| Theater |

Aventura Arts and Cultural Center Offers "Curtain Up" This Sunday

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It used to be that if you lived in Miami-Dade, you better get to downtown if you wanted to get some culture in you. Even much of the recent growth has been central, with the Design District, Wynwood, and Coral Gables the main beneficiaries. But those days will soon be no more. Culture is spreading like a disease these days, especially to extremities of the county. And that's something you don't need a shot for. The county is close to opening its South Dade Cultural Center early next year for the southern denizens, who are often overlooked when it comes to culture. And just as importantly, the City of Aventura already unveiled its Aventura Arts and Cultural Center earlier this summer.

The 14,864-foot, 324-seat theater on the Intracoastal waterway is already open for business. A summer camp for kids, the Petrouchka ballet, and even a private benefit concert by legendary crooner Rod Stewart concert have already been staged. But the real action starts this weekend.

The community is invited to take a look at what lies behind the curtain, literally and figuratively, with the free "Curtain Up" event on Sunday. From noon to 4 p.m. those in attendance get a behind-the-scenes view of what the center offers with guided tours and performances by Next Step Dance, Arts Ballet Theater of Florida, Duelling Divas, International Piano Festival, and the Alhambra String Quartet. It's a family event, and the young ones will enjoy puppeteers, mimes (although, mimes can be scarier than fun) and other entertainers.

And next weekend, the center hosts two-time Tony Award winner Patti LuPone performing Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda---Played that Part in a gala opening concern at 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 23. Before the concert there will be a cocktail reception at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $185 and include the concert and reception.

General Manager Steven Clark says the new venue will be an important cultural stop for residents in the north of the county, but that they shouldnt' expect Broadway shows at the center. "This is a cabaret theater. It's perfect for smaller plays and dance. We hope it does for Aventura what the Colony Theater does for Miami Beach."

Even though it's located in Aventura,don't think the theater is going to be rooted in the days of the Rat Pack. Clark says the programming will reflect the surrounding community, which has, in recent years, included more young families and South Americans. Interestingly, the Miami-Dade venue is managed by the Broward Center of the Performing Arts, which makes sense geographically since that entity is closer to Aventura than many Miami-Dade cultural institutions.

Curtain Up, this Sunday. from noon to 4 p.m. At the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center (3385 NE 188th St., Aventura). The event is free.

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