Little Havana Theaters & Entertainment

Little Havana's Tower Theater.
Little Havana’s Tower Theater.

For years, Little Havana boasted nearly a dozen theaters: more Spanish-language theaters than any other Miami neighborhood. In the last few years, however, some Little Havana theaters have been closing their doors due to rising rents and changing demographics.

If you love theater, please support the very special places that remain. Some theaters offer performances with English supertitles. Larger spaces also host other types of arts performances.

Little Havana is also home to the restored Tower Theater, which USA Today named one of the “10 great places to see a movie in splendor.” All of the films screened at the Tower Theater are subtitled in English if not already in English.

The movie theater, which first opened in 1926, was in its time the finest state-of-the-art theater in the South. Later, it became the first theater in Miami to show films subtitled in Spanish; eventually, all its movies were in Spanish. Now managed by Miami Dade College, the theater screens high-quality foreign and independent films, including many that are shown as part of international film festivals in Miami.

The best deal in town is to become a member of the Tower Theater. Then you get the best prices for movie tickets.

For more information about Miami’s Hispanic theater scene, check out Teatro En Miami.

Little Havana Theater and Theaters of the Past

Little Havana has a long history of Hispanic theatrical l arts. Two of the legendary theaters that once existed include the Teatro Marti and Teatro de Las Mascaras. Teatro Marti stood for years at the corner of SW 8th Ave. and SW 4th Street; Teatro de Las Mascaras stood near the corner of SW 27th Avenue and SW 8th Street (Calle Ocho).

Below are some of the theaters that have closed or re-located in the last five years.

ArtSpoken, founded by Cuban director Yoshvani Media, was a haven for avant-garde and lesser known works that address the universal conflicts represented in everyday life. At his space within Little Havana’s 12th & 6th Arts District, theatergoers also delighted in nights of erotic poetry and Sunday afternoon arts salons.


Before the theater space closed, Medina had been collaborating with another Cuban director, Juan Rojas, who had previously run another Little Havana-based theater: Havanafama Teatro Estudio. Havanafama has since re-opened in another part of Miami. The Havanafama Theaterical Company was originally founded in 1985 in Los Angeles, California. It became a cultural center in L.A., with a philosophy of collaboration and bridge-building in the community. Its Little Havana space hosted the popular Festival Latinoamericano de Monólogo (The Latin American Monologue Festival) as well as comedies, melodramas and tragicomedies.

Teatro en Miami Studio had a funky theater space tucked above a tire shop! The theater space was run by dedicated teatristas Ernesto and Sandra Garcia, formerly of Havana’s Teatro Estudio. Shows at the theater focused on teatro de arte (art theater) rather than commercialized productions. In 2010, Teatro en Miami (TEM) launched a new annual theater festival, TEMfest, engaging a number of local Hispanic theater companies to participate. All productions were performed with English supertitles.

Another theater that has now closed is Caffe Teatro America. Tucked into the corner of a nondescript shopping center, the venue was a creative haven for plays, musicals and dance productions, as well as occasional drag show cabarets (transformisma). It also hosted flamenco shows.

 

Existing Little Havana Theaters

Manuel Artime Theater
900 SW 1st St.
Miami, FL 33130
(305) 575-5057
website

An elegant, small/medium-size (839-seat) community theater, the Manuel Artime Theater is owned by the City of Miami. In its former incarnation it was the Riverside Baptist Church! The theater now offers a regular schedule of events ranging from plays to dance and music performances to community recitals and celebrations.

The theater also served one of the sets for the 2003 film Stuck on You featuring Matt Damon, Eva Mendes and Cher.

Miami-Dade County Auditorium/On.Stage BlackBox @ MDCA
2901 West Flagler St.
Miami, FL 33135
(305) 547-5414 ext. 226
listing of upcoming shows

Miami-Dade County Auditorium (MCDA) is the largest theater space in Little Havana, with 2,429 seats. In 2011 it celebrated its 60th year as a Miami venue, having opened its doors in 1951 as a top-tier, multi-purpose performing arts center suitable for grand opera, symphony, concerts, ballets, lectures and community programming. Its history includes hosting the American debut of opera great Luciano Pavarotti.

Reflecting the demographics of Little Havana, the majority of events held at Miami-Dade Auditorium are now in Spanish, with famous talent from Latin America and the Caribbean (including Cuba!) and everything from comedy shows to popular plays.
Patrons can order a drink (including alcoholic beverages) or snack from the theater concession stand and bring it back to their seat.

The On.Stage BlackBox @ MDCA is a flexible performance space within MCDA. Seating up to 300 people, it is designed to accommodate plays, dance performances, intimate concerts, cabaret-style shows, alternative theater, performance art, conferences and receptions.

Parking is free in MDCA’s large lot.

Teatro 8
2101 SW 8th St.
Miami, FL 33135
(305) 541-4841
website

The 110-seat Teatro 8 is the home of Miami’s Hispanic Theater Guild, an organization founded in 1989 with the intention of presenting fine-quality theater in Spanish. The Guild moved into its current quarters on Calle Ocho tens years later, in 1999.
The theater has also presented regular flamenco shows.

This intimate, theater was originally called Teatro Casanova, and was built by Cuban radio and TV writer and theater designer and director Maria Julia Casanova (1916-2004), whose scripts, photos and other memorabilia are in a special archive at the University of Miami.

Teatro Bellas Artes
2173 SW 8th St.
Miami, FL 33135
(305) 325-0515

Light comedies and Spanish translations of popular foreign plays are the usual fare at this 255-seat theater, which is popular among middle-aged and senior crowd. Bellas Artes is also known for its long-running musical-comedy drag shows!

The Spanish-language drag shows it launched, called the Midnight Follies, were the first of their kind in Miami, and became so popular that attracted international tourists, especially those from Latin America. These weekend shows are are classy and often saucy (or surreal!) vaudeville shows, where the transformistas wear outrageous, fabulous gowns. Read an article in the Miami New Times about the show.

The theater was bought by Mirella Gonzalez in 1983. Originally it was called Teatro America, and was the site of the premiere for the film El Super by Cuban-American filmmaker Ivan Acosta, which received a very positive review in the New York Times.

Prometeo Theatre
Koubek Center
2705 SW 3rd Street
Miami FL 33135
(305) 237-3262
website

Teatro Prometeo is the only Spanish-language theater Conservatory and Repertory program functioning under an academic institution (Miami Dade College). The theater is now based at a gorgeous historic site in Little Havana, the Koubek Center, but it was born in a Little Havana garage!

For more than 40 years, Prometeo has served the Miami community with Hispanic theatrical performances and productions. Currently under the executive leadership of Joan María Yarrow, it serves more than 500 performing arts students. Each year, it runs an average of 12-16 productions and projects.

Teatro Prometeo also offers more than 20 different courses and professional workshops, taught and directed by internationally renowned theater professionals. Children have the opportunity to learn acting skills at its Saturday performing arts program, Los Prometeítos, and a summer Spanish-language theater camp.

The theater’s Professional Actor Training Program is the only one of its kind in the nation. Participants receive intensive training in advanced acting, voice and diction, movement and body language techniques, as well as history. Student can also learn stage combat, Commedia dell’arte, contact improvisation, acrobatics, stilt performance and more. The theater even offers short-term adult-level vocational courses, which teach acting, diction, movement, singing, drama and on-camera acting techniques.

Teresa Maria Rojas played an active role in nurturing Little Havana’s (Miami’s) Hispanic theater community. An actress and founder of the Prometeo Student Theater Group, she taught theater at Miami Dade College for more than 30 years. The University of Miami has a collection of her papers and documents in their Miami Cuban Heritage Collection. We’re glad Prometeo is still with us!

Tower Theater
1508 SW 8th St.
Miami, FL 33135
(305) 642-1264
website

An iconic cultural landmark in Little Havana, the Tower Theater is known for its cinematic offerings more than theater performances. On occasion, theatrical performances are also offered in the theater, which first opened in 1926.

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