Magic and drama combine in a Houdini bio-play, a legendary Miami crooner performs in a legendary Boca venue, and the Kravis Center tries to catch ‘em all. Plus, Book of Love, Surfer Blood, “Clue” and more in your week ahead.
What: Opening night of “Death and Harry Houdini”
Where: Adrienne Arsht Center, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
When: 7:30 p.m.
Contact: 305/949-6722, arshtcenter.org
Fifteen years ago, the House Theatre of Chicago—an Illinois incubator for world-premiere plays—opened its first season with the smash hit “Death and Harry Houdini,” which shared the life story of the titular magician and his “lifelong war against Death.” The play proved so legendary that the House Theatre revived the play in 2012 and brought it on tour to Miami, with most performances selling out. That very show is returning to Miami this week for a limited-run encore. Copious magic tricks complement the human drama of the play, and its centerpiece is a replication of Houdini’s notorious water torture cell escape, in which he was manacled and dunked into a column of water. Magician Dennis Watkins, who plays Houdini, told a reporter that he even quit smoking to expand his lung capacity for this role. It runs through May 21.
What: Opening night of “Nine”
Where: Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W. Sample Road, Margate
When: 8 p.m.
Contact: 954/344-7765, stagedoorfl.org
How do you make a musical about writer’s block? Maury Yeston’s “Nine” is one way. Adapting freely from Federico Fellini’s classic “8 1/2,” it’s set largely inside the convoluted head of a famous film director suffering artistic burnout and sexual estrangement. His fantasies, memories and amorous conflicts bounce around his noggin like pinballs, each realized onstage with theatrical flair. Broward Stage Door’s production runs through June 11.
What: Book of Love
Where: Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton
When: 8 p.m.
Contact: 954/564-1074, ticketmaster.com
The cliché “everything old is new again” has certainly applied to Philadelphia synthpop quartet Book of Love, who, 31 years after the release of its debut album, has enjoyed a rejuvenated popularity rare among its big-haired, cheesy-music-video peers. Trading largely in the sunny side of New Wave—think Pet Shop Boys, or Depeche Mode at its most commercial—Book of Love’s dance-chart success peaked between 1985 and 1993, during which time its music enjoyed the pop-culture rite of passage of appearing in a John Hughes movie (the shimmery “Modigliani,” from “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”). But Book of Love is more than a product of its synthetic era; the group’s lyrics addressed sexual differences with welcome arms, anticipating concepts of gender fluidity by decades. This helps explain why “Boy” from the band’s debut album finally became a hit in 2001, and why new audiences have embraced Book of Love on its current reunion tour.
What: “One Night Stand” with Bobby Caldwell
Where: Boca Raton Resort & Club, 501 E. Camino Real, Boca Raton
When: 7 and 9 p.m.
Cost: $170 (includes luxury guest room, open bar during the concert and tickets for two)
Contact: 561/447-3071, ticketmaster.com
Not many singers can claim to have inspired artists ranging from The Notorious B.I.G. to Michael Bolton. But when folks say Bobby Caldwell has range, they mean it. A South Florida native, Caldwell cut his teeth at Miami’s legendary TK records in the 1970s, where he recorded iconic blue-eyed soul insta-hits like “What You Won’t Do for Love,” released on an equally cool and tacky heart-shaped vinyl record. Still a force in the upscale cabaret culture, this Rat Pack devotee (he even played Sinatra on a Las Vegas stage revue and earned raves for it) will perform the hits he perfected for himself and others in this homecoming show. Admission includes a night at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, and needless to say there are worse places to lay your head.
What: “Pokemon: Symphonic Evolutions”
Where: Kravis Center, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach
When: 7 p.m.
Contact: 561/832-7469, kravis.org
Video game music has come a long way from the bleeps and bloops of Donkey Kong’s time, as evidenced by the surprisingly bankable trend of orchestral concerts of multi-bit scores. Just as games have become more cinematic, so too have video game scores been composed with filmic intensity and emotion. The Pokemon franchise has embraced this aesthetic from the beginning, which is where the game’s “Symphonic Evolutions” tour stars: with songs from Pokemon’s original Game Boy concoctions, all the way through its latest iterations on the 3DS. Electronic overlays are woven into the live symphonic sounds, and carefully timed video projections link the music to Pokemon’s many characters and editions. Most of the rules of traditional Kravis Center orchestral decorum fly by the wayside for this performance, with fans encouraged to cosplay as their favorite Pokemon and catch, battle and trade with fellow enthusiasts.
What: Surfer Blood
Where: Respectable Street, 518 Clematis St., West Palm Beach
When: 10 p.m.
Arguably South Florida’s most prominent musical export of the Aughts, West Palm Beach’s Surfer Blood exploded from pretty much nowhere in 2009 with its sensational debut single “Swim” and its accompanying debut album, the following year’s “Astro Coast.” Evoking indie rock’s canonized forbears—Pavement, Built to Spill, Pixies—the album had a “Citizen Kane”-like preternatural brilliance to it, received with the kind of acclaim that could send lesser bands plummeting into the vortex of one-album-wonderdom. Not Surfer Blood: The group’s follow-up LPs have been just as hooky (if more produced, which is certainly not a bad thing) and infectious—every track a potential hit in the making, if commercial radio weren’t such a wasteland. This hometown show is sure to include a number of early hits, but it also celebrates the band’s new album “Snowdonia,” which expands the group’s drum-tight aesthetic over eight songs and a lean, unimpeachable 38 minutes.
What: Screening of “Clue”
Where: O Cinema, 500 71st St., Miami Beach
When: 11:45 p.m.
Contact: 786/207-1919, o-cinema.org
Adapting board games into movies didn’t used to be a thing. Before “Ouija” and “Battleship” and “Dungeons & Dragons,” there was “Clue,” the board-to-reel 1985 comedy that started it all. Director Jonathan Lynn set his adaptation in 1954 on—where else?—a dark and stormy night, where a rogues’ gallery of power players has gathered for a mysterious dinner party. It turns out they all have ties to Washington, and they’re all about to be blackmailed … by a host who just happens to wind up dead. “Clue” has its share of slapstick, but it’s anchored by subversive politics, sending up the McCarthy era as much as it sends up itself. The expertly curated cast includes Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Lesley Ann Warren and Madeline Kahn, as those colorful people you remember from childhood.