Tag Archives: Shelley Keelor
Many artists define themselves by a calling that relies on faith that their art form will always be there. But in 2020, the foundation of their sense of who they were and what they believed made their lives worthwhile vanished. They were forced into introspection about the primacy of their profession and their art in their lives. Here, they reveal what they learned about South Florida theater and especially themselves.
A look back at 2020: Yes, South Florida theater was crippled by the pandemic. But its acolytes remained driven to express their artistry, and patrons remained ravenous for their work. They continued to explore projects, create avenues and seek paychecks with efforts ranged from filmed full-fledged productions to monologues newly penned in bedrooms.
MNM Theatre Company’s filmed cyber-distributed pandemic production of Closer Than Ever needs no excuses, no politely lowered expectations. Just as it would if produced live in an intimate venue, this effort mesmerizes and moves with the emotional power of performers acting this song cycle rather than performing them as if they were in a cabaret setting.
It’s not lost on anyone as these Florida actors sing ardent songs to each other — separated by six feet of stage — that the musical they are filming is titled Closer Than Ever. It’s impossible to ignore that resonance in MNM Theatre Company’s production currently being edited for online streaming release Nov. 27-Dec. 31.
With exploratory baby steps, South Florida theater companies are staging events: A cut-down Hamlet by the Shakespeare Troupe, a filmed full production of Closer Than Ever by MNM, and Patti LuPone in a livestreamed concert for the Broward Center.
Plenty of laughter, and quite a few tears, punctuate the dramatic comedy, or comic drama, if you prefer in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City, receiving an energetic, perceptive production directed by Keith Garsson at Primal Forces in Boca Raton.
Tight choreography, outstanding leads, a solid supporting cast and a fluid band infuse Slow Burn Theatre’s trip to Memphis. The rousing production hits the ground running in the opening scene set in a black nightclub in Memphis’ Beale Street area and doesn’t slow down until the last “Na, na, na, na” of the ovation.
Homicidal rage against a corrupt world spews into the audience in Palm Beach Dramaworks’ Sweeney Todd. But its singular spin is that the serial throat-slitting barber does not start as a vengeance-obsessed fiend. It it adds a dimension of, not forgiveness, but compassion to this cross between gleeful Grand Guignol and merciless condemnation of socio-economic inequity.
Beehive, yet another innocuous transitorily entertaining revue tracing music sung by women through the 1960s, highlights, intentionally or not, one trenchant observation. The same early Baby Boomers who started the decade enthusiastically singing along to Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party” ended up wailing with Janis Joplin’s “Cry Baby.”
What do Cabaret, Chicago, Fun Home, Almost Maine and Angels in America have in common? Somebody somewhere has banned their production at some point. To push back, Zoetic Stage and the Dramatists’ Guild Legal Defense Fund with the Adrienne Arsht Center is producing a free staged reading of Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret at 7 p.m. Monday at the Carnival Studio Theater at the Arsht Center.