There are many ways to look back on the past year in local theater, and with The Hapster Awards, now in their 28th year, we have chosen the (mostly) snide route. The envelopes, please.
Remember Blues in the Night?
You know, that critically acclaimed musical revue starring Avery Sommers and Laura Hodos? Of course you don’t remember, because the management of Delray’s Arts Garage cancelled the sure-fire moneymaker and axed the entire theater program just before Blues went into rehearsals. There was some vague talk of reactivating the theater this season in some form, but, well, you know how that goes.
What cloud is Keith Garsson living under?
Garsson, artistic director of the above mentioned theater at Arts Garage, was abruptly jobless when his edgy company was eliminated. But he landed on his feet, taking the company back to Fort Lauderdale’s Andrews Living Arts, where it began. However, after one show (The Good Girl), Andrews’ owner closed its doors, leaving Garsson out on the street again. So he moved his operation to Lauderdale’s Empire Stage. Here’s hoping they have lightning insurance.
Nice vine-swinging and loincloth
What was Slow Burn Theatre’s artistic director Patrick Fitzwater thinking when he produced Disney’s Tarzan, one of the worst shows on Broadway in the past 50 years? (Sorry, our show-going doesn’t reach back further than that.) He usually re-directs failed shows and finds unexpected values in them. In this case, the result was the company’s worst show in nine years. (Sorry, Slow Burn doesn’t reach back further than that.)
Maybe Lord Andrew needed a tax loss
Why do the rich rarely know when to cut their losses? Andrew Lloyd Webber has been insisting for 27 years that a sequel to Phantom of the Opera, the most successful musical of all time, was a good idea. Eventually opened in London’s West End in 2010, Lord Andrew then closed the show, called Love Never Dies, nine months later, after it was roundly panned. He revised it and reopened it again to little more enthusiasm. Revised once more, it is touring the Colonies, including a stop in November at Fort Lauderdale’s Broward Center. Our question: Why are the most memorable melodies the ones he stole from himself in the earlier Phantom?
Skip Sheffield, R.I.P.
Of all the passings in the local arts community this year, one of the most startling was Skip Sheffield, 69, of natural but sudden causes on July 21. The curmudgeonly, straggle-haired critic for The Boca Raton News (until it died in 2009), and subsequently The Boca Raton Tribune, was honored with Skip Sheffield Day by the mayor of Boca in late August. Skip (Who knew his real name was Norman?) proved that even critics can be loved.
The Show Must Go On Award
Patrick Cassidy was long booked to perform in The Wick Theatre’s production of She Loves Me, playing rakish Steven Kodaly, the role that brought his father a Tony Award in 1963. Throughout rehearsals, reports were surfacing of his older half-brother David’s failing health. David died just days before opening night, but Patrick went on and completed the four-week run like the trouper he is, in the family tradition.
Versatility is her middle name
Chances are you have never asked yourself what hoarse-throated Texas rocker Janis Joplin and Beauty and the Beast’s spunky Belle have in common, but the answer is Mallory Newbrough. We should have known she had range when she played both a male courier and Martha Jefferson in Palm Beach Dramaworks’ 1776 two summers ago. And this year, besides the miles apart performances at the Wick, she was a standout in MNM’s Company and Little Shop of Horrors and still found time to commute down to Miami’s Area Stage to appear in the intriguing An Octoroon. Could her middle name be “Chameleon”?
Someone tell me about the second act
It’s a question I get asked often: Have you ever walked out on a show? My usual answer is “No, but I have mentally checked out on a few.” Well, Outré Theatre Co. caused me to change my response this year with its inept, anemic, so poorly amplified much was inaudible production of George Orwell’s 1984. How is it possible to make that trenchant political satire dull? I can only tell you about the first act, and oh, did they manage.