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Actors’ Playhouse has been a musical powerhouse for much of its history. Launching its 30th anniversary season at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables, the company is revisiting some of that history with a new production of a made-for-South Florida favorite: Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s “Evita.” As it did in 2000 when recent Tony Award winner Rachel Bay Jones starred as Eva Duart..

Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks won the Pulitzer Prize for “Topdog/Underdog” in 2002. But as Zoetic Stage’s superb new production of the play at Miami’s Arsht Center demonstrates, her funny, shocking tale of two brothers struggling to survive is as potent today as it was 15 years ago. Maybe more so, given the country’s deepening divide. Parks’ harrowing drama examines the complex relation..

We are born. We live, have families, grow old. We die, leaving those who loved us to mourn. Playwright Thornton Wilder brilliantly captured the eternal verities of our journey through life in “Our Town,” his 1938 Pulitzer Prize-winning play about life, love and death in a small New Hampshire town at the turn of the 20th century. If you’re at all drawn to theater, you’ve probably ..

“Miami Motel Stories: Little Havana” written by Juan C. Sanchez, directed by Tamilla Woodard, and produced by Juggerknot Theatre Company, is a site-specific, immersive theater experience that interweaves narrative, performance, history and architecture. Nine short plays take place in nine hotel rooms on the second floor of the Tower Hotel, right off Calle Ocho on Seventh Street. Sanchez, ..

Artistic director and founder of Juggerknot Theatre Company, Tanya Bravo, had her first brush with immersive theater in New York City when she met director Tamilla Woodard. Working on the play “Broken City,” Bravo and other actors led audience members on a theatrical journey through the streets of the Lower East Side. “I was so blown away by the concept and the lines that were crossed between ..

We humans do love our rituals. When an extended family gathers for the holidays, familiar traditions promise a comforting respite from an increasingly complex, chaotic world. Still, realistically, troubles and fears refuse to be left behind. They surface like unwelcome guests. So do resentments and stinging remarks born of deep knowledge. With Thanksgiving on the horizon, you wonder: ..

After a tryout run in Chicago, 34 previews and 746 performances on Broadway, and a tour launch in Buffalo, “On Your Feet!” has finally opened in the place where Cuban-born music superstars Gloria and Emilio Estefan made their dreams come true: Miami. At Friday’s red carpet opening at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, with the Estefans and their extended family in atte..

Whether the comedy is high or low, performer-writer Steve Martin has been making moviegoers, “Saturday Night Live” fans and theater lovers laugh for more than half a century – hard to believe it’s been that long, but he started early. Martin’s way with both cerebral jokes and physical comedy is abundantly on display in “The Underpants,” his 2002 adaptation of Carl Sternheim’s once-ban..

Robert Schenkkan’s “Building the Wall” begins as a wary conversation between two strangers: Rick, a white male convict awaiting a likely death sentence, and Gloria, a black female historian and college professor. For 90 minutes, the two talk. She probes; he explains and justifies and slowly paints a picture of a man-made Seventh Circle of Hell. By the time the play ends, the audience ..

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ award-winning play “An Octoroon” layers an antebellum melodrama with 21st-century parlance and perspective. The result is an innovative play-within-a-play that skillfully reminds us of slavery’s horrible past and its ever-present legacy. Area Stage Company’s production, thoughtfully directed by John Rodaz, brings together a talented cast to ensure this melodra..

A Bejeweled Opener for Miami City Ballet’s Season

Photo: Tricia Albertson and Rainer Krenstetter in “Emeralds”. Photo ©Alexander Iziliaev.
Written by: Guillermo Perez
Article Rating

A 50th anniversary calls for gold in celebration. But Balanchine’s “Jewels”­—a sublime marriage of music and choreography from 1967—brings Emeralds, Rubies,and Diamonds. Those precious stones give name and color to the three sections ofa work recognized as the first full-length non-narrative ballet, a fitting opener for Miami City Ballet’s gem-studded season at the Arsht Center.

“Jewels” gets value from both a broad vision and fine details. Displaying distinctive qualities as well as overall connections, its parts add up to a compendium of ballet styles supported by suggestive scores. Emeralds harkens back to a French-perfumed romanticism and uses incidental music by Gabriel Fauré (for the stage works “Pelléas et Mélisande” and “Shylock”). Rubies relies on Stravinsky’s Capriccio for Piano and Orchestrato stir up its jittery modernity.And, to Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.3 in D major, Diamonds closes with royal radiance.

Evoking a green expanse, while the dancers luxuriate in the lush musical milieu, Emeralds—though often pensively paced—is no mere walk in the park. Tricia Albertson, a lead in the initial movements, can attest not only to the buoyant lyricism of her role but also its considerable physical demands.

“I get tired going from the opening straight into a long, difficult solo,” says Albertson, a seasoned principal ballerina who, partnered by Rainer Krenstetter, is significantly dancing this part for the first time. “I’ve really had to learn to keep my strength, not so much because the individual steps are tricky but due to their sustained accumulation. And the music is so beautiful, it’s a challenge to distill that.”

She mentions having to surrender to the orchestral flow as if submerged. Arms up, hands weaving, and on pointe for attentive treading, a ballerina here can indeed appear to be testing the waters. There’s a sense of discovery and wonder--as if to underscore, given “Jewels”regard of history, the art form’s early Parisian heyday.

Rubies fast-forwards to a New York vibe. Urban in rhythm, its push-and-pull keeps the dancers’ blood pumping, with the male lead in prominence.

“This is a very special role for me,” says Renato Pentads, who first tackled the ballet’s feats nearly 15 years ago, coached at MCB by then artistic director Edward Villella, for whom Balanchine choreographed the lead.

Reflecting on his long-standing relationship with this prized assignment, Penteado notes, “I pace myself better now. This is like running a marathon. And I think more about the dancing from the inside. It needs athleticism, but I try to balance that with careful details—to make it bold but not harsh.”

As the choreography takes the score’s speed lanes and sharp corners, Penteado whisks by, carousing with a playful pack of guys and joining up with a driven woman—everyone decked out in red. This time he is particularly appreciative of his partner, Katia Carranza, a talented contemporary who left MCB a while back for her native Mexico and is now aiming high to mark her return to the company.

Considered as a triptych,“Jewels”bestows on Rubies—the central panel, so to speak—the perspective of its wings:Emeralds, the curtain-raiser with its Francophile ambiance, and the concluding Diamonds. That last work mines the choreographer’s formative base, Imperial Russian ballet, which profited from a French inheritance and passed on the artistic wealth— invested further by Balanchine—across the Atlantic. In effect, “Jewels” reflects its émigré creator’s own trajectory: St. Petersburg, Paris, New York, the center of his stylistic innovations.

“Dancing in Diamonds,” Simone Messmer says, “lets me combine all of my knowledge of ballet.” As the lead ballerina, she takes the strictures of classical technique—as in the emphatic carriage of the upper body—toward a more vivid interpretation. Performing in such Balanchine works since joining MCB two years ago, she confesses, has helped her become her own woman on stage.

A new partnership here with Jovani Furlan, a rangy, energetic soloist with the company, has further developed her artistry. By accommodating to each other, not just in rehearsals but through frank discussions--“we’re both very open people,” says Messmer—the pair is giving intimate dimension to their regal roles.

“This kind of dance allows a ballerina to rise to the next level,” Messmer says. “It will be a treat for everyone.”

Miami City Ballet Program I “Jewels,” Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Ziff Ballet Opera House, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami (Oct. 28-29 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts); Friday and Saturday, 8:00 p.m.; Sunday 2:00 p.m. Cost $45-$105; www.arshtcenter .org;


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