Now that the COVID 19 pandemic is in the rearview mirror – we hope – South Florida’s theaters are looking ahead to their first full season of productions in several years. So below is a look at what is scheduled, taken in geographic order from north to south, from Jupiter to Coral Gables.
Last season, the Maltz Jupiter Theatre was hit with a double whammy of COVID and construction woes, which caused the postponement of a couple of highly anticipated shows. Back on the expanded playhouse’s roster are the jukebox bioshow, Jersey Boys (Oct. 25-Nov. 13) and the Cy Coleman-Dorothy Fields-Neil Simon musical based loosely on Federico Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria, Sweet Charity (Jan. 10–29). The Maltz’s season includes as well the Charles Dickens-inspired Oliver! (March 14-April 2) and the dark comedy Good People (Feb. 12-26).
Also heavy into musicals is the Kravis Center’s Broadway series. It kicks off this fall with the Gloria Estefan high-stepping biography, On Your Feet (Nov. 15-20), followed by the magic carpet ride show, Disney’s Aladdin (Dec. 14-23). The 2019 Tony winner for Best Musical, Anais Mitchell’s Hadestown, a retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, takes the stage Jan. 3-8. Next are a couple of stage adaptations of popular movies, Tootsie (Feb. 7-12) and Pretty Woman (March 7-12), and a two-week return engagement of the Wizard of Oz prequel, Wicked (March 29-April 9). The Kravis series concludes with the Motown sounds of Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations (April 26-30).
The Kravis Rinker Playhouse hosts the touring classical Aquila Theatre Company for a brief three-day residency, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (Jan. 20-21) and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (Jan. 22). MNM Theatre Company also plays the Rinker (May 9-28) with the tongue-in-cheek musical comedy Disenchanted, a revisionist look at familiar fairy tale princesses. Earlier in the season, MNM can be found at Boca Raton’s Willow Theatre performing The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Dec. 2-18) and the R-rated puppet musical, Avenue Q (April 14-30).
Nearby in West Palm Beach is Palm Beach Dramaworks, which begins its 22th season with Amy Herzog’s 4000 Miles (Oct. 14-20), about the relationship between a 91-year-old grandmother and her grandson. It is followed by Reginald Rose’s classic jury drama, Twelve Angry Men (Dec. 9-24) and The Science of Leaving Omaha (Feb. 3-19), a world premiere comic drama by Carter Lewis set in a Nebraska funeral home. PBD’s season concludes with a pair of Pulitzer Prize winners, Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County (March 31-April 16), the chronicle of a contentious family reunion, and Topdog Underdog (May 26-June 11), Suzan-Lori Parks’ tale of sibling rivalry between two African-American brothers.
In a Boca Raton storefront is Boca Stage (formerly Primal Forces), which brings offbeat, little-known plays to South Florida, like The Thin Place (Nov. 3-20), Lucas Hnath’s drama about the fragile boundary between this world and the next. Then it is time for Time Alone (Jan. 3-23), about two victims of the criminal justice system and their unexpected connection, and Grand Horizons (Feb. 9-26), the tale of a couple celebrating their 50th anniversary by getting a divorce. The season closer is an oddly conventional choice, Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple (Female Version) (March 11-April 2), now with Florence and Olive getting on each other’s nerves.
A little further south in Boca is The Wick Theatre, which traffics in mainstream musicals. Its season opener is Milk and Honey (Oct. 13-Nov. 6), featuring Avi Hoffman in Jerry Herman’s first Broadway show, then Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Nov. 25-Dec, 24) and Cole Porter’s shipboard romp, Anything Goes (Jan. 12-Feb. 12). Postponed from last season is that devilish baseball musical, Damn Yankees (March 2-April 2), followed by Million Dollar Quartet (April 20-May 14), a fictional jam session with a young Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash.
On the Florida Atlantic University campus is Theatre Lab, a small, adventurous company specializing in new and nearly new plays. Its eighth season features a pair of world premieres: Dorothy’s Dictionary (Nov. 19-Dec. 11), about an unexpected friendship formed by community service required reading, and Last Night in Inwood (Jan. 28-Feb. 12), the tale of a diverse group huddled in a one-room apartment after a major disaster hits Manhattan. The Lab’s season ends with a shared National New Play Network “rolling world premiere” of Refuge (April 8-23), magic realism meets the immigration crisis.
Moving into Broward County, we find Wilton Manors’ Island City Stage, a company devoted to plays of LGBTQ themes. Their season opens with a light touch, Pageant (Oct. 20-Nov. 20), a gender-bent beauty pageant. Next is the drama Rotterdam (Jan. 9-Feb. 9), about the relationship between a lesbian and a woman transgendering to a man. The group’s third show is called I Wanna F&%#ing Tear You Apart (March 2-April 2), a tale of friendship as incendiary as its attention-getting title, followed by Tracy Jones (May 19-June 18), about a woman who throws a party for like-named guests.
Fort Lauderdale’s Empire Stage both produces its own shows and hosts other companies. An example of the former is Misery (Oct. 7-30), William Goldman’s stage adaptation of the Stephen King novella about a romance novelist and his overly devoted fan. Then in comes the Pigs Do Fly company, whose mission is to produce plays that showcase actors aged 50+, like those in The Savannah Sipping Society (Nov. 4-20), about a gaggle of Southern gals who bond over cocktails, and The Cemetery Pub (March 3-19), Tom Dugan’s dark comedy of a tavern adjacent to a burial site. Hmm, do you sense an alcohol theme keeping the pigs airborne?
There is a slate of seven shows in the Broward Center’s Broadway series, beginning with Six (Oct. 11-23), a consciously anachronistic rock concert among the wives of England’s King Henry VIII. Next is a return engagement of the much-in-demand Hamilton (Nov. 22-Dec. 11), the hip-hop history of our Founding Fathers, and a more contemporary biography, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical (Jan. 17-29). It is followed by the umpteenth return of Kander and Ebb’s cynical, criminal Chicago (Feb. 14-19), and the area premiere of Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird (March 28-April 9), with Richard Thomas as Atticus Finch. The season ends with a couple of film-to-stage transfers, Mean Girls (May 2-9) and Beetlejuice (June 13-25).
In the Broward Center’s second stage, the Amaturo, its resident company – Slow Burn – will produce a family-friendly season of movie-to-stage shows, like the popular Little Shop of Horrors (Oct. 15-30), Footloose (Dec. 17-Jan. 1) and the area premiere of Jason Robert Brown’s Honeymoon in Vegas (Feb. 4-19). Its season wraps with a couple of Disney shows, Mary Poppins (March 25-April 9) and Newsies (June 10-25).
In Miami-Dade County, the Arsht Center has its own Broadway series, a line-up that includes Six (Oct. 25-30), Disney’s Aladdin (Jan. 3-8), Wicked (Feb. 15-March 5). My Fair Lady (March 20-April 2) and Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations (May 9-14). Yeah, pretty much what the other South Florida performing arts centers have.
But in the Arsht’s second space, the Carnival Studio Theater, the adventuresome Zoetic Stage offers the regional premiere of two-time Pulitzer winner Lynn Nottage’s Mlima’s Tale (Oct. 13-30), an elephant’s effort to stay one step ahead of deadly poachers, followed by the world premiere of prolific area writer Michael McKeever’s American Rhapsody (Jan. 12-29), one family’s effort to stay one step ahead of the evolving world. Zoetic’s musical this season is the Pulitzer-winning Next to Normal (March 16-April 9), about a bipolar woman’s mental illness and its effect on her family. The company’s closer is #Graced (May 4-21), Vanessa Garcia’s look at one woman’s “Lewis-and-Clark-esque” road trip.
Also at the Carnival Studio is a show from City Theater, Heidi Schreck’s one-woman civic lesson, What the Constitution Means to Me (Dec. 1–18).
At Miami Beach’s Colony Theatre, Miami New Drama produces three world premieres and a Pulitzer Prize winner, all deeply entrenched in Florida culture. The journey begins with Elian (Oct. 27-Nov. 20), the real-life story of the tug-of-war between Cuba and the United States over a young boy. Then Nilo Cruz directs his Pulitzer-winning Anna in the Tropics (Jan. 12-Feb. 5), about life in a Tampa cigar factory, transformed by the reading of a Tolstoy novel. Frequent MND playwright Aurin Squire unveils his Defacing Michael Jackson (March 9-April 2), a drama of coming-of-age and hero worship in Opa-Locka, followed by Create Dangerously (May 4-28), an exploratory trip through an artist’s mind.
In Coral Gables, Actors’ Playhouse continues its mostly musicals menu with Million Dollar Quartet Christmas (Nov. 16-Jan. 1), a spinoff holiday show with the return of Elvis and his rocking cronies. Then there’s a couple of short-lived Broadway shows — Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville (Feb. 1-26) and Steve Martin and Edie Brickell’s Bright Star (March 29-April 16), followed by David Auburn’s Pulitzer-winning math drama, Proof (May 17-June 4).
Lastly, but hardly least, is a busy season full of promise at Coral Gables’ GableStage under the direction of its new artistic honcho, Bari Newport. It leads off with Heisenberg (Oct. 28-Nov. 20), a curious tale of uncertainty and the human condition, followed by We Will Not Be Silent (Jan. 6-29), about a college student’s act of civil disobedience against Hitler and its consequences. Next is Lucas Hnath’s thought-provoking sequel to Henrik Ibsen’s door-slamming social drama, A Doll’s House, Part 2 (Feb. 24-March 19), El Huracan, an inventive look back at Hurricane Andrew, inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and Native Gardens (June 6=July 1), about a border dispute between urban neighbors that explores issues of race, class and privilege.
Of course, expect some changes, cancellations and substitutions to this list, but at the moment, it looks like a very promising season.