Each 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.
Also 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.
Under 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.)