By John Thomason
By Benjy Caplan
By Artburst Miami
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Daniel Reskin
The Sty of the Blind Pig: Phillip Hayes Dean's play, a classic in African-American theater, debuted onstage in 1972 and was made into a movie in 1974. The work explores race, gender, and spirituality, set against a backdrop of the early civil rights movement in Chicago. The work is performed by the Bebop Theatre Collective, an ensemble known for putting on bold, provocative productions. Raina McLeodThrough April 1. Joseph Caleb Auditorium, 5400 NW 22nd Ave, Miami. Call 305-636-2350.
La Cage aux Folles: This weirdly resonant story began life as a French play, got reworked as a now-classic French-Italian film, was turned into a Jerry Herman/Harvey Fierstein musical that proceeded to win just about every Tony ever invented, and then received a Hollywood face lift to emerge as The Birdcage, starring Nathan Lane and Robin Williams. Obviously this is a story with legs. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to make it work onstage: You just need to have faith that classics become classics for a reason, and try to keep your interpretation as servile to the material as possible. This is what the Actor's Playhouse has done, and though its production is not across-the-board successful, we should still be grateful for the affection, yea, reverence, with which they treat Fierstein's book and, to a lesser extent, Herman's last great score. Brandon K. Thorp Through April 8 at Actor's Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables. Call 305-44-9293, or visit www.actorsplayhouse.org.
The Faith Healer: Brian Friel's 1979 play consists of four monologues, telling the story of faith healer Frank Hardy's strange career and the travails of his wife, Grace. Friel tackles big questions of love and faith, and plumbs the mystery of why we can do for strangers what we cannot do for those closest to us, despite the best of intentions. In the Eighties and Nineties, Friel went on to become one of the world's premier translators of Chekhov, and to pen a vast array of hugely successful plays (including Dancing at Lughnasa,which won a 1990 Tony for best play and was adapted for film in 1998), but he never addressed the emotional realities of human life and doubt more directly than he did in The Faith Healer. The Inside Out Theatre Company's production stars the incomparably combustible Ken Clement, Sandra Ives, and Gordon McConnell. Brandon K. Thorp Through April 1 at the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art, One East Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-385-3060, or visit www.insideouttheatre.org.
The Rise of David Levinsky: By far the heaviest material yet tackled by Avi Hoffman's new New Vista Theatre Company, this musical, based on the 1917 novel by Abrahan Cahan, follows the titular protagonist from his broke, lonely arrival in America through his rise to success as the nation's richest garment manufacturer. Along the way, the definition of success is questioned and audiences are invited to fall madly in love with Avi Hoffman, which is the whole point of a New Vista production in the first place. For Hoffman is not only the new company's creator, he is also the star of its every show. It's hard to mind, though: Hoffman's casting director would have to scour the regional theaters of the nation for decades before finding a replacement as gifted or showbizzily charming as he. Brandon K. Thorp Through April 1 at the Park Vista Theatre at Park Vista Community High School, 7900 Jog Rd., Boynton Beach. Call 888-284-4633, or visit www.newvistatheatre.com.
Betrayal: Everything in popular culture can be referred back to Seinfeld, even a major work by a Nobel Prize-winning playwright. Harold Pinter's 1978 play was the inspiration for what is colloquially referred to as "The Backwards Episode" of Seinfeld, which aired November 20, 1997. The sitcom episode begins with Jerry, Elaine, and George returning from a wedding in India, and unspools backwards to take in the events leading up to their trip. (The groom in the story is named Pinter.) The play begins with the aftermath of an affair that threatens the marriage of Emma and Robert, and moves backward in time, from the end of the affair to its beginning. The innovative technique gives weight to the small moments and offhand remarks that contribute to the dissolution of their bond in a way that a conventionally chronological narrative could not. Betrayal is considered one of Pinter's masterpieces. Frank Houston Through April 15 at Palm Beach Dramaworks, 322 Banyan Blvd., West Palm Beach. Call 561-514-4042, or visit www.palmbeachdramaworks.org.