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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..

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“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..

‘The King and I’: A Blending of Dance Cultures


Photo: Photo by Matthew Murphy
Written by: Diana Dunbar
Article Rating

Revivals are hot on Broadway these days with “CATS”and “Hello, Dolly!“once again gracing the Great White Way. There is a certain nostalgia in taking a second or even third viewing of a beloved show. Such is the case with “The King and I,” now on tour after winning four 2015 Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical. The play opens on Tuesday, May 9 at the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

East meets West in Rogers and Hammerstein’s 1951 musical, which tells the story of Anna Leonowens (Laura Michelle Kelly) and her time spent at the court of the King of Siam (played by Jose Llana), educating his children in the ways of the West. The king is dedicated toadvancing his country while still clinging to the customs of his time – the 1860s -- and place. Anna has her job cut out for her as she craftily deals with the king, and his many wives and children. Her story is told through music coupled with sumptuous sets and costumes designed by Michael Yeargan and Catherine Zuber -- Tony Award winners for this production.

Then there’s the dancing. Choreographed by Tony winner Christopher Gattelli based on the original choreography by Jerome Robbins, the dances are an essential part of the musical. Sixty-six years after it opened on Broadway, the artistry and talents of Robbins are still very much apparent today.

Robbins brought to the production a background in both ballet and musical theater. In 1940 he appeared in “Keep off the Grass”with choreography by George Balanchine; and in 1944 he choreographed “Fancy Free” for Ballet Theatre with music by Leonard Bernstein. “Fancy Free”is in the repertoire of the Miami City Ballet. He worked with Bernstein again in 1957 on “West Side Story.” Throughout his long career, Robbins not only choreographed for both the concert and musical stage, he changed and left an indelible print on both.

Just as he was able to move within dance worlds, Robbins was also able to bring a fusion between East and West in his choreography for “The King and I.”From the ice-breaking fan dance in Getting to Know You to the inventive use of Cambodian classicaldance blendedwith Japanese Kabuki theater in The Small House Of Uncle Thomas – based onHarriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” Robbins used dance as a mechanism to push the story forward and at times, to drive home a point.

The Small House of Uncle Thomas is composed of an all female cast -- reflective of the classical dances traditionally performed for the Cambodian court. In this case, it’s performed for the king and his English guests and presented by the slave Tuptim. The symbolism of this piece is far-reaching and multi-layered. The production of this ballet threatens the power of the king and serves to highlight the recurring themes of tolerance, equality and freedom. Robbins is at his most artful self in the manner in which he adapts Cambodian dance to a Western audience.

Revivals are an important linkage between the past and the present, serving as cultural and artistic barometers. Miami City Ballet Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez, who worked directly with Jerome Robbins as a soloist and principal dancer with New York City Ballet, says, “Jerry taught, what he himself lived, a commitment to dance that involved questioning and looking past the art form’s traditional parameters to imagine a more potent form of theater, one capable of poetically expressing a deep felt humanity.” “The King and I”couldn't arrive at a more appropriate time.

‘The King and I,’ Tuesday May 9through – Sunday May 14, with evening and matinee performances; Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, 1300 Biscayne Blvd. Miami; Tickets start at $29 to $150; 305-949-6722; arshtcenter.org.

 


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