Miami City Ballet makes a Shakespearean splash, Morikami hosts its colorful spring shindig, and a Delray survivor hosts another rockin’ benefit concert. Plus, Stanley Jordan, Piff the Magic Dragon, the Carbonell Awards and more in your week ahead.
What: Hank & Jim Book Discussion
Where: Society of the Four Arts, 2 Four Arts Plaza, Palm Beach
When: 5:30 p.m.
Contact: 561/655-2766, fourarts.org
If you missed our fun and informative Boca Chats! event with film historian Scott Eyman back in January in Delray Beach, you’re in luck: The West Palm Beach-based expert on all things vintage Hollywood is back in the hot seat to discuss his latest book Hank and Jim, an illuminating study of the 50-year friendship of two of American cinema’s most iconic leading men: Henry Fonda and James Stewart. They met as competing stage actors in New York, roomed together twice, and were both decorated for their service in World War II. But in many ways, they were the proverbial odd couple. One was married four times, another remained monogamous with his spouse for 45 years; and they had polar-opposite political affiliations. They fought over the latter issue just one time, and had the good sense never to discuss the topic again—not a bad idea these days! If you enjoy Eyman’s book and discussion, then come back to the Four Arts April 12 for 2:30 and 6 p.m. screenings of 1948’s “On Our Merry Way,” which starred both Fonda and Stewart.
What: Piff the Magic Dragon
Where: Parker Playhouse, 707 N.E. Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale
When: 8 p.m.
Contact: 954/462-0222, browardcenter.org
Everybody needs a gimmick, and John van der Put wears his. The London-bred magician performs as Piff the Magic Dragon, where his stage apparel is a green dragon suit that looks no more elegant than a child’s Halloween costume. In it, he “breathes fire,” delivers deadpan quips, and orchestrates illusions with an unusual assistant: his Chihuahua, Mr. Piffles, adorably attired in his own dragon couture. Piff’s idiosyncrasies have elevated him from fringe festivals and corporate retreats to Radio City Music Hall, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the viewers of “Penn & Teller: Fool Us!” and “America’s Got Talent,” where he lasted to the summer 2015 finale. Once you get past the green tail and bug-eyed pooch, Piff’s repertoire has a sturdy familiarity to it, relying on playing cards, levitation, vanishing objects and impossible reveals. But the tricks proceed with a Rube Goldberg-like complexity, each one a feat of dexterous engineering.
FRIDAY AND SATURDAY
What: Stanley Jordan
Where: Arts Garage, 94 N.E. Second Ave., Delray Beach
When: 8 p.m.
Contact: 561/450-6357, artsgarage.org
Just play the guitar like a piano—got it? Virtuoso composer Stanley Jordan not only figured this out back in the early ‘80s, he practically pioneered the application of piano principals to guitar playing, in particular the “touch technique,” a form of two-handed tapping on the fretboard that allowed him to play melodies and chords simultaneously—or even guitar and piano at the same time, if the song calls for it. The chameleonic performer comfortably straddles the genres of jazz, classical and pop; he even scored a No. 1 country hit with “Morning Desire,” a collaboration with Kenny Rogers. Jordan’s ambidextrous talent was on peak display in his 1986 breakthrough, the aptly titled Magic Touch, which helped reinvigorate classic Blue Note Records as a contemporary jazz label. Its centerpiece, a seven-minute cover of the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby,” is a mysterious jazzy/bossa nova re-imagining that is almost unrecognizable at first. It still shows up on his set lists, along with additional standards and covers, from Béla Bartók to Led Zeppelin.
FRIDAY TO SUNDAY
What: Miami City Ballet’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
Where: Kravis Center, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach
When: Various show times
Contact: 561/832-7469, kravis.org
In more ways than one, Miami City Ballet is taking a deep dive into George Balanchine’s 1962 dance adaptation of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The company has re-imagined Balanchine’s whimsical fantasy as an underwater ballet, setting its romantic roundelay of lovers both mortal and fairy in a literal ocean of possibilities. Influential Miami Beach artist Michele Oka Doner is tasked with creating the aquatic scenic design, props and costumes, complete with wings, frills and sea foam green body suits. This would be a much-anticipated production even without this novel approach, because it’s a landmark in ballet history. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was Balanchine’s first original full-length ballet, and in its New York City premiere, it starred none other than future Miami City Ballet head Edward Villella as Oberon. The extraordinary Mendelssohn score, much of it composed when he was just 17, will be performed by a live orchestra.
What: 11th-annual Cruiser Palooza
Where: Old School Square Pavilion
When: 5 to 11 p.m.
Cost: $35 to bring your own, $50 for reserved seating, $100-$250 VIP
Contact: 561/243-7922, oldschoolsquare.org
While there is hardly such a thing as an upside, or a silver lining, to being paralyzed from the chest down after a skim-boarding accident in Delray Beach, at least you may get a bunch of cool bands to play a show in your honor—every year, for more than a decade. That’s been the local legacy of Cruise Bogle, who lost the use of legs in that day in December 2008, and who has given back to charities while keeping us entertained ever since with this annual concert/party. This year’s Cruiser Palooza, whose proceeds benefit Old School Square, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, and Cruise’s own recovery efforts, will feature food and cocktails from local vendors, and a stellar entertainment of eclectic South Florida bands, with Uproot Hootenanny, Spider Cherry and Artikal Sound System teeing things off for country headliner Amber Leigh.
SATURDAY AND SUNDAY
What: Hatsume Fair
Where: Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, 4000 Morikami Park Road, Delray Beach
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $15 adults, $10 children
Contact: 561/495-0233, morikami.org
Usually, the Morikami is a tranquil paradise, a place where even the most restless visitor can meditate near the bridges, waterfalls and serpentine bonsai trees, her only soundtrack the chipper song of bluejays and gentle splash of koi. The Hatsume Fair, which heralds the first bud of spring, is different: It’s one of the few times a year this Zen garden channels the energy of a bustling street fair, complete with costumed revelers—many guests dress as their favorite anime characters, their wigs the color of Jelly Belly flavors—and plenty of activities to keep attendees busy for hours. The 40th-annual Hatsume Fair is no different: The entertainment includes thunderous taiko drum performances from leading groups Ronin Taiko and Fushu Daiko, martial arts demonstrations showcasing a broad variety of Japanese demonstrations, and a fashion show highlighting the latest trends in Japanese couture. Additionally, many of the anime lookalikes roaming the grounds will participate in a costume contest. Be sure to peruse the artisan booths, anime dealers and plant vendors, and relax in the Sapporo Beer Garden and Sake Station. Bring the kids, too—there’s a separate children’s area.
MONDAY, APRIL 8
What: Carbonell Awards
Where: Broward Center for the Performing Art, 201 S.W. Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale
When: 7:30 p.m.
Contact: 954/462-0222, browardcenter.org
The world of South Florida regional theatre awards the finest performers, producers and designers of 2018 at our local version of the Tonys, now entering its 43rd year. While theaters in Miami-Dade County netted 43 nominations for their work in 2018, the most of any county, Palm Beach County was not too shabby, scoring 37 nominations, including nine for Palm Beach Dramaworks’ “Indecent,” the most nominated production of the year. Regardless of who wins, the ceremony is always a gas, with lively and moving acceptance speeches, and spirited performances from the five nominated entries for Best Production of a Musical, which this year are “The Bridges of Madison County,” “Fun Home,” “Memphis,” “Once” and “Woody Guthrie’s American Song.” (Full disclosure: I’m one of the Carbonells’ judges, and I participated in the nominating process, but I have a no idea who the winners are.) Hope to see you there!