Just a year ago, the South Florida theater community was reeling from the sudden closing of several seemingly healthy companies. But, what a difference 12 months can make as the region’s professional companies continue to mount outstanding productions and pack in the audiences, especially in Palm Beach County.
On the north end of the region, the Maltz Jupiter Theatre continues to set the standard with rich productions and plenty of Equity talent from up north. Artistic Director Andrew Kato’s company, still basking in the luxurious expansion of its Jupiter digs, offers the long-running musical, A Chorus Line (Jan. 14 – Feb. 2); the Tony-nominated play, Other Desert Cities (Feb. 16 – March 2); and closes the season with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic, The King and I (March 18 – April 6). For tickets, go to JupiterTheater.org.
Palm Beach Dramaworks, 201 Clematis St. in West Palm Beach, specializes in thought-provoking, traditional plays, including Harold Pinter’s Old Times (Jan. 31 – March 2), Horton Foote’s Dividing the Estate (March 28 – April 27) and Karoline Leach’s Tryst (May 16 – June 8). This company is always in the running when it comes to the regional Carbonell Awards. For tickets, go to PalmBeachDramaworks.org.
The Wick Theatre and Costume Museum, 7901 N. Federal Hwy. in Boca Raton, is a welcome addition to the South Florida theater community, making its home in the former Caldwell Theatre. Specializing in big, traditional musicals, The Wick’s season continues with the tap dance spectacular, 42nd Street (Jan. 9 – Feb. 9); The Full Monty (Feb. 20 – March 23), a musical about out of work steel workers who take it all off to raise money; Steel Magnolias (April 3 – May 4), the poignant comedy about a group of Southern friends; and concluding with the Fats Waller review, Ain’t Misbehavin’ (May 15 – June 15). For tickets, go to TheWick.org.
For the first time, Slow Burn Theatre at West Boca High School (and now also the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center) is going to be a serious contender at the Carbonells with their expanded, qualifying performance schedule. This company has been a favorite with the critics for their imaginative productions of quirky, underperformed musicals. This season is no exception: Parade (Jan 24 – Feb. 4), a tale of racism in the South; Chess (March 21 – April 5), from the composers of Mamma Mia!; and High Fidelity (June 20 – 29), the 2000 musical about a Brooklyn record shop owner. For tickets, go to SlowBurnTheatre.org and AventuraCenter.org.
Two smaller companies are calling the Willow Theatre at Boca Raton’s Sugar Sand Park, 300 S. Military Tr., home: Boca Raton Theatre Guild will present Pippin (Jan. 24 – Feb. 9), David Mamet’s The Anarchist (Feb. 28 – March 23) and Everyday Rapture (April 25 – May 11, May 23 – 25), while The Women’s Theatre Project, which specializes in works by women playwrights and primarily starring women, mounts productions of A Song for Coretta (Jan. 18-19) and Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins (Feb. 28 – March 16). For tickets, go to BRTG.org and WomensTheatreProject.com.
In Broward County, Broward Stage Door has a full schedule at its two theater Coral Springs location (as well as the Byron Carlyle in North Miami Beach), including 9 to 5: The Musical (through Jan. 19); Crimes of the Heart (Jan. 17 – Feb. 23); Wiesenthal (Jan. 22 – March 16); The God of Isaac (March 14 – April 20); Over the River and Through the Woods (April 4 – May 11); and Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah (May 30 – June 6). At the Byron Carlyle, see the comedy, My Son, the Waiter - A Jewish Tragedy (Feb. 7 – March 2). For tickets, go to StageDoorTheatre.com.
Island City Stage, resident at Fort Lauderdale’s Empire Stage, 1140 N. Flagler St., is coming off a triumphant, critically acclaimed production of Dan Clancy’s The Timekeepers and continues to serve the area’s LGBT community with Jonathan Tolin’s Secrets of the Trade (Jan. 9 – Feb. 9), the story of an aspiring young actor who finally meets his idol. Tony nominee Michael Leeds directs Josh Mesnick’s Have I Got a Girl for You (March 27 – April 27) and Andy Rogow directs the regional premiere of Alexi Kaye Campbell’s The Pride (May 8 – June 9). For tickets, go to IslandCityStage.org.
Kim Ehly’s Kutumba Theatre Project premieres Wendy Hammond’s Julie Johnson (Jan. 16 – Feb. 9) at Galleria Studio Theatre in the Galleria Mall, Fort Lauderdale. This adults-only play explores Julie’s feelings for her friend, Claire, after she kicks her husband out. It’s an inspiring story of courage and love. For tickets, go to BrownPaperTickets.com/event/511855.
Zoetic Stage, in residence at Miami’s Arsht Center, continues to present thought-provoking theater and, with two award-winning playwrights on the team, some of the most promising new works. Zoetic tackles its first musical, Stephen Sondheim’s challenging review, Assassins (Jan. 30 – Feb. 23), a true milestone for the resourceful company. Co-founder Michael McKeever’s new satirical play, Clark Gable Slept Here (March 20 – April 6), makes its world premiere at the Carnival Studio Theatre, and Amy Herzog’s The Great God Pan (May 22 – June 8) gets its regional premiere to close out the season. For tickets go to ZoeticStage.com.
Big musicals are the bread and butter for Artistic Director David Arisco’s Actors Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables. End of the Rainbow (Jan. 15 – Feb. 9), the hit Broadway show about Judy Garland’s final comeback attempt, kicks off 2014. Spamalot (March 5 – 30), the musical comedy lovingly ripped off from the film classic, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, follows and the season is concluded with Mark St. Germain’s play, Scott and Hem in the Garden of Allah (May 14 – June 8), imagining the 1937 reunion of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway at a famous Hollywood apartment complex. For tickets, go to ActorsPlayhouse.org.
Joseph Adler, the genius behind GableStage in the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave. in Coral Gables, always snags the hottest shows off Broadway first. In the case of Miami native Alvin Tarell McCraney’s hot adaptation of Shakespeare’s Antony & Cleopatra (Jan. 10 – Feb. 9), he beat Broadway to the punch on the show, a co-production of the Royal Shakespeare Company and New York’s Public Theatre. Catch this one at Miami Beach’s Colony Theatre. GableStage returns to the Biltmore for The Mountain Top (March 15 – April 10) and the highly anticipated comedy, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (May 17 – June 15) by Christopher Durang. For tickets, go to GableStage.org.
Best of Broadway
Photo: Sister Act, Credit: Joan Marcus
With three world class performing arts centers and several smaller regional venues within 75 miles, South Florida regularly attracts the hottest Broadway touring productions. This season is no exception:
The Tony Award-winning best musical of 2012, Once, comes to Miami’s Arsht Center (Feb. 4-9), under the auspices of Broadway Across America. Featuring an impressive ensemble of actor/musicians who play their own instruments onstage, Once tells the enchanting tale of a Dublin street musician who's about to give up on his dream when a beautiful young woman takes a sudden interest in his haunting love songs.
The Miami season continues with War Horse (March 4 – 9), the Tony Award-winning best play and a profound theatrical experience featuring uncanny, life-size horse puppets crafted by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company.
For tickets, go to ArshtCenter.org.
Broadway Across America also presents touring productions at Fort Lauderdale’s Broward Center. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s reimagined stage production of the classic film, The Wizard of Oz, will have audiences clicking their heels together through Jan. 19.
Memphis, another Best Musical winner, then brings its touching story of racism and acceptance during the early days of rock ‘n roll and the civil rights movement, Feb. 25 – March 9.
Direct from Broadway, the smash-hit musical American Idiot (March 25 – April 6) tells the story of three lifelong friends, forced to choose between their dreams and the safety of suburbia. Based on Green Day’s Grammy Award-winning multi-platinum album, this show will have audiences rocking.
The ‘90s film, Ghost, gets a theatrical treatment in the final show of the season at the Broward Center. Ghost The Musical(April 29 – May 11) delivers a visual experience unlike anything you’ve seen before, along with an original pop score from Grammy Award-winners Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard.
For tickets, go to BrowardCenter.org.
The Kravis Center in West Palm Beach is offering six shows this winter, beginning with the 2012 Tony Award-winning revival, The Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess, an updated production of the classic American opera, through Jan. 12.
War Horse, the moving play about a boy’s search for his lost horse in the midst of the battlefields of France during World War I, also makes a stop at the Kravis Center (Feb. 12 – 16), followed by the soulful stage adaptation of Sister Act (March 4 – 9).
The latest Broadway revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s biographical musical about Argentinian first lady Eva Peron, Evita, comes to West Palm Beach (April 8 – 13), and to close out the season, Million Dollar Quartet (April 29 – May 4) imagines what might have happened during a chance meeting between four early rock ‘n roll legends.
For tickets, go to Kravis.org.
Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez may be in her second year at Miami City Ballet (MCB), but this is the first season she has programmed and the remaining performances of the 2013-14 season promise an intriguing mix of Balanchine standards — the company’s bread and butter — and several daring company premieres.
Program II (Jan. 10-12, Arsht Center, Miami; Jan. 24-26, Broward Center, Fort Lauderdale; Jan. 31 – Feb. 2, Kravis Center, West Palm Beach) does just that, opening with Balanchine’s signature work, Concerto Barocco set to music by Bach, paired with the company premiere of Nacho Duato’s Jardi Tancat, a profound ballet danced to Catalan folk song. Sergei Ratmansky’s Symphonic Dances, which MCB commissioned and premiered three years ago rounds out the program, along with the mainstage premiere of Chutes and Ladders from choreographer Justin Peck and set to music by Benjamin Britten.
Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story Suite, a theatrical ballet based on his Tony Award-winning choreography for the 1960 Broward musical is the centerpiece of Program III (Feb. 14-16, Arsht Center, Miami; Feb. 21-13, Broward Center, Fort Lauderdale; Feb. 28-March 2, Kravis Center, West Palm Beach) and definitely one of the most anticipated offerings of the season. West Side Story Suite is paired with Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, a classical dance choreographed by Balanchine to a lost movement from Swan Lake, and Episodes, Balanchine’s interpretation of the atonal serial music of Anton Webern.
MCB closes out the season with Program IV: Don Quixote (March 21-24, Broward Center, Fort Lauderdale; March 28-31, Kravis Center, West Palm Beach; April 11-13, Arsht Center, Miami). This full length production, set to music by Minkus, features bold toreadors and sensuous gypsies.
For tickets and show times, go to MiamiCityBallet.org.
Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida, led by Artistic Director Vladimir Issaev, brings back Dr. Ouch!, a family ballet in March (March 8-9, Aventura Arts and Cultural Center, Aventura; March 15-16, Broward Center, Fort Lauderdale). Doctor Ouch! is based on the books by Russian poet Kornei Chukovsky, and tells the story of a doctor who cures animals. When he’s called to the wilds of Africa to help ill monkeys, he encounters tropical birds, amazing animals and some very mischievous pirates.
The company wraps up its season with the Spring Gala (May 3, Aventura Arts and Cultural Center, Aventura; May 4, Broward Center, Fort Lauderdale), a showcase of the individual dancers’ talents through classical and neoclassical ballets, created by Isaaev and guest choreographers.
For tickets and show times, go to ArtsBalletTheatre.org.
One of the most revered choreographers in the world, Martha Graham’s influence on modern dance has been compared to Picasso’s influence on art, Stravinsky’s on music, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s on architecture. The Martha Graham Dance Company returns to West Palm Beach’s Kravis Center on Tuesday, Jan. 14. The program will include a mix of classic Graham works and new commissions, including Nacho Duato’s Rust, as well as Lamentation Variations, a series of vignettes inspired by Graham’s iconic 1930s solo piece, but interpreted by three of today’s most noteworthy choreographers: Doug Varone, Aszure Barton and Lar Lubovitch.
For tickets, go to Kravis.org.
Photo Credit: Martha Graham Dance Company
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, another groundbreaking company, returns to the Arsht Center in Miami Feb. 20-23 as part of a 24-city United States tour. In his third season as Artistic Director, Miami native Robert Battle continues to expand the company’s diverse repertory, including celebrated dance storyteller Ronald K. Brown’s uplifting Four Corners, multi award-winning British choreographer Wayne McGregor’s Chroma, and modern dance innovator Bill T. Jones’ joyful tour-de-force D-Man in the Waters. Alvin Ailey’s Revelations, an American masterpiece acclaimed as a must-see for everyone, will be the stirring finale for all five performances. For tickets and show times, go to ArshtCenter.org.
Concerts and Comedy
Photo: Dixie Longate Courtesy Kravis Center
The NBA champion Miami Heat are the biggest draw at Miami’s American Airlines Arena, but, in between games, there are several hot tickets, including the Julio Iglesias (Feb. 22), Justin Timberlake (March 5) and Miley Cyrus (March 22). For tickets, go to AAArena.com.
The BB&T Center in Sunrise is going to be busy with a packed schedule of concerts, including Billy Joel (Jan. 7 & 11), Barry Manilow (Jan. 17), ventriloquist Jeff Dunham (Jan. 25), Justin Timberlake (March 4), Paul Simon and Sting (March 15), Lady Gaga (May 4) and Cher (May 17). Tickets are long gone for the top acts, but miracles have been known to happen. For tickets, go to TheBBTCenter.com.
K.C. and the Sunshine Band (Jan. 24) is the first hot ticket at Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino and Resort in Hollywood. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld appears Jan. 31 – Feb. 1 at the popular venue and later this spring, guitarist Carlos Santana performs May 2. For tickets, go to HardRockLiveHollywoodFL.com.
It’s hard to categorize Dixie’s Tupperware Party, but we’ll go with “comedy shopping event.” Dixie Longate, the fast-talking Tupperware Lady, packed up her catalogues, left her children in an Alabama trailer park and took Off-Broadwayby storm. Now, she’s back in South Florida at West Palm Beach’s Kravis Center (Jan. 28 – Feb. 1), throwing good ol’ fashioned Tupperware parties filled with outrageously funny tales, giveaways, audience participation and the most fabulous assortment of Tupperware ever sold on a theater stage. For tickets, go to Kravis.org.
The Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater welcomes the Long Island Medium herself, Theresa Caputo, on Feb. 22, followed by the latest teen YouTube singing sensation, Austin Mahone, Feb. 24. Tickets are available at FillmoreMB.com.
The Kravis Center in West Palm Beach presents the Indigo Girls (Jan. 16) in concert and for more mature music lovers, Engelbert Humperdinck (Jan. 17) and Johnny Mathis (Jan. 27). Two-time Grammy winner Kenny Loggins takes the stage in Dreyfoos Concert Hall on Feb. 6, along with late night talk show host Jay Leno on Feb. 8. For tickets, go to Kravis.org.
Television and Movies
Photo credit: Looking Courtesy of HBO
Anticipation mounts for the Jan. 19 premier of HBO’s new gay-themed dramedy, Looking, starring cutey Jonathan Groff. Looking has been described as a male version of Sex and the City set in San Francisco. We’ll be watching. Fans will also be pleased to learn the third season of Girls is set to debut Jan. 12 and Game of Thrones, a favorite with the fantasy fetishists, has been filmed and is expected to air this summer.
With AMC’s Mad Men set to conclude this summer and Walking Dead on an endless binge of human brains and Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise sagging faster than middle-aged boobs, TNT may be the cable network to watch in 2014. Watch for period thrillers Mob City and Public Morals, as well as the apocalyptic The Last Ship starring Eric Dane (Chicago Hope’s Dr. McSteamy) to start building buzz this winter.
On the silver screen, look for lots of handsome leading men: George Clooney stars in World War II caper, The Monument Men (Feb. 7); Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law, Edward Norton and a seeming cast of hundreds star in the quirky Wes Anderson comedy, The Grand Budapest Hotel (March 7) and not one is the lead; Russell Crowe takes on a role of Biblical proportions in Noah (March 28); and hunky Chris Evans is back to save the world in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4).
Classical Music and Jazz
Photo Credit: Youth Pride Band of South Florida
The Boca Raton Symphonia is offering audiences a unique experience this winter: four programs, each led by a guest conductor. Alexander Platt takes the podium for a program of music by Rossini, Shostakovich and Schubert on Jan. 12; Grant Cooper has chosen works by Ravel, Viotti and Beethoven on Feb. 9; James Judd conducts works by Barber, Haydn and Beethoven on March 16; and Gerard Schwarz leads an all-Mozart concert on April 6. The Symphonia performs at the Eissey Campus Theatre of Palm Beach State College. For tickets, go to BocaSymphonia.org.
The South Florida Symphony, based in Fort Lauderdale and led by Maestra Sebrina Maria Alfonso, strives to make its performances accessible across the entire region, offering each program at venues in Key West, Aventura, Fort Lauderdale and Delray Beach.
Masterworks Concert II: Doublespeak and Hidden Meaning (Jan. 30 – Feb. 3) showcases the symbolism in Liszt’s Symphonic Poem No. 10, Hamlet; Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3, featuring Christopher Taylor; and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10, believed to be a posthumous musical portrait of Soviet dictator Stalin.
The uplifting power of music is the theme of Masterworks Concert III: Summons to Life (March 27-31). This program includes Mozart’s Symphony No. 35, Haffner, and contemporary composer Ellen Taafe Zwilich’s Shadows for Piano and Orchestra, performed by pianist Jeffrey Biegel. Schumann’s Symphony No. 1, Spring, concludes the concert.
For tickets and more information, go to SouthFloridaSymphony.org.
Symphony of the Americas, Broward County’s resident professional orchestra, continues its 26th season on Feb. 11 at 8:15 p.m. at the Broward Center’s Amaturo Theatre with Songs for a Desert Island, including Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto no. 2 featuring Ciro Fodore and Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto performed by Iris van Eck.
The symphony welcomes Dominican-born violinist Aisha Syed to the Amaturo Theatre stage on March 11 at 8:15 p.m. in a program titled, Classical Passion. Syed, the 2009 Casandra Award Winner for international classical artist of the year, will tackle Beethoven’s lone violin concerto. Classical Favorite and the Best of Broadway, a traditional orchestral pops concert, closes out the Symphony of the Americas season on April 8 at 8:15 p.m., again at the Broward Center.
For tickets, go to SymphonyOfTheAmericas.org.
Just like the snowbirds who flock to Florida’s sunny shores during the winter, orchestras from up north love the opportunity to perform here, too. The regional performing arts centers will host several concerts by internationally-acclaimed symphonies including the Cleveland Orchestra, in residence at Miami’s Arsht Center; and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra (Jan. 19), Haifa Symphony Orchestra of Israel (Jan. 28-29) and Detroit Symphony Orchestra (Feb. 25) at West Palm Beach’s Kravis Center. For tickets, go to ArshtCenter.org and Kravis.org.
The Gold Coast Jazz Society is heating up cool South Florida this winter with a season of standards. The Freddy Cole Quartet takes the stage at the Broward Center’s Amaturo Theatre on Feb. 12 at 7:45 p.m. The brother of Nat King Cole, Freddy has been thrilling audiences and recording for more than 60 years. On March 14, jazz cornetist (and host of Riverwalk Jazz on public radio) Jim Cullum and his band are featured at the Amaturo Theatre in a program of big band favorites. For tickets, go to GoldCoastJazz.org.
On Feb. 16, LGBT and allied high school musicians from across the region will come together to perform for the third year as the Youth Pride Band of South Florida, a hugely successful outreach program of the South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble. The Youth Pride Band has received national acclaim as a means to use music to promote understanding and combat bullying. This auditioned honor band will perform a program titled, Let’s Dance, under the direction of Robert Sheldon. The young musicians will also perform with the adult Pride Wind Ensemble. This concert always sells out, so reserve your tickets early at PrideWindEnsemble.org.
South Florida audiences know playwright Matthew Lombardo’s work: In recent years, Valerie Harper starred in his Broadway bound play Looped, which returned last season to Fort Lauderdale with Stefanie Powers in the leading role as Tallulah Bankhead. Two years ago, Kathleen Turner starred in his recovery play, High. This season, Lombardo has teamed up with the Broward Center to launch WinterStage, a new series of cabaret style performances at the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale.
Megan Mullally (Will & Grace) opens the series, which also features pianist and Sirius XM personality Seth Rudetsky, on Jan. 16. Smash fans will rejoice as the TV show’s blonde bombshell, Megan Hilty, takes the stage on Feb. 20. To close out the series, Broadway legend Patti LuPone performs her favorite songs on March 13. For tickets, go to ParkerPlayhouse.org.
One of South Florida’s best kept secrets is the Duncan Theatre on the campus of Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth. The theatre offers a wide range of musical, theater and dance offerings, including jazz crooner Kurt Elling (Jan. 25), Jeanne Robertson (Feb. 7) and Celtic ensemble Women of Ireland (Feb. 24), but the act that really caught our eye was NBC’s America’s Got Talent finalist William Close and the Earth Harp Collective (March 22). Close wowed television viewers and the live experience promises to astound. For tickets, go to DuncanTheatre.org.