March 16, 2015

Carbonell Awards announce three special honors

The 39th annual Carbonell Awards ceremony and show will happen on Monday, March 30, in the Amaturo Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, and most of the nominees will just have to bite their fingernails until that evening.

UnnamedBut the Carbonell organization, which administers South Florida's venerable theater awards program, on Monday announced the recipients of three special honors, including the George Abbott Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts, an honor named for the legendary Broadway producer, playwright and director.


This year's Abbott Award goes to Scott Shiller, the outgoing executive vice president of Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.  Shiller, 39, will become president and CEO of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts in May.  He's being honored with the Carbonells' most prestigious award for his programming and fiscal successes at the Arsht; for embracing the work of myriad South Florida companies and artists, and showcasing that work at the Arsht; and for leading the tri-county Carbonell organization to greater stability.

Expressing his gratitude, Shiller observed in a statement, "South Florida is one of the great performing arts regions in the country because of the wisdom, hard work and artistic drive of those who have created a thriving theater scene in the 39 years since the Carbonell Awards were founded.  I've been honored to work side-by-side with these dedicated producers, directors, actors and designers who embrace the art of storytelling and community engagement each and every day."

Image003Iris Acker, a veteran actress, director, author and the host of the TV show Spotlight on the Arts, will receive the Howard Kleinberg Award at the Carbonell ceremony.  Named for the longtime editor of the Miami News, the Kleinberg Award goes to someone who has contributed to the health and development of the arts in South Florida.  Acker, a Carbonell judge and one of the founders of the regional Silver Palm Awards, has performed at theaters throughout South Florida.  She was the state's first Actors' Equity liaison, started a casting hotline, served as president of the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists, and has contributed to the theater community in countless other ways.

"I have enjoyed a wonderful life in the theater. When I'm not on stage, I have the privilege of being able to promote everything that is now on stage," Acker said.

The Ruth Foreman Award, named for the pioneering producer-director who helped shape local theater in South Florida, is being given to The Naked Stage for the company's annual 24-Hour Theatre Project.

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Antonio and Katherine Amadeo, who founded their company along with City Theatre producing artistic director and Barry University associate theater professor John Manzelli, first held their artistic fundraiser in 2007.  Each year, South Florida playwrights draw titles, the name of a director and the names of several actors from a hat.  After a long night of writing, rehearsals begin the next morning, and the brand-new short plays get their one and only performance that evening.  The event has become a much-anticipated annual celebration of community and talent for both artists and audiences from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

"That first year ended up being pure chaotic magic, and we realized we had something wonderfully special on our hands," said Katherine Amadeo.  "It is humbling, and we continue to be awed by the outpouring of generosity and love this community has shown to us, time and again."

Tickets for the Carbonell ceremony, which is open to the public, are $31.86.  The show goes on at 7:30 p.m. at the Broward Center, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale.  For information, call 954-462-0222 or visit the Broward Center web site.

(Photos, from top, show Scott Shiller, Iris Acker, Antonio and Katherine Amadeo.)

August 18, 2014

'On Your Feet' sets an opening, a theater and Miami auditions

IMG_NEDERLANDER_ORGANIZA_2_1_9U2D2164_L58054614On Your Feet, the upcoming Broadway bio musical about Miami music superstars Gloria and Emilio Estefan, is less than a year away from its tryout run at Chicago's Oriental Theatre.  On Monday, producers James L. Nederlander, Estefan Enterprises and Bernie Yuman announced a worldwide casting search for all the roles in the show -- including the chance to play the leading lady, the most successful Latin crossover artist in history.

The casting search -- dubbed Reach Gloria (#ReachGloria) -- has three facets:  online, a Sept. 9 open casting at New York's Pearl Studios, and another open casting Sept. 21 at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. 

"Finding the right performers to tell our story on the Broadway stage is the most important step in this project.  Our own journey together started in Miami, a city that has been such an inspiration to us both, and it only felt right that the city be a cornerstone of our search for the next generation of bright talent," Gloria Estefan said in a statement.

Audition videos can be submitted via, which also has more details and a submission link.

The musical's Chicago tryout runs June 2-July 5, then the show moves to Broadway's Marquis Theatre.  New York previews start Oct. 5, and the official opening night is Nov. 5, 2015.

Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell is directing On Your Feet, which features a script by Alexander Dinelaris and music drawn from the Estefans' vast catalog of hits, including 1-2-3, Conga, Rhythm Is Gonna Get You and Mi Tierra.  Sergio Trujillo, whose credits include Jersey Boys and Memphis, will be the choreographer.

June 11, 2013

The sounds of musicals fill the summer

If you're a voracious theater fan, you may be feeling that your summer calendar looks kind of light -- and you'd be right, mostly.  There aren't dozens of full-fledged productions, though we do have City Theatre's Summer Shorts, Slow Burn Theatre's The Wedding Singer, Rated P for Parenthood at Actors' Playhouse, Cock and Good People at GableStage, Brighton Beach Memoirs and Character Man at Stage Door in Coral Springs, The Facts of LIfe: The Lost Episode at Empire Stage, plus 8-Track: The Sounds of the '70s and Waist Watchers the Musical at the Plaza Theatre in Manalapan. Miami's Arsht Center will play host to two big summer shows, 8CHO and Slava's Snowshow.

There are college summer festivals at Florida Atlantic University (Side by Side by Sondheim, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and The Man Who Came to Dinner are on the bill) and at Florida International University (featuring an alumni showcase, Bachelorette, Reverse Psychology, A Thousand Years and a Glengarry Glen Ross featuring successful FIU acting alums), plus a Broward Center anthology event celebrating five years of work by Conundrum Stages. The 28th edition of the International Hispanic Theatre Festival plays the Arsht Center's Carnival Studio Theater in July. And there are play-reading events too, notably the Women's Theatre Project's Girl Play 2013 and the ongoing Summer Theatre Fest Stages of the Sun reading series on Mondays through Aug. 26 at various theaters.

But this summer also brings something special in the form of concert presentations of musicals at two Palm Beach County theaters.

Louis TyrrellAt the Theatre at Arts Garage in Delray Beach, this month's Summer Tune-Up is already under way.  The series, which happens at 7:30 p.m. each Thursday under the guidance of artistic director Louis Tyrrell, features reading-style concert presentations of fresh new musicals.  This week it's The Longing and the Short of it, a theatrical song cycle by Daniel Maté; on June 20, it's The Hostage Song by Clay McLeod Chapman and Kyle Jarrow; and on June 27, the musical is Dani Girl by Michael Kooman and Chris Dimond.

Admission to each event is $15-$20 ($5 more at the door).  The Theatre at Arts Garage is at 180 NE First St., Delray Beach.  Call 561-450-6357 or visit the web site for more information.

More lavish concert versions of classic musicals are planned for July and August at Palm Beach Dramaworks, 201 Clematis St., West Palm Beach, where Dancing at Lughnasa is in its final week.  Former Caldwell Theatre Company artistic director Clive Cholerton will helm the popular Dale Wasserman-Mitch Leigh-Joe Darion musical Man of La Mancha July 10-21, then move on to Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's Company, which will run Aug. 7-18.

Performances of both musicals are 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, with tickets priced at $35.  For information, call 561-514-4042 or visit the theater's web site.



May 03, 2013

Summer Shorts plays are set

SummerShortsLogos_yellowCity Theatre's popular Summer Shorts festival goes into rehearsals in a little over two weeks, and now we know what plays the company -- Renata Eastlick, Irene Adjan, Ken Clement, Todd Allen Durkin, Rayner Garranchan and Vera Varlamov -- will be rehearsing.

This year's program consists of a dozen plays divided by an intermission, with Producing Artistic Director John Manzelli, Antonio Amadeo, Margaret M. Ledford and Mcley LaFrance doing the staging.

Seven of this year's plays are world premieres:  Kendra Blevins' iZombie, Holly Hepp-Galvan's Departure, David Bar Katz's Handing Down the Recipe and Mothra vs. the Casting Agent, An Allegory, Nina Mansfield's Bite Me, Susan Westfall's Feel the Tango and Steve Yockey's Serendipty.  Also part of this year's festival are Leslie Ayvazian's The Favor, Matt Hoverman's The Student, Rick Park's Please Report Any Suspicious Activity, Paul Rudnick's The Gay Agenda and Sheri Wilner's A Tall Order.

Summer Shorts begins June 7 and runs through June 30 in the Carnival Studio Theater at the Adrienne Arsht Center's Ziff Ballet Opera House, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.  Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, and tickets are $35.  For more information, visit City Theatre's web site.


February 19, 2013

City Theatre picks its Summer Shorts company

Irene Adjen (Emily) and Todd Durkin (David) in Green Dot Day - photo credit Rodrigo Gaya, WORLD RED EYEBlink and it will be summer, so it's no surprise that City Theatre has put most of the pieces of its 18th annual Summer Shorts festival together.  Artistic director John Manzelli has just revealed the six performers who will make up the must-be-versatile acting company, and it's a good one.  Back again are Irene Adjan and Todd Allen Durkin, two standouts from last year's troupe.  They're joined by Ken Clement, Renata Eastlick, Rayner G. Garranchan and Vera Varlamov.  Long-time festival fans will note that Stephen Trovillion, aka "Mr. Summer Shorts," isn't in the company this year, though he has appeared in nearly every festival so far.

"I think change is a good thing sometimes," Manzelli says.  "I'm sure Steve will be back.  I've wanted to work with Ken for a long time, and I'm excited to bring Irene and Todd back."

Manzelli will be sharing most of the directing duties for the festival, which will run June 6-30 in the Carnival Studio Theater at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, with Margaret M. Ledford.  Mcley LaFrance will direct one of the short plays, and another guest director will stage one play.

The lineup of plays and playwrights is coming soon.  But Manzelli says that the Arsht program, while presented as a single production, will have an intermission separating six plays dubbed Program A, six in Program B.  The annual CityWrights playwrights' weekend will return too, with the program to be announced shortly.

The Miami lineup won't travel to Broward. Instead, City Theatre will coproduce a four-week short-play program with Island City Stage in August.  That program will focus heavily on work by South Florida playwrights, Manzelli says.

Also on the horizon is a January-February Florida tour for Dr. Wonderful, the company's musical for family audiences.  And Manzelli is working toward a regional/national tour of Summer Shorts next season.

For more information, call the Arsht Center box office at 305-949-6722, visit the Arsht web site or visit City Theatre's web site.

(Photo of Irene Adjan and Todd Allen Durkin by Rodrigo Gaya of World Red Eye.)


January 23, 2013

Help get a play on...and have some fun

Murder, Fugettaboutit Poster (final)Putting on a play is never easy nor cheap, at least if you're aiming for high-quality professional work presented in a major performing arts center.  Alliance Theatre Lab is in the midst of a campaign to raise $5,000 for its March 7-24 production of Brothers Beckett, the David Michael Sirois comedy about twentysomethings who are finding adult life none too easy.  The award-winning play was a major hit for Alliance when the company did it almost two years ago at the Main Street Playhouse in Miami Lakes, but mounting a full production in the Carnival Studio Theater at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is way more pricey.

So the company has come up with a couple of fun fundraisers to augment its ongoing Indiegogo campaign, which will soon hit $2,000.  First up is a comic murder mystery-Italian dinner night this Sunday at 8 p.m. at Dellaventura's Pizzeria, 4120 SW 64th Ave., Davie.  (Alliance company member Mark Della Ventura, who's in the Brothers Beckett cast, is a driving force in the fundraising.)  The cost for the interactive murder mystery show, a family-style dinner and two glasses of beer or wine is $50 per person, advance reservations required.  Visit the Alliance site for reservations and info.  

Super Bowl for Beckett (portrait)On Monday, Feb. 4, the Beckett boys (and girls) will go bowling at SpareZ Bowling Alley, 5325 S. University Dr., Davie, to raise some more dough.  If that's more up your alley, the event happens from 8 to 10 p.m., with a 7:30 p.m. check-in.  Cost is $20 in advance, $25 at the door.  Again, visit the Alliance site or call 305-259-0418.  Proof that arts fundraising doesn't have to be all earnest and stodgy.

January 21, 2013

Zach Braff sees his play, Miami-style

Zach Braff1The talented (and very busy) Zach Braff, part of the soon-to-open movie Oz: The Great and Powerful, took a break from project-juggling in Los Angeles for a quick trip to Miami over the weekend.  He had heard from his dad Harold (who lives in South Florida) and others that the current Zoetic Stage production of his first play, All New People, was really good and rather different from the play's 2011 New York production and the 2012 London production in which Braff played the suicidal yet appealing Charlie.

So he flew to Miami with his girlfriend and saw the Saturday night performance with her, his dad and other family members.  The verdict, according to Zoetic artistic director Stuart Meltzer?  He liked it.

To be there for Braff's hush-hush visit, Meltzer drove back to Miami from Key West, where he's directing a production of Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks for the Waterfront Playhouse (it previews Jan. 29-30, opens Jan. 31 and runs through Feb. 16).  After the show, the former Scrubs star posed for photos with the cast, offered positive feedback, and then everyone went to the nearby City Hall restaurant for a happy late-night dinner.

DSC_6965All New People winds up its run in the Arsht's Carnival Studio Theater on Sunday.  Performances are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday, with tickets priced at $40 and $45.  Meltzer says the shows have been packed, to a large degree with theater lovers 40 and younger.  If you want to see what Braff wrote -- and what he saw -- call the Arsht at 305-949-6722 or visit the web site. The Carnival is in the Ziff Ballet Opera House at 1300 Biscayne Blvd.

Oh, and Meltzer says Braff is warm, humble and very nice. That's not always the case with Hollywood types, but it's refreshing to hear that the director, writer and star of Garden State is one of the good guys.

(Photos of Braff solo and Braff with cast members Todd Allen Durkin, Betsy Graver, Nicholas Richberg and Amy McKenna by Nathan Valentine/World Red Eye.)

September 14, 2012

Zoetic Stage joins National New Play Network

ZOETIC- I AM MY OWN WIFE (WAHL) 1 The National New Play Network (NNPN) has a new member company: Zoetic Stage, which will kick off its season Oct. 4-21 with Doug Wright's Pulitzer Prize-winning I Am My Own Wife. The play, a solo show starring Tom Wahl as Charlotte von Mahlsdorf (a German man who lived as a woman and survived both the Nazis and East German communists), will be done in the Carnival Studio Theater at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.  Zoetic's work is part of the Arsht's Theater Up Close series, and this particular play is one of the offerings during the center's ongoing Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project.

The NNPN affiliation is a valuable one for Zoetic in two ways.  As artistic director Stuart Meltzer observes in announcing the relationship, "It is vital to the health of every community that new writers continue to strive, question society and bring humanity back to our social media-frenzied world.  Becoming a member means that we can now include our very own playwrights on a larger circuit and recruit the work of outside playwrights to Miami."

In NNPN's model, several theaters agree to stage a "rolling world premiere" of a script they all like, giving a playwright different productions of a new play, exposing the work to audiences in different cities and allowing the writer to do ongoing developmental work between premieres.  Zoetic, which has staged world premieres by founding playwrights Michael McKeever (South Beach Babylon and Moscow) and Christopher Demos-Brown (Captiva), will now have more opportunities to help the work it originates have an ongoing life.

Miami's New Theatre, which will stage Robert Caisley's Happy Nov. 30-Dec. 16 as part of a rolling world premiere, is part of NNPN, as are the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre and Sarasota's Florida Studio Theatre.

August 24, 2012

Storm scrubs Sunday 'Donkey Show'

IMG_3185The Donkey Show is racing toward its final performance on Sept. 2, but due to the uncertainty surrounding Tropical Storm Isaac's impact on South Florida, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts has canceled the 7:30 p.m. show for this Sunday, Aug. 26.

The center's popular melding of A Midsumnmer Night's Dream and Studio 54 goes on as scheduled this Friday-Saturday at 7:30 and 10:30 p.m., then has its closing weekend performances at 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 2.

Harry Casey of K.C. and the Sunshine Band hosts tonight's shows and each of next weekend's performances.  Tickets range from $25 to $75, depending on the performance, and there are discount deals.  For information on the show or ticket exchanges for this Sunday's canceled show, call the Arsht at 305-949-6722 or visit the center's web site.

(Photo by Justin Namon)

August 06, 2012

'Donkey' extends, New Theatre picks, Ground Up resurfaces

Some late-Monday random theater news you can use:

19donkey071212 donkey show ADD*  The Arsht Center's big summer deal, The Donkey Show, is extending through Aug. 18.  But the center wants more booty-shakers at its disco remixed Midsummer Night's Dream, so special weekend theme nights and discounts are being offered.  The 7:30 p.m. shows on Friday have a girls' night out theme; groups of five or more using the promo code GIRLS get a discount.  After-parties follow the Friday shows at Ricochet (Aug. 10) and Will Call (Aug. 17).  Show your Donkey Show ticket stub to get free admission and a cocktail.

Guys get a boys' night out experience at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, with groups of five or more getting a price break. Use the promo code BOYS on the Arsht's web site. Harry Casey, the KC of KC and the Sunshine Band, hosts earlier Boogie Nights performances at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Regular prices are $45-$60 for the dance floor, $60-$75 for VIP seating, depending on the performance. Need info? Call the Arsht box office at 305-949-6722 or visit the web site.

* New Theatre has filled in the other half of its four-play 2012-2013 season lineup.  The world premiere of Robert Caisley's Happy kicks off the lineup Sept. 7-23. Then comes a fresh production of Willy Russell's Educating Rita, to be directed by Steven A. Chambers; that one runs Nov. 30-Dec. 16.  The world premiere of artistic director Ricky J. Martinez's play Road Through Heaven runs Feb. 1-17, and the season winds up with a Martinez-directed production of John Pielmeier's Agnes of God April 26-May 12.  The theater is also inaugurating a late-night series of edgy theater dubbed BOOMFrog, which will run Oct. 19-27 and March 15-23.  Subscribers will get admission to two BOOMFrog performances with their season passes.

Subscriptions are $160 if you buy before Aug. 17, $210 after.  New Theatre performs at the Roxy Performing Arts Center, 1645 SW 107th Ave., Miami.  Call 305-443-5909 or visit the company's web site for more info.

-GA- JC PP #1 2012*  Ground Up & Rising is resurfacing on Saturday with two free performances of an hour-long adaptation of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.  Curtis Belz did the adaptation and appears in the show along with Collin Carmouze (who also directs), David Gallegos and Jenny Lorenzo.  Future Ground Up plans include a free hour-long Macbeth and a black-box production of John Patrick Shanley's Danny and the Deep Blue Sea.

Julius Caesar happens at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday at the Miami Beach Botannical Garden, 2000 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach.  Call 305-673-7256, ext. 201, for info.