Florida Studio Theatre announces its 14-15 Mainstage Season

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CONTACT: Nicole Clayton

Public Relations Associate

(941) 366 – 9017 ext. 338

[email protected]

DATE: September 16, 2014

FST Announces 2014-2015 Mainstage Season

(Sarasota, FL)—Florida Studio Theatre announces its 14-15 Mainstage Season. Opening the season is the Tony Award winning musical Hairspray, followed by Regional Premieres of the emotionally stirring Dancing Lessons and the theatrical sensation of Fly. Finishing out the season is the Southeastern Premiere of the honest and uplifting Chapatti.

The season opens November 14 and plays through June 6 on FST’s Keating and Gompertz Stages (Downtown Sarasota). A subscription to all four plays can be purchased for as little as $49, online at www.floridastudiotheatre.org or by calling the Box Office at (941) 366-9000.

This Mainstage season begins with big moves, big music, and even bigger hair. Beginning in the Gompertz Theatre on November 12 is the Broadway hit, Hairspray, based on the film by John Waters, book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, music by Marc Shaiman, and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman. The ‘50s are out and change is in the air. Baltimore’s Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, has only one passion – to dance. She wins a spot on the local TV dance program, and overnight is transformed from outsider to irrepressible teen celebrity. But can a trendsetter in dance and fashion vanquish the program’s princess, win over her heartthrob, and socially integrate a television show without denting her ‘do? The Chicago Tribune calls it, “Infectiously funny.” The New York Times describes it as having “Canny, deliriously, tuneful songs.”

Directing and choreographing this big-hearted, quirky show is Richard Stafford. Stafford has been choreographing and directing for almost 30 years. His Broadway credits include choreography for In My Life (Music Box Theatre), associate choreography for Aspects Of Love (Broadhurst Theatre), and dance supervision for CATS (Winter Garden Theatre). Stafford has directed all across the United States with various productions in New York, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, and North Carolina. His international credits include a production of CATS in both Copenhagen, Denmark and Sao Paulo/Rio, Brazil as well as Evita in Sydney, Australia. This is Stafford’s second time directing Hairspray, as he brings together this cast of over 20 actors in this energetic and uplifting production.

Artistic Director Richard Hopkins gives an overview of this energetic show. I’m really looking forward to the sizzle of Hairspray with the funky characters, the funky songs, and the funky dances. It’s about the outsider becoming the insider and the people who have been disenfranchised because of the way they look or the way they talk. In this story, these outsiders can find a place in the middle – a place of their own. We are all the better for it.”



Next up is the Regional Premiere of Dancing Lessons by Mark St. Germain. This show begins in the Keating Theatre on December 10. A young man with Asperger’s Syndrome seeks the instruction of a Broadway dancer, now sidelined with injuries. As their relationship unfolds, they’re caught off-guard by the surprising discoveries – both hilarious and heartwarming – that they make about each other. Premiering at Barrington Stage Company in August, Berkshire Onstage called it “Inspirational and charming.” The Boston Globe said, “You don’t want it to end.”

Soaring into the third slot of the season is the Regional Premiere of Fly by Trey Ellis and Ricardo Khan. Opening in the Gompertz Theatre on February 6, this visual treat for the senses is a powerful story of the fight and flight for freedom both abroad and at home. Fly follows four African-American military pioneers from training through WWII. Proving themselves as officers and pilots, they paved the way for desegregation of the American military. It’s a true tale of brotherhood, acceptance, and equality.

Directing the production is Ricardo Khan. As one of the original playwrights, Khan brings in an exciting and unique perspective of Fly. His previous directing credits include productions of Ruined at UMCK Theatre, Train to 2010 at Crossroads Theatre, and Black Eagles at Ford’s Theatre. Khan is the co-founder and former Artistic Director of the Crossroads Theater, one of the nation’s foremost African-American theatre companies. Originally created for school children, an early version of the play was commissioned in 2005 by the Lincoln Center Institute. Now complete with stunning, creative and strategic visual elements, Fly literally takes off from the Gompertz stage as the third show of the season.

Hopkins describes the appeal of Fly stating, “I’m excited about Fly. The story of the Tuskegee airmen is one we all know or should know, and this story is told with such eloquence and electricity. It is minimalist and massive at the same time. It’s minimalist in the sense that there are no huge sets. It’s massive in the sense that with a few props, projections, and the right tap dance, you are transported from the depths of the innermost soul to the heights of air combat. It’s done with good acting, good stage craft, a tapper, and a projector. This is smart stuff. Critics agree. The New York Times calls it,”A superior piece of theatrical synergy.” The Washington City Paper describes it as, “Ferocious athletic dancing.”

In addition, this show will not only be produced for audiences, but it will be the seed of community growth and conversation. Leading the steering committee is The Honorable Judge Charles Williams. Other committee members include Mayor Willie Shaw, Tom Tryon, Opinion-Editor Sarasota Herald-Tribune, and Trevor Harvey , Director Sarasota NAACP. This dynamic and instrumental team will work together with FST to bring audiences a public forum to discuss the themes of the show relevant to the past, present, and future of our lives.

Rounding out the season in the Gompertz Theatre is the Southeastern Premiere of Chapatti by Christian O’Reilly. Beginning on April 8, romance is a distant memory for two lonely
animal-lovers living in Dublin. When forlorn Dan and his dog Chapatti cross paths with the amiable Betty and her nineteen cats, an unexpected spark begins a warm and gentle story



about two people rediscovering the importance of human companionship. Hopkins shares his anticipation for this show stating, “I am looking forward to this simple and heartfelt play.
It is simple in appearance, but deep and moving in its result.” The
Chicago Tribune calls it a “Compassionate new piece.” The Chicago Sun Times describes it as a “Deft mix of heartache, despair, and gentle comedy.”

This Mainstage season is filled with funky, offbeat characters, charming humor, and inspirational, honest stories. FST strives with every season to produce theatre that challenges with as much gusto as it entertains, and this season is no exception. It will be a season of entertaining and transformative theatre. Hopkins invites audiences to “Come to be changed.”

All four shows of the 14-15 Mainstage Season –Hairspray, Dancing Lessons, Fly, and Chapatti will be presented on FST’s Gompertz and Keating Stages. Single tickets range from $18-$49. A subscription to all four plays of the Mainstage Season may be purchased for as little as $49. Both subscription tickets and single tickets may be purchased from the FST Box Office in person, by calling (941) 366-9000, or online at www.FloridaStudioTheatre.org.

About Florida Studio Theatre

Known as Sarasota’s Contemporary Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre was founded in 1973 by Jon Spelman. Starting out as a small touring company, FST traveled to places such as migrant camps and prisons. The company eventually settled down into a permanent home, acquiring the former Woman’s Club building – now 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 Goldstein Cabaret, the John C. Court Cabaret Theatre, 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. Under Richard Hopkins, Artistic Director and CEO, 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.




HAIRSPRAY – November 12 – January 4

DANCING LESSONS – December 10 – February 27

FLY – February 4 – April 4

CHAPATTI – April 8 – May 30




WITH THE PRIMA DONNETTES – October 22 – February 5

AMERICAN PIE – December 31 – April 23





OUT OF BOUNDS MATCH UP – October 18 – January 3



RAP-Punzel – September 23 – November 14

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