Outre’ Announces Its Fourth Show of 2017/18

The Outré Theatre Company is proud to announce the fourth show of its 2017/18 season will be the outrageous and groundbreaking Hedwig and the Angry Inch by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask, starring Mike Westrich as Hedwig.
 
“Weve been wanting to produce Hedwig for quite a while,” said Outré’s Artistic Director Skye Whitcomb. “Now we find ourselves in the perfect venue, the perfect timeframe and political climate, and with the perfect actor for the role. I’m really looking forward to getting to work on it, and I think it’s an incredible show to cap off our first season at the Pompano Beach Cultural Center.”
 

Hedwig and the Angry Inch, text by John Cameron Mitchell, music and lyrics by Stephen Trask
March 22 – April 8, 2018
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm
Tickets: $39 adults, $19 students and industry
Tickets available at www.ccpompano.org or by calling (954) 839-9578
 
Outré completes its sixth season with this Tony Award-winning celebration of the genderqueer and the outsider, starring the multitalented Mike Westrich as Hedwig. Styled in a cabaret/rock show format, the musical allows Hedwig to tell their story, from their lonely childhood in East Berlin to their botched gender reassignment surgery to their search for love and completion. 

 
About Outré Theatre Company
Outré Theatre Company is a young, vibrant theatre company in beautiful South Florida. Outré believes that theatre is a living art form with the power to reimagine and reexamine ourselves and the world around us. They strive to create theatre which stimulates thought, provokes reflection, and encourages activism. www.outretheatrecompany.com
 
About the Cultural Alliance
The Cultural Alliance is comprised of highly regarded performing arts organizations based in South Florida. The eleven resident companies of the Pompano Beach Cultural Center offer exciting individual performances, while also collaborating on special events and education programming. For more information, www.ccpompano.org.
 
About the Pompano Beach Cultural Center
The Pompano Beach Cultural Center and Library is a mixed-use City of Pompano Beach facility. The 47,000close square foot facility showcases a Cultural Center and Library under one roof. The Cultural Center features the best of regional talent in South Florida along with the finest international talent. A home to a 400-seat theater, an art gallery, and a state-of-the-art digital media center, the Cultural Center brings all disciplines together, not just under one roof but onto one stage.

Additional Day Added for 17/18 Season Auditions

Due to an overwhelming number of auditionees, the Outré Theatre Company, performing at the Pompano Beach Cultural Center, is adding an additional day of Equity and non-Equity auditions for 2017/18, its sixth full season.

Auditions will be held on May 7, 2017, in addition to April 30 and May 1, 2017, from 6 pm until 10 pm each day. Audition slots for April 30 and May 1 are extremely limited. Auditions will be held at Magnetic Pompano, 2201 N. Federal Hwy, Suite C104, Pompano Beach, FL 33062 (by the carousel).

Auditions are by appointment only. Video auditions will be accepted from auditionees who are unable to attend.

Auditionees wishing to audition for only 1984 and/or Reservoir Dolls should prepare two contrasting monologues, not to exceed three minutes total. Auditionees wishing to audition for American Idiot should prepare one monologue and 16 bars in a rock/punk style. An accompanist will be provided.

To schedule an audition, email auditions@outretheatrecompany.com with an electronic copy of your headshot and resume, along with your preferred audition time. Please also include your Equity status in your email, as well as which show(s) you are interested in auditioning for. Equity members without an appointment will be seen as time permits.

For rehearsal and performance dates, as well as character breakdowns, please see below.

1984 by George Orwell, adapted by Andrew White
Rehearsals begin June 12, 2017
Performances run July 13-30, 2017

Character breakdown:
Winston – male, late 20s to early 40s. Frail and erudite. Appears older than he is. A Party member who cannot help but remember a time before the Party.
O’Brien – male, 30s to 50s. Robust and commanding. Charming and charismatic, and is both zealous and kindly. An Inner Party member with intelligence, wit, and presence.
Julia – female, 20s to 30s. Sexy, intelligent, and clever. Can be confident and aggressive, with a strong sense of purpose.
Syme – male or female, late 20s to early 50s. A true believer and devoted follower of Big Brother. Nerdy and cocky, with the self-assurance of the favored. Also plays other roles.
Tillotson – male or female, 30s to 50s. Nervous and fearful. A Party member terrified of doing the wrong thing. Also plays other roles.
Ampleforth – male, 30s to 50s. A propagandist and writer. In love with the beauty of the word, and quietly disheartened by his job. Also plays other roles.
Parsons – male, 20s to 30s. Friendly and open, an eager follower with little intellect. Winston’s neighbor. Also plays other roles.
Charrington – male, 50s to 70s. An shopkeeper in the Prole section of town. An apparent lover of the past and what has been lost. Also plays other roles.

American Idiot by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer
Rehearsals begin October 2, 2017
Performances run November 2-19, 2017

Character breakdown:
Johnny – male, 20s, baritone (B2 to B4). The self-proclaimed “Jesus of Suburbia.” Bored of his do-nothing, go-nowhere existence, he takes off for the city to get a new lease on life. He wages an inner war between a budding love for Whatsername and a growing dependency on St. Jimmy.
Will – male, 20s, tenor (C#3 to A4). Johnny’s friend. He ends up staying in Suburbia to take care of pregnant girlfriend Heather. The more he stays on the couch, the more he becomes slowly disconnected from the world and his own relationships.
Tunny – male, 20s, tenor (D3 to B4). Johnny’s friend who follows him to the city and eventually enlists in the army. He travels to the Middle East. A dreamer who is easily swayed, first by Johnny’s ideas and then by patriotism and the American Dream.
Whatshername – female, 20s-30s, mezzo-soprano (F#3 to D#5). A girl in the city who falls for Johnny. A rebellious activist who is willing to follow Johnny to the ends of the earth, but fights to have him embrace their authentic relationship.
St Jimmy – male, 20s, tenor (C3 to F#5). Johnny’s alter ego. Known as the “city badass.” An enigmatic and charismatic enabler who gets Johnny addicted to heroin and grows jealous of his relationship with Whatsername.
Heather – female, 20s, mezzo-soprano (A3 to E5). A girl in Suburbia and Will’s girlfriend. She discovers she is pregnant but has difficulty telling her boyfriend of the news. Once she settles down with him, she struggles to maintain their relationship with his despondency.
Extraordinary Girl – female, 20s, mezzo-soprano (Bb3 to E5). A girl in the Middle East who appears as a hallucination to the injured Tunny. Attractive and mysterious, she later appears as his nurse and accompanies him home after the war.
Ensemble – male/female, 20s-30s, various roles.
 

Reservoir Dolls adapted by Erika Soerensen
Rehearsals begin January 2, 2018
Performances run February 1-18, 2018

Women, age range 18-70, any ethnicity

Ms. Orange – A younger woman, brazen and brash.
Ms. Brown – Lewd and intellectual.
Ms. White – The “mother” of the group. Logical and reasoning, but can be cold and threatening.
Ms. Blue – Moody and introverted. Intuitive.
Ms. Blonde – Psychopath. Real name: Vicki Vega. Just got out of prison, and is looking for a new heist.
Ms. Pink – Anxious and calculated. Takes care of herself. Conspiracy theorist.
Jo Cabot – A crime boss. Hard, no-nonsense, but with a strong sense of loyalty.
Nice Gal Edie – Jo’s daughter. Sexy. Sheltered. Once kept under lock and key but no more.

Auditions for Our 17/18 Season

The Outré Theatre Company, performing at the Pompano Beach Cultural Center, is proud to announce Equity and non-Equity auditions for 2017/18, its sixth full season.

Auditions will be held by appointment only on April 30 and May 1, 2017, from 6 pm until 10 pm each day. Auditions will be held at Magnetic Pompano, 2201 N. Federal Hwy, Suite C104, Pompano Beach, FL 33062 (by the carousel).

Auditionees wishing to audition for only 1984 and/or Reservoir Dolls should prepare two contrasting monologues, not to exceed three minutes total. Auditionees wishing to audition for American Idiot should prepare one monologue and 16 bars in a rock/punk style. An accompanist will be provided.

To schedule an audition, email auditions@outretheatrecompany.com with an electronic copy of your headshot and resume, along with your preferred audition time. Please also include your Equity status in your email, as well as which show(s) you are interested in auditioning for. Equity members without an appointment will be seen as time permits.

For rehearsal and performance dates, as well as character breakdowns, please see below.

 

1984 by George Orwell, adapted by Andrew White
Rehearsals begin June 12, 2017
Performances run July 13-30, 2017

Character breakdown:
Winston – male, late 20s to early 40s. Frail and erudite. Appears older than he is. A Party member who cannot help but remember a time before the Party.
O’Brien – male, 30s to 50s. Robust and commanding. Charming and charismatic, and is both zealous and kindly. An Inner Party member with intelligence, wit, and presence.
Julia – female, 20s to 30s. Sexy, intelligent, and clever. Can be confident and aggressive, with a strong sense of purpose.
Syme – male or female, late 20s to early 50s. A true believer and devoted follower of Big Brother. Nerdy and cocky, with the self-assurance of the favored. Also plays other roles.
Tillotson – male or female, 30s to 50s. Nervous and fearful. A Party member terrified of doing the wrong thing. Also plays other roles.
Ampleforth – male, 30s to 50s. A propagandist and writer. In love with the beauty of the word, and quietly disheartened by his job. Also plays other roles.
Parsons – male, 20s to 30s. Friendly and open, an eager follower with little intellect. Winston’s neighbor. Also plays other roles.
Charrington – male, 50s to 70s. An shopkeeper in the Prole section of town. An apparent lover of the past and what has been lost. Also plays other roles.

 

American Idiot by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer
Rehearsals begin October 2, 2017
Performances run November 2-19, 2017

Character breakdown:
Johnny – male, 20s, baritone (B2 to B4). The self-proclaimed “Jesus of Suburbia.” Bored of his do-nothing, go-nowhere existence, he takes off for the city to get a new lease on life. He wages an inner war between a budding love for Whatsername and a growing dependency on St. Jimmy.
Will – male, 20s, tenor (C#3 to A4). Johnny’s friend. He ends up staying in Suburbia to take care of pregnant girlfriend Heather. The more he stays on the couch, the more he becomes slowly disconnected from the world and his own relationships.
Tunny – male, 20s, tenor (D3 to B4). Johnny’s friend who follows him to the city and eventually enlists in the army. He travels to the Middle East. A dreamer who is easily swayed, first by Johnny’s ideas and then by patriotism and the American Dream.
Whatshername – female, 20s-30s, mezzo-soprano (F#3 to D#5). A girl in the city who falls for Johnny. A rebellious activist who is willing to follow Johnny to the ends of the earth, but fights to have him embrace their authentic relationship.
St Jimmy – male, 20s, tenor (C3 to F#5). Johnny’s alter ego. Known as the “city badass.” An enigmatic and charismatic enabler who gets Johnny addicted to heroin and grows jealous of his relationship with Whatsername.
Heather – female, 20s, mezzo-soprano (A3 to E5). A girl in Suburbia and Will’s girlfriend. She discovers she is pregnant but has difficulty telling her boyfriend of the news. Once she settles down with him, she struggles to maintain their relationship with his despondency.
Extraordinary Girl – female, 20s, mezzo-soprano (Bb3 to E5). A girl in the Middle East who appears as a hallucination to the injured Tunny. Attractive and mysterious, she later appears as his nurse and accompanies him home after the war.
Ensemble – male/female, 20s-30s, various roles.
 

Reservoir Dolls adapted by Erika Soerensen
Rehearsals begin January 2, 2018
Performances run February 1-18, 2018

Women, age range 18-70, any ethnicity

Ms. Orange – A younger woman, brazen and brash.
Ms. Brown – Lewd and intellectual.
Ms. White – The “mother” of the group. Logical and reasoning, but can be cold and threatening.
Ms. Blue – Moody and introverted. Intuitive.
Ms. Blonde – Psychopath. Real name: Vicki Vega. Just got out of prison, and is looking for a new heist.
Ms. Pink – Anxious and calculated. Takes care of herself. Conspiracy theorist.
Jo Cabot – A crime boss. Hard, no-nonsense, but with a strong sense of loyalty.
Nice Gal Edie – Jo’s daughter. Sexy. Sheltered. Once kept under lock and key but no more.

Outré Presents “The Who’s Tommy”!

Outré Theatre Company, in conjunction with Showtime Performing Arts Theatre, is proud to announce the second production of its fifth season, The Who’s Tommy by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff. Coming on the heels of the critical success of the production of The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer, Tommy continues Outré’s dedication to thought-provoking artistic work.  

The iconic and seminal rock opera, Tommy introduces us to a traumatized child, whose abuse, trials, triumph, and redemption is echoed in later stories of rock messiahs, from David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus to Green Day’s St. Jimmy. The now-familiar chords of “Pinball Wizard,” “See Me Feel Me,” and the rest, frame the story of the most unlikely of heroes – the “deaf, dumb, and blind kid” who goes on to inspire thousands. Directed by Outré Artistic Director Skye Whitcomb and music directed by virtuoso Caryl Fantel, the production features choreography by “Mi Sueno es Bailar” winner Melissa Pastrana and stars Mike Westrich as Tommy.

“Most of us are familiar with at least the bare-bones story of Tommy,” says Whitcomb. “But over the years many of us have forgotten the power of Tommy’s redemption. Here is a young man who experiences the absolute highest and lowest points that a human being can experience, and in the end, all he wants is to connect with another person. All he wants is for you to see him. This is something, I think, that so many of us can relate to on a personal, visceral level.”

In addition to Westrich, the production also features Clay Cartland (Captain Walker), Victoria Lauzun (Mrs. Walker), Ben Prayz (Uncle Eddie), Eytan Deray (Cousin Kevin), Sandi Stock (the Acid Queen), and Mallory Newbrough (Sally Simpson), along with the talents of Erica Dade, Kat Gold, Kimmi Johnson, Hugo Moreno, and Phillip Santiago.

The Who’s Tommy runs December 1 through December 18, 2016, with performances on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm. All performances are at the Showtime Performing Arts Theatre, 503 SE Mizner Boulevard, Boca Raton, Florida 33432, in the Royal Palm Plaza. Please be aware that parking can be difficult on Friday and Saturday evenings, and valet parking is available in front of the theatre.

For more information regarding this or any Outré production, please contact Artistic Director Skye Whitcomb at 954-300-2149 or via email at skye@outretheatrecompany.com.

“The Normal Heart” – Bill Hirschman’s Review!

Outré Delivers Harrowing Edition of The Normal Heart

The level of anger, helplessness and sorrow rises inexorably along with the death toll, like flood waters from a storm surge in Outré Theatre Company’s shattering production of The Normal Heart.

The play documenting the AIDS epidemic in New York City during the early 1980s – how it was side-stepped by politicians and the media, how the gay community divided in how to deal with it, but above all the ineffably tragic human cost – is depicted with scorching and excoriating emotional honesty.

This physically spare production makes a virtue out of the tiny Showtime Performing Arts Theatre in Boca Raton by putting you inside the room where people quake with terror as they are told they have a fatal incurable disease and later as their extended families agonize, mourn and rage. It’s the theatrical equivalent of protracted cinematic close-ups.

Pioneering activist Larry Kramer’s 1985 script has always been a challenge as it drenches the dramatic narrative with an overwhelming torrent of statistics and unrestrained polemics through scenes of pure emotional discharge. No production may completely overcome Kramer’s hectoring rants and massive info-dumps. But this one comes close under the steady helm of Outré managing director Doug Wetzel by cloaking the numbing data in the outrage of those delivering the information

Just as crucial is that Wetzel has elicited some of the most effective performances that we have seen some of these particular actors give.

For instance, regular theatergoers have seen Lawrence Buzzeo in a variety of roles, some barely worth his efforts, some more impressive. But as the even-tempered affable volunteer Mickey, Buzzeo carefully crafts a second act aria in which pent-up lava inside the seemingly dormant volcano surges until it explodes in an all-consuming conflagration of confusion, fear, frustration and anger that encapsulates the crisis’ effect on the entire community. It’s a masterfully executed cri de couer that ends as one friend tries to comfort him with, “Mickey, try to hold on.” To which Buzzeo/Mickey responds with heart-rending hopelessness, “Hang on to what?”

The Normal Heart follows flame-throwing activist Ned Weeks (a fictional, but unapologetically autobiographical Kramer) as he helps found and propel the gay community’s proactive response to the mushrooming spread of “the gay plague.”

Ned (Seth Trucks) is an unrestrained alienating Jeremiah not crying, but screaming in the wilderness as official bodies and his closeted community falter and even ignore this lethal scourge. Over three hours (with intermission) the play charts his efforts along with the determined but disheartened doctor Emma Brookner (Elizabeth Price) and a group of gay friends including the conservative establishment banker Bruce Niles (Christopher Mitchell) who pushes for a cautious approach.

But Ned’s efforts coincide with his finally finding his first truly nurturing relationship with the warm, witty New York Times fashion writer Felix Turner (Conor Walton), who, of course, falls victim to the illness.

Stymied by bureaucratic indifference and politicians’ fear of homophobics’ backlash, this deeply divided group struggles to raise awareness and support, but especially wrestling with the unacceptable-to-some likelihood that the virus is being passed through sexual contact.

Without seeming maudlin or mawkish, the entire spectrum of passion from love to fury to terror suffuse the production from the very first scene where friends make small talk in Brookner’s waiting room while across the stage Brookner silently gives the fatal prognosis to Craig (Eytan Deray) who believably collapses in paroxysms of mute grief. Still, Kramer weaves in humor ranging from witty repartee to standing-on-the-gallows humor.

Being performed 35 years (35 years!) after the first deaths were tracked, The Normal Heart has mild present-day resonances on paper. But it must seem like history or folk tales to a generation-and-a-half of gay and straight audiences born since, something reflected in the Terrence McNally play Mothers and Sons.

One aspect that it’s hard for most people today to realize, recall or appreciate is how little was known early on, how this mysterious “thing” was killing people like the unseen unidentified madman in a terrible horror movie. To begin with, there was no way to diagnose who might be carrying the virus even if they were not affected; and the only way to know someone had it was to observe the symptoms,  which meant they were doomed. At one point, Felix asks in extreme anguish, “Can we make love?” Ned shakes his head. Then he asks with pleading incredulity, “Can we kiss?” Ned cannot answer.

A far more empathetic and accepting world in 2016 will have some difficulty dealing with the timidity of some of the activists, but Kramer accurately shows that some people had fought for 15 years for even a modicum of acceptance by some facets of general society – and even by themselves among themselves. They did not want to see that immolated in a too strident effort.

But The Normal Heart’s endurance and even universality as theatrical drama as well as reportage of a specific time is the human element, how real people deal with a real tragedy, divested of all the noble heroics that creative writers gift to their protagonists.

At its center are relationships, especially of people who love each other. At one moment, in that kind of truth-telling moments that only happens with committed couples, Felix quietly asks, “If I had it, would you leave me?” Ned says no. Ned asks Felix, “If I had it, would you leave me.” Felix answers with pained sorrow, “I don’t know.” And then Felix shows a cancer spot on the bottom of his foot.

One of the insightful aspects of the script and this production is Kramer/Weeks’ anguished efforts to persuade gay men that their sexuality is far more than carnal urges, but something akin to ethnicity – a multi-faceted existence that should be accepted as normal by society and yet whose differences should be honored by the members themselves.

But the heart of the production are the performances that are not just deeply felt but feel like credible depictions of genuine people rather than actorly moments emoting in the spotlight.

Trucks, a mainstay at Evening Star Productions and frequent essayer of Shakespeare, inhabits the demanding central role of Ned. He succeeds at the difficult task of keeping Ned from being an unrelenting shrill, but instead someone uncontrollably compelled to fight. His initially modulated but growing outbursts reflect varied stages of ire from disappointment to wrath. But between eruptions, Trucks and Wetzel have Ned drive his anger into an almost impassive mask which provides needed variety but fails to convey the rage simmering beneath that surface. Still, he is totally believable when straining and failing to deal with Felix’s illness. Trucks is heartbreaking when Ned ends up on the floor emotionally devastated holding his decimated lover in his arms.

Walton, whose range has been seen from the cold killer in Thrill Me to the fey narrator in Into the Woods, superbly charts the deterioration. He begins as an upbeat urbanite who enjoys living with elan and who deeply loves Ned with all his imperfections. But Walton convincingly portrays the emotional gauntlet from determined hope to hopeless husk as he discovers the illness and his body deteriorates.

Price, who floored audiences as the troubled dollmaker in Arts Garage’s Reborning, wisely keeps her performance in check in this tiny space. While she doesn’t have the crusty fury that her predecessors have invested in the part, she opts for a deceptive calm that comes from long weariness, sadness and frustration of having dealt with the tragedy face to face and the bureaucracies for a very long time before Ned and company join her crusade. It’s only when she has her funding request rebuffed that she allows that anger to flow out.

Among the moments Price nails to the wall is after she gives pole-axed Felix the bad news, he insists that he will be the one to beat this. Her face and carefully measured response try to gently communicate the unlikeliness of the reality. She says with seeming sincerity, “I will do my damnedest.” Then Felix regains a bit of his bravado and makes a weak joke, “I bet you say that to all the boys.” Price/Brookner gives a small smile in appreciation of the joke. Then she turns her head away from him and her face shows the sad truth: Indeed, she does say it all the time and has all too often.

Almost everyone gets passages to expose their ability. Notable are Mitchell whose reticent oh-so-careful leader finally reveals his personal grief and Michael H. Small as the mayor’s aide whose feelings of guilt are hidden under the unaccustomed affront being insulted by Ned’s uncensored tirades. A nod, too, to Robert Fritz as Tommy and Ben Prayz as the straight lawyer brother Ben Weeks.

Wetzel’s commendably varies the intensity of the emotional pitch, but the stately pace only changes occasionally, such as a frantic phone bank scene or an elegiac farewell.

The only significant shortcoming is the lengthy draggy scene changes in which furniture is carried on and off stage in half-light. Some of this is due to the logistics of the shoebox-narrow performing platform, but perhaps some of the set pieces could have done double duty. It is, in fact, the simplicity of the set that admirably focuses our attention on the people onstage. We can also carp that while Wetzel moves people around the stage deftly in some scenes, sometimes he just lines up four or five people across the shallow stage.

The set is simple: a black box with chalked statistics on the back wall charting the annual growth of the fatalities and a large odometer-like tote board whose cumulative number start at 658,207 and grow through the evening.

But the overall production is harrowing – harrowing as in those phalanx of razor-sharp spinning discs ripping up the frozen ground to unearth the raw earth beneath.  Outré, after a spotty life at the Broward Center, has moved at least for this season to the Showtime space which serves during the day as a youth conservatory. Seating is extremely limited and there are only four shows a week, so order your tickets now.

“A Gray Divide” by Juan Sanchez – A Free Reading

As part of the Theatre League’s Summer Theatre Fest, Outré and Showtime join forces to present a reading of A Gray Divide by Juan Sanchez, starring Noah Levine and Elizabeth Price!

When Jason starts a conversation with Anna Maria about the book she’s reading, the classical play Medea, there’s an immediate connection between them. One thing leads to another and they end up at her place, discovering each other in-between bouts of heavy kissing and petting. When she suddenly remembers meeting him two years earlier at a party — and the circumstances of that meeting — the romance comes to an abrupt end. With elements of the Medea myth woven into the story, the play asks if we have the right to decide who we are and want to become, or whether we are only the sum of our experiences and forever tied to them.

The reading is for one night only, June 27 at 7:00 pm. It will be held at Showtime Performing Arts, 503 Mizner Boulevard in Boca Raton. The reading will be followed by a brief talkback with the playwright and actors.

The Theatre League’s Summer Theatre Fest has become an integral part of South Florida’s cultural landscape, and in its fourth year South Florida audiences will once again have the opportunity to see theatre for free, and check out new plays in development by South Florida playwrights. The program’s continued and growing success over of past three years has indicated to the League that theatre patrons are ready and willing to try new theatrical experiences, and even cross county lines to do it.

Every Monday from June 1 to August 31, with the exception of July 4, a South Florida Theatre League member theatre will host a reading of a new play by a local playwright.

Playwrights range from established local favorites, including Carbonell Award-winners and nominees, to emerging talents, with plays vastly ranging in subject matter and style.

“The Violet Hour” – The Sun-Sentinel Review!

“Medea is a Floridian in chilling ‘Violet Hour'”

by Christine Dolen

Before Susan Smith and Andrea Yates, before the too-frequent tragic headlines about murdered Florida children, there was Medea.

Created by Euripides in 431 BC, Medea is among Greek tragedy’s most horrifying yet complex characters, a spurned wife who exacts vengeance upon her faithless husband, Jason, in multiple ways, including the unfathomable murder of her children.

Fort Lauderdale’s Outré Theatre Company has created a new, taut version of Euripides’ tragedy set in present-day South Florida. Adapted by Shannon Ouellette and Outré artistic director Skye Whitcomb, “The Violet Hour: A Modern Medea” takes its title from a phrase suggesting dusk in T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land.”

Starring Outré managing director Sabrina Lynn Gore as Medea and her real-life husband, Tim Gore, as Jason, the production in the Broward Center’s Abdo New River Room runs barely over an hour. But what an intense hour it is.

The themes and thrust of “The Violet Hour” follow Euripides, though the language is largely contemporary. Here, Medea and Jason have just one son, who’s played by Nathanael Schultz, a particularly adorable kindergartener. The boy is watched over, fretted over, by Nurse (Beverly Blanchette), a nanny who is rightfully worried that the raging Medea is descending into madness.

And no wonder: Middle-aged Jason is about to wed the “barely legal” (as Medea puts it) 18-year-old daughter of wealthy developer Kreon (Jim Gibbons). It’s hardly surprising that Medea — who, as it turns out, rejected her family and gruesomely murdered her brother in order to be with Jason — isn’t handling hubby’s rejection well. Maybe he should have thought about her fratricide before taking up with the new squeeze, whose daddy orders Medea to get lost and leave her boy behind.

Whitcomb, the play’s director, and Ouellette (who serves as its dramaturg) have turned the Greek chorus into wedding guests. Liz Dikinson, Rachel Finley, Daryl Fortson, Kitt Marsh and Sandy Stock have some interaction with Medea, but they also observe and comment, whispering or chanting or gossiping from different spots in the Abdo. That staging helps to make “The Violet Hour” one of Outré’s better uses of what can be a challenging space.

The cast, which includes Jovon Jacobs as a tutor still loyal to Jason, dives ever more deeply into a tragedy that becomes nearly unbearable to watch, particularly as it nears its end, when the unhinged Medea and the child she is about to turn into a sacrifice sing “You Are My Sunshine” as part of a pre-bedtime ritual.

As in Euripides, Medea’s crimes occur offstage, but mournful recorded music from cellist Andreina Kasper and a shift to blood-red lighting by designer Julia LaVault underscore the emotional horrors of her actions.

Medea is a role that, like Hamlet or King Lear, is an aspirational test for a serious stage actor. Gore’s skills are suited to this present-day, reshaped version of the play, as she persuasively communicates Medea’s cunning, deceptiveness, rage and deepening madness. For a time, she stirs some sympathy for a woman scorned. And then, as does a seemingly endless line of modern-day Medeas, she makes us recoil as the tragedy hits home.

Venue Changes, Edgy Work Mark Broward’s Evolving Theater Scene

Venue Changes, Edgy Work Mark Broward’s Evolving Theater Scene

by Christine DiMattei for WLRN

When nominations for South Florida’s equivalent of the Tony Awards – the Carbonells – were announced recently, Broward County theaters snagged a quarter of them.

That comes as no surprise to Bill Hirschman, founder of and chief critic for the website Florida Theater On Stage.

“There is some outstanding work that’s being done,” says Hirschman. “People are doing things specifically aimed at getting younger and more diverse audiences in.”

Until recently, Broward’s theater scene resembled the dot com bubble of the early 2000’s — companies would make a great start and then fold after only a few years. But a number of defections from Palm Beach County suggest Broward’s status as a theater mecca is on the upswing.

The most high-profile venue changes involve the Slow Burn and Outre Theatre companies. Over the last five years, Slow Burn has built a loyal following and garnered critical praise with its ambitious musicals mounted in a high school auditorium in western Boca Raton. Outre’s edgy work has appeared in venues throughout Boca, including Mizner Park. But recently, Slow Burn partnered with the Broward Center for the Performing Arts as a resident company for its Amaturo Theater, while Outre rents its new space in the Broward Center’s Abdo New River Room.

In addition, smaller venues continue to make a fresh start. Thinking Cap Theatre, which had been operating for five years in a tiny Fort Lauderdale venue (the “size of your living room,” according to Hirschman), renovated a church in the city’s downtown. Now christened The Vanguard, the space is home to Thinking Cap and has opened itself up to other arts events.

Other theaters are distinguishing themselves with cutting-edge drama. Island City Stage, an LGBT company, scored a big win last season with its production of “Daniel’s Husband,” a play about marriage equality by Michael McKeever that opened to rapturous praise and played to sold-out houses.

However, Broward theater still continues to struggle with funding problems, lacking both the generous government grants and deep-pocket donors found in other counties. “There is a tradition of giving to the arts that exists in Broward, but it’s not remotely as strong as it is in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach County,” says Hirschman.

So what will Broward County have to do to survive as a theater destination?

According to Hirschman, it will need savvy publicity and advertising imaginative enough to convince people that good theater is worth a drive from one county to another. “[In Broward] there’s theater that’s as edgy as anything you find Off-Off-Broadway, and then there’s mainstream theater that your grandparents would like,” he says. “When people ask me, ‘What should I go see?’ I say, ‘What do you like?’ ”

Miami Herald Features Outré as Part of a Broward Renaissance!

Broward theatre’s stage presence is growing rapidly

by Christine Dolen for the Miami Herald

 

West Side Story is being produced by Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables in late January, but one of the show’s signature numbers could serve as a theme song for the Broward County theater community at the start of the 2015-16 season.

Something’s Coming, a song that radiates anticipation, excitement and hope, expresses the way many artistic directors and theater leaders are feeling as the season is about to begin.

“Our theater scene here is growing and diversifying,” said Nicole Stodard, whose Thinking Cap Theatre now has its own striking space, The Vanguard, in a refurbished Fort Lauderdale church. “It’s not just canned touring shows. There’s already a sense of strength in numbers.”

Sabrina Lynn Gore, Outré’s co-founder and managing director, believes the presence of her company and Slow Burn at the Broward Center makes a statement.

“There’s a whole legitimacy that’s conferred when a big theater center supports the work of smaller companies. It tells the community they care,” she said.

Read the rest of the article here.

A Southeastern Premiere! “Bed and Sofa” by Polly Pen and Laurence Klavan

The Outré Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Skye Whitcomb and Managing Director Sabrina Lynn Gore are honored to announce that Outré will be presenting the Southeastern premiere of Polly Pen and Laurence Klavan’s “silent movie opera,” Bed and Sofa. Winner of the 1996 Obie Award for Best Music, and nominated for seven Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical, Bed and Sofa was hailed by the New York Times as “a delight” and “a classy treat,” while the Village Voice praised it as “so perfectly done it is almost unfair to the rackety hacks who infest our musical theatre.”

Based on Avram Room’s 1926 silent film masterpiece Tretya meshchanskaya, Bed and Sofa focuses on a stonemason, Kolya, and his wife, Ludmilla, living in a cramped basement apartment in Moscow. When Kolya’s old army buddy Volodya shows up in Moscow without a place to stay, Kolya offers to let the handsome young man “with the sensitive face” stay on his and Ludmilla’s sofa, while they take the bed. The sexual tension between Ludmilla and Volodya reaches its peak when Kolya has to leave town for three weeks, only to return to find that is now he who is sleeping on the sofa, while Ludmilla and Volodya share the bed. The tension mounts between the three, until Ludmilla finally must make the decision that will define her.

Outré is proud to offer the Southeastern premiere of Pen and Klavan’s work, which will be replacing The Threepenny Opera in the 2015/16 season. The Threepenny Opera will be included as part of the 2016/17 season. “The film on which [Bed and Sofa] is based was revolutionary for its time,” says director Skye Whitcomb. “Its frank treatment of sex, of abortion, of women’s rights, was nearly unheard of in 1927. It’s a great show to start our ‘Power of Woman’ season, since Ludmilla is really the linchpin of the story. Rather than allowing either of the men to define who she is, she makes that decision on her own, to be whoever it is that she wants to be.”

Bed and Sofa welcomes back Noah Levine as Volodya; Levine was last seen on Outré’s stage as Van Buren in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, and will reprise his role as Ian in the June 2016 full production of rooms: a rock romance. Elvin Negron, who played the Male Soloist in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, returns as Kolya. The role of Ludmilla will be played by Rebeca Diaz, a newcomer to Outré whom we are excited to welcome to our stage. Bed and Sofa also welcomes Caryl Fantel to the Outré family as Music Director; she will be leading an orchestra comprised of cellist Konstantin Litvinenko and violinist Liuba Ohrimenko, both of whom have played with the Miami Symphony Orchestra.

Bed and Sofa will perform August 28, 2015, through September 13, 2015, with performances on Friday and Saturday nights at 8 pm and Sunday afternoons at 2 pm. All performances are in the Abdo New River Room at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Season and individual show tickets are available through the Broward Center’s website, www.browardcenter.org, or by calling 954-462-0222.

Outré is proud to call the Abdo New River Room at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts its new home. The Abdo New River Room features a fresh, modern menu of delectable choices with table service offered 90 minutes prior to performances and during intermission for shows that take place in the Abdo New River Room. Please note: arrive at least 15 minutes prior to curtain to ensure table service. No table service is available after the show. Tickets to performances in the Abdo New River Room do not include food or beverages unless otherwise noted.