Craft beer goes “Old School” in Delray, gridiron champs vie at FAU Stadium, and a locally produced film premieres in Lauderdale. Plus, Soweto Gospel Choir, the Byrds’ best album and a little show called “Hamilton.”
What: Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl
Where: FAU Stadium, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton
When: 7 p.m.
At this beloved December tradition in Boca, the fire-breathing dragon will square off against the noble husky. These mascots represent the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Northern Illinois University, respectively. While the energy will not be as electric as the 2017 Boca Raton Bowl—when the hometown FAU Owls made mincemeat of the Akron Zips, to the tune of a 50-3 blowout—a strong turnout is expected for the matchup, which is as much about the party atmosphere as it is the pigskin. Regardless of who’s winning, the views will be beautiful: FAU Stadium is the only stadium in the country that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.
What: Opening night of “Hamilton”
Where: Broward Center, 201 S.W. Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale
When: 8 p.m.
Cost: $350-$940 premium/resale tickets; $10 tickets possible through lottery drawing
Contact: 954/462-0222, browardcenter.org
Thanks to this cross-cultural phenomenon, young people across the country know more about a wonky 18th century statesman than they do most of the highest officeholders in the land. Such is the power of composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose extraordinary biography of Alexander Hamilton grafts contemporary musical vernaculars and color-blind casting to what, in another director’s hands, might have come off as mothballed history lesson. The Grammy-, Pulitzer-, and 11-time Tony-winning musical is South Florida’s hottest ticket in years; if you’re not a Broadway in Fort Lauderdale subscriber, snagging one has likely proven to be a Herculean task. Might we suggest offering up your first-born? Another option: Visit hamiltonmusical.com/lottery and enter to win coveted $10 tickets.
What: Soweto Gospel Choir
Where: Kravis Center, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach
When: 7 p.m.
Contact: 561/832-7469, kravis.org
You may not understand the words, but you don’t need to: The music of the Soweto Gospel Choir transcends language, connecting with global audiences on a soul level. Formed in South Africa in 2002, the nearly 50-member choral group’s soaring harmonies unite audiences of all backgrounds, and it’s easy to see why its devotees have included Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu—the latter of whom is the choir’s most significant patron. Within three weeks of releasing its debut album, Voices of Heaven, in the U.S., the Soweto Gospel Choir topped Billboard’s World Music Charts, and for a collective that sings primarily in six African languages, its continued rise is extraordinary: The choir has performed or recorded with Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Bono; and has sang for Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton, Carlos Santana and Sidney Poitier. At this rare South Florida tour, the choir performs selections from its new album Freedom, dedicated to the centennial of Mandela’s birth.
What: “Sweetheart of the Rodeo:” 50th Anniversary tour
Where: Parker Playhouse, 707 N.E. Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale
When: 7:30 p.m.
Contact: 954/462-0222, parkerplayhouse.com
The year 1968 was such an important one in popular music—spawning Fleetwood Mac’s debut, the Zombies’ psych-pop standard-bearer Odessey and Oracle, the Beatles’ White Albumand the Band’s Music From Big Pink, among many essentials—that it’s easy to overlook Sweetheart of the Rodeo, a game-changing LP that is just as important in rock history. The Roger McGuinn-led folk-rock band with the jingle-jangle guitar sound had just brought on pioneering singer-songwriter Gram Parsons, who helped steer Sweetheart of the Rodeointo a seminal country-rock artifact, an album that defined Americana music for generations. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine acts like Uncle Tupelo, Whiskeytown and Steve Earle existing without it. At this appearance, Byrds co-founders McGuinn and Chris Hillman will toast the album’s 50th anniversary by playing it in its entirety, while sharing stories about its development.
What: Opening night of “Ben is Back”
Where: Living Room Theaters at FAU, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton
When: 7 p.m.
Contact: 561/549-2600, fau.livingroomtheaters.com
It’s bound to earn comparisons to “Beautiful Boy,” 2018’s other movie about a young male addict’s Sisyphean struggle to stay clean, but “Ben is Back” is the superior film. A nocturnal road thriller in the guise of a recovery drama, it stars Lucas Hedges—continuing his exceptional year a month after the release of “Boy Erased”—as the title character, who surprises his family with a Christmas Eve appearance outside their home, citing approval from his sponsor. His mother, Holly (Julia Roberts), views Ben’s cameo as a Christmas miracle, but the rest of her family, including her second husband Neal (Courtney B. Vance), have enough distance to see through it: The destruction that Ben has caused the family, the community and himself still stings like a wound reopened. Holly and Neal permit Ben one night back home, and it’s a shattering one, complete with stolen drugs, an emergency NA meeting, a burglary, a pilfered dog and a fatalistic night drive. Peter Hedges, directing his son in the lead, is a skillful storyteller with boundless empathy for addicts and the people they hurt, though on occasion he falls back on implausible contrivances for narrative expediency. Powerful and moving, “Ben is Back” will be most remembered for its acting, particularly from Roberts, who hasn’t had a role this complex and demanding in years.
What: Southeastern premiere of “Palace”
Where: Classic Gateway Theater, 1820 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
When: 7:30 p.m.
Hatched in Florida but set in Indiana, this locally produced movie makes its southeastern premiere with a one-night-only screening at one of the region’s most historic cinemas. Playing against a commentary on Trump’s America, “Palace” follows an auto mechanic with extremist political views, a retired widower, and a college student trying to pursue her dream as a DJ, whose lives intersect at a rural Indiana bar. Fresh off its success at Indiana’s Heartland International Film Festival, this timely drama is cast in part with South Florida talent—theatergoers may recognize familiar faces like Todd Bruno and Ryan Maloney—and is directed by Andrew Paul Davis, whose brother, Tim, runs Fort Lauderdale’s New City Players. By attending this screening, you’re supporting both brothers: 25 percent of proceeds benefit New City.
What: Winter Craft Beer Garden
Where: Old School Square, 51 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach
When: 5 to 10 p.m.
Cost: $15 beer stein with free first pour to start; $5 drink tickets thereafter
Contact: 561/243-7922, oldschoolsquare.org
Old School Square’s Craft Beerfest, hosted each May, has proven so popular that the arts organization has added a second, seasonal varietal—the Winter Craft Beer Garden—filled with local craft brews perfect for imbibing during the (moderately) chilly temperatures that have lately disrupted our typical cargo shorts ‘n’ flip-flops winters. An affordable way to experiment with new variations of hops and suds, the fest ensures that each pour is 12 ounces—as opposed to the skimpy samples of other festivals—which can be enjoyed alongside an array of lawn games, raffles and a DJ spinning holiday tunes, all steps away from the city’s famous 100-foot Christmas Tree.