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14 posts from January 2009

January 30, 2009

They're camping it up at Rising Action

Dr Evans and Penelope Hissing, booing, laughter and tears are happening at Oakland Park's Rising Action Theatre this weekend. And no, we're not talking about the recent, lingering contretemps over the company's Most Fabulous Story Ever Told and the non-protest by the infamous bay-bashing Westboro Baptist Church.

The theater is playing host to Garet Scott's Roll With the Punches, a New York International Fringe Festival comedy in the style of "women's movies" of the 1950s.  (That's Scott as sleek nanny Penelope Raintree, David R. Gordon as philandering neurosurgeon Dr. John Evans.)

The fabulously absurd plot finds Dr. Evans dealing with a wheel-chair bound wife, her twin sister, his trampy daughter, mama's-boy son, the Irish maid and the nanny, who imagines herself the next Mrs. Evans.  The New York cast plays it all for laughs because, well, what other choice is there?

Performances are at 8 tonight and Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $30. Call 1-800-595-4849 or visit the Rising Action web site.

January 29, 2009

GableStage makes smart move in tough times

Joe AdlerGiven the state of the economy and our widespread money worries, an E-mail from GableStage's board of directors might strike you (at first, anyway) as baffling.

The theater had planned a fundraiser on Valentine's Day to honor Joseph Adler, the company's award-winning artistic director for the past decade.  It would have been a swanky affair, as befits a company based at the historic, high-end Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. 

Late yesterday afternoon, the board sent out word that the benefit -- dubbed "Jewels, Jeans & Jazz" -- has been cancelled.  By way of explanation, the board members wrote: "...as stewards for this community jewel, we have decided that in the present economic environment the best way to honor Joe is to cancel the event and plow every dollar we have raised or can raise into our productions this season -- and not into expenses for ballroom, catering, music, etc."

The message goes on to note that GableStage has no debt and has already made cuts in order to stay that way, though the company didn't sacrifice its schools touring show or bringing kids in to see a mainstage show when funding for those initiatives was eliminated by Miami-Dade Schools.  The theater's board is still seeking contributions -- only 40 percent of its budget comes from ticket sales and memberships -- and will put the names of everyone who donates more than $100 by March 31 into a special tribute section of the theater's program.  And, if anyone who previously paid to attend "Jewels, Jeans & Jazz" is upset by the cancellation, he or she can get the contribution back.

The board may well add less money to the company's budget than it would have if the benefit had happened as planned.  But 100 percent of whatever comes in will go to GableStage's "product" -- its art.  And that's a good thing.

January 28, 2009

Tales for Black History Month

Sunday marks the beginning of Black History Month, and two events next week -- a storytelling session and a production at South Florida's 38-year-old M Ensemble Company -- kick off an arts-active month that will culminate in the Miami debut of April Yvette Thompson's searing solo show Liberty City at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts' Carnival Studio Theater Feb. 18-March 1.

Dwashington072 On Monday, actress and storyteller Donna Washington brings her tale-spinning talents to the Caldwell Theatre Company, 7901 N. Federal Hwy. in Boca Raton.  The popular spoken word performer appears as part of Florida Atlantic University's American Voices Series, with shows at 2 and 7 p.m.  Tickets are $20 and $25.  Call 1-877-245-7432 or visit the Caldwell web site for more info.

Truth006 And on Thursday, Feb. 5, M Ensemble opens its production of Sandra Asher's A Woman Called Truth.  Jerry Maple Jr. directs Christine Alexander, Carolyn Johnson, Victoria Mallow, Curtis Allen, Loye Hawkins and John Wendell in the drama about Sojourner Truth, a woman born into slavery who became both an abolitionist and a women's rights advocate.  Spirituals, slave songs and folk songs help illuminate the drama, which unfolds from 1797 to 1851.

A Woman Called Truth runs through March 1, with performances at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday.  Tickets are $25 ($20 for students and seniors), and the theater is at 12320 W. Dixie Hwy. in North Miami.  Call 305-895-0335 or visit the M Ensemble web site.

January 27, 2009

For Miami's Spanish speakers, tres obras del teatro

Director John Rodaz and producer Maria Banda-Rodaz get their new company, TeatroAreaStage, off and running this weekend with Friday's gala opening of Se quieren, a play by Pierre Palmade and Muriel Robin.  Carlos Cruz and Marisol Calero star in the Rodaz-directed comedy about marital discord, a show that will get a long run through March 1 in the company's new digs at 1560 Dixie Hwy. in Coral Gables.  Performances are 8:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday; tickets are $20 and $30.  Call 305-666-2078 or visit the theater's web site.

Se quieren, however, is just one of three about-to-open productions aimed at South Florida's vast audience of Spanish speakers.


At Teatro en Miami Studio, artistic director Ernesto Garcia is opening Enema, his verse play (featuring Leandro Peraza and Anniamary Martinez) about an artist determined to create a different kind of theater in the 18th century.  The play, which opens at 8:30 p.m. Friday in the company's space at 2500 SW Eighth St. in Little Havana, is performed in Spanish, but Teatro en Miami is also reaching out for the first time to non-Spanish speakers by supplying English translation (via subtitles) as the action unfolds.  Performances are at 8:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday through April 25, and tickets are just $20. Call 305-551-7473 or visit the theater's web site.

7_Juan_Diego_Rodriguez_for_Defendiendo_al_cavernicola Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is getting back into the Spanish-language theater biz after last summer's Celia and Miami Libre with Defendiendo al cavernicola, a translated/adapted version of Rob Becker's enduringly popular Broadway solo show Defending the Caveman.  Guatemalan actor Juan Diego Rodriguez shares Becker's observations about the obvious, humorous differences between men and women when the show plays the Arsht's Carnival Studio Theater at 1300 Biscayne Blvd. Feb. 4-15.  Performances are 7:30 p.m.nightly except Monday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.  Tickets are $45 and $50.  Call 305-949-6722 or visit the Arsht web site.

January 26, 2009

An exquisite singer returns

 Christine AndreasTwo-time Tony Award nominee Christine Andreas became part of South Florida theater history in 2006 when she starred as Margaret Johnson in The Light in the Piazza, the inaugural show at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts (which was then known as the Carnival Center). The Broadway star, whose credits include Eliza in the 20th anniversary revival of My Fair Lady,Laurey in a 1979 production of Oklahoma! and Frankie in the 1983 revival of On Your Toes (directed by then-nonagenarian and Miami Beach resident George Abbott), returned to the Arsht a year ago with her solo show, then came back again last April to host the region's annual Carbonell Awards for theater excellence.

Fans of the performer -- and of her distinctive lyric soprano voice -- will be happy to learn that Andreas (accompanied by her pianist-hubby Martin Silvestri) is bringing that solo show back, this time to the Rose and Alfred Miniaci Performing Arts Center, 3100 Ray Ferrero Jr. Blvd. on the Nova Southeastern University campus in Davie.

Love Is Good: An Evening With Christine Andreas will unfold at 7 p.m. Feb. 6-7.  Andreas banters engagingly with the audience and Silvestri, but most importantly, she sings.  Fly Me To the Moon, On a Clear Day, Someone To Watch Over Me, Embraceable You, Send in the Clowns  -- they all get Andreas' illuminating interpretive touch.

Tickets are $50; for $100 at the Saturday show, you also get a post-show cocktail reception with the star.  And a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Henderson Mental Health Center.

For information, phone the box office (handled by the Broward Center) at 954-462-0222 or visit the Miniaci web site.


January 23, 2009

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.

January 22, 2009

Listen up to new works

1st stage The flurry of new works on South Florida stages continues with the third annual 1st Stage New Works Festival at Florida Stage in early March.

The Manalapan company's focus has always been on new plays and strong voices, and its membership in the National New Play Network has underscored that mission.  But the festival has given Florida Stage artists and audiences, not to mention the playwrights involved, the chance to experience scripts as staged readings.  For artistic director Louis Tyrrell and his collaborators, the festival provides another chance to consider works for upcoming seasons -- Deborah Zoe Laufer's award-winning End Days, William Mastrosimone's Dirty Business, Roger Hedden's The Count and Catherine Trieschmann's about-to-open The Bridegroom of Blowing Rock all got Florida Stage world premieres after readings at the 1st Stage festival.

This year's gathering March 8-10 features a keynote speech by Israel Horovitz, whose play The P Word (about teens who make a pregnancy pact) will be read at the festival.  Other plays getting readings are Christopher Demos-Brown's When the Sun Shone Brighter (about a political candidate during the time of the Cuban exile bombings of the 1970s and '80s), Laufer's Sirens (about a guy who jumps overboard during a 25th anniversary cruise and winds up on an island), Carter W. Lewis' The Storytelling Ability of a Boy (featuring the boy, a lesbian cellist and a girl with a nail gun), Jack Staub's Running Out (about a brother and sister dealing with their parents' haunting secret) and Andrew Rosendorf's Levittown, or the Fall of the Loan Ranger (about a 15-year-old who imagines his family's life as a '50s radio show).

Tickets go on sale Feb. 1.  An array of ticket options is available, from $100 to see/experience the entire festival to $10 for a single play (students and theater pros can get in for less). Call 561-585-3433 or visit the Florida Stage festival web page.

January 20, 2009

Marco Ramirez collects another honor

Marco RamirezMarco Ramirez is a first-year playwriting student at New York's prestigious Juilliard School.  But the Miami native is already an accomplished, award-winning playwright (which is how he got accepted to Juilliard in the first place, clearly).

Ramirez had already learned that he'd be returning to the high-profile Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville this year.  In 2007, his short play I am not Batman premiered there, winning him both the theater's Heideman Award, a $1,000 prize and national attention.

The festival again chose a short Ramirez work, 3:59 a.m.: a drag race for two actors, for this year's gathering.  And Ramirez just found out that his play has again brought him the Heideman, another $1,000 and, quite likely, more national attention.

Though the play was presented last October as part of Mixtape at Miami's Mad Cat Theatre Company, it will get its official world-premiere Equity debut April 4-5 at the Humana Festival's special visitors weekend.  Also part of this year's festival are the full-length plays Ameriville by Universes (Gamal Abdel Chasten, Mildred Ruiz, William Ruiz and Steven Sapp), Slasher by Allison Moore, Absalom by Zoe Kazan, The Hard Weather Boating Party by Naomi Wallace, Under Construction by Charles L. Mee (performed by Anne Bogart's SITI Company), Wild Blessings: A Celebration of Wendell Berry by Marc Masterson and Adrien-Alice Hansel, and a collage piece titlted Brink! by Lydia R. Diamond, Deborah Zoe Laufer, Kristoffer Diaz, Greg Kotis, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb and Deborah Stein.

For more info on the Humana Festival, check the Actors Theatre web site.  And bravo, Marco!

January 19, 2009

Lincoln Road pioneers return

John_maria_rodaz_ecuador_08_2John Rodaz and his wife, producer Maria Banda-Rodaz ran one of South Florida's most accomplished small theater companies -- that would be Area Stage -- from 1989 to '99 on Lincoln Road in South Beach.  Skyrocketing rents and upscale retail outlets led them to shut down, and though the couple presented occasional plays at various venues over the past decade, they haven't had another theatrical home -- until now.

The two will launch their revamped company, dubbed TeatroAreaStage, on Jan. 30 with a production of Pierre Palmade and Muriel Robin's Se quieren.  Directed by Rodaz, starring Carlos Cruz and Marisol Calero, the play about a bickering married couple will run through March 1.  This one is in Spanish, but some of their future shows will be done in English, and they plan to offer dance, music, poetry and art exhibitions in their 271-seat space at the former Rivera Theatre, 1560 S. Dixie Hwy. in Coral Gables.  The first exhibition in their Galeria del Teatro, Perimetro, is by Omar and Carlos Estrada.  Curator Arelys Hernandez recently arrived from Cuba, where she ran Havana's Galeria 23 y 12.

Their mission, the Rodazes say, is "to create world-class theatrical productions that help tear down barriers and bridge cultural gaps; to emphasize our similarities and to encourage an appreciation of our differences."

Performances of Se quieren are 8:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday.  Tickets are $20 and $30 ($5 off for seniors and students on Friday and Sunday).  For information, call 305-666-2078 or visit TeatroAreaStage's web site.

January 15, 2009

Reading, clowning and shutting down

Noah_noseGableStage is host to two theater events early next week.

First up, on Monday at 7:30 p.m., is a staged reading of WOPS by Richard Janaro.  Based on what happened to four generations of the playwright's Italian-American family, the play's many characters endure both societal and familial turmoil in the 20th century.  The three founders of the Miami Shores-based Naked Stage -- Antonio Amadeo, Katherine Amadeo and John Manzelli -- play all the characters, under the direction of Deborah Mello.  Admission is free. GableStage is located in the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables.

On Tuesday at GableStage, Minneapolis-based physical theater artist Noah Bremer performs his solo show Untitled Duet With Houseplant as a benefit for Davie's Promethean Theatre.  Bremer (shown, with clown nose, in the photo here) portrays Pepe, a guy who has to contend with an uncooperative plant named Gertrude. Admission is $20.  For tickets, call 1-866-811-4111.  Bremer is also teaching two workshops, each limited to 25 participants, at Nova Southeastern University's Black Box Theatre.  The first, titled "The Dynamic Physical Performer," is Saturday, Jan. 17, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; the second, "The Art of Play," is Jan. 24 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  The fee for each workshop is $60.  Call 786-317-7580 to reserve a space.

Finally, some unfortunate economy-related theater news. New Theatre founder Rafael de Acha has suspended operations of his Theater by the Book, which presented large-cast staged readings of classic plays.  Contributions and grants have dried up, De Acha notes, and without them the company couldn't pay its actors.