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Writing about “Broken Snow,” the Ben Andron thriller now getting its world premiere at the J’s Cultural Arts Theatre (JCAT) in North Miami Beach, is a proposition almost as tricky as the play itself. The intricately structured 90-minute drama is loaded with surprises, twists and turns, all revealed at precisely the right moment so that the play builds to its shattering conclusion..

As this steamy spring melts into a sweltering summer, Actors’ Playhouse is inviting theater lovers to a wedding – a big, fat Jewish-WASP wedding, otherwise known as the Broadway musical “It Shoulda Been You.” Though the show seemingly takes place in the present, the piece by book writer-lyricist Brian Hargrove and composer Barbara Anselmi is an old-fashioned, stereotype-filled throwba..

'Death & Harry Houdini' Makes Another Magical Moment at ArshtDennis Watkins knows how to make an entrance. In the House Theatre of Chicago’s “Death & Harry Houdini,” now back at the Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater five years after it first wowed Miami audiences, Watkins arrives onstage with the help of theater technology unknown in Houdini’s day. Dangling upside dow..

Director Carlos Lechuga’s masterful unspooling of time in his second feature film “Santa y Ándres” constructs a uniquely Cuban mix of tedium and despair, resulting in an emotionally intense experience that sneaks up on the viewer in plain sight. The film opens with the stillness of a landscape painting: the eastern Cuban countryside of 1983 – rugged, lush, and verdant. The statuesque..

Memory – deep-seated, fragile, slippery, mutable – is at the heart of Jordan Harrison’s “Marjorie Prime.” A Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2015, the play is a family tragicomedy given a sci-fi makeover; in other words, this thought-provoking theater piece charts its own, fresh path. Now getting its South Florida premiere as the second professional production from the Main Street Players, ..

The stage is a fixed space. It is the axis around which story, conflict, and character revolve. When that fixed space shifts, new possibilities emerge. Starting Wednesday, April 23, a shifting site for theater emerges at Deering Estate, a 444-acre environmental, archeological, and historical preserve along the edge of Biscayne Bay in Palmetto Bay. Four local playwrights have collaborated ..

Nearly two years ago, Miami’s Zoetic Stage took its first trip into the world of Harold Pinter with an intense, superbly acted production of the Nobel laureate’s 1978 hit “Betrayal” in the Arsht Center’s Carnival Studio Theater. Now Zoetic is delving further back into the Pinter canon with a riveting production of “The Caretaker.” This 1960 work is, like “Betrayal,” a three-character ..

Imagine animation created live on stage, with mini backdrops, puppets, and low-tech props. Channel it through multiple cameras and mix it live into a projected film. Add a string quartet and a DJ. This is the structure of “Nufonia Must Fall,” an upcoming project presented by MDC Live Arts. The show is slated for appearances around the world, from Asia and the Middle East to Europe and..

That Actors’ Playhouse opened its production of Robert Schenkkan’s “All the Way” on the same day that the American Health Care Act was pulled from a vote by the House of Representatives is ironic and more than a little instructive. The much-touted replacement for Obamacare didn’t have enough sure votes to ensure passage, as Speaker Paul Ryan told President Donald Trump, so the “replac..

The take-no-prisoners world of high finance and ruthless business deals has long been a tantalizing subject for artists. From filmmaker Oliver Stone’s 1987 “Wall Street,” with its antihero Gordon Gekko spouting “greed is good,” to Damien Lewis’ slick hedge fund mogul Bobby Axelrod in the Showtime series “Billions,” movies and television allow those of us in the 99 percent a glimpse at wha..

May’s “Mujeres” series of strong, multi-faceted, women-focused productions, commissioned for Miami Theater Center’s SandBox space, concludes with Spanish-born dancer-choreographer Carlota Pr..

One could say that Bistoury’s 305 & Havana International Improv Fest, which debuts this Saturday at Miami Theater Center, has been in the works for almost 20 years. In 1999 Cuban-born cho..

The process of creating “Shade,” choreographer Augusto Soledade’s latest full-length work, has been one of remembering and reconfiguring memory to discover new ways of talking about identity ..

Upcoming this week, Tigertail presents choreographer Myriam Gourfink and musician Kasper Toeplitz. Hailing from France, the two will be present for a 3-day residency at Subtropics’ South Beac..

From her home base at 6th Street Dance Studio in Little Havana, longtime Miami dance figure Brigid Baker has been slowly crafting a new performance piece. It’s not conceptual or political like con..

Karen Peterson is the artistic director of Karen Peterson and Dancers, a company that brings professional dancers with and without disabilities together in the same piece of choreography, and..

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 belove..

What happens when urban dance style meets classical music? We’ll find out when Brooklyn-based hip-hop dance troupe Decadancetheater takes the stage, backed by Miami’s own experimental classic..

“What does it mean to belong? What does it mean to not want to belong?” These are questions that choreographer Reggie Wilson contemplates in his provocative piece “CITIZEN,“ which makes its M..

GroundUP Brings New Music Fest to North Beach

Photo: Snarky Puppy
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Florida in February has its own magic: gorgeous light, cooler temperatures, clear skies and soft sea breezes. Now, imagine those breezes carrying the moaning strains of Esperanza Spalding’s bass fiddle or of David Crosby’s rich baritone. You might have to strap yourself down to keep from floating off on a beauty-induced high.

Debuting Friday through Sunday at the North Beach Bandshell, the GroundUP Festival isn’t only about great concerts, it’s also about making real connections. Executive director Paul Lehr explained: “One of the important characteristics in creating the festival was not to have the traditional barrier between you and the artist. We’ve asked artists to have small workshops and master classes. There’s going to be a song-writing workshop, you can join a group to sing acapella by the sea with some of the singers, there will be a drum circle on the sand you can sit in on. It’s a way for the audience to interact on a more personal level with the performers…we want fans to have access to the artists.”

The festival is the brainchild of Michael League, the young bass player and composer who heads up the GRAMMY award-winning group Snarky Puppy, which is also headlining the festival. If you aren’t familiar with the group, don’t let the weird moniker fool you—no dogs were involved in the making of any of their recordings, nor are they an alternative band from someone’s garage in Portland. Born in a dorm room at the University of North Texas when League was a freshman, Snarky Puppy is now a Brooklyn fixture with a worldwide web of concerts and a rabidly loyal fan base that is willing to fork over big travel bucks to hear their favorite band. “The response has been overwhelming,” says Lehr. “Fifty percent or more of the audience is coming from either out of state or out of the country. People have commented to me that this is like the Art Basel for music.”

Often labeled a “jazz fusion” group, Puppy draws from a broad array of sources to create its signature sound, a sonic melting pot cooked up by versatile players who are not afraid to mess around with unconventional ways of approaching their instruments. “They play classical, jazz—they’re genre defying,” explains Lehr. “What they really are is musicians’ musicians. The band is all about musicality. Who do we want to play with? We want someone who is really incredible musically.”

League, the crew’s ringleader, is a self-confessed workaholic who spends most of his time either in the studio or on the road. The band has toured so much, in fact, that League recently went for two years without a physical address. After their Miami Beach performances they will head to the Kennedy Center, then on to dates all over Europe, finishing up finally in August at the—pardon the pun—august Newport Jazz Festival.

The Miami Beach festival isn’t only about jazz, however. David Crosby, a frequent collaborator with League, brings folk rock of the highest pedigree. Unlike many septuagenarians of the psychedelic era, his voice is still lustrous, as mellow and warm as oak-aged single malt whiskey. He and League recently co-wrote Lighthouse (2016), an acoustic album that, through a practically supersonic creative burst, they were able to complete in only 12 days.

Also performing, both onstage and in the sand, will be conga drummer Pedrito Martínez. If Crosby still looks more or less like the hippy he once was, Cuban-born Martinez looks like a rapper, is built like an Olympian, and plays like a possessed Santero priest. His hands move like lightening on his four-conga set and his broad, body builder shoulders back them up so that his playing appear completely effortless

Sitting in with many of the bands throughout the weekend will be Obama’s first lady of jazz, Esperanza Spalding. The former president chose the brilliant, beautiful, biracial Spalding to be his one guest musician during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies in Stockholm. The multiple GRAMMY winner vocalist and bass player will also do her own sets and is rumored to have a “surprise” in store for festival audiences.

With such an illustrious lineup, organizers are taking extra precautions to ensure these virtuoso musicians sound their best: “The North Beach Bandshell has a great sound system,” says Lehr, “but we are flying in the sound engineers so that we can guarantee that we’ll have great acoustics.” From the workshops to the after parties to the festival, every aspect of the event is curated. They even were able to convince James Beard Foundation honoree Michelle Bernstein to do all of the food.

“We want this be the unfestival festival,” explains Lehr. “Not crammed with people, not festival food, just great music and a great atmosphere. We hope that it will become a part of the social and cultural fabric of Miami Beach for many years to come.”

GroundUP Music Festival, Friday 1:00-11:00 p.m., Saturday 11:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m. and Sunday 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m., North Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave.; tickets $85; groundupmusicfestival.com.

 


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