Footlight Parade

Understandably reluctant to commit to a yearlong schedule considering the survival odds of small theaters, the nascent Trap Door Theater (which claims downtown Miami's Tobacco Road as its home) plans to play it by ear, having opened two Israel Horovitz pieces earlier this week. In December the company hopes to produce Jane Martin's Talking With, which consists of five monologues by women.

Miami Beach's Area Stage Company starts a tantalizing contemporary season in November with a world premiere by Argentine playwright and journalist Mario Diament, who now lives in Miami. His Interview brings together a reporter and a past-her-prime movie star for a dark encounter. Also on tap are Pinter's The Birthday Party; Mrs. Klein, about German psychoanalyst Melanie Klein; Tony Kushner's adaption of Pierre Corneille's L'Ilusion; and another world premiere, Passage, about Cuban balseros, by former Miamian Loretta Greco. Also on the Beach, the Edge Theater will stage Tennessee Williams's Suddenly Last Summer beginning September 22, followed by Raymond Povod's La Puta Vida.

Florida Playwrights' Theatre in Hollywood opens next week with a play by the late Charles Ludlam, founder of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company, followed by a solid mix of work by James McClure, Donald Margulies, Craig Lucas, and Eric Bogosian. Next door to FPT, Hollywood Boulevard Theatre bookends its lineup with Terrence McNally's Lips Together, Teeth Apart and Jon Robin Baitz's The Substance of Fire.

At first glance, Brian C. Smith's Off-Broadway Theatre seems to be pandering to the condo crowd, but October's King of the Kosher Grocers may pack some substance, with a young African American stepping in to modernize a grocery store when its Jewish proprietor gets sick. Slated for January, Herb Gardner's Conversations with My Father has been done to death, but Jonathan Tollins's Twilight of the Golds, about a couple who discovers, through prenatal genetic testing, that their son almost certainly is gay, may push some audience buttons; it opens in May. Farther north, the Caldwell Theater Company in Boca Raton inaugurates its year with Arthur Miller's adaption of Ibsen's An Enemy of the People. A guaranteed audience draw will be McNally's Love! Valour! Compassion!, this year's Tony Award winner for best play, a funny, seamlessly crafted, and very moving ensemble piece offering eight substantial male roles and a good deal of nudity. Manalapan's ever-inventive Pope Theater Company has announced three of its five scheduled plays, which include a world premiere by Gen LeRoy, Not Waving; Richard Dresser's Kafka-esque satire about the absurdity of corporate life, Below the Belt, which debuted at the Humana Festival; and Romulus Linney's unsparing exploration of Hermann Goering's trial at Nuremberg, entitled 2.

On the alternative performance front, Miami Light Project and Cultura del Lobo will co-present Mountains Made of Barking, a blend of dance, theater, and film from innovative Belgian choreographer Wim Vandekeybus and his company, Ultima Vez, at the Colony Theater on November 10-11. Also of note from Miami Light Project is Memory Tricks, a one-woman play by Marga Gomez, one of the original members of Culture Clash -- December 8-9 at the Colony. And in February, Cultura del Lobo brings us Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane -- "Still/Here"; Jones's powerful work about surviving with AIDS stirred up a critical controversy in New York last year.

On top of mind-boggling performances, expert production values, and visionary direction, my theater-going fantasy includes two seemingly pedestrian items: professional black-and-white photos provided to me in every press kit, instead of the hand-held, drugstore-printed, flash-bleached color snapshots I'm usually handed with my admission stub; and theater programs an audience can wrap its collective mind around, with ample information on the playwright and (what a concept!) some context for the production. Not by any means do all South Florida theaters dispense such paltry press and audience accoutrements, but those of you who do -- and you know who you are -- be advised, I'll be watching.

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