A head “Simpsons” writer gets animated in West Palm Beach, an Oscar winner visits Lynn University, and Living Room Theaters opens the first movie masterpiece of 2019. Plus, Jeff Tweedy, Miami City Ballet, “Sweeney Todd” and more in your week ahead.
What: Opening night of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”
Where: Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
When: 7:30 p.m.
Contact: 305/949-6722, arshtcenter.org
Beauty and brutality commingle in Stephen Sondheim’s singular 1979 musical about a demon barber and his culinary accomplice, who terrorize London by developing a new meaning for the term “mystery meat.” It’s funnier than it sounds, and also lovelier, featuring some of Sondheim’s most elaborate and seductive compositions. This masterpiece is produced fairly often in South Florida, most recently in 2017 at Palm Beach Dramaworks, but expect a new vision of the show in this season-closing production from Zoetic Stage. Director Stuart Meltzer, a Sondheim interpreter par excellence, has already given us award-winning productions of Sondheim’s “Assassins,” “Passion” and “Sunday in the Park with George,” so hopes are high. No pressure, though! “Sweeney Todd” runs through April 7.
What: Opening night of “Styx”
Where: Living Room Theaters at FAU, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton
When: Show times pending
Contact: 561/549-2600, fau.livingroomtheaters.com
Arguably the first movie masterpiece of 2019, the German import “Styx” marries the harrowing solitude of a survivalist drama with headline-ripped social commentary. Rieke (Susanne Wolff) is an EMT who escapes the urgency and pain she encounters daily with a solo voyage to Ascension Island, with its lush flora and fauna established centuries ago by Charles Darwin. A more than competent skipper, she faces a brutal storm—one rendered with a camera that yaws from side to side along with her yacht, and an unnerving sound design that places us among the creaking infrastructure of the boat and the apocalyptic torrents of Mother Nature. But the movie’s darkest turn arrives later, when Rieke happens upon a wrecked fishing trawler of abandoned passengers, of whose plight the Coast Guard seems curiously unmoved. Examining the human capacity to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others, “Styx” alludes to the titular river in Greek mythology as well as to unsentimental theories of Darwin, but it’s more direct and accessible than either allusion suggests. Its moral heft reverberates like an unanswered SOS call.
What: Costume designer Ruth E. Carter
Where: Wold Performing Arts Center at Lynn University, 3601 N. Military Trail, Boca Raton
When: 7:30 p.m.
Contact: 561/237-7000, lynn.tix.com
Ruth E. Carter has been cinema’s preeminent costumer for films depicting the African-American experience. She has designed the attire for nearly a dozen Spike Lee joints, and worked on seminal projects such as “Amistad,” “Rosewood” and the 2016 remake of “Roots.” She’s long been respected in the industry, but in terms of audience notoriety, 2018 was her breakthrough: That’s when her astounding contributions to Ryan Coogler’s “Black Panther” would go on to win the Oscar for Best Costume Design—the first Academy Award win for Marvel Studios, and the first time a black woman has received that honor. Drawing inspiration from across Africa, she clothed her actors in neck rings, tabards and tribal dresses, doing her part to, as she told CNN, erase “a homogenized version of Africa.” At this rare appearance, Carter will speak about her inspiration and share highlights from her nearly 40 years in the movie business.
What: Jeff Tweedy
Where: Parker Playhouse, 707 N.E. Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale
When: 7:30 p.m.
Contact: 954/462-0222, parkerplayhouse.com
For much of its quarter-century in the music business, Wilco has been a band that is both Starbucks-approved and cult-worshipped, enjoyed by audiophiles and casual listeners, folk purists and rock snobs, potheads and hip parents. At the center of its success has been frontman and singer-songwriter Jeff Tweedy, who has shepherded the group’s evolution from alt-country titans to experimental futurists and adult-alternative staples. But only now, after more than 20 albums, has he released his proper debut solo record, Warm, an album that retraces his roots. Tracks like “Some Birds” and “I Know What It’s Like” find the introspective songwriter tackling world-weary confusion with insight and humor, with a timeless Americana sound that conjures Jackson Browne, Gram Parsons and Tom Petty at their peaks. Expect to hear plenty of stripped-down Wilco and Uncle Tupelo tunes among the generous set list.
What: Opening night of “Frimaire is the Color of Adolescent Sunset”
Where: Art and Culture Center, 1650 Harrison St., Hollywood
When: 6 to 9 p.m.
Contact: 954/921-3274, artandculturecenter.org
Ireland’s Jane Cassidy, one of the most celebrated artists in this group exhibition, is a wizard of immersive light and sound, creating site-specific installations that transform gallery walls, floors and ceilings into aquatic wonderlands, lush forests and astral expanses. Meanwhile, fellow Irish native Peter Symons, combines architecture, sculpture and light, fashioning himself as a conductor who “orchestras” interactions with the spectators of his dynamic works. They are two of a quartet of artists, along with Laura Bustamante and Justin Long, who double as art educators—which is the theme connecting these unique works. The exhibition runs through May 19.
FRIDAY TO SUNDAY
What: Miami City Ballet: Program III
Where: Kravis Center, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach
When: 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. Sunday
Contact: 561/832-7469, kravis.org
The concrete jungle of “West Side Story” meets the vibrant art culture of Miami in choreographer Justin Peck’s homegrown “Heatscape,” which Miami City Ballet premiered in 2015. A vibrant group dance set amid the guerilla street art of Wynwood Walls, and staged to a puckish score by Bohuslav Martinů, this revival headlines a dynamic program that also includes two Balanchine classics—“The Four Temperaments” and “Duo Concertant”—and August Bournoville’s “The Flower Festival in Genzano Pas de Deux.”
MONDAY, MARCH 18
What: “Springfield Confidential” with Mike Reiss
Where: Palm Beach Improv, 550 S. Rosemary Ave., West Palm Beach
When: 7 p.m.
Contact: 877/318-0071, pbjff.org
Comedy writer Mike Reiss has penned jokes for everyone from Joan Rivers to Pope Francis, but it’s his 30-year stint working on “The Simpsons” that has paid for his house. He has written and produced dozens of episodes of the most enduring animated series of all-time, and served as a showrunner—before that term was en vogue—for two seasons. In 2018, Reiss pooled three decades’ worth of “Simpsons”-related history, anecdotes and trivia into his memoir Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons. Among its big reveals: why the Simpsons are yellow, and how Lisa Simpson became a pioneering “deep” cartoon character. He’ll share a few of the book’s insightful nuggets at this West Palm Beach appearance, courtesy of the Mandel JCC Book Festival. He’ll conclude with a lively Q&A.