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High quality theater options to consider

by Roger Pettingell

Catch live performances here in Sarasota

Different experiences of performing arts at local not-for-profit centers

Palmer Ranch entertaining center in Sarasota is an option when looking for a theater experience
Glenridge Performing Arts Center - Palmer Ranch entertaining center in Sarasota is one option

You are standing in line for a cocktail in the lobby of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, the lights flicker with a signal that the show is about to start. You get your drink and head to your seat. It’s a good experience as it is in many of the live theaters here in Sarasota. And there are other theaters on school campuses and community centers that offer an option to the for-profit live performance halls that are well celebrated.

The Addams Family, a new musical just finished a short run at Glenridge Performing Arts Center (GPAC), concluding its third season of performances by the Rise Above Performing Arts group. A student cast of 43 members led a lively song and dance of this spooky and kooky family in New York.

The 260-seat GPAC theater is in the Glenridge campus of the Palmer Ranch community in southeast Sarasota near Honore Avenue and Palmer Ranch Parkway. It has state-of-the art lighting and sound, large screen and Schimmel grand piano. It is also ADA compliant with wheelchair accessibility and an induction loop for the hearing impaired.

The next season of Rise Above performances at Glenridge picks up again September 12-15 with School of Rock; Glory Days, a new American Musical November 1-3; the classic West Side Story January 3-5 and January 9-11; and the season finale, Bring It On, based on the popular 2000 cheerleading movie, April 23-26. This exceptional group of talented young performers compete nationwide, including its show choir that were the 2018 Grand Champions at OrlandoFest.

When Rise Above is not performing at GPAC, there are concerts and other professional performances. This year Patchouli and Terra Guitarra presented Landscape of Guitar, a music and art production. The Four Freshman has an annual spring concert at GPAC. This group started in 1948 at Butler University in Indiana, and has endured over the years with new talent and a legacy that continues to today. Nate Najar returns December 13 for his annual Jazz Holiday, this year with Daniela Soledade, Chuck Redd and Adrian Cunningham.

Looking for dinner and a pre-show cocktail? Although Palmer Ranch is somewhat in seclusion and known for its privacy with lush landscaping, there are plenty of restaurants on Clark Road to enjoy before or after the show. Rise Above is also looking to build a new performing arts hall. Its new undisclosed location may be closer to restaurants. You can get involved by texting to 44321, donate.

College and community sponsored recitals and concerts are scheduled in the Neel Performing Arts Center on the South College of Florida campus in Bradenton. Built in 1966 and remodeled in 1999, this auditorium has wheelchair accessibility and seating for 830 guests. It is also the home of the Elizabeth M. Eaton Memorial Pipe organ built by master craftsman Charles McManis.

To enjoy a cocktail and dinner before the show there are plenty of franchise restaurants near the campus on 14th Street (US 41) in Bradenton. The Italian cuisine restaurant Primo Ristorante and the popular Anna Maria Oyster Bar are a short drive away.

Neel hosts a variety of tribute concerts including the upcoming tribute to Pink Floyd, Pig Floyd, May 18; John Denver December 8; James Taylor February 9; Linda Ronstadt February 16; and Beach Boys March 22. There are other performances by the Diamonds, a Broadway musical salute on January 12 and Bill and The Belles, a celebration of vintage country music and vaudeville on January 26.

Riverview Performing Arts Center has live concerts, recitals and performances
Riverview Performing Arts Center in Sarasota

On the high school campus, the Riverview Performing Arts Center closer to downtown Sarasota is an elegant theater that seats over 1,000 patrons. The auditorium was built in 2009 when the new Riverview High School campus was constructed. It is equipped with superior lighting and sound technology. There isn’t a bad seat in the house from the individual seating with comfortable arm rests on each. Franchise restaurants are also on US 41 past Phillippi Creek near Proctor Road in Sarasota.

High school and community programs include concert, dance, lecture, plays and meetings year round. This week the high school presents its Choir Spring Concert on Friday, the Annual Recital will be held May 25. On August 2 the Peace & Love Tour is a 50th anniversary tribute to the Woodstock concert. Snatam Kaur will perform live with songs from her new album on October 23 as the winter season begins with a new slate of concerts.

Shows at the Venice Performing Arts Center (VPAC) on the high school campus brings together three different organizations for the arts and a variety of community events with 120 performances each year. The Venice Institute for Performing Arts was chartered as a non-profit on January 1, 2017 to help the community build on its strong arts tradition and to teach student skills that will last a lifetime.

VPAC has 1,090 unobstructed view seats that slope to the 2,000 square-foot stage and orchestra pit that can accommodate 50 musicians. Acoustics are exceptional based on surround-sound boards placed throughout the venue. Handicap seating is available on the main floor and balcony. The center itself is nearly 47,000 square-feet.

Timeless Country with the CJ Simmons Band is up next June 29 for its special monthly summer show season at VPAC. The All American Boys Chorus based in Costa Mesa, California performs July 27, followed by the Sandy Toes Stand-up comedy August 10. The winter season picks up strong with The Nutcracker, December 14, Decades Rewind December 31, Cash, Killer & the King tribute January 18. Broadway Boys January 24, movie music by Dick Hyman, Ken Peplowski, and Clairdee, January 30, and Beatles vs. Stones in the Battle of the Brits as the winter season continues February 1. More February, March and April tributes concerts and shows are on the VPAC website. One of the more popular annual events in Venice is the performance of Shen Yun, March 13-16 at VPAC, that celebrates 5,000 years of Chinese heritage.

VPAC is not to be confused with The Venice Theatre, just a few blocks from VPAC downtown near Centennial Park. The Venice Theatre hosts many events too including Honk!, a musical tale of the ugly duckling, May 10-19. There are plenty of good dining experiences available around Centennial Park with French, Italian, seafood and casual cuisine.

All of the performances and more can be found on our Upcoming Events page. This list is updated every Thursday and at current lists events, festivals and shows up to June 7, 2020.

These venues listed above are available to the public for rent. You may be able to find more throughout Sarasota, such as the Visual Performing Arts Center at Booker High School. I have many properties in my inventory, please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.

References to other entertainment venues in Sarasota

Venice Cabaret Festival in full swing

by Roger Pettingell

Festival continues through August 26

The history and theatre location changes date back to 1950 in Venice

Venice Little Theatre
Venice Theatre - The Venice Little Theatre shown here had a name change following renovations in 2008.

Although the Venice Cabaret Festival for 2018 has just started, there are 12 more different shows on 24 nights through August 26 at the Venice Theatre. A whole lot of entertainment is on its way from Sinatra, Rodgers & Hammerstein to burlesque and fairy tales in song. Now in its sixth year, the festival brings something for everyone, including some popular repeat performances from past years.

All the festival shows are at the Venice Theatre. The theatre has been in different locations over the years since its inception in November of 1950, the first of which was a WWII metal army barracks with chairs donated by a local funeral home. Other local organizations pitched in with labor and businesses donated construction material. And by Christmas of 1950 Venice Theatre opened its first performance, a successful production of The Torchbearers. Venice grew over the years through advanced interstate travel. In the 1970s the theatre moved to its current location on West Tampa Avenue through the acquisition of an abandoned military institute gymnasium.

Today the main stage has a capacity of 432 guests, while the cabaret Yvonne Pinkerton Theatre has seating for 90 guests. The theatre has grown in other ways over the years. An education and community outreach program was added in 1992. It has grown to be considered as the largest community theatre per capita in the United States and has won numerous awards by individuals for their dedicated contributions to the theatre, Yvonne Pinkerton and Geri Becker. Since its opening the theatre has received awards for best musical and best play while actors have received numerous awards from multiple organizations. See a list of their awards here.

Michelle Kasanofsky
Michelle Kasanofsky performs in three separate shows.

So the show must go on as it has over the last 68 years. Next up on the Cabaret Festival list is Better Late Than Never, this Thursday evening with a matinee Sunday. New York singer Carey Yaruss returns to the stage with a variety of song genres to explain her rise to becoming a mother in Florida. The theatre director, Michelle Kasanofsky accompanies Carey on piano.

But Michelle Kasanofsky does not take a break, she teams with her father George Mancini for a medley of movie tunes Friday and Saturday evenings in Cruising to the Movies. Veteran Venice Theatre drummer Joel Broome accompanies them but they have added a special segment with cruise ship music, an entertaining ensemble featuring Mikal Mancini and Khamor Lyons.

Joel Broome is highlighted in two shows, I Got Rhythm, Sunday evening with a repeat matinee performance on August 18. Joel is center stage with a supporting band to perform songs of his own composition along with familiar songs including recording great James Brown.

The matinee on Saturday features Francine Smetts as Franny Lonesome. This is a different kind of western love music with genres from jazz to western swing. A group of musicians perform with Francine, Dorian Boyd, Kim Kollar, Michelle Neal, Andrew Leach, Alana Opie and Rik Robertson. Another performance of Franny Lonesome is set for the evening of August 9.

The education program displays the talent of its young performers in two late night performances August 9 and 10. The SummerStock educational program is high-energy training for aspiring theatre performers. Director Brad Wages and musical director Peter Madpak are two professionals involved in the extensive training of these young actors. They have already one production in the festival, Into the Woods. Their upcoming performance of Fractured Fairy Tales split the young cast into two groups of performances each night. Storybook characters are portrayed through original songs recomposed from old-time favorites. Into the Woods moves to the main stage August 3 through 12.

John Lariviere Sinatra tribute
Sinatra Tribute - John Lariviere revives his songs.

Who doesn’t like the silver voice of Frank Sinatra. Venice audiences prove that they do, especially when John Lariviere pays tribute to the master in the Sinatra Songbook. This show was sold out two consecutive years. He also has credits in film, radio, TV and an Internet series. Tickets for his August 11 and 12 matinee performances are still available.

Interested in some history back to the 1800s? Want to revisit it as passionate revivals through song? Catch the protests of years past in Dorian and The Furniture presents “GO!” with one evening show on August 12. You can expect songs from contemporaries James Taylor and Indigo Girls. But back to history with a 19th century composition by Stephen Foster and others in between.

No two performances are the same in Not My Type, but they will have you laughing so you can enjoy both evening shows, August 16 and 19. The star of the show, Liz Pascone, is joined on stage by actors Jamie Lee Butrum, Alana Opie, David Walker, Dorian Boyd and anyone from the audience that is asked on-stage. The group of five will perform songs from familiar theatre characters singing other character’s songs. Should be fun, both nights.

And if those two shows didn’t fully satisfy your funny bone experience, catch the Summer Beach Party, presented by comedy and song group, Big Red Nose Burlesque. Comedy, burlesque, singing and dancing is combined for two nights of hilarious fun August 17 and 18. There are tributes to Donna Summer, Lady GaGa, Katy Perry and songs from the musical Grease.

Stephen Ditchfield takes to the stage for matinee performances on August 19 and 26 with his solo performance of songs in As Time Goes By. Stephen has been performing for large and small audiences for 30 years. His repertoire includes Broadway hits, big band and patriotic classics. In As Time Goes By he performs the songs as you remember them.

Kim Kollar and Bobby Eschenbach are accompanied by Michelle Kasanofsky on piano and Joel Broome on drums in Tony’s Girls for three cabaret festival shows. They perform Tony Award winning musicals and top nominated Broadway musicals. There are two evening shows August 23 and 24 and one final opportunity to catch this act on August 25 at the 2PM matinee.

Rodgers & Hammerstein by Kristofer Geddie
The 2018 festival concludes with a tribute to Rodgers & Hammerstein by Kristofer Geddie on August 26.

What better way to complete the festival than with award-winning songs from Rodgers & Hammerstein. The magical genius songbook of the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II duo is presented on-stage by Kristofer Geddie in Something Good. Kristofer shows his own talent in performing some of their best known songs on August 25 and 26.

The general seating cabaret style in the smaller Yvonne Pinkerton Theatre is a fun way to watch a performance in a relaxed atmosphere. The $17 tickets are now available online. Special thanks to Laurie Colton of the Venice Theatre for photos used in this article. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy.

 

Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing

 

Highlight of fall 2016 events

by Roger Pettingell

An increased activity of arts and festivals

Local venues ramp up as snowbirds are welcomed back

Aerial view of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center
Aerial view of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center

This is the final week of summer, hope you had an enjoyable season. Now we head into fall and the festival and arts seasons are warming up. Soon the snowbirds will have returned and the schedule of events increase. Dormant venues come alive with a full slate of arts. The Van Wezel Performing Arts Center has a new show practically every night with high quality performances from the touring stars. The local theatres have presented their line-up of plays and the annual festivals have announced their themes for the 2016-2017 season.

In just a few short weeks The Ringling International Arts Festival kicks off a four-day event schedule with its opening ceremony, a celebration of Brazilian culture in the museum courtyard. Performances also start on that opening day, October 13 with acts from around the world. Doug Elkins performs a choreographed show in the Asolo Repertory Theatre while the Eighth Blackbird can be seen in the Historic Asolo Theatre. These two shows start on opening day and continue for three days. Gravity & Other Myths will be performed all four days of the festival in its appropriate venue, the Ringling Circus Museum. In total there are 11 different performances of one-day, two-day and other three-day lectures, concerts and live shows to experience.

An annual celebration of Midcentury Modern Architecture, Sarasota MOD, attracts worldwide renown architects to the area in order to further their profession. The 2016 event presented by the Sarasota Architectural Foundation showcases one the leaders of the Sarasota School of Architecture, Victor Lundy. The three-day event begins Friday, November 11.

An opening reception for Old Florida, a 21st Century Interpretation will be held October 7 in the Longboat Key Center for the Arts. The art exhibition runs through November 11 with paintings by Joseph Arnegger, Tim Jaeger and Tom Stephens. As part of the Ringling College of Art and Design, the Center for the Arts presents a curriculum for artists that want to continue their education or for those adults who wish to learn a new hobby for their retirement years.

Fright Night international guests
These international guests get into the spirit for Fright Night on Halloween in St. Armands Circle.

In October St. Armands Circle starts its fall series of car, boat and art shows. The Wilde on the Water Jaguar Festival and Concours for one day is hosted by The Sun Coast Jaguar Club on October 1. The following Saturday is the seventh annual Taste of St. Armands with 19 restaurants around the circle competing for top recognition. The St. Armands Boat Show is a weekend show in the circle October 22-23. One of the most well-attended events on the circle is the annual Fright Night on St. Armands, a spectacular of sights and sounds in celebration of Halloween on October 31. Be certain to stick around for the local high school zombie dance performance to the song Thriller by Michael Jackson.

Cars return to the circle November 5. The Ferrari Owners Club of the Florida region will display 75 cars competing for Best in Show in Ferrari's on the Circle. The last car show of the 2016 fall season is the Porsches in the Park event on December 10, now in its 12th year. Veterans are honored Friday, November 11, with special discounts. For the next two days that weekend the circle will come alive with the combined St. Armands Circle Annual Fall Sidewalk Sale and the 28th Annual St. Armands Art Festival, just in time for holiday shopping. And if that doesn’t get you into the holiday spirit, the 38th Annual Holiday Night of Lights on St. Armands, December 2 is filled with events such as the annual lighting of the Christmas tree. Of course Santa will be there for the kids.

Theatre comes alive during this time too. The Wiz, a loose Wizard of Oz interpretation, will start October 12 at the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe and run for over a month through November 19. Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves has a long run at Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota from October 5 through January 29. The Players Centre for the Performing Arts will run the play Gypsy from September 28 through October 16. Young Frankenstein follows November 2-20. The Sunshine Boys will run at the Venice Theatre, September 27 through October 16. Venice Theatre will also be home to the play Toxic Avenger September 30 through October 23. Billy Elliot, a musical, will start November 8 at Venice Theatre and run through December 4. Get Out of Dodge runs at the Venice Theatre, November 3-20.

The Van Wezel Performing Arts Center has a variety of concerts, comedians and performances. Celtic Thunder, Doo Wop Spectacular, Mary Chapin Carpenter and ZZ Top are performances in October. Political satirists Capitol Steps, start a November series of acts. The holidays begin with themed concerts by Mannheim Steamroller, Decades Rewind, Dave Koz, Melissa Etheridge and Jim Brickman.

Ski-A-Rees water ski acrobats
Ski-A-Rees - Water ski acrobatics are performed every Sunday in their Ken Thompson Park stadium.

Since 1957 the Ski-A-Rees have thrilled crowds with their acrobatic water skiing. The first show of the season was earlier this month, held for free in Ski-A-Rees Stadium at their Ken Thompson Park location on City Island. The show starts at 2 p.m. each Sunday with this season running through November 13. You may never know what to expect from these acrobats, performers start at a very young age and continue well into their adulthood. You may even see a senior citizen or two, skiing next to a young adult. The Ski-A-Rees were honored this summer by hosting the Southern Regionals Tournament in June. This non-profit has performed all these years with generous donations at events and efforts such as the 24-hour online Giving Challenge that starts noon tomorrow, September 20.

Some of the non-profits in the area are supported through charity events such as the Giving Challenge tomorrow that I mentioned above. Last year $7 million was raised in one day to benefit 449 non-profits. This year over 550 organizations are represented in four surrounding counties. Coldwell Banker will host comedian John “Hippieman” Novosad, a CARES benefit at McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre on Thursday. Last year the Coldwell Banker CARES program raised $65,000 for local non-profits. The Superheroes on Parade benefit for the Southeastern Guide Dogs organization is coming to a close. Over 50 larger-than-life dog sculptures were sponsored by local businesses. My sponsored dog, Buyer, will be part of a parade of these sculptures created by local artist Scott Joseph Moore, on Palm Avenue, October 8-9.

As the saying goes, “So much to do, and so little time to do it.” There are many events for all ages, check out our events page with 300 activities listed. And when you find the time, please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy.

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Roger Pettingell of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate is your Longboat Key, Florida Luxury Real Estate Specialist. Roger provides his real estate expertise to sellers, investors, developers, and buyers in the Sarasota area including Anna Maria, Bird Key, Bradenton Beach, Casey Key, Cortez, Grand Bay, Holmes Beach, Longboat Key, Marina Bay, Osprey and Siesta Key. Search for homes, luxury homes, condominiums, investment property, development property, and vacant land and lots on the Longboat Key, Florida and the surrounding area.