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15 posts from November 2008

November 09, 2008

Off and writing

2008_24_hour_theatre_logo_white_smaFueled by pizza, beer and maybe a little fear, seven playwrights are spending the night doing what playwrights do:  creating plays.  The difference is that, at 7 a.m. Monday, those plays go into rehearsal.  And by 8 p.m., the one-time-only performance of seven short plays will begin.

At Actors' Playhouse Sunday evening, the founders of the Naked Stage -- Antonio Amadeo, Katherine Amadeo and John Manzelli -- shifted gears from opening their own show, Nerve, this weekend to kick off their second annual creative fundraiser.  The 24-Hour Theatre Project involves playwrights, directors, actors and behind-the-scenes artists, all with the aim of raising money for several small theater companies and putting on some good shows in the process.

Casting and the choice of directors happens by chance, with each playwright picking envelopes containing a director's name or actor's head shot.  Then the writers huddle with their creative collaborators to pick a play title from a whimsical/silly/crazy list.

Here's how the process has played out so far:

Andie Arthur is writing Don't Cry for Me...Wasilla!, to be directed by Stuart Meltzer, with Irene Adjan, Tom Wahl, Nan Barnett and Wayne LeGette in the cast.  Smells like a mini-musical.

Chris Demos Brown's play, The Secret Lives of Superheroes, will be directed by Paul Tei and will star David Perez-Ribada, Marjorie O'Neill-Butler, Ken Clement and Ricky Waugh.

Elena Maria Garcia is writing Randok's Retirement Villa for Galactic Scoundrels, with Clive Cholerton directing Erin Joy Schmidt, Michaela Cronan, Barry Tarallo and George Schiavone.

Andrew Rosendorf is creating Heterophobia (A Love Story), to be directed by Arturo Fernandez.  The all-male cast features Christopher Kent, Scott Genn, Adam Simpson and Actors' Playhouse artistic director David Arisco, who said with a laugh that he's pretty certain he'll end up in drag.

Lucas Leyva is writing For Love & Play-Doh, to be directed by Margaret Ledford, with John Manzelli, Barbara Sloan, Cliff Burgess and Margery Lowe in the cast.

Jonathan Wemette chose 1515 -- for its many possibilities -- and got Gordon McConnell as his director, plus the all-female cast of Carrie Santana, Laura Hodos, Kim Morgan Dean and Deborah L. Sherman.

And Michael McKeever, who got the title/director/cast news while he was backstage at his Sunday night performance of A Moon for the Misbegotten at Palm Beach Dramaworks, settled on The Real Life Story of Craven Titwieler.  Meredith Lasher will direct Kim Ostrenko, Katherine Amadeo, Stacy Schwartz and GableStage artistic director Joseph Adler (famous at last year's 24-Hour Event for appearing as a Star Wars trooper and doing lots of improvisation) in Craven.

My favorite unchosen title? #*%@ You, Harold Pinter!  Though you never know what might happen overnight.

You can still get in on the 24-Hour action as part of the audience. Just call the Actors' Playhouse box office Monday at 305-444-9293 or visit the theater's web site. Tickets are $58 -- a small price to pay for seeing Dave Arisco all dolled up.

November 07, 2008

Countdown to creativity

2008_24_hour_theatre_logo_white_smaJust two days from now, at 7 p.m. on Sunday, some excited (and no doubt nervous) playwrights will get the first hint of how they'll be spending a long night's journey into day.

That's when Andie Arthur, Chris Demos Brown, Elena Maria Garcia, Lucas Leyva, Andrew Rosendorf, Juan C. Sanchez and (a little later, via phone) Michael McKeever will randomly pick a theme, then spend however long it takes (as long as they're done by early the following morning) to write a short play built around that theme.

The second edition of last year's impressive 24-Hour Theatre Project, a creative fundraiser put together by the three-person Naked Stage company (John Manzelli, Katherine Amadeo and Antonio Amadeo are pictured below), will rehearse all day Monday and have its one and only performance at 8 that night in the Balcony Theatre at Actors' Playhouse, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables. It's a complex, frenetic, large-scale process that can result in some amazingly good art. At least, that's how it played out last year.

Amadeos Artists planning to participate as actors include Irene Adjan, Joseph Adler, Katherine Amadeo, David Arisco, Nancy Barnett, Cliff Burgess, Marjorie O'Neill-Butler, Ken Clement, Michaela Cronan, Kim Morgan Dean, Todd Allen Durkin, Scott Genn, Laura Hodos, Sandy Ives, Christopher A. Kent, Wayne LeGette, Margery Lowe, David Perez-Ribada, Carrie Santana, Erin Joy Schmidt, Stacy Schwartz, Deborah L. Sherman, Adam Simpson, Barbara Sloan, Laura Turnbull, Tom Wahl and Ricky Waugh.

This year's directors are Clive Cholerton, Arturo Fernandez, Margaret M. Ledford, Stuart Meltzer, Meredith Lasher, Gordon McConnell and Paul Tei.  The directors and actors are also matched to the playwrights through a random process, so some crazy combinations can result.  But somehow, it all works.

If you want to see the result, a ticket costs $58.  Call 305-444-9293 or buy online at the Actors' Playhouse site.  For information on the event, visit the Naked Stage site.  I'll be long (and blogging) for most of the ride, going to the matching ritual on Sunday night, hanging around rehearsals on Monday and watching the result that night. 

November 06, 2008

Tony nominee comes to New Vista

Crista_moore_2Crista Moore made her Broadway debut opposite Tyne Daly in the 1989 revival of Gypsy, playing vaudeville kid-turned-striptease artist Gypsy Rose Lee.  She followed that turn, which earned her a Tony Award nomination, with 1996's Big, which got her another Tony nod.

Now Moore is headed for South Florida to star in a pair of shows for Avi Hoffman's New Vista Theatre.  From Nov. 20 to Dec. 7, she'll play Angela in Enter Laughing, the Joseph Stein-Stan Daniels musical based on actor-comedian Carl Reiner's semiautobiographical novel.  Then, from Jan. 15 to Feb. 8, she stars opposite Hoffman and Terrell Hardcastle in New Vista's production of Mel Brooks' The Producers.  That one is a tribute to the late, great Bruce Adler, who passed away in late July but had intended to appear in the show.

Enter Laughing previews Nov. 20-21 and opens Nov. 22.  New Vista performs in the West Boca Performing Arts Center (at the West Boca Community High School), 12811 Glades Rd., Boca Raton.  Tickets are $32-$40.  Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.  For information, call 1-888-284-4633 or visit the New Vista web site.

November 05, 2008

An arts visionary is honored

Lilia_garcia_2_2 Lilia Garcia spent her 35-year career with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools acting on a bedrock belief:  The arts have the power to change lives.

Garcia, who retired this year from her job as administrative director of the Division of Life Skills and Special Projects, made a huge difference in her three-and-a-half decades with the system.  Because of her leadership and vision, the county is home to 19 magnet/talent schools, and the schools have a program for new media/digital programs, a children's film festival with 5,000 participants, a student-only art gallery, Saturday ballet classes for Liberty City kindergarten kids, a Visiting Artists program, a Cultural Adventures program and partnerships with most of the county's major arts institutions.

Joseph Adler, the producing artistic director of the GableStage theater company, is one of the countless South Florida professionals whose arts groups and audiences benefited from Garcia's passion.  The funding for the company's annual tour to middle and high schools was cut this year, so GableStage is taking its adapted Macbeth to the schools on its own.  But Adler is vocal about how important Garcia's programs were to millions of children.

"She understood the importance of exposing children to the arts.  She knew that research shows kids who are involved with the arts are better students in all their classes,"  Adler says.  "She's an arts lover herself, and she realized that if kids don't get into the habit of going to museums, concerts, the ballet, theater -- all the arts -- we won't have a future audience."

For her contributions, Garcia will receive the 2008 Champion for Children Award from The Children's Trust.  The ceremony, which will also honor Miami Mayor Manny Diaz with the Trust's Excellence Award for Public Policy, takes place Thursday Nov. 6 from noon to 2 p.m. at the Jungle Island Treetop Ballroom.  For those two hours, the woman who began her career as an arts teacher in Liberty City will spend some long-overdue time in the spotlight.

November 04, 2008

On campus, plays from England and Ireland

The_winters_tale_copyThe fall college theater season is rolling along, and next week two theater departments open major productions.

At the University of Miami's Jerry Herman Ring Theatre, William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale revisits the story of a jealous king, his imprisoned queen and their exiled daughter.  Students appearing in the play include Clyde Voce, Caitlin Geier and Ken Clark (left to right in photo).  The Ring is on the UM campus at 1312 Miller Dr. The Winter's Tale runs Nov. 12-22, with performances at 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.  Tickets are $16-$18 ($14-$16 for seniors, faculty, staff and alumni, $6-$8 for students).  Call 305-284-3355 or visit the Ring web site.

Florida Atlantic University is offering Irish playwright Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa, the story of five Irish sisters facing hard times and a world on the brink of war in 1936.  The production runs Nov. 14-23 in the Studio One Theatre at FAU, 777 Glades Rd., Boca Raton.  Performances are 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday (additional matinee at 2 p.m. Nov. 22).  Tickets are $16 ($12 for FAU faculty, staff, students and alumni).  Call 1-800-564-9539 or purchase via the web.