April 30, 2013

Mad Cat is making a move

Mad Cat Artistic Director Paul TeiFresh off its South Beach Comedy Festival debut of Jessica Farr's Charming Acts of Misery, Miami's 13-year-old Mad Cat Theatre Company is on the move.  No, not to Los Angeles, which Farr and Mad Cat founder-artistic director Paul Tei now call home.  These theater cats are setting up shop at Miami Theater Center in Miami Shores, where a full-length version of Farr's play -- retitled B**w Me (it's about fashion muse Isabella Blow, so you can fill in the asterisks yourself) -- will get its world premiere Aug. 16, running through Sept. 1.

Since its founding in 2000, Mad Cat has had a long and happy symbiotic relationship with the Miami Light Project, first working in the old Light Box space on Biscayne Boulevard, then moving to Miami Light's new venue, the Light Box at Goldman Warehouse in Wynwood.

Erin Joy Schmidt.Blow Me.Isabella BlowBut the company began looking for quarters that might replicate the intimacy of its first home, finding that combination in MTC's 50-seat SandBox space.

  "With a move to Miami Theater Center as our core venue, we look to return to our roots and expand our mission.  It's a prospect we are all looking...forward to.  A new homecoming," Tei said in a statement, also expressing gratitude to Miami Light Project for the organization's long time support of Mad Cat.

MTC artistic director Stephanie Ansin, wanting to grow her facility as a place where many companies and artists can work, noted, "We are doing what we can to creatively and collaboratively respond to [challenges in the arts] so we can strengthen, mobilize and preserve the theater community in South Florida."

MTC's SandBox is located at 9816 NE Second Ave. in Miami Shores.  For updates on Mad Cat's move and the production of B**w Me, visit the company's web site.

(Photos of Mad Cat artistic director Paul Tei and Erin Joy Schmidt as Isabella Blow by Mitchell Zachs )

August 23, 2010

Arsht expands Carnival programming

Scott Shiller, executive vice president of Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, has long wanted the center's Carnival Studio Theater to be a place where high-quality theater from many sources -- local, national, international -- could be showcased. For 2010-2011, Shiller thinks he's found a blend that will be successful with what he calls "the three a's:" artists, audiences and accountants (the latter signifying solid business at the box office).  The Arsht's investment in the Carnival programming? An estimated $1.1 million.

Shiller has loosely grouped the Carnival's offerings into three categories:  partnerships with South Florida arts groups, new work, and critically acclaimed theater from elsewhere.  Some of the offerings include dance and performance art, Herald critic Jordan Levin's specialty, but there's plenty of theater news to share here.

Kristina Production Photo The Best of South Florida programming starts Nov. 18-20 with Mad Cat Theatre's production of actor-comedian Kristina Wong's Going Green the Wong Way.  Wong's piece, which she is shaping under Mad Cat artistic director Paul Tei's guidance, is about the pitfalls of a dedication to green living, one in which her dead  biodiesel car leaves her at the mercy of a less-than-reliable public transportation system.  Tickets go on sale to Arsht Center members Aug. 30, to everyone else Sept. 12.

SOUTH BEACH BABYLON 2 The births of a new theater company and a new play coincide when Zoetic Stagepremieres Michael McKeever's South Beach Babylon Dec. 2-12The comedy by the Carbonell Award-winning McKeever explores the lives of five South Beach artists int he weeks leading up to the chic insanity that is Art Basel.

Miami's M Ensemble will present Regina Taylor's Crowns -- a play about the culture clash that happens when a Brooklyn girl with a hip-hop sensibility is sent to live with her South Carolina grandmother after her brother's death -- at the Carnival.  The production happens during Black History Month in February, with exact dates still being worked out.

Also back as part of the Best of South Florida lineup at the Carnival are City Theatre's Summer Shorts festival (June 2-26) and Teatro Avante's XXVI International Hispanic Theatre Festival (July 7-24).

The Carnival's new works lineup are all dance/performance art pieces, so we'll skip to the theater stuff.

Catwalk Forbidden Broadway, with new material sending up the likes of In the Heights, Jersey Boys and Young Frankenstein (all scheduled to play South Florida this season), returns Dec.14-26.  David Lamb's From the Auction Block to Hip Hop, the followup to his popular Carnival hit Platanos and Collard Greens, plays Feb. 3-6.  Catwalk Confidential, a solo show by Miami Beach-raised supermodel Robyn Peterson, comes to the Carnival March 17-20.

That show will be followed by a long run (April 7-May 1) of The Sparrow, a hit play by Chicago's House Theatre. The piece, about a girl who returns home 10 years after being the sole survivor of a tragic accident that killed all her classmates, is an imaginative mystery in the vein of TV's Heroes.  Last in the lineup is Celebrity Autobiography (May 5-15), a show in which the famous read from celeb memoirs with comic results that the original authors probably didn't intend (the stars who will do the deed in Miami haven't been announced yet).

Several shows go on sale to Arsht Center members Aug. 30, to everybody else Sept. 12.  Call the box office at 305-949-6722 or visit the center's web site for more info.

July 01, 2010

'Broadsword' redux

BroadswordThe Atlanta-based Actor's Express Theatre Company has just announced its 2010-2011 season, and in the lineup is the world premiere of a Marco Ramirez play titled Broadsword.  The company already has a moody, cool image created for the production (check it out here), which will run Jan. 13-Feb. 12, 2011, and a star in Chris Kayser of the troupe's previous production of Mauritius.

At this point, particularly if you're a fan of Miami's Mad Cat Theatre Company, you might be thinking: world premiere?  Didn't Mad Cat already do this play -- twice?  Well, yes and no.

Mad Cat indeed staged Broadsword, first in April 2009 at its old home in the Miami Light Project's Light Box, then in late April/early May of this year in a brief run at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.  But those were "developmental" productions, meaning Ramirez was continuing to work on his script.  And he is perfectly within his rights to decide when he's ready for one of his works is ready for its world premiere.

Still, if you're thinking, "Hey, I saw Broadsword, and I liked it," you're not alone. I did too.

But if you happen to be in Atlanta and want to check out the finished, world premiere version early next year, here's the link to the Actor's Express web site.

February 16, 2010

Carbonell nominations revealed

Two17_speed_pepl_ho This morning brought news of the nominations for the 34th annual Carbonell Awards, South Florida's version of the Tonys or the Joseph Jefferson Awards or the Helen Hayes Awards or however you want to look at them -- though I think by now the Carbonells are as well-known nationally.  I say "news" because I'm not on the nominating/judging panel, so the long list of names was just as much of a surprise to me as to anyone who wasn't in the secret room last night where the tough decisions got made.

For a full list of those honored with nominations, check out my online story.

I'm posting a photo of Paul Tei and Gregg Weiner (and Amy Elane Anderson) in GableStage's Speed-the-Plow, because both guys have reason to smile today. Tei got nominated as best director for Broadsword at his own company, Mad Cat, and for his leading performance in Speed-the-Plow.  Weiner did even better: a best actor nod for Dumb Show at Promethean, two best supporting nominations for A Doll's Houseat Palm Beach Dramaworks and Farragut Northat GableStage, and a chance to share in a best ensemble win for Farragut North or Broadsword.  Wonder if Weiner, who played the devil in Broadsword, really does have magical powers....Just kidding, but I'm thinking he'll be buying a lot of drinks for his friends come April 12, which is when the winners will be revealed.

All in all, it's a pretty solid list of nominations, though I would have paid more attention to Rock 'n' Roll and Dead Man's Cell Phone at Mosaic, and might have pushed for The Glass Menagerie or Mauritiusat New Theatre. 

Amy London will again direct the Carbonell Awards show, which happens at 7:30 p.m. April 12 in the Amaturo Theater at the Broward Center.  Tickets go on sale Friday and cost $25 ($20 each for groups of 10 or more).  Check it out (on Friday) at the Broward Center's site. 

January 20, 2010

Laugh and learn

Pie If you're on the fence about going to Mad Cat's one-night-only performance of Shepherd's Pie tonight, maybe this picture by director-coauthor Paul Tei (Ivonne Azurdia is the other playwright) will inspire you to get your Irish on.

The South Beach Comedy Festival performance features Azurdia, Sofia Citarella, Amy McKenna, Todd Allen Durkin, Erik Fabregat and Betsy Graver. (Durkin, Fabregat and Graver will soon reteam in GableStage's production of Sarah Kane's shattering, controversial Blasted.)

Shepherd's Pie, though, is strictly for laughs, as an Irish theater troupe tours America to teach a nation of fair-weather Irishmen the real story of St. Patrick.

Tickets are $30 ($50 for VIP seating), and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach.  Visit Mad Cat's web site, call Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000 or buy tickets on Live Nation's site.

January 12, 2010

Mad Cat plays it for laughs

Mad catMiami's Mad Cat Theatre Company has done plenty of funny plays during its 10-year history, but its one-time-only revival of Shepherd's Pie has been specifically crafted for laughs.

Written by Mad Cat founder Paul Tei and Ivonne Azurdia, Shepherd's Pie was one of the company's earliest efforts, debuting around St. Patrick's Day in 2001.  That's appropriate: The play is about an Irish acting troupe -- the Velvet Shamrock Players -- who have received a grant to tour the United States in order to share the real story of St. Patrick with all the faux folk who spend every March 17 celebrating their "Irish" heritage.

Tei is directing a cast that, besides Azurdia, includes Erik Fabregat, Betsy Graver, Todd Allen Durkin, Sofia Citarella and Amy McKenna.  Mad Cat is resurrecting Shepherd's Pie for the South Beach Comedy Festival, performing at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 20 at the Colony Theater, 1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach.

Tei, who appeared in an episode of CSI: Miami on Monday (and who has a recurring gig as Barry the Money Launderer on USA Network's Burn Notice), has been rehearsing with his cast at GableStage, and he says Shepherd's Pie is continuing to evolve.

"Ninety percent of it is a new piece -- new songs, new jokes, a singalong with the audience," he says.  "It's very blue, take-no-prisoners stuff. You have to be able to laugh at yourself."

Tickets to the show, a co-presentation of the Miami Light Project and the South Beach Comedy Festival, are $25 in advance, $30 at the door (or, if you pay $50, you get the close-up seats and an after-party with the cast).

If that sounds like your cup of Irish coffee, check Ticketmaster or the Miami Light Project site for info.

October 19, 2009

Mad for "Shepherd's Pie"

LeprechaunNo, this isn't a blog entry about one of my favorite Irish dishes.  It's a heads up that Mad Cat Theatre Company is revisiting one of its earlier original productions, a collection of short plays titled Shepherd's Pie

A collection of short plays written by Mad Cat founder Paul Tei and Ivonne Azurdia, Shepherd's Pieis going to be presented at the Colony Theater on Miami Beach Jan. 20 as part of the South Beach Comedy Festival.  But as a warm-up, actors Erik Fabregat, Todd Allen Durkin, Erin Joy Schmidt, Sofia Citarella, Betsey Graver and Azurdia will do a fundraiser reading of the show tonight at 7 p.m. at Miami Light Project's Light Box, 3000 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.

Admission is free, but the company is asking for donations to help make the January performance happen.  Irish beer and goodies will be part of the experience tonight.  Interested? RSVP to ann@skymar.com.