ACCOLADES FOR THE ARSHT
No less a talent than Harry Connick, Jr. calls the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts "one of the great music halls in the world."
That's quite a mouthful considering that the center has only been open since 2006, the gift of businesswoman/philanthropist Adrienne Arsht, who also sits on the board of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
Nevertheless, the multi-theater venue has been referred to as the catalyst for Miami's cultural transformation.
With its three resident companies -- Miami City Ballet, Florida Grand Opera and New World Symphony, along with traveling theatrical companies, the Arsht Center definitely raises the bar on the city's arts scene.
I'm still not sure what I thought of the play I saw, the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Topdog/Underdog" by American playwright Suzan-Lori Parks. What I am sure of is that it played to a packed house of serious theatergoers -- the kind you routinely see at Off-Broadway arty venues.
Another thing I'm sure of is that the Arsht is one of the most spectacular structures I've seen anywhere. Its two main buildings are connected by an expansive outdoor Plaza for the Arts overlooking Biscayne Bay, where, if you time it right, you can sometimes catch an al fresco performance.
It's hard to decide which is the most elaborate feature of the complex -- the Art Deco Carnival Tower preserved from a 1929 Sears Department Store, or the floor-to-ceiling glass mosaic that illustrates the act of artistic expression itself.
In retrospect, the Frost Science Center, Perez Art Museum and Arsht Center for the Performing Arts may not be the main reasons someone chooses the city as a destination. Still, they are proof that you shouldn't hate Miami because it's sexy. It has a brain as well.
IF YOU GO