The Week Ahead: May 12 to 18



What: Built to Spill

Where: Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale

When: 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $26

Contact: 954/564-1074,

Leave it up to Idaho indie rockers Built to Spill, on the day after the release of their latest studio album “Untethered Moon,” to play a show almost entirely composed of cover songs—with music from the Clash, Metallica and Neil Young—and with nothing from the new record. Then again, eccentricity and unpredictability, in terms of both set lists and album releases, is kinda Built to Spill’s thing. The five-piece group of guitar gods, whose sound marries indie-pop minimalism with long-form jam noodling, plays a different set every night, resurrecting tunes from its earliest records alongside its latest offerings. The masterful “Untethered Moon,” which one critic cited as the band’s best album since 1999’s seminal “Keep it Like a Secret,” is the group’s first in six years and is the first Built to Spill album with new band members Steve Gere and Jason Albertini, whose skills are well displayed on such furious epics as “When I’m Blind” and “All Our Songs.”


What: Justin Willman

Where: Fort Lauderdale Improv, 5700 Seminole Way, Hollywood

When: Various show times

Cost: $20, with a two-drink minimum

Contact: 954/981-5653,

If hosting a Scrabble-themed game show (the short-lived “Scrabble Showdown,” in 2011 and 2012) were Justin Willman’s only accomplishment, he would deserve a historical footnote for helping to democratize the greatest board game ever invented. Beyond that, he’s a full-blown renaissance geek whose various skills have made him a much sought-after talent in the fields of comedy, magic and television hosting. The Missouri native and longtime host of the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” began learning magic at age 12, after an attempt to impress local girls by riding a bicycle while wearing rollerblades led to the breaking of both of his arms. Magic became his recuperative therapy, and he’s never stopped; his style is to disarm you with seemingly spontaneous quips while performing invisible, and stunning, trickery. It has worked on celebrities from Hugh Jackman and Ellen DeGeneres to President Obama, when he performed at the White House in 2011. Catch both sides of Willman—the magician and the comedian—at this four-night stint in Hollywood, in a dazzling program that could only be improved by the addition of cupcakes.


What: Opening night of “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill”

Where: Palm Beach Dramaworks, 201 Clematis St., West Palm Beach

When: 8 p.m.

Cost: $55-$77

Contact: 561/514-4042,

Long before Judy Garland, Johnny Cash and Woody Guthrie enjoyed theatrical productions celebrating their life and music, there was “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” the 1986 show about Billie Holiday that arguably started the entire subgenre. Biography and concert blend in Lainie Robertson’s musical-play hybrid, as Holiday takes the stage at a seedy Philadelphia bar in 1959, just a few months before she would shed her mortal coil at age 44. In between performances of iconic tunes such as “Strange Fruit,” “God Bless the Child” and “I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone,” Holiday discusses her problems with men, her drug addiction, her musical influences, her fraught relationship with her mother, and the racism she had encountered on tour. It takes a special actress to pull off both the monologues and the indelible jazz vocals; let’s hope Dramaworks’ selection, Tracey Conyer Lee, can channel the same passion, pain and precision that Audra McDonald brought to the show’s 2014 Broadway premiere.

What: Opening night of “Betrayal”

Where: Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami

When: 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $45

Contact: 305/949-6722,

Theater producers can’t stay away from this gut-wrenching Harold Pinter masterpiece for very long. It premiered in 1980, was revived on Broadway 20 years later, and was produced yet again on Broadway in 2013, in a celebrated production with Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz. Presented as a love triangle between a husband, his wife, and his wife’s lover, who is also the husband’s best friend, the play includes betrayals within betrayals, and it is presented in a reverse-chronological structure that is still radical to this day: It begins in 1977, as the affair has dissipated, and ends in 1968, amid the initial pangs of forbidden lust. Characterized by Pinter’s famously economic dialogue, complete with protracted pauses, the play has an autobiographical history, have been inspired by the playwright’s own seven-year affair with a BBC Television reporter. Zoetic Stage director Stuart Meltzer has promised a “fresh take” on this great drama, which stars top local actors Nicholas Richberg, Amy McKenna and Chaz Mena. It runs through May 31.

What: Opening night of “The Book Club Play”

Where: Actors’ Playhouse, 280 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables

When: 8 p.m.

Cost: $45-$53

Contact: 305/444-9293,

You never know what various and sundry secrets will emerge when you get a bunch of smart people in a room to discuss “Moby-Dick” or “The Age of Innocence” or—God help us—“Twilight.” That’s the dramatic crux of Karen Zacarias’ “The Book Club Play,” a hit at regional theaters across the country, which makes its South Florida debut this weekend at Actors’ Playhouse. The play is set in the living room of affluent club leader Ana, who gathers her recalcitrant husband and four friends together for discussions that, inevitably, spiral into veiled resentments or uncomfortable truths. I’ve read the script, and it’s laugh-out-loud funny. With a cast this unimpeachable—Michael McKeever, Lela Elam, Paul Tei, Niki Fridh, Stephen G. Anthony and Barbara Sloan—expect the theatrical equivalent of a compelling page-turner. It runs through June 7.


What: Screenings of “Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine”

Where: O Cinema, 9806 N.E. Second Ave., Miami Shores

When: Various show times

Cost: $7.50-$11


The greatest movie tearjerker of 2015 is likely not a product of Hollywood. It’s this devastating documentary, which revisits the 1998 murder of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard. Shepard was killed because he was gay, and his death became so much of a symbol and cause celebre for the tolerance movement that it’s easy to forget the flesh-and-blood person that sacrificed so much for awareness and, eventually, progress. Michele Josue, a close friend of Shepard’s, directs this personal and searching documentary, which digs through the emotional and physical wreckage of this galvanizing hate crime by interviewing fellow friends, family and even the bartender who served Shepard’s last drink. The ultimate result is, somehow, a moving study in forgiveness.


What: Israel Fest 2015

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

When: 3 p.m.

Cost: Free


Thousands of attendees are expected to turn out at this celebration of Israel’s 67th anniversary of statehood, sponsored by the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County. The event will feature a rare performance by multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Josh Nelson and his wife and fellow musician Neshama Carlebach—who have been called the prince and princess of Jewish music—as well as Pardes, a Jewish rock band that combines spiritual content with a dollop of Mediterranean and Hassidic influence. There also will be kosher food for sale, and children can enjoy a petting zoo, face paining and fun and games from the PJ Library of South Palm Beach County. The Boca Raton Museum of Art will even offer free first-floor admission to festival guests, in honor of its stunning exhibition by Israeli-born artist Izhar Patkin.

What: Ed Kowalczyk

Where: Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale

When: 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $32.10

Contact: 954/564-1074,

The expected two-year hiatus of modern rockers Live, which was announced in 2009, soon became a permanent schism, resulting in one of the decade’s most acrimonious musical breakups, complete with a lawsuit. Singer Ed Kowalczyk has responded by dropping the Live moniker and striking out on his own as a solo artist, releasing three unassuming albums in the Aughts. But this year, he’s re-digging the Live well for this intimate acoustic tour in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Live’s iconic album “Throwing Copper,” which sold 8 million copies and put Kowalczyk on the musical map. The tour is awash in nostalgia, with vintage video clips kicking off the show and Kowalczyk performing “Throwing Copper” in its entirety, in sequence, including the bonus track. This means you’ll get to hear “Lightning Crashes,” “I Alone” “All Over You” and other tunes that, once upon a time, received regular rotation on that endangered species called rock radio.