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11 posts from August 2009

August 26, 2009

Area's bilingual season

Pony3_play_lgal_cmgArea Stage, the pioneering Lincoln Road theater company that has found new life at the Riviera Theater in Coral Gables, is opening its second play in a row by Venezuelan Gustavo Ott this weekend. Ott's Pony, a dark comedy about personal and political fraud, is directed by Area's John Rodaz, and it stars Venezuelan actors Flor Núñez and Franklin Virguez.

As it did with Ott's Tu ternura Molotov (Molotov Kisses), Area will present this co-production of Pony in Spanish with English supertitles (later in the run, Area did an English-language version of the play).  The Spanish-with-supertitles presentation is also the plan for the following two offerings, Enrique Rodriguez Maribal's La ultima cena  (The Last Supper)with Marta Velasco and Zully Montero (in October-November), and Christian Velencia's musical Amante a la antigua (In Love With the Past) with Lena Burke and Felipe Viel (December-January).

For the latter part of Area's season, Rodaz shifts to doing plays in both languages.  Arthur Kopit's Road to Nirvana (February-March) and Terrence McNally's The Lisbon Traviata (April-May) are plays Rodaz staged at the first Area location.  Now, he'll do both shows in Spanish and in English, a choice that makes Area's audience reach even larger.

Pony opens Saturday at 8 p.m. and runs through Sept. 27, with shows at 8 p.m. Saturdays, 5 p.m. Sundays.  Tickets are $25 Saturday, $20 Sunday.  Area performs at 1560 S. Dixie Hwy. in Coral Gables. For information, call 305-666-2078 or visit Area's web site.

(Photo of Flor Núñez and Franklin Virguez by El Nuevo Herald)

August 25, 2009

'Nanette' hoofs yet again

The girls with jimmy Broward Stage Door Theatre, one of South Florida's key places where musicals live (Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables and the Maltz Jupiter Theatre in Jupiter are the others), has just kicked off its new season with a large-cast, tap-happy revival of No, No Nanette.

With music by Vincent Youmans and lyrics by Irving Caesar and Otto Harbach, the 1925 musical seems to have been a prototype for many that came after it, including the zany Drowsy ChaperoneNanette features comic confusion, blackmail, sweethearts with obstacles and, of course, loads of great tap numbers.  Not to mention hits like I Want To Be Happy and Tea for Two.

Stage Door's management points out that a ticket to the original production was $3.25, and you could see the 1971 Broadway revival that gave the show a new life for $15.  Tickets to the new production are $32 -- not so bad, all these years later.

No, No Nanette runs through Sept. 27 at the Stage Door, 8036 W. Sample Rd. in Coral Springs.  Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday, 2 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday and Saturday-Sunday.  Call 954-344-7765 or visit the theater's web site for details.

August 21, 2009

Sarasota's international arts fest

Meowmeow209051422528 If you're willing to hit the road in search of artistic thrills, you might want to block out Oct. 7-11 for a trip to Sarasota.  That's when the inaugural Ringling International Arts Festival, a collaborative multidisciplinary event created by New York's Baryshnikov Arts Center and Sarasota's John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, unfolds in the elegant environs of Florida State University's  66-acre cultural campus on Sarasota Bay.

What's on the bill?  The celebration kicks off with an opening night concert by the Florida State University Symphony, conducted by Robert Spano and featuring pianist Pedja Muzijevic (8:30 p.m. Oct. 7). Ella Hickson's play Eight, an Edinburgh Fringe Festival hit, paints a portrait of modern Great Britain through monologues (Oct. 8-11). You can also catch the world premiere of  Elevator Repair Service's take on Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises (Oct. 8-11), a piece commissioned by the festival.

Renowned director Peter Brook's production Love is my sin, featuring longtime Brook collaborators Natasha Parry and Bruce Meyers, is woven from Shakespeare's sonnets (Oct. 8-11).  Chamber music performed by pianist Anne-Marie McDermott, violinist Jennifer Frautschi, cellist Edward Arron and horn player Erick Ruske takes place in two programs (Oct. 8-9 and Oct. 10-11).  Meow Meow (pictured here) brings her "post-modern showgirl" allure to Beyond Glamour: The Absinthe Tour (Oct. 8-11).

Deganit Shemy & Company debut Arena, a new dance piece commissioned by the festival.  Spain's Compañia María Pagés brings Flamenco y Poesía to the festival (Oct. 8-11).  Canada's Azure Barton & Artists premiere the festival-commissioned  dance piece Busk,while the American company OtherShore performs The Snow Falls in Winter (Oct. 8-10). 

Tickets for most performances range from $10 to $30, and you can save 15 percent if you go to four performances, 20 percent for six, 25 percent for eight.  Seems like a bargain: See-it-first art just a little over three hours away from South Florida.

For information, phone 941-360-7399 or visit the festival's web site.

August 19, 2009

Theater types branch out

Marco00_foryoucansee_wknd_h * Alex Fumero, Lucas Leyva and Marco Ramirez -- the three South Florida playwright/founders of Foryoucansee Theater -- are touting something non-theatrical but plenty literary.  A new book titled Hialeah Haikus with Miami-flavored, Japanese-style poetry will get a reading at 8 p.m. Friday at Books & Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables.  Also featured in the book are poems by Eric Anderson, Ceci Fernandez, Danny Monsalve, Alex Nodarse, Elena Santayana and Jose El Rey, with photographs by Matthew Berkowitz.  The reading is free, but the book is $10, with sales benefiting the not-for-profit company Hispanic Events.

*  Phillip M. Church, an associate professor of theater at Florida International University, is launching a course in collaboration with the Miami World Cinema Center in Wynwood.  "Crossing Over: Between Film-Theater-Television" aims to teach both beginning and experienced actors and directors some of the skills they need to work in all three art forms.  The class costs $450, runs for six weeks (Sept. 7-Oct. 14)  and is limited to 18 students.  To register, phone 305-348-0496 or E-mail carta@fiu.edu; for questions, E-mail churchp@fiu.edu

August 17, 2009

Naked Stage's speedy fundraiser returns

24small copy Though it has only been done twice before, Naked Stage's 24-Hour Theatre Project has quickly become one of the favorite annual events of South Florida's hardcore theater fans.  Playwrights, directors, actors and the folks at Naked Stage -- Antonio Amadeo, John Manzelli and Katherine Amadeo -- are aiming to prove yet again that with talent, hard work and vast amounts of caffeine, you can put together a good program of brand-new short plays in just 24 hours.  That includes the time it takes to write the plays. 

This year's 24-Hour experience (which is actually a 25-hour process from its start to the beginning of the one and only performance of the plays) begins at 7 p.m. Oct. 11 when playwrights Andie Arthur, Christopher Demos-Brown, Elena Maria Garcia, Lucas Leyva, Michael McKeever, Andrew Rosendorf, Juan C. Sanchez and David Sirois will gather to find out the title of the plays they'll write, who will direct the finished script and who will be in it.  Then they go off and, after a panic attack or two, spend the night writing.

On Oct. 12, directors Clive Cholerton, Todd Allen Durkin, Barbara Flaten, Margaret M. Ledford, Amy London, Stuart Meltzer, Hugh Murphy, Kim St. Leon and Paul Tei meet in the wee hours with their playwright and cast.  By 8 p.m., the fun begins for the paying public in the upstairs Balcony Theatre at Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables.

This year's actors are, as always, a top-tier bunch:  Irene Adjan, Katherine Amadeo, Tracey Barrow-Schoenblatt, Cliff Burgess, Ken Clement, Michaela Cronan, Beth Dimon, Nick Duckart, Lela Elam, John Felix, Scott Genn, Maribeth Graham, Betsy Graver, Avi Hoffman, Sandy Ives, Christopher A. Kent, Wayne LeGette, Margery Lowe, John Manzelli, Lisa Morgan, Francisco Padura, David Perez-Ribada, Erin Joy Schmidt, Deborah L. Sherman, Adam Simpson, Barbara Sloan, Mark Swaner, Barry Tarallo, Laura Turnbull, Tom Wahl, Ricky Waugh and David Arisco.  (Some may drop off these lists, others may be added.)

Tickets are $25, and they'll go on sale soon.  This year, the 24-Hour Project kicks off the South Florida Theatre Festival 2009, which means it will include a preshow reception, an intermission raffle and a post-show party sponsored by SouthFloridaTheatre.com and the Theatre League of South Florida.  Brand new theater and a party? Hey, I'm there.

August 14, 2009

In memoriam

Matt Latimer Matthew Bradshaw Latimer, the handsome first-born son of actress Barbara Bradshaw and her husband Chip Latimer, passed away recently after an accident while doing something he dearly loved -- surfing.  On Saturday, the Latimers and son Ben will gather with friends and family to remember Matthew during a celebration of his life.

At 1 p.m., a receiving line and guest book signing will take place at the Spanish River Church Chapel  west of I-95 at the corner of Yamato Road and St. Andrews Blvd. in Boca Raton.  At 2 p.m., the memorial service begins.  The Latimers ask that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the church's youth ministry.

Sincere condolences to a wonderful family.

August 13, 2009

'The Laramie Project' lives on

Matthew shepard The terrible death of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was beaten, tied to a fence and left to die on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming, in 1998, moved director Moisés Kaufman and his fellow artists in the Tectonic Theatre Project to respond as artists do.  The Laramie Project, based on interviews with the town's citizens and Shepard's family, has been produced all over the United States in the past decade, was made into an HBO movie and has been seen by more than 50 million people.

Laramie_croppedNow Kaufman and fellow writers Leigh Fondakowski, Greg Pierotti, Andy Paris and Stephen Belber are taking another look at the tragedy and the town.  The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later will be a large-scale performance of an 80-minute epilogue dealing with the murder's long-term effects on the town -- including material from interviews with Shepard's mother Judy and one of his killers, Aaron McKinney.

Just how big is The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later?  On Oct. 12, it will get a reading/performance at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall in New York (actors from the original production and the HBO movie are on board for that one) and at more than 100 theaters across the United States.  Two of those theaters are in Florida:  Sarasota's Asolo Repertory Theatre and Manalapan's Florida Stage.

Lou Tyrrell, Florida Stage's artistic director, says, "This important piece of theater tells a universal human story and has been a transformative experience for the cast and audience.  Our hope is that the epilogue helps us better understand the impact of Matthew's death as well as provide truth and context as this piece of American history is retold to new generations."

Tickets to the Florida Stage reading will be $30, with the money shared evenly among the Palm Beach Human Rights Coalition, Compass and The Matthew Shepard Foundation.  They'll be available in September via Florida Stage's web site or at its box office.

The project's own web site will become an online community where videos of the many different readings get posted. 

August 12, 2009

UM at the NY Fringe

The Motherline PostcardTalents honed in the University of Miami's Department of Theatre Arts will be on display at this year's New York International Fringe Festival, which kicks off on Friday and runs through Aug. 30.

The Ibis Theatre Project's production of Chantal Bilodeau's The Motherline-- a play about an unborn soul who asks her future mother's Buddhist cat to help her come into the world -- is one of three UM-connected shows at the festival.  Directed by assistant professor Jennifer G. Vellenga, the play has a cast that includes several current and former UM theater students.  It will be performed Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 5:30 p.m., Sunday at noon, Monday at 10 p.m. and Aug. 19 at 4 p.m. at the CSV Cultural Center, 107 Suffolk St.

Also at the Fringe, the Plastic Flamingo Theatre Company (which includes UM grads Nick Cobey, Erin Austin and Anthony Comis) performs Finger Paint at the HERE Arts Center, 145 Sixth Ave.  The play, about a guy who relives the past courtesy of art on the walls of his soon-to-be-former apartment, happens at 8:15 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. Sunday, 10 p.m. Aug. 19, 3:15 p.m. Aug. 22 and 6 p.m. Aug. 25.

Sex and the Holy Land, a play about a young woman's journey of sexual and spiritual awakening in Israel, is by UM grad Melanie Zoey Weinstein.  It will be performed at Players Theatre, 115 MacDougal St., at 8:15 p.m. Saturday, 8:45 p.m. Monday, 10:30 p.m. Aug. 20, 5:15 p.m. Aug. 24 and 2 p.m. Aug. 28.

Tickets to Fringe shows are $15 ($10 for students and seniors 65 and older).  For more info, visit the festival's web site.

August 10, 2009

Great performances

I came back to work from vacation last Wednesday, and since then, I've seen three plays.  One, the Women's Theatre Project's world premiere of Terry Lawrence's Speaking Elephant (an imaginatively lovely work about a pair of aging Asian elephants being moved from a zoo to an animal sanctuary), I saw and reviewed.  The other two -- Mad Cat Theatre Company's Viva Bourgeois! and the English-language version of Area Stage's Tu ternura Molotov (Molotov Kisses) -- opened while I was away.  And though the Herald had already published reviews of them (well, of Viva and the Spanish version of Molotov), I didn't want to miss them.

And I'm glad to report that my weekend was filled with the pleasure of watching some great performances.

Erik PhotoI would have hated to miss Erik Fabregat channeling a Vegas-era Elvis in Viva Bourgeois!, Mad Cat artistic director Paul Tei's adaptation of Moliere's 1670 script Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (The Bourgeois Gentleman).  Though the entertaining production occasionally feels like a not-quite-finished melding of Moliere and Graceland circa 1971 (I think Tei could have gone farther in transforming the original), Fabregat gives the audience more Elvis than most accomplished Elvis impersonators.  Musically, vocally, physically, he's Elvis reincarnated, and hearing Moliere's words spoken by the King is something not to be missed.  Viva Bourgeois is at the Light Box, 3000 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, throughh Aug. 22.  Shows are 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; tickets are $30 Friday-Saturday, $25 Thursday ($10 for students).  Call 305-576-6377 or visit the Mad Cat web site before Elvis leaves the building.

Kiss28_Ternura_Gal_Hmg Sunday evening, I caught Molotov Kisses, the English-language version of Ott's Tu ternura Molotov (the translation is by Ott's wife, Heather McKay). Carlos Orizondo (who originated the role of Palomo in the world premiere of Nilo Cruz's Pulitzer Prize-winning Anna in the Tropics at New Theatre) and actor-jazz singer Ivette Viñas have been performing the two-character play in Spanish for weeks, and their beautifully burnished performances -- comic, intense, mysterious -- are among the finest you can find on a South Florida stage.

The family behind Area Stage (artistic director/designer John Rodaz, producer Maria Banda-Rodaz and their talented multitasking kids Rachel and Giancarlo) is doing work with the high artistic standards that were a hallmark of Area during its 10-year run on Lincoln Road.  Relocated to the Riviera Theatre, 1560 S. Dixie Hwy. in Coral Gables, Area is impressing Spanish- and English-speaking audiences all over again with Molotov Kisses.  The play ends its run on Sunday, Aug. 16.  Performances are 8:15 p.m. Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday.  Tickets are $30 Saturday (or $50 for a pair), $25 Sunday ($40 for two).  Students get in for $10 when tickets remain.  Call 305-666-2078 or visit the web site for details.

August 06, 2009

Blasting into the new season at GableStage

Joseph Adler is in the thick of rehearsals for his end-of-summer production of David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow, a scorcher of a play about the movie industry.  It opens Aug. 15 at GableStage, with Carbonell Award winners Paul Tei and Gregg Weiner playing the battling movie execs, and Amy Elane Anderson as the wily temp who fuels a scathing dramatic smack down.  The play, which runs through Sept. 13, is likely to bring Adler's 2008-09 season to a combustible end. But it also sets the tone for the provocative artistic director's just-released 2009-10 lineup, which contains a sure-to-shock production of Sarah Kane's play Blasted. 

Ireland00_pretty_wknd_RJSAdler kicks off his new season Oct. 24-Nov. 22 with Neil LaBute's recent Tony Award-nominated Broadway play Reasons To Be Pretty.  The play starts in the middle of a scorching fight between a woman and her soon-to-be-ex (Marin Ireland and Thomas Sadoski, pictured, played the battling lovers on Broadway).  Seems the boyfriend admitted to a coworker that his girl wasn't exactly a stunner, and coworker's wife ratted him out.  The GableStage production of one of LaBute's best scripts will will star Todd Allen Durkin, Ricky Waugh and Erin Joy Schmidt.

Beau Willimon's 2008 Off-Broadway play Farragut North is next, running Dec. 26-Jan. 24.  It focuses on dirty tricks and bad behavior during a presidential primary race, as an on-the-rise press secretary makes the unfortunate decision to sleep with a teenage campaign worker.

Kane's Blasted, which one British critic called a "disgusting feast of filth" when it premiered in 1995 in London, later came to be appreciated as an intense if tough-to-take first play by the brilliant young woman who committed suicide at 28. (Reason To Be Pretty's Ireland also starred in the play's long-delayed New York premiere at Soho Rep in 2008.)  Set in a hotel room during a war, Blasted includes scenes of rape, masturbation, brutality, cannibalism and more -- tougher, in other words, than Kane's searing 4.48 Psychosis, which was produced in South Florida to great acclaim by the Naked Stage. Blasted runs Feb. 20-March 21.

Avi Hoffman stars in The Quarrel,a play by David Brandes and Joseph Telushkin running April 17-May 16.  Based on a Yiddish story by Chaim Grade, the play focuses on two Holocaust survivors and friends, an Orthodox rabbi and a Jewish poet who has lost his faith.

Stephen Karam's Speech and Debate, an Off-Broadway comedy about three Oregon teens who meet after one of their teachers gets involved in a scandal, runs June 12-July 11.  And next season's summer closer (Aug. 7-Sept. 5, 2010) will be Michael Weller's Fifty Words, another recent Off-Broadway play about a couple exploring the love-hate truths of their marriage on their first night alone since becoming parents.

GableStage makes its home in Coral Gables' Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave.  For information on Speed-the-Plow or the new season, call 305-445-1119 or visit the company's web site.