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8 posts from March 2013

March 30, 2013

Last chance to catch 'Broadway Unplugged'

Andy SenorIf you love the songs of Broadway delivered by actors who were meant to sing them, you'll want to catch tonight's final performance of Broadway Unplugged.  The show is a project of The District Stage Company, a group founded by artistic director Andy Señor Jr. and other Miami talents.

 Señor, who made his professional debut playing Angel in Rent, performed the role on Broadway and in London, Asia, Los Angeles and in the U.S. national tour.  Of the dream behind District Stage, he said in a statement, "I have developed such rich relationships in the Broadway community over many years, and I'm excited to create events in Miami that feature Broadway talent and turn up the heat in the South Florida theater scene."

Broadway Unplugged has two shows Saturday evening, at 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. in the intimate black box theater at the South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center, 10950 SW 211th St., Cutler Bay.

On the bill with Señor, who will sing Sarah from The Civil War, are Rebecca Naomi Jones (American Idiot and Passing Strange), Adam Chanler-Berat (Peter and the Starcatcher and Next to Normal), Matt Caplan (Rent, South Pacific and Spider-Man), Janet Dacal (In the Heights and Wonderland) and singer-songwriter Matt Nakoa.  Jared Stein is musical director of the rich, hot program.

Rebecca Naomi JonesSome of the  other numbers you'll hear tonight if you make the trek to Cutler Bay: Jones singing Murder Ballad from the Off-Broadway show of the same title; Chanler-Berat singing Smash; Dacal, who did several performances as Nina in the current Actors' Playhouse production of In the Heights when Sarah Amengual was out sick, singing songs from that show; Caplan performing This Nearly Was Mine from South Pacific; Caplan and Nakoa singing original songs.  And the cast will perform group numbers from Rent, Spring Awakening and American Idiot.

Tickets are $30, and you can get them by calling 786-573-5300 or visiting the SMDCAC web site.

March 29, 2013

Sánchez to receive Abbott Award at Carbonells

05-MarioSanchez-7711Each year at the Carbonell Awards, someone is honored for his or her long-term, significant contributions to the arts in South Florida.  At the 37th annual Carbonell ceremony on Monday, the evening's highest honor -- the George Abbott Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts -- will be presented to Mario Ernesto Sánchez.

The founder of Miami's Teatro Avante came to the United States from Cuba on a Pedro Pan flight when he was 15.  After launching his Spanish-language company in 1979, Sánchez took on a large-scale annual challenge in 1985:  the International Hispanic Theatre Festival.  In July, he'll oversee the 28th edition of the festival at in the Carnival Studio Theater at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and Teatro Prometeo.

Sánchez, who pays most of his bills with a busy career as a film and TV actor, has been hugely influential in elevating Spanish-language theater in South Florida.  The festival showcases adventurous, important productions from the Spanish-speaking world and beyond, and Teatro Avante has represented Miami at festivals around the world.   Sánchez has emphasized inclusion by presenting his shows with English supertitles and sometimes choosing productions that are more movement-driven than language-based.

Serious Spanish-language theater in South Florida is on the rise -- and Sánchez's festival, company and unwavering passion for his art form have plenty to do with that.

CarbonellAlso being honored during the Carbonell ceremony, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale, is Actors' Equity Association.  In celebration of its 100th anniversary, the actors' union will receive the Ruth Foreman Award, named for the late South Florida theater pioneer.

A trio of students from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties will receive $1,000 Carbonell scholarships to pursue education in theater or journalism.  This year's honorees are Sammi-Jack Martincak of the New World School of the Arts, Christian Frost of J.P. Taravella High School and Jade Zaroff of West Boca Community High School.

The Carbonell ceremony isn't just a one-after-the-other awards presentation, of course.  It's also an impressive show that highlights nominated musicals and plays from 2012.  This year's show and ceremony has been put together by two Zoetic Stage founders who just happen to be nominees themselves:  producer Michael McKeever, whose play Moscow is up for best new work and who got a scenic design nomination for his I Am My Own Wifeset; and director Stuart Meltzer, whose direction of Zoetic's I Am My Own Wife earned him a nomination.

IMG_quartet_3_1_O3593M2TUnder the musical direction of Caryl Fantel, the show will feature five performances by actors nominated for their work in musicals.  Vicki Lewis will sing Before the Parade Passes By fromthe Maltz Jupiter Theatre's Hello, Dolly!.  Former Miss America Kate Shindle will perform the title song from the Maltz's Cabaret.  Jodie Langel will sing I Miss the Mountains, one of her numbers in the Actors' Playhouse production of Next to Normal.  Matt Loehr, a double nominee for the Maltz's Hello, Dolly! and The Music Man, will sing Ya Got Troublefrom the latter.  And Wayne LeGette will perform The Stock Exchange Song from the Theatre at Arts Garage's production of Cabaret Verboten.

This year for the first time the Carbonell organization will be tweeting out the names of winners.  Follow those dramatic developments @CarbonellAwards.

Anyone can attend the show and ceremony, and there are still some tickets remaining.  They're $25 in advance, $35 at the door.  For tickets or information, call 954-462-0222 or visit the Broward Center web site.

(Photos show Mario Ernesto Sánchez, the Carbonell Award and the cast of Cabaret Verboten, with Wayne LeGette second from top.)



March 26, 2013

Lin-Manuel Miranda to check out 'Heights' at Actors' Playhouse

Creator00 heights wknd JMActors' Playhouse in Coral Gables has scored a major hit with its production of the Tony Award-winning In the Heights.  There has been offstage drama too, with an ailing Sarah Amengual replaced for several performances byJanet Dacal, the actress who created the role of beautician Carla in the Off-Broadway and Broadway productions of the show.  Dacal gives her final performance as Stanford dropout Nina (a role she also played on Broadway) at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Now comes more big news:  In the audience for the final performance of In the Heights at 2 p.m. April 7 will be the guy who dreamed up the show when he was still a college student.  Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tony Predictions NYET173who originated the role of the show's lovelorn hip-hop narrator Usnavi, is coming to Miami to watch the Actors' cast (including Nick Duckart as Usnavi) close out their successful run of a joyous show that has been compared to a Latino Fiddler on the Roof.  The actor-playwright will also be the guest of honor that evening at the theater's 25th Anniversary Gala Bash, which kicks off at 6:30 p.m. at the InterContinental Miami, 100 Chopin Plaza.  Entertainment, silent and live auctions (with celebrity auctioneer Roxanne Vargas of WTVJ-NBC6), drinks, dinner and dancing are all part of the Heights-themed evening, with tickets starting at $500 and going way, way up for tables.

There's still time, though, to catch the last few performances of In the Heights at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables.  Performances are at 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday.  Tickets are $50 Friday-Saturday, $42 for other shows (seniors get a 10 percent discount, students can get $15 rush tickets, Saturday-Sunday excluded).  Call 305-444-9293 or visit the Actors' web site for more info.

(Photos of Lin-Manuel Miranda in the Broadway production of In the Heights by Joan Marcus)


South Florida Theatre League has a racy proposition

Bed_Concept2 copyThe South Florida Theatre League wants you...to get in bed with the arts.

The umbrella organization for theaters from Miami to Jupiter has come up with a novel campaign to ratchet up awareness of the region's theatrical riches.  Bombshell Productions is building a bed on wheels that will travel from theater to theater during the annual WLRN Summer Theatre Fest June 1-Aug. 31, stopping at different theaters before Thursday performances.  Its final destination: the Coconut Grove Bed Race on Labor Day Weekend.

The League intends to do interviews with curious theater fans, asking them about what theater and the arts mean to them.  The fans can pose for photos beside the bed or, if they're adventurous, on it.  Interviews and photos will be posted on the League's web site.

CarbonellThe bed will make an early debut on Monday before the 37th annual Carbonell Awards -- or "Theater Prom," as the glammed-up theater folks call it -- outside the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.  The ceremony-show starts at 7:30 p.m., and afterwards, the bed will lead the way to the League-sponsored after party.

The full schedule of when and where the bed will appear will be released soon.  But expect it to turn up outside theaters with family-friendly fare (Slava's Snowshow at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts July 31-Aug. 25, Wind in the Willows at Sol Children's Theatre Aug. 9-25) as well as theaters with plays whose titles invite an adults-only audience (Cock at GableStage May 18-June 16, and a Mad Cat world premiere of a play about Isabella Blow Aug. 15-Sept. 1).


(Rendering of bed by Bombshell Productions; Carbonell Award statue designed by Manuel Carbonell) 


March 23, 2013

Janet Dacal steps into the 'Heights'

The show must go on, and at Actors' Playhouse, the solution when leading lady Sarah Amengual got sick was a dramatic one: fly in Broadway actress Janet Dacal to play Nina in the theater's current hit production of In the Heights.

Dacal, who appeared in The Last Five Years at Actors' this season, has a long history with the Tony Award-winning musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegria Hudes.  She originated the part of beauty shop employee Carla in the show's Off-Broadway and Broadway productions, and then moved into the role of Nina, the bright young woman who comes back from Stanford University to her vibrant northern Manhattan neighborhood with a secret.

Dacal rehearsed with the Actors' cast all day Saturday and did her first performance Saturday evening.  She'll also play Nina at 2 p.m. Sunday and 8 p.m. Wednesday.  A Florida International University grad, Dacal is working with a much-praised cast of South Florida actors and performers who have done In the Heights on Broadway and on tour.

Tickets to the show are $42 ($50 on Friday-Saturday), with 10 percent discounts for seniors and $15 student rush tickets except Saturday-Sunday.  Actors' Playhouse performs at the Miracle Theatre, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables.  For information, call 305-444-9293 or visit the theater's web site.


March 15, 2013

Kids and the Colony...and the Carbonells

IMG_1820 (2)Miami Childrens Theater has found a swanky professional venue for its theater summer camp:  the Colony Theater on Miami Beach's Lincoln Road.  The ambitious, very active MCT will hold its camp there from July 15 to Aug. 10, operating from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, but potential campers and their parents can get a preview this Sunday during an open house from 3 to 7 p.m.

Tuition for the camp is $1,500, but some full and partial scholarships are available by audition.  South Florida actress and director Christine Vega is leading the camp program for MCT, and she'll direct the production that will be the culmination of all that the students learn:  Disney's Beauty and the Beast, running Aug. 9-10.

ChristineYou don't need to wait until the summer, though, to see what MCT's young performers can do.  The company is winding up its run of Gypsy at 7 p.m. tonight and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday at the Alper JCC, 11155 SW 112th St., Miami, with tickets priced at $15.  MCT is also doing Jason Robert Brown's Songs for a New World at the Alper April 4-7, and Disney's The Little Mermaid at Pinecrest Gardens April 26-28. 

For information on the company or its camp at the Colony, call 305-274-3595 or visit the MCT web site.


The 37th annual Carbonell Awards, a.k.a. South Florida's "theater prom," are set for Monday, April 1 at 7:30 p.m. in the Amaturo Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

Nominees, a wide range of theater artists, company heads and the public are all invited, and tickets are now on sale.  Those tickets are $25 ($35 the day of the ceremony), with discounts for groups of 10 or more.

CarbonellPlaywright Michael McKeever and director Stuart Meltzer are putting together the show, which will feature performances from nominated musicals -- and much more.

The Broward Center is at 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. To order tickets, call 954-462-0222 or visit the Broward Center web site.

(Photos show an MCT performer, Christine Vega and the Carbonell Award, designed by sculptor Manuel Carbonell)


March 12, 2013

'Rising Stars' celebrates tomorrow's artists

NWSA Rising Stars_Theater_Cabaret OpeningMiami's New World School of the Arts has immeasurably enriched the theater, music, visual arts and dance communities in South Florida and around the country.  On Friday, you can experience the next wave of students poised to make an artistic impact when New World presents its annual Rising Stars Showcase at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts.

The celebration begins from 5 to 7:30 p.m. with a free visual arts exhibition in the New World Gallery at 25 NE Second St., Miami.  A pre-performance VIP reception, priced from $125-$250, happens at the Gusman Center, 174 E. Flagler St., Miami, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.  Call 305-237-3753 or email rmaldona@mdc.edu for information.

NWSA Rising Stars_Music_Luna RamosThe performance begins at 8 p.m. with a number from the Tony Award-winning musical Cabaret, directed by theater dean Patrice Bailey, and high school musical theater students will perform a segment from Wonderful Town.  Dance students will perform the Gerard Ebitz-choreographed Tuxedo Park (Excerpt) and Peter London's reconstruction of Martha Graham's 1974 Adorations.  Alfred Gershfeld will lead the New World Symphony Orchestra in an excerpt from Dvorak's Symphony No. 8in G, and Jim Gasior leads the New World Jazz Band in Duke Ellington's Second Line.

Also during the performance, painter and 2005 New World grad Michael Vasquez will receive this year's Rising Stars Alumnus Award from his former dean, Maggy Cuesta. 

Tickets to Rising Stars are $20-$50.  For information, visit the New World web site or Gusman site.

(Photo of Cabaret features Cristian Vandepas and Alexis Adler; violinist Luna Ramos is featured in the symphony photo)

March 04, 2013

Nan Barnett to head National New Play Network

Nan Barnett newNan Barnett, the theater professional whose business savvy helped grow Florida Stage from a college-based professional company to the country's largest regional theater devoted to new plays, has just been named the new executive director of the National New Play Network (NNPN).

 Barnett has spent this season as executive director of Actors Express in Atlanta, an NNPN member company celebrating its 25th anniversary season.  But she built her career as an actor and administrator alongside Florida Stage artistic director Louis Tyrrell until the acclaimed company, which was based in Manalapan for most of its 24 years, ceased operations in 2011 due to the bruising recession and a loss of support after a move to West Palm Beach.

Florida Stage was a NNPN member theater, and Barnett led the organization's board while she was managing director of the company.  Miami's New Theatre, Sarasota's Florida Studio Theatre and the Orlando Shakespeare Theater are also members, and Miami's Zoetic Stage is an associate member. 

"You don't get two dream jobs in a lifetime, but I think I might have," Barnett said Monday from her Atlanta office.  "NNPN has taken ideas that were floating around the field and tried them, moved them forward...Several of our programs are being replicated in other organizations, which is flattering."

Barnett said that among the NNPN initiatives with great potential are the New Play Exchange, a database of new works that should help plays come to the attention of more theaters, and NNPN associate memberships.

Founded in 1998, the NNPN began an innovative "rolling world premiere" program, in which several members theaters agree to produce a new play in the same season, giving the playwright more national exposure and the chance to continue developing a script as he or she sees what different actors and directors bring to the work.

Barnett, who earned her bachelor of fine arts degree from the North Carolina School of the Arts Professional Training Program, will start her new job in May. She and her actor-husband Gordon McConnell plan to keep their home in Florida, but she notes that the timing is right for a move:  Their son Hunter goes off to college in the fall.

She succeeds Jason Loewith, who is leaving NNPN to become artistic director of Maryland's Olney Theatre Center.  NNPN is based at Washington D.C.'s Woolly Mammoth Theatre.  For more information on NNPN, visit the organization's web site.