Filed under: At the Center
“Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer,” crooned Nat King Cole in one of his biggest hits of the early ‘60s. That was then. This is now. And he was most definitely not singing about Summer 2009 at the Adrienne Arsht Center. These past few weeks have seen an unprecedented amount of activity at the Center—perhaps the most intensely busy period since the Inaugural Weekend and Grand Opening of the Center in the fall of 2006.
The summer season kicked off with the opening of five productions, nearly simultaneously. They included Fuerza Bruta, the most technically complex staging the Center has ever undertaken. Shows have been running in the Knight Concert Hall, Ziff Ballet Opera House, and Carnival Studio Theater at least 6 days a week—with 18 performances taking place on weekends alone! There have been rehearsals, load-ins, cast parties, the inauguration of Fuerza Bruta’s G-Lounge by Barton G., meetings, press previews, conferences, red carpet entrances, performers to accommodate, patrons to attend to, and kids to interview for the chance to participate in AileyCamp Miami.
SATURDAY, JUNE 13
Saturday, June 13, exemplifies what life at the Center has been like these days. By early morning, kids ages 11 – 14 had started arriving for their AileyCamp interviews, in hopes that they would be chosen to be a part of this extraordinary education and outreach initiative, a joint partnership of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Adrienne Arsht Center. By end of day, after morning and afternoon sessions in the Knight Concert Hall and various other locations, a panel made up of Alvin Ailey staff, teachers, Miami-Dade County School administrators, and Adrienne Arsht Center staff, volunteers and a board member had seen and talked to 114 kids, first as part of a group dance “audition” and then in one-on-one interviews. Eventually 85 youngsters were chosen for the four-week summer day camp that will stretch their bodies, minds, and souls in preparation for the wide-ranging challenges of life as a high school student.
Curtain time for the first of the day’s three Summer Shorts performances was 1 p.m., and so by early afternoon, more kids were arriving at the Center, headed to the Carnival Studio Theater for the series of delightful short family-friendly plays that made up this year’s Shorts 4 Kids. The more mature-skewing Signature Shorts followed that evening at 7 p.m., and then at 10 p.m., undershorts, the late-night series of naughty and bawdy plays designed exclusively for adults, brought the anything-but-short Shorts day to a close.
In the meantime, 60 people attended the Dramatist Guild Town Hall meeting in the B. and Donald Carlin Banquet Hall, sponsored by the Theatre League of South Florida, an alliance of theatrical organizations and professionals dedicated to nurturing, promoting, and advocating for the growth and prestige of the South Florida theater industry.
Over at the Knight Concert Hall, the international hit musical, Celia, The Life and Music of Celia Cruz, gave life once more to the divine Cuban queen of salsa, and Anissa Gathers, whose performance as Celia has been the toast of three continents, had them singing and dancing in the aisles at both the 5 and 9 p.m. shows.
And by early evening, the Fuerza Bruta Saturday night marathon had begun. Two shows in one evening of this dazzling, outrageously disorienting production would be enough to keep front-of-house staff, volunteers, and stage crew working nonstop, what with patrons arriving and entering through the back of the theater rather than the front; standing, moving (and quite a few dancing) on stage rather than sitting in the auditorium; and performers running, flying and swimming mid-air rather than rooted to the stage floor.
Then there is the G-Lounge by Barton G., a party space complete with DJs, bars, food, and art, carved out of what is normally the backstage of the Ziff Ballet Opera House. Designed as an introduction to and extension of the Fuerza Bruta experience, it actually has taken on a life of its own and has quickly become a must-go-to club in a city that isn’t exactly lacking in hot spots.
So that was Saturday, June 13, at the Adrienne Arsht Center: “Lazy?”—hardly. “Hazy?”—perhaps, after a G-Lounge cocktail or two. “Crazy?”—absolutely!
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