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Here are our picks for the best stage shows — theater, dance and comedy — this fall.
‘The Twentieth Century Way’
Through Oct. 31 at Island City Stage, 2304 N. Dixie Highway, Wilton Manors. Tickets $35 at 954-928-9800 or IslandCityStage.org.
For its 10th season, Island City Stage is going to re-stage “The Twentieth Century Way,” the first play the LGBTQ+ themed company burst on the SoFlo theater scene with back in August 2012. That production was an ardent debut, holding the audience at Fort Lauderdale’s Empire Stage in rapt attention. Now at their own digs in gay-licious Wilton Manors, Island City Stage will return to the story based on 1914 real-life incidents in which two unemployed actors, B.C. Brown and W.H. Warren, used their skills to entrap men having sex in Long Beach parks under the nebulous “social vagrancy” law.
Nov. 12 at Coral Springs Center for the Arts, 2855 Coral Springs Drive. Tickets $42.27 at 954-344-5990 or TheCenterCS.com.
Whitney Cummings’ resume includes a popular podcast, a best-selling book, four highly rated comedy specials (who can forget the look-alike robot in her last one?) as well as being executive producer of her own sitcom for two seasons. She also created the sitcom “2 Broke Girls” and executive produced the revival of “Roseanne” — at least until, well, you know. Now Cummings is coming to SoFlo with her “Touch Me” tour where she promises to mine some humor out of the pandemic’s changes to society.
Comedian and actor Kevin James — can we just call him the other King James — is back doing stand-up, something that shot him from the Long Island comedy club scene into national stardom after a blazing set at the 1996 Montreal Comedy Festival. Two years later he was the star of his own sitcom, “The King of Queens,” which ran for nine seasons. On the big screen, James scored with comedies such as “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” “Zookeeper,” “Hitch” with Will Smith and four funny Adam Sandler flicks including “Pixels” and “Grown Ups.” Now he’s the star and show-runner of NASCAR sitcom “The Crew” streaming on Netflix.
Dec. 10-12 at the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center, 3385 NE 188th St., Aventura. Tickets $40 at 877-311-7469 or AventuraCenter.org. Dec. 17-19 at The Parker, 707 NE Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets $25-$40 at 954-462-0222 (press 1), ParkerPlayhouse.com or BrowardCenter.org.
There is much in the Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida’s season that will make your heart dance, but no matter what you do, don’t miss the North Miami-based company’s resplendent production of “The Nutcracker.” This year the holiday favorite will be staged by artistic director Master Vladimir Issaev at the renovated Parker Playhouse, which you probably know is now simply called The Parker.
Dec. 14-19 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets $25-$85 at BrowardCenter.org.
If Broadway is going to come back in a big way, it just might need to rely on musicals like “The Prom.” With just enough social commentary heft to keep it from flittering away and wowza dance numbers set to a peppy score by Chad Beguelin and Matthew Sklar (the dynamic duo behind ”The Wedding Singer” and “Elf the Musical”), the show is joyous and really, really funny — with enough laughs to camouflage teensy weensy flaws. How do we know? Because no less than camp king Ryan Murphy directed a star-studded version last December that had a limited run in movie theaters before streaming on Netflix. The musical is about Broadway actors, stardom descending, who decide to boost their image by traveling to a conservative town to help a lesbian high schooler overcome the local leadership’s opposition to her bringing a same-sex date to her prom.
Dec. 28-Jan. 2 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Single tickets go on sale Oct. 22 and the price range will be $35-$130. Season subscriptions are $191-$764 at 305-949-6722 or ArshtCenter.org.
It’s the mashup we never knew we wanted: “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “Hairspray.” Yes, you’ve probably seen one of the many tours or even a local production of this Tony Award-winning musical. And who hasn’t seen John Waters’ 1988 movie about outsiders crashing insiders’ parties (and desegregation in the early 1960s) that birthed the Broadway show in 2002? And if somehow you managed to miss all of that, the movie version of the Great White Way production splashed the whole story back onto the big screen in 2007 with John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Queen Latifah and Christopher Walken. But what we haven’t seen, up until this national tour, is drag-ariffic Nina West as Edna Turnblad, the mother-figure character that from the very beginning has been played by dudes in dresses. Does that name Nina West sound familiar? Well the faux femme was one of the breakout stars of season 11 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” with fans including Rihanna and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
‘Summer: The Donna Summer Musical’
Let’s just be wholly and truly honest: Who cares if the drama is on point or not? In this Broadway national tour, the late, great disco diva Donna Summer gets her life turned into a jukebox musical complete with her chart toppers such as “Love to Love You Baby,” “I Feel Love,” “MacArthur Park,” “No More Tears (Enough is Enough),” “On the Radio,” “Bad Girls” “She Works Hard for the Money,” “Dim All the Lights,” “Hot Stuff” and “Last Dance.” So bring on the shiny costumes, rev up Sergio Trujillo’s disco dazzle choreography and let’s hear those dance anthems bounce off the walls in lush Broadway-tized arrangements. Toot toot hey beep beep.
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Bill Maher, the lightning rod comedian and political commentator, once told the Sun Sentinel that he does not tailor his stand-up act for a particular region, but that SoFlo just might well be the exception. That was almost 10 years ago, so what must the host of “Politically Incorrect” and “Real Time With Bill Maher” think about the the sociopolitical landscape now, with all the low-hanging tropical fruit just ripe for his particular brand of satire?
Randy Rainbow’s ‘The Pink Glasses Tour’
Jan. 27 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets $37-$127 at BrowardCenter.org.
First of all, Randy Rainbow swears that’s his real name. You also need to know that Rainbow is one of us. The political parodist who rose to YouTube super-duper-stardom grew up in Broward County and graduated from Plantation High School, where he appeared in productions of “Grease,” “Guys and Dolls” and “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” He also did children’s, community and regional theater in Miami Shores and Hollywood. At the Hollywood Playhouse, he often shared the stage with Josh Gad. All that musical theater served him well with his patented blend of Broadway and politics (or any hot topic) satirized in smirky viral videos that have delighted devotees numbering in the millions. For the tour, Rainbow brings some of his song parodies from the virtual world to the live stage world, accompanied by a live band of Broadway musicians. He also tells dishy stories, does a Q&A with the audience and performs some new songs he composed with none other than Alan Menken (”The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin”) and Marc Shaiman (”Hairspray,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Mary Poppins Returns”).
Sometimes you have a need to see theater that leaves you shook. This 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by Quiara Algria Hudes is a non-linear poem of a play set in two places, the internet and the real world. Online Odessa Ortiz moderates a chat room for recovering addicts, who though from vastly different walks of life, bond together like a family. But offline, Ortiz is facing some all-too-real challenges in her blood family, from the emotional and physical wounds a nephew has from fighting in Iraq to a niece trying to keep it real from the hood when mixing with the posh set of Philadelphia. And her sister, who raised Ortiz, is dying of cancer. We all feel that our modern lives are chaotic. Hudes jumps around, but “Water By The Spoonful” does have grace, showing how us how to cope.