Hidden in an area of Doral that is more known for tile distribution than the performing arts is a secret oasis of culture that has been gaining steam since it opened a year and a half ago. The brainchild of Miguel Ferro, who by day is the Vice President of Programming at Mira TV, Paseo de las Artes was created for cultural evangelization. Says Ferro, “I wanted to make theater available to everybody.”
The space, which itself was once a tile distributor, later a nightclub, was acquired by Ferro because of a tip from a friend who knew he had been on a quest to establish a community-based theater for years. “This is my dream, to really have a place where we can have so many options,” Ferro explains.
The entrance to Paseo de las Artes is a discrete awning on a dark street that hums with the traffic of the Palmetto Expressway. A brick path leads to the ticket booth and continues past a small marketplace with artisans selling jewelry, homemade cakes, paella, pizza and “Made in Venezuela” tank tops. The path stops at the heart of Paseo de las Artes, Jardin del Teatro, a micro theater space with nine different shipping containers, each elaborately decorated with art by Miami-based street artist Akim Graff and converted into its own performance space with seating for 20. The containers surround an open air courtyard adorned with whimsical overhead lights and cushiony couches where guests can lounge with a cocktail until their show, which will last 15-20 minutes, is announced.
Lounging in Jardin del Teatro between shows.
For shows that are a bit longer and perhaps would attract a larger audience is Teatro del Centro, an enclosed cabaret-style theater with a stage and seating for up to 50 people. The largest theater in the venue seats up to 300.
On any given evening Thursday through Sunday, you can find Ferro behind the ticket counter, explaining the shows to patrons, helping them plan out their night’s viewing itinerary and pointing the groups that include children toward the shows that are more family friendly. “I do television to eat, but I do theater to live,” he declares. Tickets to shows run only $6-$25.
Miguel Ferro, director of Paseo de las Artes and Vice President of production and programming at Mira TV, assists patrons of Paseo de las Artes to organize their theater itineraries.
Because of his experience in television production, which goes back to when he worked at Venevision in Venezuela in the early ’80s, Ferro has access to a network of Spanish language actors eager for new outlets and projects. Actors like Elba Escobar, Alba Roversi, Fedra Lopez and Wilmer Ramirez, all celebrated telenovela actors who have worked in Venezuela, Mexico and now, in Miami, and appreciate the opportunity to work on a smaller scale. You can catch them mingling with guests in the courtyard of Jardin del Teatro between shows and posing for pictures with fans.
Gilberto Reyes, the Cuban actor and television personality who earned fame as part of the infamous comedy duo Los Fonomemecos, is currently excited about his upcoming show in the Teatro del Centro, where he has been paired with respected Venezuelan theater and telenovela actress Alba Roversi in a two-person comedy written by Enrique Salas, “Oro Parece, Platano Es.” Says Reyes, “I remember I saw Alba in a show in 2011 and I told her I wanted to work with her. I can’t believe it’s actually happening five years later.”
Many of the shows are comedies, scripted but open for improvisation, with occasional regional slang (that most Spanish speakers can figure out and Venezuelans will surely know) and sprinklings of bawdy sexual humor. Enrique Salas, who writes many of the scripts, says he likes to keep things light. “People have enough problems. We want this place to be an oasis for fun.” But the goal, says Ferro, is the mix things up. “We have comedies, drama, dark comedies, light drama. We have everything.”
‘Muertos de Amor’ from the latest season of Micro Theater is a dark comedy starring Gabo Lopez and Fabiola Arace, written by José Luis Useche (center).
The upcoming season, which began Oct. 6 and runs six weeks, will feature a short about the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal, along with other shows about relationships, rivalries and sexual confusion, a few spooky shorts just in time for Halloween plus a production of “The Little Prince” in the Teatro del Centro. The main event for October is a show by Cayito Aponte, the celebrated Venezuelan comedian who will bring his one man show to the big stage on Oct. 29.
Ferro is determined to make Paseo de las Artes part of Miami’s cultural landscape. “We have a job to bring theater to the people so that people can come and fall in love with the theater.”