Saturday, March 28, 2009

ArtsBuzz: Sunset Cove hopes for big crowds with June rocker fest

The Sunset Cove Amphitheater west of Boca Raton.
(Photo by Thom Smith)

By Thom Smith

It’s one of the best-kept secrets in South Florida, but that will all change this summer as Ann Butler and Randy Carrillo crank up the volume at Palm Beach County’s newest performing arts center, Sunset Cove, an amphitheater on the edge of the Everglades in South County Regional Park.

Sunset Cove opened a year ago and has been the site of fireworks shows, a battle of the bands, movies on the lawn, high school orchestra concerts and a recent Rolling Stones tribute show that attracted nearly 900 fans.

But on June 16, Butler and Carrillo envision a crowd of 5,000 for classic rock ’n’ roll as Styx, REO Speedwagon and .38 Special bring their Can’t Stop Rockin’ benefit tour to South Florida. Tickets go on sale April 4 through Ticketmaster. The concert will benefit Home Aid Concerts and REO’s Can’t Stop Rockin’.

“We have over 300,000 people within 10 miles and they can appreciate that they don’t have to go all the way up to Cruzan Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach or to Mizner Park in Boca,” said Butler, the amphitheater manager.

An 1,200-square-foot stage, four dressing rooms, up-to-date lighting and sound equipment await the performers and crews. Depending on the size of the crowd, the lawn can be configured for reserved seating or for lawn chairs and blankets. Other amenities include concessions, a boundless playground and ample parking. Park entrances are about two miles west of State Road 7 off Glades and Yamato roads in suburban Boca Raton.

Carrillo’s Morgan Renee Entertainment is promoting the June 16 show and is lending his expertise to make the amphitheater a successful regional venue. Before forming Morgan Renee, Carrillo managed the since-closed West Palm Beach Auditorium.

Promoter Randy Carrillo and
amphitheater manager Ann Butler.
(Photo by Thom Smith)

“I’ve worn both hats, promoter and facility manager, so I know what’s needed and what’s expected,” Carrillo said of setting up a new facility, “so we can help Ann and it’s gonna give us a shot in the arm, too. It’s a beautiful place and perfect for the county.”

Home Aid Concerts’ goal is to provide financial assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure. Can’t Stop Rockin’ focuses on childhood hunger and partners with Blessings in a Backpack, a program that provides weekend meals to children when they aren’t in school.

Other promoters also have expressed interest bringing shows to Sunset Cove, including AEG Live’s new Florida operation, which is headed by former Fantasma Productions executive John Valentino.

Sunset Cove isn’t the only amphitheater run by Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department. The new Seabreeze Amphitheater at Carlin Park in Jupiter will open April 18, and another amphitheater at Canyon Town Center west of Boynton Beach will open in May.

Thom Smith is a freelance writer based in South Florida.

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