Make every weekend epic with our free Weekender newsletter. Sign up today!

Broward Stage Door Theatre pulls off groovy dramedy

Staff Writer

As soon as you see the set for “Butterflies are Free,” you just know it must be the 1960s.

Never mind the peace sign painted on the wall, the loft apartment by set designer Michael McClain stretches all the way across the stage and has a skylight. You’d have to go back about 45 years to find that kind of affordable floor space on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

That is exactly where and when the play by Leonard Gershe, now at the Broward Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs, is placed.

Even so, main character Don Baker (Britt Michael Gordon) can barely afford the rent. Blind since birth, he needs help from his mother (Brook Packard). Mrs. Baker seems to want nothing more than to hogtie her son with both her apron strings and her umbilical cord and drag him home to Scarsdale.

But Don has gifts that serve him well. He’s disarmingly funny and charming (“Just ask me if I’ve felt any good books lately”) and he’s handsome, at least to his hippy-dippy-trippy neighbor, Jill Tanner (Gina Marie Jamieson). Jill teaches Don some things that Mom never could, some incredibly good for a young man and some heartbreaking, as when Ralph Austin (Andy Quiroga) shows up as a rival suitor.

Half the time the actors hold the stage and carry the sauterne play effortlessly for two hours, including a 15-minute intermission. The other half feels somewhat under-powered. That may be due to the languorous feel that director Michael Leeds imbues in the production. This is an illusion since there is plenty going on here, a veritable 3D of emotions, particularly in the kick-ass last act.

There is what you see. There is what you hear. Then there is what is really going on. That dynamic comes across.

And yet some of the cast could do with a little more immersion into the vibe of the late ’60s, because some of the delivery doesn’t feel exactly in sync with those times.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the title comes from a line in Charles Dickens’ “Bleak House,” which reads: “I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free.”

“Butterflies Are Free” runs through Sept. 14 at Broward Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W. Sample Rd., Coral Springs. 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 2 p.m. matinees Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Tickets: $38-$42 (students $16). Contact: 954-344-7765 or

Copyright © 2017, South Florida