By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: Singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka topped the charts with a slew of hits during the late Fifties and early Sixties; many of them are now considered golden oldies. The twenty-odd Sedaka classics Breaking Up uses to narrate its predictable plot will lure baby boomers and doo-wop fans en masse. Few others will likely find this jukebox musical a must-see. Set in New York's Catskill Mountains during the summer of 1960, the play includes a six-member cast and four musicians who gaily bebop their way through more than two hours of family-friendly fun. Think Dirty Dancing meets Grease but without the sultry moves and charismatic stars. This revamped edition of Breaking Up boasts strong lyrical performances, and climaxes in a singing, dancing, foot-tapping finale. Though it may not win any awards for originality, it is a cheerfully entertaining and nostalgic piece of musical theater. Joanne GreenThrough February 12. Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables; 305-444-9293, www.actorsplayhouse.org.
Cradle of Man: With intelligent design worming its way through academia, we could really use a good evolution play that looks at the natural history of man. But even with its promising title, Melanie Marnich's Cradle of Man isn't it. Instead, in a Tanzanian hotel, two American couples cross paths in a tiresome evening of Love Boat-style adultery. Is an intriguing science-versus-religion debate in store? Nope. Cradle of Man uses scientific metaphors to talk ponderously about love and infidelity. It is clunky, with lots of misspent and misconceived emotion that makes you lose faith in its navigation long before it ends. Dave Amber Through March 5. Florida Stage, 262 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan; 561-585-3433.
King Hedley II: This isAugust Wilson's last work in his epic nine-play cycle that recorded the twentieth-century African-American experience. Its hero is not a reigning monarch but an ex-con living in 1985 Pittsburgh who has served a seven-year jail sentence for manslaughter. As his victim's cousin prowls the city streets seeking revenge, the title character tries desperately to escape his past and make a dishonest buck selling dubiously acquired refrigerators. However, trapped by economic circumstance, King is driven to robbery. No matter how hard he struggles to resist his ancestral burden, Wilson's emotionally charged plot implies the odds are so heavily stacked against the black urban poor that their choices are severely limited. Solid performances make this play consistently entertaining despite its three-hour run time. Joanne GreenThrough February 25. Black Box Theater, Carrie P. Meek Senior and Cultural Center, 1300 NW 50th St., Miami; 866-390-4534.