by Jan Davisson
Two old favorites (South Pacific and Camelot); the Magic version of Cirque du Soleil (The Illusionists); and a world premier (Edgar & Emily) are ready to be blown in by March winds to the delight of Palm Beach County theatergoers!
Kravis Center for the Performing Arts
The Times of London called The Illusionists ” a Magic’s Cirque Du Soleil” and no wonder, it headlines five of magic’s top illusionists. But, it’s not all about their death-defying stunts and magic tricks; it’s fantastic entertainment. The Illusionists is at the Kravis from (March 6-11.)
It will be followed by The Bodyguard (April 10-15) starring Canadian singing sensation, Deborah Cox along with Judson Mills (Francis Gage on television show, Walker, Texas Ranger). The Bodyguard is based on the film of the same name that starred Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. The soundtrack became the best-selling album of all times. The Broadway musical version opened on Broadway in 2012. The suspenseful musical features the songs written by Whitney Houston such as One Moment In Time and the classic written by Dolly Parton and recorded by Houston, I Will Always Love You.
Exciting news is the announcement of the 2018/19 Kravis on Broadway Series. It includes a season of Tony-winning musicals including three featuring rock music. This includes the kickoff musical Rock of Ages (November 6-11) featuring some of the favorite music of the eighties. A holiday present is the return of Hello Dolly with stunning dance productions, costumes and music such as Before The Parade Passes You By, It Only Takes a Moment and of course, Hello Dolly. This brings us wonderful memories of the original starring Carol Channing and actor/director/teacher Charles Nelson Reilly. Charles, a favorite part time resident and teacher at the Burt Reynolds Institute for Theatre Training, received a Tony nomination for the role of Cornelius.
The new year starts with the exciting musical On Your Feet, which tells the story of Miami’s biggest celebrities, Gloria and Emilio Estefan (January 8-13, 2019). It features favorites from the fantastic Latin rhythms of The Miami Sound Machine.
The month of February has a valentine for everyone, Les Miserables (February 12-17). It’s been more than 30 years since the show made its Broadway debut and is sure to be around for everyone to love for the next 30 years.
A true musical comedy, Waitress, (March 10-15) based upon the movie filmed in 2007 about a woman who enters a baking contest to put some excitement into her loveless marriage and dreary life.
The Andrew Lloyd Webber’s award winning show, School of Rock the Musical (March 27-31), features as bunch of kids from an upscale prep school turned into a rock band headed for a Battle of the Bands competition.
Then the unbelievable musical Disney’s The Lion King (April 24-May 5)—with magnificent costumes, puppets and music by Elton John-Tim Rice (Circle of Life, Hakuna Matata). This is the final production in the Kravis on Broadway Series. A tease for the 2019/20 season is Hamilton!
Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach Tickets (561) 832-7469 or 800-572-8471; www.kravis.org.
Maltz Jupiter Theatre
A word about the wonderfully suspenseful production, The Inspector Calls, with a cast of many familiar faces of South Florida professional actors. Directed by J. Barry Lewis, who seems to win a Carbonnel Award for director every year. Lewis manages to fill this turn of the century mystery into scenes with so many red herrings it would take Sherlock Holmes to figure it out. The cast is outstanding; however, with the talents of James Andreassi as Inspector Goole, Cliff Burgess as Eric Birling and Rob Donohoe as Arthur Birling, it’s hard for this show not to be a dramatic hit for the season.
Playing from March 6-25 is the enchanting musical South Pacific, with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein. Based on the book, Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener, it takes place on a Pacific Island during WWII and was ahead of its time with a story line that centers around prejudices that are ingrained in society from birth. It opened on Broadway in 1949 and starred Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza. I dare you to try and not hum along with the music. Some Enchanted Evening, I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair and Younger Than Springtime, just to name a few. I think that it has the most songs from a Broadway show that have remained standard tunes of our music culture.
Since it’s March, the Maltz has a special Irish tribute for Saint Paddy’s Day, the return of the fantastic Celtic Tenors with a mix of wonderful traditional Irish songs plus favorite tunes from Broadway. So, drag out your green duds, and get into the mood at this one-night-only performance on March 12 at 7:30 pm.
Maltz Jupiter Theatre, 1001 E. Indiantown Rd, Jupiter. Tickets: (561) 575-2223; www.jupitertheatre.org.
Palm Beach Dramaworks
It’s going to be hard to top On Golden Pond, the last production that just closed at the Don & Ann Brown Theatre in downtown West Palm Beach. But, I always say that, and they always prove me wrong. Next up, March 31-April 22 is the world premiere of Edgar & Emily by Joseph McDonough. The fantasy tale involves Emily Dickinson, the poet and Edgar Allan Poe, the author of numerous dark tales and poems of horror such as The Tell-Tale Heart and The Raven. What makes this script so intriguing is that Poe lived from 1809-1849 and died in Baltimore, Maryland; Dickinson ( 1830-1886) was born in Amherst, Massachusetts and wrote melancholy verses, many not published until after her death. So, it’s an unlikely meeting for two writers about as diverse as one can get.
The production of On Golden Pond was wonderful. Directed by Paul Stancato, it featured a stellar cast. The disagreeable Norman Thayer, Jr. aptly played by John Felix and Pat Bowie as his loving, understanding wife. Karen Stephens as their daughter, Chelsea Thayer Wayne, who drops by for a visit and to leave her fiancée’s difficult teenage son, Billy Ray (Casey Butler) while she goes off for a short vacation with Bill Ray, Sr. ( Jim Ballard )/. Ballard has to be the busiest actor in South Florida and will tackle any character. As Chelsea’s fiancée’s and young Billy father, he takes a co-starring role and makes it his own. Ballard always does an outstanding job and did not disappoint in this role.
Charlie Martin, Chelsea’s childhood boyfriend, is played by Paul Tei and lends humor to the production. The lovely rapport between Billy Ray and Norman Thayer, Jr. creates many poignant moments. Someone to watch in the future: young Casey Butler. He does an outstanding job of starting out as a spoiled kid and changing into a young man of whom you’d be proud and held his own with the lead actor, John Felix as Norman. The script by Ernest Thompson is sharp and witty but also explores lack of communications as a family problem. Can’t say enough about the set design by Bill Clarke. Coupled with the lighting by Donald Edmund Thomas, you felt like you were really on a golden pond. The intimate theater tends to do that. Makes you feel like you’re eavesdropping.
Palm Beach Dramaworks, 201 Clematis Street, West Palm Beach FL 33401 Tickets: 561–514–4042 Ext. 2; www.palmbeachdramaworks.org.
Even using recorded music instead of an orchestra, Singing in the Rain was a joy to behold. Naturally, the costumes at the Wick are always over the top. After all, they have a complete museum of Broadway costumes. The talent was outstanding. The trio of stars included Jeremy Benton as Don Lockwood, the silent movie star; Darien Crago as Kathy Selden, the wanta be star; and Courter Simmons as Cosmo Brown, Lockwood’s side kick. In the movie this trio featured Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor. It’s not often that a production requires three triple threats (singing, dancing and acting) to stage a production; however, this group more than filled the bill. I have always loved the character roles and Singing in the Rain is no different. The adorable Laura Plyler stole the show with her “dumb blond” routine as Lina Lamont whose career in silent movies is about to end because of her shrill speaking voice. It’s a wonderful role and she made the most of it.
It’s hard to go wrong with a musical score ranging from novelty songs like Fit as a Fiddle and Make ’em Laugh to old standards like You Were Meant for Me and Your Are My Lucky Star. Of course, the hits are what you leave the theater singing, Good Morning and Singing in the Rain. It was definitely a hit. Next up another winner, Brigadoon (March 8-April 8). This must be the year of Gene Kelly as he also starred in the Brigadoon movie. So, already you know that the dancing will be terrific. It’s a lovely fantasy with a beautiful love story.
The Wick Theatre & Costume Museum, 7901 North Federal Highway, Boca Raton, FL 33487. Tickets: (561) 995-2333, email@example.com