The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant: With just two productions under their belt, the cast and crew of White Orchard Theater are courageously readying the curtain once again, this time for Rainer Werner Fassbinders provocative 1972 play. Set in the bedroom of the shows title character, this provocative work explores the relationship between Petra, an arrogant fashion designer, and her young, beautiful female lover. The female cast of six depicts with stark honesty the lengths to which people will journey simply to stay with those they love. Fassbinders play offers a chilling narrative that brings to life the pain, longing, manipulation, and deception inherent in any relationship. Joanne Green February 4 at the German-American Society, 6401 Washington St., Hollywood; February 5 at the German-American Social Club of Greater Miami, 11919 SW 56th St., Miami; 305-331-1293.
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: Singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka topped the charts with a slew of hits during the late Fifties and early Sixties; many of them are now considered golden oldies. The twenty-odd Sedaka classics Breaking Up uses to narrate its predictable plot will lure baby boomers and doo-wop fans en masse. Few others will likely find this jukebox musical a must-see or even a maybe-see. Set in New York's Catskill Mountains during the summer of 1960, the play includes a six-member cast and four musicians who gaily bebop their way through more than two hours of family-friendly fun. Think Dirty Dancing meets Grease meets Little Shop of Horrors but without the sultry moves, charismatic stars, and man-eating plants. This revamped edition of Breaking Up boasts strong lyrical performances and some genuinely funny moments, and climaxes in a singing, dancing, foot-tapping finale. Though it may not win any awards for originality, it is a cheerfully entertaining and nostalgic piece of musical theater. Joanne Green Through February 12. Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables; 305-444-9293, www.actorsplayhouse.org.
Cradle of Man: With intelligent design worming its way through academia, we could really use a good evolution play that looks at the natural history of man in the way Copenhagen looked at nuclear physics and Proof looked at mathematics. But even with its promising title, Melanie Marnich's Cradle of Man isn't it. Instead, in a Tanzanian hotel, two American couples cross paths in a tiresome evening of Love Boat-style adultery. Is an intriguing science-versus-religion debate in store? Nope. Cradle of Man uses scientific metaphors to talk ponderously about love and infidelity. Even with its occasionally clever exchanges, Cradle is clunky, with lots of misspent and misconceived emotion that makes you lose faith in its navigation long before it ends. Dave Amber Through March 5. Florida Stage, 262 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan; 561-585-3433.
The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant
Hand of God: Thank God a new play about Catholic priests that mentions neither pope nor pedophilia. South Florida Everyman playwright/actor Michael McKeever's production is about miracles; it explores the interface between wonder and practical life and taps out a definition of miracle that's accessible to real people in a modern world. McKeever's play goes the latter route, with an exploration of priests as regular folks. Miracles in Hand of God find definition more through conviction, faith, and caring for others than through bright visions and oddly shaped grilled cheese sandwiches. Dave Amber Through February 5. Palm Beach Dramaworks, 322 Banyan Blvd., West Palm Beach; 561-514-4042.
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