Meet Play­boy Bun­nies, 1950s tourists at ‘Mi­ami Mo­tel Sto­ries’

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - Showtime - Palm Beach - - FRONT PAGE - By Phillip Valys SOUTHFLORIDA.COM

A tourist cou­ple ar­riv­ing in their 1950s Chevy checks into the Gold Dust mo­tel on Mi­ami’s Bis­cayne Boule­vard, and watches TV com­mer­cials tout­ing South Florida’s ex­otic beaches and flamin­gos. In the mo­tel room next door, a gay Cuban boxer over­doses and dies on his bed.

These are “Mi­ami Mo­tel Sto­ries: MiMo,” a se­ries of nine short, im­mer­sive plays that take place in­side the real-life, 61-year-old Gold Dust at 7700 Bis­cayne Blvd. Writ­ten by Mi­ami play­wright Juan C. Sanchez and pro­duced by Jug­ger­naut Theatre Com­pany, these playlets re­visit the sor­did his­tory of Mi­ami’s MiMo neigh­bor­hood through char­ac­ters who once vis­ited the Gold Dust.

Vis­i­tors who buy tick­ets (called “room keys” by mo­tel staff ) to “Mi- ami Mo­tel Sto­ries” are first trans­ported back in time to the tikithemed 1957 grand open­ing of the Gold Dust. From there, ac­tors por­tray­ing bell­hops and bar­tenders es­cort au­di­ences to three of the

mo­tel’s nine up­stairs rooms, where they can wit­ness in­ti­mate scenes be­tween char­ac­ters.

The whole ex­pe­ri­ence is de­signed to feel more “in-your-face” than black-box the­ater, says Mia Rovegno, who is di­rect­ing all nine “Mi­ami Mo­tel Sto­ries” plays.

When vis­i­tors en­ter the mo­tel rooms, “You’re step­ping into a time warp and ev­ery­thing in the room con­jures that mo­ment in time, whether it’s 2016 or 1957 or 1986,” Rovegno says. “The mo­tel is kind of peel­ing back its lay­ers of his­tory to show you a glimpse of how Mi­ami evolved.”

To keep each vi­gnette in­ti­mate, only four guests at a time will be al­lowed in each mo­tel room, where they can en­counter a 1990s run­away teenager pay­ing by the week, a re­flec­tion of the neigh­bor­hood when it was over­run with drug deal­ers and pros­ti­tutes. Or vis­i­tors may en­counter a Play­boy Bunny or­der­ing a night­cap at the bar down­stairs, a nod to when the Gold Dust sat across the street from Hugh Hefner’s Play­boy Club res­tau­rant in 1964.

Tanya Bravo, artis­tic di­rec­tor of Jug- ger­naut Theatre Com­pany, says “Mi­ami Mo­tel Sto­ries” is paid for by a $30,000 Knight Arts Chal­lenge grant, and de­buted last fall at a mo­tel in Mi­ami’s Lit­tle Ha­vana neigh­bor­hood. To cre­ate the sto­ries, Bravo says Sanchez pored over the his­tory of the MiMo area with re­searchers from His­to­ryMi­ami Mu­seum. To re-cre­ate the ho­tel, Bravo worked with devel­oper Avra Jain (the Vagabond Ho­tel), who is cur­rently ren­o­vat­ing the Gold Dust, formerly known as Mo­tel Blu.

“All of these sto­ries come with a seed of a real ex­pe­ri­ence that hap­pened at the mo­tel,” Bravo says. “By play­ing these char­ac­ters, you’re giv­ing the peo­ple of this neigh­bor­hood a voice to tell their sto­ries. These sto­ries might not be glam­orous, but they de­serve to be told.”

“Mi­ami Mo­tel Sto­ries: MiMo” will run Nov. 30-Dec. 23 at the Gold Dust Ho­tel, 7700 Bis­cayne Blvd., in Mi­ami. Show­times are 7:45, 8:30 and 9:15 p.m. Thurs­day and Sun­day and 8:45, 9:30 and 10:15 p.m. Fri­day and Satur­day. Ad­mis­sion is $45-$75. Go to Mi­amiMotelS­to­ries.com and Jug­ger­nautTheatreCom­pany.com. [email protected] or 954-356-4364

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