November 16, 2013

New Theatre changes venue

Anyone planning to go to the opening weekend of Megan Breen's My First, My Fist, My Bleeding Seeded Spirit needs to know that the company's home base -- the Roxy Performing Arts Center at 1645 SW 107th Ave., Miami -- had a major water problem and is closed temporarily.  But artistic director Ricky J. Martinez and managing director Eileen Suarez were determined that the show must go on, so they found a new space for the Saturday and Sunday performances.

The play will get a stripped-down world premiere at Artistic Vibes, 12986 SW 89th Ave., Miami.  It's a small space in a warehouse area near the Falls Mall.  Performances there are at 8 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. Sunday, and tickets are $25.  Visit New Theatre's web page for directions and details.

May 16, 2013

New Theatre's Martinez debuts 'Road Through Heaven'

ROAD...HEAVEN photo ARicky J. Martinez, the artistic director at New Theatre, has been working on a trilogy of plays for a long time -- over 10 years, actually, starting before his graduation from Miami's New World School of the Arts.

The first play, Sin Full Heaven, debuted at New Theatre in 2007.  Now another one, Road Through Heaven, is getting its world premiere at New Theatre this weekend (the third, Heavenly Hand, is still to be produced).

Like the others, Road Through Heaven is part of what Martinez calls In God's Land: An Island Trilogy.  It is set on "a forgotten island" in the Caribbean, focusing on three people whose lives become entwined:  Jesus (Javier Cabrera), a 21-year-old who was orphaned at the age of 12;  Dolores (Evelyn Perez), a tough woman in her late 30s; and Victor (Martinez), a hard worker devoted to his woman and, increasingly, to the younger man.

"I wrote the plays because, as a first generation Cuban-American, I was trying to figure out who I was," says Martinez.  "I was influenced in this one by images of mules, men, the sky, the occult, unconditional love, balance and the suspension of time."

Martinez hadn't intended to play Victor, but when the production was moved to May and the actor who was originally cast became unavailable, director Margaret M. Ledford convinced the playwright to take on the role.

"I told him, 'I think you're perfect,'" she says.  "This is a very haunting script.  The magical realism takes everyday relationships and has them [ascend] onto an ethereal plane."

Martinez calls Ledford "an amazing visionary.  She sees that the play is more than lyricism. She can extract the realism too."

Road Through Heaven has its first performance at 8 p.m. Friday, then gets its press opening at 8 p.m. Saturday.  The show runs through June 2 at the Roxy Performing Arts Center, 1645 SW 107th Ave., Miami.  Regular performances are 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 1 and 5:30 p.m. Sunday (no evening show this Sunday).  Tickets are $40 ($35 Thursday and Sunday evening).  Students 25 and younger can get $15 rush tickets, based on availability, and the deal on opening weekend is even better:  The first 25 students under 25 get in free.

For information on New Theatre and Road Through Heaven, call 305-443-5909 or visit the company's web site.

(Photo of Javier Cabrera, Evelyn Perez and Ricky J. Martinez by Eileen Suarez)

March 04, 2013

Nan Barnett to head National New Play Network

Nan Barnett newNan Barnett, the theater professional whose business savvy helped grow Florida Stage from a college-based professional company to the country's largest regional theater devoted to new plays, has just been named the new executive director of the National New Play Network (NNPN).

 Barnett has spent this season as executive director of Actors Express in Atlanta, an NNPN member company celebrating its 25th anniversary season.  But she built her career as an actor and administrator alongside Florida Stage artistic director Louis Tyrrell until the acclaimed company, which was based in Manalapan for most of its 24 years, ceased operations in 2011 due to the bruising recession and a loss of support after a move to West Palm Beach.

Florida Stage was a NNPN member theater, and Barnett led the organization's board while she was managing director of the company.  Miami's New Theatre, Sarasota's Florida Studio Theatre and the Orlando Shakespeare Theater are also members, and Miami's Zoetic Stage is an associate member. 

"You don't get two dream jobs in a lifetime, but I think I might have," Barnett said Monday from her Atlanta office.  "NNPN has taken ideas that were floating around the field and tried them, moved them forward...Several of our programs are being replicated in other organizations, which is flattering."

Barnett said that among the NNPN initiatives with great potential are the New Play Exchange, a database of new works that should help plays come to the attention of more theaters, and NNPN associate memberships.

Founded in 1998, the NNPN began an innovative "rolling world premiere" program, in which several members theaters agree to produce a new play in the same season, giving the playwright more national exposure and the chance to continue developing a script as he or she sees what different actors and directors bring to the work.

Barnett, who earned her bachelor of fine arts degree from the North Carolina School of the Arts Professional Training Program, will start her new job in May. She and her actor-husband Gordon McConnell plan to keep their home in Florida, but she notes that the timing is right for a move:  Their son Hunter goes off to college in the fall.

She succeeds Jason Loewith, who is leaving NNPN to become artistic director of Maryland's Olney Theatre Center.  NNPN is based at Washington D.C.'s Woolly Mammoth Theatre.  For more information on NNPN, visit the organization's web site.

January 30, 2013

'The Whole Caboodle'....and even more

This weekend is one of those when a theater lover could be driving from Miami to West Palm Beach to catch the four (yes, four) new productions that are opening -- and that's not counting the forever-popular Wicked, which has returned to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts for a run through Feb. 17.

CABOODLE SPLAT! (SM)Triple Carbonell Award nominee Michael McKeever, the very successful South Florida playwright whose 1998 play 37 Postcards is going to be produced (in Russian) at the Boshoi Drama Theatre in St. Petersburg starting in June, has proven he can write it all:  comedies, dramas, full-length plays and short ones.  The Whole Caboodle, a collection of seven short McKeever plays, opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Studio Theatre in the Mizner Park Cultural Arts Center, 201 Plaza Real, Boca Raton.

Parade Productions is presenting the show, which features several plays McKeever originally wrote for Naked Stage's 24-Hour Theatre Project and City Theatre's Summer Shorts Festival.  On the bill are American Gothic, Craven Tutweiler (The Real Life Story Of), Laura Keene Goes On, Knowing Best, Splat!, Love Machine,Rusted and Move On, or Sondheim at Studio 54.

In the versatile cast are Elena Maria Garcia, Clay Cartland, Jacqueline Laggy, Casey Dressler, Candace Caplin and the multitasking McKeever. Kim St. Leon is directing. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, through Feb. 24.  Tickets are $35 and $40.  Call 1-866-811-4111 or visit the Parade Productions web site.

SSChristine1Also in Boca Raton, but way out west, Slow Burn Theatre is mounting yet another lavish musical, this one the rarely produced Side Show.  Kaela Antolino plays Daisy Hilton, and Courtney Poston is Violet Hilton, real-life conjoined twins who became famous in the 1930s and appeard in the Tod Browning movie classic Freaks.

Also in the large cast are Carbonell nominee Matthew Korinko, Rick Pena, Jerel Brown, Conor Walton, Karen Chandler, Krissi Johnson, Lisa Kerstin Braun, Sabrina Gore, Alisha Todd, Justin Schneyer, John Corby, Dan Carter, Michael Mena and Bruno Faria. Patrick Fitzwater is directing and choreographing the show.

The musical, by Bill Russell and Henry Krieger, runs through Feb. 10 at the West Boca Performing Arts Theatre, 12811 W. Glades Rd., Boca Raton.  Performances are 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday.  Tickets are $35 ($30 for seniors, $20 for students).  Call 1-866-811-4111 or visit the Slow Burn web site.

Duo300Palm Beach Dramaworks takes a fresh look at an American classic with its production of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, about a black Chicago family in the 1950s arguing over how to use an insurance payment to change its future.  Carbonell Award nominee Ethan Henry plays Walter Younger, Pat Bowie his mother Lena, in a cast that also includes Joniece Abbott-Pratt, Shirine Babb, Marckenson Charles, Dave Hyland, McLey LaFrance, Jordan Tisdale, Mekiel Benjamin, Joshua Valbrun, Lanardo Davis and Jeffrey Brazzle.  Seret Scott is the director.

Performances are 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday, 2 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday-Sunday, through March 3.  Tickets are $55.  Dramaworks performs in the Don & Ann Brown Theatre, 201 Clematis St., West Palm Beach.  Call 561-514-4042 or visit the company's web site.

AGNES photo AMiami's New Theatre is also tackling a classic drama beginning this week:  John Pielmeier's Agnes of God.  Christina Groom plays a novice nun accused of murdering her newborn baby.  Pamela Roza plays the psychiatrist trying to get to the heart of the shocking mystery, while Barbara Sloan is the young nun's protective Mother Superior.  Ricky J. Martinez is staging the play.

Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 1 and 5:30 p.m. Sunday, through Feb. 17 (no late show Feb. 3).  Tickets are $40 ($35 Thursday and Sunday evening; $15 student rush tickets, and the first 25 students under 25 get in free opening weekend).  New Theatre performs at the Roxy Performing Arts Center, 1645 SW 107th Ave., Miami.  Call 305-443-5909 or visit the theater's web site.

Yes, it's a way busy theater weekend with many promising choices.  But get ready: Next weekend is even busier.


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.

November 21, 2011

New Theatre has its new home

NT RTG Press PhotoWhen the building that housed New Theatre on Laguna Street in Coral Gables was sold, the troupe was left scrambling. Having to vacate its home for the past 10 years by Dec. 15, the company couldn't open its world premiere production of Chambers Stevens' Twain and Shaw Do Lunch (set for Dec. 2-18) in the space where Nilo Cruz's Pulitzer Prize-winning Anna in the Tropics premiered in 2002.  So New Theatre has been on the hunt for a place where the rest of its season can play out.

Monday, the company announced an agreement with the Roxy Performing Arts Center, which is located across from Florida International University's main campus in Miami.

"The theater community has been incredibly generous in offering us different kinds of support," says Ricky J. Martinez, New Theatre's artistic director.  "But the day we went to Roxy, they said, 'We want you here, now.'  We felt the choice to go to Roxy was synchronized with our vision, and our shows fit into their schedule."

The Roxy Performing Arts Center, entering its 10th season in 2012, offers arts classes for children ages 3 to 17, and it stages large-scale, large-cast musicals featuring performers from 10 to 22.  Spokesperson Susanne Pinedo says, "I'm just beyond excited.  Both organizations highly value education, and we feel it will be an extraordinary partnership."

Martinez says the rest of New Theatre's 2011-2012 season will be presented at Roxy, with all subscriptions honored.  After Twain and Shaw Do Lunch, the company will present the world premieres of Robert Caisley's Winter and Juan C. Sanchez's Property Line, plus one more show to be announced. Though some dates may shift slightly due to the relocation, all shows announced for the season will be presented.

Roxy has two theater spaces, one with 125 seats, the other with nearly 200; both are larger than New Theatre's 100-seat Coral Gables theater.  Martinez says that at the end of the season, both organizations will assess how well the temporary partnership has worked, and he is excited about the possibilities.  More affordable rent will allow New Theatre enhanced production values, including the creation of two-story sets.

"We both have mutual long-term goals," he says.  "This is New Theatre's fourth move, and we're excited to look ahead to this new phase of its life.  We're hoping to host the National New Play Network's conference next year -- hopefully in our new space."

The Roxy Peforming Arts Center is located at 1645 SW 107th Ave., Miami.  For information on New Theatre and its move, call the box office at 305-443-5909 or visit the theater's web site.

 (Nora Oñate photo shows, left to right, New Theatre artistic director Ricky J. Martinez and managing director Eileen Suarez; Roxy theater arts director Charles A. Sothers and artistic director Jorgina Fernandez.)

October 02, 2011

'24-Hour' wordsmiths off and writing

Frame%20thin%20banner2 Naked Stage's 24-Hour Theatre Project gets its one-time-only performance Monday night at 8 at the Caldwell Theatre Company -- and now we know what will be on the bill.  Playwrights, directors, stage managers and actors got matched Sunday evening in Boca Raton, and if you're reading this any time before 7 a.m., just know that at various spots around the Caldwell, eight playwrights are trying to achieve just the right balance of creativity and caffeine in theater's version of pulling an all-nighter.
So if you go to South Florida theater's most inspired fundraiser (and why wouldn't you?), here's what you'll see.
* David Michael Sirois is writing a play titled Holy Mary, Mother of Todd. Avi Hoffman will direct Amy Miller Brennan, Deborah Sherman, Matthew William Chizever, Cliff Burgess and Sally Bondi in the piece, which sounds like a comedy.
* Tony Finstrom is creating Imaginary Friends, with Dan Kelley directing. Margery Lowe, Barbara Sloan, Laura Turnbull and Tracey Barrow-Schoenblatt are in that cast.
*  Christopher De Paola is writing Marvin Becomes a Man. Gordon McConnell will direct Nicholas Richberg, Mcley Lafrance, Elizabeth Dimon and Dave Corey.
*  Christopher Demos-Brown's play is A Martian Among Us, directed by Barbara Bradshaw. Michaela Cronan, Oscar Cheda, Anne Chamberlain and Andrew Wind make up the cast.
*  Juan C Sanchez is writing Love in Stereo, directed by Leland Patton and featuring Nan Barnett, Jackie Rivera, Marckenson Charles and Clive Cholerton. 
*  Andie Arthur is writing Ifigenia and the Inadequate Wand. Amy London will direct Amy McKenna, Ken Clement, Jessica Peterson and Laura Hodos in the play.
*  Stuart Meltzer is writing Hubris and the Rain Cloud, with Todd Allen Durkin directing. Irene Adjan, Andrea Conte, Melissa Minyard and Mikaela Schipani are in the cast.
*  Michael McKeever is creating what sounds like another comedy, Love Machine, Rusted. Michael Leeds is staging it, with Betsy Graver, Adam Simpson, Karen Stephens and John Felix in the cast.
The Caldwell is at 7901 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton.  Your ticket price will help fund a coproduction by The Naked Stage and The Promethean Theatre in 2012.  And in just four years, 24-Hour Theatre has become a treasured part of the South Florida theater community's seasonal rituals. Tickets are $25 ($50 for big-deal VIP seating), and you can get them online at Ovationtix.  Come see eight fresh-from-the-laptop new plays.  And eight very exhausted playwrights.

May 18, 2011

New Theatre picks a new season

Sota16 six MDW South Florida's theaters are continuing to roll out their 2011-2012 lineups, and now it's New Theatre's turn.  Artistic director Ricky J. Martinez has just announced the company's 26th anniversary season, a mix of summer Shakespeare and world premieres, one a commission from a face quite familiar to New Theatre's patrons.

This year's end-of-summer Shakespearean drama is Henry V, which will run Aug. 26-Sept. 11.  Adapted and directed by Ronald Mangravite, the history play focuses on the king's war with France.

Martinez kicks off the new-work part of his upcoming season with the National New Play Network "rolling world premiere" of A. Rey Pamatmat's Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them.  Running Oct. 14-30, the play is about a trio of on-their-own teens who face a crisis after one shoots something she shouldn't.  Twain and Shaw Do Lunch, Chambers Stevens' world premiere comedy about the first meeting of Mark Twain and George Bernard Shaw, is next up, running Dec. 2-18.  New Theatre literary manager Steven Chambers directs (no, he and the playwright are not one and the same person).

Martinez then helms the world premiere of Robert Caisley's Winter (Jan. 27-Feb. 12), about a feud that erupts between fraternal twins and their late mother's mysterious assistant.  Then comes the world premiere of a New Theatre-commissioned play by Juan C. Sanchez, who also happens to run the company's box office and is also resident playwright at Davie's The Promethean Theatre.  Property Line, which will run March 23-April 8, is about a war between longtime friends and neighbors over 50 feet of grass on waterfront property.  The season's still-to-be-announced final offering will be a classic running May 18-June 12, 2012.

Subscriptions for the company's new season are $190 for a six-show flexible pass ($180 for those who purchase by June 30).  New Theatre is located at 4120 Laguna St., Coral Gables. For info, call the box office at 305-443-5909 or visit the theater's web site.



February 15, 2011

Carbonell nominations share the love

BLASTED_Image_2 Nominations for the 35th annual Carbonell Awards -- our region's version of the Tonys, the Helen Hayes Awards, the Joseph Jefferson Awards and so on -- have just been announced, and the results are a little more equitable than they have been for the past few years.  (That is, unless you're associated with the Caldwell Theatre Company, New Theatre, The Naked Stage, The Promethean Theatre or the Women's Theatre Project, which got a single nomination apiece.)

Still, people from 13 different companies have reason to go to the ceremony at the Broward Center's Amaturo Theatre on April 4.  Miami-Dade and Palm Beach County theaters collected 36 nominations each, while Broward theaters came back strong with 27.  Top nominated musical? Miss Saigon at Actors' Playhouse, with 11. Top play? Blasted at GableStage, with 7.

For all the details and a complete list of nominees, check out my story at

January 27, 2011

Taking the plunge

High Dive B If you've ever dreamed of being in a play but haven't quite mustered up the courage to try theater, has Barbara Sloan got a deal for you!

Appearing in Leslie Ayvazian's "solo" show High Dive at New Theatre, Sloan seeks out 34 "volunteers" before each performance, asking the chosen ones to read a line or two at precise moments in the play.  This isn't something Sloan thought up:  Ayvazian did it too when she performed High Dive nine years ago for City Theatre on Miami Beach.

The play about a woman looking back on her life and facing her fears as she's about to turn 50 may feel especially resonant to audience members with performance anxiety. Given New Theatre's size, there's a one-in-three chance Sloan will pick you.

But never fear.  You don't leave your seat, and the humor in the play -- and the actress -- puts everyone at ease.  Sort of a we're-all-jumping-together vibe.

High Dive is at New Theatre, 4120 Laguna St., Coral Gables, through Feb. 13.  Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 1 and 5:30 p.m. Sunday (no late show this Sunday).  Tickets are $40 ($35 on Thursday and Sunday evening; $15 student rush tickets based on availability).  Call 305-443-5909 or visit New Theatre's web site for info.