Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Opening: ARSENIC AND OLD LACE at Florida Rep

Vicki Boyle, Carrie Lund, Michael Satow
and Harli Cooper in "Arsenic and Old Lace."

"Arsenic and Old Lace" opens Friday at Florida Rep. Bob Cacioppo has been talking about this one ever since the season opened. What does he say? "A killer comedy?" Or something like that.

The photos alone...

"Arsenic and Old Lace" runs Jan. 10-29. Performances are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with 2 p.m. matinees on Wednesday, Sunday and selected Saturdays. For tickets ($40 & $45), call 239-332-4488 or floridarep.org.

Review: RELATIVELY SPEAKING at Theatre Conspiracy

People talk a lot.

Well, let's correct that. We speak a lot. Talking implies a conversation.


We rarely talk, unless we talk at each other. We never listen. But what happens when communication fails? Theatre Conspiracy explores that in a charming troika of one-acts titled "Relatively Speaking." 

A trio of kosher tchotkes examining the human condition from Ethan Coen, Elaine May and Woody Allen, the plays drill mankind's inability to both communicate and appreciate. What are we saying? What aren't we hearing? And why can't we all just get along?

Assembling a large cast in the heart of season, be it amateur or professional, poses certain difficulties. "Relatively Speaking" needs near-perfect casting and chemistry to make its mix-and-match message about the frailties of human interaction work. I'm not sure Koch ever found what she was hoping for, although the show certainly delivers on its comedy and gets its message across. Still, for a play from Jewish writers, "Relatively Speaking" feels … relatively gentile?


"Relatively Speaking" plays at 8 p.m. Jan. 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24 & 25 with one 2 p.m. matinée on Sunday, Jan. 29. Tickets are $20 with various specials. For more information, call 239-936-3239 or theatreconspiracy.org.

Stella Ruiz and Scott Thomson in Woody Allen's
"Honeymoon Hotel," the third part of
"Relatively Speaking."
"What did the waiter say to the table full of Jewish mothers?"


"Is anything okay?"

Review: SOUTH PACIFIC at Broadway Palm

"South Pacific" at Broadway Palm.

"South Pacific" at Broadway Palm.
Give the guys, girls, Seabees, ensigns and officers of "South Pacific" credit. Broadway Palm tackles the show just three years after the spectacular Lincoln Center production toured Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. Smaller in scale, but tight, taut - and maybe even more fun. Lord, some of those chorus boys need a tan though!


Director Brian J. Enzman flits through Polynesia with skill and verve, navigating the islands like a native. "South Pacific" will never move like a modern musical.  They don't write them like that anymore for a reason, but listening to Paige Mattox sing "A Cockeyed Optimist," you almost wish they did.

Chief quibble? The music. Loren Strickland does wonders with a five-piece band. It just can't sound anything but thin in places, especially for a show written for a full Broadway orchestra. It can't be helped - but I'd love to give Strickland a larger band at least one night a week.


"South Pacific" play Tuesday through Sunday with selected matinées through Feb. 15. Tickets are $35-$58. Call 239-278-4422 or broadwaypalm.com.

"South Pacific" at Broadway Palm.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Opening: BLACK TIE at the Naples Players

"Black Tie" runs Jan. 15-Feb. 8, 2014.
Call (239) 263-7990 or naplesplayers.org.

"Black Tie," the A.R. Gurney comedy, opens Jan. 15 at the Naples Players. Asia Johnson has replaced Jenna Canfield in the role of Elsie. John McKerrow directs.

Here's the cast, which we released a while ago.

Curtis: Jim Heffernan
Father: Val Kuffel
Mimi: Ellen Coper
Elsie: Asia Johnson
Teddy: Klinton Blair

"Black Tie," about one father's struggle to produce the perfect wedding toast, takes a torch to a lot old High WASP traditions like oyster stuffing and cuff links. Florida Rep produced the show in April 2012. Of the many works in the Gurney canon, "Black Tie" isn't a superb show, but it does offer an interesting culture clash. Read my review of the "Florida Rep" show here.

"Black Tie" runs Jan. 15-Feb. 8, 2014. Call (239) 263-7990 or naplesplayers.org.