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Local stages expand, from cabaret in Manalapan to performance art in Pompano

Staff Writer

There’s plenty of newness locally when it comes to theater and the performing arts.

Where in other cities throughout the country the scene is shrinking, here stages are expanding.

Here are three new spaces and a new amateur theater troupe performing in a new locale for South Floridians to enjoy.

New City Players in Fort Lauderdale

What it is: City Church — with locations in Fort Lauderdale, Wilton Manors and Pompano Beach — is pooling its resources and talent for a Holy Week production of “Godspell” at C&I Studios in downtown Fort Lauderdale’s FAT Village. “C&I is a unique canvas,” says Phil Letizia, pastor of the Wilton Manors City Church. “It’s a studio setting, and we are making the show uniquely tailored to the space. We like that. City Church from the beginning has tried to think outside the box." CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON CITY CHURCH.

What it means to you: There is a possibility for more shows in improvised spaces. “It’s been an experiment for us,” Letizia says. “There seems to be a desire or need in the community for something like this. It’s perfect for us. We had always talked about doing something creative around Easter time, during Holy Week. With ticket sales, we could be close to selling out both nights. We’re always on the hunt for a venue that works for us. We did our Christmas service at FAT Village. We built the whole thing in an empty warehouse.”

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday April 18-19

Where: C&I Studios, 541 NW First Ave., Fort Lauderdale

Cost: $15 in advance; $20 at the door (all seats are general admission)

Contact: 954-531-4687 or


Bailey Contemporary Arts in Pompano Beach

What it is: The old Hotel Bailey in Pompano Beach has been re-imagined as a work and exhibit space for artists. On Wednesday night, it was re-christened Bailey Contemporary Arts (BaCA). The brains and creative force behind the project is Creative City Collaborative (CCC), the same team responsible for Delray Beach’s Arts Garage. “The CCC is the organization that will manage both venues,” explains Alyona Aleksandra Ushe, executive director of CCC. “But [BaCA] is drastically different from what we do in Delray Beach. It’s two levels. On the ground level, there are three gallery spaces. Upstairs, there are studio spaces, and the only way I can describe it is an inviting area where people can gather. There’s something about that space that asks folks to come and be a part of it.”

What it means to you: In addition to art exhibitions, music performances, film screenings, art lessons and summer camps for children at BaCA, the project will also include the Ali Building, a former rooming house (Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway were guests during segregation) that Ushe says will be “more of a performing arts center. It’s less than a mile away ... and it’s still under construction. It will probably open in the fall of this year.” There are plans for the Rock Road Historical Society and the Ashanti Cultural Arts dance company to stage events there.

When: There are two immediate events at BaCA. First up is a Poetry Lab at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 23. Next is a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 6 p.m. May 14.

Where: BaCA, 41 NE First St., Pompano Beach

Cost: $10 for the Poetry Lab. The ribbon-cutting ceremony is free and open to the public.

Contact: 561-450-6457 or


Club Plaza in Manalapan

What it is: A cabaret and piano bar extension of the Plaza Theatre, both in the Plaza Del Mar shopping center in what formerly was a restaurant upstairs and a gym downstairs. Alan Jacobson, producing director of Plaza Theatre, explains, “We could take the cabaret performances out of the main stage, which would kind of clutter our schedule, and create an even better cabaret experience with food and alcohol, the full New York cabaret experience."

What it means to you: The next show at Club Plaza is “Broadway’s Second Bananas,” starring local entertainer Beth Dimon and opening May 8. “It’s a cabaret show that features not the leading ladies, but the character actresses,” Jacobson says. “You know they’re the ones that actually have the fun songs.”

When: “Broadway’s Second Bananas” runs May 8-10 and then May 15-17; shows begin at 8 p.m., piano bar opens at 9:30 p.m.

Where: 262 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan

Cost: $35 for cabaret and piano bar

Contact: 561-588-1820 or


Huizenga Pavilion in Fort Lauderdale

What it is: A $56 million expansion of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. New venues include: the Porter Riverview Ballroom; the Rose Miniaci Arts Education Center and the New River Bistro, Regarding the New River Bistro, which should open in the fall, CEO of the Broward Center Kelley Shanley says, “Any time there’s a performance at Broward Center people can dine right here on site. It will be a full-service restaurant. You can park once, eat and attend the performance.” CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON HUIZENGA PAVILION.

What it means to you: “The Abdo New River Room was the only space we had before to fulfill our educational workshops, meetings, banquets and smaller shows, primarily [topical dinner theater comedy] ‘Laffing Matterz’,” explains Shanley. “Now, we have a separate space for each one of those functions. It frees up the Abdo New River Room … and we are converting that to be more of a performance space for singer-songwriter showcases, cabaret  theater and small, intimate nightclub performances.”

When: October

Where: 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale

Contact: 954-462-0222 or

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