Stage Notes

Some of the best singing, dancing and musicianship I've seen at the Coconut Grove Playhouse this year now occupies the main stage -- and the occupants are a group of local teen-agers and the Playhouse's young apprentices, presenting an original work called The Sun Drum. Although it deals with loads of politically correct issues such as AIDS, brotherly love, ethnic differences, and homelessness, it manages to inform without being didactic and to appeal to audiences of all ages. Written and directed by Playhouse Associate Director of Education Patricia Dolan Gross, the action centers on two "regular" teenagers hiding the fact that they're infected with the HIV virus.

Sure, the script has its choppy and talky moments (children's theater is difficult to write), but the kids dance, play instruments, and vocalize with such enthusiasm and talent that the grade- and middle-school audience sitting around me rose to a spontaneous standing ovation at the end. One great stand-out is Sam the Sax Man, portrayed by the show's composer, Christopher Rodriguez (from the University of Miami), who blows his heart out live and sings with equal ease. Also impressive are the graceful moves of apprentice Kathy K. Kurtz, the drumming skills of ninth-grader Afimayi Galarraga, and the vocal strength of Tamara Mejias, also in the ninth grade. Apprentice Luis Marcelin as the lead character, Tony, and twelfth-grader Natalie Medina as a singing and dancing journalist (and I thought I was the only one) act with both command and honesty.

The show runs through July 31 at 10:30 a.m., with a special evening performance July 31 at 7:30 p.m. Your kids will love it and should see it for the potent message, but you won't be bored either. For more information, call 442-2662.

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Roberta Morgan