Tag Archives: Bruce Linser
Theater is often political: but sometimes, like The People Downstairs, Michael McKeever’s harrowing world premiere at Palm Beach Dramaworks, the relevancy of the Dutch people hiding the Anne Frank family only magnifies as current events overtake them.
In this tarnished time of disaffection, divisiveness and abandoned ideals, the synergistic resonance of the musical Man of La Mancha is more than a welcome opportunity for director Bruce Linser. The hope-laden messages of aspiration for a better world could not be more timely than this month when MNM Theatre Company mounts the classic musical at the Kravis Center.
The House of Blue Leaves gets as funny and touching a production from Palm Beach Dramaworks as anyone can ask for. Its virtues include superb direction, a flawless creative team and a wall-to-wall cast of actor-clowns willing to bury themselves inside the off-kilter and flawed characters.
When was the last time a musical slipped into your veins and rode your bloodstream for two hours? When did a musical speak so accurately of your own pain and longing that you knew you were not alone? With The Spitfire Grill, Palm Beach Dramaworks has gifted South Florida with one of the most heartfelt, moving evenings of musical theater in recent years.
If you hire strong voices as they did in MNM Theatre Company’s production, the venerable musical Grease cannot help but be entertaining with its elbow-nudging pastiche of faux late ‘50s-early ‘60s rock n’ roll. The challenge in which MNM doesn’t prevail is finding the difficult to locate tone for the script scenes because Grease is not simply a straight ahead comedy as it’s played here.
Broward Stage Door’s La Cage aux Folles stresses the universal virtues of love and loyalty, delivered with only a wry smile to acknowledge that its protagonists are an aging gay couple including one drag queen. While undeniably entertaining and featuring some rich voices, this edition is noticeably missing some of the pizzazz that the material requires to make it a memorable evening.
Woody Guthrie’s American Song is most decidedly a people’s musical, at least in its vivifying production at Palm Beach Dramaworks is more of a communal hoedown with Guthrie’s music as the soundtrack. Even the songs about poverty, death and hard living hide notes of hope, if we can only come together to find them.
MNM Theatre ’s Avenue Q, the musical comedy with foul-mouthed and copulating puppets, has never been as clearly about education as now. It’s the curriculum about coping with disappointment waiting in the real world.
The drolly hilarious Avenue Q, being given a “fine, fine” outing by MNM, is also imbued with a quiet sadness and accompanying sympathy for the loss of hopeful naiveté.
One pleasure of a theater critic’s job are these year-end retrospectives that require looking back at reviews and be reminded, “Oh, yeah, that was really great. And right, there was that. And how could I forget that one?”
When entering a theater playing a musical you’ve enjoyed numerous times, it’s comforting to open the playbill to find the names of proven talents that reassure that you and the material are in good hands. Names, for instance, like Mike Westrich, Bruce Linser, Mallory Newbrough, Paul Reekie and Jim Ballard – some of the dependable hands delivering a solid entertaining edition of the delightful Little Shop of Horrors from MNM Productions.