Last fall, the average playgoer had to wonder, Did we really need a revival of Finian's Rainbow? Despite a glut of Broadway revivals in New York, the Coconut Grove Playhouse certainly made a good case for the 1947 Fred Saidy-E.Y. Harburg classic, the familiar songs of which -- "How Are Things in Glocca Morra" and "Old Devil Moon" -- are just two good reasons to revisit this story of a man, a woman, a leprechaun, and a battle against racism. Starring Austin Pendleton, the great Brian Murray, and a ferociously talented chorus and featuring a book updated by Peter Stone, the Grove's Rainbow rose over one of the most exquisite examples of stage design you'd ever want to see. (Kudos to Loren Sherman's rainbow of pastel bed sheets, Phil Monat's effervescent lighting, and Marguerite Derricks' choreography.) It also served to remind us that there's always a place for an old-fashioned musical with a great score and a timeless antibigotry statement. Things are great in Glocca Morra, indeed.
Last fall, the average playgoer had to wonder, Did we really need a revival of Finian's Rainbow? Despite a glut of Broadway revivals in New York, the Coconut Grove Playhouse certainly made a good case for the 1947 Fred Saidy-E.Y. Harburg classic, the familiar songs of which -- "How Are Things in Glocca Morra" and "Old Devil Moon" -- are just two good reasons to revisit this story of a man, a woman, a leprechaun, and a battle against racism. Starring Austin Pendleton, the great Brian Murray, and a ferociously talented chorus and featuring a book updated by Peter Stone, the Grove's Rainbow rose over one of the most exquisite examples of stage design you'd ever want to see. (Kudos to Loren Sherman's rainbow of pastel bed sheets, Phil Monat's effervescent lighting, and Marguerite Derricks' choreography.) It also served to remind us that there's always a place for an old-fashioned musical with a great score and a timeless antibigotry statement. Things are great in Glocca Morra, indeed.
Under a massive tower carrying high-tension power lines sits a Japanese Zen garden with glowing lamps hanging from trees. But the night air isn't still -- it's alive with spinning colored lights and dry ice, reverberating with throbbing drumbeats and the remarkable freestyle vocalizations of MC Millennium Collaborator. Drum 'n' bass emerged from Britain several years ago as yet another twig on the family tree of techno-dance music, but by now the skittery, jittery sound has established itself as the most potent form of dance music all over the globe. Employing dizzying ricochets of spasmodic percussion -- imagine a drum-beating toy monkey hurtling down a steep flight of stairs -- the dense rhythms eventually open up to showcase an awesome array of sound effects, real instruments like guitars and horns, sampled percussion, and more. At Respectable Street in West Palm Beach, a troika of young DJs (Blacki, Phat Phil, and Pan) spins drum 'n' bass and tech-step (another hi-NRG form of electronic disco music) from 11 p.m. till the wee hours, finding favor with an expanding clientele. You'd be hard-pressed to find such an invigorating scene in such an improbable location anywhere.
Under a massive tower carrying high-tension power lines sits a Japanese Zen garden with glowing lamps hanging from trees. But the night air isn't still -- it's alive with spinning colored lights and dry ice, reverberating with throbbing drumbeats and the remarkable freestyle vocalizations of MC Millennium Collaborator. Drum 'n' bass emerged from Britain several years ago as yet another twig on the family tree of techno-dance music, but by now the skittery, jittery sound has established itself as the most potent form of dance music all over the globe. Employing dizzying ricochets of spasmodic percussion -- imagine a drum-beating toy monkey hurtling down a steep flight of stairs -- the dense rhythms eventually open up to showcase an awesome array of sound effects, real instruments like guitars and horns, sampled percussion, and more. At Respectable Street in West Palm Beach, a troika of young DJs (Blacki, Phat Phil, and Pan) spins drum 'n' bass and tech-step (another hi-NRG form of electronic disco music) from 11 p.m. till the wee hours, finding favor with an expanding clientele. You'd be hard-pressed to find such an invigorating scene in such an improbable location anywhere.
Champps Americana
For the discerning sports fan who just can't enjoy the game without a proper repast in fine-dining surroundings, there's Champps. Here the emphasis isn't on the mammary measurements of the help but on the quality of the food and the décor. The huge, split-level dining room is divided by a curved half-wall and dominated by dark-stained wood. A bank of gigantic TVs (each a quartet of four-foot-square panels) is mounted along the back wall above the kitchen, while smaller sets perch at strategic spots around the main room. The sheer abundance of monitors means there's not a bad seat in the house, and no sport gets left out of the mix: Bowling and women's college basketball flash on screens next to pro baseball and NBA contests. On weekdays a few sets are even given over to business news. Whatever's on, patrons are busy digging into gourmet fare, not ballpark food. Sure, you can order up potato skins or nachos with your beer, but you can just as easily go for a $35 bottle of Kendall-Jackson merlot to sip with bites of spinach-and-artichoke dip or bruschetta. Wilted spinach and Greek are among the ten salad choices, and an equal number of pasta dishes is offered, along with such main-course items as shrimp or chicken Creole, New York strip steak, and grilled salmon. Even the sports-friendly food -- pizza (on honey-wheat crust), burgers (one crusted with peppercorns), and sandwiches (some on fresh nine-grain bread) -- is done with gourmet flair.
For the discerning sports fan who just can't enjoy the game without a proper repast in fine-dining surroundings, there's Champps. Here the emphasis isn't on the mammary measurements of the help but on the quality of the food and the décor. The huge, split-level dining room is divided by a curved half-wall and dominated by dark-stained wood. A bank of gigantic TVs (each a quartet of four-foot-square panels) is mounted along the back wall above the kitchen, while smaller sets perch at strategic spots around the main room. The sheer abundance of monitors means there's not a bad seat in the house, and no sport gets left out of the mix: Bowling and women's college basketball flash on screens next to pro baseball and NBA contests. On weekdays a few sets are even given over to business news. Whatever's on, patrons are busy digging into gourmet fare, not ballpark food. Sure, you can order up potato skins or nachos with your beer, but you can just as easily go for a $35 bottle of Kendall-Jackson merlot to sip with bites of spinach-and-artichoke dip or bruschetta. Wilted spinach and Greek are among the ten salad choices, and an equal number of pasta dishes is offered, along with such main-course items as shrimp or chicken Creole, New York strip steak, and grilled salmon. Even the sports-friendly food -- pizza (on honey-wheat crust), burgers (one crusted with peppercorns), and sandwiches (some on fresh nine-grain bread) -- is done with gourmet flair.
There's not a huge demand in the theater for naked middle-aged men, but don't blame actor William Metzo. As the Marquis de Sade, in the magnificent Florida Stage production of Doug Wright's play Quills, Metzo gave a performance that required him to (a) stop speaking after the first act (since the Marquis is relieved of his tongue by Church authorities hoping to stop him from writing erotica) and (b) strip down to his bare essentials. What Metzo displayed was a professional confidence and talent that proves he needs no costume. It's a tribute to the strength of his acting that Metzo's Marquis seemed more vulnerable without his wig than without his pants. In this play about the importance of defending art against censorship, Metzo made an indelible case for great acting.
There's not a huge demand in the theater for naked middle-aged men, but don't blame actor William Metzo. As the Marquis de Sade, in the magnificent Florida Stage production of Doug Wright's play Quills, Metzo gave a performance that required him to (a) stop speaking after the first act (since the Marquis is relieved of his tongue by Church authorities hoping to stop him from writing erotica) and (b) strip down to his bare essentials. What Metzo displayed was a professional confidence and talent that proves he needs no costume. It's a tribute to the strength of his acting that Metzo's Marquis seemed more vulnerable without his wig than without his pants. In this play about the importance of defending art against censorship, Metzo made an indelible case for great acting.
Pat Nesbit is the sort of performer whose work finds its way to the foreground even if she's part of an ensemble, as she was in 1998's The Last Night of Ballyhoo at the Coconut Grove Playhouse. This past season, South Florida audiences were lucky to see her as one of two players in Donald Margulies' Collected Stories at the Caldwell Theatre Company, a smaller, more intimate drama that showed off her style as a miniaturist. Her character, Ruth, is a middle-aged college professor whose star is fading just as that of her protégé Lisa is on the rise. The play is not exactly subtle in the ways it deals with issues of artistic appropriation. Nesbit, on the other hand, is master of small moments. In this performance, as usual, her brilliance shone through in her line readings, the precision of her physical inflections, the way her character, becoming increasing ill, seemed to fade away in front of our eyes. For these reasons discerning theatergoers only want to see more of her.

Pat Nesbit is the sort of performer whose work finds its way to the foreground even if she's part of an ensemble, as she was in 1998's The Last Night of Ballyhoo at the Coconut Grove Playhouse. This past season, South Florida audiences were lucky to see her as one of two players in Donald Margulies' Collected Stories at the Caldwell Theatre Company, a smaller, more intimate drama that showed off her style as a miniaturist. Her character, Ruth, is a middle-aged college professor whose star is fading just as that of her protégé Lisa is on the rise. The play is not exactly subtle in the ways it deals with issues of artistic appropriation. Nesbit, on the other hand, is master of small moments. In this performance, as usual, her brilliance shone through in her line readings, the precision of her physical inflections, the way her character, becoming increasing ill, seemed to fade away in front of our eyes. For these reasons discerning theatergoers only want to see more of her.

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