There's plenty of choice horseflesh in South Florida each winter, but the most appealing thoroughbreds to pass through the region were Julie Harris and Charles Durning. The two arrived as part of the touring production of the National Actors Theatre's The Gin Game, directed by Charles Nelson Reilly. This sentimental piffle of a play by D.L. Coburn won the Pulitzer Prize For Drama in 1977, but it's the actors who have aged well. They portrayed Weller (Durning) and Fonsia (Harris), two old geezers abandoned by their families and dumped into a second-rate nursing home. Blending their disparate acting styles into a kind of demonic waltz (imagine a brainy spider battling cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn), Harris and Durning turned all dramatic expectations on their heads. In their hands, even a piece of dramatic dross can seem like gold.

There's plenty of choice horseflesh in South Florida each winter, but the most appealing thoroughbreds to pass through the region were Julie Harris and Charles Durning. The two arrived as part of the touring production of the National Actors Theatre's The Gin Game, directed by Charles Nelson Reilly. This sentimental piffle of a play by D.L. Coburn won the Pulitzer Prize For Drama in 1977, but it's the actors who have aged well. They portrayed Weller (Durning) and Fonsia (Harris), two old geezers abandoned by their families and dumped into a second-rate nursing home. Blending their disparate acting styles into a kind of demonic waltz (imagine a brainy spider battling cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn), Harris and Durning turned all dramatic expectations on their heads. In their hands, even a piece of dramatic dross can seem like gold.

Caldwell Theatre Company
Artistic director Michael Hall brought together such a disparate collection of dramas, comedies, and other compelling offerings last season that it's difficult to characterize the personality of his Caldwell Theatre Company. From the tense, prickly production of Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive to the unrealized yet maniacally funny rendition of Oscar E. Moore's King's Mare to Charles Nelson Reilly's hilarious one-man show, The Life of Reilly, the thread holding the Caldwell works together is their consistently top-drawer production values. Even something as goofy and insubstantial as Paul Firestone's Comedy of Eros received an endearing treatment, with titillating acting and a smart design. Michael Hall never undersells the playwrights he serves, and audiences benefit year after year.
Artistic director Michael Hall brought together such a disparate collection of dramas, comedies, and other compelling offerings last season that it's difficult to characterize the personality of his Caldwell Theatre Company. From the tense, prickly production of Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive to the unrealized yet maniacally funny rendition of Oscar E. Moore's King's Mare to Charles Nelson Reilly's hilarious one-man show, The Life of Reilly, the thread holding the Caldwell works together is their consistently top-drawer production values. Even something as goofy and insubstantial as Paul Firestone's Comedy of Eros received an endearing treatment, with titillating acting and a smart design. Michael Hall never undersells the playwrights he serves, and audiences benefit year after year.
A cursory glance at or a quick listen to A New Found Glory won't likely make you expect overnight success or imminent world domination. But that's because you're not 16 years old. If you were you'd probably know that the Coral Springs band is currently being courted by representatives from a couple major record labels; that their concerts regularly become crowded, sweaty spectacles; and that their new album, Nothing Gold Can Stay, was last year's best-selling locally produced CD. The band's aggressively melodic pop-punk anthems have proved darn near irresistible: A recent standing-room-only affair at Fort Lauderdale's FU*BAR found the band's adoring, earnest fans, the majority of whom hail from local high schools, braving the stifling heat to sing along, hanging on each and every word to each and every song. Clearly something big is at work here. If you're lucky, you're not too old to discover what it is.

A cursory glance at or a quick listen to A New Found Glory won't likely make you expect overnight success or imminent world domination. But that's because you're not 16 years old. If you were you'd probably know that the Coral Springs band is currently being courted by representatives from a couple major record labels; that their concerts regularly become crowded, sweaty spectacles; and that their new album, Nothing Gold Can Stay, was last year's best-selling locally produced CD. The band's aggressively melodic pop-punk anthems have proved darn near irresistible: A recent standing-room-only affair at Fort Lauderdale's FU*BAR found the band's adoring, earnest fans, the majority of whom hail from local high schools, braving the stifling heat to sing along, hanging on each and every word to each and every song. Clearly something big is at work here. If you're lucky, you're not too old to discover what it is.

The mellowed-out Texans who make up the American Analog Set made one of their album titles come alive at this West Palm Beach gig. From Our Living Room to Yours summed up the intimacy of the low-key performance, with the band's rich, orange-red blend of warm organ and electric piano, soft-spoken vocals, tender strumming, and wispy bass lines entrancing the small but attentive crowd. The group's minimalism came through in extremely simple arrangements and lushly quiet melodies that evoked a variety of moods, from haunted to joyous to meditative. Touring behind the then-new release The Golden Band, American Analog Set certainly didn't rock in a conventional sense -- instead, the comfortable warmth of their homemade songs was soothing and satisfying. High points included the beautifully textured "The Wait," which glowed like a fireplace, the ambient-folk epic "New Drifters," and the heady, psychedelic drone of "Don't Wake Me." Anyone with low expectations for this lovely low-impact, low-fi quintet came away with a new respect for simplicity, felicity, and taste. Knowing that magical concerts like this don't come around often, Respectable Street added the phrase, "West Palm Beach Gets Show It Doesn't Deserve," to promotional posters for the event.
The mellowed-out Texans who make up the American Analog Set made one of their album titles come alive at this West Palm Beach gig. From Our Living Room to Yours summed up the intimacy of the low-key performance, with the band's rich, orange-red blend of warm organ and electric piano, soft-spoken vocals, tender strumming, and wispy bass lines entrancing the small but attentive crowd. The group's minimalism came through in extremely simple arrangements and lushly quiet melodies that evoked a variety of moods, from haunted to joyous to meditative. Touring behind the then-new release The Golden Band, American Analog Set certainly didn't rock in a conventional sense -- instead, the comfortable warmth of their homemade songs was soothing and satisfying. High points included the beautifully textured "The Wait," which glowed like a fireplace, the ambient-folk epic "New Drifters," and the heady, psychedelic drone of "Don't Wake Me." Anyone with low expectations for this lovely low-impact, low-fi quintet came away with a new respect for simplicity, felicity, and taste. Knowing that magical concerts like this don't come around often, Respectable Street added the phrase, "West Palm Beach Gets Show It Doesn't Deserve," to promotional posters for the event.
Some folks label the music of Miami's Ed Matus' Struggle "emo," which is ostensibly a shortened "emotional." But since emotional music, to us, encompasses everything from Edith Piaf to Henry Rollins, can we finally shelve the meaningless term? Ed Matus' Struggle just makes good music, no matter what it's called. Since it refrains from capitulating to trendy electronic-dance fashion statements, the group is often lost against the busy Miami soundscape. You have to sit down and listen to the group's jazz-tinged originals to get a sense of how adventurous this band really is -- Ed Matus' Struggle is a lot closer to the late-'90s art-rock of the Sea and Cake or Creeper Lagoon than the radio-friendly schlock of Third Eye Blind. For the last five years, the band has been playing infrequent live dates and quietly laboring on singles like "Entomological Discoveries With Sound and Vibration" and "Planes That Cast a Gloom." (The titles alone indicate a desire to distance themselves from the pack.) So far, out-of-towners have been quicker to recognize Ed Matus' Struggle than have local crowds: Green Day, Mike Watt, Unwound, Jimmy Eat World, and Trans Am have all called on the group as an opening act, and their material has been included on various national compilations. Maybe Ed Matus' Struggle's undeserved obscurity has finally run its course.

Some folks label the music of Miami's Ed Matus' Struggle "emo," which is ostensibly a shortened "emotional." But since emotional music, to us, encompasses everything from Edith Piaf to Henry Rollins, can we finally shelve the meaningless term? Ed Matus' Struggle just makes good music, no matter what it's called. Since it refrains from capitulating to trendy electronic-dance fashion statements, the group is often lost against the busy Miami soundscape. You have to sit down and listen to the group's jazz-tinged originals to get a sense of how adventurous this band really is -- Ed Matus' Struggle is a lot closer to the late-'90s art-rock of the Sea and Cake or Creeper Lagoon than the radio-friendly schlock of Third Eye Blind. For the last five years, the band has been playing infrequent live dates and quietly laboring on singles like "Entomological Discoveries With Sound and Vibration" and "Planes That Cast a Gloom." (The titles alone indicate a desire to distance themselves from the pack.) So far, out-of-towners have been quicker to recognize Ed Matus' Struggle than have local crowds: Green Day, Mike Watt, Unwound, Jimmy Eat World, and Trans Am have all called on the group as an opening act, and their material has been included on various national compilations. Maybe Ed Matus' Struggle's undeserved obscurity has finally run its course.

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