By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
In this the company does yeoman work, with occasional dazzling flashes that suggest what could have been with more time and boldness. The casting seems peculiar -- none of these actors bears a resemblance to any other -- and there isn't much chemistry between them. Most do their strongest work, significantly, in their monologues. The redoubtable John Felix fares best as the miserly patriarch Tyrone, who in Felix's hands is pathetic, deplorable, and funny, at times all at once. Felix is a theatrical actor, whose considerable rhetorical skills sometimes get in the way of emotional connection. But this stiff-backed, standoffish stage style works for James Tyrone and while some of Felix's scenes seem sketchy, he handles Tyrone's two second-act monologues with great skill. In the first Tyrone recalls the bitter hardships of his childhood impoverishment, while in the second he looks back with regret on his lost promise as a classical actor. In both Felix is flat-out mesmerizing.
As Mary, Sally Levin returns to a role that brought her a Carbonell nomination in a New Theatre production of the play in the 1990s. Her stately manner and voice recall the dignified style of Katharine Hepburn, and her quiet descent into madness is certainly troubling. But Levin gives away her character's secret far too early in the story. The production would have been significantly improved had Levin and Lowery given Mary more layers of denial and artifice. As it is, the obviousness of her imbalance takes away whatever mystery the play has.
While Felix and Levin tend to sing their roles, Keith Cassidy as Jamie and Euriamis Losada as Edmund approach theirs in another style, with low-key, naturalistic performances. The effects are uneven. Cassidy appears miscast at first, as his Jamie seems more of a sad-sack schlub than a restless prowler; but his second-act confession scene with his brother certainly has power. Losada's Edmund is honest and open, but his low-key approach sometimes is so laid-back he drifts off the stage altogether, as in his extended monologue about his seafaring days.
The latter sequence is not served well by Gregory D. Sendler's sometimes intrusive, often annoying musical underscoring, a wan New Age pastiche of traditional Irish refrains. Michael McKeever's detailed set echoes the overall production -- it's well crafted and says nothing. Credit Travis Neff with some delicate mood lighting (does anyone else light shows in South Florida?). Estela Vrancovich again comes through with a superior costume design, all whites and creams and occasional touches of red, like splotches of blood on a handkerchief.
Would that New Theatre had dared to reveal more blood in this production, which more resembles the old New Theatre than the post-Pulitzer one. The company and its thoroughbred string of playwrights are following in the footsteps of O'Neill's work with the Provincetown Players. This honors O'Neill's legacy and serves the public better than serving up overreverent productions of his work. On to O'Neill's heirs -- Cruz, Diament, and McKeever.
Barnum: The Musical: P.T. Barnum, who created the "Greatest Show on Earth," is the subject of this musical which features aerial, high wire, and circus acts, 8:00 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays; 2:00 p.m. Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, through October 26. Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W. Sample Rd., Coral Springs; 954-344-7765.
Fell in Love With A Girl: Mad Cat Theatre Company opens its season with a drama about love, friendship, and dating in these modern times, 8:00 p.m. Monday, October 13; 8:00 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, through October 18 (no show on October 4), 305-576-6377 (details). Miami Light Project, 3000 Biscayne Blvd.; 305-576-4350.
La Lechuga: A family copes with the difficulties of caring for a relative in a vegetative state in this black comedy presented in Spanish, 8:30 p.m. Thursday, October 9. Teatro 8, 2101 SW Eighth St.; 305-541-4841.
Long Day's Journey Into Night: New Theatre revives its 1994 Carbonell Award-nominated production of this Eugene O'Neill play, 8:00 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 1:00 and 6:00 p.m. Sundays, through October 19 (6:00 p.m. show will not be performed on September 21 and October 19). New Theatre, 4120 Laguna St., Coral Gables, 305-443-5909.
Noises Off: A second-rate British touring company struggles night after night through its production of a fictional sex comedy called "Nothing On" in this slapstick comedy, 8:00 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 2:00 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through October 18. University of Miami, Jerry Herman Ring Theatre, 1312 Miller Dr., Coral Gables; 305-284-3355.
Picasso At The Lapin Agile: The young Picasso meets the young Einstein at a French bar, and a battle of wits ensues, 8:00 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2:00 p.m. Sundays, through October 19. FIU University Park Campus, Wertheim Performing Arts Center, 11200 SW Eighth St.; 305-348-3789.
Return to the Forbidden Planet: This 1950s sci-fi musical version of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" follows the adventures of Captain Tempest and his space crew as they travel toward Planet D'lllyria, call for showtimes, through October 26. The Actors' Playhouse at Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables; 305-444-9293.
Say Goodnight Gracie: The Life, Laughter & Love of George Burns: Frank Gorshin stars in this one-man show, an homage to the life and work of George Burns, 8:00 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays; 2:00 p.m. Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, through October 19, 305-358-5885 (tickets by phone). Royal Poinciana Playhouse, 90 Royal Poinciana Way, Palm Beach; 561-659-3310.