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Peak season also means top entertainment

by Roger Pettingell

Local theater and the Van Wezel shows

First in a four-part series of festivals, dance, plays and classical concerts

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall - Concerts, performances and shows nearly every night in season.

Last week I discussed the homes that were activated for peak season, which is rapidly approaching us. That is the real estate market. The next three weeks in a series I will be discussing the entertainment in this area, a series that begins today with the long running theater plays and Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall performances scheduled. In following weeks the festivals, cultural and upcoming black tie events will each have their day in the sun spotlight.

Nearly every day, November through May, the Van Wezel has top quality entertainment. With the Quay project looming and this iconic structure mixed in with the discussion, there may only be a few years left for the Van Wezel as we know it. The city has long thought of the structure as a cultural and architectural landmark since it was opened on January 5, 1970. It sits on part of the 52-acre land destined to become a Bayfront park, entertainment, restaurant and housing venue.

Until then we can continue to enjoy performances from world renown comedians and concerts from some of the best touring bands. This year will mark the 50th season of classical orchestra performances and 50th season of Broadway shows, celebrated through subscriptions to each. Last year the Van Wezel experimented a little by bringing in a short run of the Lion King.

The annual events that are popular are returning once again this year, starting with Neil Berg’s 50 Years of Rock ‘N Roll. This full cast of rock musicians and singers bring back the golden age of Rock and Roll on November 1. Around the holidays the special shows abound each year. There are two shows on December 28 of Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker. Each year the Salute to Vienna New Year's Concert is a tradition, this year on January 2.

Book of Mormon
Book of Mormon Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

Back for a mini-run from January 7-12, The Book of Mormon returns to the Van Wezel with its musical comedy, the story of missionaries sent half-way around the world to spread their opposing views of the Lord’s message. From the creators of the show South Park, this sensational hit has been sold out in other performances so you may want to find out what all the fuss is about and order tickets for The Book of Mormon early.

The remainder of the schedule is filled in with comedians such as Steve Martin & Martin Short on January 23, returning by popular demand. Touring bands and tribute concerts to the greats are also on the schedule. This year they have scheduled a three-night run of the Waitress from January 24-26. Classical music is on stage with the Sarasota Orchestra November 8, The Great Performer Series with six concerts January 15 through March 30 and an Itzhak Perlman recital March 21. All these shows have the chance of selling out, order tickets soon online.

Local theater is thriving too, a continuation from the summer months. The quality of acting in Sarasota and Bradenton rivals some of the bigger cities. These are some of the reasons Sarasota and Bradenton were voted 1-2 respectively in American Style Magazine’s top arts destinations in the nation for populations of 100,000 or less.

The Underpants, a play written by comedian Steve Martin is currently running through October 20 at the Players Centre for the Performing Arts in Sarasota. Martin adapted the script from a 1911 German play by Carl Sternheim. This comedy “covers” unmentionables that exist under trousers.

Next up at the Players Centre for the Performing Arts, The Fantasticks is a Broadway musical to hit our stage October 23 through November 10. It tells the story of Luisa and Matt who fall in love on the urging of their fathers.

Venice Theatre celebrates 70 years in the 2019-2020 season. Now running is The Bikinis, songs from the Jersey shore in 1964, ending October 20. We all know that ABBA sang Mamma Mia and the Venice Theatre is bringing the musical set on a Greek island to the stage which runs from October 25 through December 1. Assisted Living the Musical is a comedy of the Home, for the Holidays starting November 29 and ending December 22. A Christmas Carol has been performed on the Venice stage for 20 years, a classic December 13-21.

Thursdays through Sundays, but not on Tuesdays, is the autobiographical story of journalist Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie which runs until October 27 at the Manatee Performing Arts Center in Bradenton. The story is actually about his former college professor Morrie Schwartz and his influence on the life of the journalist. The venue has two stages, Tuesdays with Morrie is on the smaller Kiwanis Theater with general admission festival seating.

On the larger Stone Hall stage beginning October 24 is Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story. In his short, three year span he helped shape the history of Rock N Roll before his tragic plane crash in 1959 that also killed Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper, and pilot Roger Peterson, The Day the Music Died. The music doesn’t die on stage until the last performance on November 10. Get your tickets for all the performances at the Manatee Performing Arts Center here.

Back in Sarasota Antigone is set at a time in ancient Thebes and the death of Antigone’s brother, condemned without a burial for his alleged treasonous actions as ordered by King Creon. Antigone faces the consequences and the moral dilemma for his defiance by performing the sacred burial ritual. It runs October 30 through November 17 at the Asolo Conservatory.

Florida Studio Theatre
Florida Studio Theatre - Bright Star has a long run

Another Steve Martin comedy Bright Star is brought to the Florida Studio Theatre stage for a long run, November 8 through January 3. This is banjo and bluegrass in the Blue Ridge Mountains, whose stories by Billie are rejected by the editor of the Asheville Southern Journal. It has a happy ending with published stories and along with it a love affair with Alice, the editor.

Holiday shows emphasize the spirit of the season

One of the first holiday shows is The Thanksgiving Play at the Urbanite Theatre, November 8 through December 15. It is a satire on the Native Americans, Pilgrims and the annual tradition we have celebrated for a few centuries. Political correctness is overcome by the awkward actions of the all-white Thanksgiving pageant organizers.

If you can’t get enough of the classic It’s a Wonderful Life, the Jimmy Stewart movie of George Bailey’s tragic life and its turnaround, follow this musical twist to the movie in Stone Hall of the Manatee Performing Arts Center. This is a “wonderful” adaptation for the entire family December 5-22.

Coinciding with It’s a Wonderful Life in Bradenton, Every Christmas Story Ever Told runs in the Kiwanis Theater. Three actors perform every play, song and tradition of Christmas. And they do it in one night with limited engagements December 5-22.

Another adaptation, Radio Show Christmas Carol, the original Dickens story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the three spirits who visit him to alter his perception of Christmas. This play is a narration by DraMature at the Carnegie Library in Palmetto, December 12-22. DraMature is the senior acting troupe of the Manatee Players and tickets can be purchased through the Manatee Performing Arts Center website.

Returning to the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe for six shows, but performed at the Sarasota Opera House, December 4-6 and December 18-20, is the popular A Motown Christmas. Created, adapted and directed by WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs, the revue blends traditional songs of Christmas with popular songs made famous by Motown greats.

There is plenty of holiday cheer at the Van Wezel starting with the Broadway musical Cirque Dreams Holidaze, two performances November 22-23. The popular and returning Dave Koz and Friends Christmas Tour features the Grammy nominated star and the musical talent that surrounds him for this one-night show November 29. The Celtic Angels Christmas on December 1 is Irish dancing, instrumentals and spectacular singing by five Celtic Angels. Dance to the Holidays is a first-time entry into the Christmas itinerary at the Van Wezel December 4. Under the Streetlamp: Hip to the Holidays is December 12 followed by The Ten Tenors – Home for the Holidays December 22. Ebenezer is back on stage for a Christmas Carol for one show the following night.

A new year and plenty to offer during the winter months

REALTALK interview with Nate Jacobs of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe
Interview with Nate Jacobs of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe in REALTALK™ #101.

The plays pick up after the holidays with Caroline, or Change at the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, January 8 through February 16. American race culture is questioned through this musical that portrays life in the South and the dead-end laundry job of Caroline Thibodeaux. The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe is featured in this REALTALK™ #101 video.

In Gulf View Drive, relatives ascend on a couple’s Siesta Key dream home shortly after moving cross country. The play runs January 10-26 at the Venice Theatre. Menopause The Musical coincides with the running January 10 through February 2. They are followed up by Yard Sale, a musical about junk February 7 to March 8 and Guys and Dolls, February 21 to March 22.

We had Underpants with Steve Martin, Into the Breeches, women get to wear the pants to portray Shakespearean plays, normally performed by men. But this is 1942 in the fictional Oberan Play House while the men were fighting overseas in World War II. This play opens February 12 and runs through March 21 in the Asolo Repertory Theatre of the FSU Center for the Performing Arts. Also get tickets for upcoming Asolo productions of The Sound of Music, Murder on the Orient Express, The Lifespan of a Fact and The Great Leap. These shows and many more can be found on our Upcoming Events page.

Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing of any of our new listings or reactivated listings, or 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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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.