World Premiere Play Shines a Light on Political Intrigue, Miami Style

The last production in the ocean- side space that Florida Stage has called home for nearly 20 years is a fitting one, because it showcases what Florida Stage does best: produce provocative new work by talented playwrights.The fact that this play, When the Sun Shone Brighter, is by South Florida playwright Christopher Demos-Brown, is proof that when it comes to talent, we don’t have to look further than our own backyard.

When the Sun Shone Brighter centers on fictional Miami Mayor Joe Sanchez Fors, (Dan Domingues) a charismatic, Cuban-American Republican with a lot going for him—youth, brains, looks, a picture- perfect wife (Natasha Sherritt) and a powerful machine backing up his political aspirations. He also has a lot of secrets, because Joe is the kind of guy who could wear one of those T-shirts that say ‘I’m not gay but my boyfriend is.’ And while Joe sneaks around hotels meeting his cute boyfriend Tony (Cliff Burgess), some startling information comes to light regarding Joe’s late father’s murder, information that could ruin his position as darling of the GOP.

With When the Sun Shone Brighter, Demos-Brown has given us a glimpse into the world of political intrigue, where the truth plays second fiddle to ambition. It’s a remarkably tight play for a world premiere, with a carefully crafted structure, believable characters and a wealth of beautiful language.The one caveat is that the play is very Miami-centric, and one wonders how it will play in other areas where the Cuban- American perspective and anti-Castro feel- ings are not as strong or well-known.

Louis Tyrrell skillfully directs a strong cast. Domingues makes a camera-ready politician and pulls off Joe’s cockiness and sincerity. Burgess makes the most of the mostly thankless job of serving as Joe’s conscience, and he gets most of the funny lines. Bill Schwartz plays Joe’s dead dad Jose with a wistfulness that carries most of the play’s poetry. John Herrera, as Joe’s chief patron and political boss, is often the most compelling actor on stage, although too often he shouts his lines. He doesn’t have too, because his presence and performance are enough to keep the audience riveted.

When the Sun Shone Brighter is a strong play, and Florida Stage gives it a worthy first production. It’s a triumphant finish for Florida Stage in this space, before making their summer debut in their new home at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach.

Unreasonable Doubt

Michael McKeever meets me for lunch at Rosie’s in Wilton Manors. It’s a scorching May afternoon, but we still sit outside on the patio, amidst the restaurant’s lush landscaping and oscillating misting fans.

We meet for lunch or dinner or dessert every time McKeever opens a new play, which means we’ve done this about seven times in the last seven years, ever since his play A Town Like Irving premiered at New Theatre, and we had a late night interview over apple pie at Denny’s. McKeever is South Florida’s most prolific and well-produced playwright—his new play, Unreasonable Doubt, which made its world premiere last Friday at Actors’ Playhouse in Coral Gables, is his 19th play. But in addition to his career as a playwright, McKeever is also a successful graphic artist, set designer and actor. In fact, when Unreasonable Doubt opened at Actors’ Playhouse, McKeever wasn’t in the audience, because he was on stage at the Caldwell Theatre in Boca Raton, delivering his laugh-out-loud performance playing four characters in Distracted.

Spring Awakening

Tony-Winning Musical at Arsht Center Takes on Young Love

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” This old adage proves true for “Spring Awakening,” the Tony Award-winning musical that opens at Miami’s Arsht Center for the Performing Arts this week for a six-day run.

Based on an 1891 German play of the same title by Frank Wedekind that was banned in Germany for nearly a century due to its portrayal of taboo sexual themes (masturbation, abortion, rape, bondage, child abuse, and suicide), the musical bridges 19th century Germany and today with a contemporary alternative rock score by Duncan Sheik.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre to Perform in Miami

The dancing spirit is alive within Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, which will perform at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami this week, the finale of their 20 city tour honoring Judith Jamison’s 20th year as artistic director.

Among the dancers are several Miami natives, Amos J. Machanic, Jr., Jamar Roberts and Yusha-Marie Sorzano, who, along with the rest of the company, will perform dramatic new productions, repertory favorites and the Ailey classic, Revelations.

The engagement at the Arsht will feature a new production of Hymn, Jamison’s Emmy Award-winning homage to company founder Alvin Ailey, as well as the premiere of Dancing Spirit, Ronald K. Brown’s tribute to Jamison’s profound influence on the world of dance. Dancing Spirit echoes the title of Jamison’s autobiography and is set to music by Duke Ellington, Wynton Marsalis and War.

Peter Max

Legendary Artist to Make Two Guest Appearances in Coconut Grove

 

An impressive collection by American pop-icon, Peter Max will be available for viewing and acquisition at the Max in the Grove Gallery in Coconut Grove beginning May 8 and extending through May 16. Fans of Max’s work will have the opportunity to meet Peter Max himself during two appearances scheduled for Saturday, May 15 and Sunday, May 16.

With paintings on exhibition in hundreds of museums and galleries worldwide, Max and his vibrant colors have become part of the fabric of contemporary culture. Max has been successively called a Pop Icon, Neo Fauvist, Abstract Expressionist and the United State’s “Painter Laureate.”

Inner Reflections Art by Liora

Fort Lauderdale based painter and watercolorist Liora unveiled a show at Camp 4 Health on May 7 on the Equality Park Campus in Wilton Manors. Displayed are 31 examples in her chosen media, plus a quantity of smaller, unframed works.

“The Garden Buddah is from last year, but there are works from when I lived in Europe,” Liora said. “That was about ten or eleven years ago.”

Liora’s palette is vibrant, lush, with colors that demand attention, yet they do not scream. This is because the elements she choses artfully form not only the composition—the construction—of her work but also the colors themselves.