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4 posts from October 2011

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.

October 07, 2011

'24-Hour Theatre Project,' 91 hours later

Rehearsing So I went to the Naked Stage's fifth annual 24-Hour Theatre Project on Monday evening, and work has been kicking my behind ever since.  But I didn't want to let the work week end without sharing a few random observations, memories and special moments from what has become a welcome, creative bonding ritual for South Florida's theater community.

*  It never ceases to amaze me what so many talented professionals are able to pull off in such an incredibly short time.  How do you write a short play, let alone a good short play, in 12 hours?  How does an actor not only memorize and retain sometimes-complex dialogue, but do a convincing/funny/compelling job of creating a character in 10 hours or less?  How does a director get the new play staged, how does the sound designer find just the right music and effects, how does the behind-the-scenes team bring each little world to life? From the audience, even with the odd glitch, it looks like magic.

Securedownload[2] *  As always, the plays were a mixed bag, generally enjoyable and, this year, heavy on sexual themes and content.  Which is fine, except there were a few kids in the audience, which can make an otherwise perfectly acceptable adult play cringe-inducing.

*  My personal favorites among the plays were written by three of the four founders of Miami's Zoetic Stage.  Stuart Meltzer (who then did double duty as director of Christopher De Paola's Marvin Becomes a Man) spun the title Hubris and the Rain Cloud into the story of three witty, withering sisters confronting the hot young waitress who's been sleeping with one sister's husband.  Christopher Demos-Brown crafted a little gem titled A Martin Among Us, a riotous piece about a nerdy guy who can simply point his finger and give the gift of sexual ecstasy to just about anyone.  And Michael McKeever, the prolific playwright who became a plot point in Tony Finstrom's Imaginary Friends, wrote the riotous yet touching Love Machine, Rusted, about a sexually frustrated young couple and the swingers who come calling.

* In the um, well, OK category were Juan C. Sanchez's Love in Stereo (with an especially strange older couple),  De Paola's Marvin Becomes a Man (truly, creepily unsettling) and David Michael Sirois' Holy Mary, Mother of Todd (a relentlessly offensive play set at a meeting of Sex Addicts' Anonymous).  Yipes.

Cheda *  Performances in 24-Hour's fleeting plays that were especially memorable include Amy McKenna as a world-weary rabbit and Laura Hodos as a cute-as-a-button bunny in Andie Arthur's Ifigenia and the Inadequate Wand; a biting Melissa Minyard and Irene Adjan in Hubris and the Rain Cloud; Oscar Cheda as the Martian and Anne Chamberlain, Andrew Wind and Michaela Cronan as the recipients of his special gift, in A Martian Among Us; Adam Simpson and Betsy Graver as the young couple, Karen Stephens and John Felix as the bizzaro swingers in Love Machine, Rusted.

Five years after Naked Stage founders Katherine Amadeo, Antonio Amadeo and John Manzelli first tried The 24-Hour Theatre Project, the event has become a joyous, exhausting kickoff to each new season.  It showcases much of South Florida's theater talent and makes you eager to see what these gifted actors, directors and playwrights will do in longer form -- with much more rehearsal -- during the season. Please, bring it on.

(Bachi Frost photos, from top, show Avi Hoffman rehearsing with Sally Bondi and Amy Miller Brennan for Holy Mary, Mother of Todd; Melissa Minyard in Hubris and the Rain Cloud; Oscar Cheda and Andrew Wind in A Martian Among Us.)



October 04, 2011

Cruz joins Asolo's 'Hamlet, Prince of Cuba' team

Lit28 PlayW28 TRO PPP Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz has been spending the fall at home in Miami,  directing his own Night Train to Bolina and teaching at the University of Miami (where he's currently the Stanford Distinguished Professor of the Humanities), along with watching rehearsals for the upcoming Arsht Center-UM production of Federico Garcia Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba (Cruz and Karin Coonrod did the translation).

Now he's got another gig translating a classic.  The Asolo Repertory Theatre is presenting Hamlet, Prince of Cuba, a Cuba-set version of William Shakespeare's Hamlet, in both its main Sarasota theater (March 23-May 6) and at the new South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center (May 17-20).  Asolo artistic director Michael Donald Edwards has already reworked Shakespeare's script in English, and Cruz will translate that version into Spanish.  The cast will give performances in both languages. 

Originally, another Cuban-American playwright, Eduardo Machado, was going to work with Edwards, but he left the team due to changes in the project as well as his TV writing commitments (he works on HBO's Hung).

Edwards, who directed the world premiere of Cruz's Hurricane at last years Ringling International Arts Festival, says he's "over the moon" about working with the playwright again and that the two are planning a trip to Cuba for research soon.

As for Cruz, he's experiencing excitement and a sense of responsibility.

"I'm just obsessed with it now," he says of crafting Hamlet, Prince of Cuba in Spanish. "This is like diving into heaven.  This version is very lean, which is lovely, a good adaptation for a modern audience.  I'm trying to keep it modern and respect the musicality and rhythm of the language."

For more information on Asolo Rep, visit the company's web site, or get specifics about the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center run by clicking here.

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.