Current Stage Shows

 Clarence Darrow's Last Trial: It's a trial all right. Shirley Lauro's new play takes a long time to bring to life the minor last chapter of a major life in law. There is certainly nothing wrong with Rafael de Acha's production or with his cast, which boasts entertaining performances by John Felix, John Bixler, Ricky J. Martinez, Susan Dempsey, and others. But the piece is at best a mildly entertaining courtroom drama, overlong middlebrow fare peppered with fine acting but nowhere nearly as satisfying as your basic Law & Order rerun. Or even JAG. -- Octavio Roca Through February 20. New Theatre, 4120 Laguna St., Coral Gables; 305-443-5909.

Edge: This one-woman show about the tormented life of poet Sylvia Plath features a startling, riveting performance by Angelica Torn that blazes as fiercely as Plath's poetry. Paul Alexander's play depicts Plath's failed romances and suicide attempts, and excoriates her husband Ted Hughes as a controlling monster who profited mightily from her royalties after her death. Despite these fireworks and a welcome dose of wry humor, this tale of rage and obsession feels rather flat dramatically. Edge works best as a performance showcase for the splendid Torn. -- Ronald Mangravite Through March 27. Coconut Grove Playhouse, 3500 Main Hwy., Miami; 305-442-4000.

Enchanted April: The tale begins in 1922 in dreary England, where a frumpy Lotty Wilton (Cary Anne Spear) finds herself dissatisfied with her tyrannical husband and her humdrum existence. Escape comes through an ad in the paper -- a castle in Italy for rent. Heart aflame with possibility, she ropes a reluctant friend, Rose (Laura Turnbull), into the vacation scheme. To help pay the bills, Lotty and Rose bring along two other ladies. The foursome makes a peculiar party, but the castle suits them, and the unfolding relationships are moving. Spear is priceless, turning from flighty victim to natural and exuberant leader of the group. Turnbull evolves from a repressed wife into a woman ready to accept love. -- Rachel Galvin Through February 13. Caldwell Theater, 7873 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton; 561-241-7432.

Angelica Torn blazes as Sylvia Plath in Edge
Angelica Torn blazes as Sylvia Plath in Edge

Hanging Fire: This genial but insipid comedy, set in a small Michigan town just before July 4, 2000, concerns a free-spirited septuagenarian stroke victim, her naysaying sister, and the sudden arrival of their mutual boyfriend of 50 years ago. Claudia Allen's script oscillates between this character standoff and flashbacks to the sisters as youngsters. Allen has a gift for comedic dialogue, and the cast is accomplished, but without much dramatic oomph, this show is more a fizzle than a firecracker. -- Ronald Mangravite Through March 6. Florida Stage, Plaza del Mar, 262 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan; 561-585-3433, 800-514-3837, www.floridastage.org.

The Retreat from Moscow: Soap operas tend to sound more serious with a British accent, and William Nicholson's play is soaked in classy suds. It is a small, middle-class affair about the breakup of a 33-year marriage. The wonderful Lisa Morgan plays a strong woman, frustrated by difficulties that eventually will lead to the end of everything she thought she could take for granted; David Kwiat is a husband who is not so much passive-aggressive as just plain passive, and perhaps on his way to happiness at last; Andrio Chavarro, in his GableStage debut, is a son with his own complaints about being unlucky in love. There is not much more, but Joseph Adler's fast direction almost makes one overlook the banalities beneath the surface of the glossy script. -- Octavio Roca Through February 27. GableStage at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables; 305-445-1119, www.gablestage.org.

Songs for a New World: The wonderful voices of Blythe Gruda, Rachel Jones, Kevin Smith Kirkwood, and Tally Sessions sing in beautiful harmony about hope, dreams, and the dilemma of happiness in this musical revue, which meshes gospel, R&B, and jazz into eighteen heartfelt melodies by Jason Robert Brown. Highlights include Jones's "Stars and the Moon," a beautiful and simple song about wanting the world and the danger of getting what you wish for; and "The Steam Train," led by Kirkwood, about a basketball player determined to make a name for himself. With its honest and optimistic vision, Songs is literally music to our ears. -- Dan Hudak Through February 13. Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables; 305-444-9293.

The Will Rogers Follies: A Life in Revue: This story about the rise of the legendary folk philosopher incorporates the flair of an old Ziegfield Follies show as it portrays Rogers's transformation from do-nothing ranch boy to world celebrity, Ziegfield entertainer, columnist, movie and radio star, and politician. Jarret Mallon plays the humble Rogers, narrating his life through monologues, performing rope tricks, and singing songs, while waiting for Ziegfield's luscious ladies to change into fresh breathtaking attire. Though his witty banter often falls flat, the girls -- whether high-kicking and doing the hand jive or simply singing like angels -- are priceless, and the period costumes are breathtaking. -- Rachel Galvin. Through March 6 at Stage Door Theater, 8036 W. Sample Rd., Coral Springs, 954-344-7765.

 
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