February 23, 2015

Kravis Center books 'Matilda,' 'Bullets' and 'Bridges of Madison County'

Matilda The Musical 1As news of choices for the 2015-2016 theater season continues to roll out, we learn that the Kravis on Broadway series at the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts will feature three shows making their way to South Florida for the first time.  And there's no duplication of titles recently announced for next season at Fort Lauderdale's Broward Center for the Performing Arts (though Motown the Musical, part of the new Kravis lineup, will get a two-week run at the Broward Center starting this Tuesday at 8 p.m.).

The new season at the Kravis will kick off Dec. 8-13 with the ever-popular Blue Man Group bringing its wordless spectacle to West Palm Beach.  Next is a tour of the backstage musical 42nd Street, which will play the Kravis Jan. 5-10. Motown the Musical, a music-packed hit parade woven around the life and times of Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr., will run Feb. 9-14.  Then come the three new-to-South Florida titles.

The Tony Award-winning Matilda the Musical, about an imaginative little girl who uses her intellect to thwart cruel and misguided adults, will play the Kravis March 1-6, 2016. Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway, in which a playwright makes a deal with a mobster to back his Broadway show, runs March 22-27, 2016.  Next season winds up April 26-May 1, 2016, with the romantic The Bridges of Madison County the Musical, with a score by Tony winner Jason Robert Brown and book by Pulitzer winner Marsha Norman.

Subscription prices range from $180 to $499, and they'll go on sale to current subscribers in mid-March, to the general public mid-summer.  The Kravis is located at 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach.  For information, call 561-832-7469 or visit the center's web site

(Photo of Matilda the Musical)

November 25, 2014

Miami's Andy Señor Jr. is directing 'Rent' in Havana

Senor_Andy_549_retMiamian Andy Señor Jr., a Florida International University grad who made his Broadway debut playing Angel in Jonathan Larson's Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Rent, is in Cuba at the moment to stage a history-making production of a piece he knows very, very well.  In addition to playing the sweet, tragic Angel on Broadway, Señor toured in the show and in 2011 served as assistant director to Michael Greif, the musical's original director, when Rent got an Off-Broadway revival.  Señor, artistic director of the new District Stage Company in Miami, also staged Rent in Tokyo.

Set to begin a three-month run at Havana's Bertolt Brecht Theatre on Christmas Eve, the La Bohème-inspired musical about impoverished young artists on New York's Lower East Side will be the first fully produced Broadway musical done in Cuba since the revolution.  Another South Florida talent, Carbonell Award-winning musical director Emmanuel "Manny" Schvartzman, is serving as the production's musical director.  Both Señor and Schvartzman are involved with the Broadway-bound production of On Your Feet, the biographical musical about South Florida music superstars Gloria and Emilio Estefan.

A production of Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment in partnership with the Cuban National Council of Performing Arts, Rent will be performed in Spanish by a cast of 15 Cuban actors. 

August 18, 2014

'On Your Feet' sets an opening, a theater and Miami auditions

IMG_NEDERLANDER_ORGANIZA_2_1_9U2D2164_L58054614On Your Feet, the upcoming Broadway bio musical about Miami music superstars Gloria and Emilio Estefan, is less than a year away from its tryout run at Chicago's Oriental Theatre.  On Monday, producers James L. Nederlander, Estefan Enterprises and Bernie Yuman announced a worldwide casting search for all the roles in the show -- including the chance to play the leading lady, the most successful Latin crossover artist in history.

The casting search -- dubbed Reach Gloria (#ReachGloria) -- has three facets:  online, a Sept. 9 open casting at New York's Pearl Studios, and another open casting Sept. 21 at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. 

"Finding the right performers to tell our story on the Broadway stage is the most important step in this project.  Our own journey together started in Miami, a city that has been such an inspiration to us both, and it only felt right that the city be a cornerstone of our search for the next generation of bright talent," Gloria Estefan said in a statement.

Audition videos can be submitted via www.OnYourFeetMusical.com, which also has more details and a submission link.

The musical's Chicago tryout runs June 2-July 5, then the show moves to Broadway's Marquis Theatre.  New York previews start Oct. 5, and the official opening night is Nov. 5, 2015.

Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell is directing On Your Feet, which features a script by Alexander Dinelaris and music drawn from the Estefans' vast catalog of hits, including 1-2-3, Conga, Rhythm Is Gonna Get You and Mi Tierra.  Sergio Trujillo, whose credits include Jersey Boys and Memphis, will be the choreographer.

October 28, 2013

'Book of Mormon' holding Miami auditions

Phyre Hawkins, Mark Evans, Christopher John O'Neill THE BOOK OF MORMON First National Tour photo Joan Marcus 2013If you’re a South Florida actor-singer-dancer who just might be interested in appearing in one of the hottest shows on Broadway or on tour, the casting folks for The Book of Mormon want to hear from you.

They’re coming to Miami to hold auditions on Friday, Nov. 1, and Sunday, Nov. 3, by appointment only, trying to fatten their files for future replacements on Broadway and the show’s two touring companies.  Mormon wannabes ned to submit a photo, resume and any relevant additional material via email to jrichcasting@gmail.com no later than Saturday, Nov. 2 (sooner, of course, if you’re hoping to be seen on Friday).  Appointments are at the discretion of the casting staff, which will supply detailed information about location and times to those they'd like to see.  Equity and non-union actors can submit, and actors have to be 18 or older.

The show itself, of course, comes to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts  Nov. 26-Dec. 22 as the hottest item on South Florida's Broadway touring menu this season.

Here’s the breakdown of what Rich and company are seeking. 

ARNOLD CUNNINGHAM (Early 20's-Late 20's to play 18): Caucasian. Seeking a true character actor. Must be a physical contrast to the other good looking, All-American Mormons. Dweeby, dorky, nerdy, overweight or all four combined. Arnold is a pathological liar but his heart is in the right place. He is a total screw-up but not for lack of trying, he always wants to do the right thing. Must be fantastic comedic actor who sings well. Tenor. We are also particularly interested in comics who sing.

 KEVIN PRICE (Early 20’s-Late 20’s to play 18): Caucasian. All-American. Very handsome. Head of the class, always optimistic. Heroic Mormon. Must be a great comedic actor and a fantastic pop-rock high tenor to a B. Should be at least 5’10" or taller.

 NABALUNGI (18- Late 20’s to play 20): Black African. Pretty. Takes the hardships of her village very seriously and wants to help her people find a better life. Must have great comic timing. Strong alto. Belt to an E.

ELDER MCKINLEY (early 20s to late 20s to play 18): Caucasian. District leader of the Mormon missionaries in Uganda. All- American, wide-eyed and hopeful. Often struggles to cover his flamboyant tendencies and adhere to his Mormon morals. Must be a fantastic comedic actor and great singer. High baritone who can pop out high B-flats for comedic effect.

MAFALA HATIMBI (40s): Black African. Father of Nabalungi. Has come to accept the hardships in the village where they live but is a discerning community leader and tries to bring joy to their lives. Must be a great comedic actor and singer. Also interested in actors who sing.

PRICE’S DAD/MISSION PRESIDENT/VARIOUS ROLES (40s): Caucasian. All-American good looks and physique. Plays several parts from the picture-perfect head of a Mormon household, to the stern missionary president to Joseph Smith, so must have the ability to be transformative. Must be a great comedic actor and good singer. High baritone to an A-flat.

MALE and FEMALE AFRICAN VILLAGERS: (Early 20s-Late 30s) Characters are black Africans. Seeking great singers and great comedic actors who can move.  Seeking tenors (to high B), baritones, gospel sopranos (to high B-flat), gospel belters (to E) and altos.

(Book of Mormon tour photo by Joan Marcus)

March 30, 2013

Last chance to catch 'Broadway Unplugged'

Andy SenorIf you love the songs of Broadway delivered by actors who were meant to sing them, you'll want to catch tonight's final performance of Broadway Unplugged.  The show is a project of The District Stage Company, a group founded by artistic director Andy Señor Jr. and other Miami talents.

 Señor, who made his professional debut playing Angel in Rent, performed the role on Broadway and in London, Asia, Los Angeles and in the U.S. national tour.  Of the dream behind District Stage, he said in a statement, "I have developed such rich relationships in the Broadway community over many years, and I'm excited to create events in Miami that feature Broadway talent and turn up the heat in the South Florida theater scene."

Broadway Unplugged has two shows Saturday evening, at 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. in the intimate black box theater at the South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center, 10950 SW 211th St., Cutler Bay.

On the bill with Señor, who will sing Sarah from The Civil War, are Rebecca Naomi Jones (American Idiot and Passing Strange), Adam Chanler-Berat (Peter and the Starcatcher and Next to Normal), Matt Caplan (Rent, South Pacific and Spider-Man), Janet Dacal (In the Heights and Wonderland) and singer-songwriter Matt Nakoa.  Jared Stein is musical director of the rich, hot program.

Rebecca Naomi JonesSome of the  other numbers you'll hear tonight if you make the trek to Cutler Bay: Jones singing Murder Ballad from the Off-Broadway show of the same title; Chanler-Berat singing Smash; Dacal, who did several performances as Nina in the current Actors' Playhouse production of In the Heights when Sarah Amengual was out sick, singing songs from that show; Caplan performing This Nearly Was Mine from South Pacific; Caplan and Nakoa singing original songs.  And the cast will perform group numbers from Rent, Spring Awakening and American Idiot.

Tickets are $30, and you can get them by calling 786-573-5300 or visiting the SMDCAC 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.


January 29, 2013

Harper out, Powers in as star of 'Looped'

IMG_Valerie_Harper_2_1_A25LIRQHValerie Harper has forged a post-Rhodacareer playing powerful, larger-than-life women onstage -- including, in 2010, Tallulah Bankhead in Looped on BroadwayHarper was to have reprised that performance, launching a national tour of Matthew Lombardo's play, Feb. 26-March 3 at Fort Lauderdale's Parker Playhouse.

But Harper has had to leave the show for unspecified medical treatment, though she recently revealed in her memoir I, Rhoda that she was treated for lung cancer in 2008.  She and husband Tony Cacciotti have gone home to Los Angeles, and actress Stephanie Powers will be taking over as Bankhead.

ViewerCasting former Hart to Hartstar Powers as the hard-drinking, hard-living, often outrageous Bankhead actually makes sense when you realize that Lombardo's play is about the troubles Bankhead had re-recording one particularly notable line from the 1965 movie Die, Die, My Darling: "And so Patricia, as I was telling you, that deluded rector has in literal effect closed the church to me."  Powers, you see, played the aforementioned Patricia, the almost-daughter-in-law of Bankhead's crazed character.

After the Parker, the play will moved to Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre, Boston's Majestic and Hartford's Bushnell, with other cities still to be added.

For more information, call 953-462-0222 or visit the Parker web site. The Parker is at 707 NE Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale.

May 08, 2012

Losing 'Faith' as Broadway musical closes Sunday

1137Even a Tony Award nomination as best musical didn't provide salvation for Leap of Faith.  The Broadway version of a 1992 Steve Martin movie will close Sunday, after 24 previews and 20 regular performances.  That's sad news for everyone involved in the show, including leading man Raúl Esparza, the over-the-title star who has been with the musical since its first workshop in 2008.

I saw Leap of Faith during its early preview period in April so that I could do a feature on Esparza, the ex-Miamian who has earned Tony Award nominations as best actor (Company) and best featured actor (Taboo) in a musical, best actor (Speed-the-Plow) and best featured actor (The Homecoming) in a play.  I had two conversations with him and got to watch some of a rehearsal at the St. James Theatre, where director Christopher Ashley, choreographer Sergio Trujillo and the rest of the creative team were reshaping the show with all sorts of changes.  To no avail.

When the show opened April 26, it got some tough reviews.  Particularly damaging to its future was the scorched-earth one from the New York Times' Ben Brantley, who called Leap of Faith "...this season's black hole of musical comedy, sucking the energy out of anyone who gets near it." Good God, y'all.

The cast and Esparza, who gave a high-energy, intricately shaded performance as faux faith healer Jonas Nightingale, didn't have a prayer.  The $15 million musical, one that had three different directors (Taylor Hackford, Rob Ashford and Ashley) during its evolution, one that won Esparza a best actor Ovation Award for his performance in the show's Los Angeles tryout, will fold its (revival) tent on Sunday.  It dies just a week after grossing a paltry $171,381 from April 30 to May 6, its average ticket price a deeply discounted $21.51.

Without a doubt, the show by composer Alan Menken, lyricist Glenn Slater, and book writers Janus Cercone and Warren Leight could have benefitted from additional months of work, had the producers followed their original plan and brought it to Broadway this fall instead of jumping into the St. James this spring after the failed revival of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever closed.  Would a delay have made a difference?  Maybe not.  But after Sunday, a lot of talented actors -- including a gifted and so often impressive leading man -- will be doing what actors so often find themselves doing: looking for work.

(Photo by Joan Marcus)

March 22, 2012

Actors' Playhouse adds 'Other Desert Cities'

Other Desert Cities logoActors' Playhouse in Coral Gables is celebrating its 25th anniversary next season, and the theater has just filled one of two blanks in its 2012-2013 schedule with a hot show: Jon Robin Baitz's Other Desert Cities. Now running on Broadway at the Booth Theatre, the play is a clear contender for numerous awards, including this year's best play Tony.

Baitz, the creator of the television series Brothers & Sisters, has written a funny, explosive play about a conflict-laced family reunion.  Returning to celebrate Christmas at the Palm Springs home of her power-player Republican parents, a writer with a history of depression reveals she has written a memoir about family matters Mom and Dad would prefer to forget.

Coming on the heels of this season's Next to Normal and last season's August: Osage County at Actors Playhouse, Other Desert Cities promises to be a major draw for South Florida acting talent next season.

Godspell opens the Actors' season Oct. 10-Nov. 4, followed by the intimate musical The Last Five Years Dec. 5-30.  Other Desert Cities kicks off 2013 with a run from Jan. 16-Feb. 10, then comes the regional premiere of the Tony-winning musical In the Heights March 6-April 7.  Ken Ludgwig's comedy The Fox on the Fairway runs May 6-June 2, 2013, with a summer show still to be announced.

Subscription prices range from $185 for previews to $435 for opening nights.  Actors' Playhouse is located at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables.  For info, call 305-444-9293 or visit the theater's web site.


January 19, 2012

Barry on Broadway, Lowery at Sundance

IMG_Dave_headshot_2009.j_2_1_DG3QUKP6Pulitzer Prize-winning Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry, the prolific author and occasional Rock Bottom Remainders rocker, has more than promoting his new comic novel Lunatics (co-written with former Saturday Night Live writer Alan Zweibel) on the horizon.  The news from New York today is that Peter and the Starcatcher, a play-with-music based on Peter and the Starcatchers by Barry and Ridley Pearson, will begin previews at Broadway's Brooks Atkinson Theatre March 28.  Tickets for the show, which has its official opening April 15, go on sale Feb. 13 via Ticketmaster.

Adapted for the stage by Jersey Boys co-author Rick Elice, the play features a dozen actors playing 50 characters in the "prequel" to Peter Pan.  Twice extended during its spring 2011 run at Off-Broadway's New York Theatre Workshop, the show won the 2011 Obie Award for its two directors, Alex Timbers (Tony Award nominated for Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) and Roger Rees (Tony winner for his leading performance in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby).  The two will team again to stage the show on Broadway, but the cast hasn't been announced yet.


Sc000106e0Barbara Lowery, a much-admired actress, director and long-time drama teacher, got a wonderful surprise last week when she learned just how much she still means to actor Rob Morrow, who was her student at Miami Sunset High School from 1978 to 1980.

Morrow, the film and television actor who was a regular on Northern Exposure and Numb3rs, nominated Lowery for the non-profit Creative Coalition's 2012 Teachers Making a Difference award.  She'll receive it on Monday at a program and luncheon in Park City, Utah, during the Sundance Film Festival.

This is a big deal for the woman who followed her five years at Sunset with 19 at Miami Dade College's North Campus.  She's one of only two teachers being honored.  The other is Sister Marionette Gibson, who taught actress Alfre Woodard.  Actor Wilmer Valderrama is serving as moderator, conducting a conversation with each teacher-actor pair, and Morrow will present Lowery with her award.

Lowery, who earned her master's degree from the University of Miami, studied at both Stella Adler and the H.B. Studio in New York. She is a Carbonell Award-winning director who has staged professional productions for the now-defunct Acme Acting Company, City Theatre's Summer Shorts, New Theatre and the Coconut Grove Playhouse.

She says of the honor, "Excited, shocked and touched are the words that come to mind.  Rob was not only obviously talented as a teenager, he was extraordinarily focused...in pursuing his dream."

How great that a now-famous student's long memory has led to celebrating the work of a superb teacher who really did make a difference in his life.