Alluring Acts For All
Dance, comedy, music and blasts from the past
make going to the theater an enchanting experience here
By Susan Burgess
This season’s performing arts productions in Treasure Coast theaters are aglow with performances that plunge you into laughter, nostalgia, amazement, delight — and leave you wanting more. It’s a lively 2018-19 season for appreciative Treasure Coast audiences who flock to enthralling performances of dance, comedy, drama, music and magic. If you missed iLuminate last year, now’s your chance to buy tickets for this incredible high-energy experience on Feb. 2 at the Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce. Lighted dancers perform on a dark stage with results that will have you wishing the show wouldn’t end. From iLuminate, jump to The New Shanghai Circus at the Sunrise with its breathtaking acrobatics, brilliant colors, and elegant Eastern dance. It’s an astonishing performance the whole family will love. Try the fiery Spanish guitar and passionate flamenco dancing in Fuego. Next, drop back to nostalgia with Paul Anka, the Kingston Trio, the Righteous Brothers and the many tribute groups. “We’re going to have some blasts from the past,” says Sunrise spokeswoman Anne Satterlee.
Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach is on its way to a spectacular season and will set your heart singing with the romantic, much-loved classic My Fair Lady. “My Fair Lady is the lavish Broadway show and includes a lush score by Broadway legends Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe,” says theater spokesman Oscar Sales. “There’s great excitement for My Fair Lady and Evita.” Evita is the story of Eva Peron, who rose from penniless obscurity to the charismatic first lady of Argentina, later dying at the age of 27.
“Evita feels more modern because of its rock and roll vibe from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice,” Sales says. “Both of these (Evita and My Fair Lady) are the highest-selling shows so far this season. What’s also exciting is to have two Broadway veterans directing these shows with James Brennen directing My Fair Lady and Marcia Milgrom Dodge directing Evita.”
Riverside auditions its actors in New York and produces its own plays. The theater also offers two food-for-thought shows.
“Another highlight of our season is Next To Normal,” Sales says, “which will be performed on our second stage. This award-winning musical deals with the difficult subject matter of mental illness, but delves into it with sympathy, love and compassion.” Ghostwriter, about the meaning of truth, is also likely to spark discussion.
Ballet Vero Beach offers its original Nutcracker on the Indian River at the end of December, followed by a group of ballets under the title Premieres in January, and closes its season
in April with another group of ballets under the title of Comedy Tonight.
“We are the only professional dance company between Palm Beach and Orlando,” says Artistic Director and CEO Adam Schnell.
In the January performances, audiences will see the company premiere of Matthew Carter’s romantic French Songs, staged to Joseph Canteloube’s Songs of the Auvergne. Camilo A. Rodriguez, ballet master and principal dancer at Ballet Vero Beach, choreographed Ritornello which will be performed, as will Ariel Grossman’s exquisitely crafted Ori, which received rave reviews when showcased at the 2017 Riverside Dance Festival.
The April trio of performances feature Peter Anastos’s razor-sharp parody of the neo-classical dance Go for Barocco and Rodriguez’s touching and hilarious Hang On, No Need To Be Lonely. The third performance in April is of another Anastos work, La Trovatiara Pas de Cinq. Meant to mimic the ballets that exist within the great Verdi operas, this swashbuckling work, with its band of female pirates, will have audiences laughing.
Schnell takes a philosophical view of ballet. “We live here, we work here, and we contribute to a stronger and more vibrant community,” he says. “Dance, like music, removes the barrier of spoken or written language from the arts experience. What the audience sees is human beings exploiting their greatest physical, mental, and emotional potential and that is a pretty powerful and uplifting experience.”
Kia Fontaine, executive director of the historical Lyric Theatre in Stuart, is thrilled to be able to bring two National Geo graphic Live speakers with stunning photos to local audiences. “We are so interdependent on our waterways,” she explains. “I can only imagine some of the photos we’re going to see.” Ocean Soul in January with photojournalist Brian Skerry will take the audience through the oceans from the glacial waters of the North Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. He has spent more than 10,000 hours underwater. Standing at the Water’s Edge in February with photographer and marine biologist Cristina Mittermeier focuses on her life’s work on the balance between human well-being and healthy ecosystems. She’ll tell stories and show images explaining how people and coastlines can co-exist. Fontaine wants to make sure the Lyric has something that entire families can enjoy together so she schedules shows for all ages.
Enter magic: The Magic of Bill Blagg, Live is an unforgettable magic show by a guy who grew up with it when his great-grandfather gave him a magic book. Treasure Coast favorite Doc Grober and the Mudcats offer New Orleans Jazz at the Lyric in March. Families will love the Beauty and the Beast musical in April. From famed violinist Itzhak Perlman to Mutts Gone Nuts, and the many nostalgia tribute groups, the Lyric is filled with shows audiences want to see.
In Jupiter, the Maltz Jupiter Theatre will leave you singing and laughing with their production of Mamma Mia! The story everyone loves, West Side Story, is also offered this season. Tickets to both will go fast.
The community theaters all have great offerings this season.
The Barn Theatre in Stuart has some great comedies like Plaza Suite by Neil Simon and the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee musical.