for Miami Herald
1: “Big Fish,” Oct. 22-Nov. 8, Slow Burn Theatre at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale.
The musical-centric Slow Burn Theatre is going big — as in the Andrew Lippa musical Big Fish — for the first season in its new home at the Broward Center’s spruced-up Amaturo Theater. The show, based on Daniel Wallace’s novel and Tim Burton’s film about a tale-telling traveling salesman, lasted just three months on Broadway in 2013. But Slow Burn director-choreographer Patrick Fitzwater, who will also tackle Violet, Spring Awakening and Heathers in the Amaturo, has a knack for making under-appreciated shows shine.
2: Christopher Demos-Brown’s “Stripped,” Nov. 5-22, Zoetic Stage at the Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater in Miami.
Playwright Christopher Demos-Brown made a splash nationally with his Steinberg/ATCA citation winner Fear Up Harsh, and this season, he’ll kick off Zoetic Stage’s lineup with another world premiere, Stripped. Masha, an exotic dancer and immigrant, finds herself in the fight of her life when the state takes custody of her daughter. Zoetic’s strong season will also feature Gina Gionfriddo’s witty Rapture, Blister Burn and the intense Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical Passion.
3: Alan Bennett’s “The History Boys,” Dec. 4-Jan. 3, Palm Beach Dramaworks in West Palm Beach.
Dramaworks has put together another typically fine season of classics (William Inge’s Picnic, Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night) and newer works (John Patrick Shanley’s Outside Mullingar, Terry Teachout’s Satchmo at the Waldorf, directed by its author). But Alan Bennett’s Olivier and Tony Award-winning The History Boys, about the influence of teachers in the lives of students they’re preparing for Oxford and Cambridge entrance exams, is a smart, dramatic gem.
4: “Kinky Boots,” Dec. 8-13 at the Arsht Center in Miami, March 1-13 at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale.
Touring Broadway shows typically don’t play in Miami and Fort Lauderdale during the same season, but the Tony Award-winning Kinky Boots will be an exception during its first visit to South Florida. Based on the movie about a struggling English shoe factory whose owner finds salvation in making sturdy yet stylish footwear for drag queens, the show features a score by pop diva Cyndi Lauper.
5: “West Side Story” (Jan. 27-Feb. 21) and “Sondheim on Sondheim” (March 16-April 3), Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables.
Actors’ Playhouse is exploring two facets of the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim this season, first with the work of the very young lyricist who matched his words to Leonard Bernstein’s brilliant West Side Story score, then with a revelatory revue featuring more than two dozen songs and footage of the Broadway icon discussing his work.
6: Mario Diament’s “Franz & Albert,” Jan. 29-Feb. 21, New Theatre at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center in Cutler Bay.
Playwright Mario Diament, whose works have been produced in multiple countries, returns to New Theatre for the American premiere of Franz & Albert, which imagines what Franz Kafka and Albert Einstein might have said to each other when they met in Prague in 1911. The piece is part of the company’s 30th anniversary season, which also includes the world premires of Two Weekends and a Day by Susan J. Westfall, Footprints by Sandra Riley and ROOF! by Ricky J. Martinez, as well as Arthur Miller’s classic Death of a Salesman.
7: “The Hammer Trinity,” April 2-May 8, House Theatre of Chicago at the Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater in Miami.
Who doesn’t love a marathon? The House Theatre of Chicago returns to the Arsht Center with a fantasy-fueled trilogy, The Hammer Trinity. Part of the center’s 10@10 anniversary commissions, the three plays — The Iron Stag King, The Crownless King and The Excelsior King — will take audiences on an adventure that begins at 1 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m. (with time out for intermissions and dinner).
8: Jeff Talbott’s “The Submission,” April 7-May 8, Island City Stage production at Abyss Stage in Fort Lauderdale.
In Jeff Talbott’s Off-Broadway hit The Submission, a young gay playwright has his drama about an African-American family selected to be in the country’s premiere play festival. Just one problem: He submitted the script using the name of a black female. So he hires a black actress to stand in for him, and then things get really dramatic.
9: “Beautiful — The Carole King Musical,” May 10-22, Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale.
Before Carole King was a pop music superstar, she was a young wife selling songs with her husband-collaborator Gerry Goffin. King’s road from hit songwriter to worldwide success is charted in Beautiful, which features myriad hits by King and others. Abby Mueller, the sister of Tony Award-winner Jessie Mueller (who originated the role on Broadway), plays King.