Thursday, April 5, 2012

Show reviews for the week of April 2, 2012

The Broward Stage Door Theatre presents The All night Strut! conceived by Fran Charnas, until April 29.  Directed by Dave Campbell and features: Danielle Famble, Christopher George Patterson, Rose Kathryn Ouellette, and Matthew Varelia.

Christine Dolen reviewed the show for Miami Herald 
Strut!’ stirs nostalgia at Stage Door

The All Night Strut!, a peppy and sometimes poignant musical revue featuring songs from the 1930s and ‘40s, had a blink-and-you-missed-it run when it debuted Off-Broadway in 1979. But the show, which features four performers and an onstage band, has found an ongoing audience in theaters all over the country. No surprise there: For folks who were young when those songs were written, Strut! is as memory-stirring as Jersey Boys is for Baby Boomers.

Conceived by Fran Charnas, the show is pure song-and-dance. There is no loose story, just songs about romance, deprivation, partying, courage, longing and more. Each set of lyrics creates its own world, suggesting the ache of sweethearts separated by war, Depression-era desperation, the enduring power of love.

Selling Strut! requires performers whose voices blend beautifully. They also need to shine on solos and handle dance styles ranging from swing to tap to Latin. The Stage Door cast fills all those bills, strutting and singing confidently alongside a three-piece onstage band led by musical director

 Bill Hirschman reviewed the show for Florida Theater On Stage
All Night Strut Will Transport Greatest Generation Patrons
If you think time machines are only found in science fiction, visit All Night Strut at Broward Stage Door and watch an audience of Greatest Generation grads be transported back 65 years to the marrow of their youth. Their feet tapped and their voices murmured along as four singer-dancers and three musicians wove drumhead-tight harmonies on nearly 30 standards of the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s.

This pure revue – no lines, no plot – may even sound better than the listeners remember because of the expressive, heartfelt performances of the cast.

For instance, Christopher George Patterson’s mournful rendition of “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime” brings out the pathos inherent in a Depression Era song that often is tossed away. Similarly, Rose Kathryn Ouellette’s “White Cliffs of Dover” becomes a wish for the restoration of a world that she knows will never return. Danielle Famble comes close to breaking hearts with “I’ll Be Seeing You” and Matthew Varelia does exactly that on “As Time Goes By.”

For a quartet of performers whose parents likely weren’t born when these songs were popular, they deliver the era’s optimism and energy from the very opening number, a driving “Chattanooga Choo Choo.”

Director Dave Campbell has given them fluid choreography as well. The four swing, swivel, sway and shimmy through both acts. While all of them move well, Patterson (a Stage Door alumni of The Hot Mikado and Five Guys Named Moe) is an audience favorite with his percussive tap dancing.

Zoetic Stage presents the world premiere of Moscow by Michael McKeever until April 15, 2012.  Directed by Stuart Meltzer and features: Tom Wahl, Elena Maria Garcia, Irene Adjan, Lela Elam, Margery Lowe, and Luis Restrepo.

Bill Hirschman reviewed the show for Florida Theater On Stage
Zoetic & McKeever’s Moscow Is Rich Comedy With a Heavy Load
Cuban refugees. Desegregation. Super highways. Bomb shelters. Air raids. The Cold War. JFK assassination. Overall disenchantment. This is the world of the Montefiore family, the early 1960s Coral Gables, and where South Florida playwright Michael McKeever sets his world premiere play, Moscow.

It’s a lot of info to pack into two hours and fifteen minutes, yet McKeever is able to keep his characters interesting enough that you buy in to the neurosis, paranoia and plain old sarcasm they deliver in this slice-of-life look into their daily lives.

Lorelei Montefiore Porter, played with just the right amount of acerbic edge by Irene Adjan, is the modern matriarch of the home. Pregnant with her fourth child, that doesn’t stop her from drinking umpteen Manhattans and Bloody Mary’s, sunning and chain smoking. “That baby is going to come out pickled,” remarks her live-in maid, Olivia (Lela Elam), who we’re told is like family to the Montefiores since she’s practically grown up with Lorelei and her sister, Lucy.

Lucy Montefiore (Margery Lowe), a singleton who jumps from one artistic endeavor to another, yet never really finds her place, is rehearsing for her latest venture, a role in a professional theater company’s production of Anton Chekhov’s The Three Sisters (it’s no coincidence that its Sisters, since there are some thin parallels to it throughout McKeever’s play).

The introduction of Lorelei’s husband, played by Tom Wahl, while necessary, takes the play into a spiral of Soviet angst and overdrawn political commentary. And while crucial to the family’s relationship, at times, it gets a bit too bulky.

Christine Dolen reviewed the show for Miami Herald 
‘Moscow’ is a Miami-made treasure
As with its terrific earlier production of Christopher Demos-Brown’s Carbonell Award-nominated Captiva, Zoetic is keeping it all in the family with Moscow, a must-see play in the Carnival Studio Theater at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

McKeever, like Demos-Brown, is one of the company’s two founding South Florida-based playwrights. Artistic director Stuart Meltzer has beautifully staged Moscow, as he did Captiva. And once again, Zoetic’s acting company and designers have collaborated to bring a wonderful new Florida story to life.

Fear, restlessness and unease in the face of a rapidly changing world are at the heart of Moscow, and those timeless emotions make the play utterly resonant to a contemporary audience.

Roger Martin Atca also reviewed the show for Miami ArtZine
Zoetic's Moscow at the Arsht Center - "The Sisters Hilarious"
Hooked to Anton Chekhov's The Three Sisters, Moscow has perfectly acerbic Irene Adjan as Lorelei, the older of two sisters, and, flitting and fluttering from man to man and art to art, Margery Lowe as younger sister Lucy. And the symbolic third sister? Devoted, defiant Lela Elam as Olivia, lifetime house maid and baby raiser to Lorelei.

The sisters live in a grand Coral Gables estate, they're third generation, and play out their story on Sean McClelland's realistic Spanish courtyard set. It's 1962, the Russians are coming, and Lorelei, heavily up the stump, is pouring down the Manhattans, puffing the cigs and knocking Lucy for being a hare-brained gadabout who goes out of her way to make everyone feel good. Olivia has just resigned to help her dying father run his little store in Overtown, raising Lorelei's blood pressure and making her meaner than a snake flailing preacher. So goody two-shoes Lucy comes to the rescue, offering the servant/slave services of her Cuban boy friend's refugee sister.

I've got to confess here that no matter how much I was enjoying Adjan, Elam and Lowe I was eagerly waiting for Elena Maria Garcia's entrance as Inez, the replacement maid. Consummate comedian Garcia made the wait worthwhile. Speaking no English, clanking with jewelry and not knowing the meaning of house work, much less ever having attempted it, she furiously fights a bucket of water and a long handled mop in an hilarious Texas death match, showing moves no lady should ever attempt.


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