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Competitive Machado, sobering Simon

Two intriguing theater events -- one in Miami-Dade, the other in Broward -- are coming up Jan. 31.  But since both are at the same time, you'll have to choose just one.

The Cook From Florida International University comes word that the school's production of Eduardo Machado's The Cook has been chosen as one of five shows that will vie for top honors in the southeastern region of the Kennedy Center's American College Theatre Festival.  The play, about a woman who faithfully watches over her exiled former employer's Havana home after the Cuban revolution), will be performed during the regional competition takes place Feb. 3-8 in Greensboro, N.C., with the winning production moving on to Washington D.C. in April.

A benefit performance of The Cook (the Fred Murray photo features Melissa Hubicsak as the cook, Natalie Ceballos as her employer Adria) happens at 2 p.m. Jan. 31 at the Wertheim Performing Arts Center, 10910 SW 17th St., Miami.  Tickets are $25.  Call 305-348-0496 or visit the FIU arts web page.

Also on Jan. 31 at 2 p.m., Conundrum Stages presents a reading of one of Neil Simon's edgier plays, The Gingerbread Lady.  The play, about a singer fresh out of rehab, features Patti Gardner, John Lariviere, Pilar Uribe, Emi Arteche, Mark A. Harmon and Harrison Biswas.  Kevin Johnson, the man behind Conundrum, directs the reading.

The free reading is at the Dania Beach Branch of the Broward County Library, 255 Dania Beach Blvd, Dania.  Call 954-926-2420 for more info.