Even though we've become accustomed to losing our artists to L.A. and the Big Apple, the truth is that their bond with the 305 can never be truly broken. Playwright J. Sebastian Fabal grew up in Miami and moved to New York for graduate school. Miami stayed with Fabal, though. His latest work, The Tenth Floor, tells the story of Victor Alvarez, a fictional teenage boy incarcerated for the murder of a German tourist. And it's set to music.
"How do you write a musical about a juvenile murderer? I guess I
wrote a coming-of-age prison musical? Yeah...that sounds right." Fabal's writing has come a long way since the
first musical he wrote back in high school. "It was about a rock
singer who was such as asshole that he developed colon cancer."
to Made in Miami, a series of
Miami-centric independent works supported by the Arsht Center. "We've
been invited to do a reading of The Tenth Floor at the next Miami
Made event at the Arsht Center. I've always wanted to bring this show
down to Miami and this seems to be the perfect scenario to do so. I've
also been very curious if a Miami audience would respond to the show
New Times: What was it like growing up in Miami?
While in high school, I was part of a mime troupe that did a lot of events around Miami. Although I've hung up my white gloves, this experience was incredibly formative. It allowed me to view the arts through a lens of "if you work hard enough, you'll make room for your artistic voice." Mime in Miami? Yeah. You bet. We were the talk of the all the state theatre festivals.
The really cool part of the show is that there are these two apparitions or "ambassadors" of the tenth floor who come out through the walls, a la the ghosts from Dickens's A Christmas Carol. It allows for the show to be really theatrical by having some great dancing and exploring the imagination of this young boy while removing, if only temporarily, the walls of Victor's isolated cell. I'd hate to explain more without giving the show away, but these apparitions want something from Victor. The quicker they can earn his trust, the quicker they can move on with their plan. Mwahahaha...
Production of "The Tenth Floor"
Courtesy J. Sebastian Fabal
My parents were very involved with juvenile delinquents. My father has a history working with Severely Emotionally Disturbed (S.E.D.) kids, my mother was a social worker for a number of years and still does mitigation work across the country, and my step-father was one of the lawyers who abolished the juvenile death penalty at the Supreme Court. I've had dinner with three different juvenile murders over the course of my life. The show and Victor are inspired by one of their stories.
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Miami is the show's muse and very much my muse.