Thursday, October 14, 2010

ArtsPreview 2010-11: The season in theater

Andrew Rosendorf, playwright of Cane, at Florida Stage.

By‭ ‬Hap Erstein

After a successful summer debut at the Kravis Center,‭ ‬Florida Stage unveils its first subscription season in the Rinker Playhouse,‭ ‬including several world premieres.‭ ‬Meanwhile,‭ ‬there is a new Miami company with its own troupe of actors,‭ ‬the Caldwell continues to dig out of its money woes with a second look at a Carbonell-winning show it is developing,‭ ‬the Maltz Jupiter cracks into the premiere business with a new musical fresh from South Korea,‭ ‬and even Palm Beach Dramaworks features a new play,‭ ‬which debuted this summer off-Broadway,‭ ‬after readings at the intimate West Palm studio space.

Florida Stage utilizes its new height limit on its opener,‭ ‬Andrew Rosendorf’s historical epic‭ ‬Cane‭ (‬Oct.‭ ‬27-Nov.‭ ‬28‭)‬,‭ ‬the first in an ambitious‭ ‬10-play Florida Cycle.‭ ‬Straight from its‭ ‬1st Stage reading series comes‭ ‬Goldie,‭ ‬Max‭ & ‬Milk by Karen Hartman‭ (‬Dec.‭ ‬15-Jan.‭ ‬16‭)‬.‭ ‬Maybe‭ “‬straight‭” ‬is not the right word for this comedy about a single lesbian who gives birth,‭ ‬but is clueless about motherhood.‭ ‬Also on tap are two plays by Florida Stage favorites,‭ ‬Michael Hollinger’s‭ ‬Ghost-Writer‭ (‬March‭ ‬2-April‭ ‬3‭) ‬and Carter W.‭ ‬Lewis’s‭ ‬The Cha-Cha of a Camel Spider‭ (‬May‭ ‬4-June‭ ‬5‭)‬.‭

The other big story of theater season is the birth of a brand-new company,‭ ‬Zoetic Stage,‭ ‬to be run by former City Theatre artistic director Stuart Meltzer,‭ ‬with the support of two skilled playwrights,‭ ‬the mega-prolific Michael McKeever and lawyer-turned-writer Christopher Demos-Brown.‭ ‬To populate their plays and others,‭ ‬the company has gathered a repertory company of some of the region’s best performers,‭ ‬such as Carbonell Award winners Irene Adjan,‭ ‬John Felix,‭ ‬Laura Turnbull and Tom Wahl.‭

Specific dates and venues are still to be determined,‭ ‬but it looks like the group’s debut,‭ ‬a new comedy by McKeever,‭ ‬South Beach Babylon,‭ ‬will be mounted at Miami’s Arsht Center in December.‭ ‬It’s about the personal sacrifices of making art,‭ ‬as seen in the weeks leading up to the Art Basel exhibition.‭ ‬Also on Zoetic’s schedule is‭ ‬Stunning by David Adjmi,‭ ‬a clash of cultures between a Syrian Jewish couple in Brooklyn and their African-American maid‭ (‬winter‭ ‬2011‭)‬.‭ ‬Brown unveils his newest script in the spring,‭ ‬Wrongful Death,‭ ‬about a female personal injury lawyer trying to land the case of her career.

With two Carbonells in its hip pocket,‭ ‬Boca Raton’s‭ ‬Caldwell Theatre Company brings back the sensuous dance musical‭ ‬Vices:‭ ‬A Love Story‭ (‬Nov.‭ ‬7-Dec.‭ ‬12‭)‬,‭ ‬somewhat reworked and restaged,‭ ‬for those still kicking themselves about missing it a summer ago.‭ ‬The new year leads off with‭ ‬Law‭ & ‬Order writer Gina Gionfriddo’s psychological comedy,‭ ‬Becky Shaw‭ (‬Jan.‭ ‬2-Feb.‭ ‬6‭)‬.‭ ‬But before the Caldwell season started,‭ ‬artistic director Clive Cholerton returned to the brilliant trunk of composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim for another concert musical,‭ ‬the nostalgic,‭ ‬but staunchly unsentimental‭ ‬Follies‭, which ran Oct. 7-10.

Jim Brochu as Zero Mostel in Zero Hour.

While sticking to its strength of musicals,‭ ‬the‭ ‬Maltz Jupiter Theatre kicks off its season with a special two-week engagement by Jim Brochu,‭ ‬with his acclaimed one-man show‭ ‬Zero Hour,‭ ‬on the life and hard times of Zero Mostel‭ (‬Oct.‭ ‬14-24‭)‬.‭ ‬The regular season opens with the classic jury room drama,‭ ‬12‭ ‬Angry Men‭ (‬Nov.‭ ‬2-14‭)‬,‭ ‬before premiering an original coming-of-age musical called‭ ‬Academy,‭ ‬which had a way-out-of-town tryout at a musical theater festival in South Korea‭ (‬Dec.‭ ‬7-19‭)‬. ‭

Also on the Maltz schedule are more conventional choices,‭ ‬like‭ ‬The Sound of Music‭ (‬Jan.‭ ‬11-30‭)‬,‭ ‬a bio-show called‭ ‬Jolson at the Winter Garden‭ ‬(Fen.‭ ‬22-March‭ ‬13‭) ‬and the reconstructed Gershwins musical,‭ ‬Crazy for You‭ (‬March‭ ‬29-April‭ ‬17‭)‬.

Speaking of musicals,‭ ‬the west Boca troupe‭ ‬Slow Burn Theatre begins its second season here with its brand of explosive cult shows,‭ ‬leading off with‭ ‬The Rocky Horror Show‭ (‬Oct.‭ ‬14-30‭)‬.‭ ‬The group follows that with Kander and Ebb’s Tony winner,‭ ‬Kiss of the Spider Woman‭ ‬(Jan.‭ ‬27-Feb.‭ ‬6‭) ‬and‭ ‬Blood Brothers‭ (‬April‭ ‬21-May‭ ‬1‭)‬.

West Palm’s‭ ‬Palm Beach‭ ‬Dramaworks‭ ‬will be moving to the Cuillo Centre next year,‭ ‬but meanwhile it continues dusting off the classics for its cerebral audience in its current‭ ‬85-seat digs.‭ ‬The company opens with George Bernard Shaw’s romantic-triangle comedy‭ ‬Candida‭ (‬Oct.‭ ‬8-Nov.‭ ‬21‭)‬,‭ ‬and later tackles‭ ‬Dinner With Friends‭ (‬Feb.‭ ‬25-April‭ ‬17‭)‬,‭ ‬Donald Margulies‭’ ‬dissection of a broken marriage and its aftermath,‭ ‬and Martin McDonagh’s grisly Irish tale,‭ ‬The Beauty Queen of Leenane‭ (‬May‭ ‬6-June‭ ‬19‭)‬.‭ ‬It diverges a bit from its usual menu,‭ ‬with a fictional encounter between Sigmund Freud and C.S.‭ ‬Lewis,‭ ‬a new play called‭ ‬Freud’s Last Session‭ (‬Dec.‭ ‬17-Feb.‭ ‬6‭)‬,‭ ‬fresh from off-Broadway.

The‭ ‬Kravis Center,‭ ‬of course,‭ ‬has its own Broadway series of national tours,‭ ‬headed by a new production of the soul-rock hit‭ ‬Dreamgirls‭ (‬Nov.‭ ‬23-28‭)‬,‭ ‬a redesigned‭ ‬Beauty and the Beast,‭ ‬Disney’s first show on Broadway‭ (‬Jan.‭ ‬4-9‭)‬,‭ ‬and Mel Brooks‭’ ‬screen-to-stage transfer,‭ ‬Young Frankenstein‭ (‬Feb.‭ ‬1-6‭)‬.‭ ‬Also on the series are the landmark West‭ ‬Side Story in the current multi-lingual revival‭ (‬March‭ ‬8-13‭) ‬and‭ ‬The Color Purple‭ (‬May‭ ‬10-15‭)‬.‭

Sarah Stevens and Trey Gerrald in Spring Awakening.‭
(‬Photo by Joan Marcus‭)

Also on the Kravis schedule are a couple of one-night bookings‭ ‬--‭ ‬Monty Python’s‭ ‬Spamalot‭ ‬(Dec.‭ ‬26‭) ‬and‭ ‬Spring Awakening‭ (‬March‭ ‬2‭)‬.‭ ‬Long popular with Kravis audiences is the Aquila Theatre,‭ ‬which again brings its fresh take on two stage stalwarts,‭ ‬Pirandello’s‭ ‬Six Characters in Search of an Author‭ (‬Jan.‭ ‬20-21‭) ‬and Shakespeare’s‭ ‬A Midsummer Night’s Dream‭ (‬Jan.‭ ‬22-23‭)‬,‭ ‬both in the Rinker Playhouse.

The other two road show complexes,‭ ‬Fort Lauderdale’s‭ ‬Broward Center and Miami’s‭ ‬Arsht Center,‭ ‬offer their own Broadway series.‭ ‬Broward has several overlapping shows with the Kravis,‭ ‬plus‭ ‬Rock of Ages‭ (‬Dec.‭ ‬28‭ ‬-‭ ‬Jan.‭ ‬9‭)‬,‭ ‬Les Miserables‭ (‬Jan.‭ ‬18-30‭) ‬and‭ ‬Hair‭ (‬June‭ ‬7-19‭)‬.‭ ‬The Arsht has the season’s exclusive on‭ ‬Jersey Boys‭ (‬March‭ ‬2-20‭) ‬and another Tony-winning best musical,‭ ‬In the Heights‭ (‬March‭ ‬29-April‭ ‬3‭)‬.‭

Plantation’s‭ ‬Mosaic Theatre has another adventurous slate of plays for its‭ ‬10th anniversary,‭ ‬including‭ ‬Collected Stories,‭ ‬Donald Margulies‭’ ‬tug-of-war between a celebrated author and her protégé‭ (‬Nov.‭ ‬11-Dec.‭ ‬5‭); ‬The Irish Curse,‭ ‬a new comedy about male body image and the anguish of not measuring up‭ (‬Feb.‭ ‬10-March‭ ‬6‭); ‬and Stephen Belber’s‭ ‬Dusk Rings a Bell‭ (‬March‭ ‬31-April‭ ‬24‭)‬,‭ ‬the tale of two people who meet again after‭ ‬25‭ ‬years and a distant adolescent fling.

Broward Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs has just completed a run of the seldom-seen Jerry Herman musical‭ ‬Mack‭ & ‬Mabel and has a couple of other offbeat choices ahead.‭ ‬Next up is‭ ‬On the Town‭ (‬Oct.‭ ‬20-Dec.‭ ‬5‭)‬,‭ ‬the Broadway debut of Leonard Bernstein,‭ ‬Betty Comden and Adolph Green in a show about a‭ ‬24-hour shore leave in New York City,‭ ‬and next spring the theater tackles‭ ‬Light in the Piazza‭ (‬Feb.‭ ‬25-June‭ ‬19‭)‬,‭ ‬the story of a slow-witted American girl’s romance while on tour through Italy,‭ ‬with a challenging score by Adam Guettel.‭

Coral Gables‭’ ‬New Theatre still has some holes in its schedule,‭ ‬but what is set sounds promising.‭ ‬For it’s‭ ‬25th season,‭ ‬it offers‭ ‬Fizz by Rogelio Martinez‭ (‬Nov.‭ ‬19-Dec.‭ ‬12‭)‬,‭ ‬a history of New Coke,‭ ‬one of the biggest product debut flops in corporate America,‭ ‬and‭ ‬The Radiant by Shirley Lauro‭ (‬March‭ ‬25-April‭ ‬7‭)‬,‭ ‬about the life and career of Marie Curie,‭ ‬the pioneering female scientist and two-time Nobel Prize winner.

Actors Playhouse in Coral Gables is branching out from its usual diet of mainstream musicals,‭ ‬opening with a world premiere by Pulitzer Prize-winning Cuban-American Nilo Cruz,‭ ‬The Color of Desire,‭ ‬a lyrical love story set against the intrigue and tumult of‭ ‬1960‭ ‬Havana‭ (‬Oct.‭ ‬6-Nov.‭ ‬7‭)‬.‭ ‬In the spring‭ (‬March‭ ‬9-April‭ ‬10‭)‬,‭ ‬it produces the Florida premiere of Tracy Letts‭’ ‬August:‭ ‬Osage County,‭ ‬an epic comic drama of a family approaching total meltdown.

Lovers of musicals need not be worried they are being abandoned,‭ ‬though.‭ ‬They will be able to catch‭ ‬Oliver‭!‬ (Nov.‭ ‬17-Dec.‭ ‬26‭)‬,‭ ‬The‭ ‬25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee‭ (‬Jan‭ ‬19-Feb.‭ ‬13‭)‬,‭ ‬and Alfred Hitchcock’s‭ ‬The‭ ‬39‭ ‬Steps‭ (‬May‭ ‬11-June‭ ‬5‭)‬,‭ ‬a comic send-up of the classic film,‭ ‬with a soundtrack that mimics the great Bernard Hermann.

Flexing its muscles,‭ ‬the perennial Carbonell Award-contending‭ ‬GableStage of Coral Gables has announced a strong season ahead,‭ ‬full of acclaimed plays fresh from New York.‭ ‬Its season begins with the latest from Irish dark humorist Martin McDonagh,‭ ‬A Behanding in Spokane‭ (‬Oct.‭ ‬23‭ ‬-‭ ‬Nov.‭ ‬21‭)‬,‭ ‬a twisted tale of a man on a quest for his severed hand and the two two-bit con artists eager to sell him what he is after,‭ ‬whether they have it or not.

Also among the company’s highlights are Tracy Letts‭’ ‬Superior Donuts‭ ‬(Feb.‭ ‬26‭ ‬-‭ ‬March‭ ‬27‭)‬,‭ ‬a slice of Chicago life from the author of‭ ‬Bug and Pulitzer winner‭ ‬August:‭ ‬Osage County,‭ ‬and Sarah Ruhl’s‭ ‬In the Next Room‭ (‬or‭ ‬The Vibrator Play‭) (‬April‭ ‬30‭ ‬-‭ ‬May‭ ‬29‭)‬,‭ ‬a look back at the barbaric treatment of‭ ‬19th-century women who were diagnosed as‭ “‬hysterical.‭”

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