platanos-and-collard-greens_web.jpgMIAMI — Fourteen years ago, while practicing law, David Lamb wrote the book, Do Platanos Go Wit' Collard Greens?

During his collegiate book tour, students commented that the storyline and characters would “make a great play.”

In 2003, Platanos And Collard Greens debuted to a sold-out audience in a 99-seat, off-Broadway New York City theater. It has since run at more than 150 colleges and universities in more than 10 major cities and 17 states around the country.

“We opened with the intent of running for one weekend,” Jamillah Lamb, David’s wife and the play’s producer, said. “But the people kept coming and we kept going.”

The play, now in its seventh season, will open at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County on Feb. 17.  It is one of the Arsht Center’s Black History Month performances.

It will be the play’s first main stage performance open to the public, said Jamillah, who along with her husband is African-American.

“We wanted to take risks,” John Richard, the Arsht Center’s president and CEO, said about running the play.

The romantic comedy tells the story of Freeman, an African-American man, and Angelita, a Latina woman. Both are forced to confront and overcome cultural and racial prejudices while defending their bond to family and friends.

Platanos are a popular complement to many Latin-American dishes. The same is true of collard greens for African-American dishes.

Platanos And Collard Greens is essentially an urban love story,” Richard said.  “It’s not typically a thematic black storyline, but it has a diverse storyline and we think it fits into a celebration of Black History Month.”

Before writing the book, David said that he began thinking about how intimate the connections are between black and Latino people who live in New York City, “especially Puerto Ricans. I started asking myself, ‘Why is it that we can drink and party together, but can’t seem to take care of business together? I wanted to write about that.”

And the best way to write the book, he said, was through a relationship.

“Our issues are really the same and the play is a way to open that discussion,’’ he said. “The humor will relate to people and their family issues.”

The entire month of February, Richard said, is a variety of jazz, gospel, theatrical performances and urban music.

The Arsht Center’s calendar, Richard said, is “robust with so many different offerings.

“Our mission is to be reflective of the community where we live; it drives us in terms of selecting programs we have on all of our stages.”

The John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall’s first performance in February will feature pop and R&B singer-songwriter, record producer, actor and rapper Ne-Yo. He is also the mastermind behind chart-topping hits for performers Beyoncé and Rihanna.

Rap superstar NAS on Feb. 5 will bring his synthesis of well-crafted rhetoric and street-glamorous imagery to the Knight Concert Hall’s stage.  Joining NAS will be Goodie Mob, featuring its original members, Cee-Lo (Gnarls Barkley), Big Gipp, T-Mo and Khujo.

The Free Gospel Sundays Feb. 21 performance will feature the pioneers of traditional gospel music, The Canton Spirituals.

Joining the famous group will be the Miami-based Mount Tabor Missionary Baptist Church Choir and the Free Gospel Sundays Mass Choir for this special Black History Month concert.

The concert is presented in partnership with Miami gospel radio station WMBM 1490 AM and Jubilate, Inc.

Closing the Black History Month’s performances will be Jazz Roots: Al Jarreau and Ramsey Lewis.

Jarreau pairs a voice that’s recognized as one of the world’s most precious treasures with his unique and innovative musical expressions. His achievements include five Grammys, several international music awards and numerous hit records.

A pianist and composer, Lewis is often referenced as “the great performer,” a title reflecting a performance style rooted in his early gospel roots and classical training.

The Arsht Center is in its fourth season, and what happens in the surrounding communities, Richard said, “is also presented on our stage. It’s a matter of programming by genre. We are looking to build an audience from the black community throughout South Florida.’’

He continued: “That’s very much in our thinking about being world-class and community based at the same time. And we don’t think that these are mutually exclusive categories.”

“As we program the center, we think of the center as Miami’s new town square,” Richard said. “If we are arriving at this moment of being that, then what happens on our stages has to be a reflection of the community that comes.”

CynthiaRoby@Bellsouth.net




IF YOU GO


WHAT: Platanos and Collard Greens

WHERE: Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, Carnival Studio Theater, Ziff Ballet Opera House. 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 33132.

WHEN: February 17-28. Weeknights, 7:30 p.m. Weekends at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

COST: $35. $25 student rush tickets will be available two hours prior to each performance.  Student groups of 15 or more can purchase $25 student tickets in advance by calling 786-468-2326.

CONTACT: Purchase tickets online at www.arshtcenter.org. Box office hours are Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The box office is also open two hours before every performance.  To purchase by phone, call 305-949-6722.

 

WHAT:  Ne-Yo, live in concert

WHERE:  Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall. 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 33132.

WHEN:  Thursday, February 4 at 8 p.m.

COST:  $35-$65

CONTACT:  Purchase tickets online at www.arshtcenter.org. Box office hours are Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The box office is also open two hours before every performance.  To purchase by phone, call 305-949-6722.

WHAT:   Rock the Bells Experience, featuring rap superstar NAS with special guest Goodie Mob.

WHERE:   Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall. 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 33132.

WHEN:   Friday, February 5 at 8 p.m.

COST:   $34.75 – $84.75

CONTACT:   Purchase tickets online at www.arshtcenter.org. Box office hours are Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The box office is also open two hours before every performance.  To purchase by phone, call 305-949-6722.

 

 

WHAT:    Free Gospel Sundays, the Canton Spirituals with Mount Tabor Full Gospel Baptist Church Choir and Vanessa Bell Armstrong

WHERE:   Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall. 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 33132.

WHEN:   Sunday, February 21 at 4 p.m.

COST:  Free and open to the public.

CONTACT:   Order free tickets online at www.arshtcenter.org. Box office hours are Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The box office is also open two hours before every performance, advance reservations are strongly suggested.

 

WHAT:    Jazz Roots with Al Jarreau and Ramsey Lewis

WHERE:   Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall. 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 33132.

WHEN:    Friday, February 26 at 8 p.m.

COST:     $25-$125

CONTACT:   Purchase tickets online at www.arshtcenter.org. Box office hours are Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The box office is also open two hours before every performance.  To purchase by phone, call 305-949-6722.