Tag Archives: Stuart Meltzer
American Rhapsody, Michael McKeever’s sprawling premiere at Zoetic Stage, is a history play, a bildungsroman, a tribute to fluid families, a cautionary tale about where the zeitgeist might be headed. It spans more than 60 years and feels, perhaps like the American experiment itself.
Quite a come back year: World premieres, epic musicals, moving two-character dramas, you name it. Here’s not so much a “best of the year” list – no such list can be reliable or complete – but a random recognition of outstanding performances, productions, trends and just moments that theaterlovers will carry with them into 2023.
A tattoo of a sea serpent is playwright Lucas Hnath’s damning metaphor for the grip of ambition to the point that betrayal of anyone is an accepted expedient in the scathing Red Speedo from producer Ronnie Larsen at The Foundry. Using competitive sports as a milieu, Hnath depicts people willing to violate moral codes and personal loyalties in pursuit of the American Dream — as ingrained today as it was when Arthur Miller decried it in 1949.
Miami native Alexis Scheer’s Our Dear Dead Drug Lord, a stygian dark and terribly funny play about modern day adolescence executed by Zoetic Stage, is a stunning – a carefully chosen word – piece of pure theater. A scene can be downright hilarious then suddenly blood-chilling, and then, as the blood is still chilling, there are laugh lines.
Some of the most skilled theater artists in the region deliver a gloriously funny and moving celebration of the work of the finest musical theater genius of the 20th and 21st Century in Zoetic Stage’s do-not-miss-this production of Side by Side by Sondheim with more emotional depth and directorial touches than in any of the many other revues.
The concepts of home and homeland—especially when they are no longer the same place— have become even more complicated in the 21st Century for Cuban-Americans highlighted in Hannah Benitez’ world premiere GringoLandia commissioned by Zoetic Stage, a gentle comedy woven with the struggles of a past that no longer exists.
If Dickens’ opening line in A Tale of Two Cities has become a trite cliché through overuse it has become a painfully accurate truism about theater over the past two years, especially South Florida theater. Crippling loss and inspiring resurrection. Surrender and perseverance. And , now, the Covid threat has reasserted. But looking back on those two years delivers a testament worth celebrating and learning from.
The “horror” in Zoetic Stage’s Frankenstein shares little kinship with the film monster with bolts in his neck terrorizing the countryside or even the 1818 novel of science gone wrong. But a different very contemporary terror is there all the same from the breath-taking wordless prologue of a stitched together embryo clawing out of a pod to the silent final image of two bodies crawling through Arctic waste.
Fuácata! has been tweaked by star Elena Maria Garcia and director Stuart Meltzer with references to non-binary, Uber and “draining the swamp.” But the exuberantly hilarious and moving work from 2017 already had elements echoing the subsequent rise of #MeToo, hardening of ingrained bigotry, explosion of immigration crises, renewed uproar over Cuba and other topics. This production at Actors’ Playhouse is cause for celebration.
As live arts and entertainment return in fits and starts, and our culture continues its tortoise crawl toward normal, one thing has become apparent: Face masks may be vital in impeding the spread of COVID-19, but they equally hamper the spread of comedy. The debut of Zoetic Schmoetic showed the more physical the show becomes—the more the actors’ bodies, not their voices, drive the storytelling—the better it gets.