Stagebeat

Capsule reviews of current area stage shows.

The Will Rogers Follies: A Life in Revue uses the flair of an old Ziegfield Follies show to amiably exaggerate the story of the legendary folk philosopher. The piece highlights Rogers' transformation from do-nothing ranch boy to world celebrity, Ziegfield entertainer, columnist, movie and radio star, and politician, while showcasing a bit of American history. Jarret Mallon plays the humble Rogers, narrating his life, doing monologues filled with Rogerisms, performing rope tricks, and singing songs, while waiting for Ziegfield's luscious ladies to change into fresh breathtaking attire. Unfortunately, his witty banter often falls flat. But the girls, whether high-kicking and doing the hand jive or simply sighing like angels, are priceless. The period costumes -- see-through and beaded during the high-energy "Diamonds" -- are breathtaking. Ziegfield's favorite, Tiffany Lutz, is wonderfully saucy throughout. Mallon's best moments are when he interacts with the girls and with his beloved Betty Blake, played by Amanda Flynn. This cute-as-a-button blonde sings beautifully and really shows her prowess as she sits cross-legged atop a grand piano singing "No Man Left for Me." Mallon's voice is flawless; his deep twang makes him sound like a country rock star as he finesses "Look Around," "Give a Man Enough Rope," and "I Never Met a Man I Didn't Like." Jim Middleton as Will's father Clem is strangely reminiscent of his hokey stint as the cantankerous Ed Earl in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. A voice bellows from the light booth -- Ziegfield making sure the show is running smoothly. Unfortunately, his voice, as well as the rest of the audio, often has technical difficulties. The show starts slowly but builds into a worthwhile tribute to the legendary humorist. (Through March 6 at Stage Door Theater, 8036 W. Sample Rd., Coral Springs. 954-344-7765)

Now Showing

Enchanted April lives up to its name, with enticing characters and an engaging plot. Lotty Wilton (Cary Anne Spear) finds herself dissatisfied with her tyrannical husband and her humdrum existence. She finds escape through an ad in the paper -- a rentable castle in Italy. Her heart aflame with possibility, she ropes a reluctant fellow churchgoer, Rose (Laura Turnbull), into the vacation scheme. Needing two others to come along to help pay the bills, Lotty and Rose entice the lonely and beautiful modern girl, Lady Caroline (Annie Reilly), and a rigid, gray-haired drill sergeant of a woman named Mrs. Graves (Pat Nesbit). The foursome makes an odd party but the castle suits them. The unfolding of the relationship between these strangers is poignant and moving. Spear is priceless, turning from a flighty victim to a natural and exuberant leader of the group. Turnbull evolves from a repressed wife into a blooming young woman ready to accept love. Reilly and Nesbit play character roles but both show growth, especially Nesbit, skillfully employing body language, speech, and a tight-lipped smile to unveil Mrs. Graves' more vulnerable side. Bruce Linser charms as the dapper young landlord who brings out the best in everyone. (Through February 13 at Caldwell Theater, 7873 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton. 561-241-7380.)

Edge is a one-woman show about the tormented life of poet Sylvia Plath. It features a startling, riveting performance by Angelica Torn that blazes as fiercely as Plath's poetry. Paul Alexander's play depicts Plath's failed romances and suicide attempts, and it excoriates her husband, Ted Hughes, as a controlling monster who profited mightily from her royalties after her death. Despite these fireworks and a welcome dose of wry humor, this tale of rage and obsession feels rather flat dramatically. Edge works best as a performance showcase for the splendid Torn. (Through March 27 at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, 3500 Main Hwy., Coconut Grove. 305 442-4000.)

 
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