By Bill Hirschman
A second round of South Florida theater season announcements have coincided with the withdrawal of snowbirds, but if this year’s busy slate is any indication, the 2018-2019 season will barely slow down post-Easter.
Our online calendar tries to be as inclusive as possible and within weeks it will have dates stretching out as far as the theaters have announced. At least one more article will announce another list of titles later this spring and summer.
The shows mentioned so far underscore the wide range of tastes in the region. Some companies focus on a niche; others offer a sampling of different genres.
Theater Up Close, the Arsht Center’s commitment to locally produced theater has six shows including four by the Carbonell Awards-winning Zoetic Stage, which will host everything from Michael McKeever’s new version of Dracula as they work their way through the Sondheim canon, Sweeney Todd.
Island City Stage, the LGBTQ-centric theater in Wilton Manors has several interesting titles including Bette and Barry: From Bathhouse to Broadway — Associate Artistic Director Michael Leeds’ world-premiere play with lots of familiar music imagining Bette Midler and Barry Manilow premiering their new club act in Wilton Manors starring Carbonell Award-winner Mallory Newbrough and multiple Carbonell Award nominee Michael Ursua
Primal Forces, the peripatetic purveyor of prime plays, has settled in as the resident company in a new home, the storefront Sol Theatre space at 3333 N Federal Highway in Boca Raton. In its short tenure across several venues, founder-director Keith Garsson had produced several intellectually stimulating plays, choosing plays that require a majority of roles for women. A news release notes “To mold to the demographics of the familiar city, the selection of shows, for the first season, will fall into safer and more well-rounded terrain with subjects that include African-American history, the Holocaust, aging, and a rarely-produced dark comedy from, of all people, Neil Simon.” The stage’s previous company Evening Star Productions has been discontinued.
Lake Worth Playhouse, one of the oldest and most artistically ambitious community theaters in the region, takes on everything from Camelot to the chilling Wait Until Dark.
The Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach once again is offering a wide range of work from the familiar My Fair Lady to the challenging Next To Normal.
Broward Stage Door Theatre will be moving from its long-time Margate home to the lovely new Lauderhill Performing Arts Center. It won’t produce two shows simultaneously as it has done, but it is offering eight large scale musicals in the coming season that can take advantage of the new venue’s resources, which eclipse what Stage Door has had. The only pop-song revue scheduled is a return of this season hit The Soul of Motor City.
(To see some other seasons, check out an earlier list by clicking here. . More will be announced in coming months. )
Details and dates for round two:
The Zoetic Stage and Adrienne Arsht Center co-productions include:
—-Dracula (Oct. 11 – 28) A world premiere by McKeever. Other than the familiar opening premise, “nothing is what you’d expect it to be. Using Bram Stoker’s novel as starting point, McKeever has reinvented the Gothic horror tale and—taking a feminist point of view—created female characters who not only stand up to the title character, but eventually overcome him. Breaking the mold of what a Victorian “lady” should be, the women in this Dracula are strong, determined and unwilling to play victim to any predator.”
—-The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time (Jan. 17 – Feb. 3, 2019)
Simon Stephens’ Tony Award-winning adaptation of Mark Haddon’s internationally best-selling novel depicts 15-year-old Christopher, brilliant but autistic. 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 that will change his life.
—-Every Brilliant Thing (Feb. 14 – March 3, 2019)
Playwright Duncan Macmillan (Art Garage’s Lungs) with Jonny Donahoe penned a delicate balance between sobering loss and cathartic laughter. In this one-person tour de force, a man attempts to cure his mother’s depression by creating a list of the best things in the world. The list grows as he progresses from childhood (“Ice Cream”) and adolescence (“Star Trek”), to college (“Surprises”) and marriage (“Falling in Love”). But when life deals a bitter blow, the list proves to be helpful to the son in ways that it could never be for the mother
—-Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (March 14 – April 7, 2019)
The Adrienne Arsht Center also presents works originated out of state:
—-Hundred Days (April 10 – 21, 2019) is a true story about embracing uncertainty, taking a leap, and loving as if you only had 100 days to live. With magnetic chemistry and anthemic folk-punk music, creators and stars Abigail and Shaun Bengson explore a fundamental question: how do we make the most of the time that we have?
—–United Flight 232 (May 4 – 19, 2019) A production from the ground-breaking House Theatre of Chicago (Death and Harry Houdini) about the 1989 crash of a DC-10 at Sioux City Gateway airport. To the astonishment of all who witnessed the event, 184 of 296 passengers and crew survived. Drawing on the interviews and research conducted by author Laurence Gonzales for his critically-acclaimed book, this new play, is a reflection on how to comprehend tragedy and celebrate human ingenuity in the face of overwhelming challenges.
Island City Stage’s 7th season in Wilton Manors includes
—-Buyer and Cellar (Nov. 1 through Dec. 2, 2018) Jonathan Tolins’ popular one-man comedy starring Matthew Buffalo stars as a struggling actor who takes a job as a “shopkeeper” in the nostalgic, Main Street-inspired basement of beloved megastar, Barbra Streisand.
—-Bette and Barry: From Bathhouse to Broadway (Runs Jan. 10- Feb. 10, 2019)
—From White Plains (Mar. 21- Apr. 21, 2019) by Michael Perlman. In an Oscar speech, Dennis Sullivan publicly denounces the high school bully Dennis believes pushed his gay best friend to suicide, and who inspired the screenplay that garnered the Oscar. A now more mature Ethan must confront what he did as a teenager. The play was recommended by former Floridian Alex Weisman who can’t be in the show because he’s in the ensemble of the new Harry Potter play in New York.
—-Veronica’s Position (May 30- Jun. 30, 2019) Described as “Love, politics and art intermingle in Rich Orloff’s star-spangled comedy set in Washington, D.C., 1990. When Veronica, a self-absorbed movie star agrees to co-star in a revival of Hedda Gabler with her favorite ex-husband, both egos and calories get burned.
Primal Forces, Boca Raton, will offer:
—-Breadcrumbs (Nov. 30 – Dec. 23) Jennifer Haley’s acclaimed play, described as “Theories of identity are put under the microscope in this time-bending drama. An aging writer (Angie Radosh), who despises technology, accompanied by a mysterious stranger, (Jacqueline Laggy) travels back in time to the dark woods of the past, unearthing a tragedy that shatters their notions of language, loneliness and essential self.
—-Having Our Say (Jan. 11 – Feb. 3, 2019) The play about the Delany sisters’ (Avery Sommers, Karen Stephens) extraordinary true story of our nation’s heritage recalls Paul Robeson, Harlem’s Golden Age and Jim Crow. As graduates of Columbia University, Bessie breaks barriers to become a dentist while Sadie integrates the New York City school system. Garsson has been trying to mount this play for years.
—-Blonde Poison (Feb. 15 – Mar. 10, 2019) Gail Louw’s play recounting the true story of Stella Kubler (Lourelene Snedeker) who, in present day London, reflects on her days as a young Jewish girl in Nazi Germany. As she recounts her past, will we still see Stella as a victim? Or were her misdeeds as monstrous as those who imprisoned her?
—-The Gingerbread Lady (Mar. 22 – Apr. 14, 2019) Neil Simon’s dark play about
Evie (Patti Gardner), a cabaret singer compromised by her excessive lifestyle. As she tries to rebuild her life with her insecure friends Toby (Janice Hamilton) and Jimmy, can she also establish a closer relationship with her daughter? Made into a movie Only When I Laugh with Marsha Mason.
Riverside Theatre, Vero Beach, has two venues with solid schedules, including one show co–produced with the dependable Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia.
—-Smokey Joe’s Café (Oct. 23 – Nov. 11) the long-running revue of the songs of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller including “Jailhouse Rock,” Stand By Me,” Yakety Yak,” “Hound Dog,” “On Broadway,” “Spanish Harlem.”
—-Evita (Jan. 8-27, 2019) Don’t cry for the award-winning Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice saga of Eva Peron.
—-The Last Romance (Feb. 5 – 24, 2019 Joe DiPietro, the mind behind I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change pens a show about love still being viable for the elderly.
—-My Fair Lady (March 12-31, 2019) We don’t know much about this other than some genius gives his hard won experience to some guttersnipe.
—-Legally Blonde, The Musical (April 16 – May 5, 2019) A co-production with the Walnut Street Theatre, this is a surprisingly winning show based on the film.
— Next To Normal (Jan. 10 – Feb. 10, 2019) Winner of three Tony Awards and the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, this contemporary musical tells the story of a seemingly normal suburban household whose lives are anything but normal due to Mom’s mental illness..
—-Ghost Writer (March 26 – April 14, 2019) A play by Michael Hollinger (Opus) about a novelist who dies mid-sentence, but his secretary continues to take dictation.
Lake Worth Playhouse’s eclectic season beginning this summer:
—-Flashdance (July 5-22) a musical based on the hit movie.
—-Young Frankenstein (Oct. 4-21) a musical based on the hit movie.
—-Barefoot in the Park (Nov. 15 – Dec. 2) one of Neil Simon’s first comedies that became a hit movie.
—-Camelot (Jan. 17 – Feb. 3, 2019) a hit musical that did not become a hit when it was turned into a movie.
—-Wait Until Dark (Feb. 28 – Mar. 17, 2019) A pretty strong thriller on Broadway with Lee Remick about a blind woman being terrorized by criminals looking for a doll containing drug, that became a pretty strong movie with Audrey Hepburn.
—-Sweet Charity (Apr. 11-28, 2019) a completely charming musical based on a hit Fellini film later turned into a miserable flop film musical.
Broward Stage Door, Lauderhill
—-La Cage aux Folles (Aug. 31-Sept. 23)
—-Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Oct. 12-Nov. 4)
—-The Wiz (Dec. 7-31)
—-The Producers (Jan. 18-Feb. 10, 2019)
—-My One and Only (March 1-24, 2019)
—-Ghost the Musical (April 12-May 15, 2019)
—- Thoroughly Modern Millie (May 24-June 16, 2019)
—-The Soul of Motor City (July 5-28)