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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

 

Comedy clubs and hilarious stage plays

by Roger Pettingell

Laughter, good medicine at any time

The best locations to find comedy performances in Sarasota

Florida Studio Theatre
Improv comedy - The Florida Studio Theatre improv troupe performs Friday and Saturday nights.

“Laughter is good medicine,” are upcoming seminars at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in April. And indeed, humor can turn a stressful day into a day that has a feel-good ending. How about any day of the week? There are a few places in Sarasota to get a regular fill of laughter and chase those blues away. Some of these venues you may be quite familiar with and others only passively recognized for its comedy.

The first venue that comes to mind is McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre, which last year celebrated its 30 year anniversary in Sarasota. Pam and Les McCurdy have been operating the theatre since 1988 from local venues in Bradenton and Sarasota. After 2014 the club moved from a small strip mall in the Trail Plaza, across from the Walmart Marketplace on North Tamiami Trail.

Today it continues as one of the most prestigious comedy clubs on the Gulf coast at their current location, 1923 Ringling Blvd in downtown Sarasota. There you can find well known comedians nightly such as Pauly Shore, Jamie Kennedy who has appeared in over 40 films, Josh Blue and his comedic look at his cerebral palsy that has been highlighted on network TV, late night talk-show guest Chris Cope, Helen Keaney with numerous TV credits, or Al Romas who has appeared on MTV and Comedy Central. Dale Jones, with several comedy shows on his resume, is up next from Wednesday to Sunday.

As their tagline also indicates it is a Humor Institute, a boot camp to build confidence on stage for those willing to share their jokes or humorous anecdotes. Les and Ken Sons guide the tutelage for structuring an on-stage performance. Sounds serious, but laughter is soon to break out in these sessions. These eight-day classes result in a 95% success claim, they say the other 5% just don’t listen. The next on-stage performance from the Humor Institute is on May 1. Visit the Green Room before and after where everyone is a comedian.

Alumni and other self-proclaimed comedians compete on stage in Open Mic Nights on Wednesdays starting April 24 and on some Tuesdays starting May 7. The competition concludes in an Open Mic session on June 18 with the winner receiving five minutes on the main stage and a cash prize. The annual World Series of Comedy, July 17-20, will present 40 North American comedians who travel the United States to compete in cities as the best comedian in the country. You can register as a comedian on TheWorldSeriesofComedy.com website.

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
Big and Purple - Yes, there are comedy acts at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota

Mostly known for attracting high-profile concerts, musicals and stage performances, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall brings in some of the most highly visible comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno to its stage. Next Tuesday The Second City troupe is in the city with their show, “It’s Not you, It’s Me” which brings laughter to the study of human relationships. The hilarious musical, “Menopause” follows on Wednesday. Multiple award-winning actress Whoopi Goldberg performs stand-up on April 27. And if you haven’t seen, “The Book of Mormon” get your tickets now as they go quickly for the four shows January 7-10, 2020.

The Florida Studio Theatre has its improv team perform every Saturday at 8:30 PM. The current run is “Comedy Freestyle” where all the rules of improv are removed. Just about anything Sarasota, “Life’s a Beach” is an improv performance each Friday at 7:30 PM. The “Tournament of Fools” this Saturday lets the audience decide who goes on to be the “Champion of the Fools”. For longer running plays, “Buyer and Cellar,” takes a comedic route in the play about a struggling actor who finds out life in the big city when he moves to Los Angeles. The show is currently running through Sunday in the FST Bowne’s Lab Theatre at 1241 North Palm Avenue.

“In a Word” at the Urbanite Theatre is extended to April 21 and combines grief with comedy for a look back at one fateful night. The theater on Second Avenue presents many dramatic plays but slips in a good hilarious performance such as the satirical “The Thanksgiving Play” with a long run starting November 8.

Now back to Sarasota Memorial Hospital where lectures on Parkinson’s support, baby health and trauma treatments are scheduled daily, they include a lesson improving your health through laughter at HealthConnection on the first floor of the hospital this Friday and again on April 26. Improv actors from FST will lead the hour-long training of laughter exercises.

References to other entertainment venues in Sarasota

Keep up the laughter for a healthy lifestyle, these venues and more have their performances listed on our upcoming events page. Get your Vitamin D in Sarasota with outside activities while visiting. And when you are ready to commit permanently or during the winter months check out my new listing last week in the Beaches community at 775 Longboat Club Rd, #706. This beautifully updated seventh-floor 2BR/2BA residence has direct Gulf of Mexico views on the beach of Longboat Key. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
775 Longboat Club Rd, #706 $795,000 Video Photo Slideshow

 

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

 

Ringling International Arts Festival 2017

by Roger Pettingell

International Arts Festival is next month

Four days of festivities by international performers through October 21

Courtyard at the Ringling
RIAF 2017 - The courtyard at the Ringling will spring to life with the Last Night gala of music and dancing.

One of the most prestigious festivals of the year in Sarasota is taking place next month, The Ringling International Arts Festival. Over the four days beginning October 18, eight different performances will take place to showcase Expect the Unexplored, Explore the Unexpected, the adventurous art theme for the year to be held at various locations on the campus of the Ringling. A few of the acts will take place over multiple days so it is conceivable that you can see them all, even twice if so desired.

It is an international festival with performances by artists from Belgium to Zimbabwe alphabetically. And it all kicks off in the West Courtyard. The First Night: Wanted celebration on Wednesday will be a spectacle of guest artists performing for 60 minutes in a combination of computer graphics and aerial acrobatics. The story of Wanted by eVenti Verticali of Italy is a representation of two men on the run. The networking festivities with hors d'oeuvres and beverages begin at 6:30 PM, while the performance starts at 8 PM. Wanted will return in the West Courtyard Thursday and Friday nights at 8 PM.

There are three, two-night performances and five other, three-night performances during the festival. It all begins October 19 at 2 PM with an a cappella quintet from Zimbabwe. The acclaimed quintet Nobuntu offers songs from their native African country in the Historic Asolo Theatre. You can listen to these pure voices at 8 PM on Friday and they will be back at 2 PM on Saturday. Also on Thursday at 2 PM the show White Rabbit Red Rabbit is a combination effort by the Ringling and The Urbanite Theatre in Sarasota. Each actor is delivered a script at the beginning of each play written by Nassim Soleimanpour, to be performed without rehearsal and in real time. A second showing on Thursday in the Circus Museum Backyard is at 8 PM, followed by 2 PM performances on Friday and Saturday. White Rabbit Red Rabbit will continue its run after the festival at the Urbanite Theatre, October 25 through November 5.

There are three performances at 5 PM on Thursday, October 19. The winner of the Total Theatre Award for Innovation at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Volker Gerling will present a flipbook of portraits from his journey across Germany in the Historic Asolo Theatre. He returns on Friday with his Portraits in Motion performance at 2 PM. At the same time on Thursday in the Circus Museum Backyard, the group Monica Bill Barnes & Company will perform Happy Hour, the story of two guys who crash an after-hours party. The group returns Friday for two shows at 5 PM and 8 PM, and finish with their fourth show at 5 PM on Saturday.

The Space Around You: Musical Reflections is presented at 5 PM on October 19 and 20, a concert in the Turrell Skyspace Ringling venue associated with the ensemblenewSRQ: Program One performances. Based in Sarasota, this group explores current generation music and transforms the music into contemporary classical masterpieces. The second ensemblenewSRQ: Program Two is scheduled for three concerts in two days inside the Huntington Gallery. The Magical World of Berio’s Sequenzas will be performed at 2 PM on Friday and Saturday with a third performance at 5 PM on Saturday.

Ready for some choreographed dance that is molded into a love story? Belgium operatic choreographer James McGinn brings Ing an Die to the Historic Asolo Theatre stage for three performances beginning October 19 at 8 PM. This love story set before the apocalypse is woven with symbolisms to express the emotions associated with a time of distress. There are two more performances of Ing an Die at 5 PM each day on Friday and Saturday.

The ninth annual RIAF comes to a close Saturday night beginning at 7 PM where it started in the Museum of Art Courtyard. Music will entice dancers in the audience for the Last Night festivities. The fun continues until 10 PM when the festival closes and preparations begin for the 2018 Ringling International Arts Festival. To purchase tickets for any of the shows during the festival visit their website at www.ringling.org.

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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.