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..
Globalization has produced many stories —not all inspiring. But having a Pakistani ensemble become a worldwide sensation by playing Paul Desmond’s immortal “Take Five,” which pianist Dave Brubeck turned into a hit nearly 50 years ago, has to be one of the most delightful and improbable.
The 10-piece Sachal Ensemble, a group from Lahore, Pakistan, is appearing at the Olympia Theater in downtown Miami on Saturday, opening MDC Live’s 2017-2018 season under the banner “Ojala/ Inshallah: Wishes from the Muslim World.”
The ensemble became an unlikely global sensation when the video of their performance of “Take Five,” a peculiar, swinging blend of South Asian classical music and jazz, got a million hits on YouTube. Brubeck got to hear it before his passing, in 2012, and wrote to producer Izzat Majeed: “This is the most interesting and different recording of ‘Take Five’ that I’ve ever heard. … Listening to this exotic version brings back wonderful memories of Pakistan where my Quartet played in 1958. East is East, and West is West, but through music the twain meet. Congratulations!”
The album that followed it, Sachal Jazz: Interpretations of Jazz Standards & Bossa Nova, became a best seller. That led to world tours, appearances at jazz festivals and a celebrated performance with Wynton Marsalis at Lincoln Center in 2013, captured in Song of Lahore, a documentary filmby two-time Academy Award-winning director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Andy Schocken.
Sachal Studios Orchestra, as they are known at home, combines standard piano, guitar, bass, drums, withtraditional Pakistani instruments such as tabla, dholak (a two-headed hand drum) and sarangi, a bowed string instrument. And the repertoire mixes jazz (Brubeck, Pat Metheny) Western pop and rock (R.E.M., The Beatles) and Pakistani music, including traditional Sufi music, ragas and film songs.
“Izzat picked this music, which is familiar to global ears, because he wanted to popularize the genre, both in Pakistan and in the West,” explains Nur Fatima, the CEO of Sachal Studios. “The idea was that when the West hears the popular tunes they can relate to the songs but the sound, the instruments are different, and when the East hears it the tunes are somewhat familiar but they can connect with the sound, the instrumentation.”
An Oxford-educated economist, Majeed was in the 1980s an advisor to Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Petroleum & Mineral Resources and a hedge fund manager. He was born in Lahore, once a cosmopolitan cultural hub in South Asia and the center of Pakistan’s prolific film industry. His father was a music lover and composer, and Majeed grew up surrounded by music. He heard jazz for the first time when he was eight. At the time, the State Department was sponsoring Jazz Diplomacy tours by musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Brubeck. His father took him to Brubeck’s performance in Lahore in 1958 and that music marked his life.
“I have never heard anything like it,” said Majeed, speaking from his home in Lahore. “I just fell in love with jazz. We had a few jazz records at home and it was all so different.”He recalled being 13 and going to the American library and getting “a lot of jazz music there.”
But the Lahore of Majeed’s childhood changed dramatically under the dictatorship of General Muhhamad Zia-ul-Haq -- from July 1977 until his death, in 1988. Zia’s authoritarian Islamization of Pakistan, set forth by a mix of religious edicts and regulations, decimated the film industry and, with it, the source of employment for a community of musicians, singers, composers and arrangers.
“They decided to ban films, which they deemed vulgar because there was a lot of dancing in them,” recalled Fatima. “They said that this was un-Islamic, which is not correct, actually. So from 200 films a year, suddenly they were making only 10 films a year -- and when that happened, hundreds of studio musicians lost their work. They had nothing to do. So they had to take odd jobs — driving a rickshaw, running a shop or turning into a security guard. I mean, can you imagine a great violinist working as a security guard? Ridiculous.”
In 2003, Majeed founded Sachal Studios, named after the 18th Century Sufi poet Saeein Sachal Sarmast, and with the help of the late composer and violinist, Riaz Hussain, reunited many of the great musicians from the glory days of the studios. By then, Pakistan’s music had gone electric and pop, but Majeed began recording classical Pakistani music “with real instruments,” notes Fatima. “The way he'd known it all his life, which is very much part of our culture.”
“They used to ask Izzat, ‘What are you going to do with this music?,’” recalls Fatima, who is also Majeed’s wife. “And he would say ‘Look, let’s just make music. All I want to do is preserve the heritage and I’m sure there will be a way.”
The way turned out to be bringing together his love of jazz and classical Pakistani music.
“As they worked, Majeed realized that the structure of the rags (ragas) in Pakistani music was very similar to the structure of jazz: following a basic tune, the person on the tabla would take off to do his own thing and then cycle back to the main theme again, and then the flute would go … it was exactly what happened in jazz,” says Fatima. “But they kept saying that this genre is too new. They told him ‘The Pakistanis will reject it and it will be rejected globally as well.’ But then, ‘Take Five’ happened.”
The Sachal Ensemble Song of Lahore, Sat. at 8:00 p.m., Olympia Theater, 174 E. Flagler St., Miami; tickets $55, $38, $2-$55; www.olympiatheater.org; http://mdclivearts.org/shows/sachal-ensemble
Hay pocos artistas que han tenido el impacto en sus disciplinas como el guitarrista Paco De Lucía tuvo en flamenco. En este género, hay un antes y después de De Lucía. Expandió el vocabul..
Dance NOW! Miami, la Florida Dance Education Organization (FDEO), Miami Dance Futures y la New World School of the Arts (NWSA) colaboraron el fin de semana pasado para presentar la Daniel Lew..
Esta es una gran noticia para el público amante del ballet en Miami. Tras un paréntesis de diez años en los que solo nos visitó de manera esporádica, la Primera Bailarina mexicana Katia Carra..
Solo hay que aplicar el concepto “seis grados de separación” a uno de los artistas que se han presentado en las Galas de Estrellas del Festival Internacional de Ballet de Miami (IBFM por sus ..
El debut de Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami (DDTM) en noviembre del año pasado fué un acontecimiento artístico y un descubrimiento sumamente agradable. Una sola función en el Miami-Dade Cou..
El festival “Out in the Tropics”, patrocinado por Fundarte en conjunto con el Centro Cultural Español y el Miami Book Fair International, normalmente trae artistas del mundo LGBTQ e hispanoha..
La Gala anual de Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami (CCBM) es un evento que esperan con ansiedad los aficionados al ballet en Miami y, sobre todo, los admiradores del estilo cubano. Desde su deb..
El 11 y 12 de mayo próximo tendrá lugar en el Miami -Dade County Auditorium el estreno en Estados Unidos de Scrutiny: The World Gone Astray(en español,Escrutinio: El mundo se ha ido a la deri..
Para el pianista y compositor cubano Omar Sosa la noción de una cultura global, sin fronteras, no es un concepto abstracto sino un tema personal. En su música, elementos de hip hop y rumba, ..