September 06, 2012

Naked Stage's 24-Hour Theatre Project returns

24_2012_take_3_copyThe Naked Stage recently wrapped up an impressive, much-lauded production of the spooky Turn of the Screw at Barry University's Pelican Theatre.  Now comes word that artistic director Katherine Amadeo and her hubby-colleague, Antonio Amadeo, have a date and a venue for the sixth edition of their way-popular 24-Hour Theatre Project.

This year's celebration of the quick-turnaround talents of South Florida playwrights, actors and directors will happen Nov. 12 at GableStage in the Biltmore Hotel.  That's where the annual fundraiser was born in 2007, and after taking it to Actors' Playhouse and the now-in-limbo Caldwell Theatre Company, Naked Stage is returning the event to its intimate roots.

GableStage artistic director Joseph Adler says, "It's a pleasure to have them back.  I thought their production of Turn of the Screw was terrific, and I want to see Naked Stage continue."

Participating artists and specifics are still being worked out. But you can bet that an array of playwrights will gather on Sunday, Nov. 11, to get titles, actors and directors for their unwritten short plays.  They'll write all night, then early Monday morning, their casts, directors and the rest of the 24-Hour staff will gather to bring the short scripts to life.  That evening, fans will assemble to see just how much fun speedily assembled theater can be.

To track updates on the event, visit The Naked Stage's blog.

August 21, 2012

Free theater

Macbeth Flyer Final Press picThe theater season will begin in earnest next month, but if you're itching to see something sooner, two companies have a couple of options -- and both are free.

Ground Up & Rising continues its "Zero Point" initiative -- a project aimed at attracting new audiences with bare-bones yet thrilling theater -- with Curtis Belz's hour-long adaptation of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, reimagined as a cautionary tale in a post-apocalyptic world.  The production features David Gallegos, Jenny Lorenzo, Claudio Pinto, Jose Antonio Paredes and Belz, and it's directed by Collin Carmouze.

The play will be presented this Sunday and Sept. 2 at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, 2000 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach.  Performances are at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. both days.  Call Ground Up at 305-756-4672 or visit the company's web site.

Next Tuesday, the new Crashbox Theatre Company gets launched with a staged reading of James Carrey's If This Play Sucks, Blame Facebook.  The playwright directs Noah Levine, Casey Casperson, Scott Douglas Wilson, Nori Tecosky, Johann Azcuy and Kaitlyn O'Neil in the play about two friends whose weekend stay at a lake house turns weird.

The reading is at 8 p.m. Aug. 28 at Empire Stage, 1140 N. Flagler Dr., Fort Lauderdale.  Admission is free, but donations are welcome.  For more info, call 954-678-1496, visit Empire Stage's web site or check out Crashbox on Facebook.

August 20, 2012

Theatre at Arts Garage, M Ensemble pick seasons

Some theaters roll out their new season lineups early, the better to get the jump on subscription sales. Others take their time. But by now, most companies have pulled back the curtain on their plans, and we'll update you with some of that news through the week.

Louis04 NEWPLAYS TROP RDELou Tyrrell, founder and artistic director of Florida Stage throughout its 24-year history, launched his new venture at the way-cool Arts Garage in Delray Beach last season.  Working in more intimate quarters and on a far smaller budget, Tyrrell offered readings and interview sessions with big-name playwrights, a new play festival and a pair of small-scale revues, Woody Sez and Cabaret Verboten.

For 2012-2013, Tyrrell is presenting three plays:  Lauren Gunderson's Southern "revenge comedy," Exit, Pursued by a Bear (Dec. 7-30); Israel Horovitz's dark comedy Gloucester Blue (Jan. 25-Feb. 17); and Duncan MacMillan's Lungs (March 15-April 14), a play about a couple torn over the question of having a baby.

Tickets to each show are $30-$40.  The Arts Garage is at 180 NE First St., Delray Beach, just a short walk from Atlantic Avenue with its busy restaurant-bar scene.  For info, call 561-450-6357 or visit the facility's web site.


M Ensemble, South Florida's oldest theater company, has lined up its next season at the Light Box at Goldman Warehouse, 404 NW 28th St., Miami.

AUGWILSON.IMGThe company continues working its way through August Wilson's 10-play cycle, this season kicking off with King Hedley II (Nov. 15-Dec. 2).  In the spring, M Ensemble will present the musical revue It Ain't Nothin' but the Blues (March 14-April 7).  Gus Edwards' Two Old Black Guys Just Sitting Around Talking wraps up the season (May 9-June 22).

Tickets are $40 for opening night, $25 for general admission, $20 for students and seniors. For information on the season, call 1-786-953-8718 or visit the theater's web site.

 (Photos of Lou Tyrrell, top, and August Wilson)

June 27, 2012

McKeever's 'Stuff' gets a New York reading

STUFF READING ANNOUNCEMENTHappy times for South Florida's prolific and widely produced Michael McKeever.  His play Stuff, which won the 2011 Carbonell Award as best new work after its world premiere at Boca Raton's Caldwell Theatre Company, will get an invitation-only staged reading at 3 p.m. Thursday in New York.

The play about the real-life, way-eccentric Collyer brothers -- born into great wealth, they descended into a world of hoarding and madness -- features an impressive cast for the reading, which is being directed by Shelley Butler.

Angels in America star Stephen Spinella will play Langley Collyer, David Greenspan his brother Homer.  Penny Fuller plays their mother, and Sheldon Best plays two men who interact with the brothers at very different points in their lives.

This reading of a play that got strong reviews for its South Florida debut could be a step toward a New York production for McKeever, whose work is produced at theaters throughout the United States and in Europe.

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.




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.

January 30, 2012

Guirgis is heading to GableStage

TMFWTH Image 1Stephen Adly Guirgis, award-winning playwright and one of the three artistic directors of New York's hot LAByrinth Theater Company, is coming to Coral Gables to check out GableStage's smash version of his play The Motherf**ker With the Hat.  But seeing Joseph Adler's production of a play that has won raves from South Florida critics and the Wall Street Journal's Terry Teachout (he called Motherf**ker "the best new play of 2011") isn't the only thing Guirgis will be doing during his visit.  Like Adler himself so often does, Guirgis will be giving back to the region's theater community.

On Monday, Feb. 6, the playwright whose works include Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train, Our Lady of 121st Street, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and The Little Flower of East Orange will lead a free writing workshop from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at GableStage -- but the session is open only to members of Actors' Equity and the Dramatists' Guild, Theatre League members, and students or faculty from college or university theater departments.  Anyone who wants to attend must email Adler at

Guirgis[1]Guirgis describes the workshop this way:  "You don't have to be a writer to do the class...this is to encourage self-empowerment...experienced writers are free to come.  Attendees should bring pen and paper.  The substance of the workshop is a few writing exercises flcused on writing from a personal place, mixed in with conversation demystifying the writing experience.  There will also be time for questions and discussions about anything writing- or theater-related."

The playwright, whose fellow LAByrinth company members include Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Ortiz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Bobby Canavale, David Zayas, Eric Bogosian, Sam Rockwell and numerous other actors and playwrights, is also sticking around for a special industry-only performance of The Motherf**ker With the Hat at 8 p.m. next Monday at GableStage, which should be a special thrill for cast members Arturo Fernandez, Gladys Ramirez, Ethan Henry, Betsy Graver and Alex Alvarez.

But again -- only those South Florida theater community members, theater faculty and theater students can attend, and they must request a free ticket by emailing Adler.  GableStage is, of course, located at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables.  Check out its web site for more info on the company.

December 01, 2011

Castellanos shares his creative style

Teo Catsellanos Photo by Randy ValdesTeo Castellanos is a creative chameleon.  Playwright, director, actor, dancer and artistic director of D-Projects, the multifaceted artist is also a compelling teacher, one who mentored and helped launch Miami playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney on his path to international acclaim.

Castellanos, who appeared at GableStage this fall in McCraney's searing drama The Brothers Size, will perform again in Miami Jan. 19-21 when he brings the 10th anniversary edition of his award-winning solo show NE 2nd Avenue to the Carnival Studio Theater at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.  But first, from Sunday through Tuesday, Castellanos will share his wealth of experience in a workshop titled Crossing Thresholds: Creating Original Work.

The sessions take place at the PlayGround Theatre, 9806 NE Second Ave., Miami Shores.  For a $65 fee, participants ages 16 and older can spend three hours each evening with Castellanos, developing original work or refining a work in progress.  Students should wear movement clothes and dance shoes, or go barefoot.  The sessions are from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday, 7 to 10 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.  For information, call Suzana Berger at 305-751-9550, ext. 260, or email her at

(Photo by Randy Valdes)

November 10, 2011

Big buzz on campus

Tommy Tune, Broadway superstar, has been working away quietly at the University of Miami, applying the talent and vision that helped win him nine Tony Awards to a new show about the heyday of Studio 54 .  IMG_Tommy_Tune.JPG_2_1_UP2KORPIWorking with playwright Mark Saltzman, the soft-spoken Tune has channeled personal memories and impressions of his one-time hangout into Fifty*Four*Forever, a disco-driven snapshot of the late-'70s club that was, for a time, the hottest see-and-be-seen place on the planet.

Tune, Saltzman and their collaborators workshopped the piece last January at UM's Department of Theatre Arts, where chairman Henry Fonte has busily forged alliances between the worlds of professional and educational theater since assuming his post last year.  Now, Fifty*Four*Forever has reached its second phase, as a fully produced musical at the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre.  Running for only 10 days,the piece is both a buzz-generating university event and (because Tune has invited theater pals to come south to see it) a flashy version of a backers' audition for a potential New York production.

54 Forever_4The UM show features an all-student cast, young actors who roamed the Ring before Wednesday's opening performance, chatting happily with audience members and saying just how much they have loved working with Tune.   In addition to what they've learned from their famous director and playwright Saltzman, they've watched as the production's other seasoned theater pros, including set designer Roger Hanna, costume designer Dona Granata, choreographer David Warren Gibson, musical director Greg Brown and lighting designer Eric Haugen, resurrected a place, a style and an era.

Undoubtedly, if Fifty*Four*Forever has a future life, it will continue to evolve.  The UM version runs just 70 minutes.  And as good as many of the students are, experienced professional actors would bring their own magic to the musical.  (Note that we don't review student performers unless, as in the recent Arsht Center-UM collaboration on The House of Bernarda Alba, they're being paid for their work.)

54 Forever_1The opening-night audience didn't just like the musical: They adored it. Lots of the Ring patrons, including smiling seniors (that's senior citizens, not college seniors), looked a little let down when the show ended.  The sexy musical's disco-song mix (including Hustle, Funkytown, Love to Love You Baby, YMCA) got them moving and grooving, and they didn't want to stop.

So what about a future for Fifty*Four*Forever?  Again, because this isn't a professional out-of-town tryout, we'll pass on a review.  But as the creative team goes forward, a few thoughts:  Saltzman has chosen to write Rubell's rise-and-fall story in verse, which presented a challenge for the young actors and led occasionally to awkward/clunky rhymes. Sticking with straightforward dialogue would work just fine.

The show's one original song, Lament for Three Jersey Girls (by composer Jeffrey Saver and lyricist Stephen Cole), is terrific, theatrical and funny. More like that, please.

Tune's inspired touch is all over the show.  I'm thinking particularly of the duet between the undercover FBI agent and his sexy blond boss, the two taking athletically seductive twirls around a pole as they sing.  Muy, muy caliente.

Fifty*Four*Forever is at the Ring, 1312 Miller Dr. on the UM campus, through Nov. 19. Remaining performances are 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.  Tickets are $25 Friday-Saturday evening, $22 for other shows (discounts for UM faculty, staff, alumni and students).  For info, call 305-284-3355 or visit the Ring web site.

(Miami Herald photo of Tommy Tune and Mark Saltzman by Arkasha Stevenson; Fifty*Four*Forever photos by Kent Lantaff.)






November 04, 2011

'Standing on Ceremony' -- but not here

Get-involvedIn one of those what-the-heck moments (I have those sometimes when I check my email), I note that Monday is the first Off-Broadway preview of Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays.  Eight short plays on the subject of marriage equality make up the evening.  Those plays are Jordan Harrison's The Revision, Joe Keenan's This Marriage Is Saved, Wendy MacLeod's This Flight Tonight, Doug Wright's On Facebook, Neil LaBute's Strange Fruit, Paul Rudnick's The Gay Agenda, Moisés Kaufman's London Mosquitoes and José Rivera's Pablo and Andrew at the Altar of Words.  The cast, a terrific one, includes Craig Bierko, Mark Consuelos, Polly Draper, Harriet Harris, Beth Leavel and Richard Thomas.

I'm not planning a trip to New York soon, but I wish I could be there Monday, when a special 8 p.m. performance at the Minetta Lane Theatre will be at the heart of a national event.  Evan Wolfson, the founder and president of Freedom to Marry, will speak before the show.  Playwrights Rivera, Rudnick, Wright and Kaufman will participate in a post-performance Q&A moderated by New York Times writer Patrick Healy.

Here's what is making Monday really special, though. At more than 40 professional and college theaters throughout the United States, actors and others will read the Standing on Ceremony script, bringing the art and the message to their local communities.  The New York introduction and post-show discussion will be live streamed, and theatergoers can ask the playwright panel questions via Twitter at #asksoc.

In Florida, just two theaters are participating: Mad Cow in Orlando and American Stage in St. Petersburg.  Which leads back to my what-the-heck moment. 

I know many gay and lesbian couples who would marry, if only it were legal in their state -- Florida included.  I know many happy, long-time gay and lesbian couples who work in theater in South Florida, artists who are unhappy that the right to marry is denied them.  And yet this event, which could shine a bright spotlight on the issue, isn't happening here. 

The hectic start to South Florida's theater season is under way, so maybe the theaters or artists who would have participated just felt too swamped.  I don't mean gay theaters specifically, or gay and lesbian artists specifically.  This is art tackling an issue that should matter to everyone who cares about equality. 

Find out more about the play (which opens Nov. 13) and the national event here.  What a shame that we can't gather here to share this experience.