Good news. The Promethean Theatre is a young company to watch, and its debut production of Orange Flower Water is as exciting as it is promising. Directed by Margaret M. Ledford with a keen eye for detail, the local premiere of Craig Wright's intense domestic drama treks through familiar territory with a good traveler's eye for surprise. Wright delivers, Ledford's cast is game, and a simple plot of adultery and betrayal packs a punch and always rings true. The setting is Pine City, Minnesota, but it might as well be South Florida. The marriage of a pharmacist and a choral director is being torn apart by the husband's affair with a housewife married to a video-store clerk. Somewhere between the weighty Scenes from a Marriage and the fluffy Same Time Next Year, Wright's little user's guide to adultery brings to life conflicts of love and duty, of lust and the passage of time. Giving up on reason as the ruler of their passions, the four become mere witnesses to the spectacle of their lives unraveling. The conclusion is uplifting, ironic, or both. The immensely likable Andy Quiroga brings complexity and relish to the role of the philandering pharmacist. Elda Elisa Brouwer adds a dangerous edge to his betrayed wife's plight. Beth McIntosh lets the script's sophomoric religious debates emerge with an aging sophomore's touching charm. Eric Lavoie seems overtaxed by his role as the betrayed lug, erring on the side of humor rather than pathos. It still works, though. Don't miss this one. (Through March 15 at the Promethean Theatre at the Main Street Playhouse, 6766 Main St., Miami Lakes, 786-317-7580.)
Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill, Lanie Robertson's oft-revived play, is set in 1959 in a Philadelphia bar where fading jazz star Billie Holiday sings her signatures songs and jokes with the audience, but her boozing and drugs send her tottering toward an on-stage meltdown. The production is graced by a fine jazz trio and the rich vocals of Nadeen Holloway in the title role, but Holloway's energy and warmth seem at odds with Lady Day's tortured personality, and director John Pryor hasn't developed the character's nuances. (Through February 27 at the M Ensemble Company, 12320 W. Dixie Hwy., North Miami, 305-895-0335.)
It's all there -- the sooty buildings, the sunless streets, the cockney rabble, and the little boy who committed the cardinal sin of asking his orphanage turnkey for some more gruel ("Please, sir, I want some more"). It's all there in the traveling production of Lionel Bart's 45-year-old musical Oliver!, that is, minus a lot of the grace, wit, and emotion of the original. Be warned. It takes a crack sound system to deliver all the twisted vowels and dropped consonants of working-class Brit English. Still, the powerful story breaks through. Renata Renee Wilson as the doomed Nancy is a heartbreaker when she sings "As Long as He Needs Me," her paean of loyalty to her abusive boyfriend, the scary Bill Sikes (Shane R. Tanner). Young Colin Bates as the Artful Dodger, Oliver's nimble, slippery, pickpocketing friend, is an electric presence every time he takes center stage. Adrian Vaux's sets capture all the oppressive gloom of post-industrial London (the society that made Marx a Marxist) with just enough space for little fires to break out from time to time. (Through March 13 at the Jackie Gleason Theater, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, 305-673-7300, and March 15-20, Kravis Center, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach, 561-832-SHOW.)
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