A Round-Heeled Woman at GableStage

By Manuela Gabaldon

altThere is something incredibly captivating about each and every production of GableStage at The Biltmore in Coral Gables. Executive Producer Joe Adler leads a talented troop with his charismatic presence and contagious passion for theater, always welcoming audiences with warmth and transmittable devotion. His introduction to each performance is always followed by words of gratitude to the community’s continued support of GableStage, and their collaborative effort to endorse this engaging form of art. We have seen, enjoyed, and reviewed many a GableStage production in the past, and this season, it is “A Round-Heeled Woman”, based on the true story of Jane Juska, written for the stage and directed by Jane Prowse, and starring multiple Emmy and Golden Globe winning actress Sharon Gless.

The small and intimate charm of GableStage is the perfect setting for this play that breaks the fourth wall and lets the audience in on a woman’s “late-life” quest for sexual reawakening. Sharon Gless, most known for her work in television’s Queer as Folk, Burn Notice, and Cagney & Lacey, flawlessly carries out the role of Juska, a 66-year old retired English teacher who has but one desire before her next birthday: “Before I turn 67, next March, I’d like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me,” her personal ad reads. It is not long after she places this no-frills public notice that she is inundated by a number of responses by men not so shockingly intrigued by her proposition for no-strings-attached pleasure. Jane’s candidates range from an old man checking-up on his ability to perform, a cab driver with a healthy curiosity, a writer from New York that ultimately breaks her heart and tears her down, and a younger man who unexpectedly gives her exactly what she needs.

Although the play unassumingly begins as the quirky tale of this late baby boomer’s sexual adventures, it hints at darker more pressing matters as it unfolds; more so than our sympathy for her 30 years of a sex-less life, it is this occult third dimension and leading lady’s hidden turmoil that keeps the audience enthralled in her escapades. A long lost son, divorce, alcohol, years gone, and a tormenting relationship with her deceased mother and father are the real triggers in Juska’s life, making her quest for sex a simple starting conduit in her path to self-mending.
Antonio Amadeo, Stephen G. Anthony, Howard Elfman, Kim Ostrenko, and Laura Turmbull make up the hilarious supporting cast, each playing multiple characters in this sold out play. The overwhelming response to this Miami production of “A Round-Heeled Woman” has caused an extension of four more performances, proving that theater is booming in South Florida.

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