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A STEETCAR NAMED DESIRE will be running at The Players Center on the Trail in Sarasota from September 1 to 11, courtesy of Elliott Raines, producer and director of Two Chairs Theatre Company.  Elliott also directs Tennessee Williams’ famous play. The set may be minimalist but Elliott has lined up a cast giving maximum impact to Williams’ plot and characterizations, especially Blanche DuBois with her romantic illusions and her raw brother-in-law Stanley. The latter is the part that made Marlon Brando famous on stage and screen. When I was in New Orleans for my American Theatre Critics Association annual conference, timed to take advantage of the meeting of the society that touts all things Williams, a contest was held at the space in the Quarter which inspired one in the play.  People were judged on the authenticity of their cries of S-T-El-El-A! I hope to see you judging the cries of Stan in Sarasota. If you get up a group of 12 adults, your ticket price per person will be almost halved.  That’s a terrific bargain, since a regular admission costs only $25. A  student admission is a mere $12.

FREEBEES FOR LECTURE LOVERS abound this fall.  Be sure you reserve a seat in advance, though.  Sarasota World Affairs Council offers three free lectures up to January of 2017. They concentrate, in turn, on Panama (12 October), South Africa (November 16), and Iran (December 6). All take place at 6:30 p.m. at the Mildred Sainer auditorium at New College of Florida at 5313 Bay Shore Road. Call 941-487-4603 or use  For WAC members there are perks to be had after each lecture. Same place–New College’s Sainer Pavillion–is the site of two lectures, September 12 and October 26, each at 5:30 p.m.  The first covers “The Metamorphosis of Oral Torah in Medieval Europe” and is sponsored by the New College Klingenstein Chair of Judaic Studies.  The second is “A Conversation with Jim Obergefell” who was plaintiff last year in the Supreme Court’s marriage equality case. Its decision affirmed the right of gays to same-sex marriage in all fifty states in the U.S.A. The lecture is sponsored by the college’s Gender Studies Program. To reserve a seat, contact The New College Events Office at 941-4887-4000.

FREEBEES FOR MUSIC LOVERS include Sarasota Concert Association’s free lunchtime concerts by local professional artists from November 2016 through April of next year. All types of music are featured, both instrumentally and vocally.  Watch the media, including Don411, for the SCA’s releases on what dates  the season’s variety of genres will be
covered.  “New Music, New College” will also be free for two special events that will show off local talent.  They’ll take place next April and May at two separate campus locales. An especially rare performance will be of Cornelius Cardew’s “The Great Learning” using the paragraphs of Confucius’ text. Get further info at  The regular season of concerts at New College begins on October 1.  Tickets are $15 for each concert or $60 for a subscription to all six concerts.  (Pre-concert talks are free!) For reservations call 941-487-4888 or go online to https.//  It’s really easier than it sounds.  And it gets you some great sounds.

“TOO HOT TO HANDEL” is the intriguing title of a performance of Handel’s “Messiah” to be presented by the Sarasota Orchestra on December 11 at Sarasota Opera House.  For this special event sponsored by the innovative choral group Gloria Musicae as part of its “Special Journeys” Season, the singers will unite with members of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe for the vocals. What’s the style?  Hot gospel!

SARASOTA BALLET’S PROGRAM BOOK for its 2016-2017 season is so attractive that thumbing through it feels like being at a performance!  Performers, musical styles,  and productions vary greatly but each is worthy of a look and a listen. I was particularly attracted to the Sarasota Ballet’s premiere here of Jerome Robbins’ FANCY FREE. This story is of three U.S. sailors on a night’s leave and looking to make it with gals in NYC.  I saw this performed by Ballet Theater (now American Ballet Theater) at the end of the very first program of ballet I attended, back in high school, in Chicago, right off the lake.  I will never forget the dancing, especially of handsome, hip John Kriza. I understand he later  died in the waters off Longboat Key.

SARITA ROCHE GOT A LOT OF PUBLICITY when Prince died. She met him when she gave singing lessons to a boy who was a mutual student. Sarita is always so proud of her students and their many achievements.  If you’d like to be her student or have a youngster who’d like to try, you can contact Sarita Roche at 941-954-1197 or on line at [email protected].  Another teacher of voice and piano about whom I hear very good things is Joy Leitner.  She also may be hired as a professional vocalist for special occasions like weddings or parties.  Contact her at [email protected] or phone 941-587-3584.

URBANITE THEATRE is seeking mini-reviews from those who see its productions.  They will be published in Urbanite ads or seen on the screen that Urbanite uses in its theater to project production and donation info.  See the theater’s website:  BREADCRUMBS goes on there through September 18. The theater resumes with MY BARKING DOG by Eric Coble from November 11 to December 18.

I HOPE TO BE REGULARLY REVIEWING freeFall Theatre in St. Petersburg next season for Its present Gilbert & Sullivan musical, THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, is being done in a galaxy far, far away with all the trappings of a Star Trek movie.  It’s funny as can be.  May the farce be with you (on a journey to the theater, I hope)!

A FINAL NOTE OF PRAISE: for FST’s last Improv Festival and the spectacular organization accomplished by Rebecca Hopkins! Everything went so smoothly that the very complicated and full 3 days of performances,with workshops, lectures, etc. that extended beyond that,  just seemed easy.  Not.  Rebecca has achieved her dream of making Florida Studio Theatre the Improv Capital of the Southeast, as far as I am concerned.   Will Luera, the Improv Director she chose as a regular at FST, also accomplished much, including a skit in which he appeared with his former group from Boston.  Rebecca surrounds herself with talents and FST Improv is all the better for that.

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