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More than 500 guests attended the YMCA of South Palm Beach County’s 10th 
Annual Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 9 at the Boca Raton Resort & Club to see keynote
speaker and daytime TV celebrity Regis Philbin. Pictured are Philbin (left) and
Mary Jo and Richard Pollock of Highland Beach. Photo provided


7960375866?profile=originalCommunity Sweethearts Donna Zoley (left), Dr. Marta Rendon
and Fern Cole at the Junior League of Boca Raton’s 11th Annual
Chocolate Decadence at the Shops of Boca Center.

Photo provided

By Thom Smith

The last time Jose Carreras performed in Palm Beach County, in March 2009, a persistent cough forced him to cut short a concert at the Kravis Center. He apologized to the audience and said he would like to return when he was in better health. That eventually became March 7, the opening of the Festival of the Arts Boca, part of a five-concert U.S. tour.

It’s off. With no reason given, the Spanish tenor, 65, canceled the tour, including a March 2 date in Tampa. The only hint:  a notice published Feb. 13 on an unofficial Carreras website, (http://josepcarreras-tenor-breakingnews.blogspot.com): “The U.S. tour, based on five dates has been cancelled due to organizational problems.”

Nevertheless, the festival will press ahead. 

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Doris Kearns Goodwin

With this crazy primary season, presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin is all over TV these days, but on March 18 she’ll be in the flesh talking about presidents past and present under the big tent at Mizner Park Amphitheatre. A Boca Raton winter resident, Goodwin is the festival’s Distinguished Writer in Residence. 

Another face familiar to political TV junkies is Mika Brzezinski, co-host of  Morning Joe on MSNBC and daughter of  former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. She’ll speak March 12. 

The festival offers a broad spectrum, with jazz by Patti Austin and Tony DeSare (March 15), a screening of Casablanca with live accompaniment provided by the Boca Raton Symphonia conducted by Festival Music Director Constantine Kitsopoulos (March 9), and pianist Valentina Lisitsa performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Lynn University Philharmonia (March 14). For information, see www.fesitvaloftheartsboca.org or call 866-571-2787.

     

                                 

Whoa! Double take! Is that who I think it is, Senada Adzem asked herself early on the afternoon of Feb. 19 as she was leaving the Boca Raton Resort & Club. Indeed, it was former President Bill Clinton, natty in light gray suit and surrounded by Secret Service.

“The security detail was incredible,” said Adzem, a local Realtor, noting that she was not allowed to snap a photo. “But the buzz was incredible! People love him. He looked terrific.”

A few hours later, the prez had changed clothes and joined Carnival CEO and Miami Heat owner Micky Arison at the Heat’s stomping of the Orlando Magic. No problems with photos at the game, and afterward Clinton met the players and the game officials, whom he told, “No one in this building, other than me, has been second-guessed more than you guys.” 

Clinton’s visit to the Boca Resort, however, was so low-key that some members of management didn’t even know he was there, much less why. And a spokesperson at Clinton Foundation offices in New York had no comment.

                                       

Wonder what congressional candidate Adam Hasner was discussing with former Delray City Council candidate Nick Loeb one recent afternoon at Coffee District on Second Avenue? A donation perhaps? Loeb does have some deep pockets. Or possibly a campaign appearance by Loeb’s squeeze Sofia Vergara for Republican Hasner, who would face a tough fight with former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel?  

Last August, Loeb broke a leg and his pelvis and injured his chest when his SUV left a twisty road in Bel Air. According to RadarOnline.com, he’s suing the city of Los Angeles because no guardrails or signs were present to warn drivers of blind turns. A passerby saw the crash, called police, and then shot video of Loeb motionless on the ground as paramedics tend to him, his smoking car farther down the steep hill.  

                                       

Access to music in schools has declined 50 percent in recent years, and studies show that within two or three years of such cuts schools show a decrease in morale and attendance and an increase in vandalism and disruption. Deciding something had to be done, Boca Raton’s Cole twins, Timolin and Casey, who know first-hand the value of music, founded Nat King Cole Generation Hope to support programs that provide instruction, mentoring and resources. 

The spirit of their father will be alive March 8 at BB King’s Blues Club at CityPlace in West Palm Beach: The foundation’s “Generations” concert will feature Mary Wilson of The Supremes, and guest appearances by young Boca stars, 10-year-old violin prodigy Brianna Kahane and 2011 American Idol Semi-Finalist Brett Loewenstern.  (http://natkingcolefoundation.org)

                                       

Easy come, easy go. No decision yet as to who or what will replace the destination restaurant at the Omphoy at the south end of Palm Beach. Formerly known as Michelle Bernstein at The Omphoy, it’s now just The Restaurant at The Omphoy. The menu is the same, but hot, hot, hot Miami chef Michelle Bernstein is gone.

Bernstein did not comment about her departure. Nor did executive chef Lindsay Autray, a Bernstein protégé, who was on leave when the announcement was made. 

Also gone after a few months on the job: Glen Manfra at SpoonFed in Delray and Roy Villacrusis at Kapow! Noodle Bar in Boca’s Mizner Park.     

For Manfra, who made his name two decades ago in Palm Beach and later returned at  Vic and Angelo’s in Delray, the arrangement with AMG Restaurants just didn’t work out. He had a good staff and he liked the three-meals-a-day concept.  

Villacrusis, he of the two-toned hair and the multi-toned palate, has checked out of Kapow! Noodle Bar in Mizner Park. Apparently what he wanted to do with his Asian fusion menu didn’t coincide with what the somewhat more conservative patrons wanted, so he took a hike after a few weeks. 

Meanwhile, until he finds another restaurant venture, Villacrusis can find solace in Fort Lauderdale with The Traveling Plate, a movable feast that raises money for charity. On April 5, he’ll create the menu and oversee the festivities at Girls’ Club Collection, a gallery dedicated to women.

                                       

Mixed media. First to shut down was Florida Stage. Now the Caldwell Theatre Company faces at minimum, bankruptcy, or worse, curtains. Artistic Director Clive Colerton says South Florida’s longest-running regional theater is trying to restructure its debt and doesn’t intend to shut down. 

No doubt the builders of Broadstone at North Boca Village wonder what will happen. Alliance Residential Company LLC of Phoenix, Ariz., had planned to make the Caldwell an integral part of its new 384-unit townhouse and apartment complex rising just to the south, even providing 126 parking spaces for the theater. A fitness center, putting green, yoga studio, business center, video game room, demonstration kitchen, cyber café, personal massage salon, wine and cigar room, and resort-style swimming pool area already are planned. Why not a theater, too!

                                       

Parade Productions’ inaugural show, Brooklyn Boy, at The Studio at Mizner Park (in the old cartoon museum) received mixed reviews, although Avi Hoffman, a double Carbonell Award nominee, received good notices as the title character. Parade promises another as yet unannounced play at The Studio “this time next year.”    

                                       

While on the subject of Carbonell Awards, which recognize the best theater in South Florida, Best New Work Nominees include Carter W. Lewis for The Cha-Cha of the Camel Spider at Florida Stage and Michael McKeever for Stuff at Caldwell, which also received two best production nominations, for Stuff and Clybourne Park. Stuff , also received a supporting actress nomination for Angie Radosh and scenic design for Tim Bennett, while Clybourne Park claimed a best ensemble nod. Also Antonio Amadeo received a supporting actor nomination for Florida Stage’s Camel Spider.

Palm Beach County was tops among the three counties, with 43 nominations, 25 going to the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, 10 to Palm Beach Dramaworks, six to Caldwell and two to Florida Stage. 

So good theater is out there; it just needs support.  

                                       

Good art and good museums also are out there, no better an example than the Boca Raton Museum of Art, which was named the county’s outstanding arts and cultural organization for programs with budgets more than $500,000. 

“This award is a testament to all who’ve worked and contributed to the museum during its 60 years,” said Steve Maklansky as he accepted the Palm Beach County Cultural Council Muse Award. “Not only is there a culture of philanthropy but also a philanthropy of culture.” 

Maklansky, who’s only been at the museum’s helm since last July, replacing the retired George Bolge, is known for establishing partnerships with local businesses, schools and civic organizations and creating community outreach programs. Billboards have popped up, even in Broward County, urging people to go to StartClass.org for information about the museum’s art school, and pre-feature ads in movie theaters promote “Close Up,” the museum’s show of ultrarealistic celebrity photographs by Martin Schoeller.

For those in the audience at the Kravis Center who could remember when Boca was known for its big hotel and an amusement park called Africa USA, the ceremony offered confirmation that South County culture is thriving as five of the eight Muses came south. 

Stephen Backhus, outreach program manager at the Milagro Center in Delray Beach was named outstanding arts educator; Palm Beach Poetry Festival, outstanding organization with budget less than $500,000; The Morikami’s Bon Festival, outstanding art or cultural program; and Carol Prusa, artist and art professor at FAU, received the Hector Ubertalli Award for Visual Arts. 

“I read in Art in America that Palm Beach was the next hot place, and I asked myself could that be,” Prusa said. “So I packed my bags and moved down here. And I haven’t regretted it.”

                                       

Party on … and on … and on … annnnnd  … 

For St. Patrick’s Day, Boca will inaugurate the “Off the Green” Downtown Golf Cart Parade, starting at noon from Mizner Park to Royal Palm Place and back. Families, neighborhoods, country clubs and golf courses, schools, organizations and visitors are urged to decorate golf carts. Entry fee is $25. (Call 393-7827.)

Parade will be followed by Irish festivities all afternoon and a free concert by Celtic band Seven Nations at 6. 

                                       

All things must pass. Internationally acclaimed sculptor Esther Wertheimer has sold her Boca Raton winter home and is returning to Montreal to be with her family.

“My son, my daughter and my grandchildren are all in Canada,” Wertheimer says. “Business has been slow here and my family is providing me with an apartment. Health care is provided in Canada too. I hate to leave Boca Raton, but I will be back.”

Born in Lodz, Poland, Wertheimer moved with her family to Montreal as a child.  She won her first gold medal for art in Italy in 1977. In the years since she has amassed a list of honors, but says one of her most significant awards is the Gold Medal of Lorenzo il Magnifico and Certificate of Honor for her career and body of work at the Biennale Internazionale Dell’ Arte, Florence, Italy, in 2009.

Thom Smith is a freelance writer. Contact him at thomsmith@ymail.com. Skip Sheffield contributed to this column.


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