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6 posts from May 2012

May 31, 2012

Immerse yourself

Conquest of the South Pole, a play by Berliner Ensemble member Manfred Karge, opens at 8 tonight for a short run through June 8 at The SandBox, the PlayGround Theatre's smaller space where adventurous theater for grownups has found a home.

Stephen Elliot Kaiser directs the Man Research Theatre Company production of the play about four out-of-work, hard-partying youths who decide to reenact Ronald Admundsen's 1911 expedition to the South Pole.  Theatergoers get involved by moving around the space as the actors perform.

Admission is by a cash-only donation of $10 to $25, and performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and June 8-9.  The SandBox is at 9816 NE Second Ave., Miami Shores. Visit the PlayGround's site for more info.

May 22, 2012

Women's Theatre Project finds a home

Direct22 LASHER TROP CLWFort Lauderdale's 10-year-old Women's Theatre Project (WTP) has been in limbo since the company lost its home at Sixth Star Studios in February.  But the troupe's leaders have been busy checking out potential spaces ever since then, and they've settled on one:  the Willow Theatre at Boca Raton's Sugar Sand Park, a 155-seat venue that triples the company's seating capacity.

That space is already home to the Boca Raton Theatre Guild, which has presented the WTP productions of The Year of Magical Thinking and Bridge & Tunnel in the past.  The common denominator is WTP artistic director Genie Croft, who staged The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, Broadway Bound and Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill for the Boca Theatre Guild and will mount that company's season-opening production of A.R. Gurney's Sylvia (featuring Patti Gardner, Jacqueline Laggy, Mario Betto and Boca Theatre Guild artistic director Keith Garsson) Sept. 28-Oct. 14.  Garsson will stage his company's second show, the musical Chicago, in March.

Looks00 oser wknd MLWTP has two productions, with the possibility of a third, planned for its new home next season.  Barbara Pease Weber's comedy Delval Divas, about a collection of educated inmates at a Delaware prison, will run Nov. 2-18. The company will also do a play it first presented in 2009, Faye Sholiton's The Interview, Jan. 4-20.  Harriet Oser and Gardner were featured in the earlier production of the play about a Holocaust survivor who shares her memories with an interviewer.

Croft says of WTP's new home that "...it's a natural progression to make our home here -- a perfect union of theater, creative growth and [a] venue to expand our productions and mission."

The Willow Theatre at Sugar Sand Park is located at 300 S. Military Trail, Boca Raton.  Tickets to productions by both companies will go on sale in August.  The Willow box office number is 561-948-2601.  For info on WTP, visit the company's web site; for Boca Theatre Guild info, go to its web site.

(Top photo shows WTP's Genie Croft, left, and president/cofounder Meredith Lasher; at bottom, Harriet Oser, left, and Patti Gardner in The Interview.)

May 21, 2012

Hispanic Fest celebrates Latino theater in the U.S.

IMG_47-MarioSanchez-7788_6_1_R82UTN3PThe 27th annual International Hispanic Theatre Festival doesn't kick off until mid July, but producing artistic director Mario Ernesto Sánchez already has nearly all the pieces of an always-challenging puzzle assembled.

After paying tribute in past festivals to the theater of Mexico, Colombia and other countries, this year's festival will focus on Latino theater in the United States.  And its offerings -- some in English, others in Spanish, still others bilingual -- are casting a wide net in terms of audience inclusion.

The festival gets an early launch June 8 with an invitation-only cocktail reception to reveal artist Roberto Silva's poster.  A jazz concert from the Jaume Vilaseca Trio of Barcelona will keep the party going from 7 to 10 p.m. in Miami Dade College's Wolfson Campus Auditorium.

This year the festival will give its lifetime achievement in the performing arts award to Teresa María Rojas, founder of Prometeo Theatre and a prominent theater educator who was the first mentor to Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz. She'll receive the honor immediately after the opening night performance July 12.

That show is a production of Miguel Piñero's incendiary Short Eyesby the Los Angeles-based Urban Theatre Movement.  It kicks off the festival at 8:30 p.m. July 12-13 in the Carnival Studio Theater at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. For mature audiences, the play features brief nudity and is performed in English.

At 8:30 p.m. July 13-14, Prometeo Theatre will perform Marco Antonio de la Parra's Infieles (Unfaithful), a play about being unfaithful personally and politically.  That show will be presented in the Wolfson Auditorium. 

The Los Angeles-based Latino Theater Company will perform Evelina Fernández's play Solitude, a work inspired by Octavio Paz's The Labyrinth of Solitude.  The play will be done at the Carnival Studio Theater in English at 8:30 p.m. July 14, 5 p.m. July 15.

Flor de un Día, a company from Buenos Aires, will present Santiago Loza's Nada del amor me produce envidia (Nothing About Love Produces Envy), a musical theater piece about a seamstress who gets orders for identical dresses -- one coming from Eva Perón.  That show goes on in Spanish at 8:30 p.m. July 18-19 in the Prometeo Theatre at Miami Dade's Wolfson Campus.

Mexico City's La Máquina de Teatro performs Juliana Faesler's Malinche/Malinches in Spanish at 8:30 p.m. July 19-20 at the Carnival Studio Theater.  New York's Teatro Zero will present Diana Chery-Ramírez's Aviones de papel (Paper Airplanes), a piece that considers lack of communication, isolation and domestic violence, in Spanish at 8:30 p.m. July 20-21 at Prometeo Theatre.

At 5:45 p.m. July 21 at the Key Biscayne Community Center, New York's Teatro Sea will present the free bilingual family play El encuentro de Juan Bobo y Pedro Animal (The Encounter of Juan Bobo and Pedro Animal) by Manuel Antonio Morán.

A production of Oscar Martinez's Ella en mi cabeza (She's On My Mind) by Arte & Friends from Bogota, Colombia, will be done in Spanish at the Carnival Studio Theater at 8:30 p.m. July 21, 5  p.m. July 22.

The festival's free annual International Children's Day runs from 2 to 7 p.m. July 22 at Miami Dade College's InterAmerican Campus.  The bilingual programming includes a 3 p.m. performance of Cristina Ferrari's Yo la llama Rusita Rojas (I Call Her Rusita Rojas) by Miami's Teatro Doble and a 6 p.m. performance of El Encuentro de Juan Bobo y Pedro Animal.

The festival winds up with performances from two companies.  Ecuador's Contra el Viento Teatro performs Patricio Vallejo Aristizábal's  La flor de la Chukirawa (The Flower of Chukirawa)at 8:30 p.m. July 27-28 in Spanish at Prometeo Theatre.  And artistic director Sánchez's company,
Teatro Avante, closes out the festival at 8:30 p.m. July 26-28, 5 p.m. July 29, with Virgilio Piñero's play El no (The No), adapted by Gilda Santana and presented in at the Carnival Studio Theater in Spanish with English supertitles.

Special events during the festival include a Spanish-language educational conference on trends in Latino and Latin American performing arts from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. July 13-14 at Miami Dade's Wolfson Campus, Room 2106.  Prometeo will also do a free staged reading at 8:30 p.m. July 16 of three short plays by Julio Matas (The Change,Tonos and The Ladies' Game) at its Wolfson Campus theater.  The company will do another free reading at 8:30 p.m. July 17 of Luis Enrique Gutiérrez Ortiz Monasterio's The Girls from the 3.5 Floppies, a play for mature audiences.  Both evenings are in Spanish.

Tickets to individual festival shows are $30 each, but they're discounted to $25 each for three or more shows, seniors, students or those with disabilities.  For tickets to events at the Arsht Center's Carnival Studio Theater, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, call 305-949-6722 or visit the center's web site.  For tickets to events at Prometeo, 300 NE Second Ave., Miami, call 305-237-3262 or visit Prometo's site.  Miami Dade's InterAmerican Campus is at 627 SW 27th Ave., Miami; the Key Biscayne Community Center at 10 Village Green Way, Key Biscayne. Both of those venues have free parking.

For festival questions, call Teatro Avante at 305-445-8877.

 (Photo of Mario Ernesto Sánchezby Mitchell Zachs)



May 11, 2012

'Houdini' conjures up an extra matinee

Death and Harry Houdini2_DennisWatkins_photobyMichaelBrosilowHow successful is the run of the House Theater of Chicago's Death and Harry Houdini at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts? So successful that every performance in the Carnival Studio Theater run, which winds up May 20, is sold out.

But fans of theater, magic and/or the House just got lucky.  The Arsht has added a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, May 19, so that's one more chance to see the charismatic actor-magician Dennis Watkins playing history's greatest illusionist.

Tickets are $45, and you can get them by calling 305-949-6722 or visiting the center's web site. Get 'em before they, like Houdini, disappear.

(Photo by Michael Brosilow)

May 10, 2012

Actors' Playhouse rounds out its 25th season

Rated P for Parenthood logoActors' Playhouse in Coral Gables opens Steven Dietz's comedy Becky's New Car on Friday evening (it'll run through June 3), but executive director Barbara Stein and artistic director David Arisco have been multi-tasking, putting their 25th anniversary 2012-2013 season together piece by piece.

The last piece of the puzzle, an Off-Broadway revue titled Rated P for Parenthood, will wind up the new season in the summer of 2013.  The 90-minute, four-performer show chronicles the funny, frustrating challenges of raising kids from infancy to independence. 

Rated P for Parenthood will run July 10-Aug. 11, 2013, finishing off a season that begins with Godspell Oct. 10-Nov. 4.  Next is Jason Robert Brown's musical The Last Five Years (Dec. 5-30), followed by Jon Robin Baitz's current Broadway hit Other Desert Cities (Jan. 16-Feb. 10).  The South Florida regional theater premiere of Lin-Manuel Miranda's Tony Award-winning In the Heights runs March 6-April 7, followed by Ken Ludwig's comedy The Fox on the Fairway (May 8-June 2, 2013).

Subscriptions range from $185 for previews to $435 for the theater's lavish opening nights.  Actors' Playhouse performs at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables.  For information, call 305-444-9293 or visit www.actorsplayhouse.org.

May 08, 2012

Losing 'Faith' as Broadway musical closes Sunday

1137Even a Tony Award nomination as best musical didn't provide salvation for Leap of Faith.  The Broadway version of a 1992 Steve Martin movie will close Sunday, after 24 previews and 20 regular performances.  That's sad news for everyone involved in the show, including leading man Raúl Esparza, the over-the-title star who has been with the musical since its first workshop in 2008.

I saw Leap of Faith during its early preview period in April so that I could do a feature on Esparza, the ex-Miamian who has earned Tony Award nominations as best actor (Company) and best featured actor (Taboo) in a musical, best actor (Speed-the-Plow) and best featured actor (The Homecoming) in a play.  I had two conversations with him and got to watch some of a rehearsal at the St. James Theatre, where director Christopher Ashley, choreographer Sergio Trujillo and the rest of the creative team were reshaping the show with all sorts of changes.  To no avail.

When the show opened April 26, it got some tough reviews.  Particularly damaging to its future was the scorched-earth one from the New York Times' Ben Brantley, who called Leap of Faith "...this season's black hole of musical comedy, sucking the energy out of anyone who gets near it." Good God, y'all.

The cast and Esparza, who gave a high-energy, intricately shaded performance as faux faith healer Jonas Nightingale, didn't have a prayer.  The $15 million musical, one that had three different directors (Taylor Hackford, Rob Ashford and Ashley) during its evolution, one that won Esparza a best actor Ovation Award for his performance in the show's Los Angeles tryout, will fold its (revival) tent on Sunday.  It dies just a week after grossing a paltry $171,381 from April 30 to May 6, its average ticket price a deeply discounted $21.51.

Without a doubt, the show by composer Alan Menken, lyricist Glenn Slater, and book writers Janus Cercone and Warren Leight could have benefitted from additional months of work, had the producers followed their original plan and brought it to Broadway this fall instead of jumping into the St. James this spring after the failed revival of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever closed.  Would a delay have made a difference?  Maybe not.  But after Sunday, a lot of talented actors -- including a gifted and so often impressive leading man -- will be doing what actors so often find themselves doing: looking for work.

(Photo by Joan Marcus)