By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
King Lear: Aaron Spelling certainly injected Shakespearean ambition into his glittering prime-time soap operas Melrose Place was a total tragicomedy but here's a theatrical mashup we never could have envisioned: Ted Lange starring in a touring production of King Lear. Lange, he of the red tux, perfectly spherical 'fro, and charming two-finger point, stole our hearts as the lovable bartender Isaac on The Love Boat and inspired us to feel the burn on the most recent season of Celebrity Fit Club. Now he will display nuance and skill when the Classical Theater of Harlem presents its production of the Bard's most potent play. The company, a not-for-profit in residence at the Harlem School of the Arts, has received two Drama Desk nominations and one award since 2004. It was founded in 1999 "to bring the classics to Harlem" and, in this case apparently, to bring a classic Eighties star to Miami. Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik Through November 18. Tickets cost $45. Studio Theater at the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-949-6722, visit www.carnivalcenter.org.
Mr. Marmalade: Teetering on the edge of reality, Noah Haidle's play takes you to the playground of make-believe for emotionally disturbed children. Yes, four-year-old Lucy's imaginary friend is a bipolar coke addict who also has a personal assistant. And the little girl's real friend, Larry, is suicidal. (Life sucks when you're five.) Maybe parents should think twice about using television as a babysitter. But you should not think twice about seeing the Mad Cat Theatre Company's production of this painfully humorous romp through dysfunction junction, directed by Paul Tei and starring Ivonne Azurdia, Todd Allen Durkin, Erik Fabregat, Scott Genn, Eli Peck, and Ceci Fernandez. Lyssa Oberkreser Through November 18. Showtime is 8:00 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Tickets cost $20, $10 for students (all tickets are $20 on Friday and Saturday). The Light Box, 3000 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-576-6377, www.myspace.com/madcattheatre.
Fahrenheit 451: 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. 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.
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 Through December 23. Tickets cost $3-$16; seating is limited. MoCA, 770 NE 125th St., North Miami; 305-893-6211; www.mocanomi.org.
Opus: Portraying a brief moment in the life of a celebrated string quartet, Michael Hollinger's play begins as the musicians prepare a performance for the U.S. president while the memory of their evicted violist, Dorian (Craig Wroe), hangs over them like a ghost. Aided by an economical, profoundly eloquent script, the cast puts more flesh on these characters than should be possible in 90 minutes. They're in love with their material, and it would be difficult not to be; the script is, essentially, the playwright's love letter to chamber music, which he walked away from 22 years ago to work in theater. And as a love letter, it is every bit as beautiful as the form to which it is dedicated. Brandon K. Thorp Through November 26. Florida Stage, Plaza del Mar Shopping Center, 262 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan; 561-585-3433, www.floridastage.org.