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14 posts from April 2010

April 30, 2010

It's Greek to Woody

Woody Allen Smart comedy comes naturally to Woody Allen, so expect thought-provoking laughs from God, the Allen play being staged by Broward College's theater department this weekend.

Two ancient Greeks -- Diabetes and Hepatitis -- are trying to cook up an ending for their new play.  Help arrives in the form of characters from many eras and places, some of whom have links to present-day South Florida.

Performances are at 8 tonight, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Fine Arts Theater on BC's Central Campus, 3501 Davie Rd., Bldg. 6, in Davie.  Tickets are just $8 (and only $4 for BC students, faculty and staff).  Call 954-201-6884 for info.

April 29, 2010

Last chance 'Dance' (?)

Riverdance-credit JackHartinRiverdance, that Irish dance-song-storytelling phenom, first hit the stage in Dublin in 1995, and its mega-successful hoofing has been going on ever since.

The show came to our shores in 1996, and it has been through South Florida plenty of times.  But this weekend the show's Farewell Tour brings it to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts for the absolutely positively last time,  (Or so the promoters say: Some performers build the twilight of their careers around repeated "farewell" tours.)

Whatever its future, the stats on Riverdance to date are impressive.  The show has played more than 10,000 performances to over 22 million people in 40 countries. More than 2 billion have caught the show on TV, and over 10 million copies of its video have been sold.  More numbers?  Riverdance has employed 1,500 Irish dancers, and 35 marriages have come from the costarring gigs.

If you're a Riverdance geek or have somehow managed to thus far avoid its charms, you have five chances to see it this weekend.  Performances are 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday and 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday at the Broward Center, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale.  Tickets are $55 to $75.  For info, call 954-462-0222 or visit the Broward Center site.

April 28, 2010

Flagler returns

0209302131 Henry M. Flagler, the developer-mogul who helped transform Florida, has been gone since 1913, dying after a fall down marble stairs at his Palm Beach estate.  But for one night -- Thursday at 6:30 p.m. -- "Flagler" returns, thanks to actor-playwright Paul J. Jellinek.

Jellinek's solo show, co-authored with Jill Kamp Melton, is titled Wild Dreams: Discovering Henry M. Flagler.  The actor-author portrays Flagler and talks about the fortune the tycoon made with John D. Rockefeller in Standard Oil, his development of the Florida East Coast Railway, the development of Palm Beach and Miami, Flagler's three marriages and more.

The show takes place at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, 2000 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach.  Tickets are $15 ($10 for seniors, students and Garden members).  Call 305-673-7256 for info.

April 26, 2010

PlayGround gets a grant

Orangeshomepage The Miami Shores-based PlayGround Theatre has just snagged a National Endowment for the Arts grant under the NEA's Access to Artistic Excellence program.  The $15,000 grant will help artistic director Stephanie Ansin and All Children Together inclusion specialist Lee Morgenstern continue their partnership withVSA Arts of Florida to enhance the experiences of disabled kids and adults who attend PlayGround shows.  The grant will help the theater expand its use of live audio description, sign language interpreters, open captioning, wheelchair-accessible transportation and touch tours of the theater.

One of two Florida companies receiving the NEA grant (Teatro Avante is the other), PlayGround will present two "shadow-interpreted" performance of its current show, The Love of Three Oranges , May 20-21.  American Sign Language interpreters will shadow the speaking actors during the performance, mirroring their actions and communicating the dialogue.

PlayGround is at 9806 NE Second Ave., Miami Shores.  For information, phone 305-751-9550 or visit the company's web site.

April 22, 2010

Short stuff

Here's a mixed-bag theater nosh, just before a monster theater weekend in which six -- yes, six -- shows are opening Friday and Saturday.  (Those would be The Quarrel at GableStage, Raised in Captivity at New Theatre, Going To See the Elephant at The Women's Theatre Project, The Sum of Us at Rising Action Theatre, Suds at the Broward Stage Door Theatre and Three Tall Women at Palm Beach Dramaworks,)  Whew!

Tarell McCraney*  Tarell Alvin McCraney, one of the two hottest playwrights to come out of Miami (Nilo Cruz being the other, of course), has just become a member of Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company Ensemble.  McCraney acted in the Tina Landau-directed Theatrical Essays at Steppenwolf when he was doing his undergrad work at DePaul University, and his Brother/Sister Plays trilogy is playing at Steppenwolf through May 23.  The company has commissioned him to write a new play based on the biblical book of Job.

Cabaret_CL_5493 copy *  Opera/musical theater students at Miami Dade College's Wolfson Campus are beckoning one and all to come to their Cabaretthis weekend.  Performances are at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in MDC's Chapman Conference Center, 300 NE Second Ave., Miami.  Tickets are just $10 (only $5 for students, faculty and staff).  Call 305-237-7331 for info.

The Kosher Cheerleader, titled The Cheerleader and the Rabbi when it played the Hollywood Playhouse in 2008, has been retooled and redesigned for its current run at Fort Lauderdale's Parker Playhouse. Engaging, funny author and star Sandy Wolshin recounts her unusual journey from L.A. Raiders cheerleader to modern Orthodox Kosher Cheerleader -TeamJudaism but still proves she can cartwheel with the best of 'em.  Arnold Mittelman, former producing artistic director at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, directed the new production and is presenting it under the dual umbrella of his two companies, the American Theater Festival and the National Jewish Theater. Tickets are $19-$45, and remaining performances are at 2 and 8 p.m. today, 8:15 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Call the box office at 954-462-0222 for info.

*  If you're free Monday, check out the free reading of Tony Finstrom's After Dark (described as All About Eve meetsThe Devil Wears Prada) at GableStage in the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables.  Show time is 7:30 p.m., and Stuart Meltzer directs a cast that includes Iris Acker, Jeffrey Bruce, Todd Bruno, David Hemphill, Miriam Kulick, Michael McKeever and Andy Rogow.  A discussion with Finstrom and the actors follows the reading.

April 20, 2010

Arsht taps 'Camp,' 'Dogs' and 'Aluminum' for summer

Tdscaffold Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is continuing its tradition of hot fun in the summertime with a trio of just-announced productions -- not to mention the return of City Theatre's Summer Shorts (the festival turns 15 this summer) and the 25th anniversary edition of the International Hispanic Theatre Festival.

Summer Shorts kicks off the June-through-August lineup in the Carnival Studio Theater June 3-17 with its Signature Shorts program, adding the late-night adults-only undershorts June 4-26.  In the company this year are Shorts veterans Stephen Trovillion, Elena Maria Garcia, Laura Turnbull, Erin Joy Schmidt, Chaz Mena and David Hemphill, along with Scott Genn and Breeza Zeller.

 The world premiere musical Camp Kappawanna, with a score by Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb and a script by Miami playwright Marco Ramirez (who's now on the writing staff of FX's Sons of Anarchy), debuts in the Carnival Studio Theater June 17-27.  The show, a coproduction of City Theatre and the Arsht Center, is about a 12-year-old girl leaving home for the first time to go to summer camp.

Next up in the Arsht's summer lineup is Tap Dogs, the Australian show in which dancing construction worker hunks build their set as they dance up a storm.  The show, which plays the John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall June 30-July 10, has been in South Florida before (at the Parker Playhouse in 1997, at the Jackie Gleason Theater in '99), but it's the kind of visual theater the Arsht likes to program for its multilingual audiences.

The International Hispanic Theatre Festival takes over the Carnival Studio Theater July 7-Aug. 1, with the focus this year a tribute to the theater of Mexico.

Aluminium_93_small The Aluminum Show, a multidisciplinary extravaganza that originated in Israel and has a European sensibility, takes over the Ziff Ballet Opera House stage July 14-Aug. 8, after a four-week developmental residency at the Arsht.  The intent, says Executive Vice-President Scott Shiller, is to work with the creators to re-scale the show so that it can tour after that and have greater appeal to American audiences.  The piece involves special effects, jazz, dance, puppetry, acrobatics, performers and, yes, aluminum.

The Arsht is also offering a one-day deal on summer season tickets.  On May 8, you can get two-for-one tickets to select performances of all the summer season shows -- the deal applies to phone, on-line or in-person sales, but there are no ticket fees if you buy at the box office.

Regular tickets go on sales to Arsht Center members April 26, to the public May 2.  Individual tickets range from $25 for Camp Kappawanna to $55 for The Aluminum Show. For more info, call the box office at 305-949-6722 or visit the Arsht Center site.

April 15, 2010

A not-so-hot flash

WT 2010 panties scene On the dancing heels of Mamma Mia! comes another show that I've seen enough to last a lifetime.  (Two times? Three? Whatever, don't need to live through Menopause again.)

No offense to the cast (which includes until-recent South Floridian Stacy Schwartz), the producers (Kathi and Alan Glist, and their pals Sandra and Kenneth Greenblatt of the South Florida-based GFour Productions) or creator Jeanie Linders (she's from Orlando).  Watching Menopause The Musical can be a funny experience for women of a certain age -- what's more riotous than night sweats and mood swings? -- but once is plenty.  The show remains a huge hit, one that has been running for five years at Las Vegas' Luxor Hotel, and the not-for-profit foundation Linders was able to start because of the musical's success has helped women in the United States, Haiti and Ghana. 

Still, Menopause The Musical is a sometimes-goofy, obviously resonant musical -- but not a great one.  Linders' menopause-related lyrics, set to the melodies of songs from the '60s to the '80s, are hardly the epitome of cleverness.

To each her own, though, even if that involves a hot flash or 10.  Menopause The Musical is at the Parker Playhouse, 707 NE Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale, through Sunday.  Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.  Tickets are $37.50 and $42.50.  Call 954-462-0222 or visit the Parker web site.

April 13, 2010

One more theater 'prom' is history

Lesmiz06_hat_wknd_ARSo the 34th annual Carbonell Awards happened last night, with not too many surprises except for everyone singing Happy Birthday to Oscar Cheda (visiting for the evening from his road gig with In the Heights) and a late-in-the-show tribute to Carbonell-winning sound designer Steve Shapiro, who's leaving South Florida for a prestigious teaching job.  But of course the winners were surprised -- some more so than others. 

John Manzelli, for instance, who now teaches at Barry University and is a Naked Stage founder, won best lighting design for his work on Marco Ramirez's Macon City: A Comic Book Play.  Manzelli, as he admitted in accepting the award, isn't reallya lighting designer.  But he's a multi-talented guy -- actor, director, teacher and, yeah, now lighting designer -- who figured out how to make Macon City look way cool. And now he's got a Carbonell to show for it.

The night's dominant theaters (check out my Miami Herald story for full results) were two Coral Gables companies with a gazillion Carbonells between them, Actors' Playhouse and GableStage.  Their wins -- six to Actors' for its great production of Les Misérables, five to GableStage (for Speed-the-Plow and Farragut North, plus the special Bill Von Maurer Award for the company's contributions to South Florida theater) -- were certainly deserved.  But if I were running a theater in Broward or Palm Beach County, I might be questioning (to put it mildly) the voting process today.  (For the record, I'm not among the folks who select Carbonell nominees or vote on winners.)

The awards show itself, staged for the second year by newly appointed Carbonells executive director Amy London, was solidly entertaining but a little more low-key -- somehow simpler -- than last year's bash.

The opening year-in-theater number, though ably sung to the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas by the Carbonell "Choir" (Steve Anthony, Irene Adjan, Barry Tarallo, Christopher Kent, Lisa Manuli, Julie Kleiner, Sally Bondi and the very bearded Avi Hoffman, in rehearsal for GableStage's The Quarrel), wasn't as clever as last year's opener.  The numbers from the nominated musicals were terrific, particularly Nathaniel Braga's head-over-heels Bigger Isn't Better from the Maltz Jupiter Theatre's Barnum, Everett Bradley's sexy a capella Some Like It from Caldwell Theatre's Vices: A Love Story, and the night's showstopper, David Michael Felty's glorious Bring Him Home from Actors' Les Miz.

Winners and presenters were on their best behavior (though presenter Ken Clement tried to get some faux bad blood going with the Women's Theatre Project).  GableStage's Joseph Adler, when not onstage accepting awards, got thanked a lot. Gregg Weiner, named best supporting actor in a play for Farragut North, said, "There's not a show that goes by that Joe doesn't bust my ass," something that always pushes him to get better.  Mad Cat Theatre founder Paul Tei, who had spent the day shooting Burn Notice, won best actor in a play for GableStage's Speed-the-Plow, and he happily detailed his career-long love of the play, his great recent experience with it (castmate Amy Elane Anderson is now his girlfriend) and his gratitude toward Adler, whom he called a "mentor and my second father."

All in all, it was a pleasant, inside-South-Florida-theater event, without the dramatic highs or lows that have marked past ceremonies.  Now that London is in charge of the Carbonell organization, it will be interesting to see how the always-delicate relationship between the theater community and those who carry out the Carbonell process evolves.

April 08, 2010

City Theatre cooks up a musical

Loeb PhotoAs City Theatre gears up for its 15th anniversary Summer Shorts festival in Miami in June, the company is focusing on something not-so-short for July.

Working from an idea by City producing artistic director Stephanie Norman, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb and playwright Marco Ramirez are collaborating on the new musical Camp Kappawanna.  The show tells the story of 12-year-old Jennifer Jenkins, who is going away to summer camp, thus leaving home for the first time.

The family-oriented show is to debut July 1-3 at Nova Southeastern University (exact details to come), but you can get a sneak peek this Sunday at a family fun day sponsored by Temple Dor Dorim, 2360 Glades Circle in Weston.  Pizza (at $2 a slice) and an art contest happen at 11 a.m., with the free preview at noon. The event is open to the public.

For more info on City Theatre, visit the company's web site.

April 07, 2010

Drama and opera from New World

New world Lots cooking on stage in downtown Miami this week, courtesy of the New World School of the Arts.

Tonight through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and again on Sunday at 2 p.m., students in the college theater division (including Breeza Zeller and Jameson Hammond, shown in the photo) will perform three short plays by Noel Coward.  Gail Garrisan directs Red Peppers, Hands Across the Sea and We Were Dancing, describing them as "...an appetizer of the feast that is Coward's legacy."  Admission is just $12 ($5 for students and seniors), and the plays will be presented in the Louise O. Gerrits Theatre at New World, 25 NE Second St.  Call 305-237-3541 or visit New World's web site for info.

A larger undertaking from New World's College Opera Theater Ensemble happens Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, 174 E. Flagler St.  Jeffrey Buchman directs students in Bedrich Smetana's The Bartered Bride, an opera about young lovers outwitting older folks.  The college's symphony orchestra, conducted by Alfred Gershfeld, will play Smetana's music.

Admission to The Bartered Bride is $10 ($5 for students and seniors).  Get more info at the web site or call 305-237-7855.