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..
The daughter of Bernardo García, an influential drummer in Cuban music, charter member of the fabled Afro-Cuban jazz rock group Irakere and trumpeter Arturo Sandoval’s band, Yissy García was supposed to be a dancer, a ballerina. Her brother was the designated heir in the family. “They would take me to dance lessons and I’d go crying, all the way. I didn’t want to go. They would give the sticks to my brother,” recalls García, 27, with a sly smile at a lunch at Miami Light Project in Wynwood.
“Now my brother is a dancer, a choreographer, and me ….” As laughter erupted in the room, she didn’t need to finish the sentence. She is now a professional drummer, leading her own group, BandaAncha, a fascinating ensemble of Afro-Cuban jazz-funk that includes a deejay contributing an array of sounds and effects.
“Since I was in my mom’s belly I knew I was going to be a percussionist,” she says. “I would be going around the house beating my little drums and, at first, my parents thought it was just child’s play. But later they realized it was for real.”
Horacio “El Negro” Hernández, arguably the premier Cuban drummer of his generation, was at the lunch (he’s known García since she was a child and they are now planning a project together) and called her “the leading figure in modern Cuban drumming.”
García studied classic percussion since age 10 and at 15 she started playing the drum kit. She won a Special Award at Fiesta del Tambor competition (Drum Party, 2005), a Special Mention for Performance at the Festival Internacional de Jóvenes Jazzistas JOJAZZ (International Festival of Young Jazz Musicians, 2006), and was the runner up at the JOJAZZ competition in 2010.
She organized Yissy and BandAncha in 2012, and the group is completing its first album and on its first tour of the United States, coming to Miami this weekend thanks to presenters FUNDarte and Miami Light Project.
While there is a tradition of female groups in Cuban popular music, getting accepted as a female drummer in male-only groups must’ve taken some doing. How was that?
Actually, I liked the process of establishing myself in the world of professional musicians in Cuba a lot. Years ago I was much thinner, much smaller, and being a woman, many groups, especially those comprised just by men, didn’t consider me at all. I had friends who knew bands looking for drummers and when they recommended me, they were told things like ‘Yeah, but she’s a girl, I dunno.’ But that actually strengthen me. I always tell the story that in those days I kept a list of all those groups that said ‘no.’ and one by one I ended up crossing them off the list because I ended up playing with them.
How did you come up with the idea of mixing Afro-Cuban tradition, jazz, and turntables?
The idea comes from a video I saw of Herbie Hancock from a concert in 2002 with a deejay, and Terri Lyne Carrington. It really had a impact on me. When I saw that, I decided that that’s what I wanted to do. I loved to see the people at the concert dancing. That was terrific and that’s how the idea of having a deejay and using electronic sounds came about, but mixing it with our roots music: rumba, Afro-Cuban grooves.
As far as female drummers, there is by now a long list in pop and rock, but in jazz there are few notable names. Who were your influences?
When I started playing drums, which was because of the encouragement of Jorge Aragón, who is the keyboardist in my band and has been a jazz fan since he was a kid, I started listening to Dave Weckl, Vinnie Colaiuta, Dennis Chambers, Brian Blades. It’s funny, because as we learn we often start at the end and then we go back to the beginning, but that was the style we were playing at school at the time so those were the drummers I was listening to. It was later that they organized a jazz band [at the school] and I went back and started listening to guys like Buddy Rich, Elvin Jones, and Tony Williams. I’m always checking new drummers, especially the gospel drummers, then I make my own mix.
Jazz was once dance music and has sometimes suffered from being presented in very formal concert settings. You seem to want people to listen -- but also dance.
The reason I put this band, this fusion, together is because I love to see people dancing, enjoying themselves and ignoring that chip that says that jazz is not for dancing.
Yissy y BandAncha, part of the Global Cuba Fest, perform March, Friday 13 and Saturday 14 at 8:00 p.m.; at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse, 404 N.W. 26th St., Miami. $50 VIP, General Admission $10-$25; www.miamilightproject.com; 305-576-4350.
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