This will be another season of theater companies on the move, as a couple of Palm Beach County troupes invade Broward. Slow Burn expands to the Broward Center with a separate slate of shows from its productions in West Boca. Also helping to fill the Broward theater vacuum is Outré Theatre Co., which moves permanently in mid-season from Boca Raton to various black box spaces at the Broward Center.
The Wick Theatre (and Costume Museum) heads into its sophomore season after a successful, but uneven debut year, featuring another slate of major mainstream musicals, all accompanied by live music. The Maltz keeps challenging itself with a trio of epic musicals, creatively directed if its pattern from recent seasons continues.
Palm Beach Dramaworks opens its 15th season with more “theater to think about,” including a couple of Pulitzer winners and other modern classics. The Theatre at Arts Garage devotes its three mainstage productions to new works by women playwrights, and even Slow Burn gets into the Pulitzer business with its take on Rent.
Here, in sort of geographical order from north to south, is the production lineup for this coming season:
The Maltz Jupiter Theatre has made its reputation on musicals and for its 11th season, it will feature three Tony Award juggernauts. Innovative director choreographer Marcia Milgrom Dodge gets her hands on Fiddler on the Roof in its 50th anniversary year (Dec. 2-21), followed by the retelling of the Dorothy in Oz saga, The Wiz (Jan. 13-Feb. 1), and the epic French classic set amid student uprisings, Les Misérables (March 10-April 5). The Maltz season also includes two plays – Larry Shue’s clever farce The Foreigner (Oct. 26-Nov. 9) and David Mamet’s foul-mouthed take on the real estate game, Glengarry Glen Ross (Feb. 8-22).
To celebrate its 15th season, Palm Beach Dramaworks opens with Thornton Wilder’s tribute to community, Pulitzer-winner Our Town (Oct. 10-Nov. 9), with a large cast of players who have appeared on its stages over the years. Next is Israel Horovitz’s much-produced My Old Lady (Dec. 5-Jan. 4), the tale of an inherited Paris apartment that comes with an immovable tenant – played here by Oscar winner Estelle Parsons. Vicious seduction games are the focus of Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Jan. 30-March 1), followed by Sam Shepard’s enigmatic, but Pulitzer-winning yarn of homecoming, Buried Child (March 27-April 26) and the concert-cum-biography of blues great Billie Holiday, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill (May 15-June 14).
In Manalapan, two of the Plaza Theatre’s scheduled productions are standouts, its season opener, the non-verbal Exceptions to Gravity (Oct. 16-Nov. 2), featuring New Age Vaudevillian Avner Eisenberg, and Richard Greenberg’s Upper West Side family drama, The Assembled Parties (Jan. 15-Feb. 8), a Pulitzer finalist that should have won the prize last year. Also on the Plaza schedule are such familiar favorites as Forever Plaid (Nov. 6-23), Bock and Harnick’s romantic valentine, She Loves Me (Dec. 4-28) and “the other” version of the Beauty and Beast Gothic love story, Phantom (Feb. 19-March 22) with a score by Maury Yeston (Nine, Titanic). Capping the season will be a world premiere dance musical, That’s Ballroom! (April 9-26).
Former Florida Stage artistic director Lou Tyrrell is still trying to attract an adventuresome audience to his new venture within the Delray Beach operation, Arts Garage, nestled below a city car park. He has an attention-getting season for his Theatre at Arts Garage, dubbed A Celebration of Women’s Voices, consisting of three new scripts: The How and the Why by Sarah Treem (Nov. 7-30), about two female biologists with clashing views of evolution, feminism and generational attitudes; I and You by Lauren Gunderson (Jan. 16-Feb. 8), about two high schoolers with little in common, brought together by a project on poet Walt Whitman; and Allison Gregory’s Uncertain Terms (March 6-29), about a divorced couple’s skirmish over a real estate transaction.
Not to be outdone, the Delray Beach Center for the Arts, which has had many touring shows in the Crest Theatre, marks its 25th anniversary with the first musical it has produced itself: Michael Bennett’s A Chorus Line, the story of a group of dancers auditioning for a new production. Kimberly Dawn Smith, a former Broadway cast member, will direct, and Evan Farrar will direct Marvin Hamlisch’s score. (Dec. 5-14)
In its second season, Boca Raton’s Wick Theatre is answering its audience’s request for all musicals, preferably with star headliners. So the company is bringing in Leslie Uggams to play the title eccentric Beekman Place auntie in Jerry Herman’s Mame (Dec. 4-Dec. 28) and flamboyant Lee Roy Reams as drag queen Zaza in La Cage aux Folles (Jan. 8-Feb. 15), also with a score by Herman. Dance is in the spotlight for the season opener, Swing! (Oct. 23-Nov. 16), a jukebox revue of period jumpin’ and jivin’. Also on the bill is the tribute to quixotic optimism, Man of La Mancha (Feb. 26-March 28), the original collaboration between Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, that salute to Sooner values, Oklahoma! (April 2-May 3), and the winking, tap-dancing Hollywood spoof, Dames at Sea (May 7-31).
Slow Burn Theatre, now six years old, continues its investigation of underappreciated musicals with that infamous flop Carrie (Oct. 16-Nov. 2), based on the Stephen King novel about a telekinetic teen. Another commercial failure in New York, Frank Wildhorn’s Bonnie and Clyde (Jan. 22-Feb. 8), sings of two young, sexy Depression-era bank robbers. The other two shows on Slow Burn’s schedule are hardly unknown commodities, just favorites of artistic director Patrick Fitzwater – Jonathan Larson’s update of Puccini’s La Bohème in the era of AIDS, Rent (April 9-26), and the tongue-in-cheek adaptation of the Roger Corman sci-fi flick on man-eating plants, Little Shop of Horrors (June 5-28).
Those all play at the group’s West Boca high school home, but in addition Slow Burn moves to the Broward Center with two audience-friendly shows, The Marvelous Wonderettes (Oct. 2-Nov. 23), a four-part harmony girl group from the’50s, and William Finn’s 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Feb. 26-April 19), self-explanatory from the title.
The Boca Raton Theatre Guild has two productions slated for the Willow Theatre in Sugar Sand Park, a musical search for self-discovery called Everyday Rapture (Nov. 7- 23) and Tuesdays with Morrie (Feb. 27-March 15), about sportwriter Mitch Albom’s weekly talk sessions with his terminally ill mentor. Also performing in Boca is Parade Productions, whose only offering will be Holly Arsenault’s Undo (Jan. 29-March 1), an offbeat look at an unusual divorce.
Evening Star Productions is a new adult offshoot of Sol Children’s Theatre in Boca. In its intimate storefront space, it will be producing the Pulitzer-winning The Gin Game (Feb. 26-March 15), the macabre cartoonish The Addams Family (April 16-May 3) and the forward-backwards disintegrating love story, The Last 5 Years (July 16-Aug. 2).
This fall, Evening Star hosts Outré Theatre Co. with its provocative production of Yussef El Guindi’s Back of the Throat (Oct. 24-Nov. 9), a dramatic look at post-9/11 security versus personal rights. Then Outré moves to the Broward Center’s Abdo New River Room, producing Shakespeare’s tragedy of envy, Othello (Dec. 5-21) and the anti-historic rock musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (May).
Coming off a triumphant year at the Carbonell Awards, Fort Lauderdale’s Island City Stage has a three-play season focused on its LGBT agenda. First up is POZ (Oct. 23-Nov. 23), a new comedy about an HIV-positive man trying to negotiate the health care system of a decade ago, followed by Octopus (Jan. 29-March 1), concerning a young gay couple and the consequences of a night of group sex. Island City’s season concludes with Douglas Carter Beane’s comedy The Little Dog Laughed (April 16-May 16), about a gay movie star and his savvy agent’s efforts to keep him closeted.
Coral Gables’ GableStage has announced another provocative season of new works and recent New York hits. It opens with Joshua Harmon’s Bad Jews (Nov. 22-Dec. 21), a comedy about the grandchildren of a recently deceased Holocaust survivor bickering over his property. Next is Choir Boy (Jan. 24-Feb. 22) by Miami’s own Tarrell Alvin McCraney, a drama of a black prep school student who faces unexpected consequences when he announces that he is gay. Then there is David Ives’ latest play, New Jerusalem (March 28-April 26), set in 17th-century Amsterdam, where young philosopher Spinoza is put on trial to defend his atheism. And artistic director Joseph Adler has snagged the performance rights to Harvey Fierstein’s recent Tony-nominated play Casa Valentina (May 30-June 26), set at a rundown Catskills bungalow colony which serves as a haven for straight men to dress and act as women.
Miami’s Zoetic Stage has a three-play season, beginning with Lisa D’Amour’s Detroit (Nov. 6-23), a tale of the suburbs where new neighbors threaten the lives of the couple next door. Trust by Paul Weitz (March 5-29) examines the unfulfilled life of a rich Internet entrepreneur whose world is turned upside down by a trip to an S&M club. The group’s third offering is Nobel laureate Harold Pinter’s Betrayal (May 14-31), his chronologically unconventional play off love and deception.
Finally, we loop back up north to consider the Broadway series of South Florida’s three major performing arts centers. West Palm Beach’s Kravis Center begins Nov. 11-16 with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, the classic rags-to-royalty fairy tale with a few musical twists. Next is the profane and nutty The Book of Mormon (Dec. 16-21), an already hard-to-get ticket, followed by Flashdance (Jan. 27-Feb. 1), the screen-to-stage adaptation off the female steelworker and dancer wannabe. The Tony-winning revival of Anything Goes (March 10-15) has a smart, sassy score by Cole Porter, vastly different from the rhythm and blues of Memphis (April 7-12), a musical explosion with a by-the-way plot about passion and ambition. The Kravis on Broadway season concludes with Pippin (April 28-May 3), the story of the son of King Charlemagne, staged by Diane Paulus inside a three-ring circus.
The Broward Center’s Broadway in Fort Lauderdale features two and three-week runs of such re-runs as Annie (Oct. 7-19), Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera (Nov. 9-30) and The Lion King (Jan.7-Feb. 1). New to the center is Motown (Feb. 24-March 8), the saga of the rise of the Motor City sound, and a couple of shows that overlap with the Kravis: Pippin (March 31-April 12) and Anything Goes (May 5-17).
The Arsht Center has its Broadway in Miami with its own Kravis overlaps – Cinderella (Oct. 28-Nov. 2) and The Book of Mormon (Dec. 2-14). New to the region is Disney’s Newsies (Feb. 3-8), a high-stepping tale of newsboys and their labor dispute, and another go-round for Sister Act (April 14-19), a tale of singing, dancing nuns and not very smart gangsters.