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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..

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..

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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