Tag Archives: Elijah Word
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.
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.
This familiar musical revue of Broadway legend Jerry Herman’s hits and misses, Jerry’s Girls, has been reimagined for the Wick theatre by Herman’s buddy Lee Roy Reams and performed by a company including Susan Anton. Like Herman’s repertoire, this Jerry Girls struggles with the same delicate balance of hits and misses.
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.
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?”
If producers mount the musical Dreamgirls, it’s a given that they have hired as Effie some astounding young diva capable of punching a hole in the back of the auditorium with her melisma. Indeed, Broward Stage Door has the Cat 5 voice of Sarah Gracel to headline this 35-year-old rousing examination about the interplay of fame, pop music, racism and the dangers of pursuing the American Dream.
For a show that shattered a ceiling in 1983, La Cage aux Folles has become a warhorse in 2017. MNM Productions’ edition embraces the spangles, glitz and sheer Jerry Herman of it all. So if you haven’t seen it in a while, this is an entertaining reminder. What sets this apart is how it emphasizes the heart rather than the heat – and that’s a welcome emphasis for those who may have seen this classic once too often.
The skill, power and imagination that Kevin Black, Ben Bagby and their colleagues have invested make Swing! Swing! Swing! as good or better than any other revue that Broward Stage Door has produced. back in time.