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4 posts from December 2011

December 10, 2011

New World showcases its stars of the future

ChangThe college theater program at Miami's New World School of the Arts expects plenty of its students as they prepare to jump into their careers.  The rigorous training culminates in an event that is both a challenge and a gift for graduating seniors:  Under the guidance of theater division professor David Kwiat, the students write, produce and act in one-person shows.  The pieces not only showcase their talents in a tailor-made way, but they also give the young professionals a play they can do again and again as they're building a body of work.

Fourteen seniors will present their solo pieces in this year's collection of One-Person Shows, running Thursday to Dec. 17 in the Louise O. Gerrits Theater on the eighth floor of the New World building at 25 NE Second St., Miami.  Best of all, you can catch all these new shows and fresh talent for free.

The shows are grouped into three programs.  Bill A features Elaine Flores in Pandamonium, O'Neil Delapenha in The Adventures of Kidney Man, Devon Dassaw in Oo, Mr. Corey, You Bad, Lyndsay McLaren in The King's Daughter and Alma Rose Hoyos in Home Is Where the Corazon Is.

TepperOn Bill B are Ashley Chang's Mary Sunshine, Christian Vandepas' Until Then, Heslens Estevez's Do I?, Ryan Jacobs' Boy of Wonder and Luis Restrepo's The Magical Journey of Abraham and the Moon.  Bill C features Gerardo Pelati's Hey Shorty, Armando Diaz's Cockroach Confessions, Lauren Tepper's Love Spell and Jose Elosequi's Who Are YOU?.

Catch Program A at 5 p.m. Thursday and 8 p.m. Friday, Program B at 8 p.m. Thursday and 2 p.m. Saturday, Program C at 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Need more info?  Call 305-237-3541 or visit the New World web site.


(Photos of Ashley Chang, top, and Lauren Tepper by Juan E. Cabrera)


December 09, 2011

'Mother,' 'Normal' casts chosen

The directors of wo scorching-hot shows opening next month -- Stephen Adley Guirgis The Motherf**ker with the Hat and the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Next to Normal -- have chosen their casts.  Now comes the hard work of rehearsals that will hopefully lead to opening-night magic in January.

ARTURO00 20UNDER40ARTS TROP CTJFirst up, running at GableStage Jan. 7-Feb. 5, is The Motherf**ker with the Hat (aka the play that got Chris Rock to make his Broadway debut last season).  Though the play isn't running on Broadway now, it has been in the news lately because Guirgis openly criticized the current production at TheaterWorks in Hartford, Conn., for using white actors in the key roles of a recovering addict and his girlfriend -- both Puerto Rican.  GableStage's Joseph Adler is certainly not going to come in for that kind of criticism.

Arturo Fernandez (pictured) will play Jackie, a newly sober guy who's on parole, with Gladys Ramirez as his decidedly unsober girlfriend Veronica.  Alex Alvarez plays Jackie's cousin Julio.  Ethan Henry plays Ralph D (the Rock role), Jackie's AA sponsor, and Betsy Graver is Ralph's unhappy wife, who finds Jackie way hot.

The show has performances at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday (no late show Jan. 9).  Tickets are $50 on Saturday, $47.50 for the Sunday matinee, $42.50 Thursday-Friday and $37.50 Sunday evening.  GableStage is in the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables. For info, call 305-445-1119 or visit the theater's web site.

Sarah A in Rent Apr 10Actors' Playhouse is following up its triumphant production of Tracy Letts' August: Osage County from last season with another Pulitzer winner:  the searing, rock-driven musical Next to Normal.  The 2009 Broadway hit, which won three Tony Awards, centers on a wife and mother who is battling bipolar disorder, and it delves into grief, suicide, drug abuse and medical ethics.

For a cast with plenty of Broadway and touring experience, David Arisco has chosen Jodie Langel (currently starring as the Narrator in the Maltz Jupiter Theatre's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) to play the troubled mother Diana.  Eddy Rioseco, a New World high school grad, plays her son Gabe, with Mark Sanders as Diana's husband Dan. University of Miami grad Sarah Amengual (pictured) is Diana's daughter Natalie, and New World grad Nick Duckart is Diana's shrink.  Still to be cast is the role of Henry, a boy interested in Natalie.

Next to Normal will preview Jan. 18-19 and open Jan. 20, running through Feb. 12 at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables.  Performances are 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday.  Tickets are $40-$48.  For info, call 305-444-9293 or visit the Actors' Playhouse web site.


December 06, 2011

Manzelli, Tyrrell get new gigs

JohnManzelliHeadshotActor-director John Manzelli, a Barry University theater faculty member, has been with City Theatre and its popular Summer Shorts program for four years, last season serving as the festival's artistic director.  As the company prepares for its 17th season of presenting a collection of short plays, Manzelli has a new title and greater responsibilities.  Stephanie Norman, one of City Theatre's founders, has left her active leadership role for a new job and is joining the company's board of directors.  So Manzelli, who will continue as an assistant professor of theater at Barry, is becoming City's newest producing artistic director.

"In this economy, we're trying to look at programming that makes sense," Manzelli said Tuesday.  "We're talking to the Arsht Center and the Broward Center about collaborative partnerships and co-presenting."

Playwright Susan Westfall, another City Theatre founder, returned as the troupe's literary director last year, and will continue leading the annual CityWrights playwrights' weekend, which just received a $75,000 grant from the Knight Arts Challenge.  Attorney Steve Eisenberg is joining the company as its general manager.  For info on City Theatre, call 305-755-9401 or visit its web site.

Lou TyrrellAlso on the theater jobs front, Florida Stage founder and artistic director Louis Tyrrell has found a new home at Delray Beach's Arts Garage.  Tyrrell, who led the critically acclaimed theater for 24 years along with managing director Nancy Barnett, has been out of work since Florida Stage's board abruptly shut it down and filed for bankruptcy in June.  The company's debt had risen to $2.7 million in debt (some of that money paid by subscribers for a 2011-2012 season that didn't happen), and bankruptcy proceedings continue.

While Barnett has returned to acting (she recently appeared in After the Revolutionat the Caldwell Theatre Company), Tyrrell is again focusing on the new play work that helped make Florida Stage a nationally respected theater.  He is becoming artistic director of a new company dubbed The Theatre at Arts Garage.  The facility at 180 NE First St. in Delray's Pineapple Grove area presents multidisciplinary work, including dance, music visual arts and movies.

On a modest $150,000 budget for his first  season (Florida Stage's at one point hit $4.1 million), he will present a series of Tuesday evening play readings in February, with Israel Horovitz, John Guare and William Mastrosimone in attendance to hear the works and participate in post-play discussions. Tyrell says he's hoping that the fourth playwright will be Eve Ensler, but that isn't set yet.  From March 1 to March 4, the Theatre at Arts Garage will present The New Play Festival, an event inspired by Florida Stage's 1st Stage New Works Festival, with readings of six new works and Mastrosimone leading play-writing workshops.  Pulitzer Prize winner Marsha Norman will be the keynote speaker. The company's first full production, a play-with-music titled Woody Sez (about folk legend Woody Guthrie), will run March 16-April 8.

"I had a reflective summer, and when this opportunity came up, it felt right on so many levels," Tyrrell said.  "You have to ask, 'What is the new model? What do people want in an evening of going out to theater?'  The Arts Garage space is a raw, storefront space.  It's great fun...There are relationships that don't go away, that exist because of a shared love of new work.  But there will be new writers, new titles, new stories to tell."

For info on Arts Garage, call 561-450-6357 or visit its web site.

December 01, 2011

Castellanos shares his creative style

Teo Catsellanos Photo by Randy ValdesTeo Castellanos is a creative chameleon.  Playwright, director, actor, dancer and artistic director of D-Projects, the multifaceted artist is also a compelling teacher, one who mentored and helped launch Miami playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney on his path to international acclaim.

Castellanos, who appeared at GableStage this fall in McCraney's searing drama The Brothers Size, will perform again in Miami Jan. 19-21 when he brings the 10th anniversary edition of his award-winning solo show NE 2nd Avenue to the Carnival Studio Theater at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.  But first, from Sunday through Tuesday, Castellanos will share his wealth of experience in a workshop titled Crossing Thresholds: Creating Original Work.

The sessions take place at the PlayGround Theatre, 9806 NE Second Ave., Miami Shores.  For a $65 fee, participants ages 16 and older can spend three hours each evening with Castellanos, developing original work or refining a work in progress.  Students should wear movement clothes and dance shoes, or go barefoot.  The sessions are from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday, 7 to 10 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.  For information, call Suzana Berger at 305-751-9550, ext. 260, or email her at suzana@theplaygroundtheatre.com

(Photo by Randy Valdes)