October 27, 2014

24-Hour Theatre is back, as art with a heartfelt purpose


South Florida theater's most creative benefit, the 24-Hour Theatre Project, returns this evening for one night only, with the aim of helping one of the theater community's own. Eight playwrights spent the late hours of Sunday and wee hours of Monday writing short plays spun from titles on a list created by the Naked Stage's artistic director, Katherine Amadeo.  And Monday night at 8 p.m. at Palm Beach Dramaworks, the results of their sleepless creativity will unfold with participation from many of the region's finest artists.

Theater fans who fork over $30 for a ticket ($50 for VIP seating and a poster) will get to see the only performance of eight brand-new works.  And they'll be helping to put a dent in the considerable medical expenses of Dana Castellano, a Women's Theatre Project board member who has waged a fierce fight with cervical cancer since January.

In July, when the community came together to perform a benefit dubbed The Dana Plays, Castellano explained her deep love of theater.

Untitled"The more I was around theater, the more I loved it.  You see an amazing show and use your imagination, which is something we lose just going to the movies," said Castellano, who had emergency surgery a few weeks ago.

As for what you'll see tonight if you make the trek to West Palm Beach, here's the rundown.

Antonio Amadeo, who co-founded the Naked Stage with his wife and pal John Manzelli, is the author of Coin-Operated Boy, which is being staged by Thinking Cap Theatre founder and artistic director Nicole Stodard.  Alex Alvarez, Tracey Barrow-Schoenblatt, Troy Davidon and Matthew Korinko are in the cast, and Amanda Bartmon is stage managing.  Andie Arthur's The Monsters of Madison Avenue, directed by Slow Burn Theatre's Patrick Fitzwater, features Noah Levine, Kevin Reilley, Barbara Sloan and Shane Tanner, with Stephanie Meskauskas as stage manager.

Tony Finstrom's The Last Viking, staged by Steven Chambers, features Meredith Bartmon, Sally Bondi, Julie Kleiner and Lourelene Snedeker, with Kent Wilson stage managing.  Michael Leeds is the author of May Divorce Be With You, which will be staged by Margaret Ledford. In that cast are Michelle Brino, Niki Fridh, Christina Groom and Joe Kimble, with Shonna Rash as stage manager.

Katherine AmadeoMichael McKeever's offering is Last Trip on the Mothership, staged by Amy London and featuring Clay Cartland, Dave Corey, Sabrina Gore and Adam Simpson, with Louis Brady stage managing. David Nail has written a play titled Soul Control, to be staged by Barbara Bradshaw.  Laura Hodos, Margot Moreland, Rick Peña and Josh Stoughton are in the cast, and Nikki Hudak is stage manager.

Karen Stephens' play is titled Phineas Finds His Way.  Kim St. Leon directs Beverly Blanchette, Nick Duckart, Jeni Hacker and Pierre Tannous, with Rachel Chin stage managing.  Matt Stabile is the author of Life, in 140 Characters or Less.  Andy Rogow is staging the play, and cast features Nanique Gheridian, Amy McKenna, Ann Marie Olson and Skye Whitcomb, with Patrick Rodriguez as stage manager.

All of the artists are contributing their time and talents to one of the theater community's signature annual events.  And this year, that art is in service of someone widely loved and admired.

Palm Beach Dramaworks is located at 201 Clematis St., West Palm Beach.  For tickets, call 561-514-4042, ext. 2, or visit the Dramaworks web site.

August 08, 2014

One busy August theater weekend

South Florida theater is anything but dead in the summer.  This weekend, you have the ongoing productions of Samuel D. Hunter's The Whale at GableStage in Coral Gables, Mid-Life 2! (The Crisis Continues) at Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables, H2OMBRE at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center, Butterflies Are Free at Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs.  But there are other options too, three of them just opening.

Lovett HeraldThe catch-it-before-it-closes exception is the ambitious production of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at Area Stage Company in Coral Gables. Sondheim's music is challenging enough for most professional adult actors, but Area's cast is drawn from students in its highly regarded, five-year-old conservatory program. Artistic director John Rodaz, who founded the company 25 years ago on Miami Beach's Lincoln Road, cast Katerina McCrimmon as the crafty Mrs. Lovett and Javier Romero as the vengeful, murderous barber. 

The final four performances are at 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday and 8 p.m. Aug. 16.  Area performs at the Riviera Theatre, 1560 S. Dixie Hwy., Coral Gables.  Tickets are $10-$25.  Call 305-666-2078 or visit the company's web site for details.

Smiling AMENFort Lauderdale's Thinking Cap Theatre is offering more provocative food for thought with the opening of Young Jean Lee's Church.  The site-specific production about faith and the evangelists who preach it is taking place in a revival-style tent next to The Vanguard, the company's future home, at 1501 S. Andrews Ave.  Nicole Stodard directs Carey Brianna Hart, Scott Douglas Wilson, Ann Marie Olson and Vanessa Elise as the evangelists, and Sabrina Gore leads a praise band featuring Mariah Busk, A.J. Calaluca, Chas Collins, Michael Friedman, Amy S. London and Miles Smith. 

Performances are 8 p.m. Friday-Sunday, with an additional show at 10 p.m. Saturday, through Aug. 24.  Since it does tend to rain (a lot) this time of year in South Florida, the show will move to the Muse Center for the Arts, 99 SW 14th St., Fort Lauderdale, if the heavens open up.  Tickets are $28 ($15 for students).  For info, call 813-220-1546 or visit the theater's web site.

SGW.5.webAlso in suddenly theater-jammed Fort Lauderdale, City Theatre and Island City Stage are opening Shorts Gone Wild 2, a fresh batch of adult-oriented, LGBT-friendly short plays .  On this year's program are Lion in a Bear Bar and Sarah Stein Sends a Selfie by Michael McKeever, I Alone by Christopher Demos-Brown, The Emperor Is Naked! by Michael Leeds, The Last Time I Saw Bathhouse Betty by Tony Finstrom, A Bump Between Friends by Fielding Edlow, Game On by Gary Garrison and Glamping by Carey Crim. 

Margaret M. Ledford, Teddy Harrell, Gail S. Garrisan and Leeds direct the versatile company, which features Niki Fridh, Matthew Stabile, Gladys R. Benton, Renee Elizabeth Turner, Larry Buzzeo and Craig Moody.  Shorts Gone Wild 2 is being presented at Empire Stage, 1140 N. Flagler Dr.  Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday, through Sept. 7.  Tickets are $30.  Call 954-519-2533 or visit the Island City Stage web site for info.

Even wilder, we're guessing, is the 40th anniversary production of the 1974 revue Let My People Come opening at the Andrews Living Arts Studio, 25 NW Fifth St. in (you guessed it) Fort Lauderdale.  Staged by artistic director Robert D. Nation, the all-about-sex show features actors L'Oreal Joiner, Raibelis Paulino, Dora LaFrance, Ashley Hyde, Caleb Santos, Sujotta Pace and Brian Bonk.  Pseudonyms?  I'm betting on a few.

The show by Earl Wilson Jr. features some new music, lyrics and text, and there are interactive verbal bits (a sex trivia game, for one) that are likely to make the inhibited turn scarlet.  Not to mention artfully lit frontal nudity, and a no-one-under-18 policy.  Don't say you weren't warned.  Let My People Come runs through Sept. 6.  Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday.  Tickets are $29.95.  Call 800-838-3006 or visit the ALA web site.

(Photos of Area Stage's 'Sweeney Todd,' Thinking Cap Theatre's 'Church' and City Theatre-Island City Stage's 'Shorts Gone Wild 2')

March 07, 2014

Summer Shorts sets its company


City Theatre's popular Summer Shorts festival will unfold June 12-July 6 in the Carnival Studio Theater at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.  But already, producing artistic director John Manzelli has figured out his acting company and who will be joining him in directing this year's short plays -- Margaret M. Ledford and New Theatre artistic director Ricky J. Martinez.

Returning to the Shorts company are Irene Adjan, Elizabeth Dimon and Todd Allen Durkin.  Joining those experienced Summer Shorts actors are David Perez-Ribada, Niki Fridh and Mcley Shorts.3Lafrance.  Jodi Dellaventura will create the Shorts set, Ellis Tillman the costumes and Matt Corey the sound design.  The play titles are TBA but coming soon.

Performances will be 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday, and tickets will cost $40-$45.  To launch sales, City Theatre is offering a 20 percent early bird discount on tickets purchased by April 30.  Use the promotional code EARLY (valid for Wednesday-Friday shows).  For info, call the Arsht at 305-949-6722 or visit the center's web site.

(Pictured are Irene Adjan, Elizabeth Dimon and Todd Allen Durkin.)



October 27, 2013

24 Hour Theatre's plays are in the works

24 FrameThe hour glass -- well, the 24-Hour glass -- is off and running for the 2013 edition of The Naked Stage's popular 24 Hour Theatre Project.  Artistic director Katherine Amadeo and this year's eight playwrights gathered at Palm Beach Dramaworks Sunday evening so the writers could choose play titles and, randomly, directors and actors for the brand-new short plays that will get their one-night-only world premieres at 8 p.m. Monday.

The playwrights' mode right now?  Creativity laced with panic.

What will you see if you go to the show on Monday?

South Florida Theatre League executive director Andie Arthur is writing The Legend of Hitchhiker Jones, which will be directed by Kutumba Theatre Project's Kim Ehly.  Margery Lowe and her hubby Clive Cholerton are in the cast, along with Matt Stabile and Nanique Gheridian.

Christopher Demos-Brown, whose new full-length play Fear Up Harsh gets its world premiere Nov. 7-24 at Miami's Zoetic Stage, is writing Till Beth Do We Part.  Island City Stage artistic director Andy Rogow is directing Meredith Bartmon, Beverly Blanchette, Irene Adjan and Gregg Weiner in the play.

Mad Cat playwright, actor and company member Jessica Farr is writing Area 54, which will be directed by The Project Theatre's David Hemphill.  Adam Simpson, Wayne LeGette, Clay Cartland and Mia Matthews are in that cast.

Playwright and Silver Palm Awards executive committee member Tony Finstrom is writing The Curse of Willoughby, which Michael Leeds is directing.  That cast features Tracey Barrow-Schoenblatt, Karen Stephens, Niki Fridh and Shane Tanner.

Playwright, actor, designer and Zoetic Stage co-founder Michael McKeever is writing The Seven Deaths of Rhona Banks.  Desmond Gallant will direct Cliff Burgess, Abby Perkins, Dave Corey and Pierre Tannous in that one.

Marj O'Neill-Butler's play is The Ritual, which will be staged by Adalberto Acevedo.  Alex Alvarez, Noah Levine, George Schiavone and Patti Gardner are in the cast.

Actor and Promethean Theatre founder Deborah Sherman is writing Unearthed.  Leland Patton will direct the play, which features Laura Hodos, David Meldman, Sally Bondi and Barry Tarallo.

Mad Cat founder Paul Tei is creating a piece titled Smile as the Hearse Goes By.  Kim St. Leon will stage it, and Nick Duckart, Amy McKenna, Lela Elam and Natalia Coego are the actors.

This creative gathering of South Florida's far-flung theater community happens at Dramaworks' Don & Ann Brown Theatre is at 201 Clematis St..  General admission tickets are $30, VIP tickets (with reserved seating and a souvenir poster) run $50.  For info or tickets, call 561-514-4042, ext. 2, or visit the Dramaworks web site.





September 26, 2013

'From Scratch' celebrates new plays

One of the milestones in the developmental life of a new play -- a high-profile staged reading -- happens Sunday for the four playwrights in Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs' Playwright Image001Development Program.  Four writers mentored by award-winning playwright Deborah Zoe Laufer will hear their works read at the From Scratch festival at the Deering Estate at Cutler -- and you can take it all in for free.

First up at noon is Andie Arthur's The Secret of the Biological Clock, a piece recommended for teen audiences.  It centers on 16-year-old Jasmine, a girl determined to find her real dad with the help of a teen detective.

Flashing LIghts, a play by Edward G. Excalibur, is next up at 2 p.m.  That one is about a woman whose marriage is falling apart as she battles insomnia and binge eating.  Adult language is part of this play and the next two.

Susan Westfall's Two Weekends, which will be read at 5 p.m., is about change that affects old friends "confronted by love, loss and the arrival of the new neighbor lady."

VG pic 1The final reading, at 7 p.m., is of Vanessa Garcia's The Cuban Spring.  In it, Siomara Gonzalez faces an identity crisis that threatens her, her marriage and her oldest child.

The historic Deering Estate at Cutler is at 16701 SW 72nd Ave. in Miami.  For more information, call 305-235-1668, ext. 233, or visit the facility's web site.

(Photos show Deborah Zoe Laufer, top, and Vanessa Garcia)


June 17, 2013

Girl Play 2013 is a varied look at life from a lesbian perspective

125The Women's Theatre Project, based for its main stage productions at the Willow Theatre at Boca Raton's Sugar Sand Park, has long included plays with lesbian themes and points of view in the work that it does.  Girl Play, a festival of short-play readings, is part of that mission, and this year's fourth edition happens June 21-23.

Sixteen short plays are included in the lineup, with eight read on Friday starting at 7:30 p.m. and eight on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.  Audiences will pick their favorites, and those plays will get a second reading on Sunday at 2 p.m.

This year's plays, chosen from more than 100 submissions, are Joan Lipkin's Are You Married?, Sharon Goldner's Based on True Events, Donna Hoke's Cake Top This, Rahti Gorfien's Diaphanous, Dian "MJ" Perrin's Dyke Tracy, Detective, Karen L. Lewis' Gallery Postmortem, Jan O'Connor's Gayby's Playdate, Ruth Dyck Fehderau's Hildie and Hilda Go for a Walk, Tabia Lau's In the Water, Penny Jackson's Palpitations, Barbara Lhota's Personal Penchants, Eileen Tull's Semi-Circles, Kathleen Warnock's Sharing the Pie, Patricia Milton's Stonehenge, Michelle F. Solomon's Taste of Thai and Carol Mullen's Zero Mile Mark

Red%20CommercialDirecting the readings are Genie Croft, Marj O'Neill-Butler and Kim Ehly.  Ehly isn't just directing four shows -- she's also playing the lead in Dyke Tracy, Detective.  The other actors in Girl Play 2013 are Sally Bondi, Casey Dressler, Lela Elam, Noah Levine, Ann Marie Olson, Barbara Sloan, Karen Stephens, Carol Sussman, Pilar Uribe and Elayne Wilks.

The festival takes place at Art Gallery 21 at the Woman's Club of Wilton Manors, 600 NE 21st Ct., Wilton Manors.  Admission is $15 for one program, $25 for two and $35 for three.  Patrons on Saturday and Sunday will be given a parking pass because of the Stonewall Festival taking place those days (otherwise, parking would be $10).

For more info or tickets, call 1-866-811-4111 or visit the Women's Theatre Project web site.

Also note:  This festival is intended to be festive, so show up at least a half-hour early for drinks, music and an art exhibit.

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.


April 12, 2013

New World debuts new voices

Two college students and six high school students at the New World School of the Arts have written short plays that will debut at this weekend's 2013 New Playwrights Festival.

Directed by faculty members David Kwiat, LaVonne Canfield, Andy Quiroga and Scott Douglas Wilson, the plays explore topics including love, marital relationships, family, suicide and more.  On the program are Making the Cut by Freddy Valle, Rubbing Alcohol by Luna Rodriguez, Like Moths to Flames by Lauren DeLion, Poor, Poor Eleanor by Armando Santana, American Hotdog by Marie Becnel, Corners by Emily Wilson, One Week of April by Ciara Alyse Harris and Superboy by Jennie Coutrier.

Performances are Friday (that's today) at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m., and Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m. For info, call 305-586-9148 or 305-237-3541.  New World is at 25 NE Second St., Miami.

April 04, 2013

CityWrights offers workshops, panels, networking and more

9557120088With summer not so far away, Miami's City Theatre is gearing up for its annual Summer Shorts festival June 6-30 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts -- and for a rich week of programming in the third edition of its CityWrights gathering for playwrights.

City co-founder and literary director Susan Westfall has put together another jam-packed, enlightening symposium June 19-23 at Miami's Epic Hotel.  Two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Tina Howe will participate thanks to the Dramatists Guild Fund's Traveling Masters Program, along with master playwrights Lauren Gunderson (author of the family musical The Amazing Adventures of Dr. Wonderful and Her Dog, running June 15-30 at the Arsht) and Steve Yockey (a featured Summer Shorts playwright and stage, TV and film writer). 

Among the highlights and topics of the week:

*  Howe will send an exercise in advance to playwrights attending the conference, and the CityWrights acting ensemble will read the pieces.

*  There will be discussions or panels on how to Howe b&w finaldevelop, launch, market and legally protect work.

* Publishers and agents will offer information sessions.

*  Writing for film, theater, television and the internet will be explored.

*  Entertainment attorneys can earn continuing legal education credits and meet experts on law and the arts.

* A teacher training institute to help educators teaching middle and high school students integrate playwriting into English, language arts and theater classes is part of the conference.

* A dozen students ages 16-19 will attend the conference free, work with professionals and get a reading of their CityWrights-created work. Interested students should email CityWrights@citytheatre.com.

*  Two workshops for theater professionals, one on self-producing, the other on creating autobiographical solo shows, are part of the gathering.

114 laurenThe master playwrights and writers whose work is being produced as part of Summer Shorts will hold question-and-answer sessions about their work and careers, and the masters will read from their plays on Saturday evening.  Numerous readings will be part of the week, and the winner City Theatre's National Award for Short Playwrighting, with comes with a $1,000 prize, will be revealed at the conference launch party June 19.

Two early-bird rate all-access passes are on sale through April 30 -- $275 for regular attendees, $175 for students (those rise to $350 for a regular pass, $275 for students after the deadline).  One-day pass rates for specific programs range from $100 to $195.

To register or get more information, call 305-755-9401 or visit the City Theatre web site.

 (Photos show, top to bottom, Susan Westfall, Tina Howe and Lauren Gunderson)