By Monique Jones
By Ciara LaVelle
By Jeff Weinberger
By Monique Jones
By Travis Cohen
By Liz Tracy
By Terrence McCoy
Fahrenheit 451: Cast in the, er, glow of the recent public school book-banning controversy (Vamos a Cuba) and fresh off of its selection by the Florida Center for the Literary Arts as this year's "Big Read," Fahrenheit 451 lights up GableStage in its Southeastern premiere. Adapted for the stage by the author, Ray Bradbury's sci-fi classic for the three of you who didn't encounter it in grade school contemplates a future in which firemen don't put out fires; they use them to burn books. The play was commissioned by the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago in 2002; a 1966 film version by François Truffaut was adapted by the director and others. In Bradbury's vividly imagined dystopia, the written word is forbidden, and ideas are bad. (Come to think of it, that sounds like a certain world leader's vividly imagined dystopia too.) "Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs," says Fire Captain Beatty. "Don't give them slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy." Substitute "foreign policy" for "philosophy" and you see why the ideas explored in Fahrenheit 451 are as timely as ever. Frank Houston Through November 19. GableStage, Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables; www.gablestage.org, 305-445-1119.
Moonlight and Magnolias: In this comedic retelling of the 1939 screenplay sessions that produced Gone with the Wind, with a focus on one banana-and-peanut-fueled five-day writing binge, Hollywood producer David O. Selznick faces failure as he hunts for a director and writer team to rescue his project. Script doctor Ben Hecht is brought in, and Victor Fleming leaves the set of The Wizard of Oz to take over. Adding to the pressure and the comic potential, Hecht refuses to read Margaret Mitchell's best-selling epic, so Selznick and Fleming must act out the story. Frankly, my dear, these men gave a damn, and history shows they pulled it off. Frank Houston Through November 12. Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables; 305-444-9293, www.actorsplayhouse.org.
City Beneath the Sea: The story of a young girl who saves an underwater metropolis from the powers of evil, played out through sparkling marionette sea creatures, is Pablo Cano's ninth marionette production at the Museum of Contemporary Art. This musical production consists of hand-crafted puppets made from cookie cutters, plastic light bulbs, rubber doilies, and cigarette wrappers. Cano usually writes his own scripts, but this year he collaborated with Carmen Pelaez, playwright and grandniece of the famed modernist Cuban painter Amelia Pelaez. Directed by Katherine Kramer, the puppets are enchanting whether you're 10 years old or 40. But City Beneath the Seais more than meets the eye. In Cano's work, Marcel Duchamp's ready-mades meet Robert Rauschenberg's mixtures of painting and sculpture. Even the sad eyes of Victor Manuel's portraits make an interlude and mingle with the filmmaker Georges Mélis, whose films inspired Cano's set, and of course Cuba is never too far from the Havana-born artist's creations. "My working process is a little different than some artists," Cano says. "I usually go to different Cuban restaurants that have paper placemats and draw characters while waiting for dinner with my family." Vanessa Garcia October 28 through December 23. Tickets cost $3-$16; seating is limited. MoCA, 770 NE 125th St., North Miami; 305-893-6211; www.mocanomi.org.
All the Great Books (Abridged): It's supposed to be funny, and some people will think it is. They'll be wrong, but they'll also be blameless: An immensely gifted cast and a very smart director sell the script's lame gags with a puppyish enthusiasm that makes even the stupidest of the script's billions of stupid jokes connect. Sometimes. The script was authored by the hacks at the Reduced Shakespeare Company, and its basic premise goes like this: Three not-too-bright teachers (the actors) must acquaint a roomful of not-too-bright students (the audience) with 87 great books in 90 minutes. No time for actual jokes we're in "pull my finger" territory, and it stinks. But the direction is smart and the actors are expert, and that's about what you'd expect. The Public Theatre of South Florida has always created topnotch performances on seemingly nonexistent budgets and in spite of ugly odds. If it weren't for the hellish script, that would be the case here. When these cats tackle Kiss of the Spider Womanin January, it should be something to see. Brandon K. Thorp Through October 29. The Soref JCC, 6501 W. Sunrise Blvd., Plantation; 954-792-6700, www.publictheatre.com.