It has been quite some time since summer in South Florida meant a theatrical drought. Yes, a few theaters still do take the season off to recharge their batteries, but many others produce shows aimed specifically at summer audiences and some stay open year-round, producing on a 12-month schedule.
Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables is one of those year-round companies, so maybe it is a sheer coincidence that it is devoting the season to a couple of summer reruns. Currently playing through June 24 is Million Dollar Quartet, the recreation of a Sun Records jam session featuring Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Gregg Weiner will be joining the cast as label owner Sam Phillips. It proved successful at Actors’ in 2016, so it has been remounted, as they say, “by popular demand.”
Reaching even further back, the Miracle Mile troupe revives its 2003 comedy hit, The Big Bang, about a faux backers’ audition for an ambitious new musical about the entire history of the world, enacted manically by its songwriting team, and again played by Gary Marachek and Ken Clement. (July 25-Sept. 2). [www.actorsplayhouse.org; 305-444-9293]
GableStage also takes no break in the summer, this year mounting Halley Feiffer’s (daughter of satirist cartoonist and playwright Jules) I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard (June 9-July 8), about a young actress eager for her playwright father’s approval. Hmm, you think it’s a little autobiographical? Also this summer, the company turns to Bruce Graham (Moon Over the Brewery, According to Goldman) and his White Guys on the Bus (Aug. 11-Sept. 9), the tale of a wealthy white businessman and a struggling single black woman, who take the same bus and, over time, discuss the racial and economic divide in this country. [www.gablestage.org; 305-445-1119]
City Theatre likes to call its Summer Shorts (May 31-July 1) “America’s Short Play Festival.” Whether or not that is an exaggeration, this collection of 10-minute plays does showcase some of South Florida’s best performers and directors in brief, brisk playlets by area and national writers, as it has for the past 22 years. [www.citytheatre.com; 305-755-9401]
Fort Lauderdale’s Thinking Cap Theatre will be taking the summer off, but New City Players will keep the Vanguard space lit with two productions. From June 14-July 1, the new company will produce Yasmina Reza’s Tony Award-winning comedy Art, about three men whose friendship is endangered when one of them buys an expensive, very minimal, contemporary painting. Then it will serve up Nick Payne’s Constellations (Aug. 9-26), a very verbal, metaphysical love story between a quantum physicist and a beekeeper. [www.newcityplayers.org; 954-650-5938]
This summer, Wilton Manors’s Island City Stage raises the curtain on a world premiere by the prolific Michael McKeever, titled Mr. Parker (June 14-July 15), about a budding relationship between a 52-year-old gay man and a social media-savvy guy 25 years his younger. Next, from Aug. 2-26, the company again hosts Shorts Gone Wild, in fact the sixth edition, a series of vignettes in the spirit of City Theatre’s Summer Shorts, but with decidedly more adult themes. [www.islandcitystage.org; 954-519-2533]
Slow Burn Theatre, the resident company of the Broward Center, specializes in non-commercial musicals, which doesn’t exactly describe this summer’s show, Rock of Ages (June 14-July 1), which is still playing off-Broadway after a healthy Broadway run. Still, resident director-choreographer Patrick Fitzwater is known for his original staging which brings out previously buried values, so maybe he can make something of this tale of ambitious rocker wannabes amid the heavy metal scene in Hollywood, circa 1980s. [slowburntheatre.org; 954-323-7844]
Broward’s Stage Door Theatre celebrates its 25th anniversary by packing up from its Margate home to move to the new state-of-the-art Lauderhill Performing Arts Center at the end of August. Before it goes, though, it continues its year-round programming with the gender-bending Henry Mancini musical, Victor/Victoria (through June 10). It will be followed by James Sherman’s From Door to Door (May 25-July 1), a bittersweet comedy about three generations of American women, and Breaking Up Is Hard to Do (July 6-Aug. 12), a jukebox musical built from Neil Sedaka’s song trunk. [www.stagedoorfl.org; 954-334-7765]
Lou Tyrrell’s FAU Theatre Lab, which serves up new contemporary American scripts, is a company that takes a break in the summer. That puts the focus on Festival Rep, a showcase for the university’s drama department graduates to show what they’ve learned in a pair of diverse plays. Now in its 21st year, it opts for a lesser known Noel Coward comedy, Easy Virtue (June 8-23), followed by the popular, if hard-edged musical, Cabaret (July 6-22).
The former, to be directed by Jean Louis Baldet, concerns an Englishman bringing his modern-thinking bride home to meet his tradition-bound parents. The latter is about the rise of the Third Reich, as seen through the microcosm of a seedy Berlin nightclub and as heard through the songs of John Kander and Fred Ebb. Lee Soroko will direct. [www.fau.edu/festivalrep; 800-564-9539]
The newly renamed MNM Theatre Company (formerly MNM Productions) remains the resident company of West Palm Beach’s Kravis Center. It has a busy summer schedule, beginning with the smart-mouthed urban puppet musical Avenue Q (May 25-Jun 10) and followed up by I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (July 27-Aug. 12), the audience-friendly songs-and-skits revue on contemporary relationships. [www.mnmtheatre.org; 561-832-7469]
Across town, Palm Beach Dramaworks finishes its subscription season with Peter Shaffer’s Equus (May 18-June 3), the tale of a troubled young man accused of blinding a corral of horses. Next, the company goes into its summer musical mode with Woody Guthrie’s American Song (July 13-Aug. 5), a reconsideration of the politics-tinged compositions by the Depression-era troubadour, directed by Bruce Linser. [www.palmbeachdramaworks.org; 561-514-4042]
With another successful season ended in April, the Maltz Jupiter Theatre cedes its summer to its student training conservatory, which offers two public productions. First up is Sister Act (June 22-23) is the movie-based tale of a disruptive nightclub singer forced to hide out in a nunnery, and then a stage version of the beloved movie musical, The Wizard of Oz. (July 27-28). [www.jupitertheatre.org; 561-575-2233]
Finally, the Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival returns to the Seabreeze Amphitheatre in Jupiter’s Carlin Park for another series of basically free July performances outdoors of works by the Bard (a $5 donation is suggested). This year, it’s Antony and Cleopatra (July 12-15; July 19-22), staged with the intent of letting Cleopatra visit revenge on her maligners throughout history. [www.pbshakespeare.org; 561-762-8552]
With a crowded lineup like this, if you cannot find a stage show to attend this summer, you’re not trying.