Performing Arts

Miami’s Andy Señor Jr. directing a groundbreaking ‘Rent’ in Havana

Actor-singer Avi Hoffman will tour Florida in the new musical revue ‘Stars of David.’
Actor-singer Avi Hoffman will tour Florida in the new musical revue ‘Stars of David.’

Andy Señor Jr., artistic director of Miami’s new District Stage Company, is in Havana at the moment rehearsing a history-making production of the Jonathan Larson musical Rent.

The Florida International University grad, who made his Broadway debut playing Angel in the Pulitzer Prize-winning show, played the part again on tour and assisted original director Michael Greif when the show was revived Off-Broadway. After directing the La Bohème-inspired musical in Tokyo, Señor is now working with 15 Cuban actors on the first fully produced Broadway show done in Cuba since the revolution.

South Florida-based Carbonell Award winner Emmanuel Schvartzman is serving as musical director of the Spanish-language production. The show about struggling young artists on New York’s Lower East Side will open on Christmas Eve and run for three months at Havana’s Bertolt Brecht Theatre.


Stars of David: Story to Song, a musical revue inspired by the Abigail Pogrebin bestseller, will launch a six-city Florida tour Dec. 23-Jan. 4 with a run in the Amaturo Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

Three of the four just-announced cast members are South Florida-based actors: Gordon Greenberg, director and co-author of the show’s script, has picked Too Jewish creator and star Avi Hoffman, Carbonell Award winner Patti Gardner and Carbonell nominee Mike Westrich to join Cassie Levine in the company.

Produced by Tony Award winner Daryl Roth, the show touches on the stories of well-known Jewish figures, many from the world of arts and entertainment, including songwriters Marilyn and Alan Bergman, actor Leonard Nimoy, playwright Tony Kushner, TV producer Norman Lear and the late comedian Joan Rivers. The revue features music by Marvin Hamlisch, Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater, Tom Kitt, Jeanine Tesori, Sheldon Harnick and others.

After the Broward Center run, the show will play the Capitol Theater in Clearwater Jan. 11, the Wilson Center in Jacksonville Jan. 14-17, Miami’s Alper JCC Jan. 28-Feb. 1, the Gleason Room Backstage at the Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater Feb. 4-15, and Perrson Hall at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach Feb. 17-March 15. Tickets cost $36 for 7:30 p.m. previews Dec. 23-24, $45 for regular performances at the Broward Center, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000 or visit or For information about the show, visit


The 2015 Broward College Speakers Series has chosen five well-known figures for its series at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

Anthony Robles, an NCAA championship wrestler and motivational speaker, will launch the series Jan. 21. Bloomberg Politics managing editor Mark Halperin will talk about politics and the future at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18. Abduction survivor Elizabeth Smart will share her story March 25. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin will talk about leadership lessons from American presidents on April 15. And SportsCenter anchor Chris Berman will talk about his 30-year history with ESPN on May 20.

All speeches begin at 7:30 p.m., and all are in the center’s Au-Rene Theater except for Robles, who will speak in the Amaturo Theater. Discounted series tickets priced from $300 to $325 are being sold through Dec. 10. Individual tickets via Ticketmaster go on sale then. For more information, call 954-462-0222 or visit


Artists in Residence in Everglades, or AIRIE, the program that brings artists to creative residencies in Everglades National Park, has announced its 2015 fellows.

They include writers Andrew Gottlieb and Nancy Krim, architect Caterina Tiazzoldi, painter Elizabeth Condon, photographers Alan Winslow and Matthew Booth, audio artist Valerie George, filmmaker Celia Rowlson-Hall, as well as Florida natives and multidisciplinary artists Jason Hedges, Franky Cruz, Christina Petterson and Onajide Shabaka.

AIRIE partners with the park staff to bring fellows to spend a month living and creating new work in the park, as well as leading activities with visitors and donating artwork. The hope is to inspire the artists creatively and encourage them to become ambassadors for the Everglades. The program has expanded to include year-round readings, performances, workshops and lectures that showcase the Everglades in the hope of getting people involved.

“AIRIE artists have the unique ability to show us things we’ve missed that are before our eyes every day,” said Bob Krumenaker, the park’s acting superintendent. “And for those who don’t know this place intimately, to reveal its wonders for the first time.”


Brian Schriner, dean of Florida International University’s College of Architecture + the Arts, has appointed an arts educator-researcher, a writer-filmmaker and a photographer as the 2014-15 Dean’s Distinguished Fellows. The three will be based at FIU’s Miami Beach Urban Studios, 420 Lincoln Rd., where they will work with students, researchers and community members involved with the college.

The fellows are Bruce Allen Carter, a member of the National Council on the Arts, who will spend his nine months at FIU producing an online publication with essays, videos and images documenting exchanges within the college; Alastair Gordon, an author, curator, critic, filmmaker and publisher; and Robert Zuckerman, a photographer based in Hollywood, where his work is used in film and television. For more information, visit


▪ Jazz pianist Randy Weston will give a lecture on African traditions in jazz, then perform with his African Rhythms Trio, at Miami’s historic Lyric Theater on Dec. 7. The event serves as an early kickoff to the second annual Miami Beach Jazz Festival on Jan. 10. Weston’s free lecture will begin at 5 p.m., followed by the concert at 7 p.m. at the Lyric, 819 NW Second Ave. Tickets cost $40 ($20 for students). For more information, visit

▪ Tony Award-winner Brian Stokes Mitchell will perform with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra at 8 p.m. Dec. 8 as part of the James Judd-curated Broward Center Classical Series. On the bill are popular songs and carols, seasonal favorites and a concert suite from The Polar Express. Tickets cost $40 to $125. The center is at 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000, or visit or

▪ Charise Castro Smith, an actor-playwright who graduated from the New World School of the Arts high school program and who performed in fellow grad Tarell Alvin McCraney’s set-in-Haiti version of Antony and Cleopatra, is contributing material to That High Lonesome Sound. A collaboration with playwrights Jeff Augustin, Diana Grisanti and Cory Hinkle, the “lively theatrical album” of pieces about bluegrass music will premiere during the 39th Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville March 4-April 12. Castro Smith, a former Miamian who earned her master of fine arts degree from the Yale School of Drama, was commissioned by the theater to help create the piece for the acting apprentice company. This year’s festival will also include the world premieres of The Roommate by Jen Silverman, Dot by Colman Domingo, The Glory of the World by Charles Mee, I Will Be Gone by Erin Courtney and I Promised Myself to Live Faster by Gregory S. Moss and the Pig Iron Theatre Company. For more information, call 800-428-5849 or visit or

▪ The work of artist Michelle Oka Doner, a former Miami resident who still keeps a South Florida home, is featured in a private selling exhibition by Christie’s through Dec. 18 at the Special Exhibition Gallery, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, 20th Floor, New York. The Shaman’s Hut: 50 Years of Objects from a Ceremonial Life includes works devised by Oka Doner over the past five decades as a means of elevating the necessities of daily life. For inquiries, contact Carina Villinger at or call 212-636-2240.

Christine Dolen, Jordan Levin and Galena Mosovich contributed to this report. Send news to (theater), (dance, pop and Latin music), (visual arts) or (jazz, classical music).