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A Scene from BUTLER, the wonderful play being extended by Florida Studio Theatre to March, is pictured in the currrent issue of American Theatre magazine. Check it out and, if you haven’t yet been to the FST production, here’s a treat: FST is offering a Pay What You Can Night on Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. in its Keating Theatre. To get your ticket(s), visit the box office or call 941-366-9000 to reserve. For the latter, give your name, contact information, number of tickets requested, and your guest info. and method of payment and amount.

Best wishes to free Fall Theatre of Tampa, which has weathered its first five years in operation. Its Valentine closing of its OUR TOWN production gets a follow-up March 12 by the musical compilation SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM. It runs through April 10.

One Day University, a national phenomenon of classes conducted by top-rated professors, is scheduled for April 5 at Sarasota Opera House. It’s co-sponsored by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, so expect a lot of publicity there. I think the $175 tuition is rather steep, considering how many full quarter or semester courses for enrichment are offered in Sarasota and Bradenton by many private and public educational entities. On the other hand, the same program in Naples will be even more expensive. Maybe that’s because lunch comes with enrollment there, whereas in Sarasota you’ll have to bring yours or try a downtown restaurant.

Dolly Jacobs, renowned circus aerialist, gets her share of accolades here as co-founder of and performer with The Circus Arts Conservatory. But did you know she was acclaimed at the 2nd Annual Celebration of American Circus, held by Circus Now in NYC? In conjunction with Big Apple Circus, the celebration took place in January at the Big Apple Circus Tent. Dolly Jacobs presented a Life Achievement Award to longtime practioner and teacher of circus techniques for actors Hovey Burgess. Dolly was acclaimed as winner of a 2015 NEA Heritage Fellowship Award. She is the first circus artist thus honored.

A majority of Urbanite Theater actors show the results of good training at FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training. Now comes Cindy De La Cruz, who plays Nina in Urbanite’s
STUPID F—-ING BIRD. She recently finished an acting apprenticeship at Florida Studio Theatre! She plays Nina, who is a central character in Chekhov’s original play THE SEAGULL and whose importance isn’t diminished by the riff on it with the stupid but obviously commercially successful title.

Teresa Stanley, who brought to Broadway her singing and acting talents honed at Westcoast Black Theater Troupe, comes back to Sarasota for an April Fools Fete. Her performance at Michaels on East on Thursday, March 31, at the 6 to 9 p.m. Fete will benefit WBTT. She’s been on national and international tours, but we hope she’ll once again grace the local scene for more than an evening.

SARA SOLO 2016 was both exhaustive and exhausting but well worth all the effort. Both Ann Morrison and Blake Walton justly received constant kudos for their artistic direction of the two weekends of theater plus a Betwixt Week of lessons, practice, and inspiration for present and future artists. (I only wish Annie and Blake had given us new solos of their own, which I missed.) Here, though, I want to acknowledge the terrific contribution to Sara Solo, not so publicly applauded, of David Coyle, its manager. What a smooth operation! David also contributed a great addition to the list of performers: his brother Stevie Coyle. No wonder he’s a success at his shop Mighty Fine Guitars near San Francisco. He’s a mighty fine guitarist at 86 Lafayette Circle, Lafayette, CA 94549, in case you get a chance to visit.

SPEAKING OF GUITARISTS, my nephew Steve Bargonetti recently ended a stint as Guitarist for FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS at New York’s Roundabout Theatre. He has been rehearsing as Guitarist for the Broadway show DISASTER: THE MUSICAL. It’s in previews with opening officially scheduled for March 8 to July 13. So if you’re in NYC, try out this satirical treatment of disaster movies. And if you go backstage after the show at the Nederlander Theatre (208 W. 41st St. at Broadway), watch for Steve to come out of the stage door and say you’re from Florida and I sent you. (You can recognize him by his headhugging knit hat.)

LIKE SHAKESPEARE’s PLAYS? You can see THE SCOTTISH PLAY (whose title we superstitiously won’t mention so as not to jinx it) done by FST/Asolo Conservatory starting Feb. 24, a Wednesday starting at 7:30 p.m. The night before is a Pay As You Can preview. Since Jonathan Epstein joined the Conservatory faculty, each Shakespeare play he has directed has been well worth any price of admission.

I’M ADDICTED TO FATHOM EVENTS. The production by Bolshoi of TAMING OF THE SHREW could not have been better. One is always suspicious of “modern” versions of classics, even though this one was of ballet, not a stage take-off on a play. Even the costumes were totally mod, yet totally appropriate. Fathom is bringing two operas from The Met in March and April: MANON LESCAUT and then ROBERTO DEVEREUX. Watch for the dates in Ticket. Fathom is also screening a special Fine Arts series of specials. A fine one on Goya the painter was the first. Following Up: LEONARDO DA VINCI: THE GENIUS IN MILAN on March 21 at 7 p.m. At Hollywood 20 in Sarasota. Also RENOIR on April 21, same time of night, same place. I am especially interested in DA VINCI in Milan, because I once studied there and used to read in the Da Vinci courtyard at the Castello Sforzesca. Da Vinci loved Milan and wanted it to have every trade advantage. So he built a series of waterways to the Sea. The bridges are wonderful art! So are his anatomical drawings at the Milan Science Museum. So many unexpected places to see the results of his talent, but then he was such a genius that they surely did pop up just about every place he was ever in, including France, where he died. Yes, with the late Professor of French Jim Kilker, I’ve been there too.

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