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..
Promising a night of airiness and ardor, Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami will bring “Ballet’s Pointe of Passion” to the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, where the company joins an att..
Great friendships can nurture and prod an artist to make greater work. Think Pablo Picasso and Wifredo Lam, James Baldwin and Toni Morrison, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Such is also the case fo..
It’s a tall order to present a season as surprising as it is moving, as disturbing as it is delightful. Miami-Dade College’s Live Arts 2017-2018 season -- Ojala/Inshallah: Wishes from the Mu..
It was only a few decades ago that finding a professional, locally produced performance was an aerobic dance in itself. But after the Miami City Ballet (established 1985), the New World Schoo..
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 pre..
When the Limon Dance Company returns to Miami-Dade this weekend, it brings with it the powerful vision of founder José Limon. He was a man deeply concerned about and connected to the humanity..
When Cardi B, with her trademark no-filter attitude, raps in her recent hit “Bodak Yellow” – Now I don’t got to dance/I make money move – she has something to sing about, with her smash hit N..
Despite a packed show schedule, including performing with the Frankfurt Opera in “Rinaldo,” Sarasota native, dancer and choreographer James McGinn had a chance to discuss the upcoming dance-opera ..
Anniversaries usually celebrate the success of a partnership with symbolic gifts of crystal, china, silver and gold. For the Arts Ballet Theater of Florida, the company celebrates 20 years of..
“Heaven sends us habits in place of happiness,” two women of a certain age observe in a famous line from Tchaikovsky’s opera Eugene Onegin. Yet the new Florida Grand Opera production makes the case that habit, or at least experience, might actually be the source of happiness.
In Onegin’s opening scene at the Arsht Center,two sisters sweetly sing of love’s sighs and sorrows. Soprano Dina Kuznetsova has a ruby-toned voice perfect for the role of the bookish, lovelorn Tatyana. Her tone blends nicely with the contralto of Courtney Miller, as her younger sister, Olga. But as their mother, Madame Larina, who recalls her own youthful folly, the more seasoned soprano Robynne Redmon brought greater confidence and power to the stage.
In the relatively minor role of Madame Larina’s servant Filipyevna, bona fide diva Denyce Graves sent a wave of excitement through the hall. The mezzo-soprano, famous for her turns as Carmen and Delila at the Met, outshined the rest of the cast, despite her gray wig and drab uniform.
But this was not an occasion for star power. As director Jeffrey Marc Buchman explains in his program notes, the FGO production rejects the typical operatic drama and spectacle to achieve what Tchaikovsky considered an even deeper human feeling: intimacy.
Though an opera hall is hardly an intimate space, a simple set of columns suggesting a natural birch tree forest gave even the ball room scenes a sense of nature and peace. This is the peace that Tatyana finally finds in her duty as a wife, but that forever eludes the title character, the careless and thoughtlessly cruel, Onegin.
As Eugene Onegin, looking very much the part with top hat and cane, and moving with the grace of a dancer, the dashing baritone Franco Pomponi could have stepped out of a Jane Austen novel or one of the romantic bard Byron’s poems. His voice has a sweet tinge that could easily seduce an impressionable girl, with none of the gravel often heard in this role to insinuate Onegin’s dissolute character.
Kuznetsova captured the wonder of first love in a famous scene where Tatyana writes Onegin a letter confessing her feelings. Her gorgeous, floating high notes ached with desire.
But if Onegin steals Tatyana’s heart, it is his faithful friend -- and Olga’s childhood love -- Lenski, who stole the show. Tenor Chad Johnson conveyed the pathos of a young man whose jealously has lead him to likely death in a duel with his best friend in a voice tremulous, but controlled.
In another opera, perhaps by an Italian composer, this tragic death might be the story’s end. Following his source, the Russian novelist Pushkin, and Chekhov after him, Tchaikovsky finds tragedy not in dramatic death, but the mundane persistence of life. As Prince Gremin, capably voiced by bass-baritone and FGO Young Artist Alex Soare, intones “all ages surrender to love.”
Unfortunately, conductor Alexander Polianichko did not surrender much to the cast. Tchaikovsky’s music is so full of feeling that the orchestra could tell the story all by itself, but the singers could have benefited from more sensitive pacing as the orchestra crowded even the most poignant moments.
Florida Grand Opera presents Eugene Onegin on Thursday, February 9 and Saturday February 11 at the Broward Center; tickets $21-$139; Fgo.org.
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