By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
Sometime in the near future, the company must bid farewell to South Beach because of wildly rocketing real estate costs and ultimately hopes to relocate to Coral Gables, where, according to Cejas, "permanent residents live and appear to support theater."
"There's a totally different tone around ACME now," insists Cejas. "We're coming out of crisis management and we're going to become one of the theaters that puts this area of the country on the theatrical map."
Speaking of maps, sponsors Teatro Avante and American Airlines certainly scoured the planet for the best theater groups to grace the eighth International Hispanic Theater Festival. Argentina, Costa Rica, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Spain, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, and Chile, as well as Miami, are sending stellar companies and plays to be performed in Spanish, English, and/or Portuguese from June 10 to June 27 at El Carrusel Theatre in Coral Gables. Those who have attended this festival before know that the quality is usually high and many of the world premiäres move on to success around the world. In the next two weeks, I'll be reviewing some of the highlights.
To a critic often disheartened by endless revivals of hackneyed work, both ACME's Play Festival and the Hispanic Theater Festival offer a summer tonic to wake the mind and refresh the spirit. In the midst of the muggy blues, you should take a dip in these play-full pools yourself.
For the perfect day trip and a pleasing production of City of Angels, the Tony Award-winning musical that features a plot within a plot and plenty of snappy dialogue, ride up to The Jupiter Theatre for fine dining and drama. Angels didn't thrill me when it opened on Broadway in 1989 or at TOPA two years ago, but the director of the Jupiter version, Norb Joerder, changed my mind by noticeably speeding up the pace of the piece. Also on hand to enhance the show is an exceptional cast, bar none.
Cy Coleman's compositions for this work far exceed his efforts on Will Rogers' Follies but come nowhere near his peak, when he penned tunes for Sweet Charity and Barnum. But Coleman's somewhat mundane melodies aren't the hook in this show; the clever book by Larry Gelbart, and lightning-quick witty lyrics by David Zippel, steal the spotlight. Set in Los Angeles during the late 1940s, the complex story revolves around a hack writer named Stine, whose claim to fame is a set of crime novels about a private dick named Stone. Stine sells Stone's story short by compromising constantly on the screenplay of one of the novels, slowly being mutilated (of course) by movie mogul Buddy Fidler. Both Stine's real story and Stone's fictional one emerge concurrently on stage, and in the end, actually merge.
At its debut, City of Angels was touted as the first great American musical in many years. Until I saw it at Jupiter, I couldn't see why. Who says dinner theater has to be second-rate