Listen up, humanity. God has a bone (or 10) to pick with us, and we’d best pay attention. I mean, if he can zap the wing off an argumentative archangel – and he can – just imagine what’s in store for us.
Or simply consider the news, post-election.
David Javerbaum, the Emmy Award-winning executive producer and head writer of Comedy Central’s much-missed “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” conjures up a revisionist, sardonic, truth-telling deity in his 90-minute play “An Act of God.”
Now launching GableStage’s 19th season at the Biltmore Hotel, the show puts the Lord front and center (on a fabulous gold-and-white chaise longue) to deliver a revised version of the Ten Commandments. He’s had it with the original 10, he confesses, much as he imagines Don McLean has grown weary of singing “American Pie.”
To clarify, as the Divine One is wont to do, it’s not actually God dispensing wisdom on Lyle Baskin’s talk show-meets-Vegas set. God lets us know that he has borrowed the corporeal form of actor Tom Wahl – tall, handsome, likeable and balding – to portray him, though he says Wahl is unaware of that fact.
Javerbaum’s God has a pair of sidekicks or “wing men,” the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Reilley) and archangel Michael (Gregg Weiner). Gabriel consults what is allegedly the original 1455 Gutenberg Bible to clarify theological points. Michael takes “questions” from audience members, though he really just asks a person’s name, intuits his or her query, then conveys it to God.He’s a feisty one, that Michael, and as the show goes on, he dispenses with the audience questions and focuses directly on busting God’s chops.
That GableStage producing artistic director Joseph Adler would be drawn to “An Act of God” isn’t in the least bit surprising. The play is squarely in his irreverent wheelhouse, a challenging and provocative work that will thrill or resonate with many even as it annoys or offends others. Making audiences think or talk or react is what drives Adler as an artist.
First played in New York by “Big Bang Theory” star Jim Parsons, then by Sean Hayes of “Will & Grace” fame, the title character in “An Act of God” can be ingratiating ala Parsons or sassy like Hayes – you know, it’s God, so the role is open to interpretation.
Wahl brings the funny, and anyone who has seen him in City Theatre’s Summer Shorts knows what a great comic actor he is. But he’s also a dramatic actor with depth, winning a Carbonell Award for “I Am My Own Wife” and most recently creating the role of an emotionally distant father in the world premiere of Michael McKeever’s “After.” He plays God with an edge, as an entity who alternates corny jokes and gasp-inducing ones, as a self-questioning deity who has wondered more than once, “What the hell is wrong with me?”
Wahl has fine foils in Reilley’s soothing Gabriel and Weiner’s expertly challenging Michael, both archangels nattily attired by costume designer Ellis Tillman in all-white suits which accommodate the curving white wings sprouting from their backs. Lighting designer Jeff Quinn creates the sunny brightness to complement the puffy cloud-bedecked vista at the center of Baskin’s set, as well as stairs that light up – even change colors – as God’s feet touch them. Matt Corey’s sound and music design are heavenly, too.
In “An Act of God,” the Creator offers a revised Ten Commandments, keeping the best of his originals but ending with the upbeat notion that “thou shalt believe in thyself.” A snappy song, “I Have Faith in You,” underscores the sentiment, but Wahl (whose mic wasn’t adjusted quite right), Weiner and Reilley aren’t exactly musical theater stars, so the number doesn’t supply as much uplifting closure as it should.
The devout and those with delicate sensibilities should steer clear of “An Act of God,” because what Wahl-as-God says about such things as the link between the Holocaust and “Cabaret,” for instance, will strike some as jaw-droppingly offensive.
On the other hand, when he says of America, “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups?” Amen to that.
‘An Act of God’ by David Javerbaum, GableStage at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables; 8:00 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2:00 and 7:00 p.m. Sunday, through Dec. 18. Cost:$42-$60 (students $15, Friday-Saturday and Sunday matinee excluded). Information: 305-445-1119 or www.gablestage.org.
The process of creating “Shade,” choreographer Augusto Soledade’s latest full-length work, has been one of remembering and reconfiguring memory to discover new ways of talking about identity ..
Upcoming this week, Tigertail presents choreographer Myriam Gourfink and musician Kasper Toeplitz. Hailing from France, the two will be present for a 3-day residency at Subtropics’ South Beac..
From her home base at 6th Street Dance Studio in Little Havana, longtime Miami dance figure Brigid Baker has been slowly crafting a new performance piece. It’s not conceptual or political like con..
Karen Peterson is the artistic director of Karen Peterson and Dancers, a company that brings professional dancers with and without disabilities together in the same piece of choreography, and..
Revivals are hot on Broadway these days with “CATS”and “Hello, Dolly!“once again gracing the Great White Way. There is a certain nostalgia in taking a second or even third viewing of a belove..
What happens when urban dance style meets classical music? We’ll find out when Brooklyn-based hip-hop dance troupe Decadancetheater takes the stage, backed by Miami’s own experimental classic..
“What does it mean to belong? What does it mean to not want to belong?” These are questions that choreographer Reggie Wilson contemplates in his provocative piece “CITIZEN,“ which makes its M..
If even a modicum of redemption can be forged from the hellish after-effects of gun violence, we must listen to the communities most affected by the violence. To this end, “Trigger,” a hip-ho..
Celebrating 35 years is an amazing achievement for any dance company in Miami, but especially one founded in a decade better known for its ties to drugs than to the arts. Momentum Dance Compa..
For Tigertail Productions, April is the month of fire. Like their WATER Festival in 2016, this month’s FIRE Festival celebrates a single element in multiple art forms, including dance, visual..
During the month of April the organizers of the seventh iteration of the O Miami Poetry Festival intend every resident of Miami Dade county to encounter a poem or – even better – write one! An..
As the “home-grown” sweetheart of Miami City Ballet, Patricia Delgado is having her final performances this season before leaving the city and the company she loves to move to New York City.H..
Even people who can’t find Argentina on a map and believe tangos only happen in Paris know La Cumparsita’s iconic four beat opening. Like a bar’s last call, La Cumparsita tells tango dancers ..
Miami City Ballet will conclude its season this week with a rich selection of repertory pieces: two from Balanchine, in very expressive but distinct modes, and one from modern-dance master Pa..
Ballet Flamenco La Rosa’s studio evokes the feel of a tablao in Spain. The strumming of the guitar, the rapid-fire rhythms of footwork against the floor, and the soft voice of the singer reac..
Miami choreographer Augusto Soledade has been a fixture in the local dance world since he arrived here in 2004. His cast has shifted over the years and he continues to challenge himself artis..
In one duet, two dancers use their bodies as counterweights, springing forth from each other’s bodies with explosive power. In another, dancers form a sharp line before torsos undulate and fa..
Teacher, choreographer and activist Dale Andree is known for her ability to merge activism with dance. Andree founded and directs National Water Dance, a site-specific project that joins danc..
In 2016, Philadelphia-based Koresh Dance company crossed their 25-year mark. To celebrate, the company returns to Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts with a 25th anniversary..
From singers like Joan Baez to poets like Maya Angelou to anonymous knitters of pink pussy hats, creative women have played an essential role in this country as agitators and activists. Likew..
When Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami (DDTM) takes the stage this weekend, it will present a program rich in the cultural milieu of Miami. Co-founders Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra i..
It is an awe-inspiring experience to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancers perform. They are well trained dancers, athletes and artists. Not often known is that some of the dance..
Back for an 8th season in Miami, the legendary Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater packs the house every year. With Liberty City hometown hero Robert Battle in his fifth year, we have many rea..
Awash in sunlight, around 50 women stand in a circle on the rooftop performance space of Casa Gaia in Old Havana, Cuba, as part of a belly-dance festival. Biodanza facilitator Karen Rodríguez..
Choreographer Jeanguy Saintus works primarily from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, but his creative work has global appeal. He is a pioneering artist who blends Haiti’s traditional music and dance alo..
New life for a legacy ballet—a veritable choreographer-magnet—created a great buzz about Miami City Ballet’s third program this season. But at the Arsht Center for the Performing ..
Who doesn’t delight in fairies? Miami City Ballet, for the success of its third program of the season, is certainly banking on one. And, instead of wielding a magic wand, she comes eager to p..
Project 305 has a simple aim – crowd-source a Miami symphony. For 100 days from January 31 to May 12 New World Symphony, in collaboration with the Knight Foundation and the M.I.T. Media Lab, ..
You hear the word “flamenco” -- what image comes to mind? A guitar? A dark-haired dancer? The color red, a ruffled dress? Did a piano by any chance enter the picture? Perhaps not. Pianist..
Critics on five continents have described her work as “indecent and breathtaking,” or some close variant. One blessed her for always “going too far.” Another stated he would prefer death to m..
Buzzing his lips and shaking his head, Rafael Davila gets ready to rehearse. In the Florida Grand Opera’s cavernous rehearsal hall in Doral, the floor is marked with tape to delineate the roo..
There’s a song James Blood Ulmer sings called “Jazz Is the Teacher, Funk is the Preacher.” If you bring in Mother Blues, along with the family hothead, Rock and Roll, you’ll have a better pi..
Ask about the Miami Sound to 10 people in South Florida and you’ll get 11 different answers. And yet, for more than 20 years, the Spam Allstars, a group founded and anchored by DJ Le Spam (a..
This year’s TransAtlantic Festival features local dance music stars, a Malian guitarist known as “the Hendrix of the Sahara,” and something unique: a Haitian rara band comprised entirely of women...
If the political movement that saw its birth after the November elections is in the market for a composer to set the score for its many marches, Frederic Rzewski might be a strong contender f..
In a combo that promises to be both sublime and rip-roaring, three generations of Cuban and Cuban diaspora musicians come together this Saturday at The Miami-Dade County Auditorium to celebra..
El 11 y 12 de mayo próximo tendrá lugar en el Miami -Dade County Auditorium el estreno en Estados Unidos de Scrutiny: The World Gone Astray(en español,Escrutinio: El mundo se ha ido a la deri..
Para el pianista y compositor cubano Omar Sosa la noción de una cultura global, sin fronteras, no es un concepto abstracto sino un tema personal. En su música, elementos de hip hop y rumba, ..
No hay que viajar a otro país para disfrutar en vivo de la música cubana del momento, la más innovadora, la que le da la vuelta al mundo. Basta con asistir a Global Cuba Fest, aquí mismo, en ..
Nadie como el bailarín y coreógrafo español Antonio Gades para describir el arte que lo hizo internacionalmente famoso cuando vivía: “Un extracto de fuego y de veneno, eso es el flamenco”. ..
Desde Las troyanas de Eurípides hasta “Guernica” de Picasso, o de la canción “Blowing in the Wind” de Bob Dylan al diseño de las gorras rosadas que llevaron miles de mujeres en las protestas ..
En un discurso de 1977, el escritor argentino Jorge Luis Borges desmintió la idea de que la ceguera fuera un mundo de oscuridad cuando describió su propia “modesta ceguera”. Hablaba de ciert..
En su discurso de recibimiento del Premio Nobel, el poeta chileno Pablo Neruda afirmó que el poeta no es un "pequeño dios." De hecho expresó que el mejor poeta “es el hombre que nos entrega e..
En la cultura yoruba, y sobre todo en sus manifestaciones caribeñas como la afrocubana, las historias contadas oralmente por generaciones ocupan un lugar esencial. Esas historias, muchas de e..
En la serie artística Out in the Tropics, la tarima no discrimina, la sensibilidad de los intérpretes es inclusiva y todo público es bienvenido. Producción de la entidad local sin fines d..