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17 posts from June 2008

June 10, 2008

Diego to the rescue

So you're thinking it's just Week 1 of summer vacation, and the kids are already whining that they're bored?  A live version of a popular Nick Jr. television show is happy to help.

Diego Go, Diego, Go Live! The Great Jaguar Rescue pulls into the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday and Sunday, June 14-15, for five boredom-relieving performances.

Jesse Carrion, featured in the 2007 national touring production of Rent, plays Diego.  Other actors play his sister Alicia and his equally famous cousin, Dora the Explorer.  With songs from the TV show and a dozen new tunes, the cast takes the audience on a quest through the rain forest to rescue Baby Jaguar.

Performances are at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with an additional show at 5 p.m. Saturday.  Tickets are $18.50-$39.50.  Call 305-949-6722 or visit the Arsht Center website for details.

June 09, 2008

A different writers' room

Story00_play_wknd_gs Writers!  Theater doesn't have an equivalent of the cutthroat writers' room in Bill Wrubel's On Story, one of the 16 lively plays in this year's Signature Shorts program at Miami's Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.  But in conjunction with City Theatre's annual Summer Shorts Festival, the Dramatists Guild of America is holding a professional get-together this Saturday, June 14, at the B. and Donald Carlin Banquet Hall in the Arsht Center's Ziff Ballet Opera House.

From 10:30 to 11:45 a.m., both members and nonmembers can attend an information session on the Guild and dramatists' rights  featuring Gary Garrison (the Guild's executive director of creative affairs), Madalena Ryerson (Guild marketing and special programming) and Andie Arthur (Florida regional representative).  To attend, E-mail Ryerson by Thursday.

From noon to 1:30 p.m., South Florida directors and playwrights will network in the hopes of fostering working relationships.  A maximum of 20 directors and 25 playwrights can participate.  Directors should E-mail Arthur and include a brief biography or resume.  Playwrights should E-mail Arthur at her Guild address, also sending a biography or resume and a synopsis of a script the playwright is interested in promoting.  Participants, who will be registered in order their E-mails are received, need to contact Arthur by 5 p.m. Thursday.

June 06, 2008

Go, Cubby, go

If you're a Tony Awards junkie (c'mon, we know a few of you are out there), you've probably heard the buzz about Cubby Bernstein, Tony campaign manager extraordinaire.

Cubby_2 Sure, to outsiders, Cubby looks like nothing more than a precocious kid who spouts showbiz cliches as he plays the Tony king-maker.  But watch the ongoing You Tube "coverage" of Cubby's current campaign, and you'll see a master at work.

It helps that Cubby, who is pushing dark horse Xanadu for this year's best musical Tony, has lots of famous Tony-winning pals who can testify to his prowess at helping his clients win Broadway's highest honor.  Carole Shelley, John Lloyd Young, John Gallagher Jr., Nathan Lane -- well, the list of Cubby's award-winning "clients" who make cameos in the You Tube videos goes on and on.  The rumor that Xanadu book writer Douglas Carter Beane is the man behind it all?  Cubby would beg to differ.

Cubby has his own website, where you can view all the episodes (six so far) in his Xanadu march toward the Tony. Here's the latest, featuring Nathan Lane and many men in dance belts:

June 05, 2008

Ordinary "Nation"

And you just thought big political drama was grinding to a close this week.  Though the Obama-Clinton primary duke-out is apparently over, another exploration of politics -- and, more significantly, ethics -- is going on at Florida Stage through June 15.

Allison_nation_2  I was in New York when Carter W. Lewis' Ordinary Nation opened in early May, but I caught up with its southeastern premiere recently.  I found it, like too much rhetoric in this looooong campaign, flawed and sometimes outright annoying.

Here's the gist of the play. Economics prof Nation Jones (Joe Kimble) is to ignore the obvious, which is that his wife Allison (Annie Fitzpatrick) has left him for her rah-rah conservative boss, Mayor Gibb Ashton (Peter Thomasson).  Grandpa (Dan Leonard) is running a less-than-profitable book-making operation out of Nation's house.  Teen daughter Frankie (Emily Zimmer) is trying to help Gramps recoup his losses by skinning some bratty college boys -- including Gibb's son -- at poker.

Frankie_gj_nation Lewis raises the family's stakes by having Nation make a short-term investment in a local company that is about to get a huge contract, with the insider tip coming from Gibb via Allison.  There are morals and ethics involved, though such things are in short supply in the world of the happy new couple.  Mama has to decide whether to protect her new beau or give up custody of her poker ace kid.  After much boo-hooing -- none of it believable -- she sashays off to the victory party for the newly elected Senator Gibb Ashton.

I see why director Louis Tyrrell chose Ordinary Nation. The plays that appeal to Florida Stage's founder and artistic director are brimming with ideas, issues, resonant situations.  And the cast certainly conveys this comic drama's situational ethics.  Sure, Ordinary Nation makes you think.  But what I thought was, "This is flawed and sometimes outright annoying."

June 04, 2008

A hot season at Mosaic

Richard_jay_simon Richard Jay Simon, artistic director of Plantation's Mosaic Theatre, has just revealed his choices for the 2008-2009 season, and it's full of work from great, provocative playwrights.

The lineup begins with the final work of Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson.  Radio Golf, the last in Wilson's 10-play cycle about black Americans in each decade of the 20th Century, runs Sept. 11-Oct. 5.  Next is Conor McPherson's The Seafarer, nominated for best play at this year's Tony Awards on June 15.  Both funny and chilling, this play by a masterful Irish writer runs Nov. 20-Dec. 14.

David Mamet's A Life in the Theater, about an older actor, a younger one and the difference between reality and artful illusion, will run Feb. 26-March 22.  Winter Miller's new play In Darfur, about an aid worker, a journalist and a refugee whose lives intersect at a camp in Darfur, gets its southeastern premiere at Mosaic April 16-May 3.  The season winds up May 28-June 21, 2009, with In a Dark, Dark House, a Neil LaBute play about brothers in conflict over a claim of sexual abuse.

Flexible subscriptions to the season are $149 -- $128 for seniors, just $64 for students. For info, call 954-577-8243 or visit the Mosaic website.


Get-well wishes go out to Katherine "Katie" Amadeo, who was in a scary car accident Sunday morning and is aching but, happily, going to be OK.  One of the founders of The Naked Stage (with hubby Antonio Amadeo and actor John Manzelli), Katie most recently starred in the company's bold production of 4.48 Psychosis and was in the front row Saturday night to watch her husband in City Theatre's Signature Shorts at the Arsht Center.  Feel better soon!

June 03, 2008

A bold and challenging piece returns

The_sorrows_of_young_werther Good, even great, theater abounds in South Florida.  But risky theater? Not so much.

The Jesus Quintero Studio took its artists and audiences for a walk on the wild side in February when it staged its original adaptation of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther in a North Miami warehouse.  On Thursday, Werther returns, this time for a run through June 28 at the Miami Light Project's Light Box Studio, 3000 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.

Actors Melissa Almaguer, Edgar Caraballo, Carolina Fonseca, Jeff Keogh, Randy Garcia and Francesca Toledo -- artists whose families come from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil and Australia -- paint the story of a love triangle involving two men and a woman.  The piece utilizes physical action in the style of Jerzy Grotowski, monologues (in German, Portuguese, English, Spanish), music, dance and projections to communicate the characters' obsessive love.  Company artistic director and co-founder Quintero, a graduate of Colombia's Teatro Libre de Bogota, has staged the play, which features design elements by Gary Lund.

Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, with tickets priced at $25 ($15 for students and seniors).  For information, visit the company's My Space page, send an E-mail or phone 786-853-3915.

June 02, 2008

Here's what you missed

Lav_logo_web121x139So I was talking to Douglas Carter Beane on Sunday evening -- in front of a few dozen onlookers -- at the just-concluded Lavender Footlights Festival, a celebration of theater with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender themes.

Beane, nominated for a Tony Award for his snarky Xanadu script, was the festival's honoree, the first recipient of the new Ovation Award for his body of work.  At the Miami Museum of Science on Sunday, some of South Florida's most terrific actors, including Michael McKeever, Angie Radosh, Deborah Sherman, Pilar Uribe, Stephen Neal, Lela Elam and a beyond-fabulous John Felix, read scenes from Beane plays -- Mondo Drama, Music from a Sparkling Planet, The Little Dog Laughed and the first act of his new play The Nance.

Beane, who asked only that I not make him cry (I didn't), answered questions about his life, his influences, his kids, his work in movies and onstage.  Just like his plays, he was charming, quick-witted and very funny.  If I recall correctly, the word he used to describe the movie version of Xanadu was "turd."  Shy, he isn't.

The sad, and rather embarrassing thing, about this is that so few people from South Florida's robust theater community turned up to listen.  True, it was opening weekend of Summer Shorts, so that particular group of theater folks was tied up.  But seriously people:  Beane is an insightful A-list playwright.  He's worth listening to and (he was quite accessible) meeting.  Theatrical experiences and ongoing theater education come in many forms. And Sunday at Lavender Footlights, as the too-small audience that did show up could tell you, was both fun and enlightening.