by Jan Davisson
Ballet Palm Beach Presents Romeo and Juliet
The perfect valentine gift for your lady love would be tickets to the Ballet Palm Beach production of Romeo & Juliet. This Shakespearean tale has it all! Duels, masquerades, revenge, love and the powerful score of Prokofiev to guide the dancers through the story. Three performances only: Saturday, February 18 at 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m, and Sunday at 4 p.m. Tickets are $19 – $45 and can be purchased by calling (561) 814-5598 or online at www.BalletPalmBeach.org.
Maltz Jupiter Theatre
Congratulations to the Maltz Jupiter Theatre for the 18 Carbonell nominations received for the year! Needless to say, the fantastic Me and My Girl received 10 nominations, including in the best musical category: Best Actress Julie Kleiner and Best Actor the talented Matt Loehr. This puts Loehr in competition with himself as he also received a Best Actor nod for lead actor in the Will Rogers Follies. Other Maltz Jupiter Theatre nominations include: Laura Hodos as Best Actress for The Will Rogers Follies; Gail Baldoni received two nominations for Best Costume Design for Me and My Girl and The Will Rogers Follies, while Marty Mets earned two Best Sound Design nominations for Frost/Nixon and Me and My Girl, all at Maltz Jupiter Theatre.
My guess is that next year it will all belong to The Producers. It’s a laugh-filled, high-energy extravaganza with remarkable talent. As someone once commented, “everyone is offended” by the sharp wit and tongue-in-cheek humor of writers Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan. Both lyrics and music are the work of Brooks. Come on, who else would possible come up with the huge production number of Springtime For Hitler? It was so outrageous that the audience erupted with laughter and wild applause.
It’s always a treat to see an actor not take the easy way out by imitating the original star of the show. Lenny Wolpe as producer Max Bialystock was his own man with outstanding talent, comedic timing and a fantastic voice. He’s been in numerous productions all over the US. As side-kick Leo Bloom, Mark Price was priceless. He proved to be the perfect foil for Wolpe’s rapid-fire comments. His energy and bumbling were hilarious, especially when confronted with stunning Elyse Collier as the Swedish actress Ulla. Collier was delightful and certainly had the comedic chops to keep up with Wolpe and Price.
There were so many great character parts that I can’t mention everyone; however, Roland Ursine cannot be overlooked. His role as Franz Liebkind, writer of the unpublished script Springtime for Hitler, was fantastic. He was provided with a cage full of well-choreographed doves as musical backups.
From the hilarious oversexed old lady show backers to the over the top gay director, Roger Debris, portrayed by Michael Brian Dunn, director Mark Martino did himself proud, giving the spotlight to each and every one of the talented cast.
Next up: Disgraced, a powerful, thought-provoking play that uncovers issues from religion to social status. Following each performance, a Continue the Conversation will be conducted for 90 minutes for the audience to share their own opinions and thoughts. Disgraced opens February 12 and runs through the 26th.
For ticket information contact:
Maltz Jupiter Theatre, 1001 E. Indiantown Rd, Jupiter, Tickets: (561) 575-2223; www.jupitertheatre.org
Palm Beach Dramaworks
Again, I start out with congratulations for Palm Beach Dramaworks’ 11 Carbonell nominations including the summer musical 1776, which has been nominated for Best Musical, Clive Cholerton as Best Director with actress Laura Hodos nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Other drama shows nominated include Long Days Journey Into Night and The Night of the Iguana. Producing Artistic Director, William Hayes, seems to have the knack of knowing which of the old and new classics to conquer…and always casts a host of talented actors.
On to February production… It’ll be hard to top the story of Truman Capote by Jay Pressor Allen, Tru, the stunning January production at the Don & Ann Brown Theatre on Clematis Street, but I’m sure Palm Beach Dramaworks is up to the challenge. Playwright Donald Margulles has created a controversial script about a young writer who decides to make her first novel about her mentor’s affair with a well- known poet. Is this creative freedom or should she have been loyal? Lots of issues will lead to lots of drama. Collected Stories will run from February 3 through March 5. The cast includes Anna Marie Cusson as Ruth Steiner, an author and professor and Keira Keeley as Lisa Morrison her protégée.
Palm Beach Dramaworks has also just announced its summer musical. The Tony award winning show Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, July 14-July 6. If it’s even half as good as 1776, it’s a winner.
The Don & Ann Brown Theatre is located in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach at 201 Clematis Street. For ticket information, contact the box office at (561) 514-4042 or visit www.palmbeachdramaworks.org.
Kravis Theatre for the Performing Arts
The Kravis has been celebrating its 25th anniversary in fine style. It’s called the Jewel on the Hill, with good reason. You could see an event every single night and never get bored. From one night performances by top entertainers such as Smokey Robinson on March 5 to The Four Tops and The Temptations, April 11 to The Celtic Woman 2017 tour on March 4. If you’re a big Michael Feinstein fan, he’ll be conducting the Kravis Center Pops Orchestra on February 19, March 13 and April 12.
The Rinker Playhouse includes a variety of shows from a special Hello, Jerry featuring the songs of Jerry Herman of Hello Dolly fame, February 25-26. Or how about Soul Crooners, celebrating the music of the 1970’s April 27-30.
Dreyfoos Hall has everything from opera and ballet to concerts and the Kravis on Broadway series. This series brings in the top shows for a week of fine entertainment. The January production of Dirty Dancing received rave reviews and brought back lots of great memories. One of my favorites, The Phantom of the Opera is slated March 23-April 1 followed by Kinky Boots in April and The Sound of Music in May.
One night shows include Pippen on February 16; Annie on March 2 and Judgment at Nuremberg on April 16.
Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach Tickets (561) 832-7469 or (800) 572-8471; www.kravis.org.
The Wick Theatre in Boca Raton
One of the newest theaters in the area, the Wick is quickly becoming a power with which to be reckoned. Hosting a variety of events from one night performances such as Valerie Tyson bringing the iconic sounds of Gladys Knight and Aretha Franklin to outstanding productions of the best of musicals.
Sister Act was presented in January and proved to be an outstanding show. So much so that it earned a Carbonell nomination for best actress for Jessica Brooke Sanford and another for choreographer Kelly Shook in I Love a Piano.
Now we come to the February production of West Side Story with music by Leonard Bernstein. It is directed and choreographed by Charles South and Ryan VanDenBoom who have done a masterful job of moving a large dancing cast around the ingenious scenic design by Michael McClain. It is truly a flawless production. Starring Thaddeus Pearson as Tony and Mary Joanna Grisso as Maria with voices that blend together like milk and honey. Jeff Smith as Riff, the leader of the Jets is outstanding. This is a major accomplishment as the entire ensemble is fantastic.
The story involves a Puerto Rican gang (the Sharks) coming into the Jets territory in New York and the fight for domination. Pasqualino Beltempo as Bernardo leads his gang with bravado and grace. He’s a wonderful dancer and has the dark, handsome looks you’d expect of someone with the musical sounding name of Bernardo. Of course, his girlfriend, Rosalia portrayed by Melissa Therese Then, is a remarkable dancer and actress. This is the role that made Chita Rivera a star. The choreography is beautiful, the dancer combines grace with toughness as befits “gang members.” not an easy thing to accomplish. Have to say that my favorite dance numbers remain the same after all these years. I still adore the opening number of The Jet Song and the Shark girls, led by Rosalia, in America. I saw the original West Side Story when it came out in 1957. Both these production numbers were equally enthralling. The story line is compared with Romeo and Juliet and the age-old problem of power and territory that doesn’t go away. This show just doesn’t age. West Side Story runs through February 26.
Coming up in March is another classic, Frank Loesser’s celebrated musical comedy, Guys & Dolls, March 9 through April 9. So get out your dice and fedoras to get in character. The Wick is always dressed in character, it’s a delight.
The Wick Theatre, 7901 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton. Box Office (561) 995-2333 or www.wick.org.