Point of View

May 24, 2010, 4:28 pm
Filed under: Florida Grand Opera

Three years ago,  Kendall native and New World School of the Arts Alumna Elaine Álvarez was a promising 26-year-old opera singer, auditioning every chance she could for young artist programs, potential agents, opera companies for main stage roles, and money-granting competitions. 

Photo by Kristin Hoebermann.

In October 2007, everything changed. Ms. Álvarez had been hired by the Lyric Opera of Chicago to be the understudy for the role of Mimì in Puccini’s La bohème. The singer booked for the role of Mimì was Metropolitan Opera favorite Angela Gheorghiu. In a fortunate twist of fate, and in pure dramatic opera fashion, Ms. Gheorghiu was publicly fired by the Lyric Opera just days before opening night. Ms. Alvarez stepped in and wowed the audiences and critics alike.

Said the Chicago Tribune: “Álvarez looked and sounded like a poised veteran…[she] saved the day, and then some.” The Chicago Sun-Times called her singing “juicy and lyrical.” Ms. Álvarez has been in demand ever since, singing all around the world.

Elaine Álvarez’s Florida Grand Opera debut was Saturday, April 24, as Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen.

My POV: A Guilty One
May 24, 2010, 2:37 am
Filed under: Broadway Across America

As a musical-theater obsessed teen in Miami, I remember sitting in my friend’s car in December of 2006 singing the songs that later became part of my life. A trip to New York in the spring of 2007 followed my curiosity for this show. As an 8th grader I had never seen anything so electrifying on stage in my life. When I heard Spring Awakening was coming to Miami, I knew I wanted to be part of the experience. “The Guilty Ones” (G.O.) -as they called themselves—are a group of Spring Awakening fanatics in every city that helps promote the Tony Award-winning show. I went to the first meeting not really knowing what it was all about. I made an impression on Crystal Chancellor (Promotions Manager) when I showed my enthusiasm for the project. Telling Miami about this great show was a lot harder than I thought, but the one group  that I knew would connect with this show was of my peers and my fellow teenagers.

Raising points to get a lot of “junk” was not my intention of being a G.O. Bringing an audience to that theater was my main goal. As I became a top Guilty One, Crystal asked me to come in a couple of times a week to help with the project. I was so excited to begin working at the Adrienne Arsht Center, even if it was for 3 hours a week. Leaving school at 3:45 and running to the metro mover and again to the theater was a mission I embarked on everyday to bring this show to as many people as I could. Making phone calls, emails, letters, and collecting fellow Guilty One’s points was part of the challenge.


(L-R) Victor Legra with one of the cast members of Spring Awakening.

May 11th was coming very close and I could not wait to see the show live again. Hearing the music again brought me comfort knowing that this show lives on as clean and crisp as the first time I saw it, with a fresh new exciting cast. 

The best experience I have had with this show was sitting ON STAGE. The energy on stage becomes an organized chaos. The cast runs all around you and includes you as part of their show. The set was designed to look like some sort of church yard or class room. The bleachers on each side of the stage creates  the fantasy that the audience is part of the class room. A few ensemble members dressed as regular audience members sing the songs on the bleachers giving us the illusion that a teenager is relating to the piece: a very clever design telling the audience that the piece is timeless and will always be related to true life. During intermission of the show I met the Tony Award -winning director, (Michael Mayer) who brought us Spring Awakening. It was an honor to speak to him about his success with the show, his work, and his new shows (Green Day’s Tony Nominated American Idiot & Sherie Rene Scott’s Tony-nominated Everyday Rapture)

Opening Night was another experience of its own. After the show I was invited with a few of my friends to the opening night cast party. The night started off slow with guests arriving to the party. Once the cast and crew came in, the party began. With a few of us singing karaoke and dancing to Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies”, the night was a success. I had a blast with the cast during this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Working as a Guilty One has been a thrill and a pleasure. Everyone at the Adrienne Arsht Center has been very supportive with my work and I hope to work with everyone very soon.

May 24, 2010, 2:28 am
Filed under: About the Center, Awards and Recognition

Luxury lifestyle publication Haute Living  included four members of the Adrienne Arsht Center family on its annual list of  Miami’s most influential people.  Congratulations to all. 

Performing Arts Center Board Chair, Ricky Arriola – Mr. Arriola is CEO of Inktel Direct as well as Chairman of the Performing Arts Center Board of Directors.  A well–respected entrepreneur, he is credited with the Center’s recent financial success and getting the Center out of the red and into the black.

Adrienne Arsht Center Foundation Board Chair, Adrienne Arsht – For 10 years Ms. Arsht has served as Chairman of the Board of TotalBank of Miami.  Under her leadership TotalBank’s assets grew to over $1.4 billion.  In 2008 she donated $30 million to Miami’s performing arts center in order to place it on sound financial ground.  In recognition of her donation the Center now reflects her name.

Performing Arts Center Board Chair Elect, Mike Eidson – One of the most renowned trial lawyers in the nation, Mr. Eidson recently served as the President of the 60,000 –member American Association for Justice.  He is the Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Miami City Ballet and will take the reins of the Center’s Performing Arts Center Trust Board of Directors this fall.

Adrienne Arsht Center President and CEO, John Richard – In October 2008 Mr. Richard, an arts management veteran with more than 20 years of experience, became the Adrienne Arsht Center’s CEO.  Mr. Richard is at the helm of a first-rate management team that is committed to the financial success of the Center while making it world-class as well as community-based.

May 24, 2010, 2:19 am
Filed under: At the Center

In a surprise summer announcement, the Adrienne Arsht Center recently revealed that a sizzling stage show, tailor-made for Miami, is coming to town.  50 years ago Desi Arnaz picked up the conga and sang “Babalú” on “I Love Lucy,” one of the most beloved television shows of all time, stealing our hearts with his debonair style, baritone laugh, and timeless Latin music.  Now, the thrilling stage show BABALU, Lucie Arnaz’s celebration of her father’s music, is coming to the Center for five shows in July ! 


Desi Arnaz; Photo from Lucie Arnaz Family Archives

Born in Cuba, Desi Arnaz made his musical mark here in Miami and then went on to launch an extraordinary musical career, popularizing Latin music on the national stage.  Lucie Arnaz, daughter of Desi and Lucille Ball, created, produced, and stars in this theatrical musical spotlighting the tremendous musical legacy of this entertainment pioneer.  BABALU features multiple Tony® Award nominee and Miami native Raúl Esparza, in his first show in Miami since making a major splash on Broadway in hits including CompanyChitty Chitty Bang BangTaboo, and Cabaret.  Local Miami dancers, Richard Amaro (recently seen in Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life) and Jeanette Delgado (principal dancer with Miami City Ballet) will join the cast for this special engagement.  In a rare, special appearance, Desi Arnaz, Jr. will accompany the 15-piece orchestra on percussion, playing his father’s greatest hits for a true homecoming celebration in Miami.  BABALU hits the Adrienne Arsht Center stage July 8-11, with a homegrown Latin music explosion. 

For a classic “Babalú” moment on “I Love Lucy,” click here:

May 24, 2010, 2:05 am
Filed under: Family Fun

The Adrienne Arsht Center’s final Family Fest of the 09-10 Season was a free afternoon of rock ‘n’roll fun in the Thomson Plaza for the Arts on May 8th.  The outdoor performances began with the cast of City Theatre’s Camp Kappawanna, offering a preview of the new family musical that will premiere in the Carnival Studio Theater  June 17 – 27 with songs by Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb and a script by rising national playwright and South Florida native Marco Ramirez.  The outdoor program was rounded out with rock ‘n’ roll hits performed by seven youngsters from Live! Modern School of Music and sing-a-long American folk songs by Matthew Sabatella and the Rambling String Band.


Photo by Zaida Sofia Granados

In addition to the performances, families got a chance to attend DJ School in the Peacock Foundation Studio, where kids got to try out their spinning and scratching skills on professional DJ tables.  The rock ‘n’ roll theme carried over in the Craft Corner where kids designed their own  guitars. The ever-popular animal petting zoo and face painting stations rounded out the Plaza activities which also featured LITE FM’s Prize Wheel Giveaway. 

After the outdoor fun, the crowds moved into the Knight Concert Hall for a free performance of Rock Odyssey, a rock musical  style retelling of Homer’s epic The Odyssey in a  high-quality, age-appropriate professional production produced by the Adrienne Arsht Center.   The Adrienne Arsht Center’s Free Family Fest will be back again next season beginning November 6th with outdoor activities and performances and a free main stage production presented especially for families.

May 24, 2010, 1:55 am
Filed under: Education

Quality arts programming is a growing need in schools and the Adrienne Arsht Center is teaming up with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) to help empower classrooms teachers in this area.  A team of administrators from the Adrienne Arsht Center and M-DCPS went to Washington D.C. in early May for the four-day Partners in Education Institute that examines program models and planning strategies for establishing or expanding professional development programs in the arts for classroom teachers.  The Partners in Education program, created by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, is designed to assist arts and cultural organizations throughout the nation develop professional development programs for teachers. The program, established in 1991, is based on the belief that educating teachers is an essential component of any effort designed to increase the artistic literacy of young people.

President and CEO John Richard and Director of Education Deanna Costa represented the Adrienne Arsht Center and the team was rounded out by M-DCPS Assistant Superintendent Maria de Armas, Administrative Director of Social Sciences and Life Skills John Doyle, and Performing Arts Supervisor Robert Davis.  At the Institute, the team examined a variety of professional development events for teachers developed at the Kennedy Center and they participated in workshops alongside Washington, D.C. metropolitan area teachers,  studying how the workshops are designed, implemented, and evaluated.  Over the course of the four days of workshops and information sessions, the team developed a written plan that specifies how the partners will work together to establish or expand professional development programs in the arts for teachers in their communities.

The Adrienne Arsht Center/M-DCPS team joins 90 Partnership Teams in 44 States and the District of Columbia that already participate in the program.

May 24, 2010, 1:45 am
Filed under: Jazz Roots, Masterworks Series

Thanks in great part to the continuing generosity of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Adrienne Arsht Center recently announced the second annual MASTERWORKS SEASON, including the return of the tremendously popular classical music and dance series, plus the exciting addition of a brand new pops series.  The MASTERWORKS SEASON features five phenomenal presentations in the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Classical Music series, four pops performances by national stars, and three dance companies showcasing the very best in classical and contemporary dance from the U.S. and abroad.  The vision behind the MASTERWORKS series is to present a world-class roster of diverse and compelling artists that reflect the interests of every household in South Florida.  To that end, the stellar MASTERWORKS lineup includes superstar violinist Joshua Bell; twenty-something siblings and piano virtuosos, The 5 Browns; and the intensely theatrical work of Mexican dancer/choreographer Tania Pérez-Salas.  

Also returning to the Adrienne Arsht Center is the wildly popular JAZZ ROOTS series.  After two sold-out seasons, JAZZ ROOTS returns for a third season of Grammy® Award-winning artists performing onstage and making a dramatic impact on the young people in our community.  As one of the Center’s largest and most dynamic education and outreach efforts, the JAZZ ROOTS series provides an in-depth, behind-the-scenes performance and educational component to local jazz high school students during each show.  Thus far, more than 1,800 students have been part of the special sound check with the artists,  lecture series, and Q&A session with the performers that forms the cornerstone of each JAZZ ROOTS show.  This season the Center will open its doors to another 900 enthusiastic jazz students, providing them with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ask Michael Feinstein if he still practices the piano, Dianne Reeves what her vocal warm-up includes, and Ron Carter what it was like to play with Miles Davis. 

To view the full roster of MASTERWORKS and JAZZ ROOTS 2010-2011 artists click here:



POV: Abigail Thompson
May 24, 2010, 1:36 am
Filed under: At the Center

My name is Abigail Thompson. I am 8 years old and I am in 3rd grade at Kendale Elementary in Miami, FL. My father is James Thompson, the Senior Director of Information Systems for the Center, which means he plays with computers all day.

Last week, I went to “take-our-sons-and-daughters-to-work day” at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami Dade County. At the Center, we played dress up with real stage clothes, like checkered dresses and gypsy hats. We had our faces painted like hippies and pirates, and we also watched a movie.

We had some time to play on computers in my dad’s office and a couple of kids went on stage to help with the Opera. 

My favorite part was having our faces painted. My face was painted like Queen Amidala from Star Wars.

May 18, 2010, 1:29 am
Filed under: Education

The Adrienne Arsht Center’s Learning Through the Arts program is in its inaugural year and it’s receiving rave reviews from students and educators.  Beginning with 5th grade this year, more than 26,000 students were invited to the Center, free of cost, to experience a live, fully staged theatrical show over the course of two weeks as part of Learning Through the Arts.  Students saw Rock Odyssey, a rock opera style retelling of Homer’s epic The Odyssey. This high-quality, age-appropriate professional production was produced by the Adrienne Arsht Center with an award winning creative team and a fabulous local cast. 


Arsht Center President and CEO, John Richard, enjoys a quick chat with one of the students before the start of Rock Odyssey.

Student audiences have enjoyed the comedic musical with its rock score and flashy costumes.  They gasped when the 9-foot Cyclops entered the stage, cheered for the good guys in the battle scenes, and erupted in applause when the family in the story was reunited at the end.  The crowds were  brought to their feet in the final scene when it SNOWED in the theater!  This unique theater experience is to be followed up with classroom activities using specially-created curriculum materials and lesson plans provided for teachers that are connected to the Sunshine State Standards. 

May 18, 2010, 1:20 am
Filed under: AileyCamp

On Saturday, April 24th,  more than two hundred 6th, 7th, and 8th graders from around Miami-Dade County came to the Adrienne Arsht Center to interview for one of the 100 spots available in the 2010 AileyCamp Miami, a summer day camp founded by the Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation.  In its second year at the Center, the six week camp features ballet, jazz, modern and West African dance classes as well as classes in creative communication and personal development.  AileyCamp is designed to help students make a successful transition to high school. The programming focuses on building self esteem, encouraging creative thinking, and supported exploration of the arts through cooperative dance activities. 

After a brief movement activity to break the ice and get everyone ready, each student was escorted to a personal interview conducted by volunteer from the Adrienne Arsht Center community.  The panel of interviewers included an Adrienne Arsht Center Board member, representatives from Miami Dade County Public Schools, and selected members of the Adrienne Arsht Center’s fabulous pool of volunteers who have had previous experience working with school-aged children.   Camp Director Lucretia Welters and National Director Nasha Thomas-Schmitt, represented AileyCamp’s national office, rounded out the group of interviewers.


Photo from 2009 AileyCamp Miami. Photo by Deanna Costa.

AileyCamp Miami will run from June 28th to August 6th with a final performance in the Knight Concert Hall on Saturday August 7th at 7pm.  The stage will come to life with an original production presented by the 100 students who will have called the Adrienne Arsht Center’s AileyCamp their summer home.

%d bloggers like this: