Season of the Arts

The top 10 theater events to see in South Florida

Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope danced in the Broadway production of “An American in Paris,” which will play Miami and West Palm Beach this season.
Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope danced in the Broadway production of “An American in Paris,” which will play Miami and West Palm Beach this season.

1. Stephen Adly Guirgis’ “Between Riverside and Crazy,” Jan. 21-Feb. 19 at GableStage in the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.

Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, “Between Riverside and Crazy” centers on a retired black cop, himself the victim of police violence, and the forces conspiring to get him out of his rent-controlled Manhattan apartment. Profane, sexy and provocative, it’s the latest from the author of “The Motherf**ker With the Hat,” part of a powerful season that also includes Sarah Burgess’ hot “Dry Powder” and Deborah Zoe Laufer’s acclaimed “Informed Consent.”

2. Michael McKeever’s “After,” Oct. 27-Nov. 13, Zoetic Stage at the Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater in Miami.

Life is good for McKeever, who will see his Carbonell Award-winning “Daniel’s Husband” produced by Primary Stages at Off-Broadway’s Cherry Lane Theatre in the spring and have his play “Finding Mona Lisa” staged at Actors’ Playhouse next summer. This fall brings the Zoetic Stage world premiere of his newest work, “After,” an examination of two shattered families whose teen sons lose everything when bullying turns deadly. One other don’t-miss Zoetic show: Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s exquisite musical “Sunday in the Park with George.”

3. Deborah Zoe Laufer’s “The Three Sisters of Weehawken,” Oct. 21-Nov. 6, Theatre Lab at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.

Louis Tyrrell, who gave New York-based Laufer her first professional production when he ran the now-defunct Florida Stage, is kicking off the first season of productions by his new venture Theatre Lab with a Laufer world premiere. Drawing from Anton Chekhov and Samuel Beckett, the play looks at a trio of New Jersey sisters who feel stuck in life, forever gazing toward the promised land of Manhattan.

4. “Carousel,” Feb. 1-26, Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables.

While Actors’ Playhouse goes eclectic with its offerings (Robert Schenkkan’s Tony Award-winning LBJ play “All the Way” and the Broadway hit “Million Dollar Quartet” are on deck this season), a big part of artistic director David Arisco’s heart belongs to classic musicals. This time, he’ll tackle Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s gorgeous, glorious, tragic 1945 work “Carousel.” Carbonell Award winner Tally Sessions, who has been accumulating Broadway and major regional theater credits of late, stars as Billy Bigelow. When a show has songs like “If I Loved You,” the ravishing “Soliloquy” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” what’s not to love?

5. “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” Oct. 20-Nov. 6, Slow Burn Theatre at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale.

After a successful first season in its new digs at the Broward Center’s Amaturo Theater, Slow Burn remains musical-intensive in its second. The company is among the first to get the rights to “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” the Disney musical with a score by Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz and a book by Peter Parnell. The show about the deformed bell ringer Quasimodo, the corrupt archdeacon Frollo and the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda is darker and richer than the 1996 animated Disney movie, drawing on material from Victor Hugo’s classic 1831 novel.

6. “An American in Paris,” Dec. 6-11, Kravis Center in West Palm Beach; Dec. 27-Jan. 1, Arsht Center in Miami.

Intriguing new touring Broadway shows (“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” at West Palm Beach’s Kravis Center, “Something Rotten” at Fort Lauderdale’s Broward Center) and the return of Carole King’s story-in-song “Beautiful” (playing the Kravis and Miami’s Arsht Center) are gems that Broadway-savvy theater lovers will be looking forward to this season. But fans of movies, dance and musicals are most likely looking forward to the stage version of “An American in Paris,” a romantic, drenched-in-arts show with a book by Craig Lucas and music by George and Ira Gershwin. C’est magnifique!

7. Tom Stoppard’s “Arcadia,” March 31-April 30, Palm Beach Dramaworks in West Palm Beach.

Stoppard’s brilliant 1993 play unfolds in the same English country house in two different time periods: the early 19th century and the present, with scenes set in alternating eras until the final one, when characters coexist in the space. Comic and tragic, the play examines scientific theories, how present-day researchers interpret or misinterpret the past, chaos vs. order, Classicism vs. Romanticism. Fascinating and deep, it’s a challenging modern classic that’s exactly what Dramaworks’ artists and audiences find thrilling.

8. Peter Morgan’s “The Audience,” Oct. 23-Nov. 6, Maltz Jupiter Theatre in Jupiter.

Helen Mirren may have no peer when it comes to portraying Queen Elizabeth II on film (“The Queen,” which brought her an Oscar) and on stage (“The Audience,” which won her a Tony Award). But in “The Audience,” screenwriter and playwright Morgan has crafted a role that will allow many a veteran actor to display her range, as Great Britain’s longest-reigning monarch meets weekly with her prime ministers from 1951 to (almost) the present. The season opener at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre is an entertaining, imagined behind-the-scenes look at how politics and the personal intersect in the life of a world-famous royal.

9. Lucas Hnath’s “A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney,” through Sept. 25, Thinking Cap Theatre at the Vanguard in Fort Lauderdale.

Playwright Hnath grew up in Orlando, so it isn’t terribly surprising that he would think to write a play about Walt Disney. What is intriguing about this Off-Broadway piece is that Walt, his brother Roy, his daughter and her husband are all characters in a play about the disconnect between the sanitized image of a figure who aspired to bring a flawless vision of joy to the masses and the ambitious, complex man who wanted to defy death. Thinking Cap has begun its season, which also includes a production of Cuban-American playwright Maria Irene Fornes’ avant-garde “Mud,” with an examination of the warts-and-all side of the Disney dream.

10. Daniel Beaty’s “The Tallest Tree in the Forest,” Oct. 27-Nov. 13, Miami New Drama at the Colony Theatre in Miami Beach.

Moisés Kaufman, the celebrated director and author of “The Laramie Project” and “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde,” makes his debut as Miami New Drama’s artistic associate by staging “The Tallest Tree in the Forest.” Written and performed by Beaty, the solo show with music dissects the life of legendary actor, singer and activist Paul Robeson.

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