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.

September 29, 2011

Kids can become playwrights

Miami Childrens Theater has created a playwrights' festival for Miami-Dade County kids 13 to 18, but the company isn't just looking for scripts.  It is holding three free workshops (the first is from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday) to help the aspiring young writers learn how to create stageworthy short scripts.

Called "Always Write!," the contest has a deadline of Dec. 15.  A panel will choose five finalists Jan. 4, and the five scripts will be performed for a panel of writers and actors on Jan. 28.  That panel will pick a first-place winner, who gets $250, and a runner-up, who'll get a $150 prize.

The workshops take place at the Alper Jewish Community Center, 11155 SW 112th Ave., Kendall.  Attendance at a minimum of one workshop is required for anyone who wants to enter the contest; the second workshop is from 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 5, the third from 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 3.

Check here for more detailed info, or phone the Miami Childrens Theater at 305-274-3595.

September 15, 2011

Free theater...and other news

Logo Theatre Communications Group's annual Free Night of Theater is actually a collection of nights throughout October.  As in the past, some South Florida theaters are taking part, hoping to expand their audiences by offering a free sample of their work.  This year, seven companies here are participating. Some are offering tickets to just one or two performances, but Boca Raton's Caldwell Theatre Company is providing some free tickets at each performance of Amy Herzog's After the Revolution Oct. 16-30.

The wrinkle this year is that those seeking freebies enter online, indicating their first, second and third choices, then find out if they've won tickets.  To enter, visit the Free Night of Theater web site, fill out the profile form, and you're entered to win tickets.  Besides the Caldwell, other options in this region are Hairspray at Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables, Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them at New Theatre in Coral Gables, Women Drivers at the Women's Theatre Project in Fort Lauderdale, The Rocky Horror Show at Slow Burn Theatre in Boca Raton, Little Shop of Horrors at Lake Worth Playhouse and The Sunshine Boys at Delray Beach Playhouse.

Two things to remember: You have to sign up by Sept. 23 or you're out of luck.  And since the idea is to introduce theatergoers to companies that are new to them, don't sign up for tickets to theaters you've visited in the past year.


Got a one-act play that you're bursting to write? Enter it in the South Florida Writers Association's one-act play contest and you might win $200.  The entry fee is $10 (a check or money order made out to the group), and plays that have been produced or won other contests aren't eligible.  The first-place winner gets to cast and direct a public reading of his or her work; second place winner takes home $150, third place $100.

Maximum running time is a half hour.  The playwright needs to submit two copies of the play, with a large self-addressed stamped envelope, to One-Act Play Writing Contest, South Florida Writers Association, P.O. Box 56-2652, Miami, FL 33256.  The deadline is Oct. 15.  For more info and formatting instructions, visit the association's web site.


Terence-blanchard-bouncepressphoto02-3000x2826 PEOPLE NEWS:  Terence Blanchard, artistic director of the Henry Mancini Institute at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music, has been chosen to compose music for the spring Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named DesireBlair Underwood will make his Broadway debut as Stanley Kowalski, and McCarter Theatre's Emily Mann will direct.

DEANGELIS, Matt Former Hair star Matt DeAngelis, whose next gig will be touring in American Idiot, will teach a master class this Friday from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at Arts Alive, 10450 W. Atlantic Blvd., Coral Springs.  The $60 fee includes the class and free admission to the new music school's cabaret afterwards. Master class participants have to bring their own sheet music. Call 954-372-7878 or visit the Arts Alive web site for info.

Image003 Arts supporters Donald and Ann Brown have stepped up big time to back one of their favorite companies, Palm Beach Dramaworks.  The couple has donated $2 million and will have the company's new theater space on Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach named after them.  The revamped facility, formerly the Cuillo Centre for the Arts, will have a gala dedication on Nov. 11, and the first production in the 218-seat theater -- Arthur Miller's All My Sons -- opens the following night.

Artistic leadership at Fort Lauderdale's Rising Action Theatre is changing.  David Goldyn, who founded the theater five years ago and served as its producing artistic director, is going to New York to pursue opportunities there (though he'll remain a consultant to the company).  Andy Rogow, former artistic director at the Hollywood Playhouse and past president of the Theatre League of South Florida, takes over as producing director.


August 23, 2011

24 Hour Theatre Project returns

Frame The Naked Stage's 24 Hour Theatre Project, that most popular and creative of fundraisers, resurfaces at 8 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 3, at Boca Raton's Count de Hoernle Theatre (yes, that's the home of the Caldwell Theatre Company).

Artistic director Katherine Amadeo (who is simultaneously working on another project with her actor-husband Antonio -- the December birth of a baby boy) has announced the names of a number of South Florida actors, directors and playwrights who are planning to participate in the sleepless, intense creative experience of taking eight brand-new short plays from idea to performance in a day.

This year's lineup, in alphabetical order:  Irene Adjan, Steve Anthony, Andie Arthur, Nancy Barnett, Tracey Barrow-Schoenblatt, Sally Bondi, Barbara Bradshaw, Amy Miller Brennan, Cliff Burgess, Oscar Cheda,Clive Cholerton, Ken Clement, Andrea Conte, Dave Corey, Christopher Demos-Brown, Ryan Didato, Elizabeth Dimon, Todd Allen Durkin, Lela Elam, John Felix, Tony Finstrom, Betsy Graver, Laura Hodos, Avi Hoffman, Julie Kleiner, Michael Leeds, Amy London, Margery Lowe, Michael McKeever, Amy McKenna, John Manzelli, Stuart Meltzer, Leland Patton, Jackie Rivera, Juan C. Sanchez, Deborah Sherman, Adam Simpson, David Michael Sirois, Barbara Sloan, Karen Stephens, Shane Tanner, Barry Tarallo and Laura Turnbull.  And maybe more to come.

The theater is located at 7901 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton.  Tickets are $25 (VIP tickets are $50, and those buy you reserved seating an a souvenir poster).  Buy them via Ovationtix at 1-866-811-4111.  For Naked Stage info, visit the company's web site.

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 19, 2011

Calling all playwrights

Susi Westfall City Theatre's popular Summer Shorts festival serves grown-up theater lovers (through Shorts and headliner Jai Rodrigruez's late-night show Dirty Little Secrets) and family audiences (through the Lisa Loeb-Marco Ramirez musical Camp Kappawanna).  This year's festival is reaching out in another direction with an information- and entertainment-filled literary conference, CityWrights.

The gathering, which begins with registration and a welcome party Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Miami's Epic Hotel, offers two days of panels, workshops and performances on Friday and Saturday, with a wrap-up Sunday brunch June 26 celebrating the playwrights and company of Summer Shorts, which winds up its run at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts that day, then moves for an additional week's run at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

Playwright Susan "Susi" Westfall, City Theatre's literary manager and a co-founder of the company, dreamed up the literary conference and has filled it with impressive names, enticing (and useful) panels and an exciting bonus:  a free performance-lecture by Obie Award-winning playwright Lisa Kron (the author of 2.5 Minute Ride, Well and other works).

Lisa KronKron, who is participating in CityWrights thanks in part to the Dramatist Guild Fund's Traveling Masters Program, will lead a workshop for 10 young South Florida playwrights.   She'll also give a free, open-to-all lecture and performance titled What Will Happen Next? at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Peacock Room at the Arsht, 1300 Biscayne Blvd.  City Theatre describes her performance this way:  "One life in the theater and the search for dramatic action.  In this entertaining and enlightening mix of conversation and performance, Lisa Kron shares stories spanning the journey from her start improvising funny anecdotes in scrappy East Village clubs in the '80s, through the thrill of debuting her play Well on Broadway.  Along the way she shares what she has learned about the nature of dramatic action -- why plays are so hard to do well -- and why we keep trying."  (Reservations, required for Kron's performance, can be made by calling 305-75509401, ext. 10.)

After Kron's performance on Saturday, City Theatre will honor four of this year's Shorts playwrights in attendance (Israel Horovitz, Bara Swain, Garth Wingfield and Jon Kern), then comes a special 10 p.m. performance of Summer Shorts (ticket purchase required).

Participants in CityWrights include playwrights Horovitz, Gary Garrison and Andie Arthur, intellectual property attorney David H. Faux, editor Larry Harbison and literary agent Susan Schulman.

Because City Theatre wants the gathering to enrich the work of both out-of-town participants and South Florida writers, the company is offering a special rate to locals for Friday and Saturday events:  $30 for one day, $50 for both.  For information on CityWrights, call 305-755-9401, ext. 10, or email [email protected].

 (Photos of Susi Westfall, top, and Lisa Kron)




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.