By Bill Hirschman
The rollout of 2017-2018 seasons continues with some South Florida theaters pushing the edge of their audience’s cultural envelopes and others relying on reliable titles in an uncertain time.
Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre honors its 30th anniversary with return engagements of popular hits like the The Big Bang and Evita, with the latter being done in separate productions in English and in Spanish. Another title should sound familiar: Million Dollar Quartet, which ran an unprecedented 11 consecutive weeks at the end of 2016. The strong response at the beginning and the end of the run made patrons ask that it be brought back, and some donors volunteered to underwrite the run.
Island City Stage, comfortably settled in at Infinite Abyss’ home in Wilton Manors, keeps exploring what is means to be LGBTQ in the 21st Century with its first musical and two world premieres including one by local playwright Michael McKeever.
New City Players, a tiny Broward-based troupe performing classics tanging from The Glass Menagerie to No Exit at different venues, enters its fourth season this summer with a varied state encompassing Twelfth Night and Proof.
Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, e 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables
Evita (Oct. 25 – Nov. 26 English language run; Nov. 30 – Dec. 17 Spanish language run)
The playhouse brings back another run at the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice saga chartings the rags-to-riches rise of the First Lady of Argentina, Eva Duarte Peron. It follows her journey from fatherless child to ambitious actress to the most powerful woman in Latin America—and, eventually, to a beloved-like figure after her death from cancer at age 33
Noises Off (Jan. 17 – Feb. 4)
Justifiably called one of the funniest farces ever written, Noises Off presents a manic menagerie as a cast of itinerant actors rehearse a flop called Nothing’s On. This hysterical comedy features a single-set farce where the audience gets to see the show from onstage and off as lovers frolic, doors slam, clothes are tossed away and a festival of delirium ensues.
Once (Feb. 28 – March 25)
A Tony-winning hit on Broadway and on tour, this is the first regional theater production in our area based on the film. Performed by a cast of actor musicians who sing, dance and play, Once tells the enchanting tale of a Dublin street musician and the beautiful young woman who takes an interest in his haunting love songs. As the chemistry between them grows, his music soars to powerful new heights.
Million Dollar Quartet (May 9 – June 24)
Returning for a second consecutive season, this musical is “inspired” by the actual 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. This fictionalized retelling mixes dream with 21 of their hits. To read our review of last season’s production, click here.
The Big Bang (July 25 – Sept. 2)
Another returning favorite from season past, this whirlwind musical features two comedy writers try to raise enough dough for the most historically expansive show ever conceived. In a record 90 minutes, and using all of the furniture and decorations on stage, both actors are put to the test as they try to convince their potential theatrical backers (the audience) that this insane frivolity is somehow worthy of the author’s unrealistic hopes and aspirations. Music by Jed Feuer with book and lyrics by Boyd Graham.
Season subscriptions range from prices $185 for preview performances, $245 for Wednesday or Thursday evenings or Sunday matinees, $282 for Friday or Saturday evenings, and $285 for VIP Flexible/Anytime tickets for premium seats to any performance. Opening Night Subscriptions, which include invitations to the Gala Opening Night celebrations, are $400. Miracle Maker donor subscriptions, including two tickets to the Gala Opening Night celebrations, donor acknowledgement and invitations to special events including the annual Reach For The Stars Gala Auction are $1,500. Subscriptions for children 18 years and younger with a full paid adult subscription, and college students, are $141 (restrictions apply). All prices include handling charges and fees.
Island City Stage, 2304 N. Dixie Hwy. Wilton Manors
Hir (Nov. 9-Dec. 10)
Taylor Mac’s “audacious and uproarious black comedy” from 2015 is set somewhere in the suburbs. Isaac has returned from the wars to help take care of his ailing father, only to discover a household in revolt. The insurgent: his mom. Along with Isaac’s newly out transgender sibling as her ally, she’s on a crusade to exact revenge on an abusive marriage. But in the sly, subversive comedy, annihilating the past doesn’t always free you from it. The production will feature Carbonell-Award nominee Mia Matthews and will be directed by Artistic Director Andy Rogow.
Zanna, Don’t! (Jan. 11-Feb. 11)
This musical fairy tale by Tim Acito and Alexander Dinelaris (the book writer for Hamilton and former Barry University student) is set in a parallel universe somewhere in middle America where homosexuality is the norm and heterosexuality is a taboo. Most of the action takes place at heterophobic Heartsville High where Zanna, the school’s magical matchmaker, brings together happy couples; that is until the football team’s new quarterback and the captain of the Girls’ Intramural Mechanical Bull-Riding Team begin to discover their feelings for each other. Joining director Rogow will be Musical Director Michael Ursua and Choreographer Andy Fiacco.
The Radicalization of Rolfe (March 29-April 29)
The world premiere of Andrew Bergh’s play: Remember Rolfe in The Sound of Music who’s seventeen, going on eighteen and dating Liesl Von Trapp? His boyfriend isn’t happy with that fact but Herr Zeller, the head of the local Nazi party, uses the relationship to infiltrate the Von Trapp household. Franz, the butler and Frau Schmidt the housekeeper become ensnared in spy games in which no one ends up the winner. German actor Michael Kehr will join a local cast directed by Associate Artistic Director Michael Leeds.
Mr. Parker (June 14 -July15)
South Florida’s prolific playwright Michael McKeever (Daniel’s Husband and After) brings another world premiere. At 52 years old, Alex Parker finds himself at a crossroads in his life. Suddenly single and unable to adjust to the new era of social media and APP dating, he wakes up one morning in the bed of a 27-year-old man he met the night before. Over the next two hours the two debate life, death and how the world has evolved in the 25 years between them. What starts out as a one-night stand becomes a journey of self-discovery for a man trying to cope with the pressures of being middle-aged, gay and overwhelmed in the ever-changing landscape of today’s America. Leeds will direct.
A Fifth Production To Be Announced (August)
For more information, call (954) 519-2533 or email email@example.com or http://islandcitystage.org/
New City Players, Fort Lauderdale
Proof (June 1-18)
The 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama winner follows Catherine immediately after the death of her father, Robert. Robert was a mathematical genius in his youth but suffered from severe bouts of mental illness for much of his later life. Catherine was his primary caretaker. She must now figure out who she is while sorting through which part(s) of her father she inherited. Directed By Timothy Mark Davis. Performing at Empire Stage, 1140 N. Flagler Drive,Fort Lauderdale
Twelfth Night (July 6-23)
Shakespeare’s classical comedy of romantic proportions, Twelfth Night follows Viola (disguised as a male) in her love for Orsino; Orsino in his love for Olivia, and Olivia in her love for the disguised Viola. It is the classic love triangle padded by a hilarious subplot to make Olivia’s pompous steward, Malvolio, look like a total fool. Performed at Vanguard Sanctuary for the Arts, 1501 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale,
True West (Aug. 10-27)
Sam Shepard’s masterwork, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, explores what it means for humans to have a “double nature.” Two estranged brothers, Lee and Austin, meet up in their mother’s Southern California suburban home; Austin to work on his latest screenplay and Lee to scour the surrounding houses for valuable appliances. What ensues over the next several days between the brothers is both riveting and shocking. Directed By Mary Gundlach. Performed at Vanguard Sanctuary for the Arts, 1501 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale.
Plus a to-be-determined staged reading directed by Krystal Millie Valdes
To buy tickets, visit http://www.newcityplayers.org/buytickets