Last season, he moved a little further south to the campus of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, still introducing new plays but, with uncharacteristic caution, only in a staged reading format. Now, at his so-called Theatre Lab, Tyrrell has announced a three-play season of fully produced scripts by playwrights he has introduced to the region over the years.
With a tip of her hat to Anton Chekhov, as well as to Samuel Beckett, Deborah Zoe Laufer unveils her Three Sisters of Weehawken (Oct. 20-Nov. 6), with direction by the author. Next up is the prolific Steven Dietz (Lonely Planet, Yankee Tavern) with his new comedy of serendipity and missed connections, This Random World (Dec. 1-18). And keeping it in the family, Theatre Lab’s third slot goes to Dietz’s wife, Allison Gregory (Uncertain Terms), whose latest work, Motherland (Jan. 27-Feb. 12), looks at a woman juggling her wayward children and managing an equally precarious food truck business.
Meanwhile, at the top of Palm Beach County and the top of the theatrical pecking order is the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. Busy raising $25 million for a major expansion, it also has an ambitious season ahead. It begins with The Audience by Peter Morgan (Oct. 23-Nov. 6), a fictional chronicle of Queen Elizabeth’s weekly meetings with her prime ministers. The Maltz season also includes three major musicals, Me and My Girl (Nov. 29-Dec. 18), The Producers (Jan. 10-28) and Gypsy (March 21-April 9). The schedule also boasts a challenging Pulitzer Prize-winning drama of culture clashes, Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced (Feb. 12-26).
Musicals are also the draw for the Kravis Center’s 25th anniversary season, which expands its Kravis on Broadway series to seven shows. But the hidden gem is the season opener, the Tony-laden drama The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Nov. 15- 20), an emotional roller coaster about an autistic teen who fancies himself a sleuth. Direct from Broadway is the dance-based An American in Paris (Dec. 6-11), the perpetually on tour Dirty Dancing (Jan. 3- 8), the Carole King songbook/biography, Beautiful (Feb. 1- 5) and the new look Phantom of the Opera (March 23-April 1). Also in the series is Tony winner Kinky Boots (April 18-23), which features a score by Cyndi Lauper, and the final collaboration of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, The Sound of Music (May 9-14).Palm Beach Dramaworks continues to produce challenging plays, with an added emphasis this season on contemporary writers. The West Palm Beach company opens with Tennessee Williams’s final major work, The Night of the Iguana (Oct. 14-Nov. 13), followed by Jay Presson Allen’s Tru (Dec. 2-Jan. 1), a dishy visit with Truman Capote, or at least a gregarious stand-in.
Donald Margulies’ Collected Stories (Feb. 3-March 5) looks at a veteran novelist and her protegée in a struggle over literary rights, followed by Arcadia (March 31-April 30), a cerebral and emotional tale by Tom Stoppard that spans two centuries and, finally, Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan, a dark comedy about a handicapped young man who sees a chance for escape from his bleak existence when a film crew arrives in his village.
Keith Garsson did such a good job running the theater side of the Arts Garage’s programming that he was elevated to be the Delray Beach complex’s director of operations. Still, that leaves him enough time to put together another season of edgy, as well as kinky, stage productions. Certainly that describes The Mystery of Love and Sex (Oct. 1- 30), a multi-generational comedy of shifting mores. It will be followed by Cuddles (Nov. 13-Dec. 11) by Joseph Wilde, a contemporary gothic tale about a teenage girl with a dark secret.
Avery Sommers was such a hit last season in The Devil’s Music that she has been brought back, to star in another revusical, Blues in the Night (Jan. 21- Feb. 19), featuring the music and lyrics of Duke Ellington, Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer and Vernon Duke. The Arts Garage ends its theater season with Breadcrumbs (March 11-April 9) by Jennifer Haley, a supernatural thriller involving a reclusive fiction writer. If these plays sound like they would drive you to drink, you will be pleased to know the Garage’s bring-your-own policy will now be extended to its Black Box Theatre, too.
Boca’s Wick Theatre likes to feature a mix of local talent and nationally recognized names. For its season opener, They’re Playing Our Song (Oct. 13-Nov. 6), about an unlikely romance between a composer and a lyricist, the company is importing a Broadway ringer, Andrea McArdle. For those who find nuns funny, there is Sister Act (Nov. 25-Dec. 23), a musical adaptation of the Whoopi Goldberg film concerning a wannabe disco diva forced to take refuge in a convent.
Next at the Wick are a couple of classic musicals – West Side Story (Jan. 12- Feb. 26) and Guys and Dolls (March 9- April 9) – followed by Beehive: The 60s Musical in the revue slot (April 20-May 14).
Broward Stage Door’s two stages will be busy this season. On its mainstage will be the Cy Coleman-Dorothy Fields-Neil Simon musical Sweet Charity (Nov. 4-Dec. 11) followed by Frank Loesser’s operatic The Most Happy Fella (Dec. 30-Feb. 5). Its second stage kicks off the season with a couple of revues, the self-explanatory Swing! Swing! Swing! (Oct. 7-Nov. 20) and the nostalgic Vegas: A Night on the Strip (Dec. 9-Jan. 22), complete with cover versions of the town’s icons.
Back in Theater 2 is a new comedy with a decided Jewish flavor, The Bris, the Bar Mitzvah and Beyond (Feb. 10-March 26), then a murder mystery musical by Douglas J. Cohen, No Way to Treat a Lady (April 14-May 28). Theater 1 is reserved for more mainstream fare, like the Danny Kaye biography, The Kid From Brooklyn (Feb. 24-April 9), and large-cast musicals, such as Maury Yeston’s Nine (April 28-June 11). Busy, busy.
City Island Stage has settled in comfortably in its Wilton Manors playhouse, producing works with gay and lesbian themes. Their season begins with Perfect Arrangement (Nov. 10-Dec. 11), about two gay State Department employees in the paranoid 1950s and their elaborate scheme to avoid being outed. Next is Michael Leeds’ The First Step: Diary of a Sex Addict (Jan. 12-Feb. 12), concerning a gay sexaholic’s journey toward recovery, followed by Son (April 6-May 7) by J.L. Beller, which looks at the son of a lesbian couple whose arrest for date rape disrupts his parents’ marriage plans.
Over at the Broward Center, Slow Burn Theatre Co. will present four musicals with the emphasis on offbeat and epic. The troupe is particularly proud of snagging the area premiere of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Oct. 20-Nov. 6), based on the Disney animated film, but with a much augmented score by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. They don’t get much bigger than Titanic (Jan. 16-Feb. 5), the tale of the doomed ocean liner, or more folksy than Big River (March 16-April 2), the Huck Finn musical with a Roger Miller score. Slow Burn wraps its season with Aida (April 20-May 5), the Elton John-Tim Rice rock take on the Egyptian romance opera.
Across the plaza, in the Broward Center’s Au-Rene Theatre, its Broadway series has two South Florida exclusives – the broadly comic Elizabethan farce Something Rotten! (March 21-April 7) and Finding Neverland (June 13-25), about how J.M. Barrie came to write Peter Pan. Others on the schedule include frequent returnees Rent (Oct. 7-9), Cabaret (Dec. 13-25) and Mamma Mia! (May 19-21). Less exposed musicals include Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Dec. 13-25), The Little Mermaid (Feb. 22-March 5), another Disney transfer from animated screen to stage, and Matilda, the Musical (April 25-May 7), about the revenge of the bookworm with terrible parents.
Coral Gables’ Actors’ Playhouse sets its sights on the early days of rock ‘n’ roll with its season opener, Million Dollar Quartet (Oct. 19-Jan. 1), about a fabled recording session among the young Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Next up is the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic Carousel (Feb. 1-26), then the Lyndon Johnson biography by Robert Schenkkan, focused on his arm-twisting passage of the Civil Rights Act, All the Way (March 22-April 9). Brought back from the Broadway graveyard is the short-lived wedding musical, It Shoulda Been You (May 17-June 11) and Michael McKeever’s Finding Mona Lisa (July 12-Aug. 13), an examination of the history of the world’s most famous painting.Also headquartered in Coral Gables is Joe Adler’s GableStage, which often looks to New York for its season picks. A recent Broadway cult favorite, Hand to God (Oct. 1-30), features a satanic sock puppet with a mind of its own, followed by An Act of God (Nov. 19-Dec. 18), a comic monologue by the Big Guy, answering life’s deepest questions. Next is the 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner, Stephen Adly Guirgis’s Between Riverside and Crazy (Jan. 21-Feb. 19), about a retired New York cop facing eviction.
Sarah Burgess writes of those who shape and skew the American economy in Dry Powder (March 25-April 23), followed by The Legend of Georgia McBride (May 27-June 25) by Matthew Lopez, the tale of a recently fired Elvis impersonator who switches to an act as a drag queen. Lastly, for this season at least, is Laufer’s Informed Consent (July 29-August 27), an up-to-the-minute drama about science versus belief.
At the Arsht Center in Miami, Zoetic Stage is readying an eclectic season, beginning with another McKeever world premiere, After (Oct. 27-Nov. 13), pitting the family of the victim of a violent death against the family of the accused. Zoetic has become increasingly adept at producing musicals, particularly those by Stephen Sondheim, whose well they go to again with Sunday in the Park with George (Jan. 19-Feb. 12), contrasting pointillist painter Georges Seurat and a possible contemporary descendant.
For its third show, artistic director Stuart Meltzer collaborates with comic genius Elena Maria Garcia on Fuacata! (Feb. 23-March 12), a Latina’s guide to surviving the universe. In extreme contrast, the group reaches into the trunk of Nobel laureate Harold Pinter for The Caretaker (March 30-April 16), a dark clash between two brothers and a mysterious stranger.
The Arsht Center, too has a Broadway season, which has a lot of overlap with the Kravis season, like Dirty Dancing (Nov. 29-Dec. 4), An American in Paris (Dec. 27-Jan. 1) and Beautiful (Feb. 14-19). Its one exclusive is its season opener, The Illusionists (Oct. 11-16), a high-tech, gee-whiz magic show. Also on the bill is — leapin’ lizards! – Annie (March 3-5), Jersey Boys (April 4-9), the Tony-winning Four Seasons jukebox musical, and a road company of the recent Broadway revival of The King and I (May 9-14).
Sounds like there is enough here this season to meet everyone’s tastes.