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7 posts from April 2011

April 29, 2011

Family-friendly theater in the spotlight

This weekend brings the 16th annual National Children's Theatre Festival at Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables, an Area Stage/Theater Conservatory production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown (also in the Gables), and the ontinuation of the lavishly designed original play The Red Thread at the PlayGround Theatre in Miami Shores.

Kidsfest The weekend celebration at Actors' Playhouse, earns the "national" part of its title from the competition for its featured musical.  This year's winner is Emperor's New Clothes, adapted by Lani Brockman, with music and lyrics by Susan Bardsley.  The free show and activities go on at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, during the festival both Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.  The Musical Miracles will also perform, and there will be lots of creative activity stations for kids.  Call 305-444-9293 or visit the Actors' Playhouse web site for more info.

Media At Area Stage, Broadway producer Arthur Whitelaw -- the man behind the original production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown -- caught Friday's opening performance of the show, which will run through May 8.  Artistic director John Rodaz directs a cast of conservatory students in the musical about Charlie, Lucy, Snoopy and the gang.  Performances are 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday at Area, 1560 S. Dixie Hwy.  Tickets are $20 ($10 for students).  Call 305-666-2078 or visit Area Stage's web site for more info.

RedThread0413 Wedding DB Continuing through May 27 is the PlayGround Theatre's visually stunning production of The Red Thread, a play-with-music by artistic director Stephanie Ansin and Fernando Calzadilla. Based on Chinese folk tales and myths, the piece focuses on the quest of the brave youngest daughter of a weaver after she sets out to retrieve his masterwork. Public performances are at 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, with many 10 a.m. weekday performances for school groups.  Tickets are $20.

The PlayGround Theatre is located at 9806 NE Second Ave., Miami Shores.  For info, call 305-751-9550 or visit the company's web site.    


April 27, 2011

Cruz, Tune headed to UM

Cruz11_MHD_CM The University of Miami's Jerry Herman Ring Theatre just ended its season with an impressive production of Pal Joey, but theater department chair (and Ring producing artistic director) Henry Fonte has more -- much more -- in store for the 2011-2012 season.

South Florida's own Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Nilo Cruz, will be in residence at UM in September as one of the university's Stanford Distinguished Professors.  He'll teach, do a public presentation, and the Ring will present his 1994 play Night Train to Bolina (Sept. 14-24), a piece about a boy and girl in a war-torn Latin American country.

Next, UM's theater department will join forces with the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts for a production of Federico García Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba (Oct. 13-30).  Professional actors will play Bernarda Alba and her housekeeper La Poncia, and UM students will play the daughters.  Fonte will direct the production, which will be in the Arsht's Carnival Studio Theater.

Multiple Tony Award winner Tommy Tune returns Nov. 9-19 with playwright Mark Salzman for a full production of Project 54, the show they workshopped at UM in January.  The piece is a music- and dance-filled look at the golden days of the famed Manhattan club Studio 54 and founder Steve Rubell.  It's a world Tune knew well:  He lived one block over and stopped by the disco nearly every night, back in the day.

A revival of the Edna Ferber-George S. Kaufman comedy Stage Door plays the Ring Feb. 15-25, followed by a production of the musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum April 11-28.  Want info? Visit the Ring's web site.

(Miami Herald photo of Nilo Cruz by Charles Mostoller)

April 26, 2011

'Memphis' moves from stage to screen

Memphis%2069 Memphis, with a book by Joe DiPietro and score by David Bryan, won the Tony Award as best musical almost a year ago.  It's still going strong on Broadway, and it will launch a national tour -- in Memphis, where else? -- in October.  But you don't have to go to New York or wait 'til the show makes its way to South Florida to see it.

National CineMedia Fathom and Broadway Worldwide are bringing four showings of an HD version of Memphis to more than 530 movie screens around the United States, starting this Thursday and ending May 3.  And many of those screens are in South Florida.

Much like the Metropolitan Opera's Fathom moviecasts, Memphis will bring its tale of a white DJ who falls in love with a powerful black singer in segregated 1950s Memphis to theater fans who don't mind paying $20 -- more than the price of a movie ticket, but considerably less than the charge for seeing the live show on Broadway -- for a visual experience that is a hybrid of film and theater.  And you'll get to see original stars Chad Kimball and Montego Glover do their dazzling thing.

Memphis is one of the earliest splashes in a gathering wave of stage-to-screen experiences.  This is not, it should be emphasized, a movie musical based on a Broadway hit, ala Chicago or Hairspray. Those are thoroughly reworked, recast and shot as movies. This Memphis is an HD version of the show as performed on Broadway.  Which raises the question:  Is it theater? A movie? Or that hybrid?

I vote hybrid.  Before writing a feature story on The House Theatre of Chicago's The Sparrow, which winds up its run in the Carnival Studio Theater at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts this weekend, I watched a DVD of the piece shot during a Chicago performance.  Last Saturday, I went to see a live performance of it at the Arsht.  For me, that was a far superior experience -- more involving, more exciting, much more moving.  Part of the theatrical experience is the emotional give-and-take between actors and audiences, something that cannot happen in a movie theater, regardless of how strongly a moviegoer reacts to what he or she is watching.

But love it or not, the wave is coming, led by Memphis.  Screenings at various theaters are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Saturday and May 3, and at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.  For a list of theaters and to buy advance tickets, visit the Fathom Events web site.

April 18, 2011

'Clybourne Park' wins drama Pulitzer

IMG_Clybourne_Park_1.JPG_6_1_O223GROS And the winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for drama is....Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris.  Sound familiar?  If you happened to catch the Caldwell Theatre Company's dazzling January production of the play in Boca Raton, it sure does.

Seeing a Pulitzer-honored play in South Florida beforeit wins drama's top prize is, it goes without saying, an uncommon experience. Yes, that happened in 2002 when Coral Gables' New Theatre premiered a Nilo Cruz play it had commissioned -- Anna in the Tropics -- and the play went on to win the 2003 drama Pulitzer, altering the Cuban-born, Miami-raised playwright's life.  But it's usually the other way around:  a play wins the Pulitzer, then South Florida theaters start competing for the rights.

So a big bravo to Caldwell artistic director Clive Cholerton for recognizing a great, provocative play about the tenaciousness of racism from the time of A Raisin in the Sun to today.  Cholerton and a strong cast put together a memorable, unsettling interpretation of Norris' challenging script, a play that uses both drama and deliberately disturbing comedy to make its points.  As I wrote in my Miami Herald review, Clybourne Park is "the kind of play that challenge-hungry director, actors and audiences adore." Add the Pulitzer jury to that list.

Norris, who has a long history as an actor and playwright with Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company (much like fellow Pulitzer winner Tracy Letts), now lives in New York, where Clybourne Park had its January 2010 world premiere at Playwrights Horizons.  He has already won several major drama awards, but the Pulitzer opens the floodgate of opportunities like no other prize.  This smart, youthful-looking provocateur turns 51 next month.  He's seasoned, edgy and outspoken. Inevitably, movie and TV producers will come calling. But I'm not really worried that Norris will abandon writing plays.  As he said in a New York Magazine piece during the New York run of Clybourne Park, "...I wouldn’t want someone to just wipe their ass with the script I’ve written.”

 Steppenwolf, Norris' former theatrical "home," had already announced plans to begin its 2001-2012 season with Clybourne Park. With the added cachet of the Pulitzer (not to mention the play's Chicago setting), that production should be a big draw. But South Florida theater fans can, for a change, feel a little smug. Thanks to the Caldwell, we got it first.

(Gregg Weiner, Karen Stephens and Brian D. Coats pictured in Clybourne Park at the Caldwell Theatre Company)   

April 15, 2011

A musical, a play and new works in bloom

On stage at South Florida's colleges and universities at the moment, you can find a classic musical, a comedy by a journalist-turned-playwright and nine short new works by aspiring theater professionals.  The weekend also brings a reading of a piece inspired by Macbeth.

UM Pal Joey At the University of Miami's Jerry Herman Ring Theatre, the 1940 Richard Rodgers-Lorenz Hart classic Pal Joey is running through April 23.  Joey Barreiro plays the ambitious title character, a womanizing charmer who will do anything to further his song-and-dance career.  Performances are 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.  Tickets are $25 Friday-Saturday, $22 other shows (discounts for seniors, students and UM faculty, staff and alumni).  The Ring is at 1312 Miller Dr. on the UM campus in Coral Gables. Call 305-284-3355 or visit the Ring's web site.

Two programs featuring nine new works are on tap at the New World School of the Arts' New Playwrights' Festival 2011 this weekend.  Program A features Apple Tree by Dylan Guerra, The Diner by Nile Harris, M by Jean-Louis Droulers, Swan Song by Andrew Quintana and An Irrelevant Title by Armando Santana.  In Program B are Recoil by Brandon Flynn, It's an Underworld After All by Dylan Guerra, Goodbye Alice by Maite Francois and The Crubicle by Rafi Lorie and Dylan Guerra.  Program A goes on at 4:30 today, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; Program B will be presented at 7:30 tonight, 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, all int he Louise O. Gerrits Theatre at New World, 25 NE Second St., Miami.  Tickets are just $5.  Call 305-237-3541 or visit the New World web site for info.

At Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, columnist Mitch Albom's comedy Duck Hunter Shoots Angel -- about two Alabama brothers who fear they've shot an angel -- runs this weekend and next.  Performances are 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday through April 23.  Tickets are $20 ($12 for students, faculty, staff, alumni and kids under 12).  The show is in the Studio One Theatre, 777 Glades Rd., Boca Raton.  Call 1-800-564-9539 or visit the FAU events web site.

 Also in Boca this weekend, the Boca Raton Theatre Guild is doing staged readings of Terry Lawrence's new play Scott at the Willow Theatre in Sugar Sand Park, 301 S. Military Trail.  Inspired by Macbeth, the play follows an American soldier being pushed toward power by his wife as he's exploited by politicians and business moguls.  Lawrence, whose play Women Drivers will be staged by Fort Lauderdale's Women's Theatre Project in the fall, will hear actors Barbara Sloan, Karen Stephens, Jeffrey Bruce, Peter Librach, Taylor Darden and Bradford Sadler read Scott under Genie Croft's direction.  Tickets are $10, and performances are 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.  Call 561-347-3948 or email Carol Kassie at ckassie@gmail.com for info.

April 13, 2011

Stage Door gains a Miami Beach home

0010315422 Though plans have long been brewing and became public in October, Broward Stage Door Theatre execs learned Wednesday that yes, they'll definitely be expanding their producing universe.  Miami Beach commissioners approved a lease with Stage Door to become the resident theater company at the Byron Carlyle Theatre, 500 71st St.  Founders and co-producers David Torres and Derelle Wilson-Bunn (pictured with former artistic director Dan Kelley at right) plan to start with a smaller-sized show or two this summer, then launch a full-fledged season of the big musicals that are their specialty at their two-theater complex on West Sample Road in Coral Springs.  One of those shows, Jerry Herman's Mack & Mabel, just won the Carbonell Award as best musical of 2010.

Still running at Stage Door is Plaza Suite (through April 24), with The Music Man set for April 29-June 19, Crossing Delancey July 8-Aug. 14 and Song Man/Dance Man July 1-July 24. Announced for the 2011-2012 season at the Coral Springs location are A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Sept. 2-Oct. 9), Lend Me a Tenor (Oct. 14-Nov. 13), Guys and Dolls (Oct. 28-Dec. 4), Irving Berlin's I Love a Piano (Dec. 2-Jan. 8), Annie (Dec. 23-Jan. 29), Last of the Red Hot Lovers (Jan. 27-March 4), My Fair Lady (Feb. 17-March 25), The All Night Strut (March 23-April 29) and Little Shop of Horrors (April 13-May 20, 2012).  Expect much of the Miami Beach programming to come from that list.

For info on Stage Door, phone the theater at 954-344-7765 or visit the theater's web site.

(Photo by Candace West)

April 01, 2011

Bailey wins Abbott Award

Patrice Though the results of voting for the 35th annual Carbonell Awards are secret until Monday''s ceremony at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, special awards are traditionally announced in advance.  This year, the George Abbott Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts -- the highest honor given at the Carbonells -- goes to Patrice Bailey, dean of theater at Miami's New World School of the Arts.

The drama division's top administrator since 2002 is an accomplished director and teacher, and under her leadership, New World has had an ever greater impact on South Florida's theater community.  New World grads are acting at theaters all over the region (and around the country), directing, writing plays and making a life in the theater for themselves, a life built upon the fundamentals they acquired at New World. 

Also getting a special honor at this year's ceremony is the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, which will receive the Ruth Foreman Award in recognition of its contributions to theater, artist and audience development throughout its 20-year history.

The Carbonell ceremony, which honors the best work in South Florida theater during 2010, begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Broward Center's Amaturo Theater, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale.  Tickets are $25.  Call the box office  site at 954-462-0222 or visit the center's web site for details.