Stagebeat

Capsule reviews of current area stage shows.

 Hello Dolly!: Dolly Levi (Jodi-Lynne Sylvester) meddles as a career choice. With a business card for every occasion, this Yonkers matchmaker and her prodigious skills take centerstage. Dolly interferes in everybody's life, including two disgruntled clerks who leave Yonkers to go to New York to find adventure. Brance Cornelius as one of them has a few good moments, and Tyler Fish as the other is consistently adorable as a naive young man on the town. Kerry Sensenbach seems natural as their mean-spirited employer. Danielle Tabino, as the boss' daughter, adds comic effect with her whiny voice. Jessie Alagna as Ernestina Money also has some laughs with her hard-on-the-eyes outfit and piggish decorum. But the show belongs to Sylvester, who has a series of riveting monologues, one to her late husband and one to the audience. Her voice is often too high-pitched, but overall, her songs are powerful. She fits like a glove into her character and her glamorous attire. Moreover, she enjoys herself, which translates into energy for the whole cast. The set, designed by Sean McClelland, is multifaceted -- both beautiful and practical. The dance sequences are long and repetitive. The most creative dancing is in the Harmonia Gardens Restaurant when waiters swirl while twirling plates of fare, adding acrobatics and shish-kabob fencing. (Through January 2 at the Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W. Sample Rd., Coral Springs, 954-344-7765.) -- Rachel Galvin

NOW SHOWING

Miklat: Joshua Ford's 2002 comedy has a knack for finding raucous humor even in the bleakest of moments. The tale follows the plight of an American Jewish couple, Howard and Judy Kleinman, who arrive in Jerusalem in 1991 to visit their grad student son, who has been visiting Israel for several months. The trip starts out badly -- they have to check into their hotel just as the Gulf War breaks out; then they learn that their son has become an ultra-Orthodox Hasid and is about to wed a teenaged girl in a marriage arranged by his yeshiva rabbi. While the play's frequent air raid sequences add some excitement, the wartime setting is mostly window dressing; this is really a traditional family relationship comedy that could just as easily play out in the States. Stylistically Miklat veers, sometimes awkwardly, between broad farce and psychological conflict, but it is most effective in its many comedic sequences. As Howard, Mike Burstyn offers an assured performance, equally at home with the rat-a-tat jokes and the emotional nuances, and Laura Turnbull as Judy is plausible, funny, and touching. The busy, realistic staging tends to flag as the story unravels, bringing attention to the play's fundamental unreality; this Jerusalem is a decorative convenience, a fairy-tale place with no sign of Palestinians or Israeli-Palestinian conflict in evidence or even in passing reference. (Through November 28 at Florida Stage, Plaza del Mar, 262 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan, www.floridastage.org, 561-585-3433, 800-514-3837.)

Last Night of Ballyhoo: Alfred Uhry's play mixes Southern and Jewish gentility and bigotry in a slice-of-life presentation. When an Eastern European Jew, Joe Farkas (Jeff Silver), visits his boss Adolph's (Rusty Allison) family (the "right kind of Jews" from Germany), romance and drama ensue. It's December 1939; Atlanta is abuzz about the premiere of Gone with the Wind. A squinty, bespectacled Lala (Elizabeth King) buys a hoop dress that inspires her uncle Adolph to call her "Scarlet O'Goldberg." King is delicious as Lala, balancing her glasses and horse-toothed grin beneath a tussle of wild black curls decorated with two tiny bows. She slouches, fidgets, and bounces like a preteen in saddle shoes. As weak-willed as a willow, she bends easily under her mother's hard-edged manipulation. Meryl Bezrutczyk is good as Sunny, the well-balanced sister who's charming, intelligent, and in love, and Aaron Lee is clever and funny as Peachy Weil, Lala's "prospective." For characters and controversy alone, this is a worthwhile see. (Through November 28 at the Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W. Sample Rd., Coral Springs, 954-344-7765.)

 
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