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18 posts from March 2009

March 31, 2009

Theater for less

Since we're all looking to save money these days (aren't we?), three cost-conscious theater opportunities may be just the ticket for a dwindling entertainment budget.

2_Fuerza_Bruta[1] Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is offering a buy one-get one deal on ticket to select performances of its three summer season shows:  the Off-Broadway extravaganza Fuerza Bruta (check it out in the photo) June 9-11 and June 14, the return of Celia: The Life and Music of Celia Cruz June 2-4, and City Theatre's popular Summer Shorts May 28-29 and May 31.  The only catch is that you have to show up from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. this Saturday, April 4, at the Arsht box office, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., to get the deal.

If you are willing to drive up to Boca Raton, you can catch a production of Helen Edmundson's searing play The Clearing for just $16 ($10 if you're an FAU faculty member, student or alumnus).  Set in 1652, the tragic drama concerns an English husband and his Irish wife during the time Oliver Cromwell was trying to drive the Irish from Ireland.  The play begins Friday, April 3, and runs through Sunday, April 12 in the Studio One Theatre on the campus at 777 Glades Rd.  Call 1-800-564-9539 or visit the FAU web site.

Fla stageAnd if you're not planning to go to the 33rd annual Carbonell Awards on Monday, April 6, at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, you may want to discover (for free!) what young playwrights are thinking.  Florida Stage, 262 S. Ocean Blvd. in Manalapan,  is presenting its Young Playwrights Festival at 7 p.m. Featured are works by Ashley Stornant (For the Record), Hope Tiffany (Unsaved), Rachel Chapnick (A Storm's a Brewin'), Stephanie Berra (A Day To Remember), and a couple of collaborative works by elementary school students, Endangered Animals and The Mixed-Up Rainbow. 

March 27, 2009

Arisco honored with the Abbott Award

Soul singer James Brown was long known as "the hardest-working man in show business," and anyone who watched him work a stage -- singing, dancing, howling, working up a monumental sweat -- would have said amen to that description.  But the truth is that, in the arts, there are lots of passionate folks who give their all and then some to the organization they serve.  David Arisco, artistic director at Actors' Playhouse for the past 21 years, is one of those tireless arts leaders , a man whose long days and nights have helped turn a company that began in a converted Kendall movie theater into the region's showplace for musical theater.

David Arisco For all that he has achieved in a diverse career spanning more than 30 years, Arisco will be honored with the George Abbott Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts at the 33rd annual Carbonell Awards.  And that list of accomplishments is a long one.  At Actors' Playhouse, first in Kendall and now in the restored Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables, Arisco has directed more than 100 productions.  Seven of those -- Aida, Floyd Collins, Violet, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, West Side Story, The Mystery of Edwin Drood and I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change-- won Carbonell Awards as best musical and for Arisco's work in staging them. 

Beyond the quality of his work, Arisco's collaborative partnership with Actors' founder and executive director Barbara Stein (one of the hardest-working womenin showbiz) has allowed him to give work to uncounted South Florida actors, designers and musicians.  With Stein, Arisco has built a significant and enduring company.

CarbonellThis year's Carbonell ceremony, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. April 6 in the Amaturo Theater at Fort Lauderdale's Broward Center for the Performing Arts, will also honor the late Sun-Sentinel theater critic Jack Zink, who co-founded the awards program and served as the Carbonells' executive director.  Amy London is directing the show, which will feature numbers from the five shows nominated for best musical and showcase some of the region's best talent, including a dozen nominees.

Current economic realities have affected this year's Carbonells in a couple of ways.  Because of the cost of bronze used in award designer Manuel Carbonell's signature sculptures, a different award with a nod to Carbonell's egg-shaped originals will be given to winners.  But just like interest rates, Carbonell ticket prices have fallen this year: $25 for individual tickets, $20 each for groups of 10 or more.  A ticket also buys admission to a post-show party sponsored by the Theatre League of South Florida and southfloridatheatre.com at Revolution Live, 200 W. Broward Blvd. Call the Broward Center box office at 954-462-0222 or visit the web site to reserve tickets.

March 25, 2009

Creative kids go to the mall

LogoStarting next month, when kids and teens ask to go to Fort Lauderdale's upscale Galleria mall, it may not be because they're dying to go shopping.  The not-for-profit Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre (FLCT) has just leased 12,000 square feet of space in the east wing of the mall.

Founded in 1952, Florida's oldest children's theater plans to eventually build its own stand-alone facility on Andrews Avenue in Fort Lauderdale.  But the move to Galleria, 2414 E. Sunrise Blvd.,  will allow the company to expand the offerings in its year-round programming for kids from 3 1/2 to 18.

"Partnerships like this allow organizations like ours to thrive and contribute to the benefit of our citizens," said FLCT executive artistic director Janet Erlick.  "Plus, this new location provides some added perks for our group, such as ample free parking, easy access from the parking lot and proximity to shopping."

The company's new classes and services will include theater instruction while parents shop, Mommy and Me classes, adult classes and Saturday morning story time. As always, FLCT offers classes, summer camp experiences and productions (through Sunday, the student actors are performing the school edition of Les Misérables at the Hollywood Playhouse).  For information on FLCT, call 954-763-6882 or visit the theater's web site.

March 24, 2009

For big bucks, big stars

Recession? What recession?  For New York's Roundabout Theatre Company, a glamorous and star-studded spring fundraiser dubbed "Take Me Back to Manhattan" is the only way to go -- especially with tickets priced from $1,500 (the evening's cheap seat) to $5,000.

Nathan lane The glitzy get-together, which takes place at 7 p.m. April 6, is hosted by Tony Award winner and former Producers star Nathan Lane (one of the stars of Roundabout's Waiting for Godotrevival), whose way with a quip guarantees many an unscripted zinger.  The company's well-heeled supporters will gather at the Roseland Ballroom, transformed into a nightclub circa 1940.

Tony-winning director Kathleen Marshall has created an original revue featuring the songs of Richard Rodgers, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin and others.  And the talent scheduled to perform is, if you have the bucks, certainly worthy of $1,500 and up per person:  Audra McDonald, Boyd Gaines, Bill Irwin, Matthew Broderick, Cynthia Nixon, Richard Thomas, Michael Cerveris, Kelli O'Hara, Martha Plimpton, Jane Krakowski, Brooke Shields, Margaret Colin, Alec Baldwin, Mario Cantone, Denis O'Hare and South Florida's own Katie Finneran.

If you can be in New York that night, want to support the not-for-profit Roundabout and find the idea of an elegant throwback of an evening appealing, call Ashley Firestone at 212-719-9393 or visit the gala section of Roundabout's web site.

March 23, 2009

O'Neill hits the Beach

Ever since Area Stage and Acme Acting Company folded their tents, and especially since long-time Broadway venue the Jackie Gleason Theater was transformed into the Fillmore Miami Beach concert venue, theater has been a sometime thing on Miami Beach. Sure, the Arts at St. John's sometimes presents plays.  Ditto the Colony Theater on Lincoln Road.  But the supply is scarce.

David Tawil headshotSo it's news that the Miami Beach Cinematheque will present three performances of Eugene O'Neill's one-act play Hughie as part of its Cine-Theatre Series.  David Tawil plays small-time gambler Erie Smith, who lives in a run-down New York hotel ; there, a clerk named Hughie (Mark Kroczynski) becomes the alcoholic Erie's captive audience.

Tawil, a veteran of stage, film and television, is producing the play.  The performances take plays at 8:30 p.m. April 1, 5 p.m. April 4-5 at the Cinematheque, 512 Espanola Way, Miami Beach.  Tickets are $15 ($12 for members, seniors and students).  For information, call 305-673-4567 or visit the Cinematheque web site.

March 20, 2009

A little Vegas, a bit of Broadway, lots of enthusiasm

2009show_poster The Gold-Diggers, a 33-year-old group that channels Mickey and Judy to put on a show for charity, does its annual spring thing this weekend. Vegas, Baby! is this year's theme, and it will turn performers of various ages, sizes and experience levels into show folk for four performances as they sing, hoof and put on the glitz, delivering an array of  Broadway numbers.

Performances are at 8 tonight (March 20) and Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, 174 E. Flagler St., Miami.  Tickets are $15-$30 Friday, $20-$40 Saturday evening, $12-$20 for matinees.  Visit the Gold-Diggers web site for details.

March 19, 2009

Losing Natasha Richardson

Natasha A sad story came to a tragic end on Wednesday when Natasha Richardson, a luminous actress who came from a distinguished family of actors, died after what at first seemed to be a minor tumble on a Montreal ski slope two days earlier.

Richardson -- granddaughter of Sir Michael Redgrave, daughter of Vanessa Redgrave and director Tony Richardson, niece of Lynn Redgrave and Corin Redgrave, sister of Nip/Tuck's Joely Richardson, wife of Liam Neeson and mother of two boys -- was 45, a woman with so much life and work ahead of her.  Her sudden passing is shattering for her family, a loss for anyone who had the pleasure of watching her work.

Richardson was rumored to be planning a return to Broadway in a revival of A Little Night Music next season.  She and her famous mother had done a benefit performance of the Stephen Sondheim musical in January, and that got the buzz going. 

I was fortunate enough to see three of the four New York shows in which Richardson starred:  1993's revival of Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie, the show that brought Neeson into her life; 1998's revival of Cabaret, which brought her a Tony Award for her portrayal of a beautiful, plucky, ruined Sally Bowles; and Patrick Marber's Closer in 1999.  She made movies too, of course, everything from the fluff of The Parent Trap and Maid in Manhattan to the intensity of Suddenly, Last Summer and Asylum.

But above all (at least in her working life), Richardson was third-generation theater royalty.  Watching her on a stage was illuminating, absorbing, special.  And forever memorable.

March 18, 2009

Plays get read

There's a bit of a lull in openings over the next few weeks, an odd little end-of-March/start-of-April gap that will come to a frenzied end April 16-18 when six -- yes six -- theaters open shows in that three-day period.  (If you're wondering what is opening where:  I Ain't Yo' Uncle at M Ensemble, In Darfur at Mosaic Theatre, A Little Night Music at Broward Stage Door, Something's Afoot at the Caldwell Theatre Company, No Child at GableStage, Mauritius at New Theatre.  Yipes!)

Several shows are opening in the interim -- the new musical Cagney! at Florida Stage March 27, The Life at the Wilton 26th Street Theater April 1, The Andrews Brothers at Rising Action Theatre April 4, Jersey Boys at the Broward Center April 8 and Marco Ramirez's new play BroadSword! at Mad Cat Theatre April 10 -- but that's a fairly slow pace for South Florida in season.

To tide more voracious theater lovers over, two staged readings are happening at the end of March.

Obit_Foote_NYET930Conundrum Stages will remember recently departed playwright Horton Foote with a reading of his best-known play, The Trip to Bountiful.  The prolific Texan, who passed away shortly before he would have celebrated his 93rd birthday, spins the engaging tale of a woman determined to visit the home where she was born and raised, despite her family's interference.  Paula Sackett directs Kathleen Emrich, Murray Elman, Brian McCormack, Jennipher Murphy, Dyani Batcheller, Don Crinklaw and Justin Mellender in the free reading at 2 p.m. March 28.  The event is in the northwest branch of the Broward County Library, 1580 NW Third Ave., Pompano Beach.  Call 954-786-2186 for information.

TonyF[1]Also getting one of his plays read is playwright-producer and Carbonell Awards judge Tony Finstrom.  His script All About Evan is described as a "gay comedy romp spoofing films such as The Devil Wears Prada and All About Eve."  Finstrom adds that the play was inspired by his experiences working the switchboard at a New York entertainment magazine fond of running photos of actors in the buff.  Richard LaFrance directs Iris Acker, Antonio Amadeo, Jeffrey Bruce, Jim Gibbons, Robert Hooker, Andy Rogow and Daivd Tarryn-Grae in the reading at Fort Lauderdale's Sol Theatre Project, 1140 NE Flagler Dr., at 7 p.m. March 30.  For info, email Floridatheater@aol.com.

March 17, 2009

Something's coming

Mariaandtony Broadway circles are abuzz in anticipation of Thursday's opening of West Side Story, a groundbreaking Broadway classic directed -- and reimagined by -- the author of its book, 90-year-old Arthur Laurents.  Of course, the 1957 original is a musical reinvention of Romeo and Juliet,with teen gangs the Sharks and the Jets standing in for the warring Capulets and Montagues.  But with its thrilling Leonard Bernstein score, lyrics by then-Broadway newcomer Stephen Sondheim, stunning choreography by Jerome Robbins and Laurents' heart-breaking script, West Side Story has remained an enduring piece of theatrical art.

The twist at Broadway's Palace Theatre is that the Puerto Rican Sharks and their family members actually speak and sing in Spanish.  Not all the time, but enough so that West Side Storyreportedly feels much more authentic.  Josefina Scaglione (shown in a Joan Marcus photo, with Matt Cavenaugh as Tony), the show's Maria, is a 21-year-old opera-trained Argentine actress, and a number of her cast mates are Latino performers.  The new dialog and lyrics are by Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator and star of last season's Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights.

Monica Rosell Kevin Yungman as Maria Tony In South Florida, a different, more traditional but decidedly younger West Side Story will play six performances beginning March 27.  The Roxy Theatre Group, a non-profit training program for kids and teens, has a large-scale production in the works: 75 cast members ages 11 to 17, representing more than 25 schools, singing and dancing to the accompaniment of the Greater Miami Youth Symphony.  Monica Rosell, a junior at Southwest Miami Senior High School, and Kevin Yungman, a sophomore at Cypress Bay High, play Maria and Tony. 

Roxy's West Side Story, which benefits the group's student scholarship fund, runs March 27-April 5 at 1645 SW 107th Ave. in Miami.  Performances are 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday.  Tickets are $20 ($50 opening night tickets include a cocktail reception and post-show party).  For information, call 305-226-0030 or email SusannePinedo@gmail.com.

March 16, 2009

First look at emerging talent

Rising Stars 09 Miami's New World School of the Arts has sent an array of talent out into the world -- actors, dancers, singers, musicians, artists, playwrights -- and even as those grads are becoming famous and winning awards in their chosen fields, New World's high school and college divisions are training the next generation of artists.

New World showcases all that talent each spring in its Rising Starsperformance at Miami's Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, 174 E. Flagler St.  This year's event kicks off at 7 p.m. March 27 with a number from the theater division's production of the musical Titanic. Also part of the show are four dance pieces, including Robert Battle's The Hunt; music division ensemble performances including the Opera Theater Ensemble singing the Act II sextet from Lucia di Lammermoor and the jazz ensemble performing Don Ellis' Indian Lady;and excerpts from the theater division's productions of Clare Booth Luce's The Women and the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Jencarlos_014_OKThe Alumnus of the Year award, presented during the show, goes to a 20-year-old actor-singer who graduated from New World's high school program in 2006.  Jencarlos Canela, who played Pepito in the world premiere of Miami Libre at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts last summer, already has a thriving career as a telenovela star and teen idol.

Also part of the Rising Starsevent are a free exhibition in the New World Gallery, 25 NE Second St., at 5 p.m. and a post-show benefit reception at 9 p.m. at the Bank of America Tower's 11th floor Sky Lobby Terrace, 100 SE Second St. 

Tickets to the performance range from $20 to $50.  Benefit tickets, which include the performance, are $250.  For information, call 305-237-3852 or visit the school's web site

Switching shows

The Davie-based Promethean Theatre has just announced a May production change.  Artistic director Deborah Sherman says that, due to a key actor's unavailability, the theater won't present David Lindsay-Abaire's Kimberly Akimbo.  Instead, Promethean is moving up next season's  planned production of David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow, the scathing show about movie business sharks that recently closed on Broadway.  The show will run May 15-31 at the Mailman Hollywood Theatre at Nova Southeastern University, 3301 College Ave. in Davie.  For information, phone 786-317-7580 or visit the Promethean web site.