For a director born in Puerto Rico, Marcos Santana sees West Side Story’s depiction of gang warfare between New York natives and Puerto Rican immigrants containing some aspects that don’t quite ring true for contemporary residents of the Caribbean island.
It’s Wednesday, March 7, and Billy Corben’s world premiere play Confessions of a Cocaine Cowboy has been in rehearsal for some time with Miami New Drama. It opens the next day for a week of audience previews and script tweaking at the Colony Theatre.
Miami-based, Colombian-born soprano Catalina Cuervo is best known for portraying Maria in Piazzolla’s Maria de Buenos Aires — more than 50 times. But since 2015, she has been forging a similar bond with iconic Mexican painter Frida Kahlo in Robert Xavier Rodriguez’s 1991 piece Frida which she will play this month for Florida Grand Opera
For theater artist Ronnie Larsen, “the roots are setting very deep” in Wilton Manors. “It just feels right to stay here.” Larsen is a playwright, actor, director and producer “whose work has been seen in every major city in America, as well as in Canada, Australia, Italy and London,” according to his website. Coming Jan. 10, Larsen has written a scene inserted into Ginger Reiter’s The Golden Girls Prequel at Empire Stage.
For some who view two-part events on Broadway and five-hour epic tragedies as the height of the theatrical form, the 10-minute play is condescendingly tolerated as the poor relation at the arts table. But not in Miami. City Theatre, a home-grown company created by three colleagues around a kitchen table 23 years ago, has become the leading purveyor of short-form theatre in the country.
When a theater produces Death of a Salesman , it’s not unknown territory. The director can adopt, adapt or depart from what has been done before. But when it’s a world premiere such as Palm Beach Dramaworks’ upcoming Lyle Kessler’s House on Fire, there are no roadmaps other than the still evolving script about which even the playwright is making discoveries during rehearsal.
The musical Beauty and the Beast has been done so often that the challenge facing producers, artists and audiences is how to reinvigorate the magic. The Maltz Jupiter Theatre asks what if the enchanted household objects were not actors dressed in anthropomorphic costumes, but instead actually were the objects – represented by puppets.
Maybe it’s walking under a Times Square marquee with his name emblazoned overhead. Maybe it’s being asked for his autograph at the stage door. Some new level of realization keeps hitting Christopher Demos-Brown on the cusp of becoming one of the first South Florida playwrights to have a work on Broadway when American Son opens Nov. 4.
Paula Vogel welcomes, even celebrates how imaginative directors and committed casts use her work as a starting blueprint for their own explorations. She is pleased that this week the team at Palm Beach Dramaworks will unveil their particular vision of Indecent, just one of 20 productions that have been or are being mounted around the country last season and this season.
It would be intriguing and accurate, but misleading to say that Havana Music Hall, the hopeful Broadway musical about Cuban artists before and after the Revolution, is the brainchild of 72-year-old New Jersey-born Jewish insurance salesman Richard Kagan. He conceived it, wrote the tuneful score, and is bankrolling a $2 million cost. But he credits a half-dozen others who imbued it with the pungent ethnic flavor and cultural insights he learned second hand.