South Florida live entertainment makes a return to normalcy

A few guests at the front entrance of the Miami Improv at CityPlace Doral. (Katherine Miranda/ SFMN)

Local live entertainment venues and theaters are resuming indoor performances, and according to owners, managers and artistic directors, the transition is going smoothly. 

Joel Murray, the chair and artistic director of FIU’s theater department, said many live entertainment spots were negatively affected by the pandemic, but things are looking up. 

Justin Echavarria, a manager at Miami Improv at CityPlace Doral, said wearing a mask is optional for guests and the theater is slowly increasing its capacity. The theater offers comedy acts from both local and famous comedians, live music and fashion shows, said Echavarria. 

Kate Markus and Lucca Castaneda are guests reading the ticket information and show program while waiting in line at the Area Stage Company. (Katherine Miranda/ SFMN)

Located at the Shops at Sunset Place is a theater that is home to  the Area Stage Company. According to its website, musicals and plays are performed here. John Rodaz, the artistic director, said the theater has done several socially distanced outdoor performances and began indoor performances in April. 

Both guests and staff are still required to wear masks for indoor performances, but Rodaz said that vaccine availability has really helped the venue bring back the shows. The theater is currently showing a version of the classic orphan tale “Annie” which will be performed until July 4, according to the theater’s website.  

Alejandra Gamargo and Jennifer Pivaral are first time guests having a conversation at Yumbrella. (Katherine Miranda/ SFMN)

Another entertainment venue located on Sunset Drive is Yumbrella. Steve Simon, the owner of Yumbrella, said shows went from being held outside with social distancing restrictions to indoors with increased capacity. Wearing a mask is optional for guests, but all employees are mandated to wear masks to keep all guests comfortable, said Simon.

According to the venue’s website, every Friday night live DJs and bands come to perform and on Saturday nights comedy shows are hosted. 

In downtown Coral Gables is the Actor’s Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre. Brooke Noble, a manager, said the theater went from doing online shows to socially distanced indoor performances. The theater showcases musicals and plays for the public, according to the website

Guests and staff are mandated to wear a mask inside and temperatures are being taken, said Noble. The main stage theater has been used for indoor performances and other shows are planned to be performed for full capacity audiences in August, she said. The theater was lucky to be able to remain in business and support from the local community was very important, she said. 

Phillip Church, an associate professor of theater at FIU, said the lack of live in-person shows during the pandemic negatively affected society as a whole. But things are getting better now.  

“We have seen the state of society without its theatre, film houses, opera and concert halls and stages,” he said. “The pandemic has proved the love of physical community, eating and being entertained.” 

Katherine Miranda is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism with a music business certification. After graduation she hopes to land a job at a radio station to get to know a variety of artists.