At its heart, City Theatre's Summer Shorts Festival has always been about bringing the funny. There are no overwrought three-act plot machinations to suffocate your already-summer-induced short-attention span. There's simply funny shit. Great stories. Great acting. Great theater. But mostly, funny shit. And this year, entering its 17th season, the fest is still very much about bringing it. Summer Shorts kicks off this Friday and runs through June 17. As it does every year, the festival will feature nine short comedic plays, all presented in a back-to-back breakneck, Saturday Night Live-style performance at the Arsht Center.
City Theatre's Summer Shorts Festival: Artistic director John Manzelli. June 1 through 17 at the Adrienne Arsht Center's Carnival Studio Theater, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-949-6722; arshtcenter.org. Tickets cost $35.
"This year's festival has a little of everything," artistic director John Manzelli says. "There are cerebral comedies, poignant comedies, sexual comedies, a comedy featuring two Founding Fathers, even a '70s disco musical comedy."
The versatile actor/director Manzelli — who directed Queer Eye for the Straight Guy star Jai Rodriguez in last year's Summer Shorts performance of Dirty Little Secrets — made his stage bones directing award-winning plays for Naked Stage. Then he was called to helm City Theatre as its artistic director. "I love working with the talented group of artists who make this festival work each year," he says. "I like to surround myself with people I respect as artists and as people. I am very fortunate to lead such a talented team.
Among those talents is Carey Crim, who wrote what Manzelli calls his personal favorite of the festival, Green Dot Day. It's a touching, funny tale about a young couple who must learn the ropes of being new parents on the fly. The fest will also feature Reality Show, by Mark Swaner, a play Manzelli calls "a live theatrical experiment" about a man who finds the perfect formula for reality TV and the insane lengths to which he goes to be on television.
The folks at City Theatre comb through hundreds of submitted plays to narrow entries down to eight. And every year, the troupe looks for diverse and hysterical plays that can fit into one international and cohesive program that will make audiences pee their pants with laughter. "Each of our plays is in a different style," Manzelli says. But all of them bring the funny.