March 29, 2013

Sánchez to receive Abbott Award at Carbonells

05-MarioSanchez-7711Each year at the Carbonell Awards, someone is honored for his or her long-term, significant contributions to the arts in South Florida.  At the 37th annual Carbonell ceremony on Monday, the evening's highest honor -- the George Abbott Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts -- will be presented to Mario Ernesto Sánchez.

The founder of Miami's Teatro Avante came to the United States from Cuba on a Pedro Pan flight when he was 15.  After launching his Spanish-language company in 1979, Sánchez took on a large-scale annual challenge in 1985:  the International Hispanic Theatre Festival.  In July, he'll oversee the 28th edition of the festival at in the Carnival Studio Theater at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and Teatro Prometeo.

Sánchez, who pays most of his bills with a busy career as a film and TV actor, has been hugely influential in elevating Spanish-language theater in South Florida.  The festival showcases adventurous, important productions from the Spanish-speaking world and beyond, and Teatro Avante has represented Miami at festivals around the world.   Sánchez has emphasized inclusion by presenting his shows with English supertitles and sometimes choosing productions that are more movement-driven than language-based.

Serious Spanish-language theater in South Florida is on the rise -- and Sánchez's festival, company and unwavering passion for his art form have plenty to do with that.

CarbonellAlso being honored during the Carbonell ceremony, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale, is Actors' Equity Association.  In celebration of its 100th anniversary, the actors' union will receive the Ruth Foreman Award, named for the late South Florida theater pioneer.

A trio of students from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties will receive $1,000 Carbonell scholarships to pursue education in theater or journalism.  This year's honorees are Sammi-Jack Martincak of the New World School of the Arts, Christian Frost of J.P. Taravella High School and Jade Zaroff of West Boca Community High School.

The Carbonell ceremony isn't just a one-after-the-other awards presentation, of course.  It's also an impressive show that highlights nominated musicals and plays from 2012.  This year's show and ceremony has been put together by two Zoetic Stage founders who just happen to be nominees themselves:  producer Michael McKeever, whose play Moscow is up for best new work and who got a scenic design nomination for his I Am My Own Wifeset; and director Stuart Meltzer, whose direction of Zoetic's I Am My Own Wife earned him a nomination.

IMG_quartet_3_1_O3593M2TUnder the musical direction of Caryl Fantel, the show will feature five performances by actors nominated for their work in musicals.  Vicki Lewis will sing Before the Parade Passes By fromthe Maltz Jupiter Theatre's Hello, Dolly!.  Former Miss America Kate Shindle will perform the title song from the Maltz's Cabaret.  Jodie Langel will sing I Miss the Mountains, one of her numbers in the Actors' Playhouse production of Next to Normal.  Matt Loehr, a double nominee for the Maltz's Hello, Dolly! and The Music Man, will sing Ya Got Troublefrom the latter.  And Wayne LeGette will perform The Stock Exchange Song from the Theatre at Arts Garage's production of Cabaret Verboten.

This year for the first time the Carbonell organization will be tweeting out the names of winners.  Follow those dramatic developments @CarbonellAwards.

Anyone can attend the show and ceremony, and there are still some tickets remaining.  They're $25 in advance, $35 at the door.  For tickets or information, call 954-462-0222 or visit the Broward Center web site.

(Photos show Mario Ernesto Sánchez, the Carbonell Award and the cast of Cabaret Verboten, with Wayne LeGette second from top.)



March 26, 2013

South Florida Theatre League has a racy proposition

Bed_Concept2 copyThe South Florida Theatre League wants get in bed with the arts.

The umbrella organization for theaters from Miami to Jupiter has come up with a novel campaign to ratchet up awareness of the region's theatrical riches.  Bombshell Productions is building a bed on wheels that will travel from theater to theater during the annual WLRN Summer Theatre Fest June 1-Aug. 31, stopping at different theaters before Thursday performances.  Its final destination: the Coconut Grove Bed Race on Labor Day Weekend.

The League intends to do interviews with curious theater fans, asking them about what theater and the arts mean to them.  The fans can pose for photos beside the bed or, if they're adventurous, on it.  Interviews and photos will be posted on the League's web site.

CarbonellThe bed will make an early debut on Monday before the 37th annual Carbonell Awards -- or "Theater Prom," as the glammed-up theater folks call it -- outside the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.  The ceremony-show starts at 7:30 p.m., and afterwards, the bed will lead the way to the League-sponsored after party.

The full schedule of when and where the bed will appear will be released soon.  But expect it to turn up outside theaters with family-friendly fare (Slava's Snowshow at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts July 31-Aug. 25, Wind in the Willows at Sol Children's Theatre Aug. 9-25) as well as theaters with plays whose titles invite an adults-only audience (Cock at GableStage May 18-June 16, and a Mad Cat world premiere of a play about Isabella Blow Aug. 15-Sept. 1).


(Rendering of bed by Bombshell Productions; Carbonell Award statue designed by Manuel Carbonell) 


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 22, 2013

Teatro Avante returns with 'El no'

XXVII - IHTF - Avante closed out the XXVII International Hispanic Theatre festival in July with its production of Cuban playwright Virgilio Piñera's El no.  Adapted by Gilda Santana and directed by Mario Ernesto Sánchez, the play is about the eternal conflict between generations, and it boasts a powerhouse case in Isabel Moreno, Gerardo Riverón, Maribel Barrios and Julio Rodríguez.  The play is performed in Spanish with English supertitles.

Avante is bringing the play back to South Florida Thursday through Sunday for a run at the On Stage Black Box at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium, 2901 W. Flagler St., Miami.  Performances are 8:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday, with tickets priced at $30, with discounts available for seniors, students and disabled theatergoers.  Call Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000 or the box office at 305-547-5414.

November 13, 2012

24-Hour Theatre delivers magic at warp speed

IMG_0594The one-night-only performance of the eight little plays created for Naked Stage's 24-Hour Theatre Project 2012 has come and gone.  Hopefully, the sleep-deprived playwrights are starting to feel human again today, thanks to much-needed zzzzs and the satisfaction of a job well done.  As for artistic director Katherine Amadeo and her multitasking hubby Antonio Amadeo (the author, director, designer and star of the current A Man Puts on a Play at Barry University's Pelican Theatre), after being up for 48 hours straight, they deserve a week at a spa. But the fact that they are parents to school-age daughter Lara and baby son Max makes that an unlikely fantasy.

IMG_0613Naked Stage's annual fundraising event has become a much-anticipated opportunity for South Florida's theater community to show just how impressive its work can be under the tightest of time constraints.  After the playwrights did their thing over the hours when Sunday evening morphed into Monday morning, actors, directors, stage managers and interns arrived at the Biltmore Hotel at the raw hour of 7 a.m. Monday to learn their newly created lines, get the plays up on their feet, and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse before the single 8 p.m. public performance at GableStage, the place where 24-Hour Theatre began six years ago.  The free hosting of the event was, once again, thanks to GableStage artistic director Joseph Adler; as Antonio Amadeo noted from the stage, Adler supports the theater community again and again by turning over his space for readings, performances and events like 24-Hour Theatre.

IMG_0620This year, the audience of theater folk and theater fans got a lot of bang for their ticket price bucks.  As always, there were hits, misses and messes, but overall, South Florida theater did itself proud.

For me, the loveliest and fullest play of the evening was Stuart Meltzer's Pieces of Lisa.  Staged by Amy London and driven by Nicholas Richberg's quietly magnetic performance as a grieving son, the play explored the different mourning styles of three disparate brothers and their stoic father.  Meltzer's writing was funny, clever and touching, and Pieces of Lisa is clearly a short play worthy of a future life.

Christopher Demos-Brown went for smart, funny dialogue mixed with a snippet of meta theater in The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, a comedy about four parents at a tony private school who have been called on the carpet for the sin of sending a kid to school with a banned peanut butter sandwich. Funniest moment: When Tracey Barrow-Schoenblatt as a sexy mom and Oscar Cheda as a gay dad looked at an exquisitely attired, ridiculously in shape Jim Ballard and voiced the same simultaneous thought: "He's hot."  With some tweaks, Peanut Butter could stick around too.

IMG_0555Also on the plus side: Juan C. Sanchez's Splintered, a play about a man (Clive Cholerton) certain that his departed wife (Barbara Sloan) isn't really gone; Michael McKeever's Goldfish Don't Bounce, a neat comedy about a newly-in-love young couple (Arielle Hoffman and Adam Simpson) and an unhappily married pair (Lela Elam and Wayne LeGette) "celebrating" their 14th anniversary; and Andie Arthur's Mermaids in the Attic, a haunting piece (featuring Troy Davidson, Julie Kleiner and Hunter McConnell) about the loss of two generations of women in a family.

Tony Finstrom's Myth America aspired to be a raucous Southern Gothic comedy about a family's secrets spilled onstage.  Christopher DePaola's dark Pontius Co-Pilot featured Anne Chamberlain as a deceptively wholesome-looking drug dealer.  Marjorie O'Neill-Butler's Satan's Cheerleaders was an idea that proved hellish, in the end.

A large cross-section of South Florida's far-flung theater artists gather and mix three times a year:  At the annual Carbonell Awards, which honor some of the best work done during the previous year; at the Theatre League's annual holiday party, where the Silver Palm Awards are bestowed; and at the 24-Hour Theatre Project.  Naked Stage's event isn't about competition.  It's about creativity and community-building.  And on that score, 24-Hour Theatre delivered as it always does -- impressively.

(Photos of 24-Hour Theatre Project 2012 by George Schiavone)







November 11, 2012

24-Hour Theatre 2012 is off and running

24-2012-art2It's Sunday night -- do you know where your playwrights are? For eight South Florida writers, the answer is that they're somewhere in the regal elegance of the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, sweating bullets. 

By Monday at 8 p.m., those currently-in-process short plays will be in front of the audience at this year's 24-Hour Theatre Project, the Naked Stage's popular annual fundraiser and theater community bonding experience.  Right now, the plays are still swirling around in the playwrights' heads, making the transition into their laptops.  But thanks to the luck-of-the-draw ceremony that took place at GableStage earlier tonight, the playwrights now have their titles, directors and casts.

If you go to the one-and-only performance at GableStage Monday evening, here's what you'll see:

Mermaids in the Attic by Andie Arthur, directed by Dan Kelley, featuring Troy Davidson, Hunter McConnell, Julie Kleiner and Shane Tanner.

The Peanut Butter Conspiracy by Christopher Demos-Brown, directed by Michael Leeds, featuring Jim Ballard, Oscar Cheda, Tracey Barrow-Schoenblatt and Matthew William Chizever.

Pontius Co-Pilot by Christopher De Paola, directed by Skye Whitcomb, featuring Anne Chamberlain, George Schiavone, Mcley Lafrance and Karen Stephens.

Myth America by Tony Finstrom, directed by Avi Hoffman, feautring Sally Bondi, Patti Gardner, Amy Miller Brennan and Andy Quiroga.

Goldfish Don't Bounce by Michael McKeever, directed by Andy Rogow, featuring Lela Elam, Wayne LeGette, Arielle Hoffman and Adam Simpson.

Pieces of LIsa by Stuart Meltzer, directed by Amy London, featuring Clay Cartland, David Perez-Ribada, Dan Leonard and Nicholas Richberg.

Satan's Cheerleaders by Marjorie O'Neill-Butler, directed by Nicole Stodard, featuring Meredith Bartmon, Sabrina Lynn Gore, Dave Corey and Amy McKenna.

Splintered by Juan C. Sanchez, directed by Hugh Murphy, featuring Alex Alvarez, Noah Levine, Clive Cholerton and Barbara Sloan.

You can be a part of the first and only audience to see the world premieres of these eight new plays, which open and close Monday at GableStage in the Biltmore, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables.  Tickets are $35 ($50 for a reserved VIP seat and a souvenir poster).  Call 1-866-811-4111 or visit the Naked Stage web site for tickets.

June 12, 2012

Durang, Ayvazian headline CityWrights weekend

ChristopherDurang_credit Susan JohannChristopher Durang and Leslie Ayvazian are celebrated playwrights, actors and teachers.  This Friday and Saturday, they'll draw on all that expertise as they play various roles during CityWrights, a City Theatre-sponsored conference for playwrights backed by a significant grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation's Knight Arts Challenge.

Durang, who is coming to the symposium as part of the Dramatists Guild's Traveling Masters program, is the award-winning author of such stinging, funny plays as Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You, Beyond Therapy, A History of the American Film, Baby with the Bathwater, The Marriage of Bette and Boo, Miss Witherspoon (a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize), and Why Torture Is Wrong, and The People Who Love Them(produced at Plantation's Mosaic Theatre in 2009).  He and Marsha Norman co-chair the play-writing program at Juilliard, and he has acted in his own work and in 10 movies.

Ayvazian, an adjunct professor at Columbia University, is an award-winning playwright and actress who performed her solo show High Dive in 2002  for City Theatre at Miami Beach's Colony Theater (South Florida actress Barbara Sloan also did the play in 2011 at New Theatre).  Her other plays include Deaf Day, Nine Armenians and Make Me, and her acting gigs have ranged from Broadway to multiple episodes in the various Law & Order series.

Other presenters and participants in CityWrights, which was put together by City Theatre co-founder and literary director Susan Westfall, include director of the Center for the Theater Commons and HowlRoundeditor Polly Carl, Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival coordinator Billie Davis, writer-musician Ivan Anderson, playwright and South Florida Theatre League executive director Andie Arthur, Atlantic Theater Company associate artistic director Christian Parker, Dramatists Guild Fund executive director Rachel Routh, literary agency head Susan Schulman, Broadway producer Joan Stein, director-writer-producer Roland Tec, former National New Play Network president and Florida Stage managing director Nancy Barnett, Samuel French literary manager Amy Rose Marsh, artistic directors Ricky J. Martinez of New Theatre and John Manzelli of City Theatre, and attorneys David H. Faux, Andrew Peretz and Steven E. Eisenberg.

0407121644At Thursday's launch party from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Sabadell United Bank Building, City Theatre will honor playwright Carey Crim, whose Green Dot Day won the 2012 City Theatre National Award for Short Playwriting.  Currently part of the Summer Shorts festival at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, the play is about a couple trying hard, on schedule, to have a baby.  Fifteen other playwrights will be honored as finalists during the event.

Two days of CityWrights sessions will take place Friday and Saturday at Miami's Epic Hotel, 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way, with a wrap-up Samuel French presentationn on Sunday morning. Sessions will focus on the art and business of putting up a show, the rights of playwrights, writing and creative sessions, the art of collaboration, the playwright as actor and director, submitting work and more, and Ayvazian and Durang will read from their new work Saturday evening.

The cost of attending the entire conference is $325 ($275 for Florida professionals), and City Theatre is now offering a $150 day rate for Friday or Saturday.  For information, call 305-755-9401, ext. 10, email or visit the company's web site.




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)



February 29, 2012

Arts Garage celebrates new plays

Louis04 NEWPLAYS TROP RDENew play work was Louis Tyrrell's passion during the 24 years he served as artistic director of the late, lamented Florida Stage.  So it's no surprise that Tyrrell is launching his new venture, the Theatre at Arts Garage in Delray Beach, with a smaller-scale version of a new play festival, the kind of event that was a big draw at the debt-burdened Florida Stage before it suddenly shut down in June.

Though the artsy location in Delray Beach off bustling Atlantic Avenue is more intimate and modest, the names involved in the New Play Fest are big ones, including keynote speaker (and Pulitzer Prize winner) Marsha Norman.

The festival, which begins Thursday and runs through Sunday, offers six play readings over its four days.  Tickets to the readings and Norman's speech are $15-$20 for each event, or you can pay $112 and get into everything.

The fest begins with a reading of Lauren Gunderson's Exit, Pursued by a Bear at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.  Des Gallant directs Nancy Noto, Andrew Wind, Taylor Staniforth and Scott Douglas Wilson  in a play described as a contemporary Southern revenge comedy.

John Briggs directs the 7:30 p.m. Friday reading of William Mastrosimone's Oblivion.  Antonio Amadeo, Marckenson Charles, Cliff Burgess , Natasha Sherritt, Steven Chambers and Andrea Conte appear in the play about a composer who tries to rescue a drug-addicted young woman.

At 2 p.m. Saturday, Margaret Ledford directs the reading of Jessica Goldberg's Better, a play about a family dealing with a fatal illness.  In the cast are David Sirois, David Nail, Amy McKenna, Bruce Linser, Peter Haig, Barbara Bradshaw and Deborah Sherman. 

Marsha00 norman sun hoNorman delivers her keynote address, Writing the Third Act, at 7 p.m. Saturday.  At 8 p.m., Tyrrell directs a reading of her play Nightly News from the War on Women, about human trafficking and violence toward women.  In the cast are Alan Gerstel, Julie Rowe, Damian Robinson, Mayumi combs, Lou Tyrrell, Karen Stephens and Jessica Peterson.

On Sunday at 2 p.m., Clayton Phillips directs a reading of Bruce Graham's The Outgoing Tide, a play about a family and a man who decides to take charge of his life.  Actors Kelli Mohrbacher, Dan Leonard, Barbara Bradshaw and Peter Tedeschi are in the cast.

The festival's final reading  is at 7 p.m. Sunday.  Israel Horovitz directs his own Gloucester Blue, a play involving secrets, sexual tensions and much more.  David Nail, Amy McKenna, Robert Walsh and Wayne LeGette are featured in the cast.

The Theatre at Arts Garage is at 180 NE First St., Delray Beach, and it really is in a garage, so parking is no problem.

Need info?  Call 561-450-6357 or visit the organization's 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.