Trembling Hands -- How far will one friend go for another? In Ivonne Azurdia's grotesque, funny crime drama, now in its world premiere by the Mad Cat Theatre Company, the answer is very, very far indeed. Following up on her splendid Tin Box Boomerang, a hit for Mad Cat last season, Azurdia again spins a tale of loyalty, menace, and money woes, this time among three Miami med school students whose quest to come up with quick cash leads them into a ghastly scheme that goes haywire. Filled with film noir references and pungent humor, Hands is another high-energy entertainment effort from the Mad Cat crew. (Through May 1 at the Mad Cat Theatre, 3000 Biscayne Blvd., #100, Miami, 305-576-4350.)
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas -- The half-dressed, high-kicking high jinks of Miss Mona's girls and their Aggie companions is just enough to rescue this maudlin tale of a madam with a heart of gold whose business is interrupted by no-good do-gooder Melvin P. Thorpe (Justin Barnette) and his Christian band of hand-clapping, harmony-singing groupies. Mona (Jodi Lynn Sylvester) and her legendary chicken ranch are monuments in this Texas town; everyone from the football team to the governor has been a guest. Set in the '70s, the script brings back the days when the glass ceiling was much lower. Yet the girls here manage just fine. The camaraderie among them is touching, particularly during their parting song, "Hard Candy Christmas." Thorpe's puffed-up preaching adds levity, and the stammering Sheriff Ed Earl (James Middleton), with his scatological language and tangential anecdotes, is a perfect foil for Miss Mona, with her likable personality, calm composure, and hearty laughter. She goes through enough glamorous costume changes to make your head spin. RisquRisqué in the style of the liberated '70s but filled with good-natured humor, the show starts slow, but the choreography keeps its old battered heart kicking. (Through May 9 at the Broward Stage Door Theater, 8036 W. Sample Rd., Coral Springs, 954-344-7765.)
Waiting for Godot: Robert Hooker's production of Samuel Beckett's absurdist classic at the Sol Theatre Project features a lot of agile physicality and snappy patter with a decidedly hip, modern sensibility. The solid production is anchored by the inspired clowning of Jim Gibbons and Jim Sweet as two road-weary tramps waiting in the middle of nowhere for someone who may never show up. While Hooker's staging misses some of Beckett's deeper meanings, this inventive, high-energy show is smart, fast, and thoroughly engaging. (Through April 25 at the Sol Theatre Project, 1140 N Flagler Dr., Fort Lauderdale, 954-525-6555.)
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