Literary luminaries descend on West Palm Beach, animals entertain you in Delray, and a sitcom star reinvents himself as a cabaret crooner. Plus, David Sedaris, “Waiting For Godot,” “Free Fire” and more in your week ahead.
What: Popovich Comedy Pet Theater
Where: Crest Theatre, 51 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach
When: 7 p.m.
Contact: 561/243-7922, oldschoolsquare.org
I for one have trouble preventing my shih tzu from peeing on my neighbor’s lawn décor. Gregory Popovich, the son of Moscow circus performers and the impresario of Popovich Comedy Pet Theater, has no such problems controlling his pets. The Spielberg of fauna, he herds cats, among other animals, for a living. His zoo of a cast, which includes canines, felines, geese and goats, has performed in 25 countries and on countless talk shows, where they walk tightropes, ride scooters, jump rope, play football and save fellow-animals from a “burning” building. Lest you call PETA, these animals, all rescued from shelters, have been given second chances at life and have been trained with positive reinforcement. They’re pretty much divas.
What: Opening day of “Pen to Paper: Artists’ Handwritten Letters”
Where: Norton Museum of Art, 1451 S. Olive Ave., West Palm Beach
When: Noon to 5 p.m.
Contact: 561/832-5196, norton.org
How did Georgia O’Keeffe dot her “i”s? How did Winslow Homer cross his “t”s? These are questions that probably don’t keep you up at night, but they reveal much about these famous artists, as this exhibition documents. It explores the penmanship of artists from Mary Cassatt to Isamu Noguchi—from casually jotted notes to decorative calligraphy. Catch it through June 25.
TUESDAY TO SATURDAY
What: Tony Danza
Where: The Royal Room at Colony Hotel, 155 Hammon Ave., Palm Beach
When: 8:30 p.m.
Contact: 561/659-8100, theroyalroom.com
Yes, you read that right—it’s that Tony Danza. Singing standards. On a cabaret stage. Danza is used to winning over skeptics; as he told the Palm Beach Post last year during his Royal Room debut, “Being Tony Danza gets you onstage. They’ll give you a pass … but then you gotta show ‘em something.” Anyone immersed in recent Broadway history knows Danza can sing. The former pugilist and sitcom star earned plaudits for his role in the short-lived Broadway musical “Honeymoon in Vegas.” But he’s also a devotee of the American Songbook. Returning to Palm Beach by popular demand to close out the season, Danza will perform a program called “Standards & Stories,” featuring his croons of classic cuts, along with entertaining yarns from his decades in show business.
What: Opening night of “Waiting for Godot”
Where: Evening Star Productions, 3333 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton
When: 8 p.m.
Cost: $15 students, $30 adults
Contact: 561/447-8829, eveningstarproductions.org
Once voted “the most significant English-language play of the 20th century,” Samuel Beckett’s existential tragicomedy remains as durable as ever. Two wandering tramps position themselves under a leafless tree, in anticipation of meeting the elusive Mr. Godot. Instead, they encounter an imperious master and his rope-tied slave, as well as the mysterious Godot’s messenger, promising his employer will “surely” arrive tomorrow. A paean to patience and plotlessness, Beckett’s classic continues to puzzle and enrich us in equal measure. This rare production of the play from Boca Raton’s Evening Star Productions runs through May 7.
What: David Sedaris
Where: Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
When: 8 p.m.
Contact: 305/949-6722, arshtcenter.org
With five New York Times best-sellers to his credit, David Sedaris is one of the country’s foremost humorists and the reigning champion of the short-form essay. Deftly illuminating the unpleasantries, absurdities and vagaries of modern life, Sedaris’ latest collection, Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, includes memoirs and fiction pieces on topics ranging from his first colonoscopy to his father’s unorthodox dinner attire to the weird inner sanctum of a European taxidermy shop. His 2017 tour will feature a brand-new selection of spoken-word narratives, offering fans a preview of his forthcoming writings as well as a spirited Q&A.
FRIDAY TO SUNDAY
What: Fort Lauderdale Fringe Festival
Where: Various locations
When: Various show times
Cost: $27 day passes, $42 multiday passes
Contact: 954/201-6306, fortlauderdalefringe.com
The first and only running fringe festival in South Florida, the Fort Lauderdale Fringe returns for its third year of uncensored, accessible, community-bolstering plays at venues including the Broward Center, Broward College, Stache and the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society. Expected highlights include standup comedian Megan Gogerty’s inside-theater “Lady Macbeth and her Pal Megan;” the apocalyptic science fiction of “An Unnamed Psychosis;” “Safe House,” a sobering play inspired by the Orlando nightclub shooting; and the magic-infused “Illusion of Choice.” Twilight jazz performances and other live music complements the experience, and each show runs multiple times over the busy weekend.
What: Opening night of “Free Fire”
Where: Various movie theaters
When: Various show times
Cost: Varies by theater
This lean, kinetic, bruising anarcho-comedy from U.K. madman Ben Wheatley has at best a cocktail-napkin plot: A few bad dudes meet a few other bad dudes in an abandoned warehouse to exchange cash for firearms. Tempers flare, and pretty soon everybody draws their weapon, takes makeshift cover among the industrial detritus, and fires away, with a John Denver 8-track tape providing an occasional inspired counterpoint. Not since the classic John Woo actioners of the ‘80s have this many bullets flown and pinged and ricocheted across a movie’s soundscape, forming a percussive musicality to accompany Wheatley’s precise editing and almost balletic imagery of flailing limbs and nervous glances. “Free Fire” becomes a Darwinian reality show: As the carnage grows increasingly baroque, one character after another bites the bullet (literally and figuratively). The film’s humor has a Tarantinan edge, but it’s an immature, early-‘90s Tarantino. The marketing materials insist that “Free Fire” is a satire on gun violence, but to ascribe social commentary to the melee gives it too much credit. It knows it’s cynical folderol for a desensitized, B-movie demo, concerning characters about whom we don’t care a lick. It’s accomplished filmmaking nonetheless.
What: Palm Beach Book Festival
Where: Harriet Himmel Theatre at CityPlace, 700 S. Rosemary Ave., West Palm Beach
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $100 full-day pass, $25 individual panels
Contact: 561/429-4008, palmbeachbookfestival.com
One of the Palm Beach cultural scene’s most recent success stories, the Palm Beach Book Festival started in 2015 and has grown each year since in size, stature and celebrity cachet. This celebration of all things printed and bound has earned a reputation for its enlightening panel discussions, and the 2017 edition, hosted for the first time in CityPlace, features a diverse lineup of authors and topics, starting with “You Go Girl: The Writing of Memoir vs. Biography” with memoirist Dani Shapiro and the authors of biographies on Joan Rivers and Helen Gurley Brown. At 10:30, Rob Harris will moderate a conversation with fearless war correspondent Sebastian Junger. Later events include discussions with James Patterson, award-winning legal expert Jeffrey Toobin (pictured) and iconic actor Robert Wagner.