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12 posts from September 2009

September 25, 2009

'Sunday in the Park' at the Caldwell


South Florida's largest producers of musical theater -- Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables, the Broward Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs and the Maltz Jupiter Theater -- regularly tackle large-scale musicals, with all the production challenges and big budgets those shows require. With the theaters having to spend so much money and fill so many seats, it's not surprising that Broadway-branded popular fare is what turns up most often.

Clive Cholerton, the new artistic director at Boca Raton's Caldwell Theatre company, has another idea:  Give the audience a taste of a challenging musical in a concert format.  He'll test the concept with the concert presentation of Stephen Sondheim's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1984 musical Sunday in the Park With George, about pointillist Georges Seurat, his creating of the famous painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte and, a century later, the creative paralysis of Seurat's artist grandson.

The musical, Cholerton says, is his favorite one.  The planned Broadway concert series "...gives us the opportunity to beta test a show and gauge its auience acceptability for a larger production, and...it allows us to present material that would otherwise be beyond our production capabilities due to the cast side or production requirements."

Wayne LeGette will play both Seurat and the 20th century George.  Melissa Minyard, who appeared on Broadway and at Actors' Playhouse in Les Miserables, sings the role of Dot, Seurat's mistress.  Also in the cast are Elizabeth Dimon, Laura Turnbull, Jim Ballard and Bruce Linser, some of South Florida's most talented musical theater artists.

Performances of the concert version of Sunday in the Park With Georgeare at 8 p.m. Oct. 8-10, 2 p.m. Oct. 10-11 at the Caldwell, 7901 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton.  Tickets are $25 and $35.  For information, call 1-877-245-7432 or visit the Caldwell's web site.

September 24, 2009

'Sonia Flew' at FIU

Sonia Flew 038

Sonia Flew, a.k.a. the final show at the historic Coconut Grove Playhouse before it went into its three-plus-years-and-counting of hibernation, resurfaces tonight at 8 p.m. at Florida International University's Wertheim Performing Arts Center Main Stage.

Melinda Lopez's play is set in two worlds:  the comfortable adulthood of the grown Sonia, a successful public defender in Minneapolis who is shocked by her son's decision to join the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan; and the Cuba the younger Sonia knew when she was sent alone to America on a Pedro Pan flight.

Kat Mareno and Danny Knieves play the younger Sonia and her father Orfeo in the play, which runs Thursday-Saturday and Oct. 1-3 at 8 p.m., Sunday and Oct. 2 at 2 p.m.  Tickets are $12 ($10 for senior citizens and FIU faculty, staff, alumni and students). The Wertheim Center is located at 10910 SW 17th St. in Miami.  Call 305-348-0496 or visit the FIU web site for information.

September 23, 2009

Barry honors McKeever


South Florida playwright Michael McKeever has an ever-growing, eclectic body of work, one that has helped him become one of the region's most successful dramatists.  Last season at Boca Raton's Caldwell Theatre company, his play Dangerous, set in Germany as the Nazis were ascending to power, put a fresh spin on the sexual intrigues of Les Liaisons Dangereuses.  In May, his play Unreasonable Doubt, about a man seeking revenge for his daughter's murder, has its world premiere at Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables.

Those are full-length scripts, but McKeever is just as adept at crafting short plays.  And the week before he writes another one for this year's 24-Hour Theatre Project on Oct. 12, Barry University's Department of Fine Arts will honor the writer and his short works in "An Evening With Michael McKeever."

Lela Elam, Amy London, John Manzelli, Chaz Mena, Hugh Murphy and David Perez-Ribada will read some of his short plays and debut a new one titled Lost.

A three-time Carbonell Award winner andthree-time finalist for the Heideman Award for short plays at Louisville's Humana Festival of New American Plays, McKeever says, "I'm completely honored and humbled to be given an evening like this, and to be working with people who I not only love but respect."

The event takes place at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5 in the Gato Gallery on Barry's campus at 11300 NE Second Ave., Miami Shores.  Admission is free.  For more info, contact Manzelli at 305-899-3291 or email him at jmanzelli@mail.barry.edu

September 21, 2009

A little (more) free theater

Free night of theater

Touted as part of the South Florida Theatre Festival Oct. 12-26, the national Free Night of Theater is a terrific idea:  Give folks who may have never tried your theater (or, just maybe, have never tried any theater) free tickets, hoping they'll like what they experience and want to come back.

Sponsored by the Theatre Communications Group, this year's fifth edition of the Free Night of Theater actually runs Oct. 15-Oct. 31.  It's up to the more than 700 theaters around the country to decide which nights -- and for how many nights -- they want to offer free tickets.

The event's web site is up and running, and as of Tuesday, he South Florida page is growing -- overnight, listings for Florida Stage and the Women's Theatre Project were added, and Actors' Playhouse should be on there later today.  Maybe more to come.

What's definite so far is that you can get tickets to Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House at Palm Beach Dramaworks at 7 p.m. Oct. 25; tickets to the Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre production of Pippin at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 18 and Oct. 23, 2 p.m. Oct. 18 and Oct. 24; tickets to Neil LaBute's Reasons To Be Pretty at GableStage at 8 p.m. Oct. 23 and Oct. 29; tickets to Florida Stage's Two Jews Walk Into a War at 8 p.m. Oct. 20; and tickets to the Women's Theatre Project's Naked Women Fully Clothed at 8 p.m. Oct. 22 and Oct. 24, and 2 p.m. Oct. 25.  Actors' Playhouse plans to offer tickets to The Marvelous Wonderettes Oct. 15-18.

Know this, though:  Demand is sure to be steep, and though some theaters are giving away lots of free tickets (100 at Florida Stage, for instance), others are not (16 total at Actors' Playhouse). You can start trying to get them at 4 p.m. Oct. 1 on the Free Night of Theater web site.

September 17, 2009

McCraney wins again

TarellMcCraney_IMG_9761Tarell Alvin McCraney, the Miamian whose young play-writing career has been widely celebrated on both sides of the Atlantic, has just become one of three inaugural recipients of the Steinberg Playwright Awards.  The international writer in residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company, he's being honored as a playwright whose works show great promise, something also recognized by the New York Times when it named McCraney winner of its first Outstanding Playwright Award last spring.

The Steinberg Award, which also goes to playwrights David Adjmi and Bruce Norris, bestows total cash prizes of $100,000.  McCraney and Adjmi will receive $25,000 each, with the rest going to Norris.  The awards to early-career playwrights will alternate every year with the $250,000 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, which last year went to Angels in Americaauthor Tony Kushner, who announced this years winners today.

McCraney and his fellow winners will receive their prizes and the "Mimi," a statue designed by Tony-nominated set designer David Rockwell, on Oct. 26 at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theatre.  The ceremony comes during the Oct. 21-Dec. 13 run of McCraney's Brother/Sister Plays -- In the Red and Brown Water, The Brothers Size and Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet -- at New York's Public Theater.

Congrats -- again -- to a writer whose increasingly famous work has yet to be seen in his hometown.

September 15, 2009

Lingering "Doubt"

Postcard doubt The Jewish Cultural Arts Theatre at North Miami Beach's Michael Ann Russell Jewish Community Center just closed its production of John Patrick Shanley's Pulitzer Prize-winning Doubt on Sunday.  But if you weren't able to catch that group's production, don't despair.  Doubt will soon open at another community theater.

The Main Street Players in Miami Lakes are in rehearsal for their own production of Shanley's play about the war of words between a priest and the nun who suspects him of molesting a boy at a Bronx parochial school.  Daniel Landon is directing Jerry Jensen, Donna Wood, Deanne Saavedra and Sope Aluko in the intense drama, which raises even more questions than it answers.

The show goes on from Sept. 25 to Oct. 11 at the Main Street Playhouse, 6766 Main St. in Miami Lakes.  Performances are 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday, with an extra show at 8 p.m. Oct. 8, and talk backs follow some performances.

Tickets are $20 ($15 for students and seniors).  Call 305-558-3737 or visit the Main Street Players web site.

September 14, 2009

Theater gets festive

The Theatre League of South Florida -- or TLSF, as the group is now branding itself -- is gearing up for the fourth annual South Florida Theatre Festival, which kicks off with dual events Oct. 12 and runs through Oct. 26.  Performances, parties, a luncheon and the Silver Palm Awards ceremony are on the bill, along with local participation in the national Free Night of Theater event.

First up, both on Oct. 12, are the Naked Stage's annual 24-Hour Theatre Project, this year in the large downstairs theater at Actors' Playhouse, with a public performance of hot-from-the-laptop short plays at 8 p.m; and Florida Stage's reading of The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later at 7 p.m.

Free night of theater On Oct. 15, a number of area theaters -- including Actors' Playhouse, Florida Stage, GableStage, New Theatre, Palm Beach Dramaworks, the Women's Theatre Project, the Fort Lauderdale Children's Theatre and the Miami Children's Theatre -- join with more than 450 theaters around the country to offer some free theater tickets to their shows.  The Free Night of Theater event, sponsored by the Theatre Communications Group, is still getting its full web info up and running, so check back for details. 

Miami ARTzine holds its fourth anniversary party from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Oct. 19 at Museo Vault in Miami's Wynwood Arts District, and TLSF members get $5 off the $20 admission price.  On Oct. 24 at noon at the Miami Shores Country Club, the South Florida International Press Club is honoring TV personality Cristina Saralegui, Barry University president Sister Linda Bevilaqua, philanthropist Candi Casino and a trio of arts leaders: TSLF president Meredith Lasher, Miami-Dade  Department of Cultural Affairs director Michael Spring and Broward Cultural Division director Mary Becht.  The $65 luncheon charge funds scholarships for future journalists; call Andy Alpers at 305-596-4228 for reservations.

The 2009 festival ends with a closing-night party Oct. 26 from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. at Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale.  A $20 admission charge (free for TLSF members) gets you food, drink and a chance to watch as the Silver Palm Awards honoring excellence in South Florida theater are presented.  Call TLSF at 954-557-0778 for more information.

September 11, 2009

Conundrum gets its talent on

LightsUpShowFlyer1 In the tradition of America's Got Talent (well, almost any talent showcase you could name), Conundrum Stages is departing from its usual program of staged readings to offer a free evening spotlighting an array of South Florida talent.

Lights Up!will feature performances by dancers, singers, actors, spoken word artists and a comedian.  On the bill are dancer Afua Hall, the Dancerity Performance Company and hip-hop crew  No Turning Back; spoken word performers Summer Hill Seven, Alexis Caputo and The Chaos Theory; singers John Lariviere, Crystal Renae, Kristen Dawn McCorkell and violinist Erin David; comedian Daleena Segui; actors Don Crinklaw, Elizabeth Perry and Kirsten Upchurch; and a number from the Florida International University production of Reefer Madness.

All that free entertainment unfolds at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Collins Community Center, 3900 NE Third Ave., Oakland Park.  For info, call 954-630-4500 or E-mail conundrumstages@yahoo.com.

September 10, 2009

A new company takes off

Composition Notebook - An evening of original short plays Fly Away Balloon Theatre Company -- a group whose name was inspired by a line in The Wizard of Oz -- is a collection of actors, directors and playwrights (some do all three things) who have decided to showcase their original work.  The result is Composition Notebook, an evening of short plays written by the company's members.

The show begins at 8 p.m. Friday and runs through Sept. 20 with performances at 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday and a special Industry Night show at 8 p.m. this Monday.

The artists involved are Susanna Brunner, Troy Davidson, Casey Dressler, Kally Khourshid, Miriam Kulick, Jordan Papriarca, Joe Smith and Wendy White.

See what's in the notebook at the Laboratory Theatre at The Acting School of South Florida, 2640 Hollywood Blvd., #212, Hollywood.  Suggested donation is $15 ($8 students and seniors), $10 for Industry Night.  For information and reservations, call 305-879-7282.

September 09, 2009

Coming out to Mom

MotherSON Jeffrey Solomon once had the "talk" with his mom, and he turned it into art. The conversation wasn't about sex, though; think sexual orientation.

Solomon plays both a guy like himself and a gal like his Jewish mother in Mother/SON, a solo show running Thursday through Sunday at the Museum of Art auditorium in Fort Lauderdale.

The actor-writer's funny, moving and award-winning show examines the fear, honesty and eventual acceptance in the mother-son relationship.

Says Solomon:  "After convincing my mother I wasn't joking, she wept, smiled and remarked that maybe it wasn't so bad because Liberace was gay and he let his elderly mother live with him in his mansion.I think the most important thing I learned from my mother is that real gay pride is having the guts to start a conversation even when it's scary or uncomfortable for you."

A co-production of the Broward Center and Inside Out Theatre, Mother/SONwill be performed at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.  Tickets are $30, and the theater is located at 1 E. Las Olas Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale.  For information, call 954-462-0222 or visit the Broward Center's web site.