Marie Kilker Backstage Bytes & Bows, February 2014
Happy Birthday to James Joyce! The James Joyce Society of Sarasota will celebrate on Sunday, the 2nd, with a program from 2 to 4 p.m. at Crocker Memorial Church. “Beckett: With Joyce in Paris” will be commented on by Kevin O’Halloran, a Joyce specialist. Fitting the discussion of a historical association, the program takes place at the church housing The Historical Society of Sarasota County, 1260 12th St. between Tamiami Tr. And Coconut Ave. Samuel Beckett and Joyce were both Irish expats, and the younger writer assisted Joyce with secretarial work, especially because of Joyce’s poor eyesight. For full details on the celebration, see the Society’s web site or call Elizabeth Johnston, 941-377-1146.
Other notable celebrations: Diana Harrington, pianist and theater critic, with several birthday fetes—the last at a function with Eva Slane; and Cliff Roles, looking forward to Feb. 17, which is the anniversary of his arrival in Sarasota and by which time U.S. Citizenship should be here or near.
James Joyce’s daughter plays the central role in Jack Gilhooley’s play LUCIA AND SAM AND JIM AND NORA AND HARRIET TOO read, as I promised, last month at Art Center Sarasota. (Yes, Jack says the title will undoubtedly change but he gave this early reading a fun link with Christopher Durang’s hit currently staged by Asolo Rep.) Mentally ill Lucia Joyce always felt undervalued or unnoticed as a dancer or even a person, since she was often compared to or linked with her writer-father. But she claimed no identification with him or, in fact, her family. Due to their constant moving (often to avoid paying their bills), Lucia was even a Swiss citizen and didn’t feel Irish at all. Jack’s play deals with her violent emotions and acts, presented by Geena Ravella who came from Bradenton. So did Mark Woodland to speak as Joyce. It’s been years since I frequently heard him in Manatee Players’ musicals. KT Curran, too long absent from our major stages—busy as she is with Source Theatre for teens, did a smashing job with authentic Irish accent as Nora Joyce. (Attending the reading, relative newcomer Louise Stinespring was amazed!) Craig Weisberger as Beckett and Annette Breazeale as Joyce’s benefactor Harriet Weaver brought professionalism to their interpretations. Altogether, a very satisfying reading, both to Joyce and drama fans!
Asolo Theatre Guild Playreaders rounded out last year especially busy. They’ve read not only well known authors’ works but also some by their own members and local writers. Verna Safran and Larry Parr have each had two short-length plays read in December and Bernard Yanelli had one.
Jo Morello just got notice from TampaRep that her play TALKBACK is one of five winners of its Tampa Wrights3 contest that will end in a production of five 10-minute plays. Tampa Repertory Theatre, a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, produces Tampa Wrights’ yearly best new one-act plays from writers in the Bay Area. No specific June date has been mentioned yet, but as for the place, the contest choices #1 and #2 were presented in Ybor City. Keep on the lookout for specifics!
McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre will continue in its North Trail Plaza location until its new one on Ringling Boulevard is ready to occupy in April. Seek out the popular Black Diamond Burlesque on Feb. 14 at 9:15 p.m. In a vaudeville-type show with a special guest drag comedian. I always look to see if this troupe has an Asolo Conservatory student or alum in disguise onstage. One never knows unless one goes.
My usual follow-up of FSU/Asolo Conservatory grads includes Brendan Ragan (see below) and Angela Sauer. She was a stand-in for the MASTERS OF SEX series on TV, to be continued later this year. In Portland, OR working as a Volunteer Coordinator is Luke Bartholomew. He acted the role of Srinivas last April in MOTHER TERESA IS DEAD.
Home Resource Center is getting to be the busiest venue in town for new theater ventures. I hope you saw Brendan Ragan’s stunning take on AN ILIAD there. On Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. You can hear a first reading of Ann Morrison and Blake Walton’s new play HEARD THERE WAS A PARTY. COME. It’s about Beatrice Lillie, a grand comedian and Broadway actress. For us oldsters, she was also often a treat on Jack Parr’s TV show, a precursor of Johnny Carson and Jay Leno. Annie and Blake will also tell of their plans for their production venture. Hear it all from the stars in person by reserving at [email protected]. Entry is a bargain $5 on site.
You won’t find many better actresses on professional stages than the ones at The Players of Sarasota in the Backstage series: Donna Gerdes, Ann Gundersheimer, and Amity Hoffman-Dertouzos. Catch their extraordinary achievement of similitude in LAST LISTS OF MY MAD MOTHER through Feb. 9, directed by Linda MacCluggage. Opening night brought out a full audience, despite cold, rain, and wind. The acting was worth braving the weather and even a script concerned with Altzheimer’s.
Michele Redwine, Bradenton artist, had a very successful showing and sale of her sculpted bowls in January, sending over a dozen individualized pieces to new homes. If you’d like to consider one for yours, check on her exhibit this month. Details are posted at [email protected].
Old Acquaintances Department: On my way to my spine specialist for the first time in his new-to-me office, I overshot the entrance and ended up in a strip mall miles away. When I asked a woman coming from one shop about directions, she referred me to her more knowledgeable boss, inside the shop, Sarasota Essentials. There I was not only treated nicely but recognized a familiar face. So I had a brief, happy reunion of sorts with Forrest Richards, whom I’ve reviewed so many times in her appearances at Florida Studio Theatre and the Golden Apple. Usually a musical or satirical actress, Forrest now has a permanent day job at Sarasota Essentials, 5959 Approach Rd., where you can get massages, facials, nails treatments, eyelash extensions, botox, juvederm, body wraps, pedicures and Micro Wednesdays. To book Forrest’s services, call 941-343-2985 or use website SarasotaEssentials.com.
BTW, Forrest Richards’ daughter Skye is now in Colorado and expecting a child soon. I remember when Skye played young Bertha Palmer and her mom played the adult Bertha in Jo Morello and Diane Colson’s musical bio-drama. It was sponsored by then-Manatee Community College in Bradenton and filled a huge theater each performance.
Irene Herman not only continues her articles on theater, restaurants, and travel (Tarpon Springs currently) in Family Beautiful magazine’s Winter Issue. She also writes for her condo newsletter and has had numbers of neighbors thanking her for recommending in print the rather new Vietnamese restaurant Leanh’s on North Tamiami Trail. She and husband Ken introduced me to the place, and I foundation her praise was perfectly justified. Thanks, Ken and Irene!
Do you know RUSALKA the opera? I don’t, except for a few notes from the Met series that is showing a film of it. It’ll be broadcast starting noon at Regal Hollywood 20 on Feb. 8 and have an encore starting 6:30 p.m., Feb. 12. I’ll be there with Jerry Nordquist, my opera buddy, who has moved to Bradenton but can’t resist driving the distance to an opera he hasn’t yet seen. He’s also renewed his subscription to Sarasota Opera, which he never misses. Good idea for you too!