The Source for Media Coverage of The Arts in Miami.
Articles, reviews, previews and features on dance and music performances and events.
Sign Up
No one logged in. Log in

Artburst Portal

‘An Act of God’ Review


Photo: Kevin Reilley and Gregg Weiner are angels to Tom Wahl’s God; Photo Credit: George Schiavone
Written by: Christine Dolen
Article Rating

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.

 


Leave a comment...
Must be Logged in
No one logged in. Log in
Leave a comment...
Was this helpful?
No Very

Captcha Image

About The writer

{module_webapps,16730,i,{tag_writer_id}}

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..

Transgendered performance artist Scott Turner Schofield is a collector of stories. Growing up in the South, the tales that were told about the gay and trans community were the ugliest kind of..

The Miami Theater Center in Miami Shores is giving experimental dancer-choreographer Lazaro Godoy the opportunity to interweave his visual arts and performance passions in ArMOUR, a multimedi..

The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet artistic director Tom Mossbrucker and executive director Jean-Philippe Malaty have thrilled audiences world wide with stimulating and exciting performances, and Miam..

The future came a long time ago. That impression arose in two forward-pointing yet decades-old company premieres on Miami City Ballet’s second program of the season. In the opening performanc..

Tigertail’s ScreenDance Miami festival is now in its fourth year. One of the few festivals in the country dedicated solely to movement for film and video, ScreenDance aims high. The goal: a f..

The white walls and well-trod floor of a light-pierced studio at Miami City Ballet enclose a charmed space—a field of incalculable energy—as sets of coupled dancers rehearse, in q..

Myth has it that a Cuban who doesn’t dance is a rare creature. Like the endangered Florida panther, you could live an entire lifetime without ever sighting one. “We come from a dancing island..

Chorographer and educator Daniel Lewis has only taken two weeks’ vacation since he retired as the Dean of the Dance Department at New World School of the Arts five years ago. “Even then, I wo..

Never at a loss for words, artistic director Peter Londondescribes what has compelled him to undertake two powerhouse pieces of music for his newest performance venture of the Peter London Gl..

What happens to old dances? Do they slowly disappear as choreographers and dancers move on to other projects? This may well be the case unless an effort is made to revive the piece-- reconstr..

Miami-based choreographer Ana Mendez has been producing original and accomplished work in Miami for years. This December, she is closing out 2016 with a Grass Stains commissioned work set at ..

Blessed by good parentage and nurturing support, a hale and hearty ballet company has just been born in South Florida. Under the direction of Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg and Carlos Miguel Gue..

Tango, one of the most democratic forms of music and dance, grew out of the diverse working class neighborhoods of Buenos Aires in the late 1800s. The rich blending of different cultures mixe..

Seattle-based choreographer Pat Graney started working on her newest project Girl Gods in 2012. It is the second installment of a triptych that began with her 2008 project House of Mind. Yet ..

Jose Limon’s (1908- 1972) vision still endures and the company he founded is now in its 70th year -- a tribute to the man and the artist, and those who believe in his gifts. He did not set ou..

Choreographer Michael Clark's soundscapes aren't the usual -- he uses the music of the punk poets David Bowie and Patti Smith and early 20th century avant-garde French composer Erik Satie. He..

Flamenco performer Francisco Hidalgo, whose surname means “nobleman,” brought a bygone era of dignity and grace to life on the stage of the Miami-Dade County Auditorium in early November, in ..

I first saw the flamenco dancer Celia Fonta perform with her husband, Spanish guitarist and singer, Paco, some 20 years ago at Café Miro, a small Spanish tapas bar on Espanola Way in South B..

For many people it’s hard to imagine Miami without a vibrant art scene, but in 1987 Miami was just beginning its journey towards becoming a major hub for the arts, and New World School of the..

Silencio. Silence. In the words of choreographer and flamenco artist Francisco Hidalgo “dance rests on the beats of silence.” Los Silencios del Baile is making its U.S. and world preview this..

Reflecting on the brutal treatment she receives at the hands of Juliana Triviño, who plays her torturer in the October 28 Alma Dance Theater (ADT) production of “Cask,” fellow principal danc..

Seduced by the jazz in his dad’s music collection, a kid from Perth, Western Australia, takes up the saxophone at age 13. He grows up, moves to the United States and becomes a star. Dreams do..

Half way through his set at the North Beach Bandshell, singerDavid Crosby (http://www.davidcrosby.com/), 75, who has been to a festival or two in his illustrious career, paused between songs..

Florida in February has its own magic: gorgeous light, cooler temperatures, clear skies and soft sea breezes. Now, imagine those breezes carrying the moaning strains of Esperanza Spalding’s b..

“Heaven sends us habits in place of happiness,” two women of a certain age observe in a famous line from Tchaikovsky’s opera Eugene Onegin. Yet the new Florida Grand Opera production makes th..

Nikolaj Znaider played in an orchestra for the first time at the age of nine, two years after he began to study violin. He still remembers the sense of discovery, as he listened to the childr..

Sun-drenched it is, but Miami is sound-drenched as well. Parrots screech complaints from the Grove’s canopy of palms. I-95 is a perpetual sound lab of squeaking brakes, tires rubbing asphalt ..

Flamenco and jazz have had a fitful relationship. The early, tentative approaches — such as the notable Sketches of Spain (1960) by Miles Davis and Gil Evans or Jazz Flamenco (1967) by ..

Creating music from car horns and bicycles and other non-instruments isn't new. Composer and conceptualist John Cage waxed poetic about traffic noise saying that there is a way "to capture an..

South Florida music lovers have a rare chance to see a homegrown star in concert - and there’s no admission charge. Bobby Thomas Jr., described by jazz legend Melton Mustafa as “the badde..

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..

El flamenco es una música de fusión. La tradición es de sobrevivencia, de cambio constante y adaptación al lugar y los tiempos. Mientras el sonido puede ser diferente, el espíritu de Nuevo Fl..

La problemática del cambio climático está que arde. Sobre todo en un estado como la Florida, en primera fila para sufrir consecuencias drásticas. Llegar al público con este mensaje e inspirar..

La música tiende puentes, y por más de media década ya, dos entidades artístico culturales del sur de la Florida, FUNDarte (http://fundarte.us/fundarte_event.php?id=221) y Miami Light Project..

La colaboración del pianista cubano de jazz Gonzalo Rubalcaba y la cantaora flamenca española Esperanza Fernández junta a dos artistas de primera línea en sus respectivos géneros sin miedo d..