As part of the ongoing research for an article I am writing about venues in South Florida, I had the opportunity to visit the spectacular “Raymond F. Kravis Center For The Performing Arts” in West Palm Beach, Florida. On January 14, 2011, Whoopi Goldberg performed in the “Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr. Concert Hall” on the “Bernard and Chris Marden Stage.”
The evening started with a solo performance which lasted over an hour. Whoopi deviated from her normal rated-PG stance as she appears on ABC’s Emmy award-winning “The View” and instead told very “raw” stories about her life experiences. These stories included everything from her introduction to feminine hygiene products as a child to her current experiences with menopause. At the completion of her comedy act, Palm Beach Post’s Leslie Gray Streeter joined her on stage for a one-on-one interview.
Leslie asked a few questions, then opened it up to the audience. The questions covered a whole gamut of topics including the origin of her name, racial issues, sex, who inspired her as a comedian, her thoughts about Patrick Swayze’s passing, and was asked which movie character she liked playing the most. Of course, she answered candidly and with tongue-in-cheek humor.
Actress, comedienne, TV host and human rights advocate, Goldberg is one of the few artists who has all of the major acting awards. She has won an Oscar, the Grammy, the Academy Award, the Golden Globe, The Emmy and a Tony. She has appeared in over 150 feature films, and for a brief period during the 1990s, she was the highest-paid actress in history. She has been publicly recognized and honored by organizations as diverse as NAACP, who named her Entertainer of The Year in 1991, to L.I.F.E. (Love Is Feeding Everyone), who named her a Hunger Hero, alongside fellow actress Shirley MacLaine. Whoopi Goldberg’s achievements are truly impressive – and moreover, she shows absolutely no sign of slowing down, despite the fact that she has now turned fifty and is a grandmother three times over!
The Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, located in West Palm Beach, Florida, is one of the premier performing arts centers in the Southeast with a growing national and international reputation. True to the spirit in which it was created, the Center is expanding programming by initiating projects on local, national and international levels. The world-class Kravis Center opened fully funded, with a total construction cost of $100 million, of which a remarkable $49 million came from private individuals and corporations.
The Kravis Center is a success story that provides communities worldwide with an example of a thriving performing arts center and a major community and economic catalyst. Set on 10.6 acres of property at the highest point in the city, the Kravis Center includes three venues – the 2,193-seat Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr. Concert Hall, the flexible 300-seat Rinker Playhouse and the outdoor Michael and Andrew Gosman Amphitheatre with a capacity for 1,400 patrons. Additionally, the Kravis Center facilities include the Cohen Pavilion, which houses the Weiner Banquet Center meeting and banquet facility and The Picower Foundation Arts Education Center, along with a five-level parking garage.
Fall 2010 marks the Center’s 19th Anniversary season and the number of events hosted annually has grown to more than 800, with attendance of more than 500,000 patrons. Many regionally based arts organizations call the Kravis Center their home including Miami City Ballet, Palm Beach Opera, and the Palm Beach Pops. During the 2010-2011 season, the Kravis Center itself will present more than 350 performances featuring acclaimed artists from every discipline. Established as a leading force in the social fabric of the community, its many outreach programs are as broad and varied as the community itself. To date, the Center has opened the door to the performing arts for more than 1.1 million school children as well as thousands of economically disadvantaged senior citizens, minorities and community groups.