On March 4, 2011, I made my first trip to the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County (hereafter called the Arsht) to see “Jersey Boys” in their main auditorium called the Ziff Ballet Opera House. It had been over 40 years since I had been in that area as when I lived in Miami Beach in the mid 50s to early ‘60s it became a ritual every Monday for me, Joe and Albyn to come to downtown Miami, have lunch and go to the movies near what is called The Little Havana section.
Since that time, both Joe and Albyn, after being together 50+ years died a few years apart. My aunt Flo and I would come into Miami and have lunch at Burdine’s department store before she did some shopping and that is where the Knight Concert Hall is now standing across the street from, and part of, the Arsht Center. In front, facing Biscayne Boulevard, off the Arsht plaza to the south on the corner is all that is left of the Sears building, their 7 story tower which is an historic landmark, and I don’t see it without thinking of the 3 very important people in my life: Flo, Albyn and Joe and though the area may be completely changed they will always be the same.
To the south of the Arsht Center, going east, is the MacArthur causeway that takes you straight into Miami Beach and, also south, on Biscayne Boulevard, a few blocks down is the American Airlines arena where the Heat lost their championship bid and Bayside Park, the latter made up of shops and restaurants and, in front is The Torch of Friendship that was dedicated to the memory of Jack F. Kennedy. The torch was lit up until about a year ago when so much construction has been going on that it had to be turned off, hopefully temporarily.
Aside from the Ziff Ballet House auditorium, which sits 2,400 people and the Knight Concert Hall sitting 2,000 there is also the Carnival Studio theatre which holds 200, in which I saw “The Sparrow” which originated in Chicago . In addition there is an upscale restaurant called The Prelude. Surrounding the Arsht Center were 4 parking lots but now one has been demolished for more construction. The area surrounding the Arsht and the Arsht itself are in constant change. Recently there was talk of Beckman bringing his soccer stadium to the area but that was shot down.
Aside from Broadway in Miami the halls play host to the Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet, New World Symphony, celebrity concerts presenting over 400 shows a year!
I have seen over 20 Broadway touring shows in the Ziff Ballet Opera House and this coming season on the schedule are: “The Book of Mormon”, “I Love Lucy On Stage”, “Cinderella”, “Newsies”, “Sister Act”, “Wicked” and “Beauty and the Beast”. I have seen most at the Broward Performing Arts Center but with different casts, and also being presented in different auditoriums, it will almost be like seeing new shows and I am certainly looking forward to seeing all of them.