In South Florida theater news this week, acclaimed playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney is teaching at the University of Miami and launching a new arts education program, Dan Kelley has been named Stage Door Theatre’s artistic director, Broadway actor Chester Gregory is headed for Miami’s Arsht Center to play soul singer Jackie Wilson, and Lost Girls Theatre has readings of eight new short plays.
Miami playwright and MacArthur “genius” grant winner Tarell Alvin McCraney is bringing his passion for inspiring young artists to the University of Miami. A professor of theater and civic engagement in UM’s College of Arts & Sciences, McCraney is teaching an introduction to acting class this fall. He is also leading a three-year program — backed by UM, Miami-Dade County, Arts 4 Learning and the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center — designed to give black female high school students training and experience in the arts.by
“The goal, ultimately, is to reassure artists in Miami that the ‘305’ is and can be home, and by way of this program, continue to invigorate the cultural capital of our city,” McCraney said in a statement about the program, which will see students performing a Greek play as sophomores, writing a play as juniors and performing another play as seniors.
Director and actor Dan Kelley, a presence on South Florida stages since making his debut at the Ruth Foreman Theatre in 1989, has been named artistic director of the Stage Door Theatre in Margate. In 1998, Stage Door co-founders Derelle Wilson Bunn and David Torres asked the then-novice director to stage a show for them — and he has since directed more than 100, receiving Carbonell Award nominations as both an actor and director, and seeing his production of Rumors win the best ensemble Carbonell.
Stage Door, where Promises, Promises and The Fantasticks are currently running, is at 8036 W. Sample Rd., Margate. For information, call 954-344-7765 or visit www.stagedoortheatre.com.
Soul singer Jackie Wilson is the subject of The Eve of Jackie, a musical playing in the Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater Oct. 14-25. Chester Gregory, whose Broadway credits include Sister Act, Cry-Baby, Tarzan and Hairspray, stars as the dynamic Lonely Teardrops singer, who died at the age of 49.
Performances are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday at the Carnival in the Ziff Ballet Opera House, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Tickets cost $50. Call 305-949-6722 or visit www.arshtcenter.org.
Lost Girls Theatre is getting a jump start on Halloween with two evenings of readings. The eight short plays, each based on folklore, are The Legend of Henrietta Jones by Andie Arthur, Bones for Breakfast by Vanessa Garcia, Hector by Desiree Mora, Paul Bunyan, Lumbersexual by Patrick Rodriguez, After Bedtime by Matt Stabile, Katherine Siegel’s Not Quite Out of the Woods and Kindness Worth Coveting by Kent Wilson.
Reading the plays are Merry Jo Cortada, Vyvian Figueredo, Carey Brianna Hart, Emilia Hernandez, Jennipher Murphy, Carlos Rivera, Malia Nicolini, Sandi Stock and Krystal Valdes. Siegel is directing the program. The plays will be read at 8 p.m. Monday at the Deering Estate, 16701 SW 72nd Ave., Miami, and at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 20 at GableStage in the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.