By Bill Hirschman
If it’s February, then theater companies are taking advantage of the visiting snowbirds presence to announce what they hope will be an enticing slate of titles for the 2018-19 season.
The theaters tend to release them in spurts, so this will be just one of multiple announcements.
Further, some theaters do not run on a traditional snowbird-centric schedule. GableStage’s season starts near the end of the calendar year and Producing Artistic Director Joe Adler is still hunting about including a scouting trip to New York. Thinking Cap Theatre in Fort Lauderdale has simultaneously announced its season to begin this winter.
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.
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.
But a close inspection will show that some companies are a bit less daring next season than they have been or have balanced out an edgy contemporary title with safe warhorses or offerings likely to be widely popular. The reasons revealed in not-for-attribution conversations are varied: It’s been a deceptively difficult year financially for companies that appeared to be doing well, either because audiences did not come in the record numbers hoped for or some companies bit off more on the expense side than they might have. The battle for grant money has heightened and some companies fear upcoming cuts in government funding.
But there are enough bright spots to comprise a constellation. Among them:
Broadway Across Miami at the Arsht Center is bringing in Come From Away in June 2019, one of the most uplifting musicals ever on Broadway and still playing there. The story focuses on the townspeople of Gander, Newfoundland who ended up hosting thousands of foreign visitors whose planes were grounded immediately after 9/11. It’s a warm tale of community and altruism among everyday human beings. To read our review of the Broadway production, click here.
You have seen Beauty and the Beast over and over and over. But not like this. The Maltz Jupiter Theatre has hired John Tartaglia (the star of Avenue Q and son of local actress Angie Radosh) to direct a version of the Disney musical in which all of the inanimate character like Lumiere will be performed by puppets. It also will provide the local premiere of last season Broadway hit play A Doll’s House Part 2, Lucas Hnath’s imagining of what happens when Ibsen’s Nora revisit’s her family 15 years later.
The Kravis Center’s independently scheduled season will have the national tour of the new version of Hello, Dolly! headlined by Betty Buckley.
And Hamilton, which plays in the upcoming season at the Broward Center from Broadway across America, will be playing both at the Arsht Center and the Kravis Center in the 2019-2020 season – with presenters suggesting that the best way to ensure seats for a year and a half out is to buy this coming season’s subscription.
Not be unfair, but Palm Beach Dramaworks has one of the most promising lineups, end to end.
—-The summer musical will be the acclaimed revue, Woody Guthrie’s American Song (July 13 – Aug. 5), which has been playing around the country over and over since the late 1980 and was mounted at the Pope Theatre (later Florida Stage) in 1993. It is not the same one that played at Arts Garage in 2012.
—-Starting the regular season Oct. 19 – Nov. 11 is Indecent, last year’s acclaimed play with music about censorship and anti-Semitism by Paula Vogel. It resurrects the playwright Sholem Asch and the journey of his groundbreaking 1907 work, God of Vengeance. Indecent is a co-production with GableStage, the first for Dramaworks. J. Barry Lewis will direct.
—-Then the world premiere of House On Fire by Lyle Kessler (author of Orphans) Dec. 7-30, 2018. Described as a “moving and funny parable of love, resentment, family, and redemption. An old man and his two sons battle for dominance. Miracles abound when two strangers appear and lives are changed forever. “
—- The Spitfire Grill is a folk musical based on the novel: “A young parolee hopes to find balm in Gilead, Wisconsin, where she gets a job at Hannah’s Spitfire Grill. As she starts her life anew, the moribund town begins to awaken with her.” (Feb. 1-24, 2019)
—- Fences is perhaps August Wilson’s most popular and accessible play in his famed cycle, recently made into a movie with Denzel Washington. “An embittered sanitation worker, a former Negro League star denied a shot at the major leagues because of the color of his skin, takes his resentment out on his wife and son, fracturing relationships and thwarting dreams in this Pulitzer Prize-winning drama.” (March 29– April 21, 2019)
—- The House Of Blue Leaves, John Guare’s comic-poignant play is described as “The Pope is in New York City for the day, and an untalented songwriter hopes a blessing from the Pontiff will help him achieve his Hollywood dream, with his celebrity-obsessed girlfriend at his side. First, though, he’d have to institutionalize his schizophrenic wife, in this surrealistic, heartbreaking and hilarious Obie Award-winning play.” (May 17– June 2, 2019)
Slow Burn Theatre Company plans shows in both the Amaturo and Abdo spaces at the Broward Center, plus is taking some shows on the road”
—-Disney’s Freaky Friday (Oct. 15-Nov. 4) with a score by the composers of Next To Normal
—-Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Nov. 8-25)
—- Legally Blonde (Dec. 10-30)
—-Jekyll & Hyde (Jan. 27-Feb. 17, 2019)
—- You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown (Feb. 28 -March 10, 2019)
—-9 to 5 (March 25-April 14)
—- Priscilla Queen of the Desert (June 10-30)
Broadway Across Miami at the Arsht Center offers this season:
—-Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (Dec. 25 – 30)
—-Les Misérables (Feb. 5 –10, 2019)
—-Waitress, the popular musical featuring original music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles and based on the film (Feb. 26 – March 3, 2019)
—-School Of Rock (April 9 – 14, 2019)
—-Disney’s The Lion King (May 8 – 26, 2019)
—-Come From Away (June 18 – 23, 2019)
Maltz Jupiter Theatre line-up:
—-Steel Magnolias (Oct. 28 – Nov. 11)
—-Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (Nov. 27 – Dec. 16)
—-Mamma Mia (Jan. 15 – Feb. 10, 2019)
—-A Doll’s House, Part 2 (Feb. 24 – Mar 10, 2019)
—-West Side Story (Mar. 26 – Apr. 14, 2019)
The Kravis Center’s individually programmed Broadway series has scheduled:
—-Rock Of Ages (Nov. 6-11)
—-Hello, Dolly! with Betty Buckley (Dec. 11-16, 2018)
—-On Your Feet!, the Gloria-Emilio Estefan bio-musical (January 8-13, 2019)
—-Les Misérables (Feb. 12-17, 2019)
—-Waitress (March 5-10, 2019),
—-School Of Rock (March 27-31, 2019)
—-Disney’s The Lion King (April 24 – May 5, 2019)
Florida Grand Opera at the Arsht Center and the Broward Center:
—-Puccini’s La Boheme (Nov. 3-17)
—-Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (Jan.26-Feb. 9, 2019)
—-Massenet’s Werther (April 27. May 11)
—-Robert Xavier Rodriguez’s Frida (March 16-31) will play for an additional cost and be performed only at the Miramar Cultural Center and the Miami-Dade County Auditorium, not at the Arsht or Broward .
The Wick Theatre’s lineup in Boca Raton:
—-The Pirates of Penzance (Oct. 18-Nov. 11)
—-Annie (planning to have Sally Struthers play Miss Hannigan) (Nov.29-Dec. 23)
—-Funny Girl (Jan. 17-Feb. 24, 2019)
—-Crazy For You (March 14-April 14, 2019)
—-Always… Patsy Cline (April 25-May 12)
Thinking Cap Theatre’s new season opens in March. This year, the challenging company has scheduled a “Back to the Future”-themed season with classical and classically-inspired plays. Once during each of its four season productions, TCT will hold a talkback with the director, cast, and a special guest panelist. These talkbacks will take place directly following a designated performance, typically on a Sunday.
—-Women In Assembly, a comedy (Feb. 23 – March 18) described as Aristophanes’s bawdy and provocative 4th century comedy, featuring a women-on-top plot in the vein of Lysistrata, directed by founder Nicole Stodard featuring Thinking Cap regulars Casey Dressler, Sally Bondi, Michael Gioia, Vanessa Elise; Jim Gibbons, Carey Hart, Noah Levine, Sabrina Gore and Carlos Alayeto. Shows before March 2 are previews.
—-The Emperor Of The Moon, a farce by Aphra Behn, one of the first British women to earn a living as a playwright and the author of Thinking Cap’s earlier The Rover (May 11 – June 3)
—-Mary, Mary, a new play by Nicole Stodard about many famous ‘Marys’ (Sept. 13 – 30)
—-King Lear, by William Shakespeare (Oct.27 – Nov. 18)
Palm Beach Opera will perform at the Kravis Center:
—-Rising Stars of Opera (Dec. 18)
—-Verdi’s La Traviata (Jan. 25-27, 2019)
—-Mozart’s Don Giovanni (Feb. 22-24, 2019)
—-Strauss’ Die Fledermaus ( Mar. 22-24, 2019)