Point of View

Kids Want More Hot Peas and Butter
November 23, 2009, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Family Fun

A child’s early experiences with plays and concerts are adventures. I loved my 5-year-old daughter’s reaction when she heard the opening song at the Hot Peas & Butter show on Sunday: she looked at me with wide eyes and said, “Mommy, this is not a ‘show’, this is a rock and roll concert!” Accustomed to attending shows like Annie, she was in awe of being able to dance in the “kiddie mosh pit” and let her body do what it naturally wanted to.

To be a parent in 2009 — especially a contemporary-minded one — is to be blasted by possibilities for nurturing cultural awareness and entertainment possibilities in one’s offspring. The commercial successes have been widely noted on television ratings, Billboard charts, and in shopping carts. But they eclipse a more “indie” kid music where hipster meets high chair that is encouraging more parental connoisseurship.

Hot Peas & Butter falls into this genre. These two hipster guys (who were quite obviously dads, themselves, or at least really cool uncles) had the house movin’ from their second verse. With an expert bongo beat and some sweet harmony, they sang about sneezes, chickens, humming, the railroad, and the rain and there wasn’t a second where I felt that I wanted the music to STOP like I often feel with children’s music.

Not only did my children and I bond over a shared love for the tunes, we created a memory that will last long past the usual Sunday trip to the park. Theater-going allows my children to experience something I love as a grown-up and exposes them to the value of the arts—even if at the end of the day it was really a rock and roll concert.

The Season’s First Family Fest is Dog Gone Great
November 10, 2009, 6:34 pm
Filed under: Family Fun

The 09-10 season’s first Family Fest was a big hit with families and some four-legged friends! On Saturday November 7th families gathered on the Thomson Plaza for the Arts for the first of four Family Fests scheduled for the season. Family Fest is comprised of outdoor arts-related activities and performances in the Plaza followed by free professional music, theater, or dance performances inside the Ziff Ballet Opera House or Knight Concert Hall. The Paws on the Plaza ticket on-sale event for Broadway’s 101 Dalmatians started off the day with a doggie talent show and contest that named a Doggie Ambassador for the upcoming family musical. Families and dog lovers alike were entertained by 17 finalists as 3 judges narrowed it down to one final winner on the Family Fest stage.


Paws on Plaza; Photo by Mitchell Zachs

Immediately following Paws on the Plaza, the outdoor Family Fest activities included performances by Japanese Taiko drumming group Fushu Daiko, earth friendly blues and rock and roll with Earthman Lanny Smith, and West African drumming and dancing by Ballet Brika. The hands-on activities included an instrument petting zoo where kids could try out all the instruments in the orchestra and instrument making in the Craft Corner featuring Maraca-Tambourines. Rounding out the day was face painting, vendors and roaming costumed characters. The outdoor fun was followed by a spectacular orchestral performance by Miami Music Project, led by James Judd, in the Knight Concert Hall. Families were treated to classical favorites that took the audience on a journey around the world in a performance that featured dancers and audience participation.

Photo by Mitchell Zachs

The next Family Fest is scheduled for January 9th at 11:30 am followed by a special performance of Cinderella by the Miami City Ballet School in the Ziff Ballet Opera House.

Season Kicks Off with Family Fun
October 15, 2009, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Family Fun

The 09-10 season kicked off with family fun in the Carnival Studio Theater of the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House with performances by Marionetas de la Esquina.  The Mexican puppet troupe made its Miami debut playing to a packed house of families on October 9th and 10th.  The artists presented one of the fabulous shows in their repertory entitled A Moon Between Two Houses.  The story is about two neighbors who become friends through their shared fear of the dark, demonstrating that like most things in life, our fears are better shared with friends rather than faced alone. Marionetas de la Esquina’s unique blend of puppetry and storytelling draws audiences in while conveying lessons about things children can relate to, like being afraid of the dark, in a manner that is entertaining and endearing. 

Photo by Jonathan Stout

Photo by Jonathan Stout

The Friday evening show welcomed Girl Scout groups from around the county and was preceded by a pizza party.  The participating Girl Scouts rounded out the evening with a post-show meet and greet with the artists and their puppets.  This is one of the many show-based activities that the Arsht Center presents to get youth in the community involved and engaged in the performing arts. 

Photo by Jonathan Stout

Photo by Jonathan Stout

For Miami-Dade county families, the Marionetas de la Esquina performances are just the beginning of a season filled with family-friendly programming.  The award winning FREE FAMILY FEST begins it’s alternating month schedule on November 7th at 11:30am in the Thomson Plaza for the Arts, featuring a free orchestral performance by the Miami Music Project.  In addition, other offerings for families include Parent’s Choice award winners Hot Peas ‘N Butter on November 22nd, Grammy award winners They Might Be Giants on February 27, and a free family sing-along on March 20th with the Miami Children’s Chorus.

Carnival on the Plaza Brings Out the Community for Caribbean Celebration
September 2, 2009, 8:20 pm
Filed under: At the Center, Family Fun

Hundreds of guests, including community leaders, families and media, came out this past Saturday for Carnival on the Plaza, a free event celebrating the U.S. premiere of the critically-acclaimed reggae musical The Harder They Come. The Adrienne Arsht Center partnered with Miami-Broward One Carnival Host Committee to present the Carnival on the Plaza event and press conference to announce the much-anticipated schedule for Miami Carnival’s 25th Anniversary Celebration which will be held on Sunday, October 11th at Bicentennial Park, Downtown, Miami. 

A young participant of Carnival on the Plaza; Photo by Mitchell Zachs

A young participant of Carnival on the Plaza; Photo by Mitchell Zachs

Attendees took full advantage of the exclusive opportunity to buy 2-for-1 tickets for all performances of The Harder They Come  — a special 3-hour box office only promotion in connection with Carnival on the Plaza. Nearly 600 2-for-1 tickets were sold in under 3 hours.

Hosted by Mike Andrews, WZAB Radio’s ‘Caribbean Connection’ on-air personality, the entire event was broadcast live on WZAB Radio and included a number of interviews with Arsht Center executives John Richard and Scott Shiller, as well as Miami Carnival Committee’s Marlon Hill. 


Carnival on the Plaza included more than two hours of reggae and calypso music, a Junior Costume Carnival and Junkanoo parade, along with a special live musical performance from the cast of The Harder They Come. More than 200 children prepared for the Junkanoo parade in our Activities Corner by making elaborate carnival masks and headbands and having their faces painted by our staff of professionals and volunteers. 

Guests also enjoyed visiting our Caribbean Village vendors for free giveaways and great prizes, which included a free membership and VIP tickets to the Jamaican USA Chamber of Commerce’s upcoming expo; free tickets to the upcoming Miami Carnival Parade; free bandanas from the Jamaica Tourist Board; VIP tickets to the DubFest music festival; and a pair of opening night tickets to an upcoming Broadway in Miami Show from the Arsht Center.


Among the attendees were Arsht Center President and CEO John Richard, who officiated the press conference together with Miami-Broward One Carnival Committee officials Glen Joseph, Oscar Braynon, Rathven Williams and Marlon Hill. Special guest speakers and supporters also included Miami-Dade County District 2 Marc Sarnoff, City of Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones; and Greater Miami Convention & Visitor Bureau Associate Vice President George Neary. There was even a surprise appearance by Miami Heat basketball player Jamaal Dane Magloire

Cirque is the Latest in a Dream Season of Family Shows
May 18, 2009, 6:30 pm
Filed under: About the Center, Family Fun

The hit Broadway spectacular, Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy, which just ended its run at the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House, was the fourth offering of the current Broadway in Miami season, presented by RRA Broadway Across America and the Adrienne Arsht Center. It wowed audiences—especially the hundreds of children in the theater who were kept on the edge of their seats by the stunning athleticism of the performers, the explosion of colors and movement, the soaring aerialist, the acrobats and jugglers. And while Chicago, the final show opening May 26, is decidedly a more adult affair, the 08/09 Broadway lineup has been a hit parade of some of the greatest musicals ever created for family audiences: The Wizard of Oz, Annie, Cats—a dream of a season for families who love to experience and share the excitement of live theater and the magic of the performing arts. Nearly 59,000 people came to the theater to see these four shows, and there were lots and lots of kids at every performance!


Girl Scouts at Cirque

Girl Scouts at Cirque


These musicals, with their enchanting stories, timeless characters, and memorable scores, have been introducing children to live theater for generations—not just in this country, but around the world. And once again, they have worked their magic—here in Miami—at the Adrienne Arsht Center. For many of the kids who sat in the audience booing the Wicked Witch, trying out some cat moves, hoping against hope that Annie and Sandy would find a home, and dreaming of soaring through the air on a flying trapeze, this was their first-ever Broadway show! We are certain that for many of them it was an unforgettable experience that will turn them into lifelong theatergoers.

We know that for many of you, this is exactly how you got hooked on the performing arts. When you were a kid you were taken to a musical, or to a stage adaptation of your favorite story, or to see The Nutcracker, or to hear a concert. Instantly you thought, “Well this is the best thing ever!” And then you couldn’t get enough! It’s addictive—and it’s easy to see why.

The performing arts enrich our lives. They make us feel. They’re beautiful, exciting, scary, fun, challenging, thought-provoking, moving, and hugely entertaining. They teach us things about ourselves—and about others— that we can’t learn anywhere else—or at least not while having such a good time! They bring communities together. At a theater or concert hall, black box studio or outdoor stage, people who have never had a language in common suddenly do—through melody, through movement, through rhythm, even through stories so universal that it really doesn’t matter what language they’re spoken in. In Miami, perhaps the most diverse city in the country, where people from around the world come to live and play, what could be more precious? 

It’s a no-brainer that introducing children to the performing arts has to be one of the primary goals of this or any other great performing arts center. Turning them into life-long performing arts lovers—through live performances of family shows, classes, workshops, and a host of other interactive at-the-theater and in-the-classroom activities—is certainly at the top of the Adrienne Arsht Center agenda.

Family Fest 2008/2009 Closes out its Season
May 5, 2009, 2:06 am
Filed under: Family Fun

After entertaining more than 6,000 attendees during the Family Fest 2008/2009 season, the free festival for all families presented its final installment of the season this past Saturday, May 2 on the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Parker and Vann Thomson Plaza for the Arts. This free and engaging series has made the performing arts attractive and accessible to South Florida families throughout the year by featuring family- friendly performances, hands-on demonstrations and mini-workshops that provide active and educational opportunities for children and their families.  

The outdoor activities this month included a performance by aerial performers Animate Objects. Their Journey to Atlantis show featured professional aerial artists and young people from the community performing beautiful high-flying feats of strength and skill portraying creatures from the depths of the oceans. The musical guests were Matthew Sabatella and the Rambling String Band, whose American folk song sing-along had the audience dancing and making music when they handed out hand-held percussion instruments for kids to play along with the band.  In addition to the performances, kids enjoyed dance workshops, face painting, meeting costumed character, and creating their own Jungle Fantasy animal masks in the Craft Corner.  The Acrobatics Lab, a popular feature of this month’s Family Fest, allowed participants to try out swinging on aerial hammocks, dancing with silk gymnastics ribbons, and hula-hooping around the room. Special guests from City Theater’s Summer Shorts for Kids presented acting workshops and launched their “Create-A-Short” contest, where kids could decorate a pair of paper shorts to win prizes.  

This fully interactive and entertaining Family Fest series will continue next season with the 2009-2010 kick-off on November 7 with a performance by the Miami Music Project, featuring conductor James Judd.  Each Family Fest day will start on the Center’s outdoor Plaza with family-friendly fun and then moves the action indoors for a free performance in the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House or John S. or James L. Knight Concert Hall.





Photo Credit: Emily Harris

%d bloggers like this: