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“Carousel,” which contains some of the most gorgeous and memorable songs ever written for a musical, may be a musical you’ve never seen, though it has been around since 1945. The follow-up to “Oklahoma!,” Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s hugely successful debut as a composer-lyricist team, “Carousel” requires a huge cast by today’s standards, an orchestra that can do that gl..

Before women like movie star Melissa McCarthy, Chrissy Metz of NBC’s “This Is Us” and Whitney Thore of TLC’s “My Big Fat Fabulous Life” became widely embraced personalities, Josefina Lopez wrote a play titled “Real Women Have Curves.” Lopez’s 1994 comedy, made into a 2002 movie that marked America Ferrera’s film debut, is about many things. Its subjects include the fears of undocument..

Stephen Adly Guirgis won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for drama for his darkly comic “Between Riverside and Crazy.” Two years later, as GableStage’s sizzling new production so abundantly demonstrates, the play feels completely of the moment – in part because its characters traffic in “alternative facts.” Retired New York cop Walter “Pops” Washington (Leo Finnie) refuses to settle an eight-..

Neo-Impressionist Georges Seurat was an influential visionary whose pointillist work launched a movement before his untimely death in Paris in 1891 at the age of 31. He spent two years painting his masterpiece, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” in which tiny dots of juxtaposed color viewed at the right distance transform into a host of Parisians relaxing on an island ..

Thirty-two playwrights, a half dozen directors, and around ninety plays in less than two hours. This is the South Florida One-Minute Play Festival, now in its fifth year, which runs this weekend. The festival, performed at the Deering Estate in Palmetto Bay and curated by Caitlin Wees and Dominic D’Andrea, has become a phenomenon in its own right. South Florida’s version of the festival i..

Mention the Harlem Renaissance, and those who know their history would be able to tell you a little or a lot about that vibrant period in New York’s black social and cultural life. But bring up the New York Renaissance – also known as the Renaissance Big Five or the Rens – and you’d be likely to stump anyone who isn’t steeped in basketball lore. Playwright and director Layon Gray ..

Listen up, humanity. God has a bone (or 10) to pick with us, and we’d best pay attention. I mean, if he can zap the wing off an argumentative archangel – and he can – just imagine what’s in store for us. Or simply consider the news, post-election. David Javerbaum, the Emmy Award-winning executive producer and head writer of Comedy Central’s much-missed “The Daily Show with Jon Ste..

I saw Lorca en un vestido verde, the Spanish-language version of Nilo Cruz’s play Lorca in a Green Dress eight years ago on a cramped stage in Little Havana’s Teatro Ocho, where Rolando Moreno took on the task of directing four actors who play eight roles. Even with the limitations of the production, Cruz’s inventive and lyrical script made Lorca one of my favorites from the Pulitzer Priz..

Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Aquarius (2016) is a masterful and engaging film exploring the dilemma of a singularly strong-willed, exceedingly attractive older woman who refuses to budge when power comes knocking at her door and tries to blow it off its hinges. A relative newbie to the director’s chair, Mendonça is a former film critic who layers a rich texture of skillfully developed metaphor..

The words that South Florida playwright Michael McKeever has chosen for his intense new play ‘After’ are powerful indeed. They would have to be, since his Zoetic Stage world premiere at Miami’s Arsht Center is a devastating piece about bullying, school violence and the moment when one horrific act destroys two families. But just as powerful as the words in “After” are the silences, as..

It is an awe-inspiring experience to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancers perform. They are well trained dancers, athletes and artists. Not often known is that some of the dance..

Back for an 8th season in Miami, the legendary Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater packs the house every year. With Liberty City hometown hero Robert Battle in his fifth year, we have many rea..

Awash in sunlight, around 50 women stand in a circle on the rooftop performance space of Casa Gaia in Old Havana, Cuba, as part of a belly-dance festival. Biodanza facilitator Karen Rodríguez..

Choreographer Jeanguy Saintus works primarily from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, but his creative work has global appeal. He is a pioneering artist who blends Haiti’s traditional music and dance alo..

New life for a legacy ballet—a veritable choreographer-magnet—created a great buzz about Miami City Ballet’s third program this season. But at the Arsht Center for the Performing ..

Who doesn’t delight in fairies? Miami City Ballet, for the success of its third program of the season, is certainly banking on one. And, instead of wielding a magic wand, she comes eager to p..

Transgendered performance artist Scott Turner Schofield is a collector of stories. Growing up in the South, the tales that were told about the gay and trans community were the ugliest kind of..

The Miami Theater Center in Miami Shores is giving experimental dancer-choreographer Lazaro Godoy the opportunity to interweave his visual arts and performance passions in ArMOUR, a multimedi..

The Aspen Santa Fe Ballet artistic director Tom Mossbrucker and executive director Jean-Philippe Malaty have thrilled audiences world wide with stimulating and exciting performances, and Miam..

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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