IT’S A BUSY SUMMER IN THEATER in Sarasota and Manatee, with many new and returning shows. Florida Studio Theatre is doing both on a grand scale with OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY coming back after decades when it was done by Asolo Rep and THE SWINGAROOS doing a greater job than it did three years ago in Court Cabaret. I missed, for the first time, the Improv Festival which I had always covered completely in recent years, but I understand it was a great success and had three, count ‘em, three starring troupes. I am making a promise to review our own FST Improv Group in one of its Saturday performances in the coming months. I always thought they acquitted themselves superbly in the festivals.
CATHERINE RANDAZZO got a nice mention by THE SWINGAROOS for helping artistically in their production. It’s hard to believe she has been at FST for four years. I miss seeing her onstage, though, while I like having her behind the scenes.
TWO CHAIRS THEATRE COMPANY and producer-director Elliot Raines won’t be staging the yearly classic American production at the end of summer this year. Elliot isn’t up to competing with hurricane and other storm warnings, so he’s delaying his next production until April and May of 2019. He will still be doing it–Arthur Millier’s A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE–in conjunction with The Players so it will probably be the last production in its current and decades long home on the North Trail. Strictly for The Players, however, Elliot will be directing SIGHT UNSEEN by Donald Margulies in the Backstage venue.
SPEAKING OF THE PLAYERS of Sarasota still, it’s great to see Donna Defont getting well deserved publicity and kudos for stepping in to help administrate the theater. She is such an able and affable lady that her presence bodes well for The Players present and future.
LYNN BERNFIELD is known for her podcasts mainly of interviews with theater people. She recently scored a double hit with a podcast relating to her own performance of her autobiographical musical in NYC topped off with comment on it for local listeners.
OLIVIA SWAAN, Irish Harpist and Singer, highighted a dinner show sponsored by Don411.com of internet fame and wowed all present. There were guests from Ireland who were impressed by her and also the facilities at Manatee Performing Arts Center. I’m not surprised, because there aren’t as many large theater centers in Ireland so close together as there are in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. Olivia can be hired for concerts for anyone having a large gathering and needing a bit different kind of entertainment.
SPEAKING OF GREAT ENTERTAINERS to be available to local listeners, there’s Laura Benanti coming from Broadway and winning Tony awards to sing at Sarasota Opera House on September 21. It’s all being arranged by Carolan Trbovich through her venture Cabaret by the Bay. Carolan is a triple-talent: producer of such cabarets, a critic nights and weekends (member, like me, of American Theatre Critics Association), and holder of a regular day job. Laura Benanti is part of Sarasota Opera House Presents, a new summer series.
SEW BE IT is a business that does hemming, mending, and alterations. It’s run by newcomer to Sarasota and Palmer Ranch by Laurie Beth Roshfield, an avid theater-goer whom I met at The Players. She’s from South Carolina where, it turns out, she was a close friend of my close friend, critic, and writer Sandy Katz, also of ATCA. Laurie may be reached to inquire about her services at 301-906-8402 or [email protected].
IF YOU MISSED the musical NEWSIES when it was broadcast by Fathom Events a while back, you can see it at Manatee Players at Manatee Performing Arts Center’s mainstage beginning the second week of August. I liked it so much at a Fathom showing that I just had to ask to review it at Manatee. See you there?
DON’T EXPECT TO SEE ROSS BOEHRINGER on area stages acting or behind them doing costumes, as he recently moved to California. I followed Ross since his first stint with the FST/Asolo Conservatory in an extra play years ago to start its season, NO EXIT. I’m sorry to see him exit the area now, and I’m sure Bill Oser will agree with me. Bill thinks no one was a better farceur on our stages than Ross.
CONDOLENCES to Annette Breazeale on the death of her son. Also, though I don’t know her name, I understand the long time receptionist and telephone answerer at Asolo Rep died a few months back. Her voice and kindness will be missed.
AMERICAN PLAYERS THEATRE in Spring Hill, WI was the scene of American Theatre Critics Association’s annual conference this July. I attended this very busy meeting and saw five excellent performances of classics old and new. They’re reviewed on totaltheater.com/Criticopia if you care to click and scroll down on first paragraphs of my reviews where another click will bring them up with pix. I was happy to see in the program that three excellent actors in the APT company acknowledged having played at either Florida Studio Theatre or Asolo Rep. APT and an organizer from a Madison, WI newspaper could not have been better hosts. If you’re up in that part of the country through October, don’t miss at least one show. I also recommend nearby House on the Rock for an overnight stay–all suites (two bedrooms) and reasonably priced.
SADLY REMEMBERING James M. Clarke, known informally as “Jimmy” and for many years at Asolo Rep as Patrick James Clarke, repertory acting member. After graduating from FSU/Asolo Conservatory with his M.F.A., he had a successful acting career in New York. (He grew up close by in Long Island.) He also worked on stage and screen in Los Angeles. When Howard Millman revived the Asolo Theatre Company, he asked Jimmy to join the acting group. He worked steadily, usually in leading roles, from 1998 until 2012. He was ill in the last years, though he acted occasionally and understudied. I remember meeting him after the memorial at Asolo for Jim Wise when I asked him if he were going to return to the Company. He told me he hadn’t been asked. Condolences to his wife Patti, his siblings, and the rest of his family.