April 29, 2008

Like it or it's free

Now, this is how a producer expresses confidence in a new show  A musical titled Makeover begins preview performances Friday, May 2, at the Hollywood Playhouse.  And producer-creator Mark Poncy is so certain that audiences will like what they see and here that he's offering this deal:  If you catch the show in one of its preview performances (they run through May 7) and think it's not so hot, you can ask for your money back.  And get it.

Poncy, who lives in North Palm Beach, has concocted what the show's publicists calls "a classic story of the struggle between good and evil," one "cloaked in a contemporary theme of plastic surgery gone awry."  The 18-song score, touted as being reminiscent of the early work of Stephen Sondheim, contains songs with such titles as All's Well at the Gates of Hell, You Can't Never Trust a Man and Please Make Me Over.  Katie Angell Thomas and Jack James are the show's stars.

The money-back deal is just for previews.  Once the show opens on May 9, you pay your money and take your chances.

The Hollywood Playhouse is at 2640 Washington St. in Hollywood.  Previews are 8 p.m. Friday-Sunday (May 7-9), 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday (May 3-4) and May 7.  Tickets are $38.  For information, call the box office at 954-922-0404 or visit the theater's web site.

April 28, 2008

The Arsht Center's entertaining summer

The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts has unveiled a summer season, one aimed at reflecting multicultural Miami and appealing to families looking for fun to spice up the school-free months.

An enhanced version of City Theatre's popular Summer Shorts Festival kicks things off May 29-June 22, this year featuring three separate programs of short plays:  Signature Shorts, the company's customary two-part program of brief comedies and dramas; Shorts 4 Kids (June 12-22), a family-oriented program; and Undershorts (June 12-22), an edgy late-night program.

Another kids' show, Go, Diego, Go Live! (based on the popular Nick Jr. show), plays the Arsht June 14-15.

Laugartascelia The Off-Broadway hit Celia: The Life and Music of Celia Cruz hits the Arsht June 18-July 6.  Written by Carmen Rivera and Candido Tirado, the musical revisits the life and long career of the salsa superstar (that's New York star Xiomara Laugart Sanchez as Celia at left).  The production's large company of singers, dancers and musicians will give performances in both English and Spanish in the John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall.

After Summer Shorts departs,the XXIII International Hispanic Theatre Festival brings its array of companies from around the world to the Arsht Center's Carnival Studio Theater July 9-27.

Two major shows will play the Arsht from late July to mid-August.  The world premiere of Miami Libre, the dance-driven bilingual story of a musician's quest for love and freedom, plays the Knight Concert Hall July 25-Aug. 17. And the wintry Slava's Snowshoe, a piece by original Cirque du Soleil clown Slava, plays the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House July 24-Aug. 17.

For information on the Arsht's summer lineup, visit the center's web site or phone the box office at 305-949-6722.

April 23, 2008

Outdoor drama

Theater al fresco is usually large-scale and pageant-like.  The new Pinecrest Repertory Theatre Company is trying to enrich the genre with its twinned productions of Edward Albee's Zoo Story and David Mamet's Duck Variations.

Zoostory Brian McCormack and Skye Whitcomb (he's the one with the curly hair) are Peter and Jerry in Zoo Story.  Larry Robinson is Emil, and Steve Schlam plays George in Duck Variations.  Both plays, set on a park bench, are happening amid the greenery at Banyan Bowl at Pinecrest Gardens, 11000 Red Rd., Pinecrest. 

The last two chances to catch the double bill are at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 27, and Saturday, May 3.  Tickets are $10 -- and an even cheaper $8 for students, seniors and military folks.  Next up will be another double bill: Tennessee Williams' 27 Wagons Full of Cotton and A.R. Gurney's The Golden Fleece.

For info, phone 305-720-0811 or visit Pinecrest Rep's web site.

April 18, 2008

A company goes bicoastal

Miami's scrappy Ground Up & Rising had a hit with artistic director Arturo Fernandez's play September 10th, about young New Yorkers before and after the life-changing Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. 

September_10th Several company members are giving Los Angeles a shot, so the group has formed Ground Up West.  First project is a reading of September 10th at 8 p.m. May 4 at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble in L.A.  In the cast are Natalia Brea, Arnaldo Carmouze, Bill Cobbs, Austin Herbert, Sheaun McKinney and Carbonell Award winners Kameshia Duncan, Bechir Sylvain and Andrio Chavarro.  Cobbs is directing the free reading, but to make a reservation, call 405-514-0612 or email the box office.

Also on the company's drawing board: Los Angeles productions of The Meeting and the new play The Hate You Gave: The Tupac Shakur Story, written by and starring another South Florida actor, Meshaun Arnold.  Ground Up is also planning to produce September 10th in New York, and the company plans to bring the Obie-winning Living Theatre to South Florida. For info, visit the company's web site.

Miscellaneous Stuff

   *  The ongoing South Florida Theatre Festival has cancelled its forum on Yiddish theater because of participants' schedule conflicts.  But it has expanded a forum on ethnic theater, to be held Tuesday, April 22, at 7:30 p.m. at New Theatre in Coral Gables. Charles Perez of WPLG-Channel 10 will moderate.

   *  The PlayGround Theatre's production of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, a South Florida-set adaptation by artistic director Stephanie Ansin, continues through May 4.  But the company has delayed its scheduled production of Sarah Ruhl's The Clean House due to renovations to the theater once Alice closes. That show, PlayGround's first aimed at adult audiences, will be part of the 2008-2009 season.

April 16, 2008

Tragic insight

Delay of Play:  Naked Stage artistic director Antonio Amadeo put out the word late Wednesday (April 16) that the company's production of 4.48 Psychosis has been delayed by a week.  The reason: a cast change.  So the info below has been updated to reflect the new dates and cast...Christine Dolen, a.k.a. Drama Queen

British playwright Sarah Kane was both reviled and celebrated during her short life and controversial career.  The five plays she wrote from 1995 to 1999 -- Blasted, Phaedra's Love, Cleansed, Crave and 4.48 Psychosis -- experimented with form and style.  Her disturbing work included scenes of rape, torture, suicide, cannibalism and violence both psychological and physical.

4148_postcard_front 4.48 Psychosis was Kane's final play.  Plagued by debilitating depression for much of her adult life, she wrote the play -- a chilling portrait of a disintegrating, tormented mind -- in late 1998 and into the beginning of 1999.  On Feb. 20, 1999, at the age of 28, Kane took her own life, hanging herself in the hospital where she had been taken after overdosing on prescription drugs.

For its third production, The Naked Stage is taking on the challenge of Kane's intense, disturbing play.  Mad Cat Theatre founder Paul Tei, who just won best actor/best supporting actor in a play Carbonell Awards, is guest-directing the piece, which has no stage directions and doesn't even specify how many actors should perform it.  Three actors will take on the roles of patient, therapist and lover in the Naked Stage production: Katherine Amadeo, Kim Ehly and Erin Joy Schmidt.

448_psychosis_website On April 24, Naked Stage artistic director Antonio Amadeo and a professor from Barry University's psychology department will lead a discussion about the play's themes after a free ppeview for Barry theater and psychology students.  Naked Stage performs at the Pelican Theatre on Barry's campus, 11300 NE  Second Ave., Miami Shores.  The play opens Friday, April 25, and runs through May 18.  Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday.  Tickets are $25 (seniors $18, students $12).  For info or tickets, visit Naked Stage's web site; tickets also available via Theatermania or by calling 1-866-811-4111. 

April 14, 2008

Brothers and teens and cannibals, oh my!

The Promethean Theatre, one of Broward County's ascending small companies, has picked its 2008-2009 lineup.  The company's fifth anniversary season is an eclectic one, ranging from a set-in-Florida play to a piece by a Pulitzer Prize winner to a musical that just might be Hannibal Lecter's favorite.

Debsherman To kick things off Oct. 17-Nov. 2, artistic director Deborah L. Sherman (pictured at right in Juan C. Sanchez's Red Tide, in what is undoubtedly the least boring picture of an artistic director ever) has chosen Barton Bishop's Still the River Runs, a play about Central Florida brothers who return home to bury a relative.  Next up, running Dec. 12-21, is actor Ken Clement starring in Tom Mula's Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol, about Ebenezer Scrooge's equally avaricious late partner.

Kimberly Akimbo, Pulitzer winner David Lindsay-Abaire's play about a teen coping with a body that ages too fast and a family full of eccentrics, runs March 27-April 12, 2009.  And in the summer of 2009 (exact dates to be announced), Promethean will present Cannibal! The Musical, Live on Stage, the campy musical by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

Promethean performs on the campus of Nova Southeastern University.  For info, visit the web site or call 786-317-7580.

April 07, 2008

Lunch and a show

Women's Theatre Project has come up with a delicious idea for a fund-raiser:  a gourmet luncheon with Stephanie Alison Walker, author of its next production, Three Fittings.

Walker_photo_2_2 The Los Angeles-based Walker will be in South Florida for the opening of her play, which is set in a bridal boutique and focuses on three very different brides.  The fund-raiser takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, April 25, the day that the show opens.

For $25, which includes the tip, you get everything from appetizer to dessert, with a chicken, lobster or veal entree; for $40, you get lunch and a ticket to the preview performance the night before.  Also on the menu: conversation with the playwright.

The lunch takes place at the McFatter Culinary Bistro at McFatter Technical School, 6500 Nova Dr., Davie.  You need to RSVP by April 20 via E-mail or by calling 954-462-2334; payment is by cash or a check sent to The Women's Theatre Project, 1314 E. Las Olas Blvd., #31, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301.

Three Fittings runs through May 18 at Sixth Star Studios, 505 NW First Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday (additional matinee 2 p.m. May 17).  Tickets are $25 ($10 for students).  Call or visit the Women's Theatre Project web site for information.