Point of View

March 29, 2010, 3:07 pm
Filed under: Artist Talks, At the Center

On Saturday, March 6, 2010, six of the country’s top performing arts leaders participated in a community panel discussion during the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Miami Made Weekend, a full weekend dedicated to the development of new, original works by South Florida artists. The panelists were brought to the Adrienne Arsht Center to give the national and international perspectives to artists and arts administrators involved in the creation new works in Miami.  Panelists included Charles Reinhart from the American Dance Festival Studio; Baraka Sele, Assistant VP of Programming at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center; Clyde Valentin, Executive Director of The Hip Hop Theater Festival; Stephanie Hughley, Founding VP of Programming at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center; and Jason Palmquist, Executive Director at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.

Panelists for Miami Made Weekend. Photo by Gregory Reed.

In keeping with the theme of the weekend and the flavor of Miami, the panelists discussed the importance of presenting quality international performances, and how Miami can lead the charge in doing so. Baraka Sele stated “we have to transform our cultural landscape and our cultural psyche” so that international audiences embrace new works from their native countries. She says that presenters must be prepared to travel in search of new work. By presenting a wide range of quality work from various countries, a new, local culture will be created that enjoys and supports that which is new and engaging.

Valentin, Hughley, Sele and Reinhard all touted the importance of funding “a diverse aesthetic and new work,” and all of their institutions have proven, successful track records in doing so. They state that although audiences may not be used to experiencing new work at first, with perseverance, audiences will respond.

March 29, 2010, 3:04 pm
Filed under: Membership

On Wednesday, March 3, the Peacock Foundation Studio at the Ziff Ballet Opera House was magically transformed into the Ozdust Ballroom, straight from the set of Broadway blockbuster, Wicked.    Over 100 Adrienne Arsht Center members and the Center’s Broadway subscribers, got to enjoy the sights, sounds, and scrumptious food at this “wicked” opening night cast party.  


Have a look at all the magical moments of this spectacular night here. 


All photos by Jipsy Castillo.

March 29, 2010, 3:03 pm
Filed under: Broadway Across America

The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County proudly announced its 5th Anniversary Broadway in Miami 2010-2011/Broadway Across America season on March 21st with an unprecedented line-up of five Tony® Award-winning Miami premiere engagements at the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House.  The 5th Anniversary Season celebrates the Adrienne Arsht Center’s five years as the community town square – a place where our diverse South Florida community can gather for extraordinary performances, free family-friendly events, and meaningful community-building.  With five phenomenal Broadway shows—all five winners of multiple Tony® Awards—the 2010-2011 season promises to deliver an artistic toast to five fabulous years in Miami!

The season kicks off October 2010 with an all-new production of DREAMGIRLS, direct from New York’s Apollo Theater; followed by a December limited holiday engagement: NETworks presents Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST– the enchanting, romantic musical for all generations. March brings in two of Broadway’s biggest blockbusters and Best Musical Tony® winners: JERSEY BOYS, the story of rock ’n roll Hall of Famers, The Four Seasons, followed by the Latino hit musical IN THE HEIGHTS.  June closes the season with HAIR, the 2009 Tony® Award winner for Best Musical Revival. 

(L-R) Adrienne Warren (Lorrell), Syesha Mercado (Deena), Moya Angela (Effie). Photo by Joan Marcus.


Justin Glaser as the Beast and Liz Shivener as Belle. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Recording Studio; (L to R) Steve Gouveia, Joseph Leo Bwarie, Ryan Jesse and Matt Bailey. Photo by Joan Marcus.

(L-R) Sabrina Sloan, Isabel Santiago, Arielle Jacobs, Genny Lis Padilla. Photo by Janet Macoska.

“Our Fifth Anniversary Broadway Season celebrates artistic programming tailor-made for the city of Miami,” said M. John Richard, President and CEO of the Adrienne Arsht Center. “Our goal is always to use a thoughtful, community-based approach in programming world-class performing arts at the Center, and this selection of Broadway hits offers a diverse sampling of shows for our multi-cultural, multi-generational South Florida audience.”

March 29, 2010, 3:02 pm
Filed under: At the Center

The Adrienne Arsht Center teams up with Mad Cat Theatre Company this April to present the heavy metal play BROADSWORD.  Nominated for five Carbonell Awards (South Florida’s version of the Tony Awards), the workshop production of BROADSWORD opened in Miami in 2009, and since then has rocketed onto the national scene, including a staged reading at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. and a workshop production at the esteemed Juilliard School in New York City. Written by award-winning Miami playwright Marco Ramirez, directed by acclaimed writer/director/actor Paul Tei, and featuring a cast of local actors, BROADSWORD will premiere as a fully-staged and complete production at the Adrienne Arsht Center at the end of April, 2010.

Illustration by Candela Creative Group.

BROADSWORD is a tremendous showcase of our local South Florida talent and the ideal production with which to launch the Center’s co-presenting partnership with the critically acclaimed Mad Cat Theatre Company,” said M. John Richard, President and CEO of the Adrienne Arsht Center. “The writer, director, and cast represent some of Miami’s best and brightest theatrical innovators. We are proud to support this production and continue to serve as a home for the development of local talent and risk-taking theater.”

Supporting local artists and theater companies is one of our most important and exciting missions, and the Adrienne Arsht Center is thrilled to join forces with Mad Cat’s fiercely original team. Bringing local companies to the Adrienne Arsht Center stage not only increases exposure to new audiences, but also raises the bar for all elements of the production, including set, light and sound design which allows company members to work alongside seasoned professionals using state-of-the-art equipment.

March 29, 2010, 2:59 pm
Filed under: About the Center

On March 4 & 5, 2010 a five-person Adrienne Arsht Center team of senior management attended the National Arts Strategies’ (NAS) presentation of “Leading Innovation” through their Business of Arts and Culture program in Washington D.C.  The team lead by John Richard, President and CEO, included Suzanna Valdez, Vice President of Advancement, Andrew Goldberg, Vice President of Marketing, Liz Wallace, Senior Programming Director and John Burnett, Vice President of Finance and CFO.  Attendance at the seminar was fully funded by NAS through the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Fidelity Foundation and The Kresge Foundation.  Other organizations attending included:  Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center of the University of Maryland, The Juilliard School’s department of Vocal Arts, Smithsonian Institution, and Hyde Park Art Center.  The Seminar was lead by Professor David Owens of the Vanderbilt University’s Graduate School of Management.  Professor Owens teaches graduate-level business courses in strategic management and innovation and is a former product designer and design engineer at IDEO, a premier global product engineering firm specializing in innovative thinking.

The seminar took the view that an innovation strategy should be a fundamental component of an arts organization’s overall strategy.  The aim was to help the organization’s leadership understand how the corporate environment and process for innovation affect artistic and strategic goals and how these factors both enable and constrain organizational success. 

The seminar started with a look at what is meant by innovation and an overview of a model to help an organization be intentionally innovative.  This included a general model of a process of innovation.  To further our understanding of how the innovation process works, we then looked at constraints that are inherent in the process.  These constraints include individual, group, organizational and external constraints.  An individual’s personal characteristics can be a help or hindrance in the creative process.  Group dynamics can also play a supportive or constraining role in the innovation process.  Emotion and culture can constrain a group’s willingness to generate, assess and improve its ideas.  The very act of organizing can cause organizations to excel at innovation or be systematically constrained in their efforts.  Group and organizational dynamics support and limit innovation.  Innovation is also affected by sector-level factors such as resources availability, competition and labor relations.  Also, national culture, demographic changes, societal mores and the political landscape can impact innovative efforts.  We concluded with a review of sector-level and societal dynamics that are critical to the arts and culture sector.

Innovation takes place within a complex organizational context, but it can be analyzed and understood through a structured framework.  The context for innovation can thus be improved upon by leaders to expand on organization’s core capabilities for management and program innovation.  A structured process for innovation can create a systematic ability to generate new ideas, identify the best ones and effectively put these innovations into action.

The Adrienne Arsht Center team truly enjoyed and was energized by the exercises and discussions at the conference.  Part of the team got to talk with Professor Owens while waiting for their plane home to warm Miami.  As John Burnett said “Dave Owens is really remarkable.  His energy and passion made “Leading Innovation” substantial and real. The case studies included corporate environments, and the way the discussion was structured made these cases relevant and incredibly applicable. The curriculum respected our industry.” The Adrienne Arsht Center team came back from Washington eager to use the process on numerous projects including the ongoing strategic plan, back-office enhancement plans and various marketing and fundraising initiatives.

March 25, 2010, 8:15 pm
Filed under: Education

It was a perfect South Florida spring morning today as 77 buses from 73 Miami-Dade County Public Schools began to arrive at the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall. At no charge, some 3,500 elementary school students came to hear the extraordinary Cleveland Orchestra perform one of its wildly popular programs based on the lives and music of the great composers. Today it was two performances of Classical Kids Live!’s Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery, a tale of Vivaldi, Venice and violins, and winner of over a dozen awards for outstanding music education productions.

Miami-Dade County Elementary School students arrive at the Adrienne Arsht Center for The Cleveland Orchestra school concert. Photos by Manny Hernandez for the Arsht Center.


Students take their seats and get ready for the show! Photos by Manny Hernandez for the Arsht Center.

The students had prepared for this special day in their classrooms, with the help of CDs, study guides, and student newspapers created for this occasion. And the hall was already buzzing with anticipation as the kids took their seats throughout the main floor and tiers. Even before the show began they were enthralled by the spectacle of the theater itself, as teachers pointed out the state-of-the-art acoustical dome, doors, and panels.  And lots of questions were asked about the paintings on stage that set the scene for the story with lovely depictions of Venice’s most famous sights.

Adrienne Arsht Center staff welcome students to the Knight Concert Hall. Photos by Manny Hernandez for the Arsht Center.

As the Cleveland players entered the stage, the kids cheered, and as the lights went down, professional actors took their places to begin the musical tale of Katarina, a young violinist, who is sent to study music at the great Pieta orphanage in seventeenth century Venice, where she is taught by the famous music director and composer Antonio Vivaldi. As the story unfolded Katarina searched for clues to her own past and to a vanishing Stradivarius violin, while the orchestra played more than 20 excerpts of Vivaldi’s most popular and important works including The Four Seasons, the Violin Concerto in A Minor, and more.

Photos by Manny Hernandez for the Arsht Center.

When the mystery was solved and the music came to an end, the young audience burst into applause and jumped to their feet. For many of them, this outing to the Adrienne Arsht Center served as their introduction to live orchestra music – an experience they will never forget.

Photos by Manny Hernandez for the Arsht Center.

Vivaldi’s Ring of Fire, just one of the many education and outreach programs which are part of The Cleveland Orchestra Miami Residency, is presented by the Musical Arts Association of Miami and the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County.  The Cleveland Orchestra Education Concerts in Miami, as well as related curriculum materials and professional development workshops for teachers, are supported in part by a National Endowment for the Arts Access to Artistic Excellence grant.

March 9, 2010, 6:45 pm
Filed under: Broadway Across America

What is a normal day like at the Adrienne Arsht Center when it’s your job to make the witches of Wicked fly?  Welcome to the wonderful world of Daniel Alzuri, Senior Director of Production for the Adrienne Arsht Center and show business production guru extraordinaire.  It takes a village backstage to bring the Citizens of Oz to life onstage, and for Alzuri it all starts three days before the first performance as the 13 Wicked production trucks pull into the Adrienne Arsht Center loading dock.  With 55 local crew members, 12 Wicked advance crew, and 5 Adrienne Arsht Center production staff, Alzuri supervises the show’s “load-in,” – a tightly choreographed schedule of hanging scenery, rigging props, focusing lights, and motorizing special effects.  To the chorus of clanging metal stage sets, and the occasional shout of “pipe coming in!” Alzuri supervises his team of technicians with aplomb. 

Every minute detail is pre-determined, discussed, and mapped out prior to the show’s arrival, so Alzuri and team can work quickly, efficiently, and safely – after only a few hours, the show’s four ton metal marquis dragon looms over the Ziff Ballet Opera House stage as if he just taxied in from Miami International Airport.  In the meantime, Alzuri’s Wicked citizens are rapidly multiplying, as the actors, dancers, wardrobe and hair dressers, orchestra members, and even the official “greener,” who turns actress Donna Vivino that lovely shade of green, take over the backstage area in a flurry of pre-show preparations.  Alzuri serves as the official mayor of this backstage/onstage mini-city, keeping everyone happy as the minutes tick down to show time.  Although his work may be largely invisible to the patron sitting in the theater, in truth his performance is just as breathtaking as Glinda’s.  As a show business veteran, Alzuri has seen it all: “Crossing the Atlantic in a rowboat is a challenge.  Losing your oars in the water is a problem,” he says with a sly smile.  And then he’s off to check on the flying broomsticks!

March 9, 2010, 5:54 pm
Filed under: Family Fun

Performers from Step Afrika! stepped their way into Miami-Dade County Public Schools as part of the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Beyond Boundaries Residency Program. This education initiative brings the finest local, national and internationally known teaching artists into Miami-Dade County Public School classrooms for multiple-day visits that provide an in-depth and multi-faceted exploration of the performing arts.  The Washington DC-based Step Afrika!, the first and only professional dance company dedicated to the preservation and promotion of stepping, was in 4 schools the week of March 2nd  introducing stepping and promoting higher education to more than 100 student of all ages. 

Stepping is a unique dance tradition created by African American college students in which the body is used as an instrument to create intricate rhythms and sounds through a combination of footsteps, claps and spoken word. The tradition grew out of the song and dance rituals practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities in the early 1900’s and comes from a long and rich tradition in African-based communities.

Students from Academy of Arts & Minds High School, Booker T. Washington High School, Southwood Middle School, and Holmes Elementary School were taught the basic claps, positions, and rhythms by dance professionals from Step Afrika! in master classes designed especially for students.   In addition, Southwood Middle culminated their week of workshops with an in-school lecture demonstration on Friday for 125 students that featured the 30 dance students who had participated in the master classes during the week.  

Photo by Deanna Costa.

Step Afrika! finished up their week in Miami with a free, standing-room-only performance at the Center’s Family Fest on Saturday, March 6th in the Knight Concert Hall.  Family Fest is a day of free performances and activities that provide parents opportunites to introduce kids to the arts.  Beginning at 11:30 am in the Thomson Plaza for the Arts, the outdoor activities featured performances by local entertainers, a make and take craft, face painting, and lots of fun. At 2 pm the crowds moved to the Knight Concert Hall to witness the 10 member Step Afrika! troupe rock the house with an electrifying performance that included audience participation and a special performance by students from Holmes Elementary.  After spending the week with 3 of the company members, students from Holmes opened the Step Afrika! show performing an original step piece that was choreographed by the students with the help of the Step Afrika! teaching artist.  The Step Afrika! performance was the culmination of a fabulous week of learning and dancing that brought together more than 2000 people for a stomping good time.

March 9, 2010, 5:04 pm
Filed under: At the Center

You’ve seen the bus shelter ads throughout Miami.  With a catch phrase like “Your abuela will pee in her pants!” and “You’ll blow cerveza out your nose!” it’s apparent that something muy funny is about to happen.  And that something is the Second City Loco, a newly formed all-Hispanic off-shoot company of Chicago’s world-famous Second City comedy troupe.  The Second City Loco will be making its debut at the Carnival Studio Theater next week with El Show Mas Funny, a collection of hilarious comedic sketches created especially for Miami audiences—in Spanglish! In the tradition of the fondly remembered 70s sitcom Que Pasa U.S.A., the dialogue will move effortlessly back and forth between English and Spanish, ingeniously creating bilingual comedy in a hybrid language that everyone can understand. 

El Show Mas Funny  is just the latest in an exciting and eclectic series of World Premiere productions that have taken place at the Center, which includes three years of boundary-busting HERE & NOW theater and dance works, including Rosie Herrera’s acclaimed Various Stages of Drowning; the sizzling Latin dance musical Miami Libre; one of Merce Cunningham’s last works, eyeSpace; the late South Florida artist Jennylin Duany’s Cabaret Unkempt, and coming this summer—the new musical for kids, Camp Kappawanna.

Co-produced by Second City and the Adrienne Arsht Center, El Show Mas Funny has been “created specifically for Miami,” states Adrienne Arsht Center Executive V.P., Scott Shiller.  “It has its own Miami flair that will resonate well with the community, and hopefully it will serve as a template for Second City shows that will appeal to other US cities with large Hispanic communities.” 

Indeed, the Second City Loco will be a new and exciting adventure for the 50-year-old established Second City whose roster of illustrious alumni include iconic comedians such as Mike Myers, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert and Tiny Fey (just to name a few).  Now, with the Second City Loco, the expectations will be the same with hopes that this subset troupe will be the voice for a dazzling talent pool of emerging Hispanic comedians.  “First and foremost, it’s a funny show with an amazingly talented and diverse group of performers,” says Shiller.  “I’m also excited about the fact that the Adrienne Arsht Center will have a pivotal role in creating the Second City Loco which has the potential to grow and evolve into something so much bigger. So along with us bringing world-class performers to our Miami stages, we will be sending Miami-centric programming throughout the nation.”  Now that’s muy awesome!

March 9, 2010, 4:53 pm
Filed under: City Theater

City Theatre and the Adrienne Arsht Center will bring something completely new to families this summer with Camp Kappawanna a World Premiere Musical where, from the minute you walk in the door, you feel as if you are back at summer camp. The new musical boasts hip, cool music penned by Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb along with a book by South Florida native and rising national star Marco Ramirez.   

Lisa Loeb

Through their partnership with the Adrienne Arsht Center, City Theatre held the first reading of Camp Kappawanna on Sunday, February 28, in the Next Generation Greenroom.  City Theatre Producing Artistic Director and Camp Kappawanna conceiver Stephanie Norman introduced the cast and director Sean Paul Bryan to Loeb and Ramirez, who participated live from Los Angeles via Skype.  The assembled audience was treated to three brand-new songs by Loeb and her songwriting partners Michelle Lewis and Dan Petty.  After the reading, attendees were able to speak directly with all artists to discuss the process of creating a show from page to stage. 

Camp Kappawanna is the story of Jennifer Jenkins, awkward and adorable and 12.  She’s going away for the summer – her very first time leaving home.  The piece builds upon City Theatre’s successful collaboration with Loeb on “Best Friend,” heard during last season’s Shorts 4 Kids series.  “Best Friend” is from Lisa Loeb’s self-published Camp Lisa CD, proceeds from which help send kids to camp who otherwise couldn’t afford to attend.    

City Theatre has enjoyed a long relationship with Marco Ramirez, starting with his participation in the company’s KidShorts project to mentor young writers as a student at Coral Reef Senior High, and continuing through his professional career with 7 productions on the festival’s stages.   

Marco Ramirez

City Theatre’s Camp Kappawanna sets out to create a new classic in celebration of the company’s 15th Anniversary Summer Shorts Festival.

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