The preservation of a family stands in the balance of an estranged daughter's search for love and the impending threat of a developer's wrecking ball.
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The curtain opens to reveal three buildings on Ocean Drive and the bustling activity that is South Beach. The middle building, an old apartment/hotel where 75-year old Sam lives, is one of the last un-renovated properties remaining on Ocean Drive. It is flanked on one side with an updated art deco building housing a modeling agency upstairs and the SoBe Café on the sidewalk downstairs. On the other side of Sam’s building is a newly renovated, chic art deco hotel/apartment with one of the hottest nightclubs downstairs.
In Scene 1, the opening salsa song Ocean Drive https://soundcloud.com/bidney-dornfield/ocean-drive-south-beach-the is a dance number that also introduces the audience to the lead characters. We see 75 year old Sam and his 42 year old daughter Jennifer, sitting on the front porch of Sam’s un-renovated apartment building. They have just returned from Mom’s (Carol’s) funeral and their dialogue is interspersed with the song. We meet Robert and Jose, a gay couple who have been surrogate sons to Sam and Carol. There’s also Tom, Jennifer’s ex-fiancé whom she abandoned 15 years earlier when she ran off to seek her fame and fortune in New York City. We also meet Tony, the successful developer who helped re-shape South Beach. He was often at odds with Carol who founded the Miami Beach Preservation League to save the art deco buildings from the wrecking ball.
Conflict between Sam and Jennifer becomes immediately apparent in Scene 1. Sam has felt abandoned by Jennifer over the years, and conversely, Jennifer feels she has never received her father’s respect as an independent person and successful businesswoman. Adding to their conflict is the fact that the art deco building Sam lives in (a building that Carol helped save from the wrecking ball years earlier) is for sale and in danger of being demolished. Jennifer wants to situate her father in an Adult Community so she can promptly return to New York and deal with an impended merger with her company. The preservation of Sam’s old building is not only a testament to what Carol set out to accomplish her whole life, it represents the love of family. For if the building is destroyed by some greedy developer’s wrecking ball, the very foundation of a family will also be destroyed.
When Jennifer storms off stage in anger, Sam is left alone to sing How Could I Forget https://soundcloud.com/bidney-dornfield/how-could-i-forget-south-beach, remembering his daughter as a sweet little girl. This is in stark contrast to the grown daughter who he feels has abandoned him and his deceased wife.
Juxtaposed to this conflict between Jennifer and her Dad is Jose’s and Robert’s roles as surrogate sons to Sam and Carol. They scold Jennifer for her absenteeism as a daughter, while she defends herself as a successful businesswomen in the dual-staged song Tell Me Jennifer Where Were You / I’m Not Daddy’s Little Girl https://soundcloud.com/bidney-dornfield/im-not-daddys-little-girl .
Jennifer has two other unresolved issues. First, she is frequently on her cell phone with her business partner in New York discussing their impending merger with another company. However, the deal is conflicted and Jennifer must fight for what she feels is right. After the first of several phone calls, Jennifer reveals another unresolved issue — the perception that her mother loved the Art Deco buildings more than her, bringing painful memories to the surface. Memories that are both benediction and punishment in the song, I Wonder https://soundcloud.com/bidney-dornfield/i-wonder-south-beach-the . Parenthetically, Sam’s perception that Jennifer cared more about her career than her father and mother, brings this family conflict full circle.
The action moves to the chic hotel. Here, the primarily Latino and Caribbean hotel workers (bellhops, housekeeping, kitchen staff, office personnel, etc.) tell their story about immigrating to America to find jobs and the hope of getting U.S. residency in the song I Just Need A Green Card https://soundcloud.com/bidney-dornfield/i-just-need-a-green-card-south.
Jennifer’s pain, resentment, and loneliness have made her the woman she is today, like her mother – successful, driven, and selfish – and in many ways, like Tony. Jennifer and Tony sing a competitively tongue and cheek duet It’s Great To Be Me https://soundcloud.com/bidney-dornfield/its-great-to-be-me-south-beach .
Jennifer leaves Tony and the girls at the Sobe Cafe where Robert and Jose have just finished eating lunch. The audience learns of Tony’s homophobia, which is reason enough for Jose to mock him every chance he gets. But the real story here is the gay community of South Beach, where Robert and Jose met and now sing, along with their peers, of their wonderful life together in the song, It’s Good To Be Gay https://soundcloud.com/bidney-dornfield/its-good-to-be-gay-south-beach .
The next scene moves to the SoBe Café where Jennifer is on her cell phone again, still battling the merger with her partner. After the phone call, she’s surprised by the appearance of Tom, her ex-fiancée, whom she has not seen since she broke off their engagement and moved to New York 15 years ago, as previously mentioned. They catch up on old times in the song Try And Picture Me https://soundcloud.com/bidney-dornfield/try-and-picture-me-south-beach and Jennifer makes an important connection to her past which has future implications.
Just before the curtain falls to end Act One, an ambulance siren races off into the distance. Carmen (one of the Latin immigrants who works in Tony’s hotel) rushes up to Rolando (the hotel’s security guard) and asks him about what happened. He tells her that the paramedics just took Tony to the hospital with chest pains. They think it’s a heart attack.
Act Two begins inside the nightclub. Jennifer and Tom are sharing a drink at the bar and deepening their bond. During the up-tempo salsa song, Time To Party https://soundcloud.com/bidney-dornfield/time-to-party-south-beach-the , virtually the entire cast (except Tony, Gloria, and Maria) sing and dance. Towards the middle of the song, Tom and Jennifer dance in slow-motion in the center of the room, romantically reconnecting like 20-somethings in love again.
Scene 2 is next day, late morning inside Sam’s apartment. Robert and Jose are helping Sam go through Carol’s belongings. Jennifer arrives and notices how Robert and Jose are such a loving couple. She is envious of their relationship, which is expressed in the gay couple’s song Love is Wonderful With You https://soundcloud.com/bidney-dornfield/love-is-wonderful-with-you .
As Jennifer looks inside the boxes, discovering her old dolls and a large stack of Mother’s Day cards her mom had saved, she becomes more emotional (and warmer) than we’ve seen her before. She begins to realize how much her mother actually did love her — and how much she missed not having had a more significant relationship with her parents. These emotions are expressed in the duet with Sam, When You Look Inside https://soundcloud.com/bidney-dornfield/when-you-look-inside-south.
In Scene 3, the action moves to the modeling agency where Maria and Gloria arrive for a casting that’s been “arranged” by Tony. There, we also meet a “B” league photographer and several models who share their South Beach story of fame and glory in the fun, salsa dance number I Got A Shot https://soundcloud.com/bidney-dornfield/i-got-a-shot-south-beach-the .
In Scene 4, the action moves to Sam’s porch where Jennifer is talking on her cell phone for the last time with her business partner in New York. The audience overhears her admit that she’s probably not a “good fit” for the new partners they are merging with and expresses a desire to sell her interest in the business and build a new life in South Beach. As she sings the song Maybe I Was Wrong https://soundcloud.com/bidney-dornfield/maybe-i-was-wrong-south-beach , Jennifer acknowledges finding a new purpose in life that is not focused on her career, but rather, on the things that have been missing in her life — relationships, love, and family.
After the song, Tom appears. Jennifer tells him of her decision to build a new life in South Beach, and more importantly, confesses to him her love. She acknowledges that success means nothing without someone to share it with, and the two of them rekindle their love in the duet Such A Surprise https://soundcloud.com/bidney-dornfield/such-a-surprise-south-beach.
After the song, Jennifer and Tom are joined by Jose and Robert. Jennifer acknowledges the warmth and caring Jose and Robert have unselfishly provided her parents. She shares with them her decision to relocate to South Beach and renovate Sam’s old building along with Tom. After Jose and Robert agree to her offer to become interior designers on the project, they all celebrate by dancing and singing We Can Do This https://soundcloud.com/bidney-dornfield/we-can-do-this-south-beach-the.
As the scene continues, Tony arrives with his gals and tells everyone that his medical episode was not a heart attack after all, but rather, symptoms of hyperventilation brought on by too much stress, liquor and Viagra. Tony decides to start smelling the roses by taking his girls on a world cruise, and, due to this new outlook on life, unexpectedly offers Jennifer the opportunity to take over his option on the property. Tony sings and dances with Maria and Gloria in the song You Can Have It https://soundcloud.com/bidney-dornfield/you-can-have-it-south-beach.
Sam arrives, and with great excitement and warmth, Jennifer tells her Dad of her renewed love for Tom, and her decision to stay in South Beach and renovate his old art deco building as Mom would have wanted her to. Mom Would Be Proud https://soundcloud.com/bidney-dornfield/mom-would-be-proud-south-beach is a testimonial to Carol sung by Sam, Jennifer, Robert, Jose, and Tom.
Towards the middle of the song, as a grand memorial to Carol, the newly renovated facade of Sam’s building is revealed, along with a bright neon sign that renames the building, “The Carol.”
The building is preserved, the family is saved.
As this final number finishes and it appears the show has come to an end, Consuela, the pregnant immigrant hotel worker, runs onto the stage screaming, ”Mira! Mira! I just got my Green Card! ”
Curtain falls. The orchestra begins to reprise the chorus to Ocean Drive (Reprise) https://soundcloud.com/bidney-dornfield/ocean-drive-reprise-south as the cast members sing, clap, and take their bows.