Upcoming Season: From Death of a Salesman to Spongebob

By Bill Hirschman

Something old, something new; something borrowed, something blue. Well, not much blue, but three South Florida theaters have announced their 2023-24 season with a wide array of genres and titles. Some have been done a good deal in other theaters in the state and even locally; some you’ve never heard of.

For instance:

Palm Beach Dramaworks is giving the world premiere to two commissioned plays including one by Miami’s Christopher Demos-Brown, but also Death of a Salesman.

Slow Burn Theatre Company is mounting Sondheim’s Into the Woods and not-Sondheim’s Spongebob the Musical.

The Maltz Jupiter Theatre will host a uniquely designed Murder on the Orient Express and one solidly in its wheelhouse 42nd Street.

Palm Beach Dramaworks continues to be one of the region’s foremost producer of serious and contemporary theater. This season focuses on political, societal, and familial issues that currently dominate our national conversation at the heart and center of the season.

“When I plan a season, my overall goal is to identify five diverse, quality plays that will entertain and challenge our audiences,” said Producing Artistic Director William Hayes. “It was only after putting together the upcoming season that I realized that all five plays, to a greater or lesser degree, really speak to this fraught time we’re living in. Each of these plays is provocative and illuminating, most are laced with humor, but they couldn’t be more different in approach, in scope, and in sensibility.”

Lobby Hero, October 13-29, originally scheduled for the truncated 2019-2020 season, Kenneth Lonergan’s seriocomic exploration of ethics and moral relativism hasn’t been performed locally in several years. Four New Yorkers involved in a murder investigation – a slacker security guard in a Manhattan apartment building, his by-the-book boss, a rookie cop and her macho partner – face moral and ethical dilemmas in this comic drama by the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of Manchester by the Sea. The play explores issues of racism and sexism, and whether it’s ever honorable to do the wrong thing for the right reason.

The Messenger, December 8-24, A world premiere by Jenny Connell Davis is a meditation on the connections between past, present, and future, and on the choice between speaking up and speaking out regardless of the consequences or remaining silent for the sake of self-preservation. Inspired by the life of Hungarian Holocaust survivor Georgia Gabor, the play interweaves her story with that of a young American woman facing racial discrimination in this country in 2020.

Christopher Demos-Brown

The Cancellation Of Lauren Fein, February 2-18, 2024, is a world premiere by acclaimed Miami playwright Christopher Demos-Brown, whose American Son appeared on Broadway before the pandemic. Lauren Fein and her wife, Paola Munoz, are professors at a prestigious American university. They live with Dylan, their 16-year-old African American foster son whom they’ve cared for since he was a baby. When Professor Fein’s actions run afoul of the university’s “diversity, equity, and inclusion” policies, her groundbreaking research, her career and her family are all put in jeopardy, an examination of the minefield of cancel culture.

Death Of A Salesman, March 29-April 14, 2024, is Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning, groundbreaking play that changed American theatre in the person of its everyman tragic hero, Willy Loman, a dime a dozen, disappointed, disillusioned, and delusional traveling salesman with a skewed vision of the American Dream. All he wanted, the playwright wrote in his memoir, was “to count.” Or as Willy’s wife, Linda, implores, “Attention must be paid.” Oddly enough, this play has rarely been staged in this region.

Crumbs From The Table Of Joy, May 24-June 9, 2024, is another play by Lynn Nottage, widely considered one of the finest playwrights of this generation. She deals with racial issues, and penned Intimate Apparel mounted by Dramaworks last season. Following the death of his wife, a disconsolate Godfrey Crump moves with his daughters, Ernestine and Ermina, from Pensacola to Brooklyn in 1950. Seventeen-year-old Ernestine is our guide in this warm memory play, a coming-of-age tale in which the sisters confront a cultural and racial divide and are exposed to new ideas, as they seek to break free from their father’s restrictive rules.

Subscriptions go on sale in the spring. For more information, go to www.palmbeachdramaworks.org.

The Maltz Jupiter Theatre, now in its newly expanded and upgraded home, has a season of familiar titles well-suited to its reputation for impressively mounted shows. Unlike recent seasons, while one entry is a play, there is no major drama on the schedule as it has in the past, such as Disgraced, A Doll’s House Part II or Good People. But the Maltz frequently takes a well-known piece like Hello, Dolly! and reworks it in markedly fresh ways.

“We reinvent the classics as if they were brand new and exclusively for our audiences,” said Andrew Kato, producing artistic director and chief executive.

Murder on the Orient Express, October 29 – November 12, a new adaptation of Agatha Christie’s classic mystery novel by Ken Ludwig who is best known for the farcical Lend Me A Tenor. This genre-defining detective story follows a train full of strangers who must band together to solve a mysterious crime and bring the criminal to justice.  This version has been a popular and successful edition done several times in regional theaters across the country in the past few years including twice in Florida. But most intriguing is Kato’s quote: “The set design is created so you will watch the story unfold from different points of view.  Once the guests are on board, the train literally revolves around so you can witness the story from multiple perspectives.”

A Christmas Carol, November 28 – December 10, well, you know the story, but this reimagined concept of the classic story of redemption is interwoven with dazzling special effects, strolling carolers and musicians. Kato said, “We are assembling an amazing creative team to envision this story with bold strokes of imagery, illusion, projections all tied together with classic Christmas songs.”

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, January 9 – 28, 2024, follows the inspiring true story of Carole King’s remarkable rise to stardom—from being part of a hit songwriting team to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. But it wasn’t until her life began to crack that she finally managed to find her authentic voice. A treasury of memories from the Boomer catalog include “I Feel the Earth Move,” “One Fine Day,” and “You’ve Got a Friend.” Please try to avoid singing along until the finale.

Plaza Suite, February 11 –25,  is Neil Simon’s classic about three different couples in three different mini-plays set in suite 719 at New York’s Plaza Hotel in the swinging 1960s: a long-married couple revisiting their honeymoon suite to rekindle the flame; a Hollywood producer on the prowl, reunited with his childhood sweetheart; and the parents of a nervous bride who has locked herself in the bathroom.

42nd Street , March 12 – 31, well, it wouldn’t be a Maltz Jupiter season without one blow-out musical. This classic love letter to Broadway, seemingly being done all over the country including Florida, is the ultimate show biz fairy tale of the chorus kid who becomes an overnight star. A 1930s backstage musical packed rhythmically tapping feet and a hit parade of songs, including “Lullaby of Broadway,” “We’re In The Money,” “Shuffle Off To Buffalo,” and “42nd Street.”

In addition to its regular season productions, the theater will present a lineup of limited engagement shows and benefit concerts to be announced later.

Tickets are available to season subscribers only starting today. Subscribers receive a discount on their shows as well as retain specific seats for each production of the season. They also receive advance ticket exchanges and purchasing power before single tickets go on sale.

Season subscription forms will automatically be mailed to current subscribers and can be returned by mail or delivered to the theater directly.  New subscribers can fill out a subscription form in person at the theater’s box office or download a form from the theater’s website: www.jupitertheatre.org/subscriptionform.   Single show tickets will go on sale August 7 at 10 a.m.

For more information about current and upcoming shows, call (561) 575-2223 or visit: www.jupitertheatre.org.  For more information and pricing on bringing a group of 20 or more friends, contact Sales Manager, Anne Schmidt at (561) 972-6117 or aschmidt@jupitertheatre.org.

Slow Burn Theatre Company performing at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts again is choosing large-scale upbeat musicals, most with a clear appeal to families.

“From the kindness we learn as children from cartoon and fairy tale characters to the often difficult choices we make as adults that allow us to become accepted as who we are, our upcoming season celebrates friendship and the universal emotions and dreams that unite us,” said Artistic Director Patrick Fitzwater.

Into the Woods, October 14-29 is based on the much-honored 1988 hit which intersects adult takes on fairy tales and shows what happens after the “happily ever after” words fade. It has been revived numerous times, including this past season on Broadway in a production that will tour the country this year. (See our review of the Broadway version at https://tinyurl.com/ms9d2/).  The show also was one of Slow Burn’s strongest productions early in its existence in 2012 (See our review https://tinyurl.com/3rhwx43j)

The Little Mermaid, December 16-31, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s story and the Disney animated film, creates a classic love story. When Ariel, King Triton’s youngest daughter, wishes to pursue the human Prince Eric in the world above, she bargains with the evil sea witch, Ursula, to trade her tail for legs, but the bargain is not what it seems. With music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater, and a book by Doug Wright, it features songs including “Under the Sea,” “Kiss the Girl” and “Part of Your World.”

Sister Act, February 3-18, is a musical based on the 1992 film starring Whoopi Goldberg, this time amplified with a Motown, soul and disco score by, once again, Alan Menken. When disco diva, Deloris Van Cartier, witnesses a murder, she is put in protective custody in the one place the cops are sure she won’t be found: a convent. The script was upgraded by Douglas Carter Beane.

The Prom

The Prom, March 23-April 7, is a solidly entertaining musical with a good deal of humor and winning songs that was a bright spot on Broadway (Read our review https://tinyurl.com/5xpkycf9) It follows four eccentric Broadway stars who are on a mission to transform lives when they discover the plight of a student who just wants to bring her girlfriend to prom and soon her entire small town has a date with destiny. It features a book by Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone) and Chad Beguelin (Aladdin), music by Matthew Sklar (Elf).

Spongebob the Musical, June 8-23, based on the famous tragedy by Bertolt Brecht, well, actually, the family show adapted from the iconic Nickelodeon series. SpongeBob, Patrick, Sandy, Squidward and all of Bikini Bottom face total annihilation — until a most unexpected hero rises to take center stage and the power of optimism saves the world. Based on the series by Stephen Hillenburg with musical production conceived by Tina Landau, the musical has a book by Kyle Jarrow and original songs by Yolanda Adams, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Sara Bareilles, Jonathan Coulton, Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, The Flaming Lips, Lady A, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Panic! At the Disco, Plain White T’s, They Might Be Giants and T.I. The score also features songs by David Bowie, Tom Kenny and Andy Paley. Additional lyrics are by Jonathan Coulton with additional music by Tom Kitt.

Season subscriptions start at $216 and reflect a 20% discount compared to single ticket prices. Ticketmaster is the only official ticketing service of the Broward Center and Parker Playhouse. Buy tickets online at BrowardCenter.org, or Ticketmaster.com; by phone at 954.462.0222 or in person at the Broward Center’s AutoNation Box Office.

Slow Burn Theatre will once again offer an open captioned performance of each production in which a text display located to the side of the stage scrolls words in synchronization with the performance.

Subscription renewals are available now with new subscriptions available on Monday, March 6. Groups may purchase tickets beginning Monday, May 22, and tickets to individual performances go on sale Thursday, June 8.

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