By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
Amadeus: Peter Shaffer's play about the life and death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is a satisfying potboiler. John Felix is splendid as the villainous Antonio Salieri, a hard working but mediocre composer who seethes in jealousy and despair when Mozart effortlessly proves his musical genius. Director Richard Jay Simon ably stages the monster show -- the production features fifteen performers in full eighteenth-century regalia jammed into the Mosaic's tiny stage -- and the supporting cast is solid if not exceptional, but the production is hampered by a lumbering pace and some subpar production elements. -- Ronald Mangravite Through October 31. Mosaic Theatre, American Heritage Center for the Arts, 12200 W. Broward Blvd., Bldg. 3000, Plantation. 954-577-8243.
Anna in the Tropics: Nilo Cruz directs his Pulitzer Prize-winning play with theatrical flourishes, but there's a decided lack of character detail and substance. Cruz's tale of adulterous romance among Cuban cigar-makers in 1929 Florida features exquisite poetry and a complex, Chekovian narrative of a traditional family business facing the advent of modern mechanization. The widely anticipated production, Cruz's first crack at directing his own work, offers outstanding design and a competent ensemble cast, but Cruz as director doesn't exploit the shadings and emotional textures of his own script. The result is flashy and often funny, but ultimately frustrating. -- Ronald Mangravite Through October 24. Coconut Grove Playhouse, 3500 Main Hwy., Coconut Grove. 305-442-4000.
Barrio Hollywood: Reviewed in this issue. Through November 14. New Theatre, 4120 Laguna St., Coral Gables. 305-443-5909.
Frozen: Bryony Lavery's explosive play gets a gripping Florida premiere under Joseph Adler's direction. Glimpses into a mother's blind hope, brief intimations of a psychiatrist's own emotional vulnerability, frightening little vignettes of a serial killer's ordinariness -- these are the dizzying ingredients of a tale that spans two decades and portrays nothing less than every parent's worst nightmare. Nearly everything rings true in Adler's pitch-perfect direction: from the very British dowdiness of Lisa Morgan's mother and the unexpected wackiness of Bridget Connors as the American psychiatrist, to the scary blandness of Gordon McConnell's tattooed killer. These details seem familiar, even banal. Much like evil. That may be the most unsettling detail of all. -- Octavio Roca Through November 7. GableStage at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables. 305-445-1119, www.gablestage.org.
Last Night of Ballyhoo: Southern gentility and Jewish bigotry are brilliantly mixed in this slice-of-life presentation. It's December 1939, and Atlanta is abuzz about the premiere of Gone with the Wind. A squinty-nosed, bespectacled Lala buys a hoop dress for the occasion, prompting an uncle to call her Scarlet O'Goldberg. But her mother Boo is more concerned about getting Lala a date to the lavish Jewish ball, Ballyhoo, even though the family hides its Jewish heritage. The play moves slowly, but the dialogue and characters are fascinating and realistic. Miki Edelman is flawless as Boo. Elizabeth King is delicious as Lala; she balances her glasses and horse-toothed grin beneath a tussle of wild black curls, slouching, fidgeting, and bouncing like a pre-teen in saddle shoes. As weak-willed as a willow, Lala bends easily under her mother's hard-edged manipulation. For characters and controversy alone, this is worthwhile. -- Rachel Galvin Through November 28. Stage Door Theater, 8036 W. Sample Rd., Coral Springs. 954-344-7765.
Late Nite Catechism: Reviewed in this issue. Through December 19. Coconut Grove Playhouse, Encore Room, 3500 Main Hwy., Coconut Grove. 305-442-4000.
Shear Madness: The funniest murder-mystery you'll ever see takes place at the Shear Madness Hair Salon in Coral Gables (nestled comfortably inside the Miracle Theatre), where two detectives enlist the help of the audience to figure out which of the four suspects murdered a famous pianist residing upstairs. The jokes are geared toward a South Florida audience and are so frequent and well-delivered it's difficult to catch your breath. -- Dan Hudak Through January 2. Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables. 305-444-9293.