What does the performing arts world look like from behind the curtain? The musical Performing Arts Politics answers that question using comedy, dance, and music to expose the often-harsh realities of what it’s like to compete as an entertainer.
The show is running for two nights — Friday and Saturday March 20 and 21 — at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and was created by Pablo Malco, professional dance instructor and founder of the nonprofit Developing Dreams Foundation.
Malco has been developing his dream of putting on this show for about seven years. Back in 2007, when he started Developing Dreams, he wrote the script and did a small performance out of pocket. When the opportunity to apply for a grant for a new, original work opened up, he jumped at the chance to put on Performing Arts Politics again — this time bigger and better, with original music.
“I had been wanting to do this for a long time,” Malco says. “When the grant came through, I saw that this was meant to be.”
He spent about a year producing the musical with choreographer Jodi Bergman and director Frank Bergman. His inspiration came from his own experiences as a dancer and from a scene in Chorus Line.
“I was in Europe working when it occurred to me that there are so much politics in the performing arts,” Malco says. “If you’ve ever been to an audition, you know that it doesn’t matter whether you are in Germany, New York, or Florida; only 20 percent of it has to do with your talent. It’s often the people who are mediocre but have the right look or the right size or smile at the director the right way that get the job.”
Malco’s musical goes beyond simply exposing the politics involved onstage. He shows the audience how to deal with it too. He believes that the politics is never going to go away, so you have to teach performers how to deal with it. His advice to talent is to prepare for every audition like it’s the biggest one of their lives, trust yourself, be flexible, and don’t take the outcome personally.
“The world is a stage,” Malco says. “We all approach it differently, but we all are equally as special. It doesn’t matter if you work in a corporate office or backstage; there is something in this show that we can all relate to. There are 20 different characters, and we can identify with all of them. I wanted to bring that to the forefront.”
Malco is not only making his own dreams become a reality through this production but he is also helping performers and youth develop their dreams too. The purpose of the Developing Dreams Foundation is to provide work for new talent through local productions and to train and mentor underprivileged youth to achieve their dreams.
For free or at a reduced price, kids can take arts classes in after-school programs including dance, photography, music production, and creative writing.
Malco grew up on the streets of Brooklyn, New York, and started his nonprofit because he wanted to do something for kids who grew up the way he did. He went from break dancing on cardboard boxes to performing on tour with big names like Paula Abdul and now producing his own musicals.
“The show is supposed to be funny, light, and entertaining, but it also has some good points you can take away,” he says. “It’s a great family production.”
Malco intends to bring the show to Miami and West Palm Beach this year as well. But, he believes, it’s so good that he thinks it “could hang on Broadway.”
Performing Arts Politics. 7 p.m. Friday, March 20, and Saturday, March 21, at the Amaturo Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $20 to $55. Visit browardcenter.org or developingdreamsfoundation.org.