Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Opera seeks talented kids

If you have a youngster ages 8 and up who loves to sing and act on stage, then don't pass this opportunity up. The Sarasota Opera House is seeking young talent for the stage this spring for its Youth Opera.

Touted to be one of the most comprehensive programs in the United States, the Sarasota Youth Opera plans to perform a full stage opera version of Judith Weir's "The Black Spider" in May. It is enrolling new members for the upcoming season, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Jan. 5. If you and your child are interested, know that the enrolling process includes a meeting with music director Lance Inouye who will determine your child's voice type and skill level. She will also show them some of the program's music. Parents will get an introduction to the program, too, and have the opportunity to ask questions.

Rehearsals will begin the same week.

Any child who applies will receive vocal and actor training. Cost of the program is $150 per term with a $25 non-refundable fee needed by Jan. 5. Scholarships, though limited, are available. Payment plans can be arranged.

For more information, call 366-8450, ext. 0.

-January Holmes

Renowned performers headline SO benefit concert

Slated for the Sarasota Orchestra's very first benefit concert, held 8 p.m. Jan. 16, will be two world-renowned performers: Bradenton resident and Grammy Award-winning vionlinist James Ehnes and Sarasota Music Festival artistic direct Robert Levin.

Ehnes will perform Mendelssohn's "Violin Concerto" and Levin, a Mozart scholar and Harvard University professor, will perform Mozart's "Piano Concerto." The orchestra, lead by artistic director Leif Bjaland, will feature Dvoark's "Carnival Overture" and Rimsky Korsakov's "Capriccio espagnol."

The festivities will be at the Sarasota Opera House. Tickets are $50-$100 with proceeds benefiting the musicians. Guests will also have the opporturnity meet and greet the musicans during a champagne and dessert reception. Tickets will be sold separately for the after-concert event for $50 each.

For more information or to order tickets, visit

-January Holmes

Friday, December 11, 2009

Family fun at GWIZ this weekend

GWIZ, the science museum, invites families for a day of music and science beginning at 1 p.m. Dec. 13. Featured will be members of the Sarasota Orchestra, including its harpist, percussionists and its resident ensembles.

There will also be a musical “petting zoo” for guests, demonstrations and talks. Tickets are $11 for children, $14 adults and $13 for seniors, military and students. Admission includes the cost of museum admission and performances. The museum is at 1001 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota.

- January Holmes

"Annie's" second cast

You may have seen and heard much about the first cast of the hit musical "Annie" at the Manatee Players. Here's a peek at the other cast involved in the production.

So many girls showed up for the casting call that director Dewayne Barrett and Players' artistic director Rick Kerby decided to double cast the show with the two casts performing on alternating nights.

Featured above is Reese Balliet with Sandy and orphan girls Caroline Howard, Gina Montoya, Julia King, Daniele Grutzner-Quinn, Chloe Hollands, Antoinette Gagliano, Eva Bayer, Mikaela Vitug, Tamara Solum as Miss Hannigan and Mark Netherly as Bundles McCloskey.

"Annie" continues at the Manatee Players through Dec. 23.

- January Holmes

Thursday, December 10, 2009

REVIEW: " A Country Christmas Carol"

Christmas definitely turns country with the Players Theatre’s charming holiday tale "A Country Christmas Carol," now playing through Dec. 20.

Set in fictional Marley County during 1954, this lighthearted musical follows the cheerful inhabitants of the county and its resident ne’re do well Eb Scrooge (Doug Nelson).

Holiday cheer and country accents abound until Eb, who owns the savings and loan and the local hotel, shows up and spoiling everyone’s fun time and again. The musical — directed by Jeffery Kin — follows the traditional Charles Dicken’s "A Christmas Carol," but puts its own entertaining country spin on things.

For instance, Eb lives in the hotel he owns. There’s no Bob Cratchit, but rather a young widower named Bobbie Jo Cratchit (Jennifer Baker) who works for the cruel-hearted Scrooge. Timmy isn’t crippled. And the Ghost of Christmas present wears a cowboy hat.

Oh, and there’s a festive singing contest.

Once the musical gets into the main story of Eb, it takes a few scenes before it really finds its fuel, and it’s worth the wait. The ensemble does a great job during the many songs and Christmas carols in the production with Baker especially showcasing her beautiful vocal talents in a variety of songs. Cast members, who play multiple roles, boasts several lively performances given by Chip Fisher as Eb’s nephew Dwight and the younger Eb; Channing Weir as Jane Cratchit, Brandon Reid as Tim Cratchit (both Weir and Reid have an amusing brother/sister chemistry during the show); Betty Comora as the spunky Ghost of Christmas Past; Peter Horstman as the Radio Man; Mike Phelan as Charley and the talents of Phyllis Banks who lights up the stage as Lavinia.

This production will make you fall in love with every character on the stage, even Eb. Nelson plays the hard-nosed Scrooge well, and makes the transition to the softer Scrooge nicely during the show as he starts to understand how generosity is the real gift of Christmas.

For those looking for something different, yet jolly on area stages this Christmas season, this show is for you.
-January Holmes

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Island Players received a special visit last week during the opening night performance of "The Education of Angels." The playwright, Matthew Carlin (sitting to the right on the couch with the cast) was in the audience for the show. The cast was glad to have him there.

"The Education of Angels" runs through Dec. 13. Tickets are $15. The venue is at 10009 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria Island. For more information, call 778-5755.

-January Holmes

Manatee Players Guild wins award

Last night, the Manatee Players Guild received the American Association of Community Theatre's "Spotlight Award" for outstanding contribution to community theater. The award was presented by Rick Kerby, artistic director, during the Manatee Players annual holiday party and was accepted by guild president Linda Thomas (pictured above with Kerby).

The guild was nominated for helping with scholarships and other costs involved with maintaining the theater troupe's youth program.

- January Holmes

Monday, December 7, 2009

We The Kings release new album Tuesday

Tuesday will be a big day for We The King fans. The Bradenton-based band releases its second record "Smile Kid," which features the hit single "Heaven Can Wait," which I'm sure you've heard playing often on the radio. The CD also has the single "We'll Be a Dream" featuring Demi Lovato.

Randy Clark, father of band leader Travis Clark, told the Herald "Heaven Can Wait" recently broke the top 40 on the pop/rock charts.

The band is currently on tour to support the new release but will be back in the area at the end of the month for its third annual 941 Holiday Show 6:30 p.m. Dec. 28 at The Hall, 1330 US Hwy 301 in Palmetto. Tickets are $15. Get your tickets by calling 729-0700. The band will also be performing at the upcoming 93.3 FLZ's Jingle Ball 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the St. Pete Times Forum. Look for details in this Thursday's Weekend section.

-January Holmes

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Two locals finalists in area talent search

Two Manatee County residents are finalists in the 2009 Everyone's Youth United Bay Area Idol Talent Search Expo.

See John Baker, 20, and Octavious Cummings, 31 as they perform in the the final level of the talent competition 6:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at the Palladium Theater, 253 Fifth Ave. N. in downtown St. Petersburg.

Baker called the Herald today excited about the chance to win cash and prizes of up to $10,000. Baker entered the adult miscellaneous category, performing stand-up comedy - a hobby he got into just a few weeks ago. He must have been a pretty talented novice to make it this far.

Cummings will be performing in the adult spoken word category. Cummings said gives motivational speeches in the area to encourage youth.

Other categories in the competition include vocals, rap and dance.

Winners can receive professional studio time, photo shoots and networking exposure.

We wish Baker and Cummings good luck.

-January Holmes