Stagebeat

Capsule reviews of current area stage shows.

At one point during the performance of Other People's Money at the Soref Jewish Community Center, a character looks around and says, "I haven't seen a place this shitty since I left the Bronx." At that moment, patrons of the Public Theater of South Florida, looking at the shabby surroundings in the center's lackluster "all-purpose" room, were probably thinking the same thing. The small, rectangular space, with lights jammed into the ceiling tiles and black-out curtains fastened to the windows, is about as far from a traditional theater as you can get. But for this show? It sort of worked. The play, written by businessman Jerry Sterner in the late '80s, doesn't need a fancy Broadway-style set since the plot mostly revolves around two offices. The first is that of Larry Garfinkle, an overweight, Bronx-bred investor who buys failing companies and sells them piecemeal for profit. The other is that of Andrew Jorgensen (played by Sonny "Gravedigger" Levitt of the Levitt-Weinstein funeral home), president of the soon-to-be-devoured New England Wire and Cable. For this performance, the stage was designed in the round, providing theatergoers the opportunity to simultaneously watch all the action while also falling victim to some gratuitous butt views. Mitchell Carrey, the only professional actor, was a believable Garfinkle with his Brooklyn accent, large girth, and a natural way of delivering little entrepreneurial riffs. His love interest, Kate Sullivan (Jacqueline Laggy), also did a convincing job as a manipulating, power-hungry attorney looking to save Jorgensen's company from certain death. The remaining characters had convincing moments but never rose above the level of earnest amateur theater. (Through December 12 at the Public Theatre of South Florida, Soref JCC, 6501 W. Sunrise Blvd., Plantation, 954-537-3648.) -- Riki Altman

NOW SHOWING

Hello Dolly! centers on the prodigious skills of Yonkers matchmaker Dolly Levi (Jodi-Lynne Sylvester) for whom meddling is a career choice. Dolly interferes in everybody's life, including two disgruntled clerks who leave Yonkers to go to New York City 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. (Through January 2 at the Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W. Sample Rd., Coral Springs, 954-344-7765.)

Sleeping Beauty, set in swinging mod England, includes full frontal nudity, transvestites, three-way orgies, LSD, rock 'n' roll, and go-go dancers. Not for the kiddies. The craziness begins with Enid Wetwhistle (Erynn Dalton), whose wild dancing and miniskirt shock fashion mogul Sebastian Lorre (Jim Gibbons) and his sidekick, the rotund Ms. Thicke (Jeff Holmes). At first, Lorre wants Enid to take a "personality suppressant." But when Lorre's treasonous sketch artist, Fauna (Jim Sweet), convinces cosmopolitan buyer Anthea (Melissa McSherry) that Fauna's designs outstrip Lorre's, Sebastian has a change of heart. Deciding that mod is in, he chooses Enid as his "it" girl. But the transformational high-life makes his new protégée bail -- and Sebastian vows revenge. Fauna and Ian take in a confused Enid and rebuild her career (complete with acrobatic sex and topless photo shoots). Gibbons' light-in-the loafers swagger and face-scrunching snarl add comic effect. Sweet throws one-liners around with ease and maintains character throughout, whether smoking, meditating, palm reading, or discussing reincarnation. McSherry is convincing as a conceited, socialite, fashion slave. Hilarious throughout, this show is pure fun. (In repertory with Vampire Lesbians of Sodom through December 19 at Sol Theatre Project, 1140 NE Flagler Dr., Fort Lauderdale, 954-525-6555, www.soltheatre.com.)

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