“This is one of the most important shorts festivals in the country,” said Alan Fein, chairman of the City Theater in Miami.
In the three times that I attended the Summer Shorts Festival this year, I kept hearing this sentiment from festival workers, actors, writers and directors. But you know me, just because someone says it, doesn’t make it true.
Now, I have never attended any other summer shorts festivals beside the ones in South Florida, but I am glad to say that I like them. Compared to last year, however, the shorts lacked something.
I’ve already reviewed Shorts 4 Kids, but I thought it only fair to review the other two, Signature Shorts (what made the festival famous) and Undershorts (shorts for mature audiences).
For both collections of plays, the cast includes Stephen G. Anthony, Elena Maria Garcia, David Hemphill, John Manzelli, Erin Joy Schmidt, Stephen Trovillion and Laura Turnbull.
Each night, there were eight different short plays. Some of them were interesting. Others didn’t necessarily make sense. So, I will only discuss the ones that I liked.
Of Signature Shorts, I liked “Fallutin.” Anthony (playing a trombone player) is trying to talk Garcia (who is a flute player) – his friend with benefits – into marrying him, but she doesn’t want to because she’s a woodwind and he’s brass.
Even though Garcia is hurting Anthony’s feelings, it’s still quite comical. Another great short is “Cravin Tutweiler, The Life Story Of….” Three women, Schmidt, Garcia and Turnbull tell of their experiences with Cravin (Trovillion). Oddly enough, he changed these women’s lives by being a deep man who cheated on one with the other. But he changed their lives for the better, so I guess he gets a pass.
The best of Signature Shorts is “Kitty the Waitress.” Kitty (Garcia) is the oddly sexual waitress of a French restaurant. She makes cat noises and can only stand leaning back with her pelvis thrust forward. The storyline is that Kitty is unleashed on a poor restaurant patron. This particular short is quite hilarious and deserving of being the finale of Signature Shorts.
Of Undershorts, I was a bit disappointed. Last year seemed racier. This year was more tongue-in-cheek funny and PG-13. But the best short of the evening is “Sodom & Gomorrah,” about a couple coming to buy real estate in Sodom from an overtly gay man (Trovillion), who is trying to hide the sodomy of Sodom.
What this “real estate agent” does not realize is this couple is in Sodom to destroy it with fire and brimstone. In the end, the “agent” has to talk God (Garcia) into not destroying Sodom. Incidentally, God is a fast-talking Latina in a disco outfit. It is hilarious, as well.
Of the actors, my favorites are (and have always been) Trovillion and Garcia. Trovillion is great at transforming himself from one character to the next. I loved him as an actor last year in the Summer Shorts Festival and I still love him this year. His kind of talent is tailor made for the theater.
Garcia, who is quite the accomplished actress, singer and dancer, is and has always been great. She is a chameleon as well. I could see her acting transcending the stage and screen. She’s so talented, she belongs on a much bigger stage, as Trovillion does.
I would also like to mention that one of the best parts of the Shorts Festival is the All Stars, a.k.a. the production assistants who serve as announcers and comedic relief in between shorts. They even serve as a chorus, too. It’s understandable why they are called The All Stars.
All in all, I liked the Summer Shorts Festival this year, but not as much as last year. There seemed to be something missing. Maybe the festival came up too quickly. It seems like, just yesterday, I saw the Shorts Festival for the first time. Even though my experience this year wasn’t A list, I am still looking forward to next year’s shorts.
You don’t have to take my word for it. You can see for yourself at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale this weekend.
Photo by George Schiavone. Elena Maria Garcia star in the Summer Shorts Festival play Kitty the Waitress.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Summer Shorts Festival, June 25-28, 2009
WHEN: Signature Shorts Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.
Shorts 4 Kids Thursday & Friday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
Undershorts Friday and Saturday at 10 p.m.
WHERE: Amaturo Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW 5 Ave. Fort Lauderdale.
COST: $40 for Signature Shorts and Undershorts, $15 for Shorts 4 Kids
CONTACT: www.browardcenter.org or 954-462-0222.