Black in Time

Curtain rises at historic Lyric Theater

 

Special to The Miami Herald

Light the lights and curtain up, it’s show time at the historic Lyric Theater.

The first winner of the “Lyric Live” talent contest was Mailyn Cuadra, a former Booker T. Washington High School student who was born in Nicaragua. In 2000, she attended school in Overtown before her family relocated to Kendall. Singing since age 4, she is inspired by Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Christina Aguilera, Erykah Badu and many more. Mailyn sings Soul, jazzy Blues, R&B, Latin and Gospel. She won the first “Lyric Live” talent show singing Jennifer Holliday’s “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going.”

Held Feb. 7,the first show started the 2014 season in the newly expanded historic Lyric Theater and Welcome Center Complex. Shaped similar to a modified Baby Grand piano, the glass-walled Welcome Center was brightly lit. The doors opened at 6 p.m. for networking, a “mix and mingle” social.

Seating began at 7 p.m., with guests finishing their snacks, leaving the Welcome Center lobby and entering the adjacent theater. Guests who purchased tickets for the balcony could choose to go to the second floor by elevator or the spiral staircase. The second floor lobby has a picture window overlooking historic sites spanning Northwest Eighth Street and Second and Third avenues.

“It was a night of fun and entertainment that reminded me of amateur night at the Apollo in Harlem,” said Carole Ann Taylor, a Miami resident for more than 30 years. She grew up in New York and frequented the famed Apollo Theater. She said Lyric Live “is a real contest with the audience selecting the winner by the loudest round of applause and the winner receiving a cash prize. Chello was a great emcee.”

A versatile actor and comedian, Marcellus “Chello” Davis is a Miami native. He began his entertainment career in Liberty City at age 5 at the African Heritage Cultural Center under the guidance of Marshall Davis, and appeared in leading roles in Miami Dade College theatrical productions under the direction of John Pryor. He made his comic debut on Black Entertainment Television Comic View.

At “Lyric Live” Chello introduced 10 previously auditioned talents. Each performed on stage and was either greeted with applause or “boos” from the audience. Those who didn’t gain the audience’s approval were escorted off stage in a unique “Lyric Live” way. Music by Jody Hill and the Deep Fried Funk Band kept the audience excited.

“Lyric Live” is presented by The Black Archives, History & Research Foundation of South Florida. The executive director, Timothy A. Barber, has a supportive full-time staff: Kamila Pritchett, development coordinator; Ryan Smith, archivist; April Jones, financial officer; and Victoria Henry, receptionist. Their collective dedication in counsel with the Board of Directors including Ruth Clyne, Chair; Garth C. Reeves, Vice Chair; and Steven Enriquez, Treasurer makes this series available to the entire community.

The programming is supported by the Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency, Miami-Dade County, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Coca-Cola, Macy’s, the Design Group Miami, and Drummer Boy Sound.

The curtain goes up and the lights go on the first Friday of every month showcasing talent at Lyric Live. The format features amateur entertainers of diverse cultures and various ages. Individuals selected from scheduled auditions defend their titles on stage singing, rapping, dancing, doing stand-up comedy, magic or other performing arts for a cash prize. For audition, performance and ticket information visit www.theblackarchives.org or call 305.636-2390.

Dorothy Jenkins Fields, PhD, is a historian and founder of the Black Archives, History and Research Foundation of South Florida Inc. Send feedback to djf@bellsouth.net.

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