Critic’s Choice

A large-scale song and dance musical set in a tiny prison cell and a story of a woman’s search for the meaning of her entire life while stuck on a diving board are the headliners this weekend.

Kiss of the Spider Woman is another offbeat offering from Slow Burn Theatre Company, the young troupe in Boca Raton that attempts full productions of musicals rarely mounted in South Florida.

The show won Tony Awards in 1993 for best musical, best score for John Kander and Fred Ebb of Cabaret fame, book writer Terrence McNally, leading actor Brent Carver, the inexplicably miscategorized featured actor Anthony Crivello and best actress Chita Rivera.

The dark tale about friendship, betrayal, sex and dreams is loosely based on Manuel Puig’s 1976 novel and Hector Babenco’s 1985 film with Raul Julia and William Hurt.

It tells of a homosexual and a political dissident being tortured in a police state dungeon. To escape the nightmare, the gay man recreates scenes from his beloved movie musical which come to life in their cell.

This production, opening tonight and running through Feb. 6, is directed by company co-founder Patrick Fitzwater. The cast features company co-founder Matthew Korinko, Tom Creatore and Renata Eastlick.’For more information, call (954)323-7884 or visit slowburntheatre.com

From a cast of 14 to a cast of one, High Dive at New Theatre is populated totally by acclaimed local actress Barbara Sloan also opening tonight and running through Feb. 13.

Playwright Leslie Ayvazian depicted an American woman about to turn fifty who is standing on a high dive platform at a hotel pool in Greece. She is terrified of heights, but has managed to climb to the platform and now clings to the railings as she tries to will herself to leap into the pool. As she stands on the board, she considers her life, marked by other unusual vacations she has taken.

Ayvazian has South Florida connections including having mentored Sloan at a theater conference several years ago, said director Ricky J. Martinez.

Be warned: The play has only one central character, but more than 30 audience members will be asked at each performance to play a supporting role. At the start of the evening, the actress hands out pages of the script to patrons and asks them to interject their lines from their seats. At least they won’t ask you to spell anything.
For information about tickets, call (305) 443-5909 or visit new-theatre.org.

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You may know the score to Les Miz in your sleep, but the new heavily retooled version at the Broward Center is one of the best you’ve seen, due in part to with a surprising freshness and a full muscular sound. For more information, visit broadwayacrossamerica.com or browardcenter.org or call 954-462-0222

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