (or, to the out-of-town snoots who wonder if this little piece of paradise even has much theater to speak of), I offer exhibit A:  the first weekend in March.

OK, so that Friday is technically Feb. 29, but if this weren't a leap year, it would be the beginning of March.  And on that Friday and Saturday, there are seven productions opening in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Blackbird_image_3_3 In Miami-Dade on March 1, GableStage opens its production of David Harrower's Blackbird, an unsettling play about a young woman (Mary Rasmussen) who confronts an older man (Gordon McConnell) about their long-ago and very inappropriate relationship.  That same night, the African American Performing Arts Community Theatre (AAPACT) opens its production of Bill Harris' Stories About the Old Days.

In Broward, Plantation's Mosaic Theatre opens its production of John Patrick Shanley's wild play Dirty Story on Feb. 29.  Davie's Promethean Theatre is doing Nilo Cruz's Two Sisters and a Piano, followed by talkbacks with Cruz March 1-2.  Fort Lauderdale's Sol Sol_art Theatre Project, which has been refurbishing its cozy space over the last few months, reopens March 1 with a production of Yasmina Reza's Art.  And also on March 1, Oakland Park's Rising Action Theatre officially opens Confessions of a Mormon Boy.

And, in Palm Beach County, Boca Raton's Caldwell Theatre Company opens Joel Gross' Marie Antoinette: The Color of Flesh Feb. 29.

Still not enough? Florida Stage in Manalapan is holding its second annual New Works Festival March 2-4.  Back in Miami, Monty Python's Spamalot begins a six-day run at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts March 4.  And at Fort Lauderdale's Parker Playhouse, The Soul of Gershwin opens for its six-day run March 4.

I don't know about you, but I'm actively seeking someone who can clone me.

February 20, 2008

Coming home

Nilo_stairs Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz spends most of his time in New York, in the regional theaters doing productions of his plays and (though not as much as he'd like) visiting friends and family in Miami.

But from March 1-4, he'll be all over South Florida in a professional capacity, as Davie's Promethean Theatre opens its production of Cruz's 1999 play Two Sisters and a Piano and Florida Stage does a reading of a new script, The Interpreter of Desire, during its second annual New Works Festival. 

Two Sisters, which has just been published by the Theatre Communications Group in a Cruz anthology, Two_sisters_2is about two Cuban sisters under house arrest as the Soviet Union is collapsing.  It will run through March 16 at Promethean, and Cruz will participate in post-show talkbacks after the 8 p.m. performance March 1 and the 2 p.m. matinee March. 2

Interpreter of Desire, set in Havana in 1961, was commissioned by Arena Stage in Washington D.C.  It focuses on two couples in the days after the revolution and before the Cuban missile crisis, when some Americans still played tourist in Havana.  It will get a staged reading at Florida Stage at 7 p.m. March 4, and Cruz will also be part of a playwrights' panel the night before.

February 19, 2008

AAPACT is back

South Florida actor and producer Teddy Harrell Jr. has had his trials trying to bring live theater to the Liberty City area.  Since he founded the African American Performing Arts Community Theater (AAPACT) -- which, despite the "Community" in its name, is a professional company -- in 2002, he has presented some good productions of intriguing and/or important shows -- including Athol Fugard's The Island, August Wilson's King Hedley II, Laurence Fishburne's Riff Raff, the musical Once on This Island.  But sometimes, the folks onstage have outnumbered those in the audience.

John_pryor_2 Next week, Harrell will try again with a production of Bill Harris' Stories About the Old Days.  The play features John Pryor (right), a retired director and teacher who directed more than 90 productions in his 34-year career, mostly spent at Miami Dade College's North Campus.

Gail_willingham His costar is Gail Willingham (left), an actress who performed alongside Harrell last year in a production (by the BeBop Theatre Collective) of Phillip Hayes Dean's Sty of the Blind Pig.  Both actors play seniors who meet at a soon-to-be-closed church and wind up telling each other stories about the old days -- and about how the blues shaped their lives.  Andre L. Gainey directs the show.

As he always has, Harrell is offering a free preview of the show at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27.  There's an additional preview Feb. 28, a show with a talk-back Feb. 29, then the gala opening at 7:30 p.m. March 1.  The show runs weekends through March 16 in the Wendell Narcisse Theatre at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, 6161 NW 22nd Ave. in Miami.  Tickets are just $20 ($25 for the gala) -- for the talk-back show, the first 50 people to reserve get in for $5.  So how about filling up those seats?

For info, call the theater at 305-638-6771 or visit AAPACT on the web.

February 18, 2008

Who says history plays are boring?

Not to be completely superficial -- well, OK, here's to being somewhat superficial.

Boca Raton's Caldwell Theatre Company is in its final week of rehearsals for the third show in its $10 million Count de Hoernle Theatre.  Joel Gross' Marie Antoinette: The Color of Flesh premiered in 2003 at the New Jersey Repertory Company and had a New York run last April.  Set in France from 1774 to 1793, the play imagines a love triangle involving Marie Antoinette (played by Amanda Jones), her portrait artist Elisabeth Louise Vigee Le Brun (Janine Theriault) and the man who loves both, Count Alexis de Ligne (Jason Griffith).  Though the press release touts the show's "seductive period costumes," an accompanying photo is what caught our attention:

Marie_antoinette Here's Griffith and Theriault, demonstrating the Color of Flesh part of the title.

The play begins previews on Sunday, Feb. 24, opens on Feb. 29 and runs through March 30.

We'll be there.