MARIE J. KILKER, PH.D. – BACKSTAGE BYTES – Winter into Spring 2020

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MARIE J. KILKER, PH.D. – BACKSTAGE BYTES – Winter into Spring 2020


include Richard Storm, who was much eulogized at the end of 2019 but whose earliest venture in the arts in Sarasota was not mentioned.  I first met him at it: Sarasota Film Society’s Spanish Film Festival at the former Paradise Plaza film house, because I had written the grant proposal that won sponsorship for the event.  My husband Jim did some commentaries on a few of the films and I reviewed same.  Richard, newly arrived in the area, became the Festival manager. Thus began our friendship with him. Unlike Richard, Julian Orf was one I didn’t meet at performances here but I was familiar with his work when we were both academics and I followed his splendid critiques and editorship of reviews in Theatre Journal.  He died in Sarasota at about the same time  as John Cuneo, a supporter of the arts in Chicago. He donated to Loyola University there the building that housed in the ‘50s the Graduate School.  I took most of my English literature and language courses for my M.A. there evenings and one Saturday morning. Speech and some drama were also taught in the huge building right west of the Water Tower.  Now named the Cuneo building, it’s used as Loyola’s  Art Museum.  R.I.P., Gentlemen.


are no longer confined to an annual two weeks!  Instead, beginning in February, Ann Morrison, Artistic Director, with Blake Walton have arranged a series to be held periodically throughout the year.  Offerings include not only shows by local artists but also by such guests as a well known interpreter of Carl Sandburg’s writing.  Information and reservations can be made on Sara Solo’s web site, but it’s also a good place to let you know about availability of seats for performances now and coming up later.


about Lil Hardin Armstrong and her personal and professional relationship with Louis Armstrong managed to have a successful staging despite significant problems. Little more than a week before opening, director Chuck Smith—who’d been in on the play’s development for about a year—became hospitalized.  (Bad news also for WBTT and Chicago’s Goodman Theatre)   Harry Bryce stepped in and directed the resilient cast for only several rehearsals.  Almost simultaneously, Michael Kinsey came out of the chorus and (in true old Broadway Musical fashion) went on to star (as Louis Armstrong).  What a triumph for all concerned!  Included are the supporting cast of four who absorbed an additional fifth role when Michael assumed the male lead!


deserves this fond farewell, as she’s left years of public relations and publicity duties for Asolo Rep to welcome motherhood.  Meanwhile, Judith Lambert and Hannah Levite picked up Sasha’s duties, which she undoubtedly left in good shape to do so.


If you love the French writer and her works, February and March are your time to indulge in them.  Thanks to Dr.Jocelyn Van Tuyl, Professor of French Language and Literature at New College, I have a full report on THE COLETTE PROJECT—SARASOTA through February and March.  The celebration marks the centennial of Colette’s 1920 novel CHERI with events at New College, Selby Library, Florida Studio Theatre, and Ringling College of Art and Design’s Goldstein Library.  Most of the performances are in English or else subtitled—from films at Selby’s Auditorium (free) to a play at New College and FST.  Seek detailed information on these from the respective venues.


would be grateful for donations for further development or presentation of PATRA. It’s their opera comique in two acts, sung in English, that was successfully workshopped last Fall in New York.  Write Sharon at [email protected] or call 941-724-1199 for details.


at preparing us for its Festival—in this case, of International Chamber Music. This year it’s  from April 2 to 13.  The celebration was kicked off last December followed by a February 4 Prelude with selections by LaMusica favorite artists.  Be sure to get the schedule of Open Rehearsals, an afternoon in which to Meet the Musicians and a Dinner Event heralding all the listed performances.  You can get tickets too at or by calling 941-366-8450, ext. 7.


is back in town, according to a mention in the Herald-Tribune.  Now everyone’s wondering if she will be back in a theater with some of her play(s) or contribute to film scripting in a project or at a school (of which Ringling College would seem a good prospect).  We don’t have many Academy Award nominees for original script in Sarasota, so Nancy should be in demand. BTW, as I remember, she also did some performance reviewing way back when.


of every kind and in every time all year long.  There should be plenty of room for them in the new building VT just bought for its education center.  Speaking of which reminds me  that enhanced educational space is a beautiful addition to Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s newly enriched facilities in Sarasota.  Very comfortable seating in the main theater is also happily noted.


hasn’t been heard lately in any local venue. A bad hearing problem silenced her soaring soprano.  New Hope: Irene has a hearing dog now.  She completed a course in Orlando with assistance from daughter Cara (while on leave from her Venice Theatre post) and now the dog’s continually at Irene’s side.  And we thought telephone Call Captioning was an advance!


will finally get a chance to direct DEATH OF A SALESMAN for his Two Chairs Theatre at The Players in late spring.  Elliot started TCT mainly to do works of major playwrights from the second half of the 20th century.  He’s had to wait for “the” major play of favorite Arthur Miller due to having to avoid conflict with others in line to stage SALESMAN.  I wonder  which of his group of dedicated actors will go right from his direction at The Players of TWELVE ANGRY JURORS into work on SALESMAN.


go to Frank Galati for full recovery from the attack that put him on walking aids. He’s up and active with his theater-going but not as agile as he’d like.  We share that, since I’ve been attached to a walker due to a break in one knee cap. Still, I’m sure we’ll both be happy to see you readers at a completed KNOXVILLE at Asolo Rep in April.


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