Miami Director Brings a Painter's Eye to the Third Annual One-Minute Play Festival

Courtesy of The Deering Estate
Hannah Citrin, Casey Dressler, Jose Elosegui, Desiree Mora, and Adam Simpson perform at this weekend's One Minute Play Festival
There's a thin line between painting and directing. Both inherently visual mediums, painting and directing can often inform each other. Vincent Gallo, Steve McQueen, and Jean Cocteau all had their creative starts in the visual arts, before moving on to direct plays and films. For local playwright Wendy White, the transition from abstract expressionist painter to director was practically seamless.

This weekend, White injected a local's dose of reality to The Third Annual One-Minute-Play Festival, at the Deering Estate. The event showcased over 70 original short vignette-like plays from 30 different local playwrights. The New Times sat down with White, as she rehearsed a small band of actors for the festival at her gallery and workspace located in Wynwood's GAB Studio.

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Choir Boy: A Miami Take on a High School Musical

Photo by George Schiavone
As GableStage prepares for the opening of Choir Boy, its fourth Tarell Alvin McCraney production in as many seasons, artistic director Joseph Adler can't stop himself from talking about the playwright and Miami native.

"I've known him since he was in high school at New World, and I've watched his career. You hear the term 'meteoric rise' very often, but it's never been more apt," Adler says. "He's received great reviews and awards, many of them carrying cash, [but] he hasn't changed at all. He still doesn't drive a car. He's one of the only people I know who can get around Miami on a bicycle or bus. And he's never late for an appointment!"

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The Lion King Cast Talks About Their Animal Transformations

Courtesy of Broadway Across America/ Joan Marcus
The theater goes dark and suddenly, a heavily adorned tribesperson appears on stage and that familiar tune begins: "Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba!" The chant gets gradually louder as actors costumed as wild animals start filing in through the isles. Soon, the stage is full of creatures all there for the purpose of honoring the new future king of the land.

Just like the 1994 animated Disney film by the same name, The Lion King musical production begins with an energy that stays with the audience throughout the entire show.

The costumes, the puppets, the music -- all have transformative powers that move both audience and cast. While promoting the production, cast members who play Mufasa, Simba, Nala, and a lead ensemble dancer gathered at the Broward Center to talk about the show.

See also: South Floridian Mykal Laury Dances His Way Through Lion King

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The Star-Spangled Girl at Mad Cat Theatre: An Alienated Neil Simon Clunker

Photo by Paul Tei
Did Mad Cat's Paul Tei select Neil Simon's The Star-Spangled Girl despite the fact that it's a bad play or because of it?

This is an unusual question to ponder when attending a play, but Mad Cat operates on a different plane of reality from most companies, a headspace so meta that most conventional considerations of a show's "goodness" or "badness" seem almost irrelevant. Mad Cat's self-reflexive, screwball remix of Simon will likely be one of the most original and, yes, unforgettable plays you'll experience this year. But, using any number of rubrics to analyze it, it's a mountain away from a good play.

See also: South Floridian Mykal Laury Dances His Way Through Lion King

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South Floridian Mykal Laury Dances His Way Through Lion King

Photo via Wikimedia Commons
A gray corset-like dress with yellow stripes is worn by a muscular man. Adorning his arms are yellow feathers, giving him the appearance of a bird in flight as he moves gracefully. On this dancer's head are three bird puppets, held up by a metal pole.

Gliding across the stage, this birdman commands the rapt attention of the audience. It's a moment full of power, a dance number that excites even the performer himself.

As a swing performer for the traveling production of Disney's The Lion King, Mykal Laury can probably perform the entire show on his own, though his favorite number will always be the birdman dance. Trying to describe the sensation he feels during that number, he stumbles, pauses, and lets out a sigh: "I just love it."

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Rent Debuts in Cuba, First Broadway Musical Staged In 50 Years

Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Rent at David Nederlander Theatre in Manhattan, New York City
Fifteen Cuban actors took to a Havana stage Wednesday night and belted out some familiar songs: One Song Glory, La Vie Bohème, and Seasons of Love. The songs are probably familiar to any Broadway enthusiast, they're all from the Pulitzer-winning musical Rent. Staging a performance of Rent might not seem like a big deal - the play is so familiar that it's regularly performed in American high schools - but in Cuba, where Broadway musicals were banned after the Revolution, it signals a turning point in the country's approach to arts. It might also be an indicator of what the Cuban arts scene might look like as the country and the United States renew relationships.

See also: Womanizer, Bus Driver, Doper, Zen Teacher -- Teo Castellanos' Life Is in His Plays

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Murders, Whales, and Chekhov Remixed: The Best Miami Theater of 2014

Photo by George Schiavone
Jade Wheeler and Avi Hoffman in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
It says a lot that Tarell Alvin McCraney's radical reinterpretation of Antony and Cleopatra -- a GableStage coproduction with New York's Public Theater and the UK's Royal Shakespeare Company, and a play anticipated for more than a year -- wasn't the best or second-best or even third-best work GableStage produced in 2014.

Accomplished as it was in its conception and follow-through, Antony is a faint memory now, a leadoff batter paving the way for the powerhouse sluggers. From May through December, the Coral Gables theater delivered one masterpiece after another, selecting the best material of any company in the region and then producing scintillating, extraordinarily acted renditions that stimulated the brain, touched the heart, tickled the funny bone, and clobbered the gut.

See also: Womanizer, Bus Driver, Doper, Zen Teacher -- Teo Castellanos' Life Is in His Plays

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Womanizer, Bus Driver, Doper, Zen Teacher -- Teo Castellanos' Life Is in His Plays

Categories: Longreads, Theater

Photo by Ian Witlen
On the second day of eighth grade in 1975, Teo Castellanos, a runty Puerto Rican kid in shiny new Pro-Keds, nervously scanned the hallways of Carol City Junior High between classes, on the lookout for his nemesis. The year before, a much bigger kid had approached from behind in drama class, swung his forearm around Castellanos' neck in a chokehold, and squeezed until he blacked out.

Over the summer, Castellanos had resolved to toughen up. His older brother advised him to fight to the end, no matter what. Castellanos vowed that he would.

Suddenly, in the crowded hallway, Castellanos spotted the nemesis, who immediately yanked his hair.

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Miracle on South Division Street: A Fine Cast Translates Middling Holiday Humor

Actors' Playhouse has an identity crisis. How else do you explain the emotional whiplash induced by its programming every year? This is a theater torn between cutting-edge drama and milquetoast comedy, between shows that push its audience in new directions and ones that reward passive complacency.

Two seasons ago, it followed the powerful one-two punch of Other Desert Cities and In the Heights with the limp slapstick and pandering populism, respectively, of The Fox on the Fairway and Rated P... for Parenthood; last season, the cerebral and literary Scott & Hem in the Garden of Allah paved the way toward another doggedly unchallenging comedy potpourri, Mid-Life 2 (The Crisis Continues).

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Broadway Returns to Cuba With Spanish-Language Production of Rent

Categories: Theater

Photo by Marcin Wichary | Flickr CC
Jonathan Larson's beloved musical Rent is headed to Cuba.

Deadspin reports the Spanish-language production will be produced by Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment in partnership with the Cuban National Council of Performing Arts. Nederlander says it's the first Broadway musical with a full cast, musicians and first-class production elements produced in Cuba in over 50 years. The show, which will have a three-month run, will open Christmas Eve, according to Robert Nederlander Jr.

See also: Cuba Out of Cuba: "Keeping It Alive For Future Generations"

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