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Theater Performances in Sarasota

by Roger Pettingell

Rich in History, 'On With the Shows'

These Sarasota Locations Offer Top Quality Entertainment

Asolo Repertory Theatre, Cook Theatre and Mertz Theatre
Asolo Repertory Theater - Home to the Historic Asolo Theatre, Cook Theatre, and Mertz Theatre.

Last week I wrote about opera, orchestras and the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. Sarasota has plenty of live theater, from amateur to professional. The smaller theaters in the area are as small as the 260-seat Glenridge Performing Arts Center on Palmer Ranch to The Players Theatre downtown with seats for 402.

The Players has an interesting history of 84 years. Montgomery Clift and Jayne Meadows performed there before their stardom. Polly Holliday, Flo on the television show Alice, also started her career at The Players Theatre. I have been told that Polly stayed at a Coldwell Banker home now for sale while she spent 10 years in Sarasota learning her craft. The amazing “Villa Cirque” home on Delmar Avenue was owned by Asolo creator Everett "Chick" Austin. House guests included Bette Davis, Prince Rainier, Gypsy Rose Lee and Dame Edith Sitwell.

The Asolo Repertory Theatre on the Ringling Museum grounds is one of the most interesting structures for arts in the area. Two of the theaters were built for audiences in other countries, before shipping to its home at the Ringling Museum. Originally built in 1798 in Italy, the Historic Asolo Theatre was dismantled and stored. The state purchased the theater and moved it to Florida at the Ringling Museum in 1949. It was on display at the museum until later when it was reassembled and modernized for its first performance in 1958 at its current location. There are three tiers arranged close to the stage, with every seat that has a great view of the show. This theater for professional actors is the largest in Florida for the professional actors guild, Actors' Equity Association (AEA), and is the largest repertory theater in the southeastern United States.

This building is home to the Historic Asolo Theatre, Cook Theatre and another reassembled foreign venue, Mertz Theatre. Also assembled with three tiers, the Mertz Theatre has orchestra, mezzanine and balcony levels. With 500 seats, the architecture is grand and the acoustics are ideal for musical arrangements. Originally built in 1903 in Scotland as an opera house, Mertz Theatre was moved to the Ringling Museum in 1977, reconstruction was completed in 1989.

Florida State University, the Asolo Conservatory, conducts their performances in the 161-seat Cook Auditorium. FSU offers a three-year graduate degree Masters in Fine Arts program for 12 students that qualify from nationwide auditions. Graduates join the AEA upon completion. Their training is extensive including a showcase of talent in New York city and six weeks of training in London. In the third year they are full-time with the Asolo Repertory Theatre. Graduates have appeared on Broadway, television and movies. Upcoming events for these three theaters appear on our calendar web page.

Also on our calendar of events are performances for the Florida Studio Theatre, which is actually a village of three stages in downtown Sarasota close to the bayfront. The winter mainstage opened with the Tony-award winning musical, Hairspray, which runs through January 4. Other shows this season include Dancing Lessons, Fly, and Chapatti. The winter cabaret season has three shows on its schedule; Dancing In The Street, American Pie, and Never Marry A Girl With Cold Feet. FST has been in Sarasota since 1973 with shows that are considered more contemporary.

There are theaters in nearby cities also worth mentioning for their high quality entertainment. The Manatee Players have their live shows in the newly built Manatee Performing Arts Center in Bradenton. Amahl and the Night Visitors and Meet Me in St. Louis are two shows worth considering in December. This is the final week for two shows on two stages in the Venice Theatre, The Full Monty and God of Carnage. It might be a fun time while the adult-aged family is down for the holiday.

7038 Hawk Harbor Circle, Bowless Creek
7038 Hawks Harbor - Ideal opportunity to build your dream home near Whitfield Estates and Villa Cirque.

My family and I wish you the best of holidays and a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving. If you are interested in seeing Villa Cirque mentioned above, please call our office at (941) 387-1840. Close to Villa Cirque I have another home in Whitfield Estates on the water that I can show you at 7322 Westmoreland, or a great property nearby at 7038 Hawks Harbor Circle that is in an ideal location with dockage and direct access to Sarasota Bay. Also, this is a great time to sell your property in Sarasota or Longboat Key. Beachfront homes are in high demand.

References to other entertainment venues in Sarasota

The Cultural Season is Upon Us

by Roger Pettingell

Local Opera, Ballet, Orchestra and Theater

The 2014-15 Season Is In Full Swing For All Cultural Tastes

Van Wezel Performing Arts Center in Sarasota
Van Wezel Performing Arts Center - I show the performing arts center through my helicopter tour of Sarasota. Click on the image for the full tour.

I enjoy the arts, the culture of this area supports performance arts in an incredible way. That is why we have the opera, orchestra, pops, and ballet. For a city the size of Sarasota, that is very impressive and the local talent is top notched. November marks the time when the different cultural genres are setting up for the busy winter season.

I support the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe in their performances and as a member on the board of directors. This group has an impressive schedule and just finished a run of nightly shows with their Little Shop of Horrors stage play. The entire family will enjoy Black Nativity, based on the poetry of Langston Hughes, now in it its fifth year. This production combines his poetry with Christmas and gospel music for a high-energy celebration of the nativity. I hope to see you there, I have my tickets for at least one night of the performance that begins December 3 and ends four days before Christmas.

The WBTT is celebrating its 15th season. This troupe in recent years has captured local awards for drama and has picked up national recognition for its stage plays. The theatre location at 1646 10th Way is in the heart of downtown Sarasota off Orange Avenue. Tickets for the Black Nativity production are available online or in the box office at 1343 Main Street, Suite 300B. I highly recommend the Black Nativity. January starts another round of shows, beginning with a powerful play, Knock Me a Kiss by Charles Smith, January 7 to February 8. If you like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, then the world premiere of Jazz Hot Mamas that runs February 25 to March 29 is a good show to catch. The season winds down with three tales by Zora Neale Hurston in the production of Spunk, April 15 to May 17.

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, Can Dance and Southeastern Guide Dogs
I discuss the upcoming 2014-15 cultural event season in this episode of REALTALK™.

The very successful Sarasota Orchestra is in full swing in Holley Hall, about six blocks away from the WBTT at 709 N Tamiami Trail. Last season, 39 performances were sold out. This season will be popular as well. The next concert and staged production is Songs of Wars I Have Seen on Thursday and Friday, already with limited availability for tickets. American Dream, Masterworks 2 and Jingle All the Way, Great Escapes 2 will only be available a few nights each in December. In Love, Masterworks 3, Voices of the Movies, Pops 1 will be at the larger venue Van Wezel Performing Arts Center in January. The orchestra returns to Holley Hall January 21 for four days with Great Escapes 3, Here, There & Everywhere. There are a number of sold out performances for the remainder of the season through May 9 with the finale, Orchestra in the Outfield. I highly recommend getting tickets early, ordering online on the Sarasota Orchestra website.

It always amazes me when I think back and know that ballet started here in 1987. That was soon after I got started in real estate here in Sarasota. Knowing that, we can justify Sarasota as voted the number one top arts destination in the nation for small cities by readers of American Style Magazine in 2012. Three big productions are scheduled for this season beginning with a two-night run of Balanchine, Tuckett & Bruce which opens Friday at the Sarasota Opera House. Ashton’s La Fille mal Gardée runs December 19 and 20 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, followed by two nights of Dance Theatre of Harlem opening on January 30 and February 1 at the FSU Center for Performing Arts. The Sarasota Orchestra accompanies the artists for the La Fille mal Gardée shows. Tickets are online through their website.

I hope you were able to catch Pagliacci at the Sarasota Opera House last week. With fewer than 1,200 seats the Sarasota Opera House downtown at 61 N. Pineapple Avenue is a thrill to visit as it is a small replica of the European opera houses. The annual Opera Gala on January 31 kicks off the 2015 opera season that runs from February 7 to March 28, with operas nearly every night. The first is a 12-show opera run, Tosca with Giacomo Puccini. Tosca runs through March 28, the last of four matinees in the run. Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro is performed on nine nights concluding March 27. The Golden Cockerel, with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and the Paris version of Don Carlos are scheduled to fill in the week of operas during this period. Giuseppe Verdi is heralded this season in a cycle with Don Carlos, The Verdi Concert on March 22 and the Intimate Verdi on March 26. An artist’s choice concert fills in the nightly schedule on March 6. Check their website for more details or to subscribe to the entire season of opera at

There are many cultural events here in Sarasota. I list many of them from Tampa to Venice in our upcoming events page. Our neighbor to the north, Bradenton, also celebrates a fine reputation for the arts. Bradenton was voted second in the same American Style Magazine’s top arts destinations in the nation for populations of 100,000 or less. Visit and see for yourself the diversity of talent and quality of shows. When ready, please call the office at (941) 387-1840 to buy or sell property here. Below are three Longboat Key properties I listed last week.

3040 Grand Bay Blvd, #235 $899,000 Video Photo Slideshow
2016 Harbourside Dr #344/345 $895,000 Video Photo Slideshow
2071 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #T1-106 $599,000 Video Photo Slideshow


Home Preparation for Sale

by Roger Pettingell

Prepare Your Home Before the Listing

Initial Real Estate Research and Review of Your Home

2735 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, Florida 34228
Selling your home - The sales listing process is similar whether you are selling your luxury waterfront property like this one I sold last week for $5.75 million or a home off the water with a lower price point.

Selling your home is typically not an impulse proposition. Many times a seller will prepare their home and research its value long before they call me to put their home on the market. A home I had listed at 2735 Gulf of Mexico Drive on Longboat Key sold last week for $5.75 million. There was a lot of preparation before listing the home by the seller and my office. It closed as the highest selling property on Longboat Key for 2014. Once on the market it was all about matching the right buyer with the house. This week a condominium I had listed at 565 Sanctuary Drive sold for $2.2 million. The preparation was extensive there too and we were able to match up a buyer quickly, even before we were able to take pictures.

The sales cycle can be extensive before the property is presented to me for listing. Sellers are more informed today and hope they can get the most for their home. It is some of the prep work that makes it easier for me to discuss the value of their residence because they have done their homework. So, where do you start?

Online tools such as Trulia, Zillow, and can provide a ballpark figure to the value of your home. Many people rely on these figures and the accuracy can only be represented by the data that is behind the price you see. If you have done upgrades, then the price may not be represented properly through these services. I have a free local service at or that you can subscribe to that also presents these figures to you. I have other services through the Multiple Listing Service that can give you comparisons to these online residential pricing tools. Call our office at (941) 387-1840 and we can set up this free service.

I just posted the Comparative Market Analysis reports for November, another great tool for researching the value of your home. In the 18 communities that I have these CMAs you can go back in time to compare the price of your home to 2008 values in some cases. You can see what was selling and what sold for any given time period.

Kitchen remodeling
Click on the image above to read about remodeling projects with high returns.

When you are ready to list I can highlight any upgrades in the listing to validate the increase in price. In May I posted a REALTALK video segment on upgrades that have a high return on investment. I followed that up with an article on ROI based on the 2014 Cost vs. Value report from Remodeling Magazine. Remodeling a home has its advantages for resale, and some projects have higher returns so I recommend a review of the video and the report. I noted those projects that approach 100% return for their costs, so those should be looked at first.

While you are performing research you can also look around your home and prepare your home for staging and start by repairing the items that have maintenance issues. New mechanicals impress potential buyers, even if they are hidden in a closet. A water heater that is over ten years old will draw a red flag at inspection because insurance companies will take note. Condominium associations have rules on old water heaters too. The home inspection is an important part of the sales process and we can highlight mechanical upgrades on the listing.

During this time before the listing it is also a good time to review your home for painting. A home that was painted ten years ago may have a color that was in style then, but may not appeal to buyers today. I recommend nothing fancy, more neutral colors appeal to a wider range of buyers just as well. Before listing your property I recommend a thorough cleaning. When the home goes on the market the first buyer may be the one to make an offer. It may be their fifth home they looked at that day.

Don’t neglect the exterior as first impressions from curb appeal are also very important. A good review of your roof is a good starting point. A roof that is past its warranty period might turn off a buyer. Whether it’s a tile roof or shingle roof, newer roofs with uncracked tiles or clean lines on shingles will impress the buyer. Trimmed bushes, painted exterior walls and trim will add that necessary curb appeal to help sell your property.

In the last month I have sold these luxury waterfront properties and have two more pending. Please call the office at (941) 387-1840 when you are ready to buy or sell property.

Address Sale Price Date Closed
2735 Gulf of Mexico Dr, Longboat Key $5,750,000 11/05/2014
565 Sanctuary Dr #B504, Longboat Key $2,200,000 11/07/2014
1405 Ladue Lane, Sarasota $850,000 10/15/2014
Beachplace, 1135 Gulf of Mexico Dr #301, Longboat Key $730,000 10/15/2014


Widely Known St. Armands Circle

by Roger Pettingell

St. Armands Circle is Internationally Known

Rich in history, Rich in shopping experiences and events

John Ringling and Circus Ring of Fame plaques on St. Armands Circle
John Ringling Statue - One of the founding fathers of St. Armands Circle, John Ringling (left), overlooks 115 plaques for inductees in the Circus Ring of Fame. Shops line the perimeter of the roundabout.

Mention St. Armands Circle in any group and typically you will get a good response from at least one person. It is as well-known as Sarasota itself. The vision of circus magnate John Ringling as a place for premier shopping, it has flourished over the years to become an international destination for fine dining, boutique shopping and socializing.

Organizations like the St. Armands Circle Association want to promote it that way. We are now heading into their main season as the snowbirds visit, November to April, and the event schedule is planned well in advance. I think of these events as arts and cars.

Luxury car events started this past weekend with the Ferraris visiting on Saturday. This event shares the weekend spotlight with the annual Fright Night on Halloween and is a natural start to the season. "Ferrari's on the Circle" is followed with "Porsches in the Park", December 13. Spaced about a month apart, "AutoRama on St. Armands" will be held next year on January 17. Now in its second year, AutoRama provides a look at some of the best of luxury automobiles. So, what could be better than to follow AutoRama with another automobile that helped kick off the sports car craze than with “Classic Corvettes on the Circle”, May 2, 2015. Visit the St. Armands Circle website to stay current on all their events.

Muscle cars aside, the St. Armands Circle Association recognizes that there is water surrounding the local keys which made the "St. Armands Boat Show" October 25-26 a popular two-day event.

Roger speak with Diana Corrigan
Roger talks with Diana Corrigan of the St. Armands Circle Association in REALTALK™ #58.

Arts and cars, and the circle has plenty of both. Coming up this weekend is the “26th St. Armands Circle Fall Art Festival”. Not limited to Florida artists this two-day show ranks as one of the top 100 in the country. Expect to see over 175 artists with their original artwork. The “St. Armands Winter Art Festival” is in its 13th year and is scheduled for January 24-25 of next year. Another 175 artists are expected at this show, another show that is nationally ranked. This must see art show features artists displaying their pottery, oils, watercolors, ceramics, jewelry, photography and sculpture.

The boutique shops surrounding the circle have a good mix of local owners and franchises. To help promote them the “St. Armands Annual Fall Sidewalk Sale” coincides with the art festival this weekend. You might be able to catch some good bargains in this annual event that runs Saturday and Sunday.

The restaurants already had their day this season with the “Taste of St. Armands” on October 17. Over 15 restaurants participated in this evening of food and entertainment to benefit the All Faiths Food Bank.

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

St. Armands Circle celebrates four holidays during the winter season, starting with “Fright Night on St. Armands” this past Friday on Halloween. The highlight of the evening was the performance of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video by 300 Sarasota High School theater students. They started with the Zombie walk, ended up in the circle, and concluded with shows in each of four directions on the circle.

As scary as the Fright Night was, the “36th Annual Holiday Night of Lights” is as enjoyable for the family. Holiday cheer is celebrated with the lighting of the Christmas tree in the circle on December 5. Expect some more good cheer in “Mardi Gras St. Armands Style” on Fat Tuesday, February 17. Although it may be late in the season for most snowbirds, "Military Appreciation Day" will be held on Memorial Day, May 25. On that Monday special discounts will be given to those who have served in the United States armed forces.

But the circle is all about the circus the way John Ringling would have liked to have seen it. On January 11, 2015 the 28th annual event to honor those with contributions to the circus is a Hall of Fame induction in this “Circus Ring of Fame” on the circle. Last year three individuals and one group brought the total number to 115 as they were honored on the circle. Trapeze artist Pinito del Oro; Paul Binder, Big Apple Circus co-founder; Ian Garden Sr., former circus owner and animal trainer; and the Theron Family of high-energy bicyclists were inducted into the Ring of Fame on January 19. This two-day event actually starts on Saturday with a panel discussion with the inductees. On Sunday the circus band performs after the ceremony. Plaques surround the perimeter of St. Armands Circle with the names of the honored performers.

Sarasota Landmark on Registry as Harding Circle

Statue of Diana on St. Armands Circle
The Diana of Versailles statue at right is a replica from the John Ringling estate collection. Click on the image above to see how you can help preserve these classics.

St. Armands Circle derives its name from its first property owner, Charles St. Amand, in 1893. The misspelling from early 1900 land deals have stuck with no great effort to correct it after all these years. John Ringling saw the island as his opportunity to purchase property that would support his vision. In 1917 he purchased St. Armands Key and started the process that would transform farm land and mangroves into a shopping destination. It was to be a circle with shops and restaurants. However, it was separated from mainland Sarasota by water so he used part of his own fortune to build a wooden causeway to Sarasota that would eventually replace the paddlewheel ferries that would transport workers to the island. In 1928, as the country was going into recession, the bridge was completed. Over 20 years passed before St. Armands Circle park would start to grow as the centerpiece of shopping and restaurants. The perimeter started its largest expansion in the 1950s.

The roundabout circle branches off east to Sarasota over the Ringling Causeway and west to the fine sand beaches of Lido Key. North and south runs Boulevard of the Presidents, with streets named after founding father presidents branching off the main boulevard. St. Armands Circle is in the Harding Circle Historic District, named after Warren G. Harding, a friend of John Ringling. The two names are interchangeable, but you might be hard-pressed to find someone who knows it as Harding Circle, especially those outside the circle. Harding Circle was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. Included with the distinction are the surrounding streets, unique in early community development.

Over 130 shops, ice-cream stores, restaurants and boutique clothing stores surround St. Armands Circle today. The 33 statues in the walkways of St. Armands Circle display Ringling's passion for art and culture. After 100 years, it flourishes as one of the nation’s best destinations.

Just a short drive up Gulf of Mexico Drive from St. Armands Circle is Beachplace condominiums where I have one of my newest listings. Just a short walk from your balcony and you will be on the sandy beaches of the Gulf. Please call the office at (941) 387-1840 when you are ready to buy or sell property.

1125 Gulf of Mexico Dr. #101, Longboat Key $599,000 Video Photo Slideshow


Celebrate the holidays with the "36th Annual Holiday Night of Lights" in St. Armands Circle, December 5.

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4




Why Choose
Roger Pettingell?


  • Over 33 years as a top producing REALTOR® on Longboat Key and in Sarasota.


  • Number 1 single Coldwell Banker agent in all of Florida for 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017
  • Number 1 Realtor on Longboat Key and Bird Key for 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018
  • Number 1 Realtor for all Sarasota in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018
  • Coldwell Banker Society of Excellence award in 2013, 2014 and 2016
  • Ranked among the top 250 agents in the country for 2014, 2016 and 2017 by REAL Trends as reported in the Wall Street Journal.

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About Roger Pettingell

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.