(Sarasota, FL) —The British are coming! FST celebrates 20 years of Cabaret with the opening of its second Winter Cabaret show of the season, Yesterday. Developed by Richard Hopkins, Rebecca Hopkins, and Jim Prosser, the show opens in Florida Studio Theatre’s Goldstein Cabaret on Friday, January 9, 2016. Subscriptions for all three shows can be purchased for as little as $39. Subscriptions may be purchased online at FloridaStudioTheatre.org, by phone at (941) 366-9000, or by visiting the Box Office.
It all began in Paradise – The Paradise Café to be exact, formerly located where the Selby Library now stands. First introduced to Sarasota audiences in 1990, FST’s Cabaret Series has now seen over 55 original musical revues, the latest taking audiences back to Yesterday.
In the mid-1960s, groups such as The Beatles, The Who, and The Rolling Stones were topping the charts. While trying to replicate the rebellious tone of American Rock ‘N’ Roll, a new sound emerged. By 1964 The Beatles alone had 31 hits on the Top 100. Journey back to a time of peace, love, and everything in between with songs such as “Let It Be,” “Satisfaction,” and “I’m Into Something Good.”
Yesterday takes audiences on a melodic storytelling expedition to learn about and enjoy one of the best-known and most beloved musical genres in history, the British Invasion. Director and Associate Artist, Catherine Randazzo recalls, “The music of the 60’s was playing in my house from the moment I was born. My older siblings had all the top albums from the artists represented in Yesterday. I learned the words vicariously but had no idea what any of it meant until later in my life… Music of the 60’s is more than the lyrics and chords. It’s what happened to the nation and the events of life as we listen to it and see how it commented and changed people and history.”
Co-writer and long-time music arranger and co-developer of over 20 FST Cabaret productions, Jim Prosser speaks to his own personal connection to this music stating, “I grew up listening to the Beatles albums that my dad played- classics like “Revolver”, “Sgt. Pepper”, and “Abbey Road.” And as I grew older, I continually explored all the different songs in their repertoire, often learning to play them myself. There was something about their music that really grabbed me (and still does), an emotional immediacy and rawness in both their writing and musical expression. George Harrison’s song “Here Comes The Sun” is one of the Beatles most well-known songs, as well as one of my personal faves, so I really love that we’re doing it in the show. It puts you in touch with that sense of universal hope that you hear so much of in the music that came out of the 1960s. The Beatles were a major influence and driving force in opening up that deeper, more profound dimension of popular music. This is music that everyone connects to in one way or another.”
Bringing the British Invasion back to Sarasota are returning cast members Eric Scott Anthony and John Bronston. Anthony’s FST credits include Kings of County, Urban Cowboys, Shake Rattle Roll, and Night Train to Memphis. Bronston’s previous FST credits include Night Train to Memphis. Joining them to bring up the bass is returning company member Ben Mackel, who excitedly returns to FST for the third consecutive year after bringing down the house in last season’s smash-hit American Pie. Eager now to hop to the other side of the musical pond, he says, “To get to play songs of the British Invasion is such a thrill. I can’t think of any modern day band that hasn’t been influenced by that movement. In college, I listened to the White Album on vinyl over and over and over again. I can’t wait to get started!”
Securing his musical footprint on many of the FST stages is Hunter Brown, the final cast member of Yesterday. As FST Improv’s pianist, Brown already adds a buoyant musicality to improv shows every Saturday night, and looks forward to transitioning to the cabaret. “I absolutely love the music of the ‘60s British Invasion like The Zombies, Herman’s Hermits and The Animals,” said Brown. “The Beatles specifically are some of my biggest musical inspirations. I’ve been listening to their songs ever since I can remember listening to music. Playing in an FST cabaret is so exciting for me. It’s been such a swift and amazing journey starting with playing a little piano for a musical theatre audition, to accompanying FST Improv, to playing with so many amazing acts at the Sarasota Improv Festival. Now getting to play some of my favorite songs every night, I also get to share these songs with other people who know and love them.”
When asked about how it feels to celebrate the achievement of a steady twenty years of Cabaret productions, Producing Artistic Director, Richard Hopkins states, “I sometimes ask myself, ‘What happened?’ ‘Where did the time go?’ I think it’s great that Cabaret has continued to grow the quality of shows for the last 20 years and with that growth and quality has grown our audience. Then with that audience growth, we’ve been able to significantly look at diversifying future projects. There’s a diversity of core culture. There’s a diversity of age. There’s a diversity of people in the room that continues to evolve. Few theatres around the country are completing runs where actors are performing a show over 150 times. Twenty years of FST Cabaret is a real testament to the theatre lovers in Sarasota.”
Memorable music, sincere storytelling, and diverse, dynamic performances have filled the Goldstein Cabaret and Court Cabaret theatres season after season. The celebration of two decades of Cabaret theatre begins with the opening of Yesterday in the Goldstein Cabaret on Friday, January 9, 2016. Subscriptions for all three cabaret shows can be purchased for as little as $39. Subscriptions may be purchased online at FloridaStudioTheatre.org, by phone at (941) 366-9000 or by visiting the Box Office.
About Florida Studio Theatre
Known as Sarasota’s Contemporary Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre was founded in 1973 by artist Jon Spelman. Starting out as a small touring company, FST traveled to places such as migrant camps and prisons. The company then acquired the former Woman’s Club building, becoming the first permanent venue. Shortly after Producing Artistic Director, Richard Hopkins arrived, the building was purchased and renamed The Keating Theatre. In the years that followed, Florida Studio Theatre established itself as a major force in American Theatre, presenting contemporary theatre in its five theatre venues: the Keating Theatre, the Gompertz Theatre, the Parisian style Goldstein Cabaret and John C. Court Cabaret, and Bowne’s Lab Theatre.
Even with its growth, Florida Studio Theatre remains firmly committed to making the arts accessible and affordable to a broad-based audience. FST develops theatre that speaks to our living, evolving, and dynamically changing world. As FST grows and expands, it continues to provide audiences with challenging, contemporary drama and innovative programs.