The Stage Is All the Rage

Don't relegate theater to the retirement center!

4. A chance to one-up New York: New Theatre's new artistic director, Ricky J. Martinez, describes the place as "a tiny, humble gem in Coral Gables." It is extremely funky, and the productions are always ambitious. The year's first will be Sin Full Heaven, by Martinez himself. He calls it a "cross between The Tempestand Romeo and Juliet, but set in the Caribbean, so it's hot 'n' sexy." The Bard goes dub! After opening at New Theatre in January, Heaven will then make its way to off-Broadway. At least in this one instance, SoFla is ahead of the curve.

3. Empathy: After Heaven, New Theatre will present something decidedly un-sexy. Sonja Linden's I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady from Rwanda is the story of a London poet's encounter with a survivor of Rwanda's 1994 genocide who is seeking a writer to help tell her story. If the show is a success, people could theoretically pay $40 to enter a theater and be put into spiritual and emotional communion with victims of an inhuman atrocity half a world away.

2. Sleepwalking is hip: Vincenzo Bellini's La Sonnambula has been performed regularly since the bel canto revival in the Fifties, and with good reason: It's got flashy coloratura work, gorgeous melodies, and a story that's no sillier than what you find in any other bel canto opera (it has to do with a town mistaking a sleepwalker for a ghost, and later mistaking her for a harlot). Beautiful voices can make La Sonnambula transcendent. Florida Grand Opera's February version features the largely unknown soprano Leah Partridge, but any production directed by Renata Scotto and conducted by Richard Bonynge is almost guaranteed to blow minds.

1. Seeing the future is hipper: If you could be persuaded to take in only one theatrical event in 2007, consider New World School of the Arts. In April graduating BFAs will be putting on The One Festival — eight college seniors, eight self-produced one-man shows. This is Art with a capital A, unsullied by commercialism, pragmatism, or any other real-worldism. The students aren't necessarily aspiring playwrights, but that doesn't matter: "We have such a strong creative atmosphere there that we have no trouble asking them to do the impossible," says David Kwiat, one of NWSA's full-time theater faculty members. "I've been heading up this project for sixteen years, and it's unbelievable what they come up with." If this kind of action doesn't turn you on, you're a whole lot deader than the white-hairs who come to these things anyway.

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