Saturday, October 30, 2010

Weekend arts picks: Oct. 30-Nov. 2

Noomi Rapace,‭ ‬center,‭ ‬
in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet‭’‬s Nest.

Film:‭ ‬ The long waited third shoe in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series‭ ‬--‭ ‬The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest‭ ‬--‭ ‬has just dropped locally,‭ ‬and it snaps the trilogy back into form,‭ ‬paring down the third weighty,‭ ‬introspective novel about Goth computer hacker Lisbeth Salander‭ (‬Noomi Rapace‭) ‬and crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist‭ (‬Michael Nyqvist‭) ‬into an involving,‭ ‬fast-paced thinking person’s action flick.‭ ‬No,‭ ‬it is not up to the intricacy or originality of the first installment,‭ ‬The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,‭ ‬but it will suffice.‭ ‬It should certainly satisfy fans of the series,‭ ‬who wait with apprehension to see what director David Fincher does to and/or for the franchise with his Hollywood remakes,‭ ‬expected to start arriving next year.‭ ‬In area theaters.‭ – ‬H.‭ ‬Erstein

Theater:‭ ‬ There are just two weeks left to catch the remarkable Karen Stephens,‭ ‬breathing life into the one-person,‭ ‬multiple-character tour de force,‭ ‬Bridge and Tunnel,‭ ‬at the Women’s Theatre Project in Fort Lauderdale.‭ ‬Stephens shows herself to be a rubber-faced master of dialects populating a South Queens amateur poetry competition with the melting pot of personalities in Sarah Jones’s acting exercise.‭ ‬Sure,‭ ‬there are themes of how immigrants deal with the American experience,‭ ‬but you will probably come away from Bridge and Tunnel talking more about Stephens‭’ ‬performance than the play’s message.‭ ‬And you will probably come away smiling.‭ ‬Through Nov.‭ ‬7,‭ ‬Call‭ (‬866‭) ‬811-4111‭ ‬for tickets.‭ – ‬H.‭ ‬Erstein

Moon Viewing over Sarashina Rice Fields‭ ‬(1891‭)‬,
‭ ‬by Yoshu Chikanobu‭ ‬

Art:‭ ‬Toyohara‭ (‬Yoshu‭) ‬Chikanobu‭ (‬1838-1912‭) ‬was one of Japan's most popular creators of‭ ‬nishiki-e,‭ ‬or brocade prints from woodblocks,‭ ‬and his work ranged from the advocacy of late‭ ‬19th-century Western-style modernism to a nostalgia for the Edo Period.‭ ‬On Tuesday,‭ ‬the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens opens‭ ‬Modernity and Nostalgia,‭ ‬an overview of Chikanobu‭’‬s career featuring‭ ‬60‭ ‬single-sheet and triptych prints.‭ ‬The exhibit opened in August‭ ‬2006‭ ‬at Scripps College in Claremont,‭ ‬Calif.,‭ ‬and has just finished a stop at International Christian University in Tokyo.‭ ‬The exhibit lasts through Feb.‭ ‬20.‭ ‬The museum is open from‭ ‬10‭ ‬a.m.‭ ‬to‭ ‬5‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬Tuesdays through Sundays.‭ ‬Tickets:‭ ‬$12,‭ ‬$11‭ ‬for seniors,‭ ‬$8‭ ‬for children and college students.‭ ‬Call‭ ‬495-0233‭ ‬or visit

Emanuel Ax.

Music:‭ ‬The American pianist Emanuel Ax is a frequent visitor to South Florida,‭ ‬and in March you can catch him in a solo recital at Stuart‭’‬s Lyric Theatre.‭ ‬But this weekend,‭ ‬he‭’‬s sitting in with the New World Symphony at the Knight Concert Hall in Miami for a reading of the Piano Concerto No.‭ ‬2‭ ‬of Brahms‭ (‬in B-flat,‭ ‬Op.‭ ‬83‭)‬.‭ ‬In recent years,‭ ‬while the piano concerti of Beethoven,‭ ‬Mozart and Chopin are steadily heard in local concerts,‭ ‬it‭’‬s been a while since one of the two big Brahms concerti has had a local hearing.‭ ‬And the Second is massive in every way:‭ ‬four movements,‭ ‬with extensive solos for horn and cello as well,‭ ‬and a gigantic piano texture that is enormously difficult to pull off.‭ ‬Trust Ax to do it,‭ ‬though.‭ ‬Also on the program is the Arnold Schoenberg arrangement of the Brahms Piano Quartet in G minor,‭ ‬Op.‭ ‬25,‭ ‬with its memorable xylophone touches.‭ ‬Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the program twice:‭ ‬8‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬Saturday at the Knight,‭ ‬and‭ ‬2‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬Sunday at the Lincoln Theatre on Miami Beach,‭ ‬which will mark Tilson Thomas‭’‬ last appearance in that hall before the orchestral academy‭’‬s move to its new Frank Gehry campus.‭ ‬Call‭ ‬305-673-3331‭ ‬or visit‭ ‬

Thursday, October 28, 2010

ArtsPreview 2010-11: The season in jazz

Chris Botti.‭
(‬Illustration by Pat Crowley‭)

By Bill Meredith

South Florida's creative jazz concert calendar is always a case of feast or famine,‭ ‬and there's usually more of a feast south of Palm Beach County.

That's partly because there's a stronger jazz nightclub presence in the Fort Lauderdale and Miami areas than on the practically nonexistent West Palm Beach scene.‭ ‬And while the Kravis Center is every bit the equal of the performing arts centers in Broward and‭ ‬Miami-Dade counties,‭ ‬its jazz bookings may be even more geared toward retirees who still cling to the genre's swing era.

So jazz isn't exactly thriving in South Florida,‭ ‬but it still has a pulse in the tri-county area thanks to a few organizations,‭ ‬venues and college campuses.‭ ‬And if you know where to look in Palm Beach County,‭ ‬the‭ ‬2010-2011‭ ‬seasonal spread isn't bad.

Savannah-based guitarist and vocalist‭ ‬Bobby Lee Rodgers straddled jazz,‭ ‬bluegrass and pop for nearly a decade with his band The Codetalkers‭ (‬co-led by another Georgia-based genre-straddler,‭ ‬Col.‭ ‬Bruce Hampton‭) ‬before deciding to continue his solo career last year.‭ ‬On his own,‭ ‬Rodgers is no less amoebic,‭ ‬playing a hollow-bodied guitar through a rotating Leslie cabinet that's most often used with a Hammond organ.‭ ‬He's put his focus on jazz in a six-month series of tributes that first paid homage to Miles Davis last month.‭ ‬Future nods include John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk,‭ ‬and Rodgers salutes guitar great Wes Montgomery on Oct.‭ ‬28‭ ‬at the Green Room in Fort Lauderdale‭ (‬7‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$15‭)‬.

Troy Andrews‭' ‬alter‭ ‬ego is Trombone Shorty,‭ ‬but both personalities are steeped in New Orleans history.‭ ‬Andrews was born and raised in the Treme‭ ‬neighborhood of the city's‭ ‬6th Ward‭ ‬--‭ ‬the oldest African-American neighborhood in the United States.‭ ‬Equally proficient on trombone or trumpet,‭ ‬he and his band Orleans Avenue‭ (‬with guitarist Pete Murano,‭ ‬saxophonist Dan Oestreicher,‭ ‬bassist Mike Ballard,‭ ‬drummer Joey Peebles and percussionist Dwayne Williams‭) ‬will play songs from their major-label debut CD‭ ‬Backatown‭ (‬itself a nickname for the area where he grew up‭) ‬on Nov.‭ ‬5‭ ‬at the Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$14.99‭)‬.

The Yellowjackets.

The Yellowjackets are a California quartet that has straddled jazz sub-genres for nearly‭ ‬30‭ ‬years.‭ ‬Most of its albums lean toward the smooth jazz side of original keyboardist Russell Ferrante‭; ‬most live shows toward the fusion expertise of original bassist Jimmy Haslip.‭ ‬Longtime saxophonist Bob Mintzer is adept at both,‭ ‬and muscular drummer Will Kennedy‭ (‬who played with the group on some of its best studio efforts from‭ ‬1986-1998‭) ‬has returned.‭ ‬The Yellowjackets recently signed to record with Mack Avenue Records,‭ ‬and are likely to premiere material from a forthcoming CD on Nov.‭ ‬11‭ ‬at the Harriet Himmel Theater,‭ ‬located within CityPlace in West Palm Beach‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$35‭)‬.

With his Latin influence,‭ ‬acoustic jazz and electric fusion recordings,‭ ‬and solo-to-full band performances,‭ ‬keyboardist‭ ‬Chick Corea has practically decorated a wing of jazz history by himself.‭ ‬The former Miles Davis sideman has a‭ ‬45-year recording career,‭ ‬and in‭ ‬2009‭ ‬alone released three stellar CDs‭ ‬--‭ ‬Duet‭ ‬(his series of live duets with Japanese pianist Hiromi‭)‬,‭ ‬Returns‭ (‬the live reunion of his‭ ‬1970s fusion band Return To Forever‭)‬,‭ ‬and the Grammy-winning‭ ‬Five Peace Band‭ ‬(co-led by guitarist John McLaughlin,‭ ‬another Davis alum‭)‬.‭ ‬Corea plays a solo piano show on Nov.‭ ‬20‭ ‬at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts‭' ‬Miniaci Performing Arts Center,‭ ‬on the campus of Nova Southeastern University in Davie‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$50-$150‭)‬.

Ken Peplowski.

The clarinet's potency has waned since the swing era,‭ ‬but‭ ‬Ken Peplowski is one of the few who can breathe life back into it.‭ ‬The expert reedman has worked with Woody Herman,‭ ‬Louie Bellson,‭ ‬Clark Terry and Ray Brown,‭ ‬and was endorsed by vocalist Mel Tormé.‭ "‬Since the advent of Benny Goodman,‭ ‬there have been too few clarinetists to fill the void,‭" ‬Tormé said.‭ "‬Ken Peplowski is certainly one of those few.‭ ‬The man is magic.‭" ‬See Peplowski‭ (‬with pianist Shelly Berg‭) ‬recall Goodman,‭ ‬Artie Shaw and more in the‭ ‬Gold Coast Jazz presentation‭ ‬Dynamos of Jazz on Dec.‭ ‬8‭ ‬at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts‭' ‬Amaturo Theater in Fort Lauderdale‭ (‬7:45‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$35-$40‭)‬.

Arturo Sandoval's life reads like a movie script‭ ‬--‭ ‬to the‭ ‬2000‭ ‬HBO film‭ ‬For Love or Country,‭ ‬to be exact.‭ ‬Andy Garcia portrayed the Cuban trumpeter,‭ ‬who went from a Dizzy Gillespie protégé in his native country to an exile‭ (‬during a tour of the United States in‭ ‬1990‭) ‬and a U.S.‭ ‬citizen in‭ ‬1999.‭ ‬Now based in Los Angeles,‭ ‬Sandoval has earned four Grammys and an Emmy Award,‭ ‬and his latest release is the burning‭ ‬Arturo Sandoval Live DVD.‭ ‬He performs Dec.‭ ‬30‭ ‬at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts‭' ‬Dreyfoos Concert Hall in West Palm Beach‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$15-$85‭)‬.

Christian McBride.

Few modern bassists have the dexterity of‭ ‬Christian McBride.‭ ‬The‭ ‬38-year-old Philadelphian defied his youth to become the top acoustic session bassist in jazz through the‭ ‬1990s,‭ ‬then occasionally went back to his original instrument‭ ‬--‭ ‬electric bass‭ ‬--‭ ‬over the past decade.‭ ‬His genre-bending recording and touring resume includes work with McCoy Tyner,‭ ‬Sting,‭ ‬Kathleen Battle,‭ ‬Diana Krall,‭ ‬Pat Metheny,‭ ‬and Chaka Khan.‭ ‬McBride and Inside Straight‭ (‬with pianist Eric Reed,‭ ‬vibraphonist Warren Wolf,‭ ‬saxophonist Steve Wilson and drummer Carl Allen‭) ‬perform songs from their‭ ‬Kind of Brown CD on Jan.‭ ‬8‭ ‬in a South Florida Jazz presentation at the Miniaci Performing Arts Center‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$40‭)‬.

Rim Shots:‭ ‬An Evening with the‭ ‬Jeff Hamilton Trio gives a modern behind-the-scenes drumming great a chance to headline.‭ ‬Hamilton also co-leads the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra with bassist John Clayton,‭ ‬and has a deep recording discography that includes sessions with everyone from Frank Sinatra,‭ ‬Woody Herman,‭ ‬Rosemary Clooney and Diana Krall to Willie Nelson,‭ ‬Barbra Streisand,‭ ‬Natalie Cole and Queen Latifah.‭ ‬The Jeff Hamilton Trio‭ (‬which includes pianist Tamir Hendelman and bassist Christoph Luty‭) ‬performs pieces from its latest CD,‭ ‬Symbiosis,‭ ‬on Jan.‭ ‬12‭ ‬in a Gold Coast Jazz presentation at the Amaturo Theater‭ (‬7:45‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$35-$40‭)‬.

A jazz ukulele player‭? ‬Don't laugh.‭ ‬Jake Shimabukuro has taken the four-stringed,‭ ‬two-octave instrument to levels that Don Ho never envisioned.‭ ‬The‭ ‬33-year-old Hawaii native's latest CD,‭ ‬Live,‭ ‬features his far-reaching original compositions and covers that include Bach's‭ ‬Two-Part Invention No.‭ ‬4‭ ‬in D Minor,‭ ‬Michael Jackson's‭ ‬Thriller and The Beatles‭' ‬While My Guitar Gently Weeps.‭ ‬Shimabukuro has also recorded and performed with Bela Fleck,‭ ‬Bette Midler,‭ ‬Ziggy Marley,‭ ‬Jimmy Buffett,‭ ‬Cyndi Lauper,‭ ‬and Yo-Yo Ma.‭ ‬See him on Jan.‭ ‬19‭ ‬at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts‭' ‬Rinker Playhouse in West Palm Beach‭ (‬7:30‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$32‭)‬.

Like fellow keyboard icons Herbie Hancock,‭ ‬Chick Corea and Joe Zawinul,‭ ‬Keith Jarrett emerged from trumpeter Miles Davis‭' ‬late‭ ‬1960s-early‭ ‬1970s jazz/fusion ensembles.‭ ‬But while the others stayed with electronic keyboards to varying degrees,‭ ‬nearly all of the‭ ‬65-year-old Jarrett's subsequent recordings have featured acoustic piano.‭ ‬Equally brilliant playing jazz or classical music,‭ ‬many of Jarrett's best CDs since the early‭ ‬1980s have been with his long-standing‭ "‬standards trio‭" (‬with bassist Gary Peacock and another Davis alum,‭ ‬Jack DeJohnette,‭ ‬on drums‭)‬.‭ ‬The influential pianist's trio will‭ ‬take standards to new levels‭ ‬Jan.‭ ‬21‭ ‬at the Adrienne Arsht Center‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$25-$130‭)‬.

Norman Simmons.

Norman Simmons‭'‬ playing is steeped in Chicago jazz tradition,‭ ‬but he's otherwise no Second City pianist.‭ ‬The‭ ‬81-year-old has shifted between the Windy City and New York City to work with an array of renowned vocalists‭ (‬Ernestine Anderson,‭ ‬Joe Williams,‭ ‬Carmen McRae,‭ ‬Betty Carter,‭ ‬Anita O'Day‭) ‬and saxophonists‭ (‬Charlie Parker,‭ ‬Dexter Gordon,‭ ‬Eddie‭ "‬Lockjaw‭" ‬Davis,‭ ‬Johnny Griffin‭)‬.‭ ‬More recently,‭ ‬Simmons has collaborated with Houston Person,‭ ‬another veteran sax titan who's five years his junior.‭ ‬Person joins Simmons and his trio in a Jazz Arts Music Society‭ (‬JAMS‭) ‬of the Palm Beaches presentation on Jan.25‭ ‬at the Harriet Himmel Theater‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$35‭)‬.

Roget Pontbriand.

Roget Pontbriand has been one of South Florida's top trumpeters for decades,‭ ‬and has even unearthed his soft,‭ ‬Chet Baker-like vocals on occasion.‭ ‬For the Symphonic Band of the‭ ‬Palm Beaches presentation of‭ ‬Some Like It Hot,‭ ‬he'll leave the singing to Dorothy Yanes,‭ ‬the acclaimed classical and pops soprano.‭ ‬The show celebrates the golden anniversary of the music of the Big Band era.‭ ‬See‭ ‬Some Like It Hot on Feb.‭ ‬5‭ ‬at the Duncan Theatre at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth‭ (‬7:30‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$15‭)‬,‭ ‬and on Feb.‭ ‬12‭ ‬at the Eissey Campus Theatre at Palm Beach State College in Palm Beach Gardens‭ (‬7:30‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$15‭)‬.

Music is a family affair for vocalist/guitarist‭ ‬John Pizzarelli.‭ ‬His father is Bucky Pizzarelli,‭ ‬the venerable guitarist who's been revered since the swing era.‭ ‬Brother Martin Pizzarelli plays bass on tour with the singer/guitarist,‭ ‬who's built a‭ ‬25-year career as a master interpreter of standards.‭ ‬And Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart helped to define those standards with gems from‭ ‬My Funny Valentine‭ ‬to‭ ‬The Lady Is a Tramp.‭ ‬Pizzarelli's quartet‭ (‬which also includes pianist Larry Fuller and drummer Tony Tedesco‭) ‬plays on Feb.‭ ‬8‭ ‬in a Bob Lappin‭ ‬and the Palm Beach Pops presentation of‭ ‬An Evening of Rodgers and Hart at the Eissey Campus Theatre‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$75-$85‭)‬.

Perhaps it's only the surplus of female jazz vocalists that's kept California-based‭ ‬Jackie Ryan from becoming a household name.‭ ‬With her three-and-a-half octave range and Mexican,‭ ‬French,‭ ‬Irish and Spanish ancestry,‭ ‬Ryan sings standards in English,‭ ‬Spanish and Portuguese.‭ ‬She also writes and performs vocalese lyrics to jazz classics,‭ ‬and has a recent release that showcases her range.‭ ‬Doozy is an adventurous double-CD featuring musicians like guitarist Romero Lubambo and pianist Cyrus Chestnut on cuts from Benny Carter's title track to Leonard Bernstein's‭ ‬Some Other Time.‭ ‬Ryan performs her‭ ‬This Heart of Mine‭ ‬show on Feb.‭ ‬9‭ ‬at the Amaturo Theater‭ (‬7:45‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$35-$40‭)‬.

Celebrating Miles is more than just another Miles Davis tribute.‭ ‬The two-part concert spotlights both the trumpeter's early acoustic and latter electric sides,‭ ‬each with one of Davis‭' ‬great bassists from the two respective eras.‭ ‬During the‭ "‬Acoustically Speaking‭" ‬set,‭ ‬trumpeter‭ ‬Wallace Roney and his sextet are featured,‭ ‬along with bassist‭ ‬Ron Carter‭ (‬from Davis‭' ‬mid-1960s quintet‭)‬.‭ ‬Roney has carried the torch by playing a trumpet given to him by Davis himself in‭ ‬1983.‭ "‬Tutu Revisited‭" ‬features young trumpet lion Christian Scott playing with bassist Marcus Miller,‭ ‬architect of Davis‭' ‬1986‭ ‬fusion gem‭ ‬Tutu.‭ ‬See‭ ‬Celebrating Miles on Feb.‭ ‬25‭ ‬at the Adrienne Arsht Center‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$25-$130‭)‬.

We Four:‭ ‬Celebrating John Coltrane is a special tribute not only because it honors the titan of tenor saxophonists,‭ ‬but also because of the four participants.‭ ‬Drummer‭ ‬Jimmy Cobb,‭ ‬still going strong at age‭ ‬82,‭ ‬played with Coltrane in Miles Davis‭' ‬late‭ ‬1950s band,‭ ‬including on the seminal‭ ‬Kind of Blue album.‭ ‬Tenor sax player‭ ‬Javon Jackson played with drummer‭ ‬Elvin Jones,‭ ‬of‭ '‬Trane's‭ ‬A Love Supreme‭ ‬fame.‭ ‬Pianist‭ ‬Mulgrew Miller and bassist‭ ‬Peter Washington toured with drummer Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers,‭ ‬providing countless other connections.‭ ‬The quartet honors Coltrane's legacy in a South Florida Jazz presentation on March‭ ‬12‭ ‬at the Miniaci Performing Arts Center‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$40‭)‬.

Trumpeter‭ ‬Chris Botti's rare combination of talent and matinee-idol looks have made him a superstar.‭ ‬Few others have played muted trumpet as well since Miles Davis,‭ ‬and Botti is at home doing so within the contexts of jazz,‭ ‬pop and classical music.‭ ‬On his latest CD,‭ ‬Chris Botti in Boston,‭ ‬the trumpeter blends them all together.‭ ‬The live disc features guest appearances by Sting,‭ ‬Yo-Yo Ma,‭ ‬Katharine McPhee and John Mayer,‭ ‬all with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Orchestra and Botti's quintet members Billy Childs‭ (‬piano‭)‬,‭ ‬Robert Hurst‭ (‬bass‭)‬,‭ ‬Billy Kilson‭ (‬drums‭) ‬and Mark Whitfield‭ (‬guitar‭)‬.‭ ‬See Botti on March‭ ‬17‭ ‬at the Kravis Center's Dreyfoos Hall‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$25-$100‭)‬.

Remembering Chet Baker‭ ‬honors a trumpeter/vocalist who missed out on the legacy his talent warranted.‭ ‬After a successful solo career and work with Stan Getz and Gerry Mulligan,‭ ‬Baker‭ (‬who often battled substance abuse‭) ‬fell to his death out of a hotel window in the Netherlands at age‭ ‬58.‭ ‬But between trumpeter‭ ‬Bobby Shew‭ (‬who's worked with the Tommy Dorsey,‭ ‬Woody Herman and Buddy Rich orchestras‭) ‬and singing pianist‭ ‬John Proulx‭ (‬who released a CD last year called‭ ‬Baker's Dozen‭: ‬Remembering Chet Baker‭)‬,‭ ‬Baker's spectrum of introspective-to-fiery playing and breathy vocals is covered.‭ ‬He's remembered on March‭ ‬22‭ ‬at the Harriet Himmel Theater‭ (‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$35‭)‬.

Karrin Allyson.

Vocalist‭ ‬Karrin Allyson certainly isn't in Kansas anymore,‭ ‬having left her home state to settle in Nebraska,‭ ‬San Francisco,‭ ‬and now New York City.‭ ‬Her‭ ‬12‭ ‬CDs include creative tributes from‭ ‬Ballads:‭ ‬Remembering John Coltrane‭ (‬2001‭) ‬to‭ ‬Imagina:‭ ‬Songs of Brazil‭ (‬2008‭)‬,‭ ‬and her dexterity between rapid-fire scat-singing and expressive ballads has earned three Grammy nominations.‭ ‬She'll perform with the trio led by Shelly Berg‭ (‬who's both a talented pianist and dean of the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami‭) ‬on March‭ ‬26‭ ‬in the Jazz Arts Music Society's annual fundraising dinner concert at Falls Country Club in Lake Worth‭ (‬6:30‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬$85‭ ‬for members,‭ ‬$95‭ ‬for non-members‭)‬.

Theater feature: Florida Stage tackles the art of raising 'Cane'

Gregg Weiner‭ (‬above‭)‬ and David Nail in Cane.

By Hap Erstein

Two years ago,‭ ‬Palm Beach County was under dire drought conditions,‭ ‬with a water supply estimated to last only‭ ‬21‭ ‬days.‭ ‬It was a desperate situation,‭ ‬but how do you create a play about it without it seeming like a,‭ ‬pardon the expression,‭ ‬dry discourse‭?

That is the challenge that Florida Stage has taken on with‭ ‬Cane,‭ ‬the opening play of its‭ ‬24th season,‭ ‬a world premiere that is the first subscription show in its new home at the Kravis Center and,‭ ‬perhaps most significantly,‭ ‬the first play in the company’s ambitious Florida Cycle.

The brainchild of producing artistic director Lou Tyrrell,‭ ‬the cycle will be an effort to attract playwrights to write stories about The Sunshine State.

‭“‬Florida is so interesting in its eccentricities and its extremes,‭” ‬says Tyrrell.‭ “‬Here is a company whose name represents the state,‭ ‬making a cultural contribution to the state,‭ ‬and from the state to the country.‭ ‬Wouldn’t it be fun if years later we had‭ ‬12‭ ‬or‭ ‬15‭ ‬or‭ ‬20‭ ‬plays that told various Florida stories‭?”

He expects to commission scripts from major writers across the state,‭ ‬but for the inaugural play,‭ ‬Tyrrell turned to his staff playwright-in-residence,‭ ‬29-year-old Andrew Rosendorf.‭ ‬Like the party guest in‭ ‬The Graduate who says to Benjamin Braddock,‭ “‬Plastics,‭” ‬Tyrrell gave Rosendorf the leadoff slot in the Florida Cycle with one word‭ ‬--‭ “‬water.‭”

Rosendorf,‭ ‬who was born and raised in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington,‭ ‬D.C.,‭ ‬not only began knowing little about water management,‭ ‬he had slim knowledge of Florida’s past.

‭“‬I didn’t know what story I wanted to tell and I didn’t know anything about South Florida history.‭ ‬Oh,‭ ‬my god,‭ ‬I had so much to learn,‭” ‬says Rosendorf.‭ “‬It was overwhelming and exhilarating at the same time.‭”

Playwright Andrew Rosendorf.

He began by reading everything he could get his hands on and interviewing water conservation experts.‭ “‬I became a sponge,‭ ‬learning about the Everglades and about South Florida,‭ ‬its whole history and politics,‭” ‬says Rosendorf.‭ ‬Gradually,‭ ‬he began focusing on the era of the deadly‭ ‬1928‭ ‬hurricane and the present day,‭ ‬a time when much of the region was swampland‭ ‬--‭ ‬that is,‭ ‬there was too much water‭ ‬--‭ ‬and‭ ‬80‭ ‬years later,‭ ‬when water was in short supply.

But Rosendorf knew he had to invent a human saga to attract and retain audience attention,‭ ‬rather than an issue play.‭ ‬So he created characters based on his reading,‭ ‬devising a story about a Belle Glade farmer worried about how to tame his land and survive a brutal hurricane.‭ ‬Then in the second act,‭ ‬Cane jumps ahead to current-day Florida and to the farmer’s descendants,‭ ‬who are battling the lack of water.‭

As Rosendorf puts it,‭ ‬Cane is‭ “‬a tale of betrayal and bloodshed,‭ ‬water and wind,‭ ‬family and fortune.‭” ‬The title‭ ‬Cane has multiple meanings.‭ “‬One is hurricane,‭ ‬also sugar cane,‭ ‬and then there’s‭ ‬the biblical implications of Cain and Abel,‭” ‬says Rosendorf.‭

When he began writing‭ ‬Cane 18 months ago,‭ ‬Florida Stage was in its former cramped quarters in Manalapan,‭ ‬which would have meant a lot of compromises with the production.

‭“‬Certainly our switch‭ ‬to the Kravis was very freeing,‭”‬ he concedes.‭ “‬The set that Richard Crowell is building is massive and gorgeous.‭ ‬When Lou read the script,‭ ‬he quickly had the idea that maybe the dike had some height,‭ ‬when my initial thought to make sure it would be producible,‭ ‬was that the dike could well be the front of the stage.‭

“I’m very drawn to theatricality and there’s theatricality in this play,‭ ‬but I also had in mind that Florida Stage was asking me to write this,‭ ‬so I knew I had to keep a certain producibility aspect in mind as I was doing it.‭”

Not that he makes it easy,‭ ‬writing in a scene in which the‭ ‬1928‭ ‬hurricane blows through Belle Glade.‭ ‬How do you put a hurricane onstage‭?

“We’re going to have,‭ ‬as I understand it,‭ ‬some giant fans,‭” ‬Rosendorf reports.‭ “‬We had explored water as a possibility,‭ ‬but because of the short turnover time when the show is over,‭ ‬we ultimately went‭ ‬to lighting and sound effects.‭ ‬But certainly our actors will be muddied up and wet.‭”

The theatergoers at least will not have to worry about being caught in a deluge.‭ “‬I think the idea is make sure that the audience feels that they are a little bit outside of it.‭ ‬They will not have to come with raincoats.‭”

As with any play it premieres,‭ ‬Florida Stage’s primary audience is at its theater,‭ ‬but it also hopes that the script will be produced elsewhere,‭ ‬to become part of theatrical literature.‭ ‬Does‭ ‬Cane have the universality to interest audiences beyond this state‭?

“I feel that if I’ve done my job right,‭ ‬I think it’s a very universal story of what was going on‭ ‬80‭ ‬years ago,‭” ‬responds Rosendorf.‭ “‬As I learned from my research,‭ ‬water shortage is a huge issue,‭ ‬not just in Florida,‭ ‬but around the country,‭ ‬especially with the Great Lakes and Lake Michigan.‭ ‬Experts believe that the next world war won’t be fought over oil but will be fought over water.

‭“‬We like to call Florida‭ ‘‬the canary in the mineshaft.‭’ ‬What happens here is a microcosm of what is happening elsewhere.‭”

CANE,‬Florida Stage at the Kravis Center,‭ ‬701‭ ‬Okeechobee Blvd.,‭ ‬West Palm Beach.‭ ‬Opens Friday,‭ ‬Oct.‭ ‬29,‭ ‬and runs through Sunday,‭ ‬Nov.‭ ‬28.‭ ‬Tickets:‭ ‬$47-$50.‭ ‬Call:‭ (‬561‭) ‬585-3433‭ ‬or‭ (‬800‭) ‬514-3837.

Monday, October 25, 2010

ArtsPreview 2010-11: The season in books

Former President George W.‭ ‬Bush.
‭ (‬Illustration by Pat Crowley‭)

By Chauncey Mabe

The economy may still look scary,‭ ‬but for South Florida’s four major literary festivals,‭ ‬there will be no double-dip recession.‭ ‬Learning from last year’s challenges,‭ ‬each plans robust programs for the serious and casual book lover over the coming season.

Take‭ ‬Miami Book Fair International‭ (‬Nov.‭ ‬14-21‭)‬,‭ ‬the region’s oldest and biggest literary festival,‭ ‬and the first one on the calendar.‭ ‬Last year,‭ ‬says Alina Interian,‭ ‬executive director,‭ ‬fair organizers found they could do away with‭ ‬some longstanding features,‭ ‬such as the Street Fair parade,‭ ‬and still preserve the essence of the event.

‭“‬We constantly monitor our budget to stay cost-effective,‭” ‬Interian says.‭ “‬Public funding continues to be limited.‭ ‬Corporate support has improved some,‭ ‬but not as much as we’d like.‭ ‬We’re counting on individual support,‭ ‬vendor and exhibitor fees and admission fees.‭ ‬Thank God for Miami-Dade College,‭ ‬which is our backbone.‭”

Even with money constraints,‭ ‬however,‭ ‬the book fair will still feature‭ ‬300‭ ‬national and international authors.‭ ‬And if anything,‭ ‬the roster‭ (‬still evolving in late summer/early fall‭) ‬is more impressive than ever.

Jonathan Franzen.

‭“‬An Evening with George Bush‭” ‬opens the fair,‭ ‬less than a week after the publication of the former president’s highly anticipated memoir,‭ ‬Decision Points.‭ ‬The fair has also snagged literary It-Boy,‭ ‬Jonathan Franzen,‭ ‬whose‭ ‬Freedom is the most hotly debated American novel in years.

Other prominent figures on the schedule:‭ ‬Patti Smith,‭ ‬whose rock memoir‭ ‬Just Kids received rave reviews earlier this year‭; ‬biologist E.O.‭ ‬Wilson,‭ ‬a two-time Pulitzer-winning science writer‭; ‬Dave Eggers,‭ ‬novelist,‭ ‬nonfiction writer,‭ ‬publisher,‭ ‬screenwriter,‭ ‬and all-around‭ ‬21st-century literary renaissance man.

Interian says one item dropped last year‭ – ‬the international pavilion‭ – ‬is returning.‭ ‬But instead of a‭ “‬village,‭” ‬with several countries represented,‭ ‬this year’s fair will focus on just one:‭ ‬Mexico.

Mitchell Kaplan,‭ ‬one of the fair’s founders,‭ ‬says a number of Mexican writers and political figures will be on hand,‭ ‬including Carlos Fuentes‭ – ‬who,‭ ‬as a leading Latin American novelist and former ambassador to Britain and France,‭ ‬qualifies as both.

And after a year off,‭ ‬the Rock Bottom Remainders returns.‭ ‬For the uninitiated,‭ ‬that’s the garage band featuring authors like Stephen King,‭ ‬Dave Barry and Amy Tan.‭

“It’s a good one this year,‭” ‬Kaplan says of the fair.‭ “‬Be there or be square.‭”

In Key West,‭ ‬where the annual literary seminar will celebrate the literature of food,‭ ‬executive director Miles Frieden joked in early September that he was beginning to panic.‭ ‬After many years of early sell-outs,‭ ‬last year’s registrations lagged well into the fall before picking up again.

‭“‬We seem to be in the same straits this year,‭” ‬Frieden says.‭ “‬We’re not immune from the economy.‭”

Contributing to Frieden’s nerves is the decision to hold two sessions,‭ ‬one Jan.‭ ‬6-9,‭ ‬and a second Jan.‭ ‬13-16.‭ ‬As of early September,‭ ‬neither session was full,‭ ‬though the first will certainly sell out,‭ ‬Freiden says.‭ (‬For information,‭ ‬see‭ ‬‭)

“We don’t make the decision to do double sessions lightly,‭” ‬Frieden says.‭ “‬It’s a risk for us.‭ ‬But when we turn away our regulars because we’ve sold out,‭ ‬they beat up on me and I get bruised.‭”

Ruth Reichl.

Intimate and casual,‭ ‬the‭ ‬Key West Literary Seminar remains a bargain at‭ ‬$495.‭ ‬This year’s list of authors includes Ruth Reichl,‭ ‬Calvin Trillin,‭ ‬Billy Collins,‭ ‬Frank Bruni,‭ ‬Roy Blount Jr.,‭ ‬Diana Abu-Jabr,‭ ‬Elizabeth Berg,‭ ‬Mark Kurlansky,‭ ‬and many others.

Freiden concedes the topic‭ – ‬formal title:‭ ‬The Hungry Muse:‭ ‬An Exploration of Food in Literature‭ – ‬is a bit lighter than usual.‭

“I fear some people may stay away because they think the topic is frivolous,‭” ‬he explains.‭ “‬This may not be the most literary thing we’ve ever done,‭ ‬but I say it’s the most literary food thing ever done.‭”

But the main reason for slow registrations,‭ ‬Frieden says,‭ ‬is the obvious one.

‭“‬I think we’ll be fine,‭ ‬it’s just making me nervous.‭ ‬But I guess a lot of people are nervous.‭”

Robert Pinsky.

Last year’s‭ ‬Palm Beach Poetry Festival may have been a success‭ – ‬the workshops sold out and the public readings were well-attended‭ – ‬but that doesn’t mean founding director Miles Coon isn’t making refinements.

In response to an online survey of last year’s participants,‭ ‬Coon is adding more craft lectures and more opportunities for featured poets to participate in educational events.

‭“‬We’ve added value and didn’t raise our tuition rates,‭” ‬Coon says.‭ “‬Our numbers of applications to date are almost twice what they were last year at this time.‭”

Held in Delray Beach from Jan‭ ‬17-22,‭ ‬the festival’s biggest name this season is former U.S.‭ ‬poet laureate Robert Pinsky.‭ ‬Award-winning spoken-word poets D.‭ ‬Blair and Taylor Mali are also featured readers.

‭ ‬The workshop faculty includes Thomas Lux,‭ ‬Heather McHugh,‭ ‬Jane Hirschfield,‭ ‬C.D.‭ ‬Wright,‭ ‬Dean Young,‭ ‬Stuart Dischell,‭ ‬V.J.‭ ‬Seshadri and Ellen Bryant Young,‭ ‬all of whom will also take part in public readings and panel discussions.

Registration closes Nov‭ ‬2‭ (‬visit‭)‬.‭ ‬Full registration is‭ ‬$725,‭ ‬while auditor’s registration is‭ ‬$350‭ – ‬an increasingly popular choice,‭ ‬says Coon,‭ ‬for beginning poets,‭ ‬who get to sit on lectures and workshop without having to submit their poems to scrutiny.‭

Big changes,‭ ‬too,‭ ‬are planned for‭ ‬Literary Feast,‭ ‬Fort Lauderdale’s major literary festival‭ – ‬but they are mostly of a scheduling variety.

‭ ‬LitLive‭! ‬the day of free lectures and readings at Nova Southeastern University,‭ ‬will be held on Sunday instead of Saturday,‭ ‬and start at‭ ‬12:30‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬instead of‭ ‬10‭ ‬a.m.

‭“‬We hope to target some of the younger college students who don’t get up on Saturday morning,‭” ‬says Natasha Rogers,‭ ‬special events coordinator for the Broward County Public Library Foundation.

The Night of Literary Feasts will remain on Saturday night,‭ ‬where it moved last year after more than two decades as a Friday event.‭ ‬These scheduling changes save money on airfare‭ – ‬more than‭ ‬20‭ ‬authors fly in to participate‭ – ‬without diminishing the scope of the festival,‭ ‬Rogers says.

Jane Velez-Mitchell.

Literary Feast takes place March‭ ‬26-27.‭ ‬Attendance at the Sunday lectures is free.‭ ‬Tickets for Night of Literary Feast are‭ ‬$150‭ ‬each.‭ ‬Only two authors‭ – ‬Headline News anchor Jane Velez-Mitchell and Elizabeth Nunez,‭ ‬author of the novel‭ ‬Anna In Between,‭ ‬are confirmed.

But many more will join them over the next few months Last year’s event included such luminaries as Elizabeth Kostova,‭ ‬Russell Banks,‭ ‬Achy‭ ‬Obeyas and Lisa See.‭ ‬Check the Website‭ ‬--‭‭ ‬--‭ ‬for developments.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

ArtsPreview 2010-11: The season in Broward-Miami art

Poster No.‭ ‬4‭ (‬2010‭)‬,‭ ‬from the Miami Poster Project,‭ ‬
by Philip Brooker.

By Emma Trelles

Each fall,‭ ‬it is the labor of arts writers everywhere to forge connections between the many exhibits about to snap open and‭ ‬clamor for the eye’s attention.‭ ‬There is much excitement after many hot and slow months of student art shows and sweetly presented orchid photos at community centers.

September marks the beginning of the real pageant,‭ ‬or so we write,‭ ‬the onslaught of serious and money-minded mega fairs,‭ ‬the lockstep march of masters and up-and-comers,‭ ‬sculpture and paintings from exotic continents,‭ ‬the panache of New York canvases,‭ ‬the dioramas strewn with Pop surrealist kitsch.‭ ‬Arts writers strive to say how individual shows are,‭ ‬in fact,‭ ‬subtly linked through form or era,‭ ‬through tradition and culture,‭ ‬or even perhaps through the sweat of sheer intention.

But the truth is‭ ‬--‭ ‬they are not.‭ ‬Each art season and its body parts arrive as beautifully disarrayed as the last.‭ ‬When it comes to this and every season’s exhibit roster,‭ ‬there is no pattern,‭ ‬no unity,‭ ‬no invisible reed joining the twilight penumbra of one cityscape to the charcoal clavicle of another nude drawing.‭ ‬Why pretend there is some overarching story‭? ‬What is the point in making everything so tidy‭? ‬

No fun in that,‭ ‬we say,‭ ‬so this year,‭ ‬we’ll dispense with the alleged themes and continuity.‭ ‬Let’s just say that there is much to see in South Florida.‭ ‬The eye is ready.‭ ‬

Fast Sketch Still Life with Fruit and Goldfish‭ (‬3-D‭)‬ (1988-89‭)‬,‭
‬by Tom Wesselmann.

In what promises to be a rich retrospective,‭ ‬Tom Wesselmann Draws opens the season at the‭ ‬Museum of Art:‭ ‬Fort Lauderdale,‭ ‬Nova Southeastern University.‭ ‬The show includes more than‭ ‬100‭ ‬cutout still‭ ‬lifes,‭ ‬found-art collages,‭ ‬and‭ ‬mixed-media paintings and constructions‭ ‬made over‭ ‬45‭ ‬years by the late American Pop artist.‭ ‬Included are the some of the large-scale drawings and initial sketches for Wesselmann’s color-sensual‭ ‬Great American Nude‭ ‬series.

Vatican Splendors:‭ ‬A Journey Through Faith and Art arrives in January and teems with‭ ‬paintings,‭ ‬mosaics,‭ ‬sculpture,‭ ‬papal jewels,‭ ‬embroidered silk vestments and the armor and swords of‭ ‬the‭ ‬Swiss Guards.‭ ‬One of the grandest gatherings of art and historically significant objects from the Vatican that has toured North America,‭ ‬the exhibit also boasts the compass and tools used by Michelangelo while making the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel.‭ ‬

The Art and Culture Center of Hollywood has already begun its seasonal offerings with‭ ‬Sinisa Kukec:‭ ‬And Yet Another Wayward Landscape‭ ‬and‭ ‬Stephan Tugrul:‭ ‬En Masse.‭ ‬The former sprawls across the center’s main gallery and considers shape,‭ ‬light,‭ ‬and movement through a host of sculptural,‭ ‬and in places sexual,‭ ‬elements,‭ ‬some of which include a turntable,‭ ‬ornate frames,‭ ‬a‭ ‬rehabilitated dresser drawers,‭ ‬a ghostly fox,‭ ‬and swirling mirrors.‭ ‬Tugrul presents an energetic surge of collage and appropriated landscapes.

Colby Temple Healing I‭ (‬2009‭)‬,‭ ‬by Christiaan Lopez-Miro.

‭ ‬This year,‭ ‬the ever-rotating Projects Room welcomes the primordial,‭ ‬plastic vistas of‭ ‬Cristina Lei Rodriguez:‭ ‬Forever,‭ ‬the mythic banner paintings of‭ ‬Lisa Rockford:‭ ‬The She-Monster Sideshow,‭ ‬and‭ ‬Christiaan Lopez-Miro:‭ ‬All Roads Lead to Cassadaga,‭ ‬an assembly of photographs that chronicles a‭ ‬115-year old Central Florida community with poetic attention to stillness and space.‭ ‬

Frances Trombly:‭ ‬Paintings arranges the Miami artist’s first solo exhibition at the‭ ‬Girls‭’ ‬Club,‭ ‬which regularly features fiber and traditional craft media works by internationally renowned female artists including‭ ‬Kiki Smith,‭ ‬Ghada Amer,‭ ‬Ellen Gallagher,‭ ‬Amparo Sard and Tara Donovan,‭ ‬as well as prominent South Florida artists such as Carol Prusa,‭ ‬Jen Stark,‭ ‬Kevin Arrow,‭ ‬Dinorah de Jesus Rodriguez,‭ ‬and Kerry Phillips.‭ ‬Known for handcrafting ordinary objects such as grocery store receipts and mops from fiber,‭ ‬Trombly expands on her oeuvre‭ ‬with these sculptural canvases made specifically for this downtown Fort Lauderdale art space.‭ ‬

The Bear and Bird Boutique‭ ‬+‭ ‬Gallery (‬inside/upstairs at TATE’s Comics+Toys+Videos‭)‬ continues its always lively arts roster with‭ ‬Monsters Under My Bed,‭ ‬a multi-medium group show spotlighting South Florida artists and the assorted ooogah-boogahs of childhood nightmares.‭ ‬Also on deck:‭ ‬the gallery’s‭ ‬fourth annual‭ ‬Small Stuff‭ (‬works‭ ‬8‭ ‬x‭ ‬10‭ ‬or smaller by local,‭ ‬national,‭ ‬and international visual artists‭) ‬and‭ ‬The Super Punch Tarot,‭ ‬a wholly original tarot collection fashioned by dozens of artists and curated by pop toy-and-product blogger John Struan.‭ ‬

Yves Saint Front:‭ ‬The Kaufman Collection‭ ‬shows the luminous canvases of the‭ ‬20th century French painter at‭ ‬The Coral Springs Museum of Art.‭ ‬A concurrent exhibit shows bronzes,‭ ‬sepia-toned marine-inspired photographs,‭ ‬and landscape paintings by,‭ ‬respectively,‭ ‬Jim Rennert,‭ ‬Michael Kahn,‭ ‬and Nicholas Berger.‭ ‬The new year brings watercolors by Miles Batt and figurative and abstract sculpture by Lothar Nickel,‭ ‬followed by‭ ‬Tools in Motion:‭ ‬The Hechinger Collection,‭ ‬a sampling of visual art that honors the design and function of everyday tools.‭

At the‭ ‬Museum of Contemporary Art,‭ ‬North Miami,‭ ‬everyday objects and thrift store attire are bundled to form the installations found in‭ ‬Shinique Smith:‭ ‬Menagerie.‭ ‬This is the New York-based artist’s first large-scale U.S.‭ ‬museum show,‭ ‬and it also assembles paintings,‭ ‬drawings,‭ ‬and video inspired in part from abstract expressionism,‭ ‬color field painting,‭ ‬and Japanese calligraphy.

During Art Basel Miami Beach,‭ ‬the museum conflates the oeuvre of an international fashion and street photographer with the toil of one of Miami’s Caribbean communities in‭ ‬Bruce Weber:‭ ‬Haiti‭ ‬/‭ ‬Little Haiti.‭ ‬Shot from‭ ‬2003‭ ‬to the present,‭ ‬approximately‭ ‬75‭ ‬photographs frame the lives of Haitian immigrants,‭ ‬and recent pictures capture the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake.‭ ‬In‭ ‬2011,‭ ‬the museum brings in statues and dioramas from‭ ‬Jonathan Meese:‭ ‬Sculpture and works on paper by British artist Chris Ofili.‭

Folded Buddha‭ (‬1987-88‭)‬,‭ ‬by Susan Rothenberg.

The Miami Art Museum organizes‭ ‬Susan Rothenberg:‭ ‬Moving in Place,‭ ‬the artist’s first museum show in more than 10 years and her debut in South Florida.‭ ‬Twenty-five paintings include early horse pictorials from the mid‭ ‬70s to more recent canvases which address her daily life in New Mexico and the desert's disjointed perspectives.‭ ‬Tomas Saraceno's‭ ‬Galaxies Forming Along Filaments,‭ ‬Like Droplets Along the Strands of a Spider's Web,‭ ‬is on view through the new year‭; ‬the artist was the Argentine representative to the‭ ‬2009‭ ‬Venice Biennale,‭ ‬and this installation was the prototype for his work in Italy‭ ‬--‭ ‬a conceptual installation that likens the universe to a lattice of floating elastic cords.‭ ‬A selection from the MAM's own diverse holdings fills out both‭ ‬Focus Gallery:‭ ‬Robert Rauschenberg‭ ‬and‭ ‬Between Here and There:‭ ‬Modern Contemporary Art from the Permanent Collection.‭ ‬

In a fresh twist on tourism trends,‭ ‬the‭ ‬ArtCenter of South Florida unveils the‭ ‬Miami Poster Project,‭ ‬five super-sized posters by illustrator Phillip Brooker which stylize Miami's tropical spaces,‭ ‬abundant bird life,‭ ‬and urban and arts centers.‭ ‬Curated by artist-in-residence Kristen Thiele,‭ ‬Art Basel:‭ ‬Good n‭' ‬Plenty places the ArtCenter front and center,‭ ‬with works by past and present residents flanking exhibit spaces and corridors,‭ ‬including efforts by Gavin Perry,‭ ‬Luis Gispert,‭ ‬William Cordova,‭ ‬Beatriz Monteavaro,‭ ‬and Ellie Schneiderman.‭ ‬Next spring,‭ ‬architects and University of Miami professors Jacob Brillhart and Errol Barron display their sketchbooks and illustrations in‭ ‬Visual Thinking in the Digital Age.‭ ‬

The Frost Art Museum focuses on one narrative arc of abstract painting in‭ ‬Embracing Modernity:‭ ‬Venezuelan Geometric Abstraction.‭ ‬Covering the late‭ ‬1940s through the‭ ‬1960s,‭ ‬landmark works by Carlos Cruz-Diez,‭ ‬Gertrude‭ (‬Gego‭) ‬Goldschmidt,‭ ‬Mateo Manaure,‭ ‬Alejandro Otero,‭ ‬Jesus Rafael Soto and several others consider the genesis and history of this country's modern art movement.‭ ‬In‭ ‬Sequentia,‭ ‬artist Xavier Cortada visually depicts the four bases of a DNA strand through large-scale oil portraits‭; ‬he also works with a microbiologist to create a living model of the famed double‭ ‬helix.‭ ‬Arnold Mesches,‭ ‬whose works are included in the collections of the Met,‭ ‬the National Gallery,‭ ‬and the Whitney,‭ ‬is featured in the‭ ‬Florida Artists Series:‭ ‬Selections from Anomie‭ ‬1492-2006,‭ ‬an assemblage of‭ ‬48‭ ‬large acrylic paintings and‭ ‬150‭ ‬collages that blend postmodern thought with‭ ‬Old Master techniques.‭

At The Wolfsonian-Florida International University,‭ ‬Speed Limits‭ ‬celebrates of the role of velocity in modern-day life and showcases more than‭ ‬200‭ ‬works from the collections of The Wolfsonian and the Canadian Centre for‭ ‬Architecture.‭ ‬Some of the fare‭ ‬includes photographs of the construction of the Eiffel Tower and the Irving Trust Building in New York‭; ‬films of early‭ ‬20th-century American workers,‭ ‬paintings,‭ ‬drawings,‭ ‬and books.‭ ‬Art and Design in the Modern Age:‭ ‬Selections from the Wolfsonian Collection‭ ‬views cultural and political arenas through ceramics,‭ ‬handmade and mass-produced furniture,‭ ‬graphic design,‭ ‬ephemera and household objects.‭ ‬Highlights include a bas-relief produced for the‭ ‬1933‭ ‬Chicago World’s Fair and a sculpture by Alexander Stirling Calder for the Panama-Pacific Exposition of‭ ‬1915.‭ ‬

New York artist Ellen Harvey‭ ‬exhibits oil paintings inspired by nudes from the permanent collection of the‭ Bass Museum of Art.‭ ‬Also on display:‭ ‬Florida’s only ongoing Egyptian gallery,‭ ‬which includes a sarcophagus and mummy,‭ ‬and rotating selections from the museum’s archives,‭ ‬which span more than five centuries and contain North American sculpture,‭ ‬landscapes from the‭ ‬19th and‭ ‬20th centuries,‭ ‬paintings from Latin America and the Caribbean,‭ ‬contemporary photography,‭ ‬and Asian art.‭ ‬

The Jaguar’s Spots:‭ ‬Ancient MesoAmerican Art from the Lowe Art Museum,‭ ‬University of Miami displays masterpieces from ancient Mexico and Panama that examine the dynamics between art and the natural world.‭ ‬In‭ ‬T‭he Changing Face of Art andPolitics,‭ ‬32‭ ‬works consider political imagery through an aesthetic lens that ranges ‬from an early‭ ‬16th-century engraving by Hieronymus Hopfur to a late‭ ‬20th-century print by Stanley William Hayter.‭ ‬Frank Paulin:‭ ‬An American Documentarian brings‭ ‬30‭ ‬photographs from the mid-century American artist.

And finally,‭ ‬in its ninth and glittering incarnation,‭ ‬Art Basel Miami Beach‭ ‬descends on South Florida Dec.‭ ‬2-5,‭ ‬with satellite fairs,‭ ‬gallery events,‭ ‬art talks,‭ ‬pop-up shops,‭ ‬installations,‭ ‬street murals, bands,‭ ‬bars, velvet ropes,‭ ‬and all the usual accompanying spectacle.‭ ‬Get a head start here:‭ ‬

Emma Trelles is an arts writer in South Florida.

Untitled‭ (‬2010‭)‬,‭ ‬by Vincent Hemphill,‭ ‬at ArtCenter of South Florida’s
Art Basel:‭ ‬Good‭ ‘‬n‭’ ‬Plenty.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Weekend arts picks: Oct. 22-24

/Sledding in Central Park‭ (‬1912‭)‬,‭ ‬by William Glackens.

Art:‭ ‬The Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale received a major bequest almost‭ ‬20‭ ‬years ago from Ira Glackens,‭ ‬who at his death in‭ ‬1991‭ ‬left the‭ ‬estate of his father,‭ ‬William Glackens,‭ ‬to the museum.‭ ‬This has‭ ‬formed the basis of a major collection of work by a group of American painters known as The Eight,‭ ‬who in addition to Glackens‭ ‬includes‭ ‬George Luks,‭ ‬Maurice Prendergast and Robert Henri.‭ ‬Like American composers who were working at the same time‭ ‬– the‭ ‬early‭ ‬20th century‭ ‬– they‭ ‬produced important work that made a strong contribution to the art of their country,‭ ‬yet they are‭ ‬too little known to‭ ‬the general public.‭ ‬Last week,‭ ‬the museum brought new focus to the work‭ ‬of Glackens and his colleagues in an exhibit called An Intimate Look at William Glackens and‭ ‬the Eight that runs through Jan.‭ ‬9.‭ ‬It provides a good‭ ‬opportunity‭ ‬to immerse yourself in this‭ ‬period of American art history,‭ ‬which somehow seems more poignant every time elections roll‭ ‬around.‭ ‬Admission to the museum is‭ ‬$10‭; ‬it‭’‬s open daily from‭ ‬11‭ ‬a.m.‭ ‬to‭ ‬5‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬longer‭ ‬on Thursdays when it‭’‬s open until‭ ‬8‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬and closed on Mondays.‭ ‬Call‭ ‬954-525-5500‭ ‬for more information.

Dennis Creaghan and Erik Fabregat in A Behanding in Spokane.

Theater:‭ ‬The grisly theatrical sensibilities of GableStage artistic director Joe Adler and the twisted,‭ ‬darkly comic tales of Irish playwright Martin McDonagh are a terrific match,‭ ‬as Adler previously proved with‭ ‬The Pillowman and‭ ‬The Lieutenant of Inishmore.‭ ‬He dips into that macabre well once again with the writer’s most recent Broadway script,‭ ‬A Behanding in Spokane,‭ ‬the only play of his to date that is set in the United States.‭ ‬And you thought the Irish were weird‭? ‬The sublime Dennis Creaghan plays a justifiably miffed guy whose hand was severed decades earlier and ever since he has been roaming the land in search of his hand.‭ ‬Currently holed up in a seedy Washington state hotel,‭ ‬he is confronted by a pair of grifters who insist that they possess his hand.‭ ‬Opens Saturday evening at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.‭ ‬Call‭ (‬305‭) ‬445-1119. -- H. Erstein

Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell in Conviction.

Film:‭ ‬Lawyers are an easy target of derision,‭ ‬but you will be rooting for Betty Ann Waters‭ (‬two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank‭)‬,‭ ‬a high school dropout who is determined to earn a law degree,‭ ‬for the sole reason to exonerate her irresponsible brother Kenny‭ (‬Sam Rockwell‭)‬,‭ ‬who she is convinced has been wrongly convicted of murder.‭ ‬Conviction is based on a true story,‭ ‬and if it veers from the facts‭ ‬--‭ ‬which is likely‭ ‬--‭ ‬you will not want to know where.‭ ‬Director Tony Goldwyn gets us on Betty Ann’s side with ease,‭ ‬as he relates her relentless quest without any filmmaking flourishes,‭ ‬letting the story do all the work.‭ ‬Well,‭ ‬Swank’s dogged performance helps,‭ ‬and look for some solid scene-stealing by Juliette Lewis and the crafty Melissa‭ ‬Leo.‭ ‬Opening in area theaters‭ ‬Friday.

Sergei Taneyev‭ (‬1856-1915‭)‬.

Music:‭ ‬Iris van Eck has been running her Chameleon series at Fort Lauderdale‭’‬s Josephine Leiser Opera Center for eight seasons now,‭ ‬and to start its ninth this weekend,‭ ‬the cellist joins the Amernet Quartet for two string quintets:‭ ‬one by Schubert and the other by‭ ‬the‭ ‬Russian composer Sergei Taneyev,‭ ‬who studied with Tchaikovsky.‭ ‬ Schubert‭’‬s is‭ ‬the sublime Quintet in C‭ (‬D.‭ ‬956‭)‬,‭ ‬with its great slow movement,‭ ‬but poor Taneyev has been overlooked for decades by performers and audiences‭ ‬alike,‭ ‬and he was a rewarding composer who deserves more frequent outings.‭ ‬Here‭’‬s your chance to hear what you‭’‬ve been missing as the musicians tackle Taneyev‭’‬s String Quintet No.‭ ‬1‭ (‬in G,‭ ‬Op.‭ ‬14‭)‬.‭ ‬3‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬Sunday.‭ ‬Tickets:‭ ‬$35,‭ ‬and‭ ‬there‭’‬s always a nice reception nosh‭ ‬for everyone‭ ‬afterward.‭ ‬Call‭ ‬954-761-3435‭ ‬or visit‭ ‬

Arturo Sandoval.

‭ ‬Carlos Rafael Rivera just moved back to Miami after years in Southern California,‭ ‬where he earned a master‭’‬s and doctorate in composition at USC‭’‬s Thornton School and began writing works that showcase his‭ ‬instrument‭ ‬– the‭ ‬guitar‭ ‬– and that‭ ‬take advantage of different rhythms and‭ ‬folk sounds from around the world:‭ ‬pieces such as a four-part‭ ‬orchestral‭ ‬essay called‭ ‬Popul-Vuh,‭ ‬based on the Mayan creation myth of that name.‭ ‬On Sunday,‭ ‬his new trumpet concerto,‭ ‬called‭ ‬Concierto de Miami,‭ ‬gets its world premiere at the Adrienne Arsht Center‭’‬s Knight Concert Hall with the great Cuban jazz master Arturo Sandoval as soloist‭ (‬interestingly enough,‭ ‬Sandoval is a new resident of Los Angeles,‭ ‬having lived in Miami for‭ ‬years‭)‬.‭ ‬Eduardo Marturet leads the Miami Symphony Orchestra,‭ ‬and also will‭ ‬conduct‭ ‬Ravel‭’‬s‭ ‬Bolero and the Seventh Symphony‭ (‬in A,‭ ‬Op.‭ ‬92‭) ‬of Beethoven.‭ ‬Tickets:‭ ‬$24-$154.‭ ‬Call‭ ‬305-949-7622‭ ‬or visit‭ ‬

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Film review: Eastwood's 'Hereafter' exquisite, unforgettable

Bryce Dallas Howard and Matt Damon in Hereafter.

By John Thomason

A few years ago,‭ ‬when Clint Eastwood directed‭ ‬Flags of Our Fathers and‭ ‬Letters From Iwo Jima‭ ‬– his sobering companion films about World War II,‭ ‬told evenhandedly from both sides of the conflict‭ – ‬it seemed the best time to reflect on Eastwood’s directorial canon.

At the time,‭ ‬I analyzed Eastwood’s evolution from a two-dimensional icon of Western-movie chauvinism and hard-right vigilante justice to a behind-the-camera artist with profound sensitivities toward the socially outcast and whose complex,‭ ‬ever-shifting political leanings belie his personal conservatism more than reinforce it.

But at least in his style,‭ ‬Eastwood remains to this day a conservative filmmaker‭ – ‬a classicist more than a modernist and a craftsman more than an auteur,‭ ‬whose invisible directorial hand preserves an old-fashioned Hollywood tenderness‭ (‬or mawkishness,‭ ‬per his detractors‭)‬.‭ ‬In an era of‭ ‬3D ubiquity,‭ ‬CG showmanship and style-over-substance film-school maverickism,‭ ‬the Eastwood style of classical restraint is a vanishing art.

Yet it’s one that keeps me continually absorbed by even his lesser,‭ ‬flawed efforts of late‭ – ‬like‭ ‬Changeling and‭ ‬Gran Torino‭ – ‬and when the‭ ‬80-year-old director eventually dies or,‭ ‬less likely,‭ ‬retires,‭ ‬there won’t by anyone left to carry the torch.

And though Eastwood is not slowing down his productivity just yet‭ – ‬he’s currently in pre-production for a J.‭ ‬Edgar Hoover biopic starring Leonardo DiCaprio‭ – ‬his touching latest release,‭ ‬Hereafter,‭ ‬is an acceptance of both the inevitable and the spiritual from an artist in his twilight years.‭ ‬The film finds the director peering through clouds of death for the silver linings of hope and rebirth,‭ ‬and it’s impossible not to read‭ ‬Hereafter as a meditation on mortality.‭ ‬It discovers a deeply rooted,‭ ‬if nondenominational,‭ ‬faith in an afterlife that may upset the apple cart of supposedly godless Hollywood liberalism‭ – ‬which is to say it’s the next confounding step in Eastwood’s chameleonic political-cinematic trajectory.

The presence of God’s machine in the events leading up to the characters‭’ ‬investigation of the afterlife may be less easily acceptable for believers than the film’s more spiritually rosy conclusions,‭ ‬and the random tragedies that incite this story implicitly confront a frequent problem for theists:‭ ‬Why does God kill innocent people‭? ‬The film opens on an idyllic beachside town,‭ ‬where a tsunami will obliterate hundreds of thousands of people within seconds.‭ ‬One of the few survivors will be French television reporter Marie LeLay‭ (‬Cecile de France‭)‬,‭ ‬whose near-death experience in the disaster will profoundly affect her life going forward.

Meanwhile,‭ ‬in England,‭ ‬a young boy loses his twin brother to another random accident brought on by a wrong-place,‭ ‬wrong-time confrontation with some local bullies.‭ ‬His attempts to communicate with his recently deceased kin lead him to a number of sham psychics.‭ ‬Meanwhile in the United States,‭ ‬Matt Damon plays George Lonegan,‭ ‬a honest-to-goodness psychic whose ability to communicate with ghosts developed from a childhood illness.‭ ‬A factory worker with penchants for Italian cuisine and Charles Dickens,‭ ‬Lonegan has given up his paranormal career after it played havoc on his personal life.

The three principal characters will circuitously coalesce in the final act,‭ ‬which I won’t‭ spoil.‭ ‬Suffice it to say that‭ ‬Hereafter is one of the most sensitive films ever made about the most sensitive subjects of our,‭ ‬or anyone’s time‭ – ‬life,‭ ‬death,‭ ‬faith,‭ ‬forgiveness,‭ ‬acceptance.‭ ‬Yes,‭ ‬the violins may weep at the appropriate times,‭ ‬and in lesser hands,‭ ‬this material could have been a cornball weepie.‭

But Eastwood’s hands are not lesser,‭ ‬and‭ ‬Hereafter is one of the year’s most exquisitely calibrated and emotionally unforgettable experiences.

HEREAFTER. Studio:‭ ‬Warner Brothers‭; ‬Rating:‭ ‬PG-13‭; ‬Director:‭ ‬Clint Eastwood‭; ‬Cast:‭ ‬Matt Damon,‭ ‬Cecile de France,‭ ‬Frankie McLaren,‭ ‬George McLaren,‭ ‬Thierry Neuvic,‭ ‬Bryce Dallas Howard,‭ ‬Jay Mohr‭; ‬Opens:‭ ‬Friday‭; ‬Venue:‭ ‬Most commercial houses

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Theater roundup: A fine 'Candida,' an incomplete 'Desire'

John Leonard Thompson and Kim Cozort in Candida.

(Palm Beach Dramaworks‭; ‬through Nov.‭ ‬21‭)

Palm Beach Dramaworks,‭ ‬which recently announced plans to move into the vacant Cuillo Centre space a block away from its Banyan Boulevard ‬playhouse in West Palm Beach,‭ ‬continues to take the high road of offering up the towering writers for the stage that other South Florida troupe shy away from.

Think O‭’‬Neill,‭ ‬Ibsen and now George Bernard Shaw,‭ ‬whose early work‭ ‬Candida is the young socialist playwright‭’‬s winking look at the institution of marriage and the gulf between genders,‭ ‬with the Irish Nobel laureate-to-be coming down decidedly on his feminist side.

This Shavian romantic comedy pits a verbose parson against a puppyish young poet,‭ ‬both vying for the affections of alluring Candida,‭ ‬who just happens to be the parson‭’‬s wife of many years.‭ ‬Still,‭ ‬when socially awkward Eugene Marchbanks arrives and announces his intentions to steal Candida away with him,‭ ‬he and the Rev.‭ ‬James Morell pigheadedly demand that she choose between them,‭ ‬underestimating her response.

John Leonard Thompson,‭ ‬back at Dramaworks after a stunning turn as Teach in last season‭’‬s‭ ‬American Buffalo,‭ ‬gives a terrific,‭ ‬wholly different performance as another misguidedly self-assured character.‭ ‬Kim Cozort easily makes the case for why men seem to fall instantly in love with Candida and,‭ ‬as Marchbanks,‭ ‬Will Connolly walks the tricky tightrope,‭ ‬rendering him inept,‭ ‬but not inane. -- H. Erstein

CANDIDA,‭ ‬Palm Beach Dramaworks,‭ ‬322‭ ‬Banyan Blvd.,‭ ‬West Palm Beach.‭ ‬Through Nov.‭ ‬21.‭ ‬Tickets:‭ ‬$47.‭ ‬Call:‭ (‬561‭) ‬514-4042.


Hannia Guillen and Jim Ballard in The Color of Desire.

The Color of Desire
(Actor‭s' Playhouse‭; ‬through Nov.‭ ‬7‭)

It is a coup whenever a South Florida theater snags the world premiere of a play by Pulitzer Prize winner Nilo Cruz‭ (‬Anna in the Tropics‭)‬,‭ ‬even if that script seems not yet to have reached its final form.‭ ‬That is the case with‭ ‬The Color of Desire,‭ ‬a murky game of role-playing set against the early days after the Cuban Revolution.

The script has plenty of Cruz‭’‬s signature verbal virtuosity and is certainly authentic in its depiction of‭ ‬1960‭ ‬Havana,‭ ‬but it receives a too literal production under David Arisco‭’‬s direction at Actors‭’‬ Playhouse,‭ ‬where more ambiguity seems called for.‭ ‬An unsettling shift between reality and fantasy is what I recall from my first exposure to the play at Florida Stage‭’‬s‭ ‬1st Stage Festival two years ago,‭ ‬but rewrites and seeing it fully produced has made that mood of mystery evaporate.

Still,‭ ‬it is a new work by Cruz,‭ ‬a master storyteller who spins evocative images that stick in the brain.‭ ‬At its center is an American businessman‭ (‬Jim Ballard‭)‬,‭ ‬worried about having his operation nationalized,‭ ‬but not so preoccupied that he does not woo and hire a local actress‭ (‬Hannia Guillen‭) ‬to play the part of former lover of his,‭ ‬offstage and in the bedroom.‭ ‬Filling out the cast well are Barbara Sloan and Michael Serratore as carefree American unable to say goodbye to Cuba,‭ ‬and two extraneous,‭ ‬but amusing costume shop workers‭ (‬Isabel Moreno,‭ ‬Teresa Maria Rojas‭)‬.

Chances are‭ ‬The Color of Desire will one day be the compelling portrait of Cruz‭’‬s homeland in upheaval,‭ ‬but it is not there yet. – ‬H.‭ ‬Erstein

THE COLOR OF DESIRE,‭ ‬Actors' Playhouse,‭ ‬280‭ ‬Miracle Mile,‭ ‬Coral Gables.‭ ‬Through Nov.‭ ‬7.‭ ‬Tickets:‭ ‬$40-$48.‭ ‬Call:‭ (‬305‭) ‬444-9293.


Bridge and Tunnel
(Women‭’‬s Theatre Project‭; ‬through Nov.‭ ‬7‭)

When I whine about the limitations of one-person shows,‭ ‬what I really mean are one-person,‭ ‬one-character shows,‭ ‬those wooden biographical evenings that are as dramatic as recitations from an encyclopedia.‭ ‬On the other hand,‭ ‬such actresses as Lily Tomlin‭ (‬The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the‭ ‬Universe‭) ‬and Anna Deavere Smith‭ (‬Fires in the Mirror‭) ‬have generated some entertaining and thought-provoking theater by crowding the stage with their multiple personalities.

Add to that list Karen Stephens,‭ ‬a rubber-faced master of dialects who populates and tames the problematic storefront space of The Women‭’‬s Theatre Project with Sarah Jones‭’‬ Tony-winning performance piece,‭ ‬Bridge and Tunnel.‭ ‬If America is a melting pot,‭ ‬the crucible is a tiny stage in South Queens,‭ ‬where a multicultural parade of‭ ‬vivid characters pour out their hearts at an amateur poetry competition.‭ ‬That is premise enough for Stephens to show off her acting versatility as she inhabits some‭ ‬14‭ ‬souls of varying personalities,‭ ‬genders,‭ ‬ages and temperaments.

Emceeing the evening is‭ ‬a Pakistani smoothie named Mohammed Ali‭ ‬--‭ ‬no jokes,‭ ‬please,‭ ‬he‭’‬s heard them all already‭ ‬--‭ ‬who shuttles on and off,‭ ‬as do immigrants from Jamaica,‭ ‬Vietnam,‭ ‬Mexico and China,‭ ‬each grappling with the American experience in free,‭ ‬or at least somewhat liberated,‭ ‬verse.‭ ‬If after a while,‭ ‬we are more engaged by Stephens‭’‬ chameleon act than the content of Jones‭’‬ script,‭ ‬that does not make‭ ‬Bridge and Tunnel any less entertaining. – ‬H.‭ ‬Erstein

BRIDGE AND TUNNEL,‭ ‬Women’s Theatre Project,‭ ‬Sixth St.‭ ‬Studio,‭ ‬505‭ ‬N.W.‭ ‬1st Ave.,‭ ‬Fort Lauderdale.‭ ‬Through Nov.‭ ‬7.‭ ‬Tickets:‭ ‬$25.‭ ‬Call:‭ (‬866‭) ‬811-4111.


Shane Blanford in Cabaret.

(Entr‭’‬acte Theatrix at the Caldwell‭; ‬through Oct.‭ ‬24‭)

The good thing about presenting‭ ‬Cabaret,‭ ‬the second production from Entr‭’‬Acte Theatrix,‭ ‬the professional offshoot of Palm Beach Principal Players,‭ ‬is that the performers at the Kit Kat Club are really not supposed to be very talented.‭ ‬Director-choreographer Kimberly Dawn Smith may have taken that notion to the extreme,‭ ‬though,‭ ‬or perhaps she truly does have a talent-challenged cast.

That is how it seems at the Caldwell Theatre,‭ ‬where Smith is closely adhering to the staging of the‭ ‬1998‭ ‬revival of the John Kander-Fred Ebb musical set in pre-Nazi Berlin.‭ ‬As the Emcee,‭ ‬Shane Blanford has an apt edge of smarmy menace,‭ ‬but every exaggerated line delivery is a blatant copy of Alan Cumming‭’‬s Tony-winning performance.‭ ‬At least he manages a good fascimile,‭ ‬whereas Leah Sessa‭’‬s Sally Bowles is simply shrill and screechy,‭ ‬and she apparently has no clue about the subtext of the title number.

Better is Ryan Michael Owens,‭ ‬whose instinct is to underplay as Cliff Bradshaw,‭ ‬the American would-be novelist who has his‭ ‬eyes opened by the increasingly evident signs of the coming world war.‭ ‬The very capable band elevated above the stage accompanies a mix of songs from the various stage productions and the Bob Fosse film,‭ ‬but this‭ ‬Cabaret lacks the impact of the group‭’‬s earlier‭ ‬Hair.‭ ‬

Sometimes,‭ ‬to answer the question in the title song,‭ ‬it is better to sit alone in your room. – ‬H.‭ ‬Erstein

CABARET,‭Entr’Acte Theatrix at the Caldwell Theatre,‭ ‬7901‭ ‬N.‭ ‬Federal Highway,‭ ‬Boca Raton.‭ ‬Through Oct.‭ ‬24.‭ ‬Tickets:‭ ‬$25-$30.‭ ‬Call:‭ (‬561‭) ‬241-7432.


Alexa Capiello and Noah Levine in The Rocky Horror Show.

The Rocky Horror Show
(Slow Burn Theatre Company‭; ‬through Oct.‭ ‬30‭)

Boca Raton‭’‬s Slow Burn Theatre Company,‭ ‬now beginning its second season,‭ ‬prides itself on producing musicals with a dark edginess.‭ ‬But that is exactly the quality that is missing from its take on‭ ‬The Rocky Horror Show.

Rocky is,‭ ‬of course,‭ ‬the spoof of B-level horror films mixed with an allegory of sexual liberation,‭ ‬but ever since the show gained cult status‭ ‬--‭ ‬and audience interaction‭ ‬--‭ ‬from its‭ ‬1975‭ ‬movie version,‭ ‬it has been hard to wrest it from its parody mode.

Still,‭ ‬the production begins very promisingly with the opening number,‭ ‬Science Fiction Double Feature,‭ ‬sung with gusto by Renata Eastlick,‭ ‬who later returns as castle minion Magenta and steals most of the scenes she is in.‭ ‬We should,‭ ‬however,‭ ‬care more than we do about fish-out-of-water fiancees Brad and Janet,‭ ‬who have their values and more manipulated by Dr.‭ ‬Frank‭ ‬‘N‭’‬ Furter.‭ ‬Noah Levine and Alexa Capiello are fine in the early going,‭ ‬but we need to see more of a transition eventually beyond Rick Pena‭’‬s nicely abbreviated costumes.

Larry Buzzeo‭ (‬Frank‭) ‬fills out a bustier and fishnet stockings well enough,‭ ‬but misses much of the character‭’‬s menace.‭ ‬Director Patrick Fitzwater was clearly trying to get beyond the image of the movie‭’‬s Tim Curry,‭ ‬which is commendable,‭ ‬but trading him in for a Charles Busch-type doesn‭’‬t really cut it.‭

Slow Burn encourages Rocky Horror groupies and their audience shout-outs,‭ ‬but by opening night,‭ ‬the cast seemed a bit unnerved by the interruptions.‭ ‬Still,‭ ‬if you go,‭ ‬check out the midnight show on Saturday night. – ‬H.‭ ‬Erstein

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW,‭ ‬Slow Burn Theatre Co.,‭ ‬at West Boca Community High School,‭ ‬12811‭ ‬West Glades‭ ‬Road,‭ ‬Boca Raton.‭ ‬Through Saturday,‭ ‬Oct.‭ ‬30.‭ ‬Tickets:‭ ‬$30.‭ ‬Call:‭ (‬866‭) ‬811-4111.


Zero Hour
(Maltz Jupiter Theatre‭; ‬through Oct.‭ ‬24‭)

If you had a hit show running off-Broadway,‭ ‬how would you spend your two-week vacation‭? ‬If you are actor-writer Jim Brochu,‭ ‬who has toiled for decades and suddenly become hailed as an overnight success for his one-man show‭ ‬Zero Hour,‭ ‬you fly to Florida and perform the show some more.

This is the second time around for this very entertaining biographical sketch of actor-comedian-painter-blacklist victim Zero Mostel.‭ ‬Brochu brought the show to the Broward Stage Door in‭ ‬2008‭ ‬as he inched his way to New York,‭ ‬winning a Carbonell Award for his uncanny,‭ ‬high-energy performance.‭ ‬Zero Hour has the usual artificiality of solo shows,‭ ‬but Brochu more than compensates with his larger-than-life,‭ ‬force-of-nature presence.

The premise for this walk through Mostel’s life and career is that a naïve,‭ ‬unseen‭ ‬New York Times reporter has come to Mostel’s modest art studio‭ ‬--‭ ‬his refuge from the world‭ ‬--‭ ‬to interview him.‭ ‬Mostel obliges in his fashion,‭ ‬alternately pouring on the charm to the young man and making him the target of his volcanic anger.

Along the way,‭ ‬we hear some of Mostel’s testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee,‭ ‬his feud and eventual détente with director-choreographer Jerome Robbins and the crippling collision with a city bus that almost led to the amputation of Mostel’s leg.‭ ‬But even as he relates these dark events,‭ ‬Mostel cannot restrain himself from tossing in quips and mugging to his one-man audience.‭ ‬Fortunately,‭ ‬he lets the rest of us eavesdrop.‭ – ‬H.‭ ‬Erstein

ZERO HOUR,‭ ‬Maltz Jupiter Theatre,‭ ‬1001‭ ‬E.‭ ‬Indiantown Road,‭ ‬Jupiter.‭ ‬Through Oct.‭ ‬24.‭ ‬Tickets:‭ ‬$23‭ (‬subscribers‭)‬,‭ ‬$29‭ (‬non-subscribers‭)‬.‭ ‬Call:‭ (‬561‭) ‬575-2223.‭

Monday, October 18, 2010

The View From Home 14: New releases on DVD

By John Thomason

My Son,‭ ‬My Son,‭ ‬What Have Ye Done‭? (‬First Look‭)
Standard list price:‭ ‬$18.99
Release date:‭ ‬Sept.‭ ‬14

The Killer Inside Me‭ (‬MPI‭)
SLP:‭ ‬$13.99
Release date:‭ ‬Sept.‭ ‬28

Two movies by major filmmakers exploring the minds of killers debuted on DVD recently,‭ ‬and the results are so divergent they might as well be filed under different categories in the video store.‭ ‬The first of these,‭ ‬My Son,‭ ‬My Son,‭ ‬What Have Ye Done‭?‬ is the latest gonzo feature from Werner Herzog,‭ ‬shot for about‭ ‬20‭ ‬bucks for David Lynch’s production company.‭ ‬A couple of weeks later,‭ ‬the more high-profile film,‭ ‬The Killer Inside Me,‭ ‬hit shelves as the second film adaptation of Jim Thompson’s pulp classic of the same name.

For many cinephiles,‭ ‬the Herzog-Lynch coproduction is a match made in disturbia,‭ ‬and indeed,‭ ‬the final product suggests the macabre weirdness of both.‭ ‬It begins as an audience-winking police procedural not unlike Herzog’s more widely distributed‭ ‬2009‭ ‬film,‭ ‬Bad Lieutenant:‭ ‬Port of Call‭ – ‬New Orleans,‭ ‬with police detectives played by Willem Dafoe and Michael Pena called to investigate a murder in a suburban home.‭ ‬But the story soon focuses on Michael Shannon’s Brad McCullum,‭ ‬the killer.‭ ‬We discover within‭ ‬10‭ ‬minutes that Brad,‭ ‬an actor in a local production of Aeschylus‭’ ‬Greek trilogy‭ ‬Oresteia,‭ ‬murdered his mother with the antique sword that served as the play’s prop.

Mystery solved,‭ ‬the story becomes a matter of luring Brad from his tacky Southwestern-designed home,‭ ‬wherein he claims he’s holding hostages.‭ ‬From this point on,‭ ‬the plot is rather conventional:‭ ‬The detectives interview the people close to Brad,‭ ‬from fiancée Chloe Sevigny to theater director Udo Kier,‭ ‬whose stories Herzog reveals in a series of flashbacks that lead to Brad’s psychotic episode.‭ ‬We learn that Brad’s mother‭ (‬Grace Zabriskie‭) ‬is a skin-and-bones freakshow right out of‭ ‬Eraserhead,‭ ‬concocting hideous gelatins and infantilizing her clingy son,‭ ‬resulting in Brad’s Oedipus-meets-Norman Bates response.‭ ‬An adventurous trip to a Peruvian rainforest,‭ ‬meanwhile,‭ ‬sees Brad’s conversion to Islam,‭ ‬as he attains a sort of a spiritual nirvana when he forecasts the accidental deaths of his companions.‭ ‬Later,‭ ‬we see him obtain the murder weapon from his uncle,‭ ‬a backwoods,‭ ‬ostrich-raising rancher portrayed by a sufficiently crazed Brad Dourif.

Borrowing liberally from the real-life story of a San Diego man who stabbed his mother with a saber in a slaying inspired by the same Greek tragedy,‭ ‬Herzog casts a peculiar comic spell that runs counter to the film’s now conventional‭ ‬Citizen Kane-like structure.‭ ‬Brad’s mental breakdown is also the film’s comedic apex:‭ ‬He shows up at an army hospital declaring that he wants to help‭ “‬the sick,‭” ‬an unsubstantiated request that baffles everyone at the hospital.‭ “‬The sick.‭ ‬In general,‭” ‬is his only clarification.

Shannon seems to be channeling Brecht more than Aeschlyus,‭ ‬acknowledging the camera’s presence in oddball self-referential asides that seek to hijack the narrative at hand.‭ ‬This tendency,‭ ‬combined with the drained-out color scheme‭ – ‬the film looks as if someone poured bleach all over the master print‭ – ‬all help to assert this minimalist anti-thriller’s compelling but limited appeal as a strict niche film for Herzog and Lynch devotees.

Herzog’s recent m.o.,‭ ‬exemplified by‭ ‬My Son,‭ ‬My Son,‭ ‬is the rejection of realism.‭ ‬The Killer Inside Me,‭ ‬Michael Winterbottom’s take on Jim Thompson’s cult book,‭ ‬takes the opposite approach,‭ ‬even when the source material doesn’t warrant it.‭ ‬Where Herzog’s film is a bloodless psychological journey into a sick mind,‭ ‬Winterbottom’s‭ ‬Killer,‭ ‬about a small-town sheriff‭ (‬Casey Affleck‭) ‬who flies off the deep end after involving himself with a blackmailing prostitute,‭ ‬is a gory descent into a sick mind,‭ ‬garnering some controversy for the brutally realistic pummeling of its two chief female characters,‭ ‬Jessica Alba’s Joyce Lakeland and Kate Hudson’s Amy Stanton.

A cold-blooded neo-noir despite its sun-baked desert settings,‭ ‬The Killer Inside Me is a faithful adaptation of Thompson’s text with a major climactic exception:‭ ‬Winterbottom films the action too literally,‭ ‬achieving none of the existential,‭ ‬open-ended insanity that left the thrilling novel open to interpretation.‭ ‬Events that may have conspired only in the killer-narrator’s mind are rendered onscreen as fact,‭ ‬even if they come across as patently ludicrous.‭ ‬Moreover,‭ ‬the wicked humor that characterized the book is all but absent from Winterbottom’s morose vision.‭ ‬He could learn a thing or two from Herzog’s approach‭ – ‬movies about psychopaths don’t have to be mirthless.

Nightmares in Red,‭ ‬White and Blue‭ (‬Kino‭)
SLP:‭ ‬$26.99
Release date:‭ ‬Sept.‭ ‬28

Directors:‭ ‬Life Behind the Camera
SLP:‭ ‬$21.99
Release date:‭ ‬Sept.‭ ‬21

Two DVDs about movies hit stores recently,‭ ‬one analyzing film from the theory and criticism perspective and the other from the production standpoint.‭ ‬Nightmares in Red,‭ ‬White and Blue narrows its focus on the evolution of the American horror film,‭ ‬drawing on top filmmakers and experts to help justify the artistry of a genre that for many is still rooted in B-movie kid’s stuff.‭

‬Director Andrew Monument traces the lineage of the American horror film,‭ ‬connecting it the real-life barbarity of World War I,‭ ‬the apocalyptic anxiety of the Cold War era,‭ ‬the expansion of women’s rights,‭ ‬the excesses of the‭ ‬1980s,‭ ‬the self-reflexivity of the‭ ‘‬90s and the torture porn of the‭ ‘‬00s.‭ ‬The film rightly identifies horror films as social,‭ ‬cultural and political barometers for the country at large,‭ ‬but Monument sometimes goes too far:‭ ‬It’s funny and observant when a mention of Richard Nixon’s silent majority segues into a discussion of‭ ‬Dawn of the Dead,‭ ‬but when a theorist considers Freddy Kreuger to be the fictional embodiment of Ronald Reagan,‭ ‬it’s a bit much.

Directors:‭ ‬Life Behind the Camera,‭ ‬compiled by the American Film Institute,‭ ‬is not so much a documentary as it is an instruction manual for aspiring filmmakers.‭ ‬With four hours of material stretched over two discs,‭ ‬this completely interactive experience lets viewers select both the topic‭ – ‬from‭ “‬humble beginnings‭” ‬to screenwriting to working with actors to financing‭ – ‬and up to‭ ‬30‭ ‬filmmakers within that topic,‭ ‬who dispense their knowledge in bite-sized,‭ ‬two-to-five-minute chunks.‭

Which means that if you’re like me,‭ ‬you’ll love the option to skip over the Chris Columbus,‭ ‬Rob Reiner and Penny Marshall comments and jump right to the Terry Gilliam,‭ ‬David Lynch and Martin Scorsese material.‭ ‬This is‭ ‬an‭ ‬indispensable resource.

The Oath‭ (‬Zeitgeist‭)
SLP:‭ ‬$19.99
Release date:‭ ‬Sept.‭ ‬28

The second in filmmaker Laura Poitras‭’ ‬unofficial trilogy of post-9/11‭ ‬documentaries,‭ ‬The Oath surpasses its predecessor‭ – ‬My Country,‭ ‬My Country,‭ ‬a film about the trials of a Sunni doctor running for office in the new Iraqi government‭ – ‬in its ambiguous moral center,‭ ‬grand sweep and savvy storytelling acumen.

The subjects are two former Jihadist warriors recruited by Osama bin Laden prior to the Sept.‭ ‬11‭ ‬attacks:‭ ‬Abu Jandal,‭ ‬bin Laden’s onetime bodyguard and now a chatty taxi driver in Yemen‭; ‬and bin Laden’s chauffeur Salim Hamdan,‭ ‬whom you may remember as the first suspect to face United States military tribunals after being shuttered in Guantanamo Bay for nearly seven years without a trial.‭ ‬Poitras‭’ ‬structure creates surprises around every corner,‭ ‬crafting her documentary in the shell of the thriller:‭ ‬She cuts between the controversy surrounding Hamdan’s tribunal and sentencing and his brother-in-law Jandal’s day-to-day rituals as an international spokesman of jihad turned Western-media-loving guru‭ – ‬and she also jumps back and forth in time between unearthed al-Qaida videos,‭ ‬her modern fly-on-the-wall reportage and Jandal’s gradual timeline of perceived change of heart after a three-year-prison sentence‭ (‬during which‭ ‬9/11,‭ ‬an attack he once supported only to later condemn,‭ ‬took place‭)‬.

Many themes,‭ ‬from an examination of the Bush administration’s misguided‭ “‬enhanced interrogation techniques‭” ‬to a look at the rigid theologies of Sharia law,‭ ‬orbit around this film’s central satellite,‭ ‬a questioning of the possibility of change and redemption,‭ ‬even for one of Islamic jihad’s true believers.‭ ‬You leave this conversation-sparking film with a lot of questions,‭ ‬and Poitras,‭ ‬to her credit,‭ ‬doesn’t poison the debate with her own opinions.

Conceiving Ada‭ (‬Microcinema‭)
SLP:‭ ‬$17.99
Release date:‭ ‬Sept.‭ ‬28

Conceiving Ada,‭ ‬the experimental‭ ‬1997‭ ‬feature debut by video artist Lynn Hershman Leeson,‭ ‬may boast the historical footnote of being the first movie to employ virtual sets,‭ ‬but today Leeson’s feminist science-fiction snoozer comes off impossibly dated‭ – ‬the product of a mind rooted in muddled‭ ‘‬80s fascinations of the omniscient perils of technology and pre-Internet global connectivity.‭ ‬The confounding progeny of Sally Potter and David Cronenberg,‭ ‬Conceiving Ada borrows liberally from both while channeling the passion and drive of neither.‭ ‬Francesca Faridany stars as Emmy,‭ ‬a modern-day‭ “‬computer genius‭” ‬who has developed a way to communicate with figures of the past through computer waves.‭ ‬She eventually manages to speak directly,‭ ‬and through,‭ ‬Ada Byron King‭ (‬Tilda Swinton,‭ ‬compelling even when she‭ ‬reads a phone book,‭ ‬as the cliché goes‭)‬,‭ ‬the real-life Victorian countess who first developed the idea of a computer language.‭ ‬The film exists somewhere between stilted historical biography and stilted tech fantasy,‭ ‬as emotionally hollow as it is intellectually ludicrous.‭ ‬This dreck is so pretentious it resembles a parody of a self-absorbed art film,‭ ‬its fruits hardly worth the director’s seemingly audacious labor.‭ ‬Microcinema’s new transfer makes this an even tougher slog.‭ ‬The image is absolutely execrable‭; ‬most well-worn VHS tapes look better.‭ ‬The audio is piss-poor,‭ ‬and there is no option for English subtitles to wade through the aural muck.