Consider the idea of land in Palestine, and conflict may be the first thing to come to mind. But for Jumana Emil Abboud, the Palestinian landscape evokes other, older, associations – with mythological creatures like water spirits and ghouls. “These stories were told way before 1948,” says the Galilee-born artist, speaking by phone from her home in Jerusalem. She suggests looking back ..
Steven Levenson’s “If I Forget” began its Off-Broadway run a year ago, closing just six weeks before the now 33-year-old playwright won the Tony Award for writing the book of the acclaimed musical “Dear Evan Hansen.” Cut to February 2018, and South Florida already has its own exquisite production of “If I Forget,” thanks to GableStage artistic director Joseph Adler. Levenson’s fun..
In a career that continues to soar two decades after his first play was produced, Michael McKeever has premiered his dramas, comedies and short plays at theaters all over South Florida. Nearly always, he’s involved in those productions as the author, sometimes as an actor, at times as a set designer. The plays get their start here, then go on to productions (sometimes multiple product..
When M. John Richard decided to leave the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in late 2008 to become president and chief executive officer of Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, he arrived in South Florida with a vision, myriad ideas and a long-term exit strategy. “I knew in 2008 that I had a 10-year run in my tank,” says Richard, 65, who plans to retire from his Arsh..
Friendships can bring seemingly unlike people together to sometime form a strong bond. Such is the case in Walter Dean Myers’ coming of age novel, Darius & Twig. According to the summary notes of the book “Two best friends, a writer and a runner, deal with bullies, family issues, social pressures, and their quest for success coming out of Harlem.” It’s a tale of endurance, perseverance, an..
Kristoffer Diaz’s searing, hilarious and all-too-resonant play “The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity” isn’t new to South Florida. The 2009 script, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, made its area debut in 2012 in a fierce and fine production at Boca Raton’s Caldwell Theatre Company just a few months before the long-running regional powerhouse folded. Now “Chad Deity” has ret..
“This is no camera, nothing cut. This is real," says Tranee Wallace, whose story is one of three live radio plays in Dan Froot and Company's "Pang!" at Miami Light Project's Light Box at the Goldman Warehouse. Hers is one of a triptych of oral histories adapted into plays of families facing adversity: A Los Angeles single mom who loses the home she and her nine children live in after..
When it comes to farces, Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off” is one of the great ones. The 1982 comedy has made it to Broadway three times, and American audiences all over the country have embraced it in countless regional productions. Actors’ Playhouse is having a go at “Noises Off” as the second show of its 30th anniversary season. The play fits like a period glove on the main stage at the..
The intricate alchemy of inspired theatrical art is on full display in Zoetic Stage’s darkly hilarious, gripping world premiere of Christopher Demos-Brown’s “Wrongful Death and Other Circus Acts.” Demos-Brown, a rising theatrical star whose play “American Son” will open on Broadway in November, has drawn on his experience as a lawyer working on wrongful death cases to create a savage exami..
My Barbarian wanted to take Miami on a boat ride. “We wanted to interact and be out in the public,” Alex Segade reveals over the phone from Los Angeles, where he just got out of rehearsal for My Barbarian’s first Miami show, coming up this Saturday at the Miami Light Project, as part of Miami-Dade College’s Museum of Art and Design’s “Living Together” performance series this season. ..
When the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater returns to town this week, Miami native son Jamar Roberts will take center stage. As one of the company’s star dancers, he has long shined as a performer. B..
He says his dance comes from his dreams. French-Algerian choreographer Hervé Koubi’s most recent work, “What the Day Owes the Night” combines Sufi rhythms with cutting edge b-boy moves, class..
A world premiere always comes with a drum roll. And, throughout the years, Miami City Ballet has brought to light its fair share of resounding new works. Still, Brian Brooks’ freshly-minted O..
Wednesday night at the Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall the South Florida Symphony Orchestra in collaboration with the Martha Graham Dance company presented “Appalachian Spring Suite” and “The R..
Cooking may be Dan Froot’s favorite thing. This is saying a lot since Froot is also a composer, a dancer, a sax-player, a play-wright, an oral-historian -- an all-around performance artist an..
With the closing of Tigertail Productions last year, Miami lost one of its preeminent artistic champions. Under the direction of founder Mary Luft, Tigertail brought an endless parade of boundary-..
Anytime would be a good time to devote a dance program to the works of Jerome Robbins, our most versatile and celebrated American-born choreographer. But, given that 2018 marks the centennial..
Due to winter storms in the Northeast impacting travel, with great regrets the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company announced the cancellation of the Saturday, Jan. 6 performance. At age..
It is fitting at this time of the year that our thoughts often turn to what connects us not what divides us. Whether we are driven by religious or secular motives, many of us are in the spiri..
Jake Shimabukuro, the Hawaiian ukulele master, performed on Saturday night, Nov. 14 at the Miami-Dade County Auditorium. Never mind the nearly torrential rains, the place was filled to capacity, or very nearly so. All these folks came out to hear the humble, four-string ukulele? A fair question considering the last time many of us encountered one may have been in some kitschy old movie. Ah, but Rolling Stone magazine calls Shimabukuro nothing less than “a musical hero.” Indeed, Jake Shimabukuro does for the ukulele what Bela Fleck does for the banjo. If not more.
Shimabukuro’s concert, presented by Tigertail Productions, went on for well over an hour. He never took a break. For most of the evening Shimabukuro was accompanied by electric bass player Nolan Verner. Sitting in the audience, one had the feeling, all too rare, that one was witnessing something extraordinary.
Shimabukuro’s virtuosity has been touted far and wide, but that may be secondary to the degree of his musical inventiveness. For instance, in his hands, a traditional Hawaiian folksong became in turns rock, swing, then bluegrass. George Harrison’s classic, “While my Guitar Gently Weeps” became blues worthy of an old timer from the Mississippi Delta. This sort of musical discovery happens again and again in nearly every song Shimabukuro took on. Whether the tune was a pop classic like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a Japanese folk song, or work from his newest album Traveler, in the hands of this ukulele virtuoso, musical compositions fell out of easy categorization to become always more.
Notes of heartbreaking poignancy could be followed by riffs reminiscent of Paul Simon or Elmer Bernstein, before becoming straight ahead rock and roll. Shimabukuro is able to find what is at the heart of a composition and then play out that heart in all the musical idioms it can speak.
At least as astonishing is the speed with which Shimabukuro can segue in the same song between musical genres. Sometimes his bridge is a single chord.
There’s still more. Shimabukuro manages to hold up a prism coaxing his ukulele into sounds that might come from bells, a violin, a harp. At times he seemed to be letting his audience hear what it would be like if he were playing through water.
Shimabukuro has a reputation for strumming with “exuberance.” Indeed, besides praising him for his musical heroism, Rolling Stone describes him as the “one of the hottest axe men of the past few years.” After Saturday night’s performance it is easy to see how comparisons with Hendrix and Clapton can be made. More than one person in the audience could be heard wondering why the ukulele didn’t just explode. Shimabukuro’s hands often moved faster than the eye could see. At one point he was strumming the fret as well as the strings. The audience was cheering, and Shimabukuro was having at least as much fun, jumping, stretching, bouncing around like a delighted kid, playing games with his bass man. “Top this,” Shimabukuro might have been saying.
But the bass man knew better than to try. What he did instead, indeed what he did throughout his time on stage, was to complement Shimabukuro, to frame his music and to hold it in warmth.
All in all, it may have been the sweetness of Shimabukuro’s playing that made the evening most remarkable. This was sweetness with not a trace of the saccharine. His rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” made one believe again in wishes, if even for a moment. Better still, at least for this reviewer, was his rendition of a Japanese folksong, a story about cherry blossoms often played on a zither. Shimabukuro’s song was wistful, soft as a sigh.
Lighting added to the evening’s sense of place and wonder. Shimabukuro is of modest stature; sometimes his shadow filled all the auditorium’s walls. More often ukulele and bass player stood on a stage lit only by what might have been candles.
For all his showmanship and virtuosity, for all his rock and roll chops, this was a musician inviting his audience in far closer than most, for an intimate, exhilarating evening.
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