By Bill Hirschman
If it’s snowing up north, then it’s time for South Florida theaters to start announcing their 2016-2017 seasons while the snow birds can still phone their poorer relations back home to crow about the 60-degree cold snap.
Other schedules will be announced soon, the companies that have unveiled theirs so far are: Slow Burn Theatre Company, Actors’ Playhouse, Thinking Cap Theatre, The Wick Theatre, Maltz Jupiter Theatre, Lake Worth Playhouse, Pembroke Pines Theater of the Performing Arts, Broadway in Fort Lauderdale and Kravis on Broadway.
We reviewed many of these shows which played on Broadway. To read those reviews, enter the words “Report From New York” in our search box.
Slow Burn Theatre Company, Fort Lauderdale
Slow Burn will celebrate its first full season and its second year associated with the Broward Center with a two-prong calendar. It has four mainstage musicals that it will produce in the Amaturo Theater: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, a full-fledged musical based on the Disney film deemed too dark for Broadway family audiences; a modest-scale version of the Tony-winning Titanic: The Musical; a revival of the Huckleberry Finn musical Big River and the Elton John blowout Aida.
The company will also stage two musicals in the
Abdo New River Room on behalf of the Broward Center as the producer: Avenue Q, the R-rated satire riffing off Sesame Street, and Xanadu, a zany stage musical teasing the disco era and based very loosely on the film. Slow Burn staged those two titles in past seasons at its former home in the West Boca Community High School auditorium.
It was not clear at press time whether any of the shows would tour to the Aventura Arts & Culture Center as had occurred in previous seasons.
Slow Burn’s leaders “always wanted to do” the choices for the mainstage season, said co-founder Matthew Korinko. But these specific titles were selected in part because they had name recognition, as opposed to the company’s affection for shows that are lesser known and had varied success in New York like Violet which just closed. After building a loyal audience in Boca over five seasons, the company is focused on trying to attract new patrons in Broward.
They don’t plan to deconstruct the shows, but they do hope to find innovative ways to stage them that will establish a deeper bond with the community such as possibly hiring a youth choir to enhance the sound for Hunchback.
The schedule currently is:
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (October 20 – November 6)
Avenue Q (November 10 – 20)
Titanic: The Musical (January 19 – February 5)
Xanadu (February 16 – 26)
Big River (March 16 – April 2)
Aida (April 20 – May 7)
Subscriptions and tickets will be available in the spring. For more information visit BrowardCenter.org/slowburn.
Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, Coral Gables
This queen of the regional theater scene always puts on one major musical each winter; this year it’s the classic Carousel. But more interesting is its choice of the acclaimed play All The Way which traces Lyndon Johnson’s efforts to get reelected while pushing through the landmark Civil Rights Act. Although it requires a superb actor in the linchpin part, it also involves a large cast of supporting players portraying scores of major power players from Martin Luther King to Bobby Kennedy.
Also of note, the rockin’ Million Dollar Quartet will play for about 11 weeks from the fall until New Year’s Day in its smaller upstairs theater. The company hasn’t scheduled such a long run – almost no one here has – since the extended runs of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.
“Actors’ Playhouse has been seeking the rights to this show ever since David Arisco and I saw it in Dania Beach eight years ago,” said Executive Producing Director Barbara S. Stein. “Ever since, we have worked closely with its original producers who produced the show in Chicago and on Broadway to retain the rights to the musical as soon as it became available to regional theatres. We think this thrilling show will really knock the socks off this community and attract audiences of all ages to our extended run. Additional weekday matinees have been scheduled for groups, and we are open to the idea of an extension beyond January 1, 2017 if needed.”
Million Dollar Quartet (October 19 – January 1)
This high voltage Tony Award-winning Broadway musical was inspired by the famous photo and phenomenal true story of the famed recording session that brought together rock ‘n’ roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for the first and only time in their careers. On December 4, 1956, these four young musicians were gathered together by Sam Phillips, the “father of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” at Sun Records in Memphis for what would be one of the most electrifying jam and storytelling sessions of all time. It features 21 hits including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “I Walk the Line,” “Fever” and “Hound Dog.”
Carousel (February 21 – 26)
Carousel was Rodgers and Hammerstein’s personal favorite of all their musicals, and was dubbed “the best musical of the 20th Century” by Time Magazine.
All The Way (March 22 – April 9)
This 2014 winner of the Tony Award for Best Play and the Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association Award portrays President Lyndon B. Johnson’s efforts to maneuver members of the 88th Congress, and civil rights leaders to support and enact the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Schenkkan’s absorbing drama, set during the tense first year of Johnson’s presidency following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, depicts LBJ and his style. All The Way is about the morality and power of politics taking its name from the 1964 campaign slogan, “All the Way with LBJ.”
It Shoulda Been You (May 17 – June 4)
Audiences are cordially invited to the wedding of the year — a musical comedy written by Brian Hargrove and Barbara Anselmi. The bride is Jewish. The groom is Catholic. Her mother is a force of nature; his mother is a tempest in a cocktail shaker. And when the bride’s ex-boyfriend shows up, the perfect wedding starts to unravel faster than one could whistle, “here comes the bride.”
Season subscriptions range from $203 for preview performances, $257 for Wednesday or Thursday evenings or Sunday matinees, $293 for Friday or Saturday evenings, and $297 for VIP Flexible/Anytime tickets for premium seats to any performance. Opening night subscriptions, which include invitations to the gala opening night celebrations, are $453. Subscriptions for children 18 years and younger with a full paid adult subscription, and college students, are $123 (restrictions apply). ONSTAGE subscriptions (exclusively for young professionals 40 and under) are $135 and include a pre-show reception and ticket to every production during the third Wednesday performance of every run. Call (305) 444-9293 or order online at www.actorsplayhouse.org.
Thinking Cap Theatre, Fort Lauderdale
This troupe known for its eclectic fare is now ensconced in its new home at the Vanguard Sanctuary for the Arts across the street from Broward Medical Center. As usual, their choices focus on edgy works for audience members who want their intellects challenged.
Or (February 18 – March 5)
Much remains uncertain about Aphra Behn, England’s first professional female playwright as Liz Duffy Adams’ pivotal title suggests. Was Aphra gay or straight? A playwright or a whore? A loyalist or a spy? Adams’ Restoration sendup explores Behn, the decadent King Charles II and their mutual lover, the stage beauty Nell Gwynne. Fans may remember that Thinking Cap founder Nicole Stodard produced Behn’s play The Rover a few seasons back.
The Realistic Joneses (May 5 – May 22)
Few local companies produce the work of the vaunted vanguard of the modern theater, Will Eno.Perhaps the last was Mosaic Theater’s Thom Pain (based on nothing) in 2007. This dramatic comedy focuses on Bob and Jennifer and their new neighbors, John and Pony, two suburban couples who have even more in common than their identical homes and their shared last names. As their relationships begin to irrevocably intertwine, the Joneses must decide between their idyllic fantasies and their imperfect realities.
A Public Reading Of An Unproduced Screenplay About The Death Of Walt Disney by Lucas Hnath (September 8 -25)
Hnath is one of the hottest new playwrights, especially for his plays Death Tax and The Christians. Here, Walt Disney is going to read you a screenplay he wrote. It’s about his last days on earth. It’s about a city he’s going to build that’s going to change the world. And it’s about his brother. It’s about everyone who loves him so much, and it’s about how sad they’re going to be when he’s gone.
Mud by Maria Irene Fornes (October 20 – November 6)
This 1983 Obie award winner is by the highly-respected Cuban-born playwright now in her 80s. Her poignant and hair-raising play explores the social hardships and sexual politics of a young woman named Mae and her odd mates as they try to survive in rural America.
The Vanguard venue itself will host three comedies:
An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein (March 24 – April 3)
An infectiously hilarious collection of shorts written by the noted children’s author (and Playboy humorist) with an R-rated slant and directed by Matt Stabile.
Parallel Lives (June 16 – 28)
This comedy by Mo Gaffney and Kathy Najimy, not seen locally in several years, takes audiences into the outrageous universe of Kathy and Mo, where two actresses play men and women struggling through the common rituals of life: teenagers on a date, sisters at their grandmother’s funeral, a man and a woman together in a country-western bar. It reexamines the ongoing quest to find parity and love in the modern world.
TBA (December 1 – 12)
An original holiday production comprised of brand new short comedies by our region’s playwrights.
Tickets for all shows are $35. Discounted Season Pass options are available.
To purchase tickets or passes, visit http://vanguardarts.org or call 754-206-4568.
For more information on Thinking Cap Theatre, visit http://thinkingcaptheatre.com.
Broadway In Fort Lauderdale (at the Broward Center)
Broadway’s current hit musical Something Rotten, the recent smash Matilda and the still playing Finding Neverland headline the coming season along with shows you’ve seen or have played elsewhere in the region.
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella (December 13 – 25)
This recent transmogrified and expanded stage version of the television classic is a visual and aural treat with an updated script augmenting the lovely score, plus some impressive special effects.
Roundabout Theatre Company’s Cabaret (January 10 – 22)
Coming back round again is Kander & Ebb’s classic reconceived by Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall,
Theatre Under The Stars’ production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid (February 22 – March 5)
A Broadway reimagining via a Texas company of the Disney film complete with all the songs your kids sing to you in the car.
Something Rotten! (March 21 – April 2)
Joining the Hilarious Musical Hall Of Fame with The Producers and The Book of Mormon, this current New York hit is designed to blow away anyone who loves theater, thanks to scores and scores and scores of theater references. But it’s a hoot even if you don’t know a proscenium from prosciutto. Set in 1595, it tells the story of Nick and Nigel Bottom, two brothers who are desperate to write a hit play to compete with the arrogant fop Shakespeare. When a local soothsayer foretells that the future of theatre involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, Nick and Nigel set out to write the world’s very first musical.
Matilda The Musical (April 25 – May 7)
The offbeat surrealistic story of an extraordinary little girl who, armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind plus some hidden talents, dares to stand up against horrendous adults and change her own destiny, based on the novel by Roald Dahl.
Finding Neverland (June 13 – 25)
Directed by Tony winner Diane Paulus (Pippin), this musical tells the story behind the creation of Peter Pan. Playwright J.M. Barrie struggles to find inspiration until he meets four young brothers and their beautiful widowed mother. Spellbound by the boys’ enchanting make-believe adventures, he sets out to write a play that will astound London theatergoers. With a little bit of pixie dust and a lot of faith, Barrie takes this monumental leap, leaving his old world behind for Neverland where nothing is impossible and the wonder of childhood lasts forever.
Season tickets for the six-show package are currently available and range from $200 – $600. Visit BroadwayInFortLauderdale.com. Subscribers may also call the (800) 764-0700.
The Wick Theatre and Costume Museum, Boca Raton
Catering to the Wick’s subscriber base’s list of favorites, this fourth season boasts two big-budget blockbusters, West Side Story and another of the musical theater’s greatest works, Guys and Dolls
They’re Playing Our Song (October 13 – November 6)
A charming chamber musical with a pop score by Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager, and a script by Neil Simon about an established composer and his relationship with an aspiring young female lyricist. Professionally, their relationship works beautifully, but ultimately leads to conflict on the home front.
Sister Act (November 25 – December 23)
This stage musical version of the Whoopi Goldberg film depicts wannabe disco diva Deloris Van Cartier witnessing a crime. The cops hide her in the last place anyone would think to look — a convent. Under the suspicious watch of Mother Superior, Deloris helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she unexpectedly rediscovers her own. Features original music by Alan Menken (Beauty And The Beast, The Little Mermaid, Newsies).
West Side Story (Jan. 12 – Feb. 19)
No one has to explain this one.
Guys and Dolls (March 9 – April 9)
Considered by many to be the perfect musical comedy, and featuring great musical classics like “Luck Be A Lady,” “A Bushel and a Peck,” and “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” Guys and Dolls weaves a tale of old-time gangsters, hot-box girls, and gambling.
Beehive (April 20 – May 14)
The titles say it all: “Downtown,” “To Sir With Love,” “It’s My Party,” “Where the Boys Are,” “Respect.” It’s “Beehive, the ’60s Musical,” in this jukebox salute to the women who made the music of the 1960s — from Lesley Gore to Janis Joplin, from the Shirelles to Aretha Franklin. And everyone in between.
Subscribers are welcome to renew their subscriptions now. For more information www.thewick.org or 561-995-2333
Maltz Jupiter Theatre
This purveyor of lushly-produced theater will produce in its 14th season one modern and one venerable classic The Producers and Gypsy, both considered among the best ever written, plus one of the best new plays of the past few seasons, Disgraced.
The mainstage lineup includes:’
The Audience (October 23 – November 6)
For more than sixty years, Queen Elizabeth II has held private weekly meetings with each Prime Minister, from Churchill to Cameron. In these intimate and sometimes explosive conversations, we see glimpses of the woman who wears the crown and witness the moments that shaped a monarch. Go behind the walls of Buckingham Palace and into the private chambers of Queen Elizabeth II in Peter Morgan’s play that swept Broadway last season.
Me and My Girl (November 29 – December 18)
What happens when you discover you are royalty? In this romantic musical comedy, an unrefined charmer learns he is heir to the Earl of Hareford. His aristocratic family believes he can become a gentleman and earn his inheritance – but only if he gives up his true love. Will love or money win? Featuring the dance number “The Lambeth Walk.”
The Producers (January 10 – 29)
Do you have to ask? One the first local professional regional theater productions of the show.
Disgraced (February 12 – 26)
A shattering Pulitzer winner with a brilliant script examines race, identity, assimilation, prejudice and post 9/11 fears as four friends — an Arab-American, an African-American, a Jew and an Anglo — clash at a dinner party
Gypsy (March 21 – April 9)
One of the finest, if not the finest, American musicals ever written. Period. To be directed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge who helmed the Maltz’s terrific Hello, Dolly! With Vicki Lewis.
Besides a full schedule of one-night shows, student productions and children’s theater, two items of note:
Rhinoceros (August 13)
Eugène Ionesco’s 1959 absurdist classic will be presented by local high school students as part of the Youth Artists’ Chair program. This striking play explores the themes of conformity, culture, mass movements and morality.
He’s Got Magic to Do: The Music of Stephen Schwartz (November 12)
A benefit concert with the legendary composer on stage backed by a 10-piece orchestra and accompanied by Tony Award winner Debbie Gravitte and Scott Coulter,
Season subscriptions are currently on sale. Renewing subscribers have until March 27 to renew their subscription to be entered into Keys to the Kingdom Sweepstakes, which includes the chance to win tickets to all of the Theatre’s upcoming shows, as well as the chance to attend cast dinners, parties and special events. Also included are numerous behind-the-scenes opportunities, such as the chance to watch auditions, receive a private personal backstage tour and more. Single play and musical tickets go on sale Aug. 22 at 10 a.m. Single tickets for special productions, special engagements and limited engagements go on sale May 6 at 10 a.m. Subscriptions begin at $202. Subscribers save 10 percent to 15 percent on single ticket prices. Subscribers also get one fee-free ticket exchange per ticket per show, and advance notice and ability to purchase tickets to limited engagements and other special events. Subscription groups of 20 or more receive an additional discount.
Kravis On Broadway, West Palm Beach
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time and An American in Paris, and Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, three of the best shows running right now in New York (and that’s no hype) make their South Florida bows at the Kravis.
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time (November 15-20)
The winner of five Tony Awards is the visually dazzling play by Simon Stephens, adapted from Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel, and directed by Tony winner Marianne Elliott. Fifteen-year-old Christopher has an extraordinary brain; he is exceptionally intelligent but ill-equipped to interpret everyday life because of autism. When he falls under suspicion for killing his neighbor’s dog, he sets out to identify the true culprit, which leads to an earth-shattering discovery and a journey that will change his life forever.
An American In Paris (December 6-11)
The new Tony Award-winning musical about an American soldier, a mysterious French girl and an indomitable European city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of war. Acclaimed director/choreographer and 2015 Tony Award winner Christopher Wheeldon melds amazing dancing with a catalog of songs by George and Ira Gershwin in the show that earned more awards than any other musical in the 2014-15 season.
Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage (January 3-8)
A stage version of the film with all the music and dancing you remember. Nobody puts Baby in the corner.
Beautiful – The Carole King Musical (January 31-February 5)
How the soundtrack of our lives was born. It tracks the true story of King’s rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. The score is, natch, the hits spanning much of her early career.
The Phantom Of The Opera (March 23-April 1)
Before you say, “Phantom again?” this is the quite intriguing revitalized version with new scenic design and direction.
Kinky Boots (April 18-23)
An entertaining Americanized stage musical version of the film. With songs by Cyndi Lauper and a book by Harvey Fierstein, this Tony-winning celebration is about the friendships we discover, and the belief that you can change the world when you change your mind. Inspired by true events, it takes you from a gentlemen’s shoe factory in Northampton to the glamorous catwalks of Milan. Charlie Price is struggling to live up to his father’s expectations and continue the family business of Price & Son. With the factory’s future hanging in the balance, help arrives in the unlikely but spectacular form of Lola, a fabulous performer in need of some sturdy new stilettos.
The Sound Of Music (May 9-14)
This tour is a fresh edition helmed by the famed director Jack O’Brien.
Subscribers for the Kravis On Broadway series will receive their renewals mid-March. Kravis Center donors will receive information on becoming a Kravis On Broadway subscriber for the 2016-2017 series mid-May, and tickets will go on sale to the general public in July. For more information about becoming a donor, log on to kravis.org/membership, or call (561) 651-4320. For information about purchasing a subscription to Kravis On Broadway, contact the Kravis Center box office at (561) 832-7469 or (800) 572-8471, or log on to kravis.org/broadway.
Pembroke Pines Theatre of the Performing Arts (PPTOPA)
The venerable community theater which keeps undertaking ever-more challenging work has set its ambitious new season including the blazing Lin-Manuel Miranda epic of barrio life In The Heights.
Funny Girl (Oct. 29-Nov. 20)
A Tribute to Stephen Schwartz (Dec. 8-18)
She Loves Me (Feb. 24-March 19)
In The Heights (July 14-Aug. 6)
Lake Worth Playhouse
One of the oldest theaters in the state has slated yet another ambitious season of community theater.
Rock Of Ages (July 7-24)
Featuring music by Bon Jovi, Styx, Journey and Whitesnake, Rock of Ages tells the story of aspiring rock star Drew and small-town girl Sherri as they work in one of the Sunset Strips last legendary rock and roll venues. But the rock and roll fairy-tale is about to end, can Drew, Sherri and the gang of crazy characters save the strip and themselves before it’s too late? Join us as we revisit the 1980’s. Written by Chris D’Arienzo and nominated for five Tony Awards, this musical brings back the 1980’s, when Aqua Net, Lycra, lace and liquor flowed freely.
Urinetown – The Musical (October 6-23)
Winner of three Tony Awards this hilariously funny and touchingly honest musical written by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis is a satire of the legal system and a love letter to musical theatre itself! Urinetown provides a fresh perspective of one of America’s greatest art forms. In a Gotham like city, a terrible water shortage, caused by a 20-year drought has led to a ban on private toilets. The citizens must use public amenities, regulated by a single malevolent company that profits by charging admission for one of humanity’s most basic needs. Amid the people, a hero decides he’s had enough and plans a revolution to lead them all to freedom.
Death by Design (November 17- December 4)
What happens when you mix the brilliant wit of Noel Coward with the intricate plotting of Agatha Christie? Set during a weekend in an English country manor in 1932, Death by Design is a delightful and mysterious “mash-up” of two of the greatest English writers of all time. Edward Bennett, a playwright, and his wife Sorel Bennett, an actress, flee London and head to Cookham after a disastrous opening night. But various guests arrive unexpectedly – a conservative politician, a fiery socialist, a nearsighted ingenue, a zany modern dancer – each with a long-held secret. When one of the guests is murdered, it’s left to Bridgit, the feisty Irish maid with a macabre interest in homicide, to solve the crime.
Evita (January 19 – February 5)
Winner of seven Tony Awards, this mega-musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice tells the story of the life of Argentina’s infamous Eva Peron as she climbed her way up the ladder of success to share the power of her country’s leader, General Juan Peron. After finding success with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Jesus Christ Superstar, Webber and Rice tell this fascinating story entirely through song and dance. Evita started as a double album but found its way to the stage first in London then New York. Evita is one of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s most successful musicals.
The Sugar Bean Sisters (March 2-19)
A Southern Gothic comedy written by Nathan Sanders tells the story of romance, murder and alien abduction and the Nettle sisters determination to escape spinsterhood—Willie Mae by going to Salt Lake and finding a good Mormon husband and Faye by hopping on the spaceship when the “space people” return for another visit. A strange bird-like woman suddenly appears out of the darkness and cane fields of Buster Swamp, setting in motion a chain of extraordinary events. Lies begin to unravel and the truth is revealed as the Sugar Bean Sisters hatch a diabolical plot in search of happiness.
They’re Playing Our Song (April 13-30)
This musical is a delightful collaboration between theater icons Neil Simon and Marvin Hamlisch along with Oscar winner Carole Bayer Sager. This funny romantic musical about an established composer and his relationship with an aspiring young female lyricist from their first meeting to hearing their hit song played for the first time on the radio…and of course there’s a happy ending.