Filed under: At the Center
The new reggae musical The Harder They Come wound up its American premiere run at the Ziff Ballet Opera House on Sunday, the culmination of another amazing summer at the Center that kicked off with the return of Celia: The Life and Music of Celia Cruz, continued with not one but two annual theater festivals—Summer Shorts and The International Hispanic Theatre Festival—and soared to new heights with the sensational Fuerza Bruta, the twice-extended, longest-running touring show in Miami history.
Now it’s time to bring down the curtain on Season 3 at the Adrienne Arsht Center and set the stage for No. 4. But before doing so, it’s worth looking back at some of the performance highlights of the past year.
In 2008 – 2009, Adrienne Arsht Center proved once and for all that there is an audience for jazz in Miami with the runaway success of its new Jazz Roots, A Larry Rosen Jazz Series. More than 25 jazz legends—Dave Brubeck, Ivan Lins, Arturo Sandoval, Patti Austin, Chick Corea and Sonny Rollins among them—performed in the Knight Concert Hall and all six concerts sold out. Also introduced last season was the Celebrity Chef Series, which brought to the Center Anthony Bourdain, Tom Colicchio, and Alton Brown for “Inside the Actor’s Studio” style evenings of in-depth interviews, live cooking demonstrations, and “Ask the Chef” audience Q&A.
Not a new series–but drawing lots of new audiences—was Broadway in Miami, which turned out to be a perfect season to introduce kids to the joys of the Broadway musical with a lineup of family favorites that included The Wizard of Oz, Annie and Cats, plus the breathtaking spectacle of Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy. In fact, kids came to Center performances in record numbers—to see the Grammy-winning Dan Zanes as well as for the Free Family Fests featuring Miami City Ballet’s Carnival of the Animals, the Cleveland Orchestra’s Peter and the Wolf and a host of outdoor interactive arts activities and events.
For most of the year, the Carnival Studio Theater was home to major Miami premieres, starting with the international high-speed hit comedy, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), followed by the funny-in-any-language Defendiendo al Cavernicola (Defending the Caveman), and the locally inspired but nationally acclaimed solo show Liberty City. And then came “Here and Now”, the annual spring fling of world premieres by South Florida’s most innovative artists, co-produced by the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Miami Made Festival and Miami Light Project.
And we’re not ashamed to report we had quite a number of one-night stands with a wide range of entertainers from around the world, ranging from the singular sensation of a Marvin Hamlisch concert and the show-stopping theatrics of an evening with Mandy Patinkin to the heart-pounding rhythms of Japan’s Kodo drummers and the Latin heat generated by Juan de Marcos and the Afro-Cuban All Stars, Peru’s Evan Ayllon, and Colombia’s dynamic duo, Jorge Celedon and Jimmy Zambrano.
By now, everyone knows that if it’s February it’s time to stomp their feet and clap their hands to a Flamenco beat. After just two seasons, the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Flamenco Festival Miami has become one of the most anticipated annual events on the South Florida arts calendar and last season’s starry lineup of Estrella Morente, Los Farruco, and the Antonio Gades Company only intensified the anticipation for the festival’s return in just a few months.
Finally, 2008-2009 marked the end of an era and the beginning of a new one in the history of classical music and dance in South Florida. After the Concert Association of Florida (CAF) closed its doors earlier this year, the Adrienne Arsht Center was able to preserve the bulk of the company’s remaining season by forming presenting partnerships with the performing arts organizations on CAF’s schedule. The New York Philharmonic, the oldest orchestra in the U.S.; the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor and violinist Pinchas Zukerman; international superstar tenor Jose Carreras; the National Philharmonic of Russia; and the 50th anniversary tour of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater all played the Center to great acclaim and public rejoicing, giving birth to the Adrienne Arsht Center’s hotly anticipated inaugural John S. and James L. Knight Masterworks Season of classical music and dance, which premieres in December with the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Classical Music series performance of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
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