Thursday, May 23, 2024

The Week Ahead: Jan. 20-26


What: Opening night of Palm Beach Poetry Festival

Where: Delray Center for the Arts, 51 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach

When: Various start times

Cost: Varies by event


Poetry is not only still alive in 2015. At least on a local level, it’s thriving, with the 11th annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival promising one of the strongest celebrations of poetic license it’s ever organized. As usual, readings, lectures, performances and workshops will fill the Delray Center for the Arts over the next week, including headliner Dana Gioia (pictured), former Chairman of the National Endowment for Arts, who will read at 4 p.m. Tuesday. And such niche household names as Thomas Lux, Linda Gregerson and Molly Peacock will perform throughout the week. But what’s especially unique about this year’s program is that it’s expanding into other art forms: At 8 p.m. Friday, the festival will host “Ballet’s Child,” a ballet performance inspired by the poems of Lani Scozzari, choreographed by Donna Murray. Visit the festival’s website for the complete schedule.


What: Opening night of “Song One”

Where: Cinema Paradiso, 503 S.E. Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale

When: 9:15 p.m.

Cost: $6-$10

Contact: 954/760-9898,

Anne Hathaway suffers her share of haters from the TMZ set and the unforgiving blogosphere, but she’s easy to like in “Song One,” a low-key, musically driven indie drama opening at select theaters this weekend. She plays an archaeology graduate student summoned home from an excursion in Morocco after her brother, a college dropout turned busker, is struck by a car in New York City and winds up in a potentially fatal coma. As she comes to terms with the possible sudden loss of a loved one—compounded by the guilt she feels for cutting off contact with him following his career choice—she discovers his passion for music by reading his diaries, visiting his favorite music clubs and attending a performance by his favorite singer-songwriter (played by Johnny Flynn, an Irish actor-musician). She strikes up a friendship-cum-romance with the musician as the coma drags on, burying her grief and regret in local shows by the likes of Sharon Van Etten, the Felice Brothers and Dan Deacon, who all play themselves and lend the movie a documentary-like cachet. The film’s denouement feels rote and too movie-ish, but “Song One” is a fine little gem about the transcendent power of music. It also opens at Cinema Paradiso Hollywood and the Cosford Cinema in Coral Gables.


What: Martha Graham Dance Company

Where: Duncan Theatre at Palm Beach State College, 4200 Congress Ave., Lake Worth

When: 8 p.m.

Cost: $45

Contact: 561/868-3309,

Arguably, no American dance outfit has a stronger brand than the Martha Graham Dance Company, the organization founded in 1926 by a woman whose dance talent has been likened to Picasso’s artistry and Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture. Graham’s influence hangs heavily over a program of classics and premieres: The dancer’s grief-ridden 1930 solo “Lamentation” will be rebooted by some of today’s top choreographers in “The Lamentation Variations.” The program also includes “Diversion of Angels,” a lyrical, abstract essay on love’s infinite possibilities; “Errand Into the Maze,” a duet inspired by the myth of Theseus; and “Echo,” a brand-new work funded by the National Dance Project.


What: Miami City Ballet Program II

Where: Kravis Center, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach

When: 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday

Cost: $20-$175

Contact: 561/832-7469,

There may be no better introduction to Miami City Ballet—and its rich history of producing works by the greatest choreographers in the world—than its second program this season. It includes works by Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp and George Balanchine, as formidable a choreographic trio as imaginable over a single evening. The program’s title refers to the special connection these dances have to organized sound: Taylor’s “Mercuric Tidings” blends animalistic movement with an attention to musicality that the Times described, in its 1982 premiere, as “a dance work that bursts seemingly into song.” Tharp’s contribution, “Nine Sinatra Songs,” also from ’82, wears its concept in its title: Nine standards from Ol’ Blue Eyes propel the action, which traces the swirling arc of romantic relationships across seven couples. Finally, the dancers will capture a jazz flavor in Balanchine’s “Symphony in Three Movements,” developed from three Igor Stravinsky compositions.

What: Jeff Ross

Where: Palm Beach Improv, 550 S. Rosemary Ave., West Palm Beach

When: Various show times

Cost: $22, with a two-drink minimum

Contact: 561/833-1812,

Fresh off its sold-out engagements with Lisa Lampanelli last weekend, the Palm Beach Improv returns with another caustic comic who knows his way around a good insult: Jeff Ross, the anointed Roastmaster General, who possesses the special ability to brutally roast just about anyone over an open fire while still conveying his respect for the roast-ee—an art form he illustrated in his 2009 book I Only Roast the Ones I Love: Busting Balls Without Burning Bridges. Pamela Anderson, Joan Rivers, Donald Trump, Bob Saget, Charlie Sheen, James Franco and many others have fallen prey to his laser-focused, no-holds-barred barbs, but you needn’t be a celebrity to be on the receiving end of a Jeff Ross insult. In his standup performances, he typically invites 10 audience members to climb onstage on his makeshift dais and be gloriously roasted. If you’re one of them, you’ll realize it’s an honor—after you’re done laughing through your tears.


What: “Bonnie & Clyde”

Where: Slow Burn Theatre, 12811 W. Glades Road, Boca Raton

When: 8 p.m.

Cost: $40

Contact: 866/811-4111,

It may be a landmark film today, but when “Bonnie & Clyde” debuted in 1967, audiences weren’t ready for it, and neither were a lot of critics. It teemed with uninhibited sexuality, risqué humor and realistically bloody violence—a far cry from Old Hollywood, with its chaste cowboys and theatrical mobsters clutching their sides and collapsing graciously to their demise. Forty-four years later, a Broadway musical based on the iconic outlaws proved equally hard to please everybody. Reviewers were lukewarm, ticket sales stagnated, and the show closed after four weeks. But Boca’s Slow Burn Theatre Company is admired for its ability to both honor and transform offbeat musicals that, for whatever reason, failed to catch fire under the New York spotlight. “Bonnie & Clyde” fits the bill entirely, from its copious gun violence—surprisingly graphic, for the stage—to its colorful song palette, which combines Broadway-style pop with the blues, rockabilly, gospel and country music that proliferated during the Great Depression. The show runs through Feb. 8.

What: Lucinda Williams

Where: Parker Playhouse, 707 N.E. Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale

When: 8 p.m.

Cost: $46.61

Contact: 954/462-0222,

Make an argument for Steve Earle all you want: For my money, Lucinda Williams is the greatest alternative-country musician America has ever produced. She’s a singer-songwriter who launched her career plying a traditional country-blues trade and has spent the next quarter-century-plus expanding her horizons—musically, lyrically and emotionally. Now, the tunesmith lives in a category all her own, operating on the malleable nexus of rock ‘n’ roll, folk, blues, country and Americana. Williams will be 62 next week, and with age has come a visceral, road-beaten passion in her voice, whose angelic clarity has given way to a gravelly gut-punch of piss and vinegar, praise and condemnation. Her latest double album, “Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone,” contains all of this and more, sprawling over 20 songs. It feels like a swan song, but I certainly hope it isn’t. Her last appearance at Parker Playhouse, in 2011, made our countdown of the year’s best tours, and I expect this one will, too.


What: Arlo Guthrie

Where: Parker Playhouse, 707 N.E. Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale

When: 7 p.m.

Cost: $50.15–$61.95

Contact: 954/462-0222,

Singer-songwriter Arlo Guthrie has released more than 25 albums, but his set lists have long been dominated by tunes written by his father Woody, the pioneer of protest folk (his mother Marjorie, no artistic slouch, danced professionally with the Martha Graham Company). Woody Guthrie probably spun in his grave when his son became a registered Republican in the Aughts (he’s an avid Ron Paul supporter), but as the carrier of his father’s sonic torch, Arlo’s music is just as straightforward, intimate and affecting, and often just as socially and politically conscious. This year, Arlo will celebrate the 50th anniversary of his most famous single, “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” a story-song that inspired its own 1969 film. At 18 minutes and 34 seconds, the “Massacree” consumed the entire A side of Guthrie’s debut LP, but that’s nothing compared to concert versions of the song, which have reached the 45-minute mark, filled with Guthrie’s trademark diversions. The song has rarely been performed over the past decade, so its inclusion this year is a special treat.

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John Thomason
John Thomason
As the A&E editor of, I offer reviews, previews, interviews, news reports and musings on all things arty and entertainment-y in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

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