Aliens crash-land at G-Star School, a former Barenaked Lady goes solo, and New City Players mounts a challenging play about autism. Plus, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Built to Spill and more in your week ahead.
What: Opening night of “Falling”
Where: New City Players at The Vanguard, 1501 S. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale
When: 8 p.m.
Contact: 954/376-6114, newcityplayers.org
New City Players is calling this domestic drama its “most socially ambitious show yet.” The South Florida regional-theatre premiere of Deanna Jent’s “Falling” is about a family with an autistic son, whose necessarily ordered life is thrown out of its equilibrium when a relative comes to visit. In Jent’s own analysis, the play is about “loving someone who is difficult to love.” With one in 59 children diagnosed with some form of autism—according to 2018 numbers from Autism Speaks—it’s safe to assume many patrons of this production will personally identify with the challenges it presents. To that end, New City Players recognizes that “Falling” is more than just a play: The company has already hosted public forums pertaining to autism, and after every performance (the show runs just 75 minutes), it will host a talk-back with the cast, creative team and local health professionals. Todd Bruno, Timothy Mark Davis, Arlette Del Toro, Abby Nigro and Elizabeth Price star in the show, which runs through Oct. 27.
What: Steven Page Trio
Where: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 S.W. Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale
When: 7:30 p.m.
Contact: 954/462-0222, browardcenter.org
Steven Page formed Barenaked Ladies with his former schoolmate Ed Robertson in 1988, but it wasn’t exactly an equal-opportunity, Lennon/McCartney-type partnership: Page dominated the band’s songwriting duties, with 97 of the 113 tunes released during his 20-year tenure bearing his credit. (In this context, it can’t be a coincidence that BNL’s output has creatively wavered since Page left to pursue a solo career.) He’ll play a handful of them—expect to hear “This Old Apartment,” “Brian Wilson” and more, but probably not “One Week”—as part of his intimate, stripped-down three-piece outfit, along with cuts from his solo albums Discipline, Heal Thyself, Parts I and II.
What: Opening day of “Where’s My Roy Cohn?”
Where: Living Room Theaters at FAU, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton
When: Show times pending
Contact: 561/549-2600, fau.livingroomtheaters.com
Roy Cohn, legal fixer to political conservatives from the 1950s to the 1980s, died in 1986. But ever since President Trump invoked his name in 2018, Cohn has resurfaced in government and media circles, usually in the context of corruption-of-justice broadsides. This timely documentary about Cohn’s life and legacy takes a deep dive into its subject’s Machiavellian tactics and vast influence, from his role in the shameful Army-McCarthy Hearings, to his hard-line prosecution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, to his political “puppeteering” to get Ronald Reagan elected, to his status as New York City’s top mafia consigliore, which landed him in Trump’s orbit. Cohn may resemble a dead-eyed sociopath in archive clips, but “Where’s My Roy Cohn?” isn’t a hatchet job: Director Matt Tyrnauer appreciates the complexities of a gay Jewish man who supported policies and candidates that disadvantaged people like him. Rich in irony and long on substance, Tyrnauer’s expertly paced and impactful doc is scored like a mystery, and it occasionally feels like one. It runs at least through Oct. 17.
What: Opening night of X-Scream Haunted House
Where: G-Star School, 2030 S. Congress Ave., Palm Springs
When: Beginning at 8 p.m.
Oh, the horror! For many of the budding film artists at G-Star School of the Arts, an entire year’s work culminates in the three blood-curdling weekends of X-Scream Haunted House, a favorite Halloween attraction now in its 15th year. Billed as the third-largest haunted house in Florida—behind only Busch Gardens’ Howl-O-Scream and Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights—X-Scream is developed, storyboarded, stitched and constructed entirely by students, from the costumes to the settings to the special effects to the narratives of its haunts, which change annually. This year, attendees are invited to explore “Swamp of Souls,” in which a murky bog has been afflicted with a demonic, radioactive glow and is lorded over by a voodoo priestess; and “Crash Landing,” about an alien craft, its undead ET pilots and the “strange men in suits” accompanying this mysterious cosmic event. Hop aboard the UFO and try to solve it yourself—if you dare! Those with weaker constitutions can always enjoy X-Scream’s ancillary activities, including carnival games, live entertainment, an X-Scream Arcade and concessions. It runs through Oct. 26.
What: Opening night of “A Streetcar Named Desire”
Where: Palm Beach Dramaworks, 201 Clematis St., West Palm Beach
When: 8 p.m.
Cost: $92 for opening night, including reception ($75 for remainder of run)
Contact: 561/514-4042, palmbeachdramaworks.org
Palm Beach Dramaworks opens its 2019/2020 season with a dangerous firecracker from the combustible canon of American drama. Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” is the most popular work from arguably the most popular English-language playwright of the 20th century, a character study that plumbs the darkest corners of the human condition. It’s set in the late ‘40s in the French Quarter—in good productions, New Orleans is, itself, a character in the play—where fading southern belle Blanche DuBois has been forced to abandon her life of privilege and move in to her sister Stella’s dilapidated tenement. Blanche immediately locks horns with Stella’s husband, Stanley Kowalski, a mercurial gambler, destructive gossip and domestic abuser. (When Alec Baldwin, himself known for his volcanic temper, played Stanley in a 1992 production, he broke a bone in his hand when he slammed his fist on a table onstage.) These broken people, desperate for love but capable only of lies, pain and self-deception, encapsulate a fractured cityscape of postwar America, their flaws rippling across subsequent generations with harrowing familiarity. It runs through Nov. 3.
What: Built to Spill
Where: Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway
When: 8 p.m.
Contact: 954/564-1074, cultureroom.net
The best thing to take root in Idaho since, well, potatoes, this passion project from singer-songwriter Doug Martsch is a reverberating vestige of indie rock’s 1990s heyday, when guitar pedals and tape machines dominated musicians’ palettes instead of computers and drum machines. Recording infrequently but majestically over eight albums in 26 years—not a dud among them—Built to Spill is the natural midpoint between garage rock and jam bands, and Martsch is the angular, twinkly guitar god of underground music. The group, which has slimmed down to a trio, tours South Florida generously, but this gig is a special one: It’s been 20 years since the band released its seminal LP Keep it Like a Secret, and for the first time, Built to Spill will play the album live in its entirety, followed by an encore of selections from other releases.