For 2022-2023, theater’s pandemic-era introspection is starting to pay off with new plays reflecting diverse voices. Sure, enduring Broadway megahits like “Hamilton” and “Wicked” are back, but they’re joined by recent titles such as “Hadestown” and “Six.” But an array of world premieres and new-to-the-region shows will delve into history, culture, family dysfunction, politics and much more.
Here’s what to look for on South Florida stages this season.
Miami New Drama is continuing its mission of commissioning new plays that speak to South Florida’s diverse communities, and three are part of the new season.
Rogelio Martinez’s “Elián,” which launches the season, examines anew the dramatic conflict over the fate of a Cuban boy whose mother drowned trying to bring him to a new life in the United States. At the heart of a complex drama is the intense political battle between Miami relatives who wanted to give him a home here and the father who insisted he be returned to Cuba.
Miami New Drama’s other world premieres are “A Wonderful World;” author Aurin Squire’s “Defacing Michael Jackson,” a coming-of-age play set in Opa-Locka in the 1980s (March 9-April 2); and writer-director Lileana Blain-Cruz’s “Create Dangerously,” a devised piece based on the work of novelist Edwidge Danticat (May 4-28).
▪ Oct. 27-Nov. 20, Miami New Drama at the Colony Theatre, Miami Beach.
Zoetic Stage’s adventurous four-show season includes a pair of world premieres by South Florida playwrights Michael McKeever (“American Rhapsody,” an epic yet intimate saga about 60 years in the life and evolution of a family, Jan. 12-29) and Vanessa Garcia (“#Graced,” about a woman’s insights and discoveries as she makes a sponsored trip across America, May 4-21). In addition, Carbonell Award winner Jeni Hacker will star in the intimate, shattering, Pulitzer Prize-winning musical “Next to Normal” (March 16-April 9).
But what should be Zoetic’s most striking play is its season opener, “Mlima’s Tale” by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, the author of “Sweat” and “Ruined.”
Jerel Brown plays Mlima, a majestic African elephant who becomes a victim of the deadly international ivory trade. The creature’s ghost follows his tusks step-by-step from Kenya to their final destination in the penthouse of a wealthy collector. Sorrowful, Brechtian, poetic and impeccably researched, “Mlima’s Tale” is the work of one of the country’s best playwrights.
▪ Oct. 13-20, Zoetic Stage in the Carnival Studio Theater at the Arsht Center, Miami.
Simon Stephens, who transformed the novel “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” into an Olivier- and Tony Award-winning play, has crafted another intellectually and emotionally engaging piece in “Heisenberg.”
Kicking off producing artistic director Bari Newport’s second season at GableStage, the play explores the unpredictable romance of Georgie, a fortysomething American played by Carbonell Award winner Margery Lowe, and Alex, an initially reserved and decidedly older British butcher portrayed by the masterful Colin McPhillamy. Taking its name from the theoretical physicist, “Heisenberg” illustrates again and again how one thing can and does lead to many others.
The production is also the start of an eclectic lineup: David Meyers’ “We Will Not Be Silent,” about college student Sophie Scholl’s part in a courageous stand against the Nazis (Jan. 6-29); Lucas Hnath’s “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” imagining what might happen if Henrik Ibsen’s Nora came home (Feb. 24-March 19); “El Huracán,” Miamian and Oscar winner Charise Castro Smith’s “Tempest”-inspired play about a mother, daughter and abuela facing Hurricane Andrew and the rebuilding of their lives (April 14-May 14); and Karen Zacharias’ “Native Gardens,” a comedy about culturally different neighbors who become enemies over a fence line (June 9-July 1).
▪ Oct. 28-Nov. 20, GableStage at the Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables.
Touring Broadway shows are a highlight of any season, and for some folks, big-budget spectacles are the only theater they want to see. Some treasured megahits — including “Hamilton” (Nov. 22-Dec. 11 at the Broward Center) and “Wicked” (Feb. 15-March 5 at the Arsht Center, March 29-April 9 at the Kravis Center) — are returning. You can also revisit the catalogues of music legends with the return of “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations” (April 26-30 at the Kravis Center, May 9-14 at the Arsht Center) or “Tina – The Tina Turner Musical” (Jan. 17-29 at the Broward Center). The latter is new to South Florida, as are several other shows well worth anticipating.
“Six,” by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, gives pop-rock voice to the six wives of Henry VIII, the monarch known for following some of his wedding vows with a spousal beheading. A gleefully anachronistic celebration of girl power from beyond the grave, “Six” gives each of the women her diva moment.
What else should be on a savvy Broadway fan’s radar? Aaron Sorkin’s rewrite of “To Kill a Mockingbird” starring Richard Thomas (March 28-April 9 at the Broward Center), “Hadestown” (Dec. 6-11 at the Arsht, Jan. 3-8 at the Kravis Center) and a fresh take on “My Fair Lady” (March 28-April 2 at the Arsht).
▪ Oct. 11-23 at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale, Oct. 25-30 at the Arsht Center in Miami.
What the Constitution Means to Me
You most likely know Miami’s City Theatre from its enduring Summer Shorts play festival. But City also includes thought-provoking full-length plays in its programming, and this season’s inspired choice could hardly be more timely.
Actor-playwright Heidi Schreck’s “What the Constitution Means to Me” first presents its author as a teen speaking about the United States Constitution and its amendments at American Legion-sponsored competitions to earn college tuition money.
But then the play — amusing, sobering, infuriating — shifts as the grown-up character talks about the many ways a document crafted by white male landowners in 1787 has failed to protect citizens unlike themselves. A debate between the actor playing Schreck and a local high school student provides a sizzling coda to the show as the two argue the pros and cons of abolishing the Constitution.
▪ Dec. 1-18, City Theatre in the Carnival Studio Theater at the Arsht Center, Miami.
Actors’ Playhouse will mark its 35th season in 2022-23, and for many in its musical-loving audience the highlight may be “Million Dollar Quartet Christmas” (Nov. 16-Jan. 1), a sequel to “Million Dollar Quartet.” That show about a Sun Records jam session that brought together Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins was such a smash that the company presented it twice.
But what sounds most intriguing in the Actors’ lineup is “Bright Star,” a 2016 Broadway musical by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin) and singer-songwriter Edie Brickell. With a bluegrass score, the musical follows the lives, loves and trials of several young North Carolinians in the 1920s and 1940s. Given actor-comedian-writer Martin’s well-known prowess on the banjo, expect that instrument to be a key part of the show’s band.
▪ March 29-April 16, Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, Coral Gables.
Anna in the Tropics
The extraordinary saga of Nilo Cruz’s “Anna in the Tropics,” which was commissioned by and premiered at Coral Gables’ 104-seat New Theatre in 2002, will continue with a 20th anniversary production directed by the author at Miami New Drama.
Cruz’s sensuous, poetic drama about Cuban cigar makers in Ybor City circa 1929 focuses on a family and a handsome new lector (reader) who brings literature and personal upheaval to the workers. The play won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for drama, making the Cuban-American Cruz the first Latino to win drama’s highest honor, and it went on to Broadway, regional theater and worldwide productions.
Since “Anna,” Cruz — who will also be directing Arthur Miller’s “La muerte de un viajante” (“Death of a Salesman”) in Spanish for Miami’s Arca Images in March — has continued to expand his reach as a writer with an array of theater, opera and film projects.
▪ Jan. 12-Feb. 5, Miami New Drama at the Colony Theatre, Miami Beach.
Best in Broward County, various venues and companies, Fort Lauderdale, Wilton Manors and Dania Beach.
Whether you live in Broward County or don’t mind driving to see intriguing theater, there are plenty of don’t-miss-this choices for the new season.
The Broward Center-based Slow Burn Theatre’s all-musical season features a couple of Disney blockbusters and other well-known titles, but why not go for “Honeymoon in Vegas” (Feb. 3-19), the Andrew Bergman-Jason Robert Brown musical based on Bergman’s 1992 movie?
At Island City Stage in Wilton Manors, you can see the company’s world premiere production of Nick Malakhow’s “Springfield Pride” (Aug. 3-Sept. 3), a play about growing ethnic, racial, generational and gender divides within the LGBTQ+ community. Island City is also playing host to two other companies with shows worth seeking out: New City Players’ production of Jeff Augustin’s “Cry Old Kingdom” (April 13-30), about a Haitian artist’s struggle to survive during the brutal regime of “Papa Doc” Duvalier; and Brévo Theatre’s production of the reputation-making “The Brothers Size” (June 22-25) by Oscar winner Tarell Alvin McCraney.
At Plays of Wilton next door to Island City, Ronnie Larsen’s funny, poignant “The Actors” (through Oct. 2) focuses on a man who so misses his dearly departed parents that he hires actors to pretend to be them. Thinking Cap Theatre continues its return to full production in its new space at Dania Beach’s Mad Arts with the biographical Oscar Wilde play “The Importance of Being Oscar” (Oct. 13-30).
Best in Palm Beach County, various venues and companies in Boca Raton and West Palm Beach.
Again, there are some don’t-miss shows planned by impressive Palm Beach County companies, so theater lovers should just go for the cultural adventure they’re offering.
Theatre Lab, the professional company on the Florida Atlantic University campus in Boca Raton, has three world premieres, including Alix Sobler’s postponed end-of-the-world comedy “Last Night in Inwood” (Jan. 26-Feb. 12) and the rolling world premiere of “Refuge” by Satya Jnani Chávez and Andrew Rosendorf (April 6-23), about a Honduran girl’s journey to a new life in the United States. Also in Boca, the Boca Stage production of Lucas Hnath’s “The Thin Place” (Nov. 4-20) explores the life of a woman who can communicate with the dead.
Palm Beach Dramaworks in West Palm Beach is presenting the world premiere of Carter W. Lewis’ “The Science of Leaving Omaha” (Feb. 3-19), but two very different Pulitzer Prize-winning plays centered around fractured families beckon fans of serious drama — Tracy Letts’ large-scale “August: Osage County” (March 31-April 16) and Suzan-Lori Parks’ intimate “Topdog/Underdog” (May 26-June 11). MNM Theatre Company, doing most of its season at the Willow Theatre in Boca Raton, travels to the Rinker Playhouse in West Palm Beach’s Kravis Center for the rebellious fairy tale princess musical “Disenchanted” (May 9-28).