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15 posts from April 2009

April 30, 2009

"Shorts" programs get restyled

City Theatre's ever-popular Summer Shortsfestival is on the horizon, with rehearsals about to start, the acting company chosen, plays picked, directors at the ready.  The headlines this year go this way:  no more "A" and "B" programs; instead, one program of eight "Signature Shorts," and another eight pushing-the-envelope plays in the late-night "Undershorts" bill.  The "Shorts 4 Kids!" program also has eight elements, including a pair of mini-musicals (aka songs) by Lisa Loeb and Cyndi Lauper.

This season's red-hot "Signature" and "Undershorts" acting company features, Steve Anthony, Elena Maria Garcia, David Hemphill, John Manzelli, Amy McKenna, Erin Joy Schmidt, Laura Turnbull and Steve Trovillion (better known as "Mr. Summer Shorts").  In the "Shorts 4 Kids!" company are Katherine Amadeo, Chris Dallau, Nick Duckardt, Vanessa Elise, Betsy Graver and Joshua Robinson.

Directors for this 14th edition of Summer Shorts are Patrice Bailey, Sean Paul Bryan, Gail Garrisan (the company's former artistic director), Avi Hoffman (Turnbull's hubby), Margaret Ledford, Amy London, Gordon McConnell, Deborah Mello, Stuart Meltzer (City's current artistic director), Stephanie Norman (City's executive director), Marjorie O'Neill-Butler, Leland Patterson and James Samuel Randolph.

Among them, the three programs include 11 world premieres.  The "Signature" program includes plays by Davie playwright Michael McKeever, Nobel laureate Harold Pinter and Christopher Durang.  "Undershorts" includes a song by Michael John LaChiusa and a piece by South Floridian Christopher Demos-Brown.  McKeever and rising star Marco Ramirez have contributed to the "Shorts 4 Kids!" bill.

The Shortsget revealed May 28-June 21 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, June 25-28 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale.  For info, call the Arsht box office at 305-949-6722 or visit the Arshtweb site; call the Broward Center box office at 954-462-0222 or visit the center's web site; or call City Theatre at 305-365-5400 or visit City's web site.

April 27, 2009

Theater for the kids

InnannhomepageNEWer With schools slashing positions for arts teachers, it's more important than ever for parents to take advantage of the enrichment exposure to theater, dance, music and the visual arts can bring to a child's creative and intellectual development.

This week brings three opportunities for kids to see shows and even interact with theater professionals.  At the PlayGround Theatre in Miami Shores, Stephanie Ansin and Fernando Calzadilla's Inanna and the Huluppu Tree is running through May 22.  Based on a Sumerian myth, it tells the story of a young goddess who restores harmony to a city besieged by storms and angry deities.  On Saturday, May 2, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the theater is holding a Behind the Curtain workshop.  For $70, kids can learn about all the elements of the show and get two tickets to any performance.  Regular tickets to Inanna are $15.  The PlayGround is at 9806 NE Second Ave., Miami Shores. Call 305-751-9550 or visit the theater's web site for more information.

09kidsfestposterxAt Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables, this weekend brings the 14th annual National Children's Theatre Festival.  The key productions this year are the musical Miss Nelson Is Missing and the Caribbean-flavored Once on This Island Jr.  Kids also get hands-on experiences at "hall pass" stations, hear selections from the musical Mary Poppins and interact with characters from Alice in Wonderland.  Miss Nelson runs  through May 30 at 2 p.m.each Saturday, but the festival happens Friday-Sunday, May 1-3.  Tickets to three different combinations of shows and activities are $15 each. Actors' Playhouse is in the Miracle Theatre at 280 Miracle Mile.  Call 305-444-9293 or visit the web site for detailed information.

SC_postcard_EMAIL Another theater experience, this one for older kids, is the Miami Childrens Theater production of the musical Sweet Charity.  Kids and teens are the stars of MCT's productions, playing Charity, the dreamer of a dance hall girl, and her Manhattan pals.  Shows are at 8:30 p.m. Thursday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday through May 10.  The company performs at the Alper Jewish Community Center's Russell Theater, 11155 SW 112th Ave., Miami.  Call 305-274-3595 or visit the MCT web site for information.

April 24, 2009

Seasons announced, altered; UM does "Dolly"

 The Raymond F. Kravis Center in West Palm Beach books its own Broadway series, and its big 2009-2010 lure is the same show that has been a sold-out bonanza for the Broward Center this season -- the Tony Award-winning Jersey Boys.

Four00_jerseyboys_wknd_JMThe Kravis on Broadway series begins Nov. 10-15 with the revival of Grease featuring American Idol winner Taylor Hicks.  Next comes the lavish, Tony-winning revival of South Pacific Jan. 5-10, followed by A Chorus Line Feb. 2-7, Jersey Boys March 10-28 and the dance show Burn the Floor May 4-9, 2010. 

Subscriptions range from $146 to $420, but sales to the general public don't begin until July 27.  Call 1-800-572-8471 or visit the Kravis web site.


Manalapan's Florida Stage has announced its summer musical, a theatrical concert titled Some Kind of Wonderful!by Bill Castellino and Christopher McGovern, the team behind the theater's recent hit Cagney!.  It's a collection of songs from the "Camelot" years of 1960-63, music made popular by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Barbra Streisand, The Beatles, The Tempations, The Supremes, Connie Francis, Wilson Pickett, the Drifters, the Four Seasons and others.  The show runs July 1-Aug. 30, with previews at 8 p.m. July 1-2, 2 p.m. July 2.  Performances are 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday-Sunday.  Tickets are $45 for matinees and week nights, $48 other shows (previews $38).  Call 1-800-514-3837 or visit the Florida Stage web site.

Florida Stage has also delayed next season's production of Deborah Zoe Laufer's Sirens;instead, the company will present Seth Rozin's new play Two Jews Walk into a War..., one of four world premires on its 2009-2010 lineup.  The company's next season begins with Rozin's play Oct. 21-Nov. 29, followed by Carter W. Lewis' The Storytelling Ability of a BoyDec. 9-Jan. 17, Israel Horovitz's Sins of the Mother Jan. 27-March 7, Dr. Radioby Castellino and McGovern March 24-May 2, and Christopher Demos-Brown's When the Sun Shone Brighter May 12-June 20, 2010.


HelloDollyRingPress The University of Miami is doing its big spring musical -- Hello, Dolly! -- at the theater named for UM grad and Dollycomposer Jerry Herman.  Leah Costello, Kaitlyn O'Neill and Gianmarco Soresi play Irene, Dolly and Cornelius in the show, which is at the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre, 1312 Miller Dr. on UM's Coral Gables campus, through May 2.

Performances are 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.  Tickets are $18-$22 (seniors, faculty, staff and alumni pay $16-$18; students pay $8-$10).  For information, call 305-284-3355 or visit the Ring web site.

April 23, 2009

At Actors' Playhouse, it's Pino sí, Plana no

Danny HS 9-13-08Over at Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables, the excitement about the upcoming production of Carlos Lacámara's Havana Bourgeois has everyone feeling like they've downed a dozen cafecitos. Executive director Barbara Stein says most of the invitations to the opening night gala May 15 are coming back marked "." And it's likely that much of that preopening buzz has to do with the announcement that two television stars, Danny Pino of Cold Caseand Tony Plana of Ugly Betty, would be in the cast.

Pino, a Miamian who graduated from Florida International University, is here and ready to start rehearsals on Friday.  Unfortunately, though, Plana had to drop out of the production because of his TV schedule.  The show is going on with a cast of mostly South Florida actors joining Pino and the theater's artistic director, David Arisco, staging the play.

Jossie Harris Thacker, James Puig, Oscar Cheda, Jennifer De Castroverde, Francisco "Pancho" Padura, David Perez Ribada, Joshua David Robinson and Carl Waisanen will appear with Pino in Lacámara's play about how the Cuban revolution changes the lives of very different colleagues in a Havana advertising agency.

Havana Bourgeoisbegins previews May 13-14, opens May 15 and runs through June 7 at Actors' Playhouse in the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables.  Performances are 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday (additional matinee May 20).  Tickets are $48 Friday-Saturday evening, $40 for week nights and matinees, $35 for previews.  Senior and student discounts are available Wednesday-Friday.  Call 305-444-9293 or visit the Actors' Playhouse web site for details.


May 15 is going to be a particularly busy night in South Florida theater.  In addition to Havana Bourgeois at Actors', both the Promethean Theatre in Davie andFlorida Stage in Manalapan are opening shows.

Promethean, which had previously announced Kimberly Akimbo, then Speed-the-Plow, has settled on Joe Penhall's Dumb Show.  The piece by the author of Blue/Orange, which got a terrific Promethean production a while back, is a scorching satire of tabloid journalism.  Gregg Weiner, David Sirois and Promethean artistic director Deborah L. Sherman are featured, with Margaret M. Ledford directing. Dumb Showruns at Nova Southeastern University's Mailman Hollywood Theatre, 3301 College Ave. in Davie, May 15-31.  Performances are 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.  Tickets are $25 ($15 seniors, $10 students).  Call 786-317-7580 or visit Promethean's web site.

Steven Dietz's Yankee Taverngets its world premiere at Florida Stage May 15, after previewing May 13-14.  Directed by Michael Bigelow Dixon, the play is a thriller about a young man who becomes entangled in a web of 9/11 conspiracy theories.  Antonio Amadeo, Kim Morgan Dean, William McNulty and Mark Zeisler are featured in the cast.  Performances are 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday, 2 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday-Sunday (additional preview performance 2 p.m. May 14).  Tickets are $42-$45 ($35 for previews), and the play runs through June 21.  Florida Stage is at 262 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan.  Call 1-800-514-3837 or visit the Florida Stage web site.

April 22, 2009

A dysfunctional family named Brando

David Barnes as Christian Brando Robert Ashkenas as Marlon 80 years oldPlaywright and actor David Nathie Barnes has been working on A Love Lost Life: The Unauthorized Story of Marlon Brando for several years now, launching it at the Orlando International Fringe Festival in 2007, expanding it for a run at West Palm Beach's Cuillo Centre.  Tonight, the expanded and revised play begins a four-performance run at Miami Beach's Colony Theater.

Barnes uses the Brando family story to focus on the complex relationship between fathers and sons. He presents the acting legend at different ages, from the young man who attracted the interest of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean (along with the rest of the world) to the elderly, ailing artist stricken by his son Christian's murder of  his pregnant sister Cheyenne's boyfriend.  Barnes plays Christian in A Love Lost Life, with Cliff Burgess as the young Brando.

Performances are at 8 tonight-Friday, 5 p.m. Sunday.  Tickets are $25 and $35, with discounts for seniors and students.  The Colony is at 1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach.  Call 1-800-745-3000 or visit the Ticketmaster web site.

April 20, 2009

At Barry, Bridezillas attack

Big Love #1 Charles L. Mee's Big Love, a fabulously inventive reworking of Aeschylus' The Suppliant Women, was the sensation of the Humana Festival of New American Plays in 2000, going on to a healthy life in major regional theaters around the United States (though not, alas, in South Florida, where theater companies seem allergic to anything even vaguely connected to Greek drama).

Barry University's Department of Fine Arts is filling in that gap with its production of Mee's play about 50 runaway brides who just say no to their arranged marriages.  Actually, that's putting it mildly:  Nearly all the brides murder their grooms rather than getting lovelessly hitched.

The free performances are 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, April 23-25, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 26, at Barry's Broad Center for the Performing Arts.  The campus is located at 11300 NE Second Ave. in Miami Shores. For information, call 305-899-3420.

(Photo of Naja Corbett and Mcley Lafrance in Big Love is by Silvia Lizama)

April 17, 2009

Elam schools the audience

Lela_elam_no_child Carbonell Award-winning actress Lela Elam takes on one of the larger challenges of her career in Nilaja Sun's No Child, a 16-character solo show opening Saturday, April 18, at 8 p.m. at GableStage.

Elam plays an artist-turned-teacher at a Bronx high school, a woman hired to direct the usually unruly kids in a production of Timberlake Wertenbaker's Our Country's Good. The chaos of this experience broadens into life within a public school, including the principal, custodian and an array of students.  Elam plays them all.

No Childwill be at GableStage in the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave. in Coral Gables, through May 17.  Performances are 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday (no late show April 19). Tickets are $42.50 Friday-Saturday and Sunday matinee, $37.50 other shows.  Call 305-445-1119 or visit GableStage's web site.

GableStage is also partnering with Plantation's Mosaic Theatre, where Winter Miller's play In Darfuris opening tonight, to offer a discount to anyone who wants to see both productions by the Carbonell Award-winning companies.  Anyone who presents a ticket stub from one of the plays can get $5 off on a ticket to the other one.  Visit the web sites for details.

April 16, 2009

Mosaic travels into "Darfur"

Stage_wkend17_Darfur1Playwright Winter Miller worked as the assistant to New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, traveling with him to the border of Sudan where the two interviewed survivors of the genocide in Darfur.  Kristof won a Pulitzer Prize for his commentary about the horrors of war in the region.  Miller turned her experiences into the intense play In Darfur, which begins performances at 8 tonight (April 16) at Plantation's Mosaic Theatre.

Miller's play follows the story of a survivor named Hawa, a new widow whose husband and children have been murdered by the Janjaweed.  She courageously speaks to a New York Times reporter about the atrocities she witnessed -- and the results are disastrous.

Patrice DeGraff-Arenas (pictured in Sean McClelland photo), Reiss Gaspard, Vaughn-Rian St. James, Pilar Uribe, Keith Wade and Ricky Waugh star in the production, which is being staged by Carbonell Award-winning director Richard Jay Simon.

Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday through May 3.  Tickets are $35 ($29 for seniors 65 and older, $15 for students). Mosaic performs at the American Heritage Center for the Arts, 12200 W. Broward Blvd., Bldg. 3000, Plantation.  Call 954-577-8243 or visit the Mosaic web site.

Take Note

* Actors' Playhouse holds its 18th annual Reach for the Stars gala and auction at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 18.  Admission is $100 per person, and for that you get a gourmet dinner, open bar, entertainment, silent auction and a live auction.  Some of the big-ticket items include international business class airline tickets, jewelry, hotel packages, cruises -- well, you get the picture.  TV's Bob Soper oversees the fun, which happens at the theater, 280 Miracle Mile in Coral Gables.  Call 305-444-9293 or visit the theater's web site.

* Miami's own Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Nilo Cruz, will be developing a new play at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Playwrights Conference (NPC) this summer.  The Color of Desire, to be directed by NPC artistic director Wendy Goldberg, is set in 1960 Havana and focuses on an American businessman who hires a Cuban actress to play his lost love.  The play, which got an earlier reading at Florida Stage, gets staged readings in Connecticut on July 11-12.

*  Multitalented former Miamian Raúl Esparza is following his much-praised performance in this season's Broadway revival of David Mamet's Speed-the-Plowwith something completely different.  He'll play Orsino to movie star Anne Hathaway's Viola in the free Shakespeare in the Park production of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.  The play runs June 10-July 12 at Central Park's Delacorte Theater in Manhattan. Also in the cast: Tony winner and Private Practic star Audra McDonald,David Pittu, Michael Cumpsty,Hamish Linklater and Jay O. Sanders. Visit the Public Theater web site for more info.

April 15, 2009

A musical mystery as Hall leaves the Caldwell

MichaelShawnLewisBethDimonLisaManuli-SA-SeanLawson Michael Hall's final show in his 33-year run as artistic director of Boca Raton's Caldwell Theatre Company is, however it turns out, another example of the sort of theater he's staged so well through the years.

The musical Agatha Christie spoof Something's Afoot, which previews at 8 tonight and Thursday, then has its gala opening at 8 p.m. Friday (April 17), is a large-cast comedy-mystery about guest who arrive at an English country estate to find their host murdered and their lives in danger. Designer Tim Bennett, who makes a rare acting appearance in the show, has created a beautifully detailed manor house for the show.  It's the kind of set that the late Frank Bennett, who co-founded the Caldwell with Hall, designed often and so well.

Hall has packed his cast with an impressive roster of South Florida's best musical theater talent.  Besides Michael Shawn Lewis, Elizabeth Dimon and Lisa Manuli (shown in Sean Lawson's photo), Caldwell favorites Terry Hardcastle, John Felix, Angie Radosh, Jim Ballard and Don Stansfield are in the cast.  So is Crista Moore, a two-time Tony Award nominee.

Hall's swan song offers an additional bonus:  two kids from 10 to 17 can see the show for free when they go with an adult who buys a full-priced ticket at 8 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday and 7 p.m. this Sunday and April 26.

Something's Afootwill be at the Caldwell, 7901 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton, through May 17.  Tickets are $32 and $36 for previews, $36 and $42 for regular performances ($55 for the gala opening).  Call 1-877-245-7432 or visit the Caldwell web site for details.

April 14, 2009

M Ensemble swats at Stowe

IAintYoUncle1 On the menu of shows opening all over South Florida this week, M Ensemble is serving up the stereotype-busting I Ain't Yo Uncle: The New Jack Revisionist Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Robert Alexander's biting satire is a confrontation between abolitionist author Harriet Beecher Stowe and some of her famous novel's characters, including Uncle Tom, Topsy and Eliza.  The charge:  Not only did Stowe offer up stereotypes, but she also failed to get the characters' story right.

Jerry Maple Jr. directs Dominick Daniel, Curtis Allen, Carey Hart, Rosemary Cipolla, Latrice M. Bruno, John Wendell, Brian McCormack, Viviene Dawson, Loye Hawkins, Brandiss Seward, Dyani Batcheller and Barry Edleson in the play, which runs through May 10.

M Ensemble, one of the region's oldest theater companies, is at 12320 W. Dixie Hwy. in North Miami.  Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday.  Tickets are $30 for Thursday's opening night show and party, $25 for other performances ($20 seniors and students).  Call 305-899-2217 or visit M Ensemble's web site

(Photo of Dominick Daniel, Curtis Allen, Carey Hart and Rosemary Cipolla as Harriet Beecher Stowe by Deborah Gray Mitchell).