Miami Motel Stories: MiMo’s Ground-Floor Performance Is Groundbreaking
As visitors to our speakeasy will confirm, we hold our best cards closest to the chest, so we’d like to take a moment to highlight one of MMS’ best-kept secrets: the ground-floor action. Unlike the immersive theater of the pink, yellow, and blue key experiences, the interactive mojo conjured up by our top-notch cast changes with each performance. Why? Because the audience is the magic ingredient.
Theatergoers on the ground level watch, wander, and participate, in several interactive experiences that occur simultaneously in the motel bar, upstairs diner, the dock on the Little River which flanks the motel, and a couple of clandestine spots like the 1957 speakeasy. Each cycle (there are three a night) is capped off with a party at the motel’s Tiki Bar. Tickets are still available and this Friday and Saturday’s 10:15 p.m. shows feature live music by Vanya Allen and the Scone Cash Players respectively.
Join writer, Mia Leonin as she unveils the Gold Dust Motel’s most mysterious characters yet: the ones hidden in plain sight.
Here we go:
Waitresses, fishermen, bartenders, and hotel managers have something in common: if you don’t need them, you don’t notice them. However, unbeknownst to many of us, the people stationed throughout a hotel are often astute observers who know things about the guests even the guests aren’t aware of. Playwright Juan C. Sanchez has crafted several such characters to breathe life into Miami Motel Stories: MiMo and its ground-level theatrical experience. Director, Mia Rovegno asks actors to “riff and improvise within the structure of the script as they invite audience members to engage, talk back, and ultimately become an extension of the scene.” For this reason, as Rovegno emphasizes, “The experience is completely singular for each audience member. No two people will have the same encounter.”
Luckner Bruno plays River Man, a present-day, Haitian-American fisherman with a memory longer than the line he gracefully casts to the far side of the river. Theatergoers perch on metal fold out chairs as he regales them with humorous quips, subtly sneaking in important bits of often overlooked Miami history. The first waves of Haitians that came to Miami in the 60’s, like many Cubans, were fleeing a brutal dictatorship. In fact, Haitian children were also part of the U.S. Government and Catholic Church-sponsored Operation Peter Pan. River Man is quick to point out: “Just like Cubans, we Haitians have come in waves since the sixties, but the treatment is not the same.” Bruno says one participant even argued with his character, insisting only Cubans came on Peter Pan. The seasoned actor relishes these amplified interactions with audience members: “It is a living, breathing theater experience,” he explains in an interview. “You’re together in this portal of time that’s as thin as paper.”
Actor, Susie K. Taylor concurs: “There’s this freedom for the cast and the audience because the audience becomes part of the performance.” Taylor plays Mrs. Wade, the hotel manager’s wife. Oozing a scotch-on-the rocks smile and the impeccably straight spine of a 1950s housewife dwarfed by her overbearing husband, Mrs. Wade is by turns chaste, savvy, and audacious. “I’ve had people come up to hug my character and plot how to get her out of the marriage,” Taylor laughs. “I think interactive theater gives people the freedom to jump out of their skin for a moment and they go for it.”
After hanging out on the fishing dock with River Man and slipping into Mrs. Wade’s living room, you can sidle up to the bar or take a detour into the 1980s and meet up with the Commissioner, hilariously portrayed by Vanessa Elise. Complete with structured blazer, shoulder pads, and puffy hair, the Commissioner wants to tear down all the seedy motels along Biscayne Boulevard. She cultivates a particularly rabid disgust for Miami businessman and philanthropist, Don Bailey and rallies theatergoers to condemn the iconic billboard of Bailey stretched out buck naked on a carpet. Engage the commissioner in a rousing debate or sign her petition. Either way, it’s an adventure.
Next, climb the stairs to the motel diner where the Waitress (Barbara Kim) will serve up southern hospitality and black coffee with a shot of heartbreak as she spins a tale about her ex-boyfriend, George, a 1960s, wannabe domestic-terrorist.
In the diner’s corner booth, Thiana Berrick’s character, Abby, the Feminist is apt to incite some real-life 70s bra burning as she ponders the fate of the women who work as bunnies at the Playboy Club across the street. Are they exploited or empowered? Depending on your response, a protest may ensue.
When all is said and done, shoot the breeze with the boisterous Bartender (Jeff Quintana). If you look the type, he might slip you a secret chip that will get you into the speakeasy for a shot of Chivas and an illicit game of blackjack with the “accountant.”
Miami Motel Stories: MiMo embodies the Magic City at its best: sometimes wise, usually playful, always outrageous.
For Tickets visit www.MiamiMotelStories.com