MARIE J. KILKER, PH.D……………
………. ADVOCATING FOR THE ARTS
Spring into Summer 2015 from Florida’s Suncoast
JUST IN FROM A MEDIA EVENT sampling of Luck Be a Lady!, a musical featuring the music of Frank Loesser, that will be world premiered by Asolo Rep Company from April 28 to May 24. Sung-through with brand new choreography, its plot isn’t from any of the musicals or films with Loesser’s creations, but with a new story. It will feature three men and as many women in the first of the 1950s seeking a connection with their lost youth. They make it in a dusty abandoned club-like space with a piano and instruments, like a uke, popular during the period. Director Gordon Greenberg, who conceived the musical and was encouraged by Asolo’s Michael Donald Edwards, was initially inspired by the revival of Guys and Dolls at Chicester, England. He later worked with Loesser’s widow, Jo Sullivan (no stranger to Sarasota, BTW), whose daughter Emily is a friend of Gordon. He learned to his surprise that Loesser wrote the score for Guys and Dolls before the book. This took me aback too, because his lyrics for the musical are distinctive American poems from street stuff to ballads. After Denis Jones explained his use of the overall varied styles of music to create varied styles of choreography, we were treated to an sample. Dancing “Once in Love with Amy” from Where’s Charley? differed substantially from what Ray Bolger did on Broadway and on film, but it and the singing fit the way two young college boys would have done it in the early ’50s. (I remember strumming a uke and singing with a collegian gal pal myself at the time.)This, together with a fine number by the three women of the cast, each distinctive but all ending up in harmony, were enough to make me eager to see the show and, at this point, to recommend it!
STILL REMEMBERING the Remembrance of Jimmy Hoskins, when I sat next to Carlo Thomas, who worked with Jimmy and now has a vocal studio in Venice. He recalled Jimmy’s working with Mae West and I recalled, as a teen, seeing her in a stage show and getting her autograph on my playbill. Carlo and I both agreed that she was a lot shorter than she looked photographed. I think that was because she always wore a long skirt (slit to allow movement, of course), mostly covering very high, platform shoes. Also saw Patrick James Clark at the ceremony. He’s been quite ill but now looks very good and, judging from an exchange with him, able to work again. Why isn’t this long time Asolo Rep actor being called in for a role or two next season? Surely he could take on a few of the parts in the announced plays, especially All the Way. And he’s a local resident! After all, the number of continuing regular Rep actors and schedule has become quite short.
MARIETTA MUSEUM OF ART AND WHIMSY could use volunteers. As publishers of the neighborhood newsletter noted, Marietta Lee has done more to improve the North Trail than all the biggie businesses and other non-profits combined. It’s a fun place to visit at 2121 N. Tamiami Tr. and seems to be a great atmosphere for volunteer work. Summer hours will be reduced, so you don’t have to commit a lot of time to do a lot of good, and that holds true for other than summer hours at the museum. Drop by and see if you and it can be a good fit.
WHY HASN’T THE DEMISE OF PLATO (It’s Theatrical) been publicized? Could it be that the bankrupt Turoffs (or daughter and executive Kyle) hope to get more money contributed? What happened to the publicized invitation from Singapore to host Kyle Turoff and a performance by Plato, then bring in Singapore kids to perform? I recommend no more gifts to that organization, which has to be defunct. On the other hand, if you want to support a genuine initiative and theatrical success, contribute to URBANITE. It’s a bold, refreshing change from most of the efforts in Sarasota and Manatee, very much like off-Broadway. It also employs a number of grads from FSU/Asolo Conservatory, when they’re not forming their own venues off-off-Broadway or working in regional theaters.
LA MUSICA’S FINAL CONCERT OF THE SEASON could not have been more enthusiastically attended. And then rightly applauded! Though unfamiliar with the “Serenade” by Ernst von Dohnany, I found the shifts and surprises wonderful. It was initially seriously enjoyable to hear a Mozart fun-piece for violin and viola. My companion-driver and former neighbor Jerry Nordquist persuaded me that the star of the evening was Julie Albers, cellist, contributing to Brahms’ “Piano Quartet in G minor; Op.25.” Considering all of his music studies and years as an audience member in D. C. and on travels around the world, he should know. I did, though, see Robyn and Terry doing one of their many jobs—she as a chair of more than one committee during La Musica’s season. We noted several music teachers in the audience. Yea for the academics who influence young people! We also commend the free rehearsals LaMusica performers offered at New College for the same reason.
ARTISTS SERIES concerts haven’t ended yet and there’s still a show or two booked at Van Wezel. Attention: year-round-birds!
THE AMERICAN THEATRE CRITICS ASSOCIATION held its annual conference in New Orleans in conjunction with the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, which was also the basis for the annual meeting of Saints and Sinners, highlighting gay writers of every genre, but most particularly fiction. I was the only ATCA member credentialed to attend all three, and I’ve written an article with play performances and readers theater reviews for AisleSay.com. that you might want to read.(It may be a while getting posted as the publisher is working on a revival of a Broadway musical that he co-originated.) I was sorry not to get to more of the Saints and Sinners’ exclusive performances, due to overlapping with ATCA’s schedule, because they sounded more interesting than some of what I actually saw. I particularly missed a dramatization of a Dorothy Parker short story (which I loved reviewing in Chicago two decades ago) and some Saints and Sinners prize-winning one-acts. Their conference hotel was the grand old Monteleone, once frequented by many fine writers like Tenessee Williams himself, and a warm contrast with ATCA’s headquarters at the Crowne Plaza. The one person who impressed me and is not mentioned in my AisleSay article was J. L. Stacy. He was a volunteer in the vestibule of the historic house where Williams’ Hotel Plays were staged in three different rooms. The vestibule was used because of a light rain that affected the original performance space outside, so the young volunteer got into a costume from the first play’s period and kept order in the cramped inside space. I really admired his friendliness and special concern for those of us with mobility issues. He told me that his day job is as a hair stylist in New York, at 248 W. 17th St., Suite 102 (phone 917-816-6999) and that he also works in Provincetown (which will host a second version of the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival) soon. If you are in his vicinity, need a “do” and want to make an appointment, tell J. L. how you found out about him here.
SPEAKING OF MEETING ARTISTS AT THEATER EVENTS…It was at the swell SaraSolo Festival that I met Diana Vytell and was impressed by her. She’s done a special performance for the Women’s Resource Center, among other organizations, and can be reached at [email protected]ytell.com or 941-405-3317 if you want to contact her. She advertises herself as a performance artist/singer. Finally met, at the Asolo press event, Bill Oser who reviews for Talkin’ Broadway.com. He was surprised to learn I have read his work. Actually, I haven’t done so in the past few months, though, so I decided to “tune in” again right away. Sorry to say, I think he’s going in the wrong direction, from seriously commenting on what he sees to giving all sorts of info he finds in PR releases and more on the backgrounds of artists and performances than what relates to what’s happening on stage. In essence, it’s going from being a critic to being a reviewer, which involves less analysis and more unsubstantiated judgments. But Bill isn’t a bad writer, so I hope for better things after we discuss the situation a bit more. It’s good, moreover, to have people writing for national and international outlets, not exclusively local ones. That gives local venues and performers prestige and attracts possible tourists who love theater to this area.
THIS LOOKS LIKE A BIG SUMMER FOR THEATER in Sarasota and Manatee Counties! It used to be we had only The Banyan and maybe one at Florida Studio Theatre’s Keating and one show each at our community theaters. Now some of the latter go all summer long and FST’s Mainstage remains and Cabarets go on and on while its Improv Festival returns annually. There’s also a full summer for URBANITE and a featured show, COTTON CLUB, by Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. It’s into summer for Asolo Rep too, with one show left after the Loesser musical. But don’t abandon THE BANYAN. I think you’ll like the Amish play, especially if you didn’t see it in St. Petersburg with the same actress. And THE OLD LADY will be new here, as at least one Banyan play usually is.
IF YOU THOUGHT, AS I DID, that the filmed Statford Festival of Canada performance of KING LEAR beat that of The National Theatre of Britain’s version, then put Thursday, May 21 at 7 p.m. on your go-to calendar. That’s when Fathom Productions brings Shakespeare’s ANTHONY AND CLEOPATRA to the Regal Hollywood Stadium 20 in Sarasota. I eagerly await that for a real summertime change. I also enjoyed Fathom’s film on Van Gogh’s works exhibited in Amsterdam, though I could have done without all the talking heads and the actor who similated Van Gogh. Better to just see his art work and get a pertinent view of his life as they connected. I hope the Fathom presentation of THE IMPRESSIONISTS on July 14 will emphasize the artists’ paintings and not those who introduce them. See you there!