Performing Arts

Local actors follow their dreams at Main Street Players in Miami Lakes

Growing up, Clara Lyzniak dreamed of becoming a performer, but didn’t have the opportunity to fully pursue her passion.

“When I was a little girl in Cuba I was in plays, and I would make up plays in my house, in the backyard,” said Lyzniak, president of the Main Street Players. “I always had that itch to perform.”

Lyzniak got a second shot at her childhood dream in 1997, when her son Jason, then 7-years-old, told her he wanted to become an actor. Soon Jason was performing in his first play with the Community Theatre of Hialeah-Miami Lakes, now the Main Street Players.

Just like that, Lyniak was able to return to her love of performing.

“I just stayed involved, from theater mom to theater president, and a lot of things in between,” said Lyzniak, an award-winning actress. “I consider all these people that I work with on a day-to-day basis my theater family.”

During a recent dress rehearsal for God of Carnage, which opened this week, the bonds among the cast and crew of the Main Street Players were apparent — and since the playhouse is run solely on volunteer power, their passion for theater was clear as well.

Robert Coppel, artistic director of the theater and director of God of Carnage, says he believes theater shouldn’t just entertain people “but also inspire people, provoke people, get people to think about what’s going on in the world.”

“I am a firm believer that the script is the most important thing,” Coppel said. “If you don’t have a good script you shouldn’t do the show.”

God of Carnage is a thought-provoking dark comedy about two sets of parents who attempt to remain civil while having a conversation about their children getting into a fight at school.

The conversation starts cordially, but soon the adults begin to act childish themselves. The play touches on subjects such as parenting, misogyny, racial prejudice and homophobia.

“All of the characters really have a point of view, some have façades, and it’s pretty much a deconstruction of said façades,” said Manny Catalino, 36, of the Sunset Place area. “Like they say, its a play about manners without the manners.”

Catalino, who plays Alan Raleigh in God of Carnage, has been with the Main Street Players since 2006.

For Christine La Rochelle, who plays Annette Raleigh, this is her first play with the Main Street Players. She says she has enjoyed the experience.

“I think it’s getting to do something you love and not having that pressure of, this is what I do to pay the rent,” said La Rochelle, 27, of Coral Gables. “It’s kind of a release. This is something I am passionate about, that I enjoy so deeply, and it’s a release for me, it lets me let go.”

Seating fewer than 70 people, and located in the heart of Main Street in Miami Lakes, the playhouse serves as a cozy venue to watch a show.

“I think a big selling point for this place is the theater itself,” Coppel said. “I mean look at the intimacy of it. People talk about this theater after they’ve left. They tell other people ‘You got to go to this theater, it’s a great place to watch a show.’”

Lyzniak says theatergoers come from as far away as the Keys and West Palm Beach.

The playhouse serves as a place where people of all levels of experience can come and practice their craft, she says.

“We’re like the springboard for people who study theater,” Lyzniak said. “We open the door to anyone, whether they have a built up a résumé or not, it’s about giving an opportunity to up and coming actors as well as technical staff.”

If you go

God of Carnage is currently playing at the Main Street Playhouse, 6766 Main St., Miami Lakes, and will run until May 17. For tickets and more information visit or call 305-558-3737.

The Main Street Players is a not-for-profit organization and seeks donations to maintain and enhance their services. To become a sponsor, email or visit Those who wish to volunteer can fill out an application by visiting the Main Street Players’ website.