Every year I’m always hearing about this great theatrical show that’s only given during the summer. Usually, by the time I have heard of the great reviews, the show would be over.
So, this year, I decided to get ahead of myself and research this theatrical event that is City Theatre’s Summer Shorts.
Summer Shorts are a series of short acts in one show. There are three kinds of shorts: Signature Shorts (the two sessions of shorts), Shorts 4 Kids (the kid friendly show), and
UnderShorts (the adult friendly show). Each short consists of a five- to 20- minute scene. The shorts are comical, sad, eye opening, and quite theatrical. Some I liked more than others.
The shorts are on display now at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, and will move to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on June 26.
One of the best shorts is the opening short of Program A, In Paris, You Will Find Many Baguettes But Only One True Love. In this short, two American women have made a pact on the plane ride to Paris that they would find their one true love while there. One has found love with a mime and the other is pining after a man who dumped her days ago. The performance given by Elena Garcia, as Liz, the mime’s love interest, is spectacular. She plays a woman from New York in her 1920s high society outfit, with an accent to boot.
Another hilarious short featuring Garcia is Tongue Tied; about two people, Tina and Tom (Garcia and Paul Tei respectively) who fall in love in their psychotherapist’s waiting room.
Both Tom and Tina have a mental illness that causes them to have two other personalities in the form of sock puppets on their hands. At first, this premise sounds idiotic. But, to watch the scene is quite funny.
The only thing I didn’t like about this short is that all four of the personalities (a “ghetto” black woman, a Frenchman, a Japanese man, and an Australian) were played stereotypically.
I’m sure that was done so that the audience could see the absurdity of the characters talking through socks on their hands, but the portrayal of the different ethnic groups was a bit on the insulting side. It was like watching a Dave Chappelle spoof that’s on the borderline of going a little too far. Other than that, I enjoyed the piece.
One of the other over-the-top shorts in Program A is Laura Keen Goes On. In it, actress Laura Turnbull plays Laura Keen, a stage actress who is just about to perform her last scene of the night when President Abraham Lincoln is shot by John Wilkes Booth. Not one to be upstaged, Laura decides to perform anyway to get her last minute to shine for the evening.
Meanwhile, her maid Betsy (Kim Ostrenko) and a stage hand, Peanuts (Paul Tei) try to talk her out of it.
Turnbull and Ostrenko are pretty good actresses. They, like Garcia, are able to transform themselves for each scene. I commend them for being such chameleons. Their range of talent was pretty apparent in each short.
Of Program B, only a few shorts really grabbed my attention. The first short of the Program, Sheepish, is hilarious. Stephen Trovillion plays a sheep that is gay and gives a monologue on how he’s just like any other animal in the world; that just happens to be gay. The description sounds preachy, but this short is anything but. It’s a perfect program opener and a must-see.
The other short that caught my attention is the last short of Program B, On Story; about a television writers’ room where the best writer of the team, Ken (Antonio Amadeo) is fired, but refuses to leave. In order to keep his job, Ken bullies the executive producer, Nick (Terry Hardcastle).
This short is quite indicative of the inner workings of the Hollywood machine. There are people who are part of the writing staff for a television show, but not everyone really contributes. It is eye opening and funny.
Summer Shorts: Signature Shorts are a pretty good way to spend a Saturday night. Yes, they will take all night to watch, but they are worth it. Should you go, you should take part in the Theatre Fare, i.e., dinner. It’s a pretty good spread for $15.
If you go, here’s a little advice to make your evening more enjoyable: bring a seat pillow (the chairs aren’t cushioned for the four to five hour sit); the best parking is right across from the Adrienne Arsht Theater (it’s $10); don’t bring the kids to Program B (the content is a little on the racy side and there’s nudity) and bring a friend (so you won’t find yourself ending a funny anecdote with: “you had to have been there”).
For a complete list of casts members, writers, directors, and production staff, you can log on to www.carnivalcenter.org.
Photo: Actress Elena Garcia, left, and actor Antonio Amadeo, right perform In Paris, You Will Find Many Baguettes But Only One True Love.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: 13th Annual Summer Shorts Festival in Miami-Dade County
WHEN: June 20 at 7:30 p.m.; June 21 at 6, 7:30 and 8:30 p.m.; June 22 at 3, 4:30 and 5:30 p.m.
WHERE: Carnival Studio Theater Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County 1300 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami
COST: Signature Shorts: Programs A & B $37; Shorts 4 Kids $14.50; UnderShorts $27
CONTACT: Box Office 305-949-6722
WHAT: 13th Annual Summer Shorts Festival in Broward County
WHEN: June 26 and 27 at 7:30 p.m., June 28 at 6 and 8:30 p.m, June 29 at 3 and 5:30 p.m.
WHERE: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Avenue, Fort Lauderdale
COST: Signature Shorts: Programs A & B, $35 each; Shorts 4 Kids, $10; Lap tickets, $3.
CONTACT: Box Office 954-462-0222; Outside of Broward, 877-311-7469(SHOW)