BACKSTAGE BYTES – Marie J. Kilker, Ph.D. – Summer into Fall 2021
RICK PENDER got a wonderfl boost from Jay Handleman in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune for Rick’s new SONHEIM ENCLYCLOPEDIA. Rick’s a friend of Jay’s and mine too, since we know each other personally as members of the American Theatre Critics Association. When I called Rick to congratulate him, he told me that he is offering the SONHEIM ENCLYCOPEDIA at a quarter price discount over usual sellers, so if you want a copy, you can contact him at pender, [email protected] and mention my referral. Sarasotan Annie Morrison is excited about it, since there’s mentions of her as one of the stars of Sondheim’s early musical and several other appearances singing and talking about his work.
SASHA GOODRICH helped Asolo Rep by coming out of retirement and resuming media relations during the summer. Now Sasha,, who did such a good job, is devoted mainly to raising her adorable young one. Angela S. Lakin will be on the job at Asolo Rep until a new media manager comes on board.
CAROLYN MICHEL has a current promotion on Facebook, co-starring husband Howard Millman. They’re pictured showing they’ve had their covid vaccinations and encouraging you to do the same. I’d like to use this note as a “trailer” of my own but with the same message!
JIM WEAVER returns to Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe to direct EUBIE starting October 6. Jim has been missed, whether directing or acting, his popular talents.
SYREETA BANKS, who was one of four SOUL SISTAS at WBTT recently, is giving a cabaret performance at Venice Theatre this summer. It was good to see her and favorite Ariel Blue
at WBTT as two of the fabulous “Sistas”. I saw Ariel for a few moments after one performance and told her I was happy to see her now on WBTT’s staff as well as stage.
JO MORELLO’s play with music, LIL AND SATCHMO, will soon be on the boards at a Texas theater. Jo’s getting a lot of interest in her depiction of the relationship between Lil Hardin and Louis Armstrong. She was his talented second wife, responsible for changes in his appearance, demeanor, type of instrument he’d use, and setting him on the road to great success. Lil is an example of a black woman whose importance hasn’t been widely recognized for her own work and her influence. My nephew Steven Bargonetti, guitarist in NYC, tells me he’s involved in plans for a musical about another such black woman–one who refused to sit in the back of a bus before Rosa Parks famously did.
FLORIDA STUDIO THEATRE’s Grand Opening this summer brought a full house of friends and patrons to the lobby of the Gompertz to celebrate with FST head Richard Hopkins and the many members of staff. It was a joyous occasion, with many a toast given. There were so many in the dining areas before and after the show SOPHIE TUCKER: LAST OF THE RED HOT MAMAS that even the Acting Apprentices in FST’s Professional Training Program were waiting on tables. I was happy to meet, among them, the very likeable, personable Jack Murphy and Facia Lee.
SAM MOSSER SCHOLARSHIP solicitation at FST really took off and will be applied very quickly. Sam was truly an FST product–from lessons as a kid all the way up to a final return to starring roles there after other successes elsewhere as an adult . The scholarship makes a proper remembrance of him as person and performer.
RUTH PITTS is one of FST’s most enthusiastic volunteers. As dean of ticket-takers, Ruth has secured a schedule that will have her on that job on official opening nights of all the summer and fall shows in FST’s five venues. Her enthusiasm in greeting and directing partrons into the theater is matched only by her enjoyment of the shows she gets to see when all are in their seats and a production begins.
FSU/ASOLO CONSERVATORY ‘2021 graduate Bonita Jackson has acquired the last name Turner as well. Bonita was recently featured in an article in American Theatre’s Newsletter.
A leader last spring of black students who charged racism at the school and onstage at the Rep, Bonita described the aftermath of their protest. She revealed they received much support from current students, alumni, and artists who had worked both places. Bonita also mentioned some students from first and second year in the Conservatory had left. We shall see if there are any “replacements” when the Conservatory acts in public this fall and winter.
ALLY FARZETTA, FSU/Asolo Conservatory graduate of 2016, was popular onstage in Sarasota and has since been received well in appearances at Virginia Stage Company in Norfolk and at American Shakespeare Center, also in Virginia. Her home base is New York City. Another Conservatory alum, Chris Alexey Diaz, has been featured on Broadway World. His last appearance, with pictures, on that site was in 2019. At that time, he was to appear in Secret Theatre’s RENT.
BILL OSER has been in medical treatments that will keep him from some of his usual hefty work with opera and being at his usual comprehensive area critical coverage for Talking Broadway. I pray that Bill will be up and at his well-followed writing and other arts activities and I invite all to join in wishing him better asap.
R.I.P. DEREK HAN, wonderful musician with La Musica.