News Roundup: Dramaworks, Jan McArt / Lois Pope, Wick, Playgroup LLC, Slow Burn

Palm Beach Dramaworks Announces 2nd Annual New Year/New Plays Festival

Five evolving plays will receive readings January 10-12 when The Dramaworkshop hosts Palm Beach Dramaworks’ second annual New Year/New Plays Festival. The Festival provides playwrights with the opportunity to hear their words performed in front of a live audience Audiences not only share in the excitement of seeing something brand new, but have the chance to offer feedback to the playwrights.

All five dramatists will participate in a Playwrights Forum at 1 p.m. on Saturday, which is free with the purchase of a ticket to any of the plays. The Festival concludes with a champagne toast at 6 p.m. on Sunday, which is also free with the purchase of a ticket to any play. Earlier in the day, at 12:30 p.m., there is a lunch with the artists for an additional charge.

Each season, The Dramaworkshop accepts new, unpublished, unproduced scripts. All submissions are screened, and the top 25 scripts are read and assessed by The Dramaworkshop’s resident artists, a committee of theater professionals with decades of experience in acting and directing. Ten make the final cut, and a deliberation ensues in order to help Producing Artistic Director William Hayes select the works for the Festival. One of the plays, The People Downstairs, was commissioned for a future mainstage production.

The plays are:

Michael McKeever

The People Downstairs by local playwright Michael McKeever

For two years and one month, Anne Frank and seven others hid in four small rooms concealed behind a bookcase in the building where her father worked. Her diary revealed their ordeal to the world. But what of the people who hid them, got them food, and kept them informed? This play explores the complex challenges faced by these brave individuals on their journey of rebellious morality during the horrors of the Holocaust.

Remember Me When You Come Into Your Kingdom by Padraic Lillis

Giovanni Montorfano, a third-generation artist, has been commissioned by the Duke of Milan to paint the Crucifixion. The fresco will adorn the wall facing Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. As Montorfano works on the painting with his apprentice, keenly aware of da Vinci’s genius, he grapples with his craft, his faith, and his place in the world.

The Standby Lear by John W. Lowell

Augie, an aging actor understudying the role of King Lear, is given an opportunity most actors only dream about: he’s going on for the star that evening. But Augie is paralyzed with fear, uncertain that he’s still got what it takes to step into one of theater’s most daunting roles. His wife, Anna, a retired actress, tries desperately to keep Augie from walking out. What happens when the last great moment in an actor’s life arrives, and the actor is afraid that it may be too late?

As I See It by Jenny Connell Davis

Painter Alice Neel is tired of working in obscurity at the fringes of the New York art scene. Poet Frank O’Hara, curator for MoMA and gay playboy, is its gatekeeper. Neel convinces him to let her paint his portrait and over the course of five sittings these two forces of nature test each other, best each other, and reveal themselves in ways they never imagined. Inspired by real people and events – and paintings – this play is a rendering of two brilliant outcasts clawing their way to fame in Mad Men-era NYC.

The Hat Box by Eric Coble

Do we ever really know our parents? Do we ever really want to? Two sisters are about to find out when they discover a hat box hidden in the back of their recently deceased father’s closet. What sits inside sends them off to visit eccentric Aunt Esther and on an increasingly wild ride down memory lane. With surprising twists and hilarious turns, this comedy of family lore revels in the bizarre and beautiful mysteries that make up a life.

The Schedule:

Friday, January 10
3 p.m. – The People Downstairs
5 p.m. – Dinner break
7 p.m. – Remember Me When You Come Into Your Kingdom
Saturday, January 11
1 p.m. – Playwrights Forum: A discussion with the Festival’s five dramatists*
3 p.m. – The Standby Lear
5 p.m. – Dinner break
7 p.m. – As I See It

Sunday, January 12
12:30 p.m. – Lunch with the artists at Leila Restaurant**
3 p.m. – The Hat Box
6 p.m. – Champagne Toast*

$20 – One play
$30 – Two plays
$50 – All five plays

*The panel discussion and champagne toast are free with a ticket to any play
**$25 – Lunch with the Artists

For more information, visit
or contact the box office at (561) 514-4042.

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Lois Pope Returns for Jan McArt show

Lois Pope

Palm Beach philanthropist and long-time theater supporter Lois Pope will be one of the headliners when Jan McArt presents a staged concert of the musical Gigi in March 14-15 at Lynn University.

Pope, who was a singer-actress earlier in her career, will star as Aunt Alicia, the retired courtesan, in three performances as part of McArt’s series with a full cast and full orchestra.

Lerner and Loewe’s musical comedy is about a free-spirited young girl living in Paris at the turn of the 20th century and the wealthy young playboy who falls in love with her as she is transformed into a poised courtesan. Among the songs are Thank Heaven for Little Girls and I Remember It Well.

Tickets may be purchased at the Lynn box office in the Elaine Johnson Wold Performing Arts Center, 3601 N. Military Trail, or online at or 561-237-9000.

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Playgroup LLC Closes With Final Production In November

Playgroup LLC, which has showcased local artists: playwrights, directors, designers and actors in various Palm Beach and Broward County venues since 2010, will close after its upcoming production of Murder at the Butcher’s on November 22-23 at the Willow Theatre at Sugar Sand Park in Boca Raton.

During its tenure, Playground has produced 15 original full-length plays and 72 original 10-minute plays and hosted at least 60 works-in-progress workshops in venues from the intimate Empire Stage to the historic Delray Beach Playhouse.

The new play by Alan Pessin, a former journalist for Voice of America, is described as “Benny Benjamin and his wife Miriam arrive at their butcher shop one morning to find a dead body in the walk-in fridge. They can’t afford the scandal, so they decide to return at night to get rid of it. But when they come back, it’s gone! Mayhem ensues, as Benny and Miriam launch a cover up to conceal the truth, even though they don’t know what the truth is. There’s blood on the floor. But, don’t worry, it’s a butcher shop!”

For more information, visit or call (561) 347-3948.

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Havana Music Hall Tries Out In NYC is reporting that Havana Music Hall, the musical about Cuba during the revolution which premiered last season at Actors’ Playhouse, will hold invite-only industry presentations November 14 and 15 in New York City. Its creative team – composer Richard Kagan and librettist Carmen Pelaez – said at the time they had an eye in a Broadway production. The Florida production’s director Maria Torres is being replaced by Elena Aaroz. To read our review of the local production, click here.

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Wick Costume Museum Celebrates The Roaring Twenties

The Wick Costume Museum will open its new exhibit of period costumes inspired by the “Roaring Twenties” Oct. 30 in its headquarters adjacent to its theater at 7901 North Federal Highway in Boca Raton.

The exhibit of everything from gowns to stylish hats is slated to run through May and will feature costumes used in musicals reflecting the period, including The Boyfriend, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and The Drowsy Chaperone.

One section of the curated exhibition will be dedicated to suffragettes, with a vintage wardrobe display and a multimedia presentation that celebrates the ratification of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.

The exhibit will have its formal kickoff at a fundraising gala at noon Oct. 29 that will include a tour, a champagne reception, a three-course luncheon catered by The Addison, a 1920’s inspired fashion show and music by Maryel Epp’s Ragtime Trio. Tickets are $125.

For more information, visit or call (561) 995-2333.

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‘Tis The Season For Fundraising

The well-heeled snowbirds must be coming back to town because other theaters are holding a spate of fundraisers. Slow Burn Theatre Company will kick off its 10th season with a cocktail reception benefit “This is Our Story” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 16 at American National Bank, 4301 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale.  For more information, email or visit

GableStage will hold a 22nd anniversary gala Dec. 7 at the Newman Alumni Center. University of Miami in Coral Gables. The program will include cocktails, dinner, music, a silent auction, and a dramatic presentation. Tickets are $250 per person with sponsorship opportunities ranging from $2,500 to $25,000. For more information visit or call (305)446-1116.

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Broadway Live! Benefit for Insight for The Blind

The music of Broadway sung by a stageful of local artists including actress and chanteuse Avery Sommers will be the draw of Broadway Live!, a concert directed by Shari Upbin, on Oct. 21 as a benefit for Insight for The Blind.

The group helps improve the quality of life for blind and visually impaired children and adults and other print handicapped people by promoting literacy, learning and aiding in the appreciation for the printed word. They make and distribute recordings of books, magazines and articles at their studios in Broward, so the blind can have access to these materials for free.

The event begins with a VIP reception at 6:30 p.m. and general admission at 7:15 p.m. at the Pompano Beach Cultural Center, 50 W. Atlantic Blvd. For tickets and more information, call 954-545-7800 or visit

Others scheduled to perform are Ardean Landhuis, best known locally as a lighting and set designer but who has a significant background as an opera singer; the jazz group Libra; Jeffrey Bruce, Lindsey Corey, Anna Lise Jensen, Michael Scott Ross, Mark Sanders, Sandi Stock, and Conor Walton, with musical direction by Caryl Fantel.

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The Wick Presents Two Theater Stars In Separate Concerts

Cady Huffman

Cady Huffman, who created the role of Ulla in The Producers and is known for work on TV’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and Iron Chef America, will perform her cabaret show, Tomboy, Showgirl at the Wick Theatre, 7901 North Federal Highway. Boca Raton, for two performances Nov. 16-17. Tickets are $65 and $85, which includes VIP reception with meet-and-greet.

Chris Mann, who headed The Phantom of the Opera’s 25th Anniversary Tour and debuted on The Voice, will perform as well October 12-13. Tickets are $75 and $95, which includes a VIP reception and cast meet and greet.
For more information, or call 561-995-2333.

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