Just when I think that I have reached the age where I’ve learned everything I need to know, something new comes along. That new thing is the Carbonell Awards.
Not being actively involved in theater, I had never heard of them before. I did see an ad for our Cultural Arts Center here in Cutler Bay announcing an evening of Broadway songs. Naturally this is something I would like to see and hear.
First let me explain the Carbonell Awards. This might be compared to the Tony Awards, except that it limits itself to South Florida Regional Theater. Would you believe that we in South Florida have our own award program for performers in the theater? Well we do and I had the opportunity to see and listen to seven of the recent award winners at the South Dade Cultural Arts Center.
Arriving at the center I was directed to the Black Box Theater. This is a separate room allowing you to be up close to the performers, and sit at tables where you can be served drinks and snacks in a marvelous atmosphere that one might think only exists downtown in major cities.
Not true! The Black Box Theater is everything that you would like and expect it to be — just small enough to make it intimate yet large enough to accommodate a fair-sized crowd. To my delight the room was full.
For this and the show itself we must thank Eric Fliss who is the managing director of the Cultural Arts Center. He seems to know and have a feel for what we need and like in our community.
What makes it exciting is that I can hop into my car, be at the theater in 10 to 15 minutes, have no fear of finding a parking space, meet all kinds of local people with similar interests, and then go to dinner right after the performance to one of my favorite places, the Stir Moon restaurant at Southland Mall. What a great way to spend an evening.
Now let me tell you about the performers. Every one of them was a Broadway level artist with a great voice and tremendous acting ability.
They open the show with a stirring rendition of On Broadway. Margot Moreland, a four-time Carbonell winner, belted out Little Girls from Annie and joined with David Arisco for Do You Love Me from Fiddler On The Roof with her beautiful voice. Jim Ballard sang a humorous song from Urinetown. Angie Radosh who has been performing for 18 years sang a song from Cabaret that left no one disappointed. I felt like I was in a German café. Reggie Whitehead, a three time winner sang I Who Have Nothing which had us all wishing we could sing. Host David Arisco, also the artistic director of the Actors’ Playhouse for 26 years, 19 of them at the Miracle Theater in Coral Gables, sang one of my favorites, If I Were a Rich Man, also from Fiddler On The Roof.
Backing up all of this was one single piano player, Carol Fantel, who made you believe that there was a full orchestra behind each of these singers. How she was able to shift modes and create the amount of music she did with just a piano absolutely amazed me.
Sorry folks, if you missed this you missed a great opportunity to experience big city performances in little old Cutler Bay. But it is not too late to see Guys and Dolls which is coming on Jan. 3, 2015 to the main stage at the Cultural Arts Center. (Call 786-573-5300.) As I have said before, we have an absolute treasure right in our backyard in the Cultural Arts Center and we need to thank our county commissioners who brought this to us and managing director Eric Fliss who keeps it going at such a high level. Thank you all!