The Coastal Star

Around Town: Burt honored by Lake Worth Playhouse

Burt Reynolds gives advice to Marlin Wagner, a student who performed solo moments before.
Photo provided

By Thom Smith

    The flu put him in the hospital for several days, but nothing was going to keep Burt Reynolds from going “home” — theatrically. On the occasion of its 60th anniversary, the Lake Worth Playhouse honored Burt on Feb. 9 with its first Lifetime Achievement Award during  a $150-a-plate dinner. Burt returned the salute by regaling the gathering with recollections of days long past, many of them spent on the playhouse stage.
    Burt expected to be a performer … on the football field. But injuries at Florida State forced a detour. Returning home in 1957, he enrolled at Palm Beach Junior College, where he happened to take a class from raconteur, professor and playhouse supporter Watson B. Duncan. Duncan persuaded Reynolds to hit the boards, casting him as the lead in a school production of Outward Bound.  Off to summer stock, he met a young actress: Joanne Woodward, who declined his date offer because she was engaged (to Paul Newman), but she did refer him to her agent.
The rest, as they say, is history; but even after he began working regularly in such shows as River Boat, Playhouse 90, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and M-Squad, Burt still found time to come home.
    In the summer of ’61, he directed and starred in the wartime drama A Sound of Hunting. Tickets were $1.50.
    “Tom Wolfe wasn’t from South Florida: You can go home again,” Burt said after dinner. “I am so touched to be honored by the Lake Worth Playhouse. It truly is a special place.”
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    The disappointment of Parker, the locally filmed thriller starring Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez and directed by Taylor Hackford (whose credits include Ray and An Officer and a Gentleman), proves that talent doesn’t guarantee success, especially in the Palm Beaches.
    Jim Belushi would agree. The star of According to Jim who headlined the University of Miami’s Department of Neurology gala at The Breakers on Feb. 2 has been here before.
    In 1991, Belushi starred in a sexy crime thriller, originally titled Beyond Suspicion, with Lorraine Bracco and Tony Goldwyn. (Goldwyn now stars as philandering President Fitzgerald Grant on Scandal).  To learn how cops operated, Belushi joined sheriff’s deputies on a couple of patrols. When one suspect tried to break free, Belushi tried to give chase until a deputy reminded him of the studio’s investment. Later, when cops noticed a foul smell, he did help move a stove, behind which they found a rat, a dirty rat.
    The title was changed twice, first to Trace of Red and finally pluralized to Traces of Red, but it didn’t help. Universally trashed by critics, it claims a lowly 4.8 rating (scale of 10) on the Internet Movie Database. The producing Samuel Goldwyn Co. (Tony’s family) canceled premieres in New York and L.A., opting for a low-key event at the Royal Poinciana Playhouse in Palm Beach to benefit American Red Cross Hurricane Andrew relief.
    In January 1993, Belushi returned for a benefit at the Kravis Center for Good Samaritan Hospital’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, but some folks obviously hadn’t seen Traces of Red. While taking photos of everyone in sight, society photographer Mort Kaye pulled out his notebook and obliviously asked Belushi: “How do you spell the last name?”  
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    Movies are still around, thank heaven, but theater owners are trying all sorts of new ideas. Witness iPic’s luxurious multiplex in Boca’s Mizner Park, highlighted by Tanzy restaurant. On Atlantic Avenue at Lyons Road out west, what once was farmland is now Delray Marketplace with Frank Theatres CineBowl and Grille.  It features 12 screens, one showing Imax films … and a restaurant  … and two bars … and a video arcade … and, yes, a 16-lane bowling alley.
    Siblings Bruce and Debbie Frank are serious movie lovers. Their grandfather opened his first movie house in 1906 in Philadelphia. But they’re open to anything that pulls people away from their iPads and big-screen TVs.
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    Try to remember … Half a century ago, a fresh-faced kid in his early 20s from White Plains by way of Denison College in Ohio, came to Broadway in search of fame and fortune. Less than a year later, in 1964, John Davidson debuted in Foxy starring Burt Lahr. A few months later, TV’s Hallmark Hall of Fame mounted a production of The Fantasticks with Lahr, Sterling Holloway, Ricardo Montalban and Davidson as The Boy (Matt).
    Last summer, Davidson returned to The Fantasticks, this time Off-Broadway, this time as The Old Actor (Henry), then showed up again in December as The Girl’s Father (Bellamy). At 72, he has no plans to slow down, but during a break from his golden anniversary tour, he’ll do six nights at home — Atlantis Country Club. Dinner shows — $65 — are set for March 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17. Call 965-5788.
    Don’t tarry; in April the Golden Tour moves to the Midwest, and, buoyed by a previous portrayal of Theodore Roosevelt in Bully!, he has another Broadway show in mind. “I can play Edward Kennedy,” he said recently. “There’s a wonderful, tragic hero.”

Members of the Greater Boynton Beach Chamber of Commerce help with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at TD Bank at Sunshine Square. The bank recently moved from A1A, south of Woolbright Road. Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star


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Names in the news:
    Five months. That’s how long Lake Worth architect Juan Contin has to find $4.5 million. He needs the money to finance the renovation and conversion of the old Boynton Beach High School building into an event, retail, restaurant and activity center. The City Commission agreed to cover permitting fees, but Contin must come up with a site plan by March 4. Think of Delray’s Old School Square with restaurants.  
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    A big high five to restaurateur Burt Rapoport (Rapoport’s Restaurant Group which runs Henry’s, Bogart’s, Deck 84, E & J’s Sandwich Shop and Burt & Max’s), one of seven regional finalists from 100 entries nationwide for the 2013 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year Award.  Winners will be announced April 30.
    Ryan Artim, who built quite a reputation as executive sous chef at The Ritz-Carlton in Manalapan, has left the kitchen … and the resort business. But he hasn’t strayed far. Artim has signed on as assistant general manager at The Polo Club of Boca Raton.
    Next!  
    The Omphoy in Palm Beach shows so much promise, but in baseball terms it appears to be assuming the role of a farm team. First, owner Jeff Greene signed on Miami celeb chef Michelle Bernstein. She left, citing the commute, and Greene elevated Bernstein protégée and Top Chef Texas competitor Lindsay Autry, who split after a few months and eventually became executive chef at Sundy House in Delray. Now Autry has been joined by Sarah Sipe, her pastry chef at The Omphoy.
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    Speaking of restaurants, Jason and Bettina Seifts are on the move again. They still have their little red Crepes by the Sea cart that launched the business six years ago in Delray, but the creperie of the same name, which technically was never on the beach, has moved farther inland, like a block. First on Federal just north of Atlantic, they’re now in trendy Pineapple Grove. Much better location at 145 NE Fourth Ave., expanded hours, twice the space plus a covered patio for outside dining — and the choices! The expanded menu includes such choices as chicken and raspberry vinaigrette with cheeses, tomato and walnuts. How’s that sound? Or Cocoloco — coconut, banana, maple syrup and brown sugar? Plus an enlarged wine cellar and extensive collection of imported and craft beers and great coffees. Très bien.
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    A block away, J.P. Kline is daring to go where many have trodden before without much longterm success.  He believes 3rd & 3rd (for Third Street and Third Avenue) will be a winner — unlike Las Hadas, Monterey Grille and, most recently, the second incarnation of Elwood’s.
    As chef/owner, Kline brings to retail his catering experience at John Paul Custom Cuisine, which included rave reviews for his food- and wine-tasting series at the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art.
    Kline, who really developed his passion while living in Portugal, wants his food as fresh as possible, but says it also should be comfortable, creative, historic and genuinely enjoyable.
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    Che sorpresa! Back in Pineapple Grove, the folks at SoLita want to do everything possible to keep you in the dark … and that’s a good thing. Customers who choose to “dine in the dark” on any Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday (reservations required) at the Italian eatery on Second Avenue just north of Atlantic are greeted with a blindfold. It doesn’t come off until the last morsel of finger food — that’s right, diners are urged to fully utilize their sense of touch on all three surprise courses.
    Servers wear night-vision goggles and cheerfully assist diners who can’t quite get a grip on a slippery shrimp or viscous vermicelli. Cost is $59. A wine flight, mated to each course is $15.
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    That construction just south of Oceanfront Park in Ocean Ridge is not an extension to the parking lot, although the individual responsible for it might need a lot to handle just a few of his cars. According to Palm Beach County Property Appraiser records, the oceanfront property, diagonally across A1A from Town Hall, belongs to the 6393 Ocean Boulevard Trust and Bruce C. Etheridge is the trustee.     When finished, the house, reported to cover about 10,000 square feet, will belong to Ed Napleton, currently a resident of South Palm Beach and car dealer extraordinaire.
    Based in Chicago, the Napleton family owns 69 dealerships in four states. If you want a car, you can find just about any make on one of Ed’s 36 lots, including Acura and Hyundai in West Palm Beach; Hyundai, Chrysler and Dodge in Lake Park; Nissan and Kia in Riviera Beach and Jeep in Lake Park.
    He also runs a top-rate racing operation: In January, Napleton’s Porsche Cayman blew away the field in the new GX class at the 24 Hours of Daytona. One of Napleton’s drivers is Jupiter resident Shane Lewis.


There goes the neighborhood.
In the next few months WalMart will open a grocery story on South Federal in Delray, just north of the C-15 Canal. Consequently, something has to go, that being the Jacob Hybrid Fitness Center, formerly Level 5. It will move a few blocks south to the Hidden Valley shopping center, probably a wise choice, since competition is setting up shop at the corner of Federal and Linton.
No confirmation yet, but lawyers for LA Fitness recently requested to appear before the city board that regulates signs. They need city approval to change the big signs at Plaza at Delray.
Here’s the big surprise: LA Fitness is in; Regal 18 Cinema is out.
Even though the movie business just enjoyed its best year ever, and Regal just bought Hollywood Theaters, a chain the runs 513 screens in 43 multiplexes. Go figure.
The closest movie house for those along the coast in the Delray and Boynton area, will now be at the Boynton Beach Mall on Congress Avenue or at Delray Square, just east of Military Trail.

Chefs from the Boca Raton Resort & Club accept top honors in several categories Feb. 7 at The Junior League of Boca Raton’s Flavors of Boca event.  Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star

Thom Smith is a freelance writer. Contact him at thomsmith@ymail.com.

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