Local playwrights keep it brief with 'Shortcuts 7' in Boca Raton

The Playgroup, which showcases work by local playwrights, will produce a program of 10-minute plays with “Shortcuts 7.”

The Palm Beach County-based troupe will stage the collection of playlets April 28-May 7 in Boca Raton’s Willow Theatre at Sugar Sand Park. The Playgroup’s board members chose eight pieces from about 50 submissions for this seventh edition.

“You have to look at the history of how we came to do short plays in the first place,” says Coral Springs’ Joyce Sweeney, managing director for Playgroup. “We really approached it from doing workshops for playwrights over the years. So we kind of built a team of playwrights. All of that led to the first show with local playwrights, local actors, local [crew]. We’re all in this together.”

Sweeney breaks down the eight plays:

“Spare Change” by Brian Reeves from Wellington: “That play was in our original Shortcuts … the first show we ever produced. He wanted to submit it again. It is, I think, one of the finest short plays we’ve ever produced. It’s about a businessman who is stopped by a homeless woman. He does what we all try to do. But as they talk, he sort of sees her through different eyes. It’s very moving.”

“Life Saving 101” by Joe Feinstein from Boca Raton: “It’s really, truly a dramedy. It’s about a really, really depressed young man. He sort of encounters a very comedic woman who wants to save him. And from there, it goes into more comedy. It’s very cool.”

“Character Assassination” by Robert O’Connell from Coral Springs: “He’s a novelist by trade. He started coming to our playwright workshops and, by golly, he can really write plays, too. This is a story of a master mystery writer with 18 novels. He’s being interviewed by a detective. The question is did he do something, and can he outsmart the detective?”

“Gwen Has a Date” by Marj O’Neill-Butler from Miami Beach: “For people of a certain age, it’s a big deal when they get a date. [Gwen] has a pack of girlfriends and, like all girlfriends, they try to sabotage her date and stop it. So can she overcome all of her girlfriends and go on that date?”

“Ben’s Key” by Ken Kurtz from Pinecrest: “[Kurtz] is mostly a set designer, but he’s also a very whimsical playwright. During a thunderstorm, a very important historical figure appears in a modern Philadelphia bar.”

“Once Upon a Box of Junk” by Tom Andrew from Fort Lauderdale: “[Andrew] is also a former set designer and prop wizard and machinemaking genius. This starts out as your typical man-meets-genie. And it all turns on what he wished for, and the genie talks him out of most of the things he wants.”

“Meet Me at the Cabana” by Mary Goulart from Pompano Beach: “[Goulart] conceived of this story where a congressman finds himself at a bar where all of his lovers have shown up at the same time.”

“Pickup” by Marj O’Neill-Butler: “Marj O’Neill-Butler,won twice out of a field of 50, so obviously she’s a pretty good playwright. I don’t want to give too much about this one away. I’m just going to say that she has one of the best surprise endings I’ve ever seen in a short play. What happened surprised even me, and I’ve read a lot of short plays.”

“Shortcuts 7” runs April 28-May 7 at Willow Theatre at Sugar Sand Park, 300 S. Military Trail, in Boca Raton. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with 2 p.m. matinees Sundays. Tickets cost $25. To order, call 561-347-3948 or go to WillowTheatre.org.

rhagwood@southflorida.com

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