Keith Garsson bounces back with a sexy season of Primal Forces, Palm Beach Dramaworks produces two world premieres, Slow Burn serves up its first non-musical and in case you haven’t had enough inclement weather this hurricane season, The Wick promises to make it rain inside its theater. All in all, it looks like a promising 2017-18 at area stages. Here’s a preview, in geographic order, from north to south:
The award-winning Maltz Jupiter Theatre is busy raising $25-$30 million for a major expansion, but meanwhile it will offer up its usual mix of plays – Born Yesterday (Oct. 29- Nov. 12) and An Inspector Calls (Feb. 4- 18) – and major musicals- Disney’s Newsies (Nov. 28- Dec. 17), Hairspray (Jan. 9- 28) and South Pacific (March 6 -25).
Palm Beach Dramaworks dusts off a few American classics, like Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes (Oct. 20-Nov. 12), Ernest Thompson’s On Golden Pond (Feb. 2-25) and Peter Shaffer’s Equus (May 18-June 3). But the big news is the West Palm troupe is putting an emphasis on new works, with Billy and Me (Dec. 8-31), a look at the turbulent friendship of William Inge and Tennessee Williams, written by Terry Teachout, and Joseph McDonough’s Edgar and Emily (March 31-April 22), a fictional meeting of Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson.
Across town at the Kravis Center, its Broadway series kicks off with Bart Sher’s revival of The King & I (Nov. 7-12), followed by the deliciously profane The Book of Mormon (Nov. 21-26), still a hot ticket in New York after six years. Next up is the musical tale of how J.M. Barrie came to write Peter Pan, Finding Neverland (Jan. 2-7) and Cabaret (Feb. 6-11), the Kander and Ebb Kit Kat Club musical.
If magic is your thing, you are bound to like the off-Broadway hit, The Illusionists (March 6-11) and movie fans might be drawn to a stage version of the Kevin Costner-Whitney Houston film, The Bodyguard (April 10-15). The Broadway season at the performing arts center finishes with the laugh-filled Something Rotten! (May 1-6), about a pair of hapless Elizabethan brothers who try to compete with Shakespeare. MNM Productions is the resident company of the Kravis’s Rinker Playhouse, offering a season of two musicals, Jerry Herman’s La Cage aux Folles (Oct. 6-22) and Little Shop of Horrors, the man-eating plant show, Dec. 1-17.
Boca Raton’s Wick Theatre keeps chugging along on willpower and executive director Marilynn Wick’s checkbook. She shares her affection for the cult musical The Drowsy Chaperone in the season’s lead-off spot (Oct. 19-Nov. 12), followed by the rom-com She Loves Me (Nov. 24-Dec. 23), a favorite of the late Michael Hall, to whom it is dedicated. Storm fans will want to see the intentional onstage deluge of Singin’ in the Rain (Jan. 11-Feb. 18) and bagpipe fans will be eager for the classic Lerner and Loewe musical, Brigadoon (March 8-April 8). The Wick again concludes its season with a revue; this time it will be Jerry’s Girls (April 19-May 13), the Jerry in this case being Herman.
On the FAU campus in Boca, Lou Tyrrell continues his affection for new plays, rolling out three comedies of consequence in the third season of his Theatre Lab. National Public Radio’s Peter Sagal returns to his playwriting roots with a multi-generational South Florida yarn, Most Wanted (Dec. 1-17). Lauren Gunderson takes us back in time with The Revolutionists (Feb. 9-25), set during the French Revolution, while prolific Deborah Zoe Laufer spins a very contemporary story, Be Here Now (April 6-22) about the current employment crisis.
Fort Lauderdale’s Broward Center has its own Broadway series featuring two area exclusives of Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals, Love Never Dies (Nov. 7-19), the sequel to Phantom of the Opera, and The School of Rock (Dec. 12-24), an adaptation of the Jack Black movie. The series begins with perennial favorite The Sound of Music (Oct. 10-22), followed by the witty 2014 Tony winner, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder (Jan. 9-21), and two hit shows currently on Broadway, Wicked (Feb. 14-March 4) and Waitress (April 11-22). The Broward’s season ends with one of the most popular jukebox musicals of all time, Jersey Boys (May 8-20), about the rise and fall of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
Meanwhile, in more intimate venues of the Broward Center, the quirky Slow Burn Theatre Co. continues giving itself challenges, producing the bungee cord jungle musical, Disney’s Tarzan (Oct. 19-Nov. 5), the delicate The Secret Garden (Dec. 14-31), The Bridges of Madison County (Jan. 18-Feb. 4), underappreciated in New York despite its Tony wins, the spoofy Disaster! (Feb. 5-18) and the soulful Memphis (March 22-April 8). Early in its season, Slow Burn offers its first non-musical, the Peter Pan prequel Peter and the Star Catcher (Nov. 9-26).
Keith Garsson, whose tenure ended abruptly at The Arts Garage, gets back in the saddle reviving his dormant Primal Forces company in Lauderdale with a season that emphasizes sex. (Does he know how to sell tickets or what?) He begins with a “future dystropian tragedy” called The Good Girl (Oct. 13-29), then Roz and Ray, a tale of two lesbians on an arc from 1976 to 1991 (Jan. 26-Feb. 11). The gem of the season might be the world premiere of a solo performance piece by actress-singer-composer Phoebe Legere (Feb. 9-23). Then there’s Girl Play Too (March 9-23), a series of short plays by and about women, and An Accident (May 4-20), about a car crash victim and her unexpected relationship with the man who hit her. Primal Forces will be bouncing back and forth between Andrews Living Arts space and Empire Stage.
Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables opens its 30th anniversary season by doubling down on the Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical, Evita, about the controversial Eva Peron, first in English (Oct. 25-Nov. 26), then in Spanish (Nov. 30-Dec. 17). Next is that British backstage comedy of errors, Noises Off (Jan. 17-Feb. 4) followed by the Irish rom-com Once (Feb. 28-March 25) and a return engagement of the Presley-Cash-Lewis-Perkins jam session, Million Dollar Quartet (May 9-June 24).
Celebrating its 20th anniversary is GableStage at the Biltmore in Coral Gables, which has snagged the area premiere of the Tony Award winner The Humans (Oct. 7-Nov. 5) about a family that is — what else? — dysfunctional. Speaking of sex, next up is Becoming Dr. Ruth (Nov. 25-Dec. 23), a one-woman play about the famed pint-sized sex therapist. Then there’s If I Forget (Feb. 3-March 4), about a Jewish-American family — right, dysfunctional — written by Steven Levenson, Tony winner for the book of Dear Evan Hansen. Next at GableStage is Gloria (April 7-May 6), about a group of ambitious editorial assistants at a New York magazine, followed by Halley Feiffer’s father-daughter play I’m Gonna Pray for You So Hard (June 9-July 8).
Finally, there is the Arsht Center in Miami, the road host to the Gloria Estefan bio-musical On Your Feet! (Oct. 5-15), Book of Mormon (Nov. 28-Dec. 3), Finding Neverland (Dec. 26-31), The Color Purple (Feb. 27-March 4) and the inevitable Chicago (May 8-13).