Flyin' West: Set in 1898, Flyin' West follows three black sisters who've left the South and struck out on their own, settling in Nicodemus, Kansas. The hardships of freedom and independence are compounded by their struggle to protect themselves from white speculators trying to buy their land and splinter their community. Carolyn Johnson steals the show with her charismatic portrayal of Miss Leah, matriarchal neighbor to the three sisters, who are superbly depicted by Laverne Lewis, Carey Hart, and Lela Elam. The role of blacks in America's westward expansion is not widely known. Flyin' West does an admirable job conveying the story, in particular that of the three sisters, who ultimately find in themselves the strength to survive and build a future. -- CR Through May 9. The M Ensemble Actors Studio, 12320 W. Dixie Hwy., North Miami. 305-895-8955.
Fully Committed: Reviewed in this issue. Through May 9. Coconut Grove Playhouse, 3500 Main Hwy., Coconut Grove. 305-442-4000.
Permanent Collection: Thomas Gibbons's Permanent Collection is a must-see examination of race, art, and the media. The play centers on a series of dialogues primarily between Sterling North, an African-American outsider who takes over a prestigious arts foundation, and Paul Barrow, the foundation's long-time director of education. Thanks to Gibbons's deftly constructed text and these highly charged performances, as we watch North and Barrow spar their way through accusations of racism and reverse racism, we really don't know what's going to happen next. Through April 25 -- ML Florida Stage, Plaza Del Mar, 262 S. Ocean Boulevard, Manalapan. 561-585-3433 or 800-541-3837.
Trembling Hands: Reviewed in this issue. Through May 1. The Light Box, 3000 Biscayne Blvd. 305-576-6377.
Waiting for Godot: Robert Hooker's production of Samuel Beckett's absurdist classic at the Sol Theatre Project features a lot of agile physicality and snappy patter with a decidedly hip, modern sensibility. The solid production is anchored by the inspired clowning of Jim Gibbons and Jim Sweet as two road-weary tramps waiting in the middle of nowhere for someone who may never show up. While Hooker's staging misses some of Beckett's deeper meanings, this inventive, high-energy show is smart, fast, and thoroughly engaging. -- RM Through April 25. Sol Theatre Project, 1140 N. Flagler Dr., Fort Lauderdale. 954-525-6555.
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