Theater Up Close features Dickens, Sondheim, Frankenstein

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By AARON KRAUSE

A fresh adaptation of Frankenstein, a Stephen Sondheim classic, and a new twist on a Charles Dickens classic are among the shows comprising the 10th annual Theater Up Close series in Miami. The series, a collaboration between the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, City Theatre, and Zoetic Stage, also features a world premiere and two South Florida premieres. All shows will take place at the Arsht.

“Our focus continues to be on keeping our guests, artists, and staff safe,” reads a prepared Arsht Center statement. “We have implemented a series of new measures for everyone’s safety and peace of mind.”

For instance, audience members will need to maintain their distance, wear a face covering, and participate in a brief health screening. For more details about the Arsht’s new safety measures, visit https://www.arshtcenter.org/Visit/Returning-to-the-Arsht-Center.

The season will open on Oct. 14 with the South Florida premiere of Nick Dear’s stage adaptation of Frankenstein. The production will run through Oct. 31.

Following Frankenstein, Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol by Tom Mula will take the stage. It will run from Dec. 2-19.

Then, to open 2022, Zoetic Stage and the Arsht Center will present the world premiere production of Gringolandia, A Cuban Journey by Miami-area playwright Hannah Benitez. It will run from Jan. 13-30. This play was originally part of the 2019-2020 season. However, COVID-19 caused its postponement.

A Little Night Music follows. The classic, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Hugh Wheeler, will run from March 17-April 10. The plan was to present the musical during the 2019-20 Theater Up Close season, but COVID-19 caused its postponement.

The South Florida premiere of Our Dear Dead Drug Lord will run from May 5-22 to close out Theater Up Close’s 10th anniversary season.

“Now more than ever, it is imperative to showcase some of the incredible theater South Florida has to offer with the tenth anniversary of our award-winning Theater Up Close series,” said Liz Wallace, the Arsht Center’s vice president. “We are proud to have preserved most of the originally-scheduled Theater Up Close season shows. And we are so grateful to our artistic partners at Zoetic Stage and City Theatre for being able to safely bring back the irreplaceable experience of live theater for audiences to relish once again.”

Five-show subscription packages are available starting at the early bird rate of $169 until June 11. Packages after June 11 start at $194. You can purchase subscriptions through the Adrienne Arsht Center’s box office by calling (305) 949-6722, or online at arshtcenter.org. Patrons will be able to purchase tickets for individual performances at a later date.

The following is a more in-depth look at the shows comprising Theater Up Close’s 10th season.

  • Oct. 14-31 — Frankenstein, adapted for the stage by Nick Dear. The show includes nudity and violence. It runs without an intermission. One of the great horror stories of all time, Mary Shelly’s classic tale of gods and monsters still fascinates 200 years after its 1818 publication. The National Theatre in London first presented Dear’s adaptation. It starred Benedict Cumberbatch. This adaptation “is highly theatrical and surprisingly relevant,” reads a press release.
  • Dec. 2-19 — Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol. This show is one of many spun off from Charles Dickens’ ghostly tale. However, in this retelling, the redemption story shifts. At the center is not mean, old Ebenezer Scrooge. Rather, the spotlight shines on his long-dead, hilariously bitter, chains-rattling ghost, Jacob Marley. In the show, his miserable afterlife has been stretching on forever. However, on Christmas Eve, he earns a chance to change his fate. That is, if he can change the unrepentant Ebenezer Scrooge.
  • Jan. 13-30 – Gringolandia, A Cuban Journey. Accompanied by his millennial children, a Cuban man returns to the country from which he escaped 50 years ago. His goal is to recover a precious family heirloom. Together, the family embarks on a journey of closure, truth, and cultural connection. The show is a “mixed-media event that will transport audiences to the beautiful, yet heartbreaking, island that is so close, and so far away.”
  • March 17-April 10 – A Little Night Music. This much-loved Sondheim musical explores the tangled web of affairs centered around actor Desiree Armfeldt, and the men who desire her. They include a lawyer named Fredrik Egerman and the Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm. When Armfeldt performs in Fredrik’s town, the estranged lovers’ passion rekindles, affecting everyone around them. The musical explores class, fidelity, and the human condition. Previously, Zoetic Stage mounted four critically acclaimed productions of Sondheim’s work. Collectively, the productions garnered 29 Carbonell Award nominations. They also won seven awards, including Best Musical for Sunday in the Park with George and Assassins.
  • May 5-22 – Our Dear Dead Drug Lord. South Florida’s own Alexis Scheer penned this play. In this pitch-black comedy, four teenage girls gather in a Miami tree house. Their purpose is to summon the ghost of Pablo Escobar. But are they messing with the actual spirit of the infamous cartel kingpin? Or just each other?
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