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14 posts from March 2010

March 31, 2010

A double dose of shows from Neil Berg

Schenkkan-Berg-Bohmer Showman and composer-lyricist Neil Berg will be one busy guy over the next 10 days, as he's opening not one but two productions in Fort Lauderdale.

The more ambitious venture, the world premiere of a rock-style musical titled The 12, has its one-night-only debut at 8 p.m. Thursday in the larger Au-Rene Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale.  Berg (at center in the photo) wrote the music and lyrics, and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan (The Kentucky Cycle author is pictured at left) crafted the book and additional lyrics to piece that is described as beginning "where Jesus Christ Superstar left off."

The 12tells the story of the apostles after Jesus' death.  Broadway veterans in the cast include Ron Bohmer (at right in photo), Jeremy Kushnier and Lawrence Clayton.  Each apostle has his own classic rock style, and among the performers in the concert-style premiere are former Anthrax guitarist Dan Spitz and singer Sophia Ramos, who plays Mary Magdelene.

Tickets for The 12are $25 to $55 and are available by calling 954-462-0222 or visiting the Broward Center's web site.

Ten days later, Berg and a Broadway-experienced cast take the stage at the Parker Playhouse, 701 NE Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale, for two performances of Neil Berg's 101 Years of Broadway.  The show roams through Broadway hits from such really diverse composers as Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Billy Joel, Leonard Bernstein, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jersey Boys' Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio.  The show's featured performers are Carter Calvert, Rita Harvey, Ted L. Levy, Brad Little and Craig Schulman.

Performances of 101 Years of Broadway are at 2 and 8 p.m. April 10. Tickets are $34 to $49.  Call the Broward Center box office (which handles Parker tickets) at 964-462-0222 or visit the Parker web site.

March 30, 2010

'Mamma Mia!' -- here it comes again

MMPhotoFifteenSmall Some Broadway musicals -- Phantom of the Opera or Les Misérables or Wicked, for example -- are so popular that they can return again and again to the same market, powered by an enduring appeal that can apparently sell an endless number of tickets.  Mamma Mia!, which opens at 8 tonight at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, is in a class of its own as a Bedazzled box office behemoth. But not so much for me.

Now, I love ABBA songs as much as the next person.  I remember when the Swedish pop group, newly inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, first recorded them.  I loved them in Muriel's Wedding.  Heck, I even love them in Mamma Mia!.  I defy anyone to sit absolutely still in a theater seat when the cast sings Dancing Queen.  But that plot.  Spare me.  Watching a trio of middle-aged "girls" cavort around an idyllic Greek island (is there any other kind, even with Greece's financial crisis?) as an about-to-be-wed daughter tries to figure out which of three strange guys was her daddy struck me as silly-absurd-stupid the first time I saw Mamma Mia!.  And I've seen the show at least four times.  Five if you count the movie musical version.

The fact that the film has grossed more than $600 million and is the most successful movie musical of all time proves I'm in a tiny minority when it comes to resisting Mamma Mia!.  So if watching actors in an escapist romantic musical sing and dance to ABBA tunes is your thing, here's what you need to know about seeing Mamma Mia! at the Arsht:  It runs through Suunday, with performances at 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.  Tickets run $25 to $75. It's playing in the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. For tickets or more info, call 305-949-6722 or visit the web site.

March 29, 2010

Florida Stage picks its next season

Lou & nan Florida Stage has just launched the world premiere of the nostalgic Dr. Radio, but producing director Louis Tyrrell and managing director Nancy Barnett are already looking forward to next season, their first in the company's new digs at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach.

Officially, Florida Stage's first show in the Kravis' Rinker Playhouse will be Low Down Dirty Blues, a Randal Myler-Dan Wheetman musical incorporating the innuendo-laced songs of blues legends.  It runs July 15-Sept. 5, inaugurating earlier start times for the company's shows -- 7:30 p.m. for evening performances, 1:30 p.m. for matinees. 

The company's just-announced 2010-2011 season contains three world premieres and a southern premiere, with three of the four shows coming from Florida Stage's recent 1st Stage New Works festival.  Andrew Rosendorf's Cane, the first piece in a company-commissioned group of plays titled "The Florida Cycle," opens the season Oct. 27-Nov. 28.  In it, the theater says, "the past and present are deeply connected in a story of betrayal and bloodshed, water and wind, family and fortune."

Next up, running Dec. 15-Jan. 16, is Karen Hartman's Goldie, Max & Milk, a warmly funny play about a single lesbian mom and her Orthodox Jewish lactation consultant. Michael Hollinger's Ghost-Writer, a play about a novelist whose secretary completes his masterwork after tragedy strikes, gets its southern premiere March 2-April 3, 2011.  Next season winds up May 4-June 5, 2011, with Carter W. Lewis' The Cha-Cha of a Camel Spider, a dark comedy about a young poet, two mercenary soldiers and an Afghani taxi driver who happens to love the music of Led Zeppelin.

For info on Florida Stage's upcoming shows, call 1-800-514-3837 or visit the company's web site.

March 27, 2010

A free and reimagined 'Othello'

SoBe Arts' production of Twelfth Night continues on Miami Beach through next weekend, but at least for tonight, there will be two productions of William Shakespeare's plays in the neighborhood.

Othello Press Photo1 Ground Up & Rising, an ambitious young bi-coastal troupe (it operates in South Florida and Los Angeles), is bringing its new production of Othello to Miami Beach's Flamingo Park tonight at 8 -- and admission is free.

Reiss Gaspard has the title role in the play, which is set in a primal, post-apocalyptic Venice.  Also in the cast are Arnaldo Carmouze, Jennifer Lorenzo, David Gallegos, Claudio Pinto, Rachel Chin, George Schiavone and Heather Gallagher.  Ground Up artistic director Arturo Fernandez has staged the production, which he hopes to bring back as part of a still-developing season at a yet-to-be chosen theater space.  Wherever the now-homeless troupe lands, Fernandez is hoping for the kind of intimate black-box space that first connected the edgy, peripatetic Ground Up with diverse audiences.

Flamingo Park is located at 13th Street and Meridian Avenue on Miami Beach.  For more info, check the company's web site.

March 25, 2010

A busy World Theatre Day

Saturday is World Theatre Day -- did you know that? -- and though South Florida doesn't have an array of offerings specifically tied to that celebration, two one-time events (a conference and a play) reflect the day's international theme.

Poster-Teatro-cubano_v5[1] At the University of Miami, a conference titled Protagonistas de los 60brings together Cuba's most important living playwrights from the 1960s.  Videostreamed live and subtitled Caminos, esplendor y obstáculos del teatro cubano, the conference (which takes place in Spanish) features appearances by Havana-based Eduardo Arrocha, Antón Arrufat, Abelardo Estorino and Jesús Ruiz; Eduardo Manet, who lives in Paris; Matías Montes Huidobro, who lives in Miami; and Rafael Mirabal, who makes his home in West Palm Beach.

The conference begins at 9:30 a.m. Saturday with a session on the collaboration of theater designers and theater artists in the '60s.  Panels in the afternoon will examine the achievements and obstacles faced by the decade's playwrights.  Both sessions will be video streamed live; for instructions, click here.  The conference takes place in the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavillion at the Otto G. Richter Library, 1300 Memorial Dr., Coral Gables. Seating is limited. E-mail d.perezementeria@umiami.edu for information.

(Poster by Anna Veltfort)


Jamaica Also on Saturday, actor-playwright Debra Ehrhardt brings her solo show Jamaica, Farewell to the Miramar Cultural Center at 8 p.m.  Ehrhardt's third autobiographical solo show (the first two were Mango, Mango and Invisible Chairs) tells the story of her flight from Jamaica in the 1970s -- something that happened, she says, with the unwitting help of an infatuated CIA agent.

Tickets to Jamaica, Farewellare $32 and $37.  The Miramar Cultural Center is located at 2400 Civic Center Pl., Miramar.  For information, call 954-602-4500 or visit the venue's web site.  Get more information on the show at its web site

March 24, 2010

New season, future stars

Vices00_body_wknd_CTCBoca Raton's Caldwell Theatre Company, which will open its production of Lisa Loomer's Distracted(a stinging comedy about a family coping with a kid who may or may not have ADHD) in April, has just announced three of the four shows in its 2010-2011 season -- including the return of a Carbonell Award-nominated hit and two hot titles.

Vices: A Love Story, a sizzling dance-theater-music piece that earned the company eight nominations in next month's Carbonell  competition (including best musical), will return to start the season Nov. 7-Dec. 12.  Artistic director Clive Cholerton says many Caldwell regulars who missed the show when it was presented in the summer of 2009 told him they wished they'd seen it. Wish granted.

Becky Shawby Pulitzer Prize finalist Gina Gionfriddo (who's on the writing staff of Law & Order) plays the Caldwell Jan. 2-Feb. 6.  The comedy (inspired by the Becky Sharp character in William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair)is about a quintessential bad date that is followed by unpredictable twists.  A still-to-be-chosen play will run Feb. 20-March 27, then comes Sarah Ruhl's In the Next Room (or the vibrator play), a smart play about a remedy for sexually unfulfilled women in the late 1800s.  It runs April 10-May 15, and though I'm totally guessing here, I wouldn't be surprised if Ruhl (a MacArthur "genius" grant winner) and the play somehow figure into this year's announcement of the Pulitzer Prize for drama.

Subscriptions to the new Caldwell season are $70 to $260 (individual tickets won't go on sale until Aug. 9).  The theater is located at 7901 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton. Call 1-877-245-7432 or visit the Caldwell's web site for information.


Threepenny_051Catch tomorrow's stars tonight when the New World School of the Arts (NWSA) presents its Rising Stars Showcase at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.  Students in the school's music, dance and theater divisions will perform on the stage at the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., beginning at 7:30 p.m.

Theater highlights include excerpts from Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's The Threepenny Opera, something from How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and a piece from a santería-style Midsummer Night's Dream.

Dance offerings include an all-male troupe performing Remembrances, choreographed by faculty member Peter London; Passengers,choreographed by Gerard Ebit, and an excerpt from The Apple Tree, choreographed by Joseé Garant.

The NWSA Symphony Orchestra and concert choir will perform the Easter Hymn from Cavalleria Rusticana.  NWSA's Jazz Ensemble, featuring trumpeter Gilbert Paz, will perform the Latin-style The Eighth Veil.

Miami-based painter Hernan Bas will be honored with the Rising Stars Alumnus of the Year Award.

Tickets to the showcase are $15 to $65.  Call the Arsht's box office at 305-949-6722 or visit the center's web site.


March 19, 2010

Monday is busy

If you're looking ahead to next week and you love theater, you're in luck.  Not one but two tantalizing events are happening on Monday, theater's normally "dark" night.

Living newspaper At GableStage, the new State Theatre Project presents the second edition of An Evening of Living Newspaper.  Matthew Merrell, Ashley Olberding, Andrew Rosendorf, Gladys Ramirez and David Sirois (who is, just now, giving a sizzling performance in the Alliance Theatre Lab's production of Orphans) have all written new short plays on timely themes -- subjects, as the company puts it, "ripped from the headlines."

Monday's performers are Troy Davidson, Mark Della Ventura, Betsy Graver (she's in GableStage's intense Blasted), Jackie Rivera, artistic director David Hemphill (catch him in Equus at New Theatre) and playwright Ramirez.  The show goes on at 8 p.m. at GableStage in the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables.

Admission to the fund-raising event is a suggested $15 donation ($5 for students).  For more info, call the GableStage box office at 305-445-1119 or visit the its web site


Dead Man Poster JPG On Barry University's campus in Miami Shores, Monday brings a staged reading of actor Tim Robbins' play Dead Man Walking.  A really fine cast of South Florida actors, Barry faculty members and students will read the play, which is  based on the work of Sister Helen Prejean, a nun who became an outspoken opponent of the death penalty.

John Manzelli plays condemned man Matthew Poncelet, and Barbara Sloan reads the role of Helen Prejean.  Also appearing are Antonio Amadeo, Steven Chambers, Ken Clement, Merry Jo Cortada, Patti Gardner, Chaz Mena, Elena Maria Garcia, Miki Edelman, Lyn Foley and Kevin Reilley.

The reading takes place at 7 p.m. at Barry's Cor Jesu Chapel on the campus at 11300 NE Second Ave.  Admission is free.

March 18, 2010

Fundraiser laughs, plus drama onstage and off

Elena Garcia City Theatre is holding one funny fundraiser this Saturday.  Two of its frequent Summer Shortsstars, Elena Maria Garcia (six festivals) and Stephen Trovillion (a dozen festivals), will team in Shorts Unplugged: The Best of the Fest, an event to benefit the group's 15th annual festival to be held in June at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

SteveTrovillion, who teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, is taking a quick working weekend to perform Paul Rudnick's Pride & Joy (in which he play a chic Jewish mom whose grown kids specialize in making her anxious), Christopher Durang's DMV Tyrant, Rich Orloff's Matterhorn and Joshua James' The Race (Garcia stars with him in the latter three).

Tickets are $100 each, and the event -- a 7 p.m. reception and an 8 p.m. performance -- happens at the Key Biscayne Community Center, 10 Village Green Way, Key Biscayne.  Call 305-755-9401, ext. 12, or visit City Theatre's web site.


Getting OutTonight at 8, Broward College opens its production of Getting Out, the play that marked future Pulitzer Prize winner Marsha Norman as a writer to watch. Shelby Steel and Pamela Della Bella play the same character at different ages.  Arlene has just been paroled after serving an eight-year sentence for manslaughter; Arlie is her hate-filled, rebellious younger self.  The intense drama, which contains strong language and adult themes, shows the tug-of-war between what was and what could be.

Faculty member Jett Canary directs the production, which happens through March 28 at the BC Central Campus, Bldg. 6, Second Floor, 3501 Davie Rd. in Davie. Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday.  Tickets are $10 ($5 for BC students, faculty, staff and for seniors).  Call 954-201-6884 for info.


Gordon McConnell, a Carbonell Award winner and one of South Florida's finest actors, is stepping into the Caldwell Theatre Company's current production of The Old Man and the Sea.  Actor David Pendleton, who was starring as the aged Cuban fisherman in Eric Ting and Craig Siebels' stage version of Ernest Hemingway's Pulitzer Prize-winning novella, had surgery after suffering a blood clot in his brain and remains in intensive care.  McConnell will complete the run of the show, which has performances at 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday-Sunday, through March 28.  Tickets are $34-$55 ($10 for students), and the Caldwell is located at 7901 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton.  For information, call 1-877-245-7432 or visit the Caldwell's web site.

March 15, 2010

A swap and a workshop

ShinnThe next show at Plantation's Mosaic Theatre was supposed to be the farce Boeing Boeing, the1960 farce by French playwright Marc Camoletti that was revived on Broadway with great success in 2008.  Instead, artistic director Richard Jay Simon will stage another play that has long interested him, Christopher Shinn's Dying City.

Simon, who explains that he postponed Boeing Boeing because he was having trouble casting it, has already found his actors for Shinn's play.  Erin Joy Schmidt will play a therapist whose husband has died in Iraq.  Ricky Waugh will play her brother-in-law -- the husband's identical twin -- in the thriller that was a finalist for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for drama.

Dying City runs April 15-May 9, with performances at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday.  Tickets are $37 ($31 for seniors 65 and older,$15 for students). Mosaic is at 12200 W. Broward Blvd. in the American Heritage Center for the Arts. Call 954-577-8243 or visit Mosaic's web site.


Heights The cast members from Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony Award-winning In the Heightsare, necessarily, great dancers who know how to do the salsa, merengue and much, much more. They're giving back to dance-crazy South Florida in the form of a free dance workshop on Wednesday at 5 p.m.

The actors will teach some of the show's Tony-winning choreography in a session in the New River Room at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale.  Though the workshop is free, it's limited to 75 participants, and you need to reserve a place by calling the Broward Center box office at 954-462-0222.  In the Heightsopens Tuesday at the center, where it runs through March 28. Visit the Broward Center web site for more info.

March 12, 2010

A musical, a play, a reading

Guys & dollsSeventy young gals and guys hit the stage tonight at 8 when the Roxy Theatre Group begins its three-weekend run of the Broadway classic Guys and Dolls. Gabriel Bonilla, 19, plays Skye Masterson to 16-year-old Stephanie Volero's Sarah Brown in Frank Loesser's lively, tuneful show, based on New York characters from the imagination of Damon Runyon.

Students from 10 to 22 star in the show, which features accompaniment by the Greater Miami Youth Symphony.  The show runs through March 28 at the Roxy Performing Arts Center, 1645 SW 107th Ave., Miami.  Tickets are $20 (tonight's gala, which includes an after-party and benefits Roxy's scholarship fund, costs $50).  Regular performances are 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday (final Sunday show is at 3 p.m.).  Call 305-226-0030 or visit the Roxy web site for info.


FrannieFormer stand-up comic Frannie Sheridan brings her solo show -- Confessions of a Jewish Shiksa: Dancing on Hitler's Grave! -- to Miami Beach's Colony Theater for two performances this weekend.  Sheridan's parents, both Holocaust survivors, escaped to Canada and, after an anti-Semitic attack, converted to Catholicism.  Years later, Sheridan discovered the truth about her heritage, a truth she explores in the show.

Performances are 8 p.m. Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday at the Colony, 1040 Lincoln Rd.; call 305-674-1040 for information. Tickets are $25, available at the box office or via Ticketmaster.


Check out a free reading of Bag of Stones, a play written and directed by Richard Janaro, on Monday at 7:30 p.m. at GableStage.  The plot is sizzling (and, in South Florida, familiar-sounding):  A Catholic priest continues to have a relationship with his high school girlfriend, who is now grown up and married.  Nick Duckart, Scott Genn, Betsy Graver, David Hemphill, David Kwiat and Harriet Oser are in the cast. GableStage is in the Biltmore Hotel at 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables. Call the box office at 305-445-1119 or visit the theater's web site for info.