The Coastal Star

Along the Avenues: Kravis-bound Florida Stage rings down the curtain in Manalapan


By Thom Smith

For two decades, Florida Stage has brightened the cultural landscape far beyond its little corner in Manalapan. Inevitably, the magnitude of the little company has
grown, so its orbit had to expand.


On June 20, the last lines of the fittingly titled When the Sun Shone Brighter will be delivered from the stage in Plaza Del Mar. Four weeks later, the actors will be singing and dancing the Low Down Dirty Blues at the Kravis
Center’s Rinker Playhouse. But Florida Stage is making the move with style.


Opening night of When the Sun Shone Brighter was a family reunion, the house filled with dozens who have lent something to
the place over the years, as patrons, actors, contributors and even critics. On
either side of the performance, they enjoyed hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and
champagne, a jazz trio and good memories.


Producing Director Lou Tyrrell and Managing Director Nan Barnett took a few minutes before the show to salute the old hands and thank some new faces including
Miami-based lawyer/playwright Christopher Demos-Brown, whose play was seeing
its first production, and photographer Barry Seidman, whose work adorned the
walls outside the auditorium.


Demos-Brown even brought along a cheering section, headed by his sister-in-law, Cynthia Demos, familiar to some as a former reporter at WPTV-Channel 5 in West Palm
Beach. Recently married, Cynthia now anchors morning and midday news shows at
Miami’s WFOR-Channel 4.


The play is filled with political intrigue with a distinctive Florida touch, as the main character is a charismatic Cuban-American Miami mayor who wants to be a
U.S. senator, but must deal with a few skeletons in his closet. Meanwhile, the
audience is transported from the Castro revolution to the Bay of Pigs to the
Mariel boatlift to the Elian Gonzalez saga.


The stellar cast offers a mix of Broadway and local talent — Tony nominee John Herrera as the candidate’s uncle and political advisor, Dreyfoos School of the
Arts grad Natasha Sherritt as the candidate’s wife and Bill Schwartz as the
candidate’s ghostly father.


For Schwartz, the play especially hits home. As is often the case with actors, he had a day job: for 15 years he was
the spokesman for the Miami Police Department. When federal agents, with help
from Miami cops, removed Elian Gonzalez from his uncle’s home in Miami,
Schwartz found himself trying to reason with an angry mob.


“I had a big crowd that wasn’t too happy with the Miami Police Department that day,” he told a Miami TV station when he retired in 2008. “I was the face (of the Miami Police
Department.), and I took a few lumps. … But it was exciting,
too.”


Fellow officers rescued the beaten and bruised Schwartz, who lived to act another day.



Just across the bridge, the crew at Old Key Lime House in Lantana is still feeling good vibrations after a visit from the Beach Boys, and they’ve put the pictures
on the wall to prove it.


While in town in April for their show at the Kravis Center, original keyboardist Bruce Johnson, actor-musician John Stamos, whose association with the band goes
back to 1988, and members of the backup band took a boat ride and stopped by
the restaurant for lunch.


“They were great,” Assistant General Manager Kristine Sullivan said. “They gave everyone hugs and posed for pictures. I got a picture of me with John Stamos.
… He’s a cutie!”



Half a block east of U.S. 1 on Ocean Avenue at Pizzeria Oceano, Dak Kerprich has set aside June 8 for a “5 percent party.”


A what? Kerprich opened his little gourmet pizza joint a year ago with half a dozen stools inside and a few umbrellaed tables on the front deck. Business has
been good, so good on some nights that he runs out of food and closes early. A
veteran in the South Florida restaurants wars, he couldn’t be happier, because
he knows survival is risky.


“Ninety-five percent of restaurants fail in the first year,” he said. “We’ve made it this far, so we’re having a ‘5 percent party’ to celebrate.”


Fans are advised to arrive early.




Falcon House down in Delray is one of those 5 percenters, but its fortunes were looking bleak until another veteran came to the rescue. Karl
Alterman
,previously associated with Gigi’s, MoQuila and City Limits in Boca,
was planning to head back home to the summery breezes of Nantucket, but “this
literally fell into my lap,” he said.


Falcon House founders Tim Bauer and Ted Keer had left late last year to convert Monterey Cantina at the corner of Northeast Third Street and Third Avenue into
Two Thirds Tavern.


Meanwhile the third partner, who remained at Falcon House, wasn’t thrilled with his situation and decided to get out, Alterman said, the result being an offer he couldn’t resist.


So the menu reverts to affordable snacks and entrees with a renewed emphasis on the bar scene … with a twist: The Triple 8 Lounge at Falcon House.


No 8-balls, but 8s are everywhere, as Alterman has formed an alliance with Cisco Brewers in Nantucket, which among other things, operates the Triple 8
Distillery
which produces 888 Vodka. It’s premium vodka, perfect for the
current infusion rage, as it’s bottled pure or blended with Nantucket
cranberries, New Guinea and Madagascar vanilla beans, Maine blueberries and
Florida honey belle oranges. Cisco also markets rum, gin, bourbon, wines from
Oregon and an assortment of crafted brewed beers.


Add a menu with items priced at $8.88 (lobster mac and cheese, grilled Asian barbecue shrimp, grilled ribeye quesadilla), a “$6.66 Satanic Section”
(Hellfire spicy jerk chicken lollipops with mango cilantro dipping sauce, truffle
deviled eggs).


Entertainment has returned and promotions will abound. “I couldn’t ask for anything better,” Alterman said. “This is what Falcon House was meant to be.”



Some restaurants managed to hang on for a while and then go boom. Such was the case with Busch’s Seafood. It had the history of the old Busch’s in Ocean Ridge and
the location as one of only two Delray restaurants on the Intracoastal. Wasn’t
enough. Closed last fall.


But hope springs eternal, especially since the new operator is Burt Rapoport. In West Delray he has Henry’s and in Boca he has Bogart’s at the Cinemark Palace
20 movie complex and Max’s Grille in Mizner Park.


“It couldn’t have a better location,” said Rapoport who will put $1 million into renovations before he opens Burt’s at the Bridge in October, and he quickly
pointed out that he isn’t the namesake. That distinction goes to the building’s
owner, Burt Handelsman, who also owns much of Worth Avenue in Palm Beach.


But no Palm Beach prices at Burt’s. Rapoport plans to attract boaters to his 150-foot dock with live music inside and out, a large array of appetizers and
an entrée list heavy on fresh seafood.



Across the bridge, Old Vines Wine & Spirits isn’t quite a year old but word is already getting out, and not just in Delray. In a recent viewer poll by
WFLX-Channel 29, it was voted the No. 1 wine shop in the Palm Beaches and
Treasure Coast. Owner Dave Spitzer will celebrate the vote and the birthday
this month with discounts, special tastings and raffles.



It’s quiet in Boynton but not dead. In fact, two buyers have even closed on apartments in the Promenade. So what if construction wrapped up nine months
ago. Prices aren’t bad in the 14-story, 318-unit condominium: One-bedroom with
a water view start in the mid-$200,000s. If you prefer a sunset, you can get in
for $150,000.


On the ground floor, facing the marina, Susan Mandell has opened what she calls “the first cardio soup kitchen.” Mandell wants everyone to be healthy but she
especially wants to attract teenagers to her spin center “Thank You for Your
Ride”
(561-398-5280) because obesity is rampant in the schools. Furthermore,
the veteran schoolteacher runs the center primarily on donations. If you have
the money, leave something; if you don’t, that’s OK, too.



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