ADVOCATING FOR THE ARTS…Valentine’s into April 2015… ..
…..MARIE J. KILKER, PH. D.
Once again, I bring you a plea to attend, to appreciate, to give funds and resources to the arts here in Sarasota-Manatee counties, then the Bay Area, then country and world! Permit me to lead you into the ways you can do so!
SARA SOLO 215 FESTIVAL has got to be the most fascinating new thing happening at Crocker Church on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 21 and 22, and Saturday, Feb. 28 and Sunday, March 1. Two whole weekends full of world renowned and local favorites and to-be-favorites, each braving the stage alone (except, maybe, with an accompanist providing music)! It’s a first, hoping to be an annual affair, with all sorts of singular events in between festivals. It aims to make this area a regional powerhouse for solo performance, an area parallel to the great Solo Festivals in New York City. And why not? Locally based Ann Morrison and Blake Walton are NYC solo stars and prize-winners who, along with David Coyle as manager, are organizers of Sarasota Solo Festival and its Gotta Van Productions.
One of the out-of-town stars will be Bill Bowers, the famous mime who will perform IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING at 7 on the first day of the Festival. From the Bay Area comes Roxanne Fay in THE TESTAMENT OF MARY, a regional premiere, at 7 on the 22nd. It will be preceded by Blake Walton in his prize autobiographical play LEADING MEN, which took honors lately in New York. Ann Morrison will conclude the Festival at 3 p.m. on March 1 with a take on Peter Pan, as it was created by James Barrie. There’ll be plenty of music in the festival as well as classes, improv, and theater-related get togethers from Feb. 23 to 27 in Betwixt Week, the days between Festival shows. Buy tickets at gottavan.strikingly.com or take a chance on doing so in person at Crocker Church. Donate any time.
FREE AS CAN BE, Munchtime Musicals by the Sarasota Concert Association have not yet gone away, though they’re not much publicized. In the heart of Season, the Sarasota Mandolin Orchestra will perform on Feb. 18 at noon. Studio Artists from the Sarasota Opera will sing out on March 18, also at noon. The State College of Florida Chamber Choir of 18 singers will present a repertoire of wide range historically to the present on April 8. All performances take place at the Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center, 709 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.
A REUNION OF PATIENTS of Doctors Hospital’s Orthopedic and Spine facilities showed me that interior designing artists have been at work and done an excellent job. I was a patient when “my” wing was transitioning last fall so I did not get to use all the improvements. For example, there is now in every room a pull-down-from-the-wall table that can be used as a desk with available WI-Fi if one brings a computer. TVs are bigger and better. The rooms are lighter and cheerier with a more “open” feeling. I also found out that the needlework artist I mentioned in my last column is named Pauletta, not Paulina. Chalk my mistake up to the fact that I was somewhat in a daze after my lumbar spinal implant and laminectomy. I noted, though, that the moment I mentioned the champion knitter, crocheter, sewing stylist who’s an aide on the third floor, everyone knew I was talking about Pauletta of the night shift! A true artisan and generous donor of her works to good causes and people!
COME FLY WITH THE TUSKEGEE AIRMEN at Florida Studio Theatre. The acting and staging are so realistic that you’ll feel you’re on a combat mission with the fliers! There are some genuinely poignant scripted story moments too. FST is hosting a number of discussions on topics related to war, race, civil rights that you can join by reserving a place at floridastudiotheatre.org or calling 941-366-9000. Discussions go well into March. Here’s a new way you can join further discussion if you can’t make it physically to one: Go to FST-BLOG.COM and weigh in with your opinions, knowledge, questions.
WATCH FOR THE NAME SHERMAN COOPER in local community theaters and groups. He’s a retired microbiology professor from the U. of Michigan, now residing on Longboat Key and writing plays. One snagged an honored place in the Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s prestigious Southern Writers Workshop last May in Montgomery. I’ve covered the festival several times for AisleSay.com and, believe me, there are no better or more polished staged readings anywhere. Many of the plays and musicals chosen go on to major productions elsewhere. Among the most memorable: GEE’S BEND (which I wish WBTT would do) and PURE CONFIDENCE (which FST did).
WHAT ARE CHANCES YOU’ll SEE SHAKESPEARE’S KING LEAR on a local stage? Probably not great, I’d say. But you can see this startling play as done by two major international theater companies at two different venues in Sarasota during February ’15. Courtesy of The Ringling, KING LEAR done by the National Theatre Live will be shown at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 13 at the Historic Asolo. It stars Simon Russell Beale, a leading National Theatre actor for decades. (I recall the first time seeing him in a lead there—in a stage version of DR. JEKYL AND MR. HYDE, where he brilliantly changed identities very close to me.) On Feb. 25, at Hollywood 20, KING LEAR as presented by the Stratford Festival of Ontario, Canada, will be shown at 7 p.m. This one’s advertised as being 2-1/2 hours long, much shorter than the last time I saw the play in London. Colm Feore, a Stratford of Canada leading man, will play the tragic king. He’s so versatile that, when I last reviewed him, he was playing Coriolanus in the afternoon and Fagin, the thief, in the musical OLIVER, in the evening. (I wonder if he ate supper.) He did a smash-up job in both. Just a week after KING LEAR, The Ringling film series will feature the National Theatre Live in a dramatization of TREASURE ISLAND. You can be sure the whole family will go for this one—7:30 p.m., Historic Asolo.
IT’S NOT TOO EARLY to book tickets for LaMusica’s series in March and April, ending on April 15, at the Opera House. A good way to celebrate the end of IRS season!
TRIBUTE SHOWS seem to abound in this area. I can understand why you would see an imitator present Elvis or Sinatra or Johnny Cash. But why imitation Reba McIntyre when you can see the real thing at the Florida State Fair? On the other hand, if you listened to Frankie Valli at the Van Wezel in person, you may want to go back to the VW in March for the hit play based on his and his cohorts’ story: JERSEY BOYS. It’s more immediate than the film and, many say, better as a musical play. I’d enjoy hearing what you think.