Thursday, May 25, 2023

Your Week Ahead: Jan. 31 to Feb. 6, 2023

An acclaimed Miami jazz chanteuse returns to her stomping grounds, the eclectic GroundUp Music Festival readies three days of revelry, and the Garlic Fest goes country. Plus, comic Bonnie McFarlane, a Dramaworks opening and more in your week ahead.


What: Opening night of “The Science of Leaving Omaha”

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

When: 8 p.m. (with 7 p.m. preshow reception)

Cost: $99 ($84 for remainder of run)

Contact: 561/514-4042,

As its title suggests, this latest work by prolific playwright Carter W. Lewis centers on two people who would love nothing more than to leave behind the drudgery of their lives in Omaha, Nebraska. The character that connects has already left, in a way: The play is set in a basement crematorium, where Ruth-Ellen lies on a slab. She was fatally shot the night before in a bungled bar robbery. Now, her 22-going-on-17-year-old husband Baker, who escaped the eventful evening alive, has broken into the funeral home to “say goodbye.” It’s all a bit much for Iris, the 18-year-old high-school dropout working the night shift at the mortuary, who was expecting a quiet night, surrounded by the sort of people who never speak, so she could work on her school readmission exam. Instead, these strangers find shared solace in their working-class struggles and unfriendly hometown. Leaving plenty of space for humor and compassion, “The Science of Leaving Omaha” concludes with what one writer called “an ending of almost operatic majesty.” Palm Beach Dramaworks’ production runs through Feb. 19.

What: Cécile McLorin Salvant: “Ghost Song”

Where: Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami

When: 8 p.m.

Cost: $45-$125

Contact: 305/949-6722,

Speaking of jazz singer Cécile McLorin Salvant’s work, Wynton Marsalis has said, “you get a singer like this once in a generation or two.” Carrying the torch (songs) of timeless influences Sarah Vaughn and Billie Holiday, she has laid her ethereal, sinuous vocals atop compelling arrangements by artists ranging from Sting to Kate Bush to Kurt Weill, as well as her original compositions. A Miami native, Salvant has released six albums since 2010, winning three Grammys, her voice elevating both spartan duets and full-scale orchestral ensembles. Her 2022 release Ghost Song offers 12 thematically connected compositions centered on spirits, nostalgia and yearning. Arrive early for opening act Christian Sands, a modern master of the jazz piano who has played with the aforementioned Marsalis and Gary Burton, and who earned a Grammy nomination for 2013’s Out Here with Christian McBride. Sands will perform a set with his trio.


What: GroundUp Music Festival

Where: Miami Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach

When: 2:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 1:30 p.m. Sunday for GA ticketholders

Cost: $130 per day, or $345 for three days


“Eclectic” is the buzzword for this genre-traversing/genre-ignoring festival returning to Miami for three days of innovative sounds from around the globe. Snarky Puppy, a collective of some 25 world-spanning musicians, represents this mission in and of themselves, and will play all three nights. Other top acts to perform across the weekend include Isaiah Sharkey, whose music is a cauldron of soul, rock, gospel, jazz, R&B and funk; Jeff Tweedy, primary singer-songwriter of the alt-rock, alt-country, alt-everything Wilco; Grammy-nominated Australian singer-songwriter Nai Palm; fellow Grammy nominee Madison Cunningham, a West Coast folk-rock experimentalist; acclaimed jazz/gospel singer Lizz Wright; and many more. The weekend also includes special workshops and intimate cocktail-and-brunch performances with many of the artists, as well as access to chef-curated food trucks just outside the concert stage.


“Head of a Woman” by Louis Leopold Boilly

What: Opening day of “Contemplating Character: Portrait Drawings and Oil Sketches From Jacques-Louis David to Lucian Freud”

Where: Society of the Four Arts, 100 Four Arts Plaza, Palm Beach

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cost: $10

Contact: 561/655-7226,

How artists see themselves and others is at the heart of this broad survey of portraiture from the 18th century to the present day. Featuring 81 works on paper by 68 artists, “Contemplating Character” is rich with insights and juxtapositions regarding the treatment of the human form in its many dimensions, and the myriad ways it is captured with pencil and oil. In addition to the major portraitists of the title, the exhibition includes works by Alfred Hitchcock, William Merritt Chase, George Wesley Bellows and many more. It runs through April 2.

What: Bonnie McFarlane

Where: Studio at Mizner Park, 201 Plaza Real, Boca Raton

When: 7 p.m.

Cost: $25-$35

Contact: 561/203-3742,

“I’m an atheist, I’m a feminist, I’m a vegan, let’s have some fun!” So began a standup routine a few years ago from Bonnie McFarlane, who realizes the comedic potential in all of these concepts and many more through her relatable, observational material. The Canadian-American comic has appeared on all the usual esteemed places: Leno, Letterman, Colbert, Fallon, NBC, HBO, Comedy Central. She directed a movie, the ironically titled “Women Aren’t Funny,” and her memoir, You’re Better Than Me, has been optioned for a TV series. Humor runs in the family for McFarlane; her husband is Rich Vos, with whom she shares a popular weekly podcast called my Wife Hates Me.


What: South Florida Garlic Fest

Where: Village Park Athletics Complex, 11700 Pierson Road, Wellington

When: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

Cost: $15-$50

Contact: 561/279-0907,

This year’s annual Garlic Fest has a country-fied flavor, at least in its choice of national headliner. Drake White, born and raised in the Appalachian foothill city of Hokes Bluff, Alabama—population 4,446—has forged his young career blending the popular conventions of country music with the iconic Muscle Shoals sound of his native state. The result is a soulful roots-music hybrid that appeals in equal measure to fans of Keith Urban, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Levon Helm and maybe even Bob Marley, whose impact can be heard in the tropical sounds occasionally complementing the twang. He takes the stage the first night of Garlic Fest, preceded by Florida country singer Cliff Dorsey, who takes inspiration from pioneers like Merle Haggard; and South Florida-based world/fusion guitarist Eric Hansen. Sunday’s entertainment features the Valerie Tyson Band, an eclectic variety band, along with openers Friday at Five and the Melina Soochan Trio. As always, the garlic-infused Gourmet Alley features more than 100 delicacies laced with the titular aromatic herb.

For more of Boca magazine’s arts and entertainment coverage, click here.

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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