Point of View

The Inside Dish from Jersey Boys Cast Members

The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is thrilled to have the touring company of the 2006 Tony Award-winning musical, Jersey Boys, on its campus for a three week engagement. This critically acclaimed musical relates the incredible story of how a group of blue collar boys from the wrong side of the tracks became one of the biggest American pop sensations of all time – Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Playing from March 2nd through March 20th in the Ziff Ballet Opera House, Jersey Boys brings an electrifying cast to Miami. Go backstage with cast members Matt Bailey, Alayna Gallo, and Quinn VanAntwerp, and find out what they are doing in Miami when they aren’t on stage.


It’s two turntables and a microphone.  It’s lyrics to go.  It’s straight outta Compton, Queensbridge, and Miami!   It’s hip hop – one of America’s greatest cultural expressions, and it’s alive and well at the Adrienne Arsht Center like never before.  Last week a dozen young dancers took the best of hip hop from the streets of Philly to the stage in Miami, performing as part of acclaimed choreographer Rennie Harris’ second company, RHAW: Rennie Harris Awe-Inspiring Works.

In celebration of this thrilling young troupe’s Miami debut, the Center threw an old school block party, filling the Thomson Plaza for the Arts with DJs, MCs, and Miami’s finest b-boys who threw down in a breakdance battle par excellence.  As the official RHAW after party, the B-Boy Battle featured DJ Griot from 99 Jamz, DJ Brimstone/127, Ground Zero Crew, the Flipside Kings, and of course the RHAW dancers who couldn’t help but join in the freestyle jam session.  Even Dr. Rennie Harris himself was moved by the spirit of Kool Herc and took to the dance floor to show the youngsters how it is done.  Long live hip hop, one of America’s greatest art forms!


February 2011 marks a milestone month for dance at the Center.  The Center expects to see more than 22,000 South Floridians leap through our doors for diverse and dynamic dance programs, making the Adrienne Arsht Center one of the premier venues for dance in the country.  Earlier this month Peru Negro and Eva Ayllon had Miamians dancing in the aisles; Miami City Ballet enchanted with a mixed bill featuring masterworks by Balanchine, Taylor and Tharp;  last week Rennie Harris’ young hip hop troupe, RHAW, made their Miami debut; and next week Flamenco Festival returns for the fourth consecutive season with Spain’s leading ambassadors of flamenco, Ballet Nacional de España.

This weekend, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater soars into town for what has become a beloved Miami tradition – the company’s annual performance residency at the Center showcasing the world’s greatest dancers and one of the most inspiring dance masterpieces, Revelations.  This season, Ailey celebrates 50 years of Revelations, honoring a dance that has travelled across continents, touching audience members from Brooklyn to South Africa.  Artistic Director Judith Jamison, now in the final year of her incredible 25-year tenure at the helm of the company, makes her last stop in Miami this season, passing the torch to Liberty City native Robert Battle.  With Miami’s native son posed to step into perhaps the most prominent dance leadership position in the country, now more than ever dance in Miami is exploding onto the local and national scene.

Come dance with us!

February 17, 2011, 9:01 pm
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Immerse yourself in flamenco!

In addition to the long-awaited return to Miami of Ballet Nacional de España, Flamenco Festival Miami 2011 features the 6th annual Festival of Flamenco Song, making its Flamenco Festival debut with a multitude of interactive educational workshops and the highly anticipated Café Cantante performances, which just added a third show due to unprecedented demand for tickets.

This year’s Flamenco Festival kicks off with a variety of education and outreach activities welcoming the community to learn about unique flamenco traditions. In a lecture titled “A Half-Century of Flamenco, 1960-2010,” writer and journalist Estela Zatania will speak about the evolution of the flamenco art form and present a film titled Duende y Misterio del Flameco, directed by Edgar Neville.

There is also a chance to learn cante from Gabriel de la Tomasa. He is quickly gaining recognition for his dedication to preserving the traditional songs he has learned from his father, singer Jose de la Tomasa, and for the passion with which he interprets the cante jondo, the deepest and most difficult of the flamenco styles. Macarena de Jerez, a dancer and singer who excels at the bulerias style of flamenco, which comes from her home town of Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), gives everyone an opportunity to learn a traditional bulerias dance. Also, Siempre Flamenco’s musical director, Paco Fonta, will teach participants an “Introduction to Flamenco Guitar.”

In the Carnival Studio Theater, Café Cantante will feature living legend Luis Vargas along with rising stars Macarena de Jerez and Gabriel de la Tomasa, accompanied by authentic flamenco dance performed by the Siempre Flamenco Company.  Deep emotions that emanate from flamenco song unite with the intricate fury of dance in a unique performance that will exhilarate audiences with an up-close experience.

Once again, Flamenco Festival Miami makes the Adrienne Arsht Center the best place—outside the motherland—to see the best music and dance of Spain.

For more information on educational event times and locations, click here.


From time to time, I get the opportunity to welcome local celebrities on stage or at an event, but every now and then a biggie comes along. A few weeks ago my promotions staff told me I might get to do something with  Whoopi Goldberg on stage at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami!

I thought, how cool is this? But what would I ask? What would I say? I loved her in “Star Trek” and The Color Purple and Ghost and come on, every one watches “The View!”

The day comes. I’m waiting at the back stage entrance. I call my contact person and she and another woman greet me, then I’m given my credentials. I’m thinking, OK cool. I get to wear a back stage pass. Then I’m walking down the hall and there she is in all her Whoopiness, posing for pictures! The two women push me up front and center and said, “Whoopi, this is Susan Wise.  She will be your moderator for the Q & A part of the show.” Moderator…what does that mean? She shakes my clammy hand and we turn for a picture. Then I get whisked away to my dressing room. Dressing room? I came already dressed…Why do I need a dressing room. That’s for big stars, I’m just a DJ.

And there it is: a big beautiful golden door with my name shining brightly on the front. SUSAN WISE. (Okay it was a normal door and my name was scribbled on a piece of paper and taped on the door, but so was Whoopi’s, and she was right next door….how about that?!) I’m next door to the famous Whoopi Goldberg!

I walk in and scope out the room; a nice couch, fully lighted mirror just like you see in the movies, a bathroom and shower. And a monitor of the stage so I can see what’s happening until time for me to go on. Two stage directors come in, Whoopi’s PR guy and the 2 women who greeted me in the beginning. They start going over my instructions and want to escort me to the backstage area, so I’ll know where I’m going ahead of time. So we do a rehearsal of my “walk to the backstage.” This was getting more over the top by the moment. Are you sure it wasn’t my name in lights out front of the Adrienne Arsht Center? I wasn’t nervous before, but all the hoopla over little ole me was crazy. (But secretly I was loving it!)

Afterwards, I watched the show from my dressing room and then 50 minutes into the performance, the stage director comes to my dressing room. “Susan …it’s time.” Oh lord, it’s time…time to faint. My hands are shaking; that hasn’t happened in years. I walk to the backstage area where I can see Whoopi doing her thing in front of a full house. My dad and Howard are out there somewhere. God, I hope I don’t trip. What if I freeze? Naw…I’m a DJ…I can do this!

Whoopi calls me on stage. I walk out and introduce myself and perch on a stool center stage next to our star. I inform the audience of what we are going to do with the Q & A. Then, I spent the next 37 minutes guiding Whoopi Goldberg—who is answering questions, being funny, clever, political and sometimes naughty—from the best seat in the house. What a fabulous night!

In Loving Memory – Dolores Ziff
January 24, 2011, 9:20 pm
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We are saddened by the passing of a very special member of the Adrienne Arsht Center family. Dolores Ziff was not only one of our Center’s major donors but also one of our most loyal patrons. Dolores had an indefatigable devotion to the arts and embraced the diversity of the Center’s programming. The passing of so great a woman will surely be felt throughout our entire community.

Her name is permanently engraved on our Donor Walls – and her spirit will live with us at the Center forever. The example she set will long continue to influence and inspire us.

This past January 18th, the Adrienne Arsht Center dedicated a performance by Joshua Bell in loving memory of Dolores and her surviving family: her beloved husband Sanford and the entire Ziff and Keator families. “Her boundless enthusiasm will be missed but she will always be with us in spirit,” remarked M. John Richard. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time. In addition, the Adrienne Arsht Center created a tribute page for the Sunday edition of The Miami Herald.

A memorial celebration of Dolores Ziff’s life was held at noon, Jan. 22, in The Church by the Sea in Bal Harbour. Dolores Ziff adored all flowers, especially peonies, but preferred donations be made to Camillus House in Miami.


There are a wide variety of opportunities for members of the community to volunteer at the Adrienne Arsht Center: as ushers, tour guides and wranglers, and as much needed support in the administrative offices, and at promotional events and outreach festivals throughout the city. In each case the volunteer is given wonderful insight into the business of guest and community service.

It’s particularly gratifying to see young people seek out and embrace these opportunities for involvement, and acquire the understanding that you always gain something, when you give something.

Recently, the Center had the pleasure of welcoming a group of 20 students of Miami Sunset Senior High School’s ESOL class (English as a Second Language), named the Close Up Club. The Close Up Club committed themselves to support the activities of the four-event FAMILY FEST, the Center’s ongoing series of free arts-related activities and performances, made possible by the support of Florida Blue Cross, Blue Shield and the Miami Downtown Development Authority.

Each student opened themselves up to the opportunity, unsure of who or what environment they might encounter, but with a great deal of courage and the desire to reach out and serve.

They ranged in ages, as did their proficiency in English – but they were unwavering in their committment to lend a hand. We are grateful to these fine young people, ready to challenge themselves, as well  as how the world sees them.

Nestor Cedeño, ESOL Department/Close Up Sponsor says, “I can say that as an ESOL teacher, I always tell my students that the best practice happens OUTSIDE of the classroom.”


Created by the award-winning team at The House Theatre of Chicago, The Sparrow is one of the most original and acclaimed new works to emerge from the Chicago theater scene in decades. In April, the Adrienne Arsht Center presents this story of tragedy, triumph, superpowers and good ol’ fashioned high school popularity contests at the Carnival Studio Theater, April 7 – May 1.

The Adrienne Arsht Center is reaching out to Miami-Dade high school and college students in drama and journalism programs to engage them in this national hit play. On February 19, The Sparrow creator and House Theatre founder Nathan Allen will be chatting directly with students via Skype about the inner workings of the show. Journalism students will receive press kits, credentials and an invitation to review the show in the Adrienne Arsht Center’s first “student press-only viewing.” Some student journalists will have their reviews published in local publications, the upcoming Sparrow micro-site, and on the Adrienne Arsht Center’s POV newsletter blog!  

Drama students will not be left out! Allen will recommend scenes for classroom exercises and they will be invited to participate in the maiden “Ghost Class” program. Similar to Spring Awakening’s “Guilty Ones,” the “Ghost Class” is a group of young Sparrow enthusiasts who will build interest and spread the word about the show. From posting on Facebook, to passing out flyers, to creating viral videos on YouTube, these students will serve as ambassadors for the Adrienne Arsht Center and its highly anticipated production of The Sparrow. In addition to prizes such as tickets to the show and merchandise, one lucky “Ghost Class” member will be selected to win a walk-on role on Opening Night!

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