January 10, 2012

Stage Door sets a season

In November, Broward Stage Door Theatre founders David Torres and Derelle Bunn revealed that they were in negotiations with Costume World founder and CEO Marilynn Wick to sell the two-theater Coral Springs company they founded 18 years ago in a former movie theater.  The duo had taken on a new venture in the Miami Beach Stage Door Theatre at the Byron Carlisle last summer and felt they were ready to focus on their new venture.

Apparently, that deal for the Coral Springs theater isn't panning out. Torres sent a message Tuesday with titles for a planned 2012-2013 season at the original Stage Door location, explaining, "Due to the fact that ongoing negotiations seem to be stalling and are likely to not come to fruition, the Stage Door is moving ahead with plans to announe the '12-13 season as if there will be no deal."

So here's the lineup, a mixture of comedies, musicals and a thriller:

The new season will kick off with Neil Simon's Rumors Oct. 19-Nov. 11, followed by Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks Nov. 9-Dec. 2.  Fiddler on the Roofis the December highlight, running Dec. 7-31.  The World Goes 'Round, a revue celebrating the music of John Kander and Fred Ebb, runs Dec. 28-Jan. 20, 2013. The Golden Age Broadway classic Damn Yankees runs Jan. 18-Feb. 10, 2013.  Then come Deathtrap Feb. 8-March 3, the Jerry Herman revue Jerry's Girls March 1-2 and Beau Jest April 5-28, all in 2013.

Torres and Bunn have tinkered with their current-season Miami Beach lineup as well. Jon Peterson returns in Song Man, Dance Man Jan. 20-29, with shows at 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.  From Feb. 17-March 11, Miami Beach Stage Door will present Ira Levin's comic thriller Deathtrap.

 Need more info? Call 954-344-7765 or visit the Coral Springs theater's web site; for Miami Beach info, call 305-397-8977 or visit the new web site.

Costume World's Wick offered her own perspective on Wednesday, issuing a statement that said Stage Door management rejected her second offer to buy the theater.

"I am extremely disappointed that I could not put this financial package together," she wrote.  "I had many high hopes for the space, including a renovation, working with the vast array of talented artists and technicians in professional theater in South Florida, and showcasing our incredible costume inventory.  But I guess it wasn't meant to be."

Wick leaves open the possibility that a deal may still be worked out and says, "In the meantime, I will continue to support and encourage the Broward Stage Door and their faithful audience, and I wish them all success with their exciting new season."

November 17, 2011

See stars at Mosaic, GableStage

_DCS9134Plantation's Mosaic Theatre and GableStage in Coral Gables both have hit shows at the moment:  Eric Simonson's Lombardi, about legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, at Mosaic, and Red, about abstract expressionist Mark Rothko, at GableStage.  Both plays are running through Dec. 4, with some performances sold out or nearly so, so if you're interested in going and have been procrastinating, call or click for tickets. 

Mosaic artistic director Richard Jay Simon is helping drive his show's solid box office with a series of celebrity talk-backs after certain performances.  This weekend original Broadway Lombardi star Dan Lauria and the coach's daughter, Susan Lombardi, will chat with the audience after the 7 p.m. Sunday performance.  Columnist Dave Hyde and ex-Dolphins player Jim "Crash" Jensen are to talk after tonight's 8 p.m. show.  Columnist Ethan Skolnick is seeing the show at 8 p.m. this Saturday.

Other special guests who have confirmed are CBS4's Jim Berry (8 p.m. Nov. 25), the Herald's Greg Cote (3 p.m. Nov. 26), Local 10's Will Manso (2 p.m. Nov. 27) and Local 10's Andrea Brody (8 p.m. Dec. 2).

DanLauriaWith Lauria in town this weekend, Simon has engineered a fundraiser for both his theater and GableStage.  The actor, who played the dad on the popular TV series The Wonder Years, has written a dark comedy called Dinner With the Boys. He, Mosaic's Lombardistar Ray Abruzzo and actor Richard Zavaglia will do two benefit staged readings of the play.

The first is Monday, Nov. 21, at 7 p.m. at GableStage in the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables.  Admission is $25 for subscribers, $30 for others.  Wine and light refreshments come with the cost of the ticket.  For GableStage info, call 305-445-1119 or visit the theater's web site.

Mosaic's reading is at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22, in its theater at the American Heritage Center for the Arts, 12200 W. Broward Blvd., Bldg. 3000, Plantation.  Again, subscribers pay $25, others $30, and you get wine and munchies.  Call 954-577-8243 or visit the Mosaic web site.

Go to either, and you're seeing stars while helping a not-for-profit theater company fund its work.

(Photo of Ray Abruzzo as Vince Lombardi by George Schiavone)

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.

October 20, 2011

Monologue camp, McArt and Outre

Coming up Sunday and Monday, hone your monologue skills and/or pick from readings of two plays.

Headshot3*  Actress and teacher Amy Miller Brennan is offering a monologue "boot camp" at Arts Alive in Coral Springs.  Brennan, nominated for three Carbonell Awards for shows at Actors' Playhouse, will teach a three-hour workshop on Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m., working with students ages 12 to adult on honing their monologue skills.  The cost is $40, the group is limited to a dozen students, and those accepted should come with a memorized monologue, a notebook and pen.  The class takes place at 10450 W. Atlantic Blvd., Coral Springs.  For info, call 954-372-7878 or visit the Arts Alive web site.

Jan_on_producer_chair*  Jan McArt, a.k.a. Florida's First Lady of Musical Theater, is returning to the stage for a reading of Tony Finstrom's new comedy thriller Murder on Gin Lane.  The timeless McArt, founder of Boca Raton's Royal Palm Dinner Theatre, is currently director of theater arts program development at Lynn University.  She'll read the four-character play twice.  First up is a reading at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Lynn's Wold Performing Arts Center, 3601 N. Military Trail, Boca Raton. McArt's fellow actors are Jeffrey Bruce, Iris Acker and Beth Holland, and Wayn Rudisill will direct.  Admission is $10, and you can get info by calling 561-237-9000 or visiting Lynn's ticketing site.

The play will get another reading, this one free, as part of Sleepless Night Miami Beach at 7 p.m. Nov. 5. McArt, Bruce, Shari Upbin and Blanca Goodfriend will be in that cast, and the event will take place at the Byron Carlyle Theatre, 500 71st St., Miami Beach.

*  The new Outré Theatre Company is launching itself with a reading of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Artistic director Skye Whitcomb and managing director Nori Tecosky are borrowing the stage at New Theatre, 4120 Laguna St., Coral Gables, for the reading at 7 p.m. Monday.  Suggested admission is an $8 donation.  For details, visit the company's web site.

September 23, 2011

A conference, a deal, a reading and a college show

Going into the weekend, here's a brief roundup of theater news and events:

Arnold mittelman brow CPY*  Arnold Mittelman, the long-time producing artistic director of the (still) closed Coconut Grove Playhouse, is planning a 2012 South Florida conference under the auspices of his National Jewish Theater (NJT) Foundation. With the help of a $60,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Mittelman is putting together an invitation-only conference to advance the NJT's Holocaust Theater Archive and web site.  Devoted to researching, cataloguing and encouraging the production of Holocaust-related theater, the archive has an advisory board that includes William Shulman of the Association of Holocaust Organizations, Holocaust scholar Michael Berenbaum, actor Theodore Bikel, theater historian Al Goldfarb and Haim Shaked of the Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies at the University of Miami.

JHHH PRESS PIC *  A low-cost theater event and a reading will bring theater lovers to GableStage and Mosaic Theatre on normally dark nights for the companies, now home to the hit productions of Tarell Alvin McCraney's The Brothers Size (GableStage) and Michael Weller's Side Effects (Mosaic).

GableStage is hosting Ground Up & Rising's minimalist production of Danny Hoch's Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop starring Curtis Belz at 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.  The solo show requires a versatile actor to play a collection of marginalized guys trying to be heard.  Ground Up's Arturo Fernandez directs the show, and the $7 per person admission will benefit the company and its planned productions at the new South Dade Cultural Arts Center later this season.  For info, call 305-444-1119 or visit the GableStage web site.  GableStage is in the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables.

The free staged reading at Mosaic happens at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the company's black box theater at the American Heritage Center for the Arts, 12200 W. Broward Blvd., Bldg. 3000, Plantation.  Edward Castle's A Bouquet for Raven Poe (yes, about Edgar Allan Poe) features Michael St.  Pierre, Shelby Steel, Scott Genn, Danielle Tabino, Daniel Nieves and Oscar Cheda.  Call 954-577-8243 or visit Mosaic's web site for info.

* If you're a fan of Caryl Churchill's plays, you're in luck: Florida Atlantic University's theater department is presenting Cloud 9from tonight through Oct. 2.  The time-traveling, gender-bending, smart script will be presented at the Studio One Theatre on FAU's main campus, 777 Glades Rd., Boca Raton.  Performances are 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 1 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Admission is $20 ($12 for FAU students; $16 for faculty, staff and alumni).  Call 1-800-564-9539 or visit the FAU Events site for tickets.

September 08, 2011

Ground Up starts up again

PlayReadingFestival---Flyer Ground Up & Rising, the talented but frequently homeless young theater company that has roamed around much of Miami-Dade County, is resurfacing in a multifaceted way.

First up, this Saturday, is a free play-reading festival at St. John's on the Lake, 4760 Pine Tree Dr., Miami Beach.  Two plays will be read:  first, at 5 p.m., is artistic director Arturo Fernandez's impressive (and appropriately titled) September 10th; then, at 8 p.m., Ground Up reads Stephen Adly Guirgis' Little Flower of East Orange.  The actors performing in the readings are Fernandez, Collin Carmouze, Curtis Belz, Claudio Pinto, Jenny Lorenzo, David Gallegos, Rachel Chin, Jason Edelstein, Jehanne Seralles, Marckenson Charles and Reggie Beaubrun.

TW PRESS PIC(NO COPY) The following weekend, Ground Up launches what Fernandez dubs "The Zero Point Project." The idea, he explains, is to build young audiences by offering minimalist productions in nontraditional venues for just $7 per ticket.  The project's first offering is Sam Shepard's True West, featuring Carmouze, Belz and Pinto, directed by Fernandez.

The Zero Point Project continues at 8 p.m. Sept. 26-27 with Danny Hoch's Jails, Hospitals & Hip-Hop.  That one will be presented at GableStage in the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables. Tickets are $7 and available via the GableStage box office at 305-445-1119 or the company's web site.

The show will be performed at 8 p.m. Sept. 17-18, Sept. 23 and Sept. 25 at St. John's on the Lake.  Tickets are available by calling 1-866-811-4111, or visit the Ground Up & Rising web site.

Fernandez adds that, if all goes well, the company plans to present True West and Jails, Hospitals & Hip Hop at the new South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center this fall.

August 08, 2011

Rosenfarb play to be read at GableStage

If you're looking for an intriguing arts experience tonight, how about a free reading of a new play by award-winning playwright Michelle Rosenfarb?

Avi Smile '11 A Barren Man is the new script from the playwright whose The Gates of Choice had its world premiere at New Theatre in 2008. Directed by Avi Hoffman, the play focuses on a young Orthodox Jewish man living in Brooklyn's Crown Heights neighborhood.  Wanting to save his two-year marriage and maintain his faith, he seeks counseling to deal with his repressed urges and issues surrounding his sexual identity.

In the cast are Lela Elam, Howard Elfman, Abdiel Gabriel, Rachel Keller and Andrew Wind. 

The reading is tonight at 7:30 at GableStage in the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables.  For information, call 305-445-1119 or visit the GableStage web site.


July 14, 2011

Promethean sets a summer show...and more

270179_245825902098699_208429789171644_1143686_2289619_n-600x600 Continuing in the tradition of its summer hits Cannibal! The Musical and Evil Dead the Musical, Davie's Promethean Theatre is gearing up for another spoofy horror musical, this one Song of the Living Dead, a Zombie Musical.

Created at Atlanta's Dad's Garage Theatre Company, the show -- with music by Eric Frampton and Matt Horgan, and a cript by Horgan and Travis Sharp -- tells the story of a newly engaged couple stumbling into the midst of a zombie attack.  Margaret M. Ledford will direct, with Phil Hinton as musical director.  In the cast are Clay Cartland, Matthew William Chizever, Robert Coward, Mark Della Ventura, Lindsey Elizabeth Forgey, Mary Gundlach, Jaimie Kautzmann, Noah Levine, Joshua Olivares and Sharon Peoples.

Song of the Living Dead opens Aug. 12 and runs through Sept. 4 in the Black Box Theatre in the Don Taft University Center at Nova Southeastern University, 3301 College Ave., Davie.  Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 5 p.m. Sunday, and tickets are $30.  Call 1-866-811-4111 to order tickets, or get more info on Promethean's web site.


Shakespeare Things happen when you're bringing theater companies from all over the world to perform at the International Hispanic Theatre Festival, and due to travel troubles, the Friday and Saturday performances of the Argentine production El Trompo metálico in the Adrienne Arsht Center's Carnival Studio Theatre have been cancelled.

Instead, Prometeo Theatre will offer two more performances of its show Mujeres de Shakespeare, written and directed by Neher Jacqueline Briceño.  The play is performed in Spanish wit English supertitles.  Perormances are at 8:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday at Prometeo's theater on Miami Dade College's Wolfson Campus, 300 NE Second Ave., Miami.  Tickets are $25.  For information, call 305-237-3262 or visit Prometeo's web site.


Not much theater around on Mondays, but this coming Monday actor Chaz Mena will direct a staged reading of Rogelio Martinez's All Eyes and Ears at GableStage.

In his cast are Ken Clement, Alex Alvarez, Diane Garle, Laura Pons, John Manzelli and Deborah Sherman.  Martinez play is set in early '60s Havana, focusing on a family loyal to Fidel Castro's revolution, and the price the family pays for that loyalty.

The free reading is in GableStage's space at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables.  For info, call 305-445-1119 or visit the GableStage web site.


June 10, 2011

'Girls' play and teach

GirlPlay2011-front-edit-1webThe Women's Theatre Project is planning its third edition of 'Girl Play,' a three-day festival of staged readings of short plays with lesbian themes, for June 24-26.

But first the company, in collaboration with the Gay and Lesbian Community Center at the Pride Center at Equality Park, is presenting two free workshops this weekend featuring award-winning playwright Carolyn Gage.

Tonight at 7:30, Gage delivers a lecture and performance workshop on lesbian culture.  Winner of the 2009 Lambda Literary Award in drama, Gage will invite audience members of all abilities, genders and orientations to act out scenarios from lesbian history and culture.

On Sunday at 2 p.m., she will use 30 minutes of scenes from her play Ugly Ducklings to deliver an anti-bullying message, exploring harassment and homophobic policies at a girls' summer camp.  Gage and others will also have a panel discussion on the issue.

'Girl Play,' three different programs of short plays, happens at 6:30 p.m. June 24-25, 2 p.m. June 26.  Admission to those readings is $15 for each program.

All events take place at the Pride Center, 2040 N. Dixie Hwy., Wilton Manors.  For info, call 954-462-2334 or visit the Women's Theatre Project's web site.


June 02, 2011

Hot plays in cool surroundings

Andie Arthur How's this for a deal?  Spend Sunday at the beautiful Deering Estate at Cutler in Palmetto Bay and be among the first to hear readings of three new plays -- for free.  Sounds grand to me.

The Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs has a Playwright Development Program in which selected writers work with a master playwright to develop new scripts.  At Sunday's event, scripts that Christopher Demos-Brown, Andie Arthur and Headshot.2 Michael Yawney have been developing under the guidance of playwright Kenny Finkle will get a public reading so that the authors get a sense of what works, what doesn't and what might make the plays even better.

Demos-Brown's piece, Wrongful Death, is about a jaded personal injury lawyer who "fights for the case of her life in a play that examines the weird ways the American civil justice system values human life."  Arthur's Outcasts of Eden is described this way:  "In 1637, Mary Dyer has left the only home she has ever known to come to a New Eden in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, where she befriends and follows outlaw preacher Anne Hutchinson.  As Hutchinson's preaching tears the colony apart, will Mary follow her heart or her community?"  Yawney's It Feels Good is about an underaged guy who learns at a club about the difference between feeling good and being good.

_V8L0088_3 Wrongful Death gets read at 11 a.m., Outcasts of Eden at 2 p.m. and It Feels Good at 5 p.m. The Deering Estate is at 16701 SW 72nd Ave., Palmetto Bay.  For information, call 305-235-1668, ext. 233, or visit the Deering web site.

(Pictured from top: Andie Arthur, Christopher Demos-Brown, Michael Yawney)