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6 posts from September 2010

September 28, 2010

'Miami Beach' sings

MBMusicalLOGOtype_blackbkgrd9i Months in the making, Miami Beach -- The Musicalcomes to life this weekend thanks to Arts at St. John's artistic director David Kingery and his story-gathering collaborators. 

Kingery, coauthor Dale Penn, lyricist Doug Cureton, composers Andrew Sargent and David Cohen, and choreographer Kevin Black will premiere a 16-song piece that explores more than a century of colorful Miami Beach history via drama, comedy, dance and music.  The team culled history books, newspaper stories and the memories of just plain folks -- memories solicited in a very 21st century way on Facebook.  The subjects, they say, include "dreamers, scoundrels, rum runners, bigots, saints, criminals, politicians, millionaires and ordinary people."

Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday at Arts at St. John's, 4760 Pine Tree Dr., Miami Beach.  Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door.  For tickets and info, visit www.artsatstjohns.com or www.miamibeachthemusical.com.

September 21, 2010

Silver Palms announced

The Off Broadway-style Silver Palm Awards, a three-year-old honor given out at the closing party of the yearly South Florida Theatre Festival, will honor actors both experienced and young, a pair of theater companies, a director, a playwright, a choreographer, a musical director, a set designer and a pair of artists who made a comedy horror musical look special.

Laura & AviMarried actors Laura Turnbull and Avi Hoffman will get Silver Palms for their separate achievements -- she for her work in Mosaic's Rock 'n' Roll, New Theatre's Equus, the Caldwell Theatre Company's Distracted and City Theatre's Summer Shorts/undershorts; he for Florida Stage's Two Jews Walk Into a War and GableStage's The Quarrel.

Also receiving Silver Palms for performance are Erin Joy Schmidt (for GableStage's Reasons To Be Pretty and Fifty Words, Mosaic's Dying City and Summer Shorts/undershorts), Nick Duckart (for GableStage's Farragut North, Mosaic's Why Torture Is Wrong, Florida Stage's Dr. Radio, Caldwell's Secret Orderand Broward Stage Door's The Glass Menagerie), David Hemphill (for New Theatre's Equus, Stage Door's Glass Menagerie, Naked Stage's Macon City, Farragut North and Summer Shorts/undershorts), Dan Kelley (for starring in and directing Stage Door's The Drowsy Chaperone) and Jackie Rivera (outstanding new talent for GableStage's Speech & Debate).

Other Silver Palm honorees are the Caldwell (for its concert versions of Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods and Sunday in the Park with George), New Theatre (for 25 years of new play production), J. Barry Lewis (for directing Palm Beach Dramaworks' Three Tall Women and Copenhagen), Christopher Demos-Brown (for his play When the Sun Shone Brighter at Florida Stage), Chrissi Ardito (for her Stage Door choreography of Bubbling Brown Sugar, The Drowsy Chaperone and Mack & Mabel, and for the Promethean Theatre's Evil Dead: The Musical), Eric Alsford (for his musical direction of Actors' Playhouse's Miss Saigon), Tim Connelly (for his Blasted set at GableStage), Taso Stavrakis (for his Evil Dead special effects at Promethean) and Tyler Smith (Evil Dead props).

The recipients will party and take home their awards on Monday, Oct. 25, from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Green Room behind Fort Lauderdale's Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale.  Admission is $25, but members of the Theatre League of South Florida get in free. Call League executive director Andie Arthur at 954-557-0778 to make a reservation.

September 20, 2010

Still more readings!

Spellbound_flyerA new company called the Man Research Theatre Company (OK, that gets my vote for the most unusual South Florida theater company name) is kicking off a season of readings with Jeremiah Musgrove's Spellbound at 8 p.m. Tuesday. 

What's the deal with Man Research? Artistic  director Stephen Elliot Kaiser writes: "MRTC aims to produce new works that energize and involve our audience while challenging conventional notions of how theater is presented and perceived.  We aim to nurture new voices and foster new works for the stage, producing progressive theater that is affordable and accessible to all.  Our core philosophy is that all of mankind shares a common bond.  We believe that exploring the nature of that bond has the power to breed empathy and good will."

After once-a-month readings of 12 new works, MRTC will choose one for a full production.  The reading happens at the Luna Star Cafe, 775 NE 125th St., North Miami.  A $5 donation is suggested. And if you're a playwright interested in getting your work heard, email manresearchproject@gmail.com.

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Ft_copy OK, this one isn't a reading exactly, but it draws from the theatrical power of storytelling to benefit the Miami Shores-based Naked Stage.

The company is inviting anyone with a scary story to show up at Flavour in the Grove, 2895 McFarlane Rd., Coconut Grove, at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday (event begins at 9 p.m.).  Sign up to tell your story -- maximum length is five minutes -- and listen as you drink $4 beers, $5 or $6 specialty drinks.  Admission is $8 in advance, $10 at the door, and the proceeds will help fund the company's upcoming production of Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit (running Oct. 29-Nov. 21 at the Pelican Theatre on the Barry University campus, 11300 NE Second Ave., Miami Shores).  Best story wins a pair of tickets to No Exit plus a Naked Stage T-shirt.

The way-busy company is also getting ready for the fourth edition of its 24-Hour Theatre Project, in which South Florida's best playwrights, actors and directors team up to create an evening of all-new short plays in just one day.  That event happens Oct. 4 at 8 p.m. at the Caldwell Theatre Company, 7901 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton, with tickets priced at $25.

For Naked Stage ticket info, call 1-866-811-4111 or visit the company's web site.

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And just one more reading-related note: Conundrum Stages has canceled its planned Saturday reading of James Baldwin's Amen Corner. For info, e-mail conundrumstages@ymail.com.

September 17, 2010

Plays get read

Though it's a quiet weekend in theater as far as openings go, two companies have scheduled readings to fill the gap.

Colette Freedman's Blind Spots, a play about a gay journalist at war with her homophobic sister, will be read at 2 p.m. Sunday as part of the Women's Theatre Project's Lesbian Play Reading Series. Artistic director Genie Croft and cast members Pilar Uribe, Wendy Michaels, Jackie Rivera, Marjorie O'Neill-Butler and Carol Sussman explore the play at the GLCC Pride Center's Equality Park, 2040 N. Dixie Hwy., Wilton Manors.  Admission is $10.  For tickets, call 1-866-811-4111 or visit the Women's Theatre Project web site.

12595952_ZOETIC 37 POSTCARDSZoetic Stage is holding its third fundraiser at 7 p.m. Monday, still getting together the dough for its inaugural production -- the world premiere of Michael McKeever's South Beach Babylon -- at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts Dec. 2-12. 

Boca Raton's Caldwell Theatre Company, 7901 N. Federal Hwy., is hosting the reading of McKeever's most internationally successful play. Artistic director Stuart Meltzer is staging the reading, which features Barbara Bradshaw, Elizabeth Dimon, Nick Duckart, Katherine Amadeo and Ellen Davis.  Suggested admission is $20.  Call Meltzer at 305-741-3180, e-mail him at rsvp@zoeticstage.com or visit the company's web site.

Also on the reading front, Conundrum Stages has postponed its scheduled reading of James Baldwin's Amen Corner, which had been planned for 2 p.m. Saturday. For info, e-mail conundrumstages@ymail.com.

September 09, 2010

Esparza to headline Arsht Center gala

Raul_EsparzaRaúl Esparza, the four-time Tony Award nominee who stole the show when he appeared in Babalu at the Adrienne Arsht Center in July (sorry, but he did), made quite an impression on both audiences and the honchos at Miami's performing arts palace.  Now he's been tapped to headline the center's fifth anniversary gala Oct. 28, with tables at the benefit going for $10,000, individual tickets for $1,000.  And you thought Broadway tickets were pricey.

Esparza is a busy, busy man these days.  On Saturday, he begins previews of the Broadway-bound musical Leap of Faithat the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, with the opening set for Oct. 3 and a run through Oct. 24.  Then it's on to Miami, then back to New York to get ready for Broadway.

He is, of course, playing the lead in the Alan Menken-Glenn Slater musical, which is based on the 1992 movie starring Steve Martin.  Esparza plays Jonas Nightengale, a charismatic fake faith healer who has a life-changing experience in a drought-stricken Kansas town.  His leading lady is Brooke Shields, who broke her hand (but not too badly) during rehearsals.

If you saw Babalu, you know that Esparza (who earned two of his Tony nominations for his work in the musicals Company and Taboo) is a powerful, captivating, dramatic singer.  If you want to part with some serious bucks to see him at the gala (proceeds benefit the Arsht's education and community outreach programs), call 786-468-2020 or email gala@arshtcenter.org.

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Tarell_McCraney_(Large) On the heels of GableStage's announcement that it will include the South Florida premiere of Tarell Alvin McCraney's The Brothers Size in its 2010-2011 season comes more intriguing news.  Artistic director Joseph Adler has persuaded the in-demand playwright to direct his reputation-making piece here.

The Brothers Size, one of the three dramas in McCraney's Brother/Sister Plays, is the last show in the new season, running Aug. 27-Sept. 25, 2011.  McCraney and Adler have already cast one of the three roles: Teo Castellanos, the playwright-performer who got the teenage McCraney into theater and became his mentor, will be in his former student's poetic, haunting drama.

For info on the GableStage season, call the box office at 305-445-1119 or visit the theater's web site.

September 01, 2010

Anna Deavere Smith coming to UM

Smith300fullAnna Deavere Smith, a blazingly original theater artist and former MacArthur "genius" grant winner, has long been a teacher as well as a playwright/performer.  And now, as the first Stanford Distinguished Professor at the University of Miami for 2010-2011, she's bringing her engaging array of skills to UM's Gusman Concert Hall in Coral Gables for a one-night-only appearance.

At 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 13, Smith will present a performance/lecture titled The Changing Landscape of Doctor-Patient Relationships. A brilliant chameleon who builds her solo pieces from numerous interviews, absorbing her subjects' voices, body language and attitudes, Smith uses her documentary-style approach to create insightful, provocative theater.  Among her award-winning works are Fires in the Mirror and Twilight: Los Angeles 1992.  She created Let Me Down Easy, a searing look at the state of health care in the United States, in 2008.

Although she has an array of television and film credits (she's a regular on the Showtime series Nurse Jackie), Smith is no stranger to academia.  She is currently a professor at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and taught drama at Stanford University from 1990 to 2000.

Tickets to her UM appearance are free, but registration is required.  For info and to register, click here.