DIDATO, RICHBERG SPARKLE IN PERFECTLTY SCRIPTED COCK –
THE LATEST OF ADLER’S PRODUCTIONS AT GABLESTAGE
Ron Levitt, ENV Magazine, Florida Media News
CORAL GABLES, FL — With such a provocative title, Cock – the current production at GableStage – will either intrigue theatre-going audiences that they are in for some X-rated material or preclude it by saying “no-no.” Both are wrong.
Instead they will get an intelligent, astutely directed production with some of the finest acting seen in South Florida in many years. Cock could have been named “cockfight” due to the unusual staging in a partial boxing ring. It is the appropriate site to mouth the words of young British writer Mike Bartlett as a quartet of actors battle with verbiage to determine just what “love” is.
In its simplest terms, Cock is the story of a young man John (Ryan Didato) who has had a long-term gay relationship with the older M (Nicholas Richberg) before his world is turned upside down when he has an unexpected affair with a woman W (Julie Kleiner). He is put in the position of choosing to continue his gay relationship or accept the reality that he is bisexual and capable of a loving future with this woman, even with the objection of M’s father–F (an explosive Peter Galman).
But there is nothing simple about this script nor the plot And, certainly, nothing simple about this production of a play which was a big hit in London and New York. This is Joseph Adler’s 92nd production at the Biltmore site and his adroit direction is apparent as the four actors dominate the stage. It is by no means a simple reminder of why Adler has the most production and directing Carbonells of anyone else in South Florida. Once again, his mark of excellence is apparent.
Lest we ignore the dominant characters, let us heap praise on both Didato and Richberg. Both obviously have anchored their characters with English accents that seem real. There is no sense that the accents or dialects are for stage use only. Richberg, in addition, fills every pre-conceived and stereotypical movement of the effeminate homosexual as envisioned in Bartlett’s extraordinary script. Richberg is truly brilliant as the deeply hurt partner – joining with the superb performance of Didato as the confused John – a frustrated fellow who doesn’t seem to know what he wants!!. What a topnotch twosome!
The writing of Cock is witty, filled with truisms, and words which tell more about these characters’ premise of love than any action might produce. It is a delicious script peppered with language one would expect of some twenty-somethings in urban London. What a pleasure to witness such reality!!
Kleiner, whose attire is somewhat dowdy for such a bright character, and New York actor Galman, are up to expectations in their supporting roles, as well. Adler obcviusly chose this cast with care. It would be half as much fun in lesser hands.
Lyle Baskin uses symbolism in his set design – one half of a boxing ring in which the characters battle. Matt Corey handles the sound; Jeff Quinn the lighting, and Ellis Tillman, the costumes.
Cock runs through June 16th, Call 305 445 1119 for tickets.
SIX COMIC PERFORMANCES, ASTUTE DIRECTION ARE A HOLE IN ONE
DESPITE THE PREDICTABLE OUTCOME OF THE FOX AND THE FAIRWAY
Ron Levitt, ENV Magazine, Florida Media News
CORAL GABLES,FL — When you pack the stage with six top-of-the-line actors, put them together with a sharp director and a plot reminiscent of the farces of the 1930s, you hope that you are in for laughs That’s the challenge of The Fox and the Fairway currently taking over the balcony theatre at the Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre.
Yes, there are laughs and it is fun, Plus, after all, it is a pleasure to watch so much talent. But –like so many farces — the outcome is much too predictable and in back of your mind is the question “can this latest work by Ken Ludwig, author of the successful Lend Me A Tenor go anywhere beyond regional theatre? “ It is not your typical Broadway fare!
Despite what could be called Ludwig’s latest silliness, however, The Fox and the Fairway does hit the green in the acting category and direction. It is pleasurable to watch the superb comic timing of the six people one sees on stage plus the knowledge that you know someone (David Arisco) put together what has the making s of an admirable comic piece.
There is plenty to offer the audience, despite the predictability of what is going happen next! The Fox and the Fairway offers six of South Florida’s favorite actors – many of whom are known for their dramatic ability — a chance to show how well they can handle comedy. Ken Clement, Clay Cartland. Todd Allen Durkin, Betsy Graver, Amy McKenna and Margot Moreland all deliver superior comic performances.
Here’s a short version of this play, courtesy of the Internet. Bingham (Clement, president of the Quail Valley Country Club, is in a difficult position, less by finding out that his newly hired hand, Justin ( a terrific prat-falling Cartland), is in love with Louise (the lovely Garvey) , the waitress at the club house, but by the discovery that the golfer he thought would play for his club has switched sides recruited by his counterpart and opponent, the cocky and arrogant Dickie (the multi-talented Durkin), and the huge bet he had foolishly wagered is now likely to be lost. Fortunately, he discovers that Justin is actually quite a good golfer and finagles his nomination. Justin does not disappoint and has a huge lead, when close to its end the tournament is interrupted by bad weather. When Justin learns that Louise has lost the engagement ring he gave her – she accidentally flushed it down the toilet – he becomes unglued. The game resumes the next day, but Justin loses the lead, and, upset, takes an unfortunate swing breaking his arm. Bingham is desperate, and the appearance of his wife (Moreland) complicates the matter, as she catches him much too close to Pamela, his sex-starved vice-president (a stunning McKenna). Can Bingham find a replacement for Justin to win the game, win the wager, and get his life in order?
Somehow or other, we think you know the answer well into the two-act script by Ludwig, But, after all, it is a farce, so who cares? Just don’t take this plot too seriously and you will enjoy the performances. Those six actors are reason enough to see The Fox and the Fairway.And, if you are an avid golfer, you will find lots of on-course humor to keep you entertained.
Gene Syfer’s set is a tribute to any golf country club. It looks comfortable and Ellis Tillman’s costumes (especially Durkin’s outlandish golf attire) is reason enough to see this show.
runs through June 2. Call 305 444-9293 for tickets
“WAR HORSE”ALLOWS ONE’S IMAGINATION
TO BE SET FREE AS PUPPETRY REIGNS IN BROWARD
Ron Levitt, ENV Magazine, Florida Media News
FORT LAUDERDALE This is what theatre is supposed to be about – creativity, ingenuity, imagination and powerful surprises. And, to think we have to learn that from horses!
Of course, we are referring to War Horse, the brilliant National Theatre of Great Britain production, currently capturing the imagination of the crowds heading to the Broward Center of the Performing Arts. And, it appears this bit of theatrical magic will continue to draw big crowds through its run on May 19th.
War Horse is a two-act play, based on Michael Morpurgo’s novel intended originally for young readers and a theatrical script by Nick Stafford. It became a Broadway sensation after the British-bred production premiered at the Lincoln Center in New York to rave notices. Armed with a cast of 34 and featuring the life-sized horse puppets whose movements are mysteriously in synch – played by humans depicting the equine species.
The story follows the relationship between Albert (Alex Morf). a young man in agricultural Devon, and a stallion which he names Joey. Joey is part thoroughbred and part draft animal. Joey comes into Albert’s life when his drunken father (Todd Cerveris) outbids his brother (Brian Keene) for the foal at an auction. When Britain enters World War l, the father – much to the chagrin of his mom (Megan Loomis), and Albert—whose closeness between him and Joey – exceeds far beyond the norm — sells Joey to a miitary man (Jason Loughlin) for 100 pounds and the horse follows his lieutenant into battle in France. Meanwhile, Albert – despite his age (16) – enlists and eventually re-connects with his beloved animal, in thanks partly to the sketchbook of this valiant horse captured in print by the lieutenant. It is a story based on loyalty and betrayal while exhibiting the horrors of war.
The amazing human-footed horses in this production are the creation of Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones of the Handspring Puppet Company. These sure-footed puppets are simply remarkable. While it is easy to praise the work of the “horses” on stage, it in no way demeans the work of the many human actors in this production. It is an outstanding ensemble of American actors, directed by Bigan Shelibani.
Among the many talents on stage is actor/singer John Milosich, whose Irish tenor voice weaves throughout the two hour 20 minutes of story-telling.
Technically, once again, this crew is exceptional, You will feel the horrors of war thanks to Rae Smith’s simple but effective settings, drawings and costumes, the sound by John Owens and Christopher Shutt, the lighting by Paule Constable and Karen Spahn, as well as background music by Adrian Sutton. It is difficult to seperate the technical superiority from the puppetry skills and excellent acting in this extremely special story for all age groups.
War Horse is a play you will long remember.
MAY 18 thru JUNE 16
at the Biltmore
presents the Southeastern Premiere of
a provocatively titled play about an unlikely love triangle…
by MIKE BARTLETT
JULIE KLEINER, RYAN DIDATO, PETER GALMAN and NICHOLAS RICHBERG
Directed by JOSEPH ADLER
When John takes a break from his boyfriend, he accidentally meets the girl of his dreams. A playful, candid look at one man’s sexuality and the difficulties that arise when you realize you have a choice.
“A TERRIFIC COMEDY! Primal and hypnotic! Mesmerizing and VERY FUNNY!” - New York Times
Winner of 2010 Olivier Award
Critic’s Pick-NY Times, TimeOut NY, New York Magazine
Performances: Thursday, Friday, Saturday @ 8pm, Sunday @ 2pm & 7pm
(No 7pm performance on Sunday, May 19)
GableStage is located in the eastern section of the Biltmore Hotel,
1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables, FL 33134
Valet parking is available.
Free parking is available in the Biltmore parking area west of the hotel.
Phyllis Green, ENV Magazine Theatre Critic
It was Entertaining! It was Exciting! It was the Best of the Best! And now, we’ll tell you Why!! Every aspect of Musical Theatre was covered with the Best Dancing, the Best Singing, the Best Acting.
“MEMPHIS The Musical” playing at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, through Sunday, May 12, pulls all the stops; taking place at a time in our America when change was not yet apparent. It was a time before a man was preaching “I have a dream”, and a lady dared to take a seat in the front of a bus!
The opening scene takes place in a dusty nightclub, where the most talented ensemble of singers and dancers strutted their stuff with a style of dazzle known only to them. Sauntering into this environment is Huey, a white high-school drop out who just happens to love that music. He becomes a successful radio DJ and loses his heart to a black night club singer with her own ambition to catch her big break as a recording artist. Of course, all of that happens, and that is the story. The tensions they have to face in this segregated and unaccepting world make up for the emotional plot, bringing the audience in with many whistles and kudos
Winner of four 2010 Tony Awards including Best Musical MEMPHIS, boasts of an incredible Book and Lyrics by Joe DiPietro and Music and Score by Bon Jovi founding member David Bryan. Directed by Christopher Ashley and Choreographed by Sergio Trujillo, this cast of first rate singers, dancers, and comics certainly delivered.
Top of the heap in MEMPHIS, is the leading man, Huey, played by Bryan Fenkart.
This actor dug into his role with such aplomb, it was apparent he was born to play this part! He sang, he danced, he rocked, he rolled, he even made us laugh!! Keeping right up with Huey, was the forbidden lover, Felicia, played by Felicia Boswell Displaying a wonderful voice and other attributes, she demonstrated the stuff of a true leading lady diva. Sidekick Bobby, played by Will Mann brought some groovy rock ‘n’ roll as did Horace V. Rogers as Felicia’s protective brother. Highlight of this incredible production was the monumental vocal quality of Julie Johnson, Huey’s Mama/Gladys. In her tour-de-force rendition of “Change Don’t Come Easy”, she brought down the house, assuring this writer that Ethel Merman still lives! As the song says, “it’s electrifying, mystifying, glorifying and justifying”. And you know what…..’that’s “MEMPHIS.- THE MUSICAL”!
Memphis plays through Sunday Mar 12. For tickets call: 949-6722 or www.arshtcenter.org