BACKSTAGE BYTES by MARIE J. KILKER, PH.D.–Winter into Spring 2021
THE LATE JEAN REED has now had her book FIVE FUNNY TUMMY MEN published in Spanish. Thanks to Jean’s
daughter Roberta “Bobbie” Hamilton’s arrangements, the book’s newest and translated edition is LOS CINCO HOMBRES GRACIOSUS DE LA PANCITA. The library systems of Sarasota, Charlotte, Manatee and Hillsborough Counties have accepted all thee editions. (The first two are in English, illustrated by the little men of white in one and of color in the other.) Bobbie says she’s also anticipating the book’s acceptance by the Pinella County library system. In case you want a copy of your own for family, friends, or perhaps a gift to a private school library, it’s available at Bookstore 1 or Barnes & Noble in Sarasota for pick-up and by order from Amazon.com or Books-A-Million. I’m sure drama critic Jean is giving five star reviews in the afterlife to her daughter’s making possible use of the books for individual Readers Theater!
APPROPRIATELY FOR A RELIGIOUS SEASON, two new theater companies have come to Sarasota. The first is one of several Amish ventures throughout the areas of the U. S. where Amish families have settled. Here THE BEST OF ME began playing in early February and will continue through March 29. The venue is the Carlisle Inn at 3727 Bahia Vista St. The play’s about a young Amish girl who yearns to be a Broadway star and how that works out. A great advantage of going out to see this show is being able to have a meal before the performance at the nearby Amish restaurant. Social distancing will be required, of course.
SARASOTA JEWISH THEATER made its virtual debut with an autobiographical monologue by local favorite Carolyn Michel, directed by her husband Howard Millman. Carole Kleinberg has been the force behind organizaing and publicizing the new theater company–a real feat “in these trying times for stage works”. She’ll be directing a play that’s newly appeared here — FROM DOOR TO DOOR by James Sherman. One of his plays, done at Florida Studio Theatre”, was the first contemporary Jewish comedy success here, and his work has been a draw since. So are these actresses who are featured: Geraldine Librandi, and Katherine Michelle Tanner.
SAM OSHEROFF is the latest FSU/Asolo Conservatory grad to return to theater in Sarasota. He’s acted in the Sarasota Jewish Theater’s recent CHERRY DOCS. Sam’s now on the Performance Faculty at Penn State University.–not virtually! Sam and wife Kris (also an FSU/Asolo grad) now have two children.
DAVID OHRENSTEIN happily is playing piano nightly at The Gasparilla Inn. He specializes keeping classic songs alive by bringing them up to date with his special technique. Many of his fans are also fond of his longtime work with wife Sharon as the Fabulous O’s.
CONGRATULATIONS TO MICHAEL J. KINSEY on winning a 2021 Unity Award! Michael is less on stage recently than he is behind his cameras as his photography business flourishes. One of his specialties is head shots that performers like and need to use in their careers.
NATE JACOBS is again assuming the persona of a comic relative in AUNT RUDELE’S FAMILY REUNION. I am not a fan usually of men acting as women who are absurdly comical (just as Black people dislike Whites in blackface). But Aunt Rudele has become nicer through the years–and perhaps even funnier. You can take in Nate’s performance by contacting West Coast Black Theatre Troupe and arranging to stream AUNT RUDELE’S FAMILY REUNION up through March 28.
THE PLAYERS CENTER is anyplace but centered these days, but the theater landed a great outdoors spot for SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY. Thirteen local actors comprise the cast, directed by Donna DeFant, who’s reportedly recovered from a terrible cold. Jenny Aldrich Walker, who’s in the show, reports it was sold out before it started at Jiggs Landing Outpost in Bradenton. I bet that marketing director Amanda Haisey wishes it could be extended.
MICHAEL DONALD EDWARDS is making a grand commercial-type announcement about Diversity and Unity and the needed law to enforce the wedding of both. His remarks are as effective as anything he’s said before Asolo Rep performances.
LYDIA BAXTER is constantly busy turning out all the news from Florida Studio Theatre and making sure all of us know of it. FST will soon be back on its stages with full shows! Perhaps the greatest news is FST’s latest associate addition: J. Paul Nicholas, a director, actor, teacher, and fight choreographer. I really liked his acting in HONOR KILLING at FST a few years ago. He’s also so physically attractive!
JO MORELLO is busy documenting the musical spots in her play LIL ‘N SATCHMO. Interest in staging it is coming in from various parts of the country. Still, it seems everyone wants to know more about some aspect of it–music, factual authenticity, etc. Meanwhile, Terry Teachout’s play about Louis Armstrong has been onstage in St. Petersburg, but Lil Armstrong isn’t highlighted. That kind of thing is what inspired Jo to research and write about her. FANNIE at Asolo Rep is another musical about an unsung Black heroine. (It’s about time!)