The first half to two-thirds of the West Boca Theatre Company’s Brighton Beach Memoirs is sincere, but unsubtle and unsatisfying theater. Then this production slowly starts to ramp up with increasingly affecting, occasionally moving performances that you wish had been there in the previous 90 minutes of stage time.
The Disneyization of Broadway has brought a whole new world of theater to a new generation of audiences who, hopefully, will be theatergoers for a lifetime. Put the highly entertaining Aladdin, now at the Broward Center in that category.
At the beginning of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, now at the Arsht Center, Willy Wonka says chocolate is “quite simply, the greatest invention in the entire history of the world.” That same grand statement would not apply to the new national tour of the musical, but it does reward its audience with a sweetish confection of a production that is fun and entertaining.
Writing a review of Primal Force’s Villainous Company, which has more plot twists than a Christmas corkscrew, is going to be hard because we wouldn’t dare to give away any spoilers. Suffice it to say that nothing but nothing is what it seems and no one but no one is whom they seem – and there are layers under layers in this 80-minute chamber crime thriller.
There’s a scene of pure hallelujah in Slow Burn Theatre’s A Christmas Story the Musical in which adults and children dressed in sparkly costumes echoing the fabled Major Award leg lamp are in a kick line in a RKO-worthy production number. You won’t remember that from the holiday film. But that’s the key to enjoying this adaptation: Each edition makes the most of its genre’s strengths with little worry that it’s significantly different than its predecessors.
If you’ve never seen the Broadway production of the charm-infused musical Once or missed the Actors’ Playhouse version (or just want to see it again), this national touring version currently at the Lauderhill Performing Arts Center is as faithful a reproduction as you could ask for.
City Theatre’s production of The Cake, about a baker who refuses to make a cake for a lesbian couple, digs deep below stereotypes to examine the contemporary clash between sincerely held principles that threaten to cripple relationships among people who care for one another – or at least have to live in the same world.
The world premiere of Joseph McDonough’s Ordinary Americans needs more work but it has enough promise and fine performances at Palm Beach Dramaworks that it’s worth the effort. The story of indomitable broadcast icon Gertrude Berg fighting the plague of the blacklist in the 1950s carries a clear warning to audiences today.
Exuding a lushness, attention to technical detail and an overarching sense of fun, the Maltz Jupiter Theatre’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood is a prime example of its skill. Proof is that the mid-week opening night patrons were happily clapping along to the tunes, even singing along when prompted.
How we deal specifically with the inevitability of death, whether we let it inhibit us or inspire us, is at the heart of Michael McKeever’s comic fantasy Charlie Cox Runs With Scissors now enjoying a wryly funny production from the West Boca Theatre Company.