BWW Review: SHORTS GONE WILD 5 at City Theatre And Island City Stage

BWW Review: SHORTS GONE WILD 5 at City Theatre And Island City Stage

Shorts Gone Wild 5: South Florida's Hottest LGBT-Themed Short Play Festival

City Theatre and Island City Stage are proud to present Shorts Gone Wild 5. This all-new production marks the fifth season of South Florida's hottest LGBT-themed short play festival that celebrates the LGBT and Progressive communities. Shorts Gone Wild 5 is made possible with the support of the Broward County Board of County Commissioners as recommended by the Broward County Cultural Council: Regional Investment Program Grant; the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture; Funding Arts Broward and Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson.

Shorts Gone Wild 5 takes six actors, eight playwrights, four directors and a design team, and let's them loose resulting in eight short, funny, provocative and thoroughly entertaining plays that have become a much-anticipated annual treat. To add to the fun, audience members choose the order of the plays so the show is different every night. Shorts Gone Wild 5 is refreshing summer fun that features brand new plays from local playwrights, in addition to pieces from nationally recognized playwrights. The production is performed up close in the intimate theatrical space of Island City Stage.

Scenic designer Michael McClain provides a cute and colorful set in purples and reds, with strings of flashing lights framing the sides. During the rapid scene changes, which use minimal prop and scenic elements, the audience is treated to the same recorded music I believe once was used to accompany the TV show Match Game while celebrity guests wrote down their answers. The back wall is comprised of numbers tiles, behind each of which are hidden half of a short play title. Audience members are called upon to pick two matching tiles to select the next play. An entertaining premise, despite the seeming inability of all of the audience members to catch on to the rules when they were called upon on the night attended.

While the actors genuinely displayed a great deal of versatility, consistency and focus through all of the 8 the plays, the quality of the plays themselves varied substantially. As in any short play festival, one must pick and choose their own personal favorites.

Clarity was my favorite play of the night. It is beautifully written, with poetic imagery, and a wonderful feeling for the urban language in which the solo character speaks. As the character is into rough sex, it is intriguing to hear his sexual encounter described with such elegance of words. I found myself wanting to hear his descriptions over again in the way you want to re-read a well written passage of a novel. Actor Marquis Rogers is perfection in this piece, especially as he relates to it with a happy and innocent exuberance. It is also very well directed.

Coming in as my last choice for the evening is Valkyrie in the Roller Derby. Despite the best attempts of the two actresses in it, it is clumsily written, and at the end you are left asking yourself "What was the point of that?" (other than a random character study). A close second unfortunately is So a Rabbi, a Priest and a Minister Walk into a Bar: The characters are really very enjoyable. Actors Larry Buzzeo, Christina Groom, Marquise Rogers, and Jordon Armstrong capture the interest of the audience as they eagerly await the pay-off of this classic joke setting. However when the play ends, and the audience realizes that the whole thing was a set up for a weak, Catskill comedian styled joke, they understandably respond with a groan.

Back to the high points of the evening, Carly's Last Call is a touching story, and acted with honesty by Larry Buzzeo, Christina Groom, Rita Joe, and Jordon Armstrong. The premise of Déjà vu is very clever, and well directed and staged. The ending is regrettably disconnected to the rest of the piece. I would like to see an expanded version of this story with the ending rethought. I found Larry Buzzeo, Marquise Rogers

Sabrina Lynn Gore, Jordon Armstrong entertaining in this play but did not care for Rita Joe's character. Give Me Space has a titillating premise, and is well acted by Larry Buzzeo and Marquis Rogers despite the lack of effectiveness of the physical pretense of moving in the weightless atmosphere of their space capsule.

Coming in around the middle of the pack is The Adventures of Gay Man: Birth of A Hero and Persona. Neither of these scripts thrilled me, but they did have acting highlights. It is during The Adventures of Gay Man: Birth of A Hero that Rita Joe makes her biggest acting choices, and I noticed how versatile a character actor Christina Groom is. Her drunk in Carly's Last Call, her straight forward Joan in Persona, and her jaded secretary in this play may not be big characters, but she makes memorable choices with them. Likewise, in Persona, Sabrina Lynn Gore, is impressive as the nervous and questioning Emma when compared to her Valkyrie in Valkyrie in the Roller Derby.

It's awesome to see able actors at work, jumping from one character to the next, and able these actors are. It is also awesome to see their talents applied to LGBT-themed works. The intro to the evening where the actors first come out, introduce themselves and joke around needs to be reworked as it feels forced, and serves to perplex the audience rather than warm them up. SoFlo thankfully has a market receptive to plays of this genre. In truth, I expected one or two with weighty social or political commentary, but the plays offered this year are more about humor and fantasy. So, if bite-sized LGBT-themed plays about humor and fantasy is what you are seeking, this may be the perfect Summertime offering for you.

This Year's Plays:

Déjà vu: A World Premiere written by Steve Yockey and directed by Michael Leeds. When Billy and Jack's third date goes off the rails time folds in on itself, trapping the guys in a madcap, internet-fueled loop of "ideas to try in bed." Then Liesel shows up with a cocktail and a shotgun.

The Adventures of Gay Man: Birth of A Hero: Written by Kris Thompson and directed by Matt Stabile. A young man with dreams of being a superhero applies at the B.A. HERO Talent Agency where he's offered fame, fortune and the chance of a lifetime. But at what price?

Give Me Space: A Southeastern Premiere written by Spenser Davis and directed by Margaret M. Ledford. On a one-way trip to Mars, the first gay couple in space hurtles into the first gay interspace breakup.

Carly's Last Call: A World Premiere written by Michael McKeever and directed by Matt Stabile. Old friends bicker, roast and toast each other with pisco sours, and fight with the bartender who wants them to go home, as they celebrate the long tradition of closing down the bar one last time.

Persona: A Southeastern Premiere written by Cassandra Rose and directed by Margaret M. Ledford. Two women flirt with a new romance until they discover a problem that might make this their first and last date!

So a Rabbi, a Priest and a Minister Walk into a Bar: A World Premiere written and directed by Michael Leeds. Will a bartender need a prayer or have the last laugh when a rabbi, a priest and minister walk into his bar?

Clarity: A Southeastern Premiere written by Korde Arrington Tuttle and directed by Gladys Ramirez. (Winner of the 41st Annual Samuel French Off Off Broadway Short Play Festival and Finalist in the 2018 City Theatre National Award for Short Playwriting Contest). Cameron enjoys rough sex. Which is fine. However, in the final moments leading up to his wedding on the Georgia state coastline, one particular sexual encounter with his fiancé leads him to question his impending marriage.

Valkyrie in the Roller Derby: A Southeastern Premiere written by Seamus Sullivan and directed by Gladys Ramirez. (Finalist in the 2018 City Theatre National Award for Short Playwriting Contest). Bridget has survived her roller derby competition, but can she out-maneuver her ex, Hillevi, a Valkyrie determined to win back the friendship of her beloved woman on skates!

City Theatre is an award-winning professional theater company founded in Miami, FL in 1996, that is dedicated to the development and production of new works and programming that entertains, informs and resonates with its diverse audiences. It is the only theatre in the nation producing ten minute plays and musicals year round and for all ages, including its signature SUMMER SHORTS FESTIVALS featuring work by well-known and exciting new writers culled from its City Theatre National Award for Short Playwriting Contests, SHORTS GONE WILD featuring original LGBTQ plays by regional and national playwrights, the CITY SHORTS "Best of the Fest" winter regional tour into local community venues, the SHORT CUTS in-school tour bringing original commissioned work to 25,000 students annually and returning in 2017, WINTER SHORTS.

City Theatre is unique in South Florida for its long standing commitment towards playwrights and their educational and professional development, including its reading series designed to inform and invest audiences in the process of new play development; the NextGen Project; a student mentoring initiative to identify and support the Next Generations of South Florida playwrights; and CityWrights, a year-round series of workshops, readings, panels and a Weekend Convening bringing together regional and national dramatists and theatre industry leaders for artistic collaboration and professional opportunities. City Theatre selects opportunities to produce full-length plays it feels are timely, exciting and impactful to its community and audiences. In 2016, City Theatre was honored by the Carbonell Committee with the prestigious Bill Von Maurer Award, which recognizes significant contributions to South Florida theater development by an individual or group, for the company's dedication to the short form play and fostering new play development. Visit www.citytheatre.com for more information.

Island City Stage is a professional regional theatre dedicated to producing new work and recognized plays that explore themes, characters and values of the LGBT and Progressive communities. The company is the recipient of nine Carbonell Awards including two for "Best Production of a Play" for their productions of Dan Clancy's The Timekeepers and Michael McKeever's Daniel's Husband, and 13 Silver Palm Awards in recognition of Island City Stage's outstanding contributions to South Florida theatre.

Preview performances of Shorts Gone Wild 5 are scheduled for Thursday, August 17 and Friday, August 18 at Island City Stage, 2304 N. Dixie Hwy. in Wilton Manors. The official Opening Night ceremony is slated for Saturday, August 19 at 8 p.m. Evening performances will be held Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm, with afternoon matinees on Sunday at 5 pm through September 10. Tickets are $35, and may be purchased through the Island City Stage box office by calling 954-519-2533, or online at Larry Buzzeo, Christina Groom, Marquise Rogers, and Jordon Armstrong capture the interest of the audience as they eagerly await the pay-off of this classic joke setting. However when the play ends, and the audience realizes that the whole thing was a set up for a weak, Catskill comedian styled joke, they understandably respond with a groan. Back to the high points of the evening, Carly's Last Call is a touching story, and acted with honesty by Larry Buzzeo, Christina Groom, Rita Joe, and Jordon Armstrong. The premise of Deja vu is very clever, and well directed and staged. The ending is regrettably disconnected to the rest of the piece. I would like to see an expanded version of this story with the ending rethought. I found Larry Buzzeo, Marquise Rogers Sabrina Lynn Gore, Jordon Armstrong entertaining in this play but did not care for Rita Joe's character. Give Me Space has a titillating premise, and is well acted by Larry Buzzeo and Marquis Rogers despite the lack of effectiveness of the physical pretense of moving in the weightless atmosphere of their space capsule. Coming in at the middle of the pack is The Adventures of Gay Man: Birth of A Hero and Persona. Neither of these scripts thrilled me, but they did have acting highlights. It is during The Adventures of Gay Man: Birth of A Hero that Rita Joe makes her biggest acting choices, and I noticed how versatile a character actor Christina Groom is. Her drunk in Carly's Last Call, her straight forward Joan in Persona, and her jaded secretary in this play may not be big characters, but she makes memorable choices with them. Likewise, in Persona, Sabrina Lynn Gore, is impressive as the nervous and questioning Emma when compared to her Valkyrie in Valkyrie in the Roller Derby. It's awesome to see able actors at work, jumping from one character to the next, and able these actors are. It is also awesome to see their talents applied to LGBT-themed works. The intro to the evening where the actors first come out, introduce themselves and joke around needs to be reworked as it feels forced, and serves to perplex the audience rather than warm them up. SoFlo thankfully has a market receptive to plays of this genre. In truth, I expected one or two with weighty social or political commentary, but the plays offered this year are more about humor and fantasy. So, if bite-sized LGBT-themed plays about humor and fantasy is what you are seeking, this may be the perfect Summertime offering for you. This Year's Plays: Deja vu: A World Premiere written by Steve Yockey and directed by Michael Leeds. When Billy and Jack's third date goes off the rails time folds in on itself, trapping the guys in a madcap, internet-fueled loop of ">www.islandcitystage.orgLarry Buzzeo, Christina Groom, Marquise Rogers, and Jordon Armstrong capture the interest of the audience as they eagerly await the pay-off of this classic joke setting. However when the play ends, and the audience realizes that the whole thing was a set up for a weak, Catskill comedian styled joke, they understandably respond with a groan. Back to the high points of the evening, Carly's Last Call is a touching story, and acted with honesty by Larry Buzzeo, Christina Groom, Rita Joe, and Jordon Armstrong. The premise of Deja vu is very clever, and well directed and staged. The ending is regrettably disconnected to the rest of the piece. I would like to see an expanded version of this story with the ending rethought. I found Larry Buzzeo, Marquise Rogers Sabrina Lynn Gore, Jordon Armstrong entertaining in this play but did not care for Rita Joe's character. Give Me Space has a titillating premise, and is well acted by Larry Buzzeo and Marquis Rogers despite the lack of effectiveness of the physical pretense of moving in the weightless atmosphere of their space capsule. Coming in at the middle of the pack is The Adventures of Gay Man: Birth of A Hero and Persona. Neither of these scripts thrilled me, but they did have acting highlights. It is during The Adventures of Gay Man: Birth of A Hero that Rita Joe makes her biggest acting choices, and I noticed how versatile a character actor Christina Groom is. Her drunk in Carly's Last Call, her straight forward Joan in Persona, and her jaded secretary in this play may not be big characters, but she makes memorable choices with them. Likewise, in Persona, Sabrina Lynn Gore, is impressive as the nervous and questioning Emma when compared to her Valkyrie in Valkyrie in the Roller Derby. It's awesome to see able actors at work, jumping from one character to the next, and able these actors are. It is also awesome to see their talents applied to LGBT-themed works. The intro to the evening where the actors first come out, introduce themselves and joke around needs to be reworked as it feels forced, and serves to perplex the audience rather than warm them up. SoFlo thankfully has a market receptive to plays of this genre. In truth, I expected one or two with weighty social or political commentary, but the plays offered this year are more about humor and fantasy. So, if bite-sized LGBT-themed plays about humor and fantasy is what you are seeking, this may be the perfect Summertime offering for you. This Year's Plays: Deja vu: A World Premiere written by Steve Yockey and directed by Michael Leeds. When Billy and Jack's third date goes off the rails time folds in on itself, trapping the guys in a madcap, internet-fueled loop of ">.

The Actors:

Larry Buzzeo

Christina Groom

Rita Joe

Marquise Rogers

Sabrina Lynn Gore

Jordon Armstrong

The Directors:

Margaret M. Ledford

Michael Leeds

Gladys Ramirez

Matt Stabile

The Designers:

Michael McClain (Scenic)

David Hart (Sound)

Ardean Landhuis (Lighting)

Peter A. Lovello (Costumes)

Photo: Christina Groom, Jordan Armstrong, Marquise Rodgers and Larry Buzzeo

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