Sunday, April 14, 2024

The Week Ahead: July 21 to 27


What: Opening night of “Love Letters”

Where: Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 S.W. Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale

When: 8 p.m.

Cost: $30-$70

Contact: 954/462-0222,

This Pulitzer Prize finalist by A.R. Gurney, first performed in 1988, is such a minimalist play that its actors aren’t even required to memorize lines: The text is right there in front of them, on a desk, where the performers sit reading it, adding their own flavor and texture to this celebrated work. The narrative, told entirely through letters, notes and cards exchanged between the characters over a 50-year period, charts the hopes, dreams, ambitions and disappointments of lifelong pen pals Andrew Makepeace Ladd III, a U.S. senator, and Melissa Gardner, a struggling artist. The brevity of the show’s rehearsal requirements, as well as its universal themes, have drawn countless marquee names to performances on and off-Broadway over the past 25-plus years. For the national tour, we’re getting Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal, who, 45 years after co-starring in “Love Story,” know a thing or two about on-set chemistry. The show runs through July 26, and we’ll have a review later this week on

What: Irwin Solomon Jazz Trio with Avery Sommers

Where: Himmel Theater at CityPlace, 600 S. Rosemary Ave., West Palm Beach

When: 7 p.m.

Cost: $5 students, $10 adults

Contact: 866/449-2489,

For classical and jazz music lovers in Palm Beach County, the third Tuesday of each month means one thing: The Himmel Theater’s “Music for the Mind” series, an ongoing showcase of local talent whose funds raise money for music education programs in our schools and community. This month, pianist Irwin Solomon and the rest of his jazz trio—bassist Dave Tomasello and drummer Frank Derrick—will present intimate arrangements of classics from the Great American Songbook, supplemented by vocals from cabaret performer and actress Avery Sommers. Hopefully Solomon, a professional South Florida musician and educator for more than 25 years, is as talented as he is funny: According to his official bio, “he feels very fortunate to be able to make a good living as a full time musician, but between you and me, he would give it all up for a decent head of hair.”


What: Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson

Where: Bayfront Park Amphitheatre, 301 N. Biscayne Blvd., Miami

When: 7 p.m.

Cost: $30.75-$85.25


The Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson seem like an odd tour pairing: You’d think both would bring enough of their own dedicated audience to headline an amphitheater without the other. But both of these acts are still scrabbling to maintain relevance in an era where alternative music no longer dominates airwaves and enrages older generations. Heck, the fans of these acts are quickly becoming the older generation. Manson and the Pumpkins have both resisted the temptation to tour as nostalgia acts, however, with the former releasing a critically acclaimed blues-tinged album earlier this year, and the latter continuing its “Teargarden by Kaleidyscope” concept-album series with last year’s “Monuments to an Elegy.” These newer cuts join a parade of hits from both acts’ back catalogs—“Today” and “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” “The Dope Show” and “Disposable Teens”—along with theatrical props and scenic designs that still aspire to shock, even if the target audience is too jaded to beshocked.


What: “The Birds” radio play

Where: Arts Garage, 180 N.E. First St., Delray Beach

When: 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $20-$50

Contact: 561/450-6357,

If you’ve seen Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” a number of its terrifying images have probably staked a permanent place in your nightmare repertory. After all, you can’t unsee a disgorged eye socket. But before it was a movie, “The Birds” was a creepy novella by Daphne du Maurier and then a radio play produced by Luxe Radio Theater in 1953. Purists of the original story would argue Hitchcock showed us too much: Perhaps the sheer terror of this ornithological onslaught should accrue most of its potency from our imagination, which needs only a few suggestive caws, shrieks, flaps and pecks to get us started. That’s the challenge, and the excitement, surrounding Delray’s Arts Radio Network, which brings “The Birds” to life this week with vintage sound effects, terrified actors, old-timey microphones and not a single actual feathered enemy in sight. Don’t be surprised if you watch the skies a little more intently on your way out, though.


What: Opening night of Woody Allen Film Festival

Where: O Cinema, 500 71st St., Miami Beach

When: 6:30 p.m.

Cost: $7.50-$11 ($55 for weeklong pass)

Contact: 786/207-1919,

Next weekend, July 31, Woody Allen’s latest film “Irrational Man” opens in South Florida. Like much of Allen’s post-2000s output, it’s OK. But if you need a refresher on just how brilliant Allen was at his peak, visit O Cinema’s Miami Beach location for a retrospective of his finest work. The festival begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday with “Annie Hall,” his groundbreaking, Oscar-winning meta-comedy, and continues at 8:30 p.m. with “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” his pitch-perfect 1989 dramedy about murder, morality and capitalism. Stick around Saturday (or next week) for “Manhattan,” his black-and-white love letter to his cherished city; “Radio Days,” his affectionate tribute to the days of pre-television entertainment; and “Hannah and Her Sisters,” his masterful ensemble piece about the fragility of relationships.


What: Opening day of “Brenda Hope Zappitell: A Journey of Gestures”

Where: Boca Raton Museum of Art, 201 Plaza Real, Boca Raton

When: noon to 5 p.m.

Cost: $10-$12

Contact: 561/392-2500,

For Delray artist Brenda Hope Zappitell, a group exhibition in a local museum is one thing; a solo show in a respected gallery is another. She’s enjoyed plenty of both, at venues ranging from Boca’s Rosenbaum Contemporary to galleries in Santa Fe, Tulsa and Park City. But this summer’s month-long showcase at Boca Raton Museum of Art is a new plateau for this award-winning painter: a solo exhibition at a major regional museum. After spending her formative years at the museum’s art school, Zappitell’s graduation to the institution’s big-sister venue is no surprise, considering the maturation and consistency of her work. Once a representational painter with abstract flourishes, Zappitell is now an abstract expressionist with only the faintest figural intimations. Like a prose writer switching her focus to poetic verse, she finds in her decisive brush strokes a fierce beauty, freed from the crutch of familiar forms. Her paintings, which bear such ephemeral titles as “Chasing Placidity” and “Embracing the Essence of Yin,” build from her immersion into such Buddhist principles as mindfulness, meditation and yoga. The exhibition runs through Aug. 23.


What: Idina Menzel

Where: Mizner Park Amphitheater, 590 Plaza Real, Boca Raton

When: 7 p.m.

Cost: $70–$480


John Travolta, in a moment of severe teleprompter malfunction, famously butchered this soaring soprano’s name at the 2014 Oscars. But for theater people, Idina Menzel is a household dynamo, maintaining a spot on our radars and in our hearts since her 1996 breakthrough in the original Broadway cast of “Rent.” Her credits since have been sparse but immaculate, from “Hair” and “Aida” to the original cast of “Wicked” and the recent Tony nominee, “If/Then.” Oh yeah—and she starred as the Snow Queen in a minor Disney project called “Frozen,” with her chilly avatar becoming a staple on the bedroom wall of every 10-year-old girl in America. Trained as a classical singer since age 8, Menzel has become just as proficient in rock, pop, jazz and R&B as the show tunes she belts in her day job. Her tours offer a little bit of everything—from Radiohead, the Police and Ethel Merman to Cole Porter, “Wicked” and “Frozen”—delivered alongside her signature wit, self-deprecation and personal anecdotes.

What: Leon Russell

Where: The Funky Biscuit, 303 S.E. Mizner Blvd., Boca Raton

When: 8 p.m.

Cost: $45-$60

Contact: 561/395-2929,

To say that Leon Russell is a musician’s musician is an understatement. As a session player, he is as dependable as rain in July, and as versatile in genre as a good jukebox. In his 50-year career as a songwriter, singer, pianist, bandleader and guitarist, he has crossed paths and performed alongside everyone from Dean Martin, Barbra Streisand and Jerry Lee Lewis to John Lennon, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton. His musicality encompasses pop, rock, blues, country, bluegrass, standards, gospel and surf records, and just a few years ago, he saw his album “The Union,” co-written and performed with Elton John, peak at No. 3 on the Billboard chart. In other words, Russell is a major “get” for the Funky Biscuit, the intimate restaurant-club in Royal Palm Place, which celebrates its fourth anniversary with a weekend of concerts by Russell (Saturday’s show is sold out). At 73, the distinctively voiced chameleon still plays marathon set lists, from his own material to his signature takes on Beatles, Dylan, Ray Charles and Chuck Berry hits.

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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