Friday, May 28, 2010

'Sex and The City" glitz hits Lakewood Ranch

Lakewood Ranch got a little sexy Thursday night.

Nearly 200 hundred fans of the hit HBO show and film “Sex and The City” turned up at Main Street’s Lakewood Ranch Cinemas for a screening and opening night party for “Sex and The City 2.”

A long line formed down the Main Street sidewalk just before the party started, with many moviegoers dressed to the nines for the event — just like the film’s famous New York characters Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda.

The fashionable crowd was more than co-manager John Ganas was expecting.

“I knew it was going to do good,” he said earlier Thursday of ticket sales to the party and film. “But I didn’t expect it to be this big.”

Lakewood Ranch resident Kaitlyn Miller, 21, and her group of friends were the first in line for the party, ready to partake in the food and music at the event. But Miller was more looking forward to the movie.

“There’s glamour, there’s beauty,” she said of why she loves the film series. “It’s a chick flick, what’s not to love.”

Inside the cinema’s lobby was belly dancing by dance troupe Entertainment by Tahja — to coincide with the Arabian feel of the new film’s plot.

The film features the four best friends taking a break from the city and visiting the Middle East for a glamorous girlfriend getaway of fashion and fun. That’s what brought Lakewood Ranch friends Linda Bastian and Sue Duffy out to the theater.

“I like the glamorous clothes,” said Duffy, 58. “And the good-looking men.”

“Sex and The City 2” stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon.

Other area theaters didn’t throw a bash for the film, though Royal Palm 20 hosted a celebration for “Prince of Persia.”

The Lakewood Ranch party was presented by the Sarasota Film Society.

Visit to read a movie review of the film.

Local MSA students perform at Lincoln Center celebration

On Saturday, be sure to think of the 24 students and four teachers from Manatee School for the Arts. They will be performing at New York's Lincoln Center during the venue's 50th Anniversary Celebration. The group was one of ten national schools invited by the Forte Festival to perform, which is quite an honor. They will present a 30-minute performance, showcasing their ballet, hip hop, ballroom and contemporary dance talents - along with a little singing, too. Sounds almost like "Glee," doesn't it?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Easter Seals art in the Village

My next Sunday column is about the Easter Seals Southwest Florida's art initiative program and its upcoming show at the Village of the Arts beginning on June 4.
I was invited over to the Manatee County-based organization earlier this week to chat with art teacher Karen Davenport and get a sneak peak of the art that will be shown during the month-long exhibition.

The wonderful art collection is done by Easter Seals' clients, all of whom live with physical and developmental disabilities. But all that melts away when it comes to art as seen in the photos Davenport shared with me.

If interested in the show, visit Marina Adair's Gallery #11 at 925 12th St. W., Bradenton. Works will be displayed through June 30. The public is invited to a free reception from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. June 4 at the gallery. RSVP at 355-7637, ext. 410.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bradenton featured on top 25 small cities list for the arts

Bradenton is moving up in the world. Our city landed the No. 22 spot for the "Top 25 Small Cities for the Arts" by American Style Magazine.  

And though Sarasota came in at No. 5, Manatee County is mentioned in its spot with the magazine highlighting Sarasota and Manatee counties' Festival sARTee. The festival will make its debut during the Ringling International Arts Festival in October. Visit to check out the list. Other Florida cities include Key West, which claimed the No. 4 slot and Naples, which came in at No. 14. St. Pete grabbed the No. 1 spot for the top 25 mid-size cities, followed by Tampa at No. 11.

The list is part of the magazine's 13th annual Top 25 Arts Destinations readers' poll, which is comprised of large, mid-size and small cities.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tampa Bay Rays, We The Kings and Manatee County schools join forces

May 28 will be a thrilling day for local baseball and music fans alike. Tropicana Field will host the Tampa Bay Rays against the Chicago White Sox. Afterwards, We The Kings will perform in a post game concert.

The $24 lower level outfield tickets will be available for $20 for the special night. A portion of ticket sales from this section of the ball park will benefit Manatee County schools. Tickets can be bought through the Manatee Education Foundation by 5 p.m. Monday. Call Tricia McKay May at 708-8770, ext. 2149 for more information.

Game time is at 7:10 p.m. The first 10,000 fans will receive a free B.J. Upton T-shirt.

We The Kings members are Travis Clark, Hunter Thomsen, Drew Thomsen and Danny Duncan - all former students of Bradenton's King Middle School. The band is currently promoting its latest album, "Smile Kid," featuring its latest Top 40 hit "We'll Be a Dream" with Demi Lovato.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lakewood Ranch Cinemas hosts 'Sex and the City 2' party

Lakewood Ranch Cinemas will host a special opening night party at 8:30 p.m. May 27 for the nationwide release of "Sex and the City 2."

Guests can enjoy drinks, a wine bar and hors d'oeuvres followed by a 10 p.m. screening of the film. Tickets are $25 at the door and covers both the film and party.

The sequel to the popular film and HBO show follows Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda on a glamorous adventure outside of their New York City lives where fun, fashion and mystery await.

Lakewood Ranch Cinemas' opening night party is presented by the Sarasota Film Society. For more information on the event, call (941)955-FILM.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Gecko Fest online silent auction

The 2010 Gecko Fest may be over but a few geckos are still lurking around the Gecko Fest headquarters. Gecko Fest organizers are launching a special silent online auction event to give the artistically-designed geckos a home.

Nine geckos will be auctioned off beginning Saturday. Bids start at $500. They include "Curly," the yellow and green gecko with swirls; a Spider Man gecko; Elvis as a gecko; a Pittsburgh Pirates themed gecko; "A Long Night" gecko; the "Geeky" gecko; Lizard King of Hearts gecko; the "Gecko Intimidator" inspired by Dale Earnhardt and "Lacy Lizzie," the gecko in the little black dress.

People interested in the geckos can visit the auction preview page at

The auction ends May 31. Proceeds from the gecko sales will benefit area artists, local arts organizations and school art programs.

Moving Ethos: The Center Ring

The weekend performances of Moving Ethos' "The Center Ring" was not only moving in and of itself, but breathtakingly beautiful. Like poetry in motion. Featuring contemporary dances inspired by the circus photography of Frederick W. Glasier, the troupe brought the early days of the circus to life at the Historic Asolo Theatre.

Audiences were ushered into the program's circus-themed fair by ringmaster Rebecca Webster, who gave a short, poetic-like prologues for each work during the program from the side of the stage. Keeping in her role as ringmaster, she also watched the performances unfold with the audience - just like a real circus. She also provided rich vocals to some of the original music accompaniment, which added a special touch to the dance concert.

Each dance featured Glasier's photos projected on the wall as the troupe reenacted the black and white portraits, creating its own story based on the pictures. The first of these dance works was the four act "Side Show," which included a beautiful dance performed by Courtney Smith on a long rope attached to the ceiling like a trapeze. Smith showed grace and control while bringing elegance to the piece, inspired by Glasier's photo of a woman hanging on a rope from her teeth. Keely Sullivan Henry and Kelley Natella were enjoyable as they depicted the split personalities of a woman displaying her athletic side and feminine side.

Dazzling the audience was Kristen Bernier and Cassidy Samelian in their creative dance contortion act while Leah Verier-Dunn provided a lightness to the program as the girl with the colorful parasol.

Besides the contortion dance, Herd Instinct was another innovative highlight to the show. The piece featured the troupe dressed in gray representing a herd of elephants in performance mode at the circus. Dancers' "trunks" swayed side to side in full elephant fashion.

Along with the eye-catching Luminescence dance, followed by the trapeze dance duet of "Trust Me" was the comical yet subdued "Dare to Wear the Foolish Clown Face." The final dance depicted the different "faces" of clowns, so to speak or rather, how they act with or without the clown makeup.

Through "The Center Ring," Moving Ethos provided a vivid window into circus life using the elements of dance, storytelling, photos, vibrant costumes, lighting and an assortment of musical styles. The members of the troupe created their own circus world - one that's as equally captivating as the real thing.

If the troupe gets the opportunity to perform this enchanting program again, don't miss the opportunity to see art in motion.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Call to artists for Bradenton's newest event: ArtSlam

Realize Bradenton in Partnership with the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority announces ArtSlam, a new outdoor public art event in Downtown Bradenton, FL

The event, set for Oct. 16, calls for 10 teams with "fantastic ideas." Visual, media, literary and performing artists are eligible. Teams selected will create outdoor installations downtown. Deadline is Aug. 1.

Read more about it in my article on Sunday. But here's what potential teams need to know for the call to artists:

ArtSlam will begin with an artists gathering on Friday evening, October 15, to survey the street, meet each other and enjoy a meal. Creation will begin in the morning during the popular Downtown Farmers’ Market. Artists will continue to create during the day accompanied by a street festival that will include food and music. The twelve hour art event will conclude with evening festivities and presentation of completed projects – which will, like Cinderella’s party regalia, disappear by the witching hour.

A small stage and sound system will be provided for performance-based projects. After sunset, an outdoor screen will also be available for projections and film. Most sites will be on the street. Typical spaces will be up to 22 feet long and 10 feet deep. Artists may utilize streetscape elements such as light poles, trees, storefront facades, IF discussed and cleared in advance by Realize Bradenton. Realize Bradenton will work with selected teams to provide space to meet their individual needs, where possible. Electricity and water will be available.
There is no theme for the festival. Selected teams will demonstrate exceptional collaboration and creativity within the limits of time (12 hours) and space (empty outdoor space).

Ten teams will be awarded up to a $500 stipend to defray certain project costs. Artists are responsible for supplying all materials, housing, if staying overnight, and meals.
Jury awards of $250, $150 and $75 will be awarded.

There is no geographic limit on eligibility. However artists are responsible for their own travel and housing. Realize Bradenton will work with artists to assist them in finding moderately priced housing.

Artists from all art forms are eligible and must be at least 18 years old.

Artists should submit an application package that includes:

1. The names and contact information, including mailing address, email, and phone of the lead artist and as many members of the team as are known.

2. Materials, preferably in digital format that demonstrates for the lead artist and as many members of the team as are known:
A) Their educational background, particularly as pertains to arts training
B) Experience that is relevant to the proposed project. This can include images of completed work, audio and/or video of past work, writing samples, related skills etc.

3. A brief (equivalent to 1 page or less) statement of concept or intent about the proposed project and the artist/team’s process. This can be in the form of words, pictures, video, or any way that the artists wish to communicate.

4. An indication of specific elements that are needed to execute your project, such as walls, screen, electrical service, special equipment, etc.

Bradenton Downtown Development Authority
Bradenton City Hall
Attn: Ann Wykell
101 Old Main Street
Bradenton, FL 34205


ArtSlam is an offering of Festival sARTée (sar-tay). The Festival sARTée expands the energy and excitement of the Ringling International Arts Festival (RIAF), in Sarasota-Manatee Counties, October 13-17, 2010. For two weeks surrounding the RIAF, Festival sARTée, being held October 8-24, showcases the region’s world-class arts and culture ranging from theatre, dance, music, visual art, live music, circus arts and more in a variety of venues throughout Sarasota and Manatee Counties.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

2010 Guerrilla Film Competition deadline is nearing

Can you write, shoot and edit a short film in 48 hours? If so, then you're up for the challenge of the Sarasota Film Society's Guerrilla Film Competition.

The competition will be May 21-23. Teams who enter - entry deadline is May 18 - will meet at Burns Court Cinemas 7 p.m. May 21. There, they will draw a random line of dialogue, a prop, a genre and an action. Then the clock starts. They will only have 48 hours to write, shoot and edit a film during the weekend featuring what was drawn. Teams must drop off their completed project at Burns Court. A panel of judges will look for creativity and originality.

The films will be screened around 10 a.m. May 29 at Lakewood Ranch Cinemas and will be followed by a wrap party and awards ceremony later that evening. First place prize is $500.

If you're interested, fill out the online registration and submit a payment of $50 (per team) at

The event is an effort to encourage filmmakers to produce quality works featuring area sights and sounds.

Local car shop featured on TV this Sunday

Be sure to tune into "Tail Fins and Chrome" this weekend. The latest episode of the car show will feature downtown Palmetto's own Slicks Garage - a custom and classic car shop for car enthusiasts and collectors.

The show will air at 11 a.m. Sunday on NBC (Channel 8) as well as on cable networks RTV and TUFF TV. Besides highlights of the shop, local car owners will be sharing their stories and cars on the TV show.

Slicks Garage opened earlier this year. The segment was taped in 2009 just before the grand opening.

If you watch the show and want to learn more about Slicks, visit the garage at 5 p.m. the first Friday of each month for "First Fridays on the Fifth: Car Show and Block Party." The next event, on June 4, will include the Bradentucky Bombers, live bands at Olympia Theatre and more. Slicks is at 923 Fifth St. W., Palmetto.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Free summer concerts at Van Wezel

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall kicks off its FridayFest summer concert series June 25, presenting a free outdoor concert along the Sarasota bay front 5 p.m. the fourth Friday of each month through September. Here's what the venue says it has in store:

The first band performing will be Yesterdayze on June 25. A sixties tribute band, Yesterdayze, will play everything from The Beatles to Jimmy Hendrix, from Elvis to Dionne Warwick. The band’s musicians live and breathe the sound of the 60’s and invite their audience to join them in their journey to the past. Not only does Yesterdayze bring a blast from the past in their sound, but the musicians dress the part, recreating the entire 60’s experience.

On July 23, The Black Swamp Gypsies will bring everyone to their feet dancing a little bit of country. There are six full-time members of the band and they will be sure that everyone can relate to them through their music they play. They play all the songs that everyone knows and loves such as “This Time Tomorrow,” “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” and “Is There.” They just play great music; their energy is contagious!

The Big- Z Band is center stage on August 27. Big- Z plays a variety of popular titles and chart-topping hits with their own distinctive flair. Enjoy the electrifying showmanship of talented musicians while reminiscing to all of your favorite songs from Barry White to Luther Vandross. They are a resident band at the Ritz Carlton in the Ca d’Zan Room on Thursday and Friday nights. This Soul and Motown band will have you swaying and dancing throughout the night.

The last concert will be September 24, when Big Night Out wows the crowd with a blend of Latin and Caribbean dance music. An explosive horn section and a pulsing conga add to the bouncing rhythm section and passionate Bi-lingual female vocals. Big Night Out will have everyone out of their chairs and dancing.

FridayFest will be presented rain or shine. The venue is at 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. For more information, call 953-3368.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pizza eating contest anyone?

This Saturday, from 3 to 9 p.m., stop by Super Heros Subs, Salads and Pizza for its Pizza Palooza & Ultimate Pizza Eating Contest.

Free music and entertainment will commence 3-5 p.m. with a live radio broadcast by 107.3 The Eagle FM with DJ Nick Van Cleve at the mic. There will be a chance to win prizes during the Super Hero Trivia Quiz.

Super Heros will also be promoting a special Armed Forces Day Supply Drive for MOTS Manasota Operational Troop Support. Your approved donation to the cause will get you a slice of pizza and a small fountain drink for a $1.

The pizza eating portion of the event starts at 6 p.m. and is open to customers ages 18 and above. There's a $10 entry fee. The winner takes home a Blu-Ray Player and a few DVDs. He or she will also be honored on the Super Heros Wall of Fame.

Super Heros Subs, Salads and Pizza is at 4925 Cortez Rd. W. in the Oakmont Terrace Plaza.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Artsy Undies winner

About 150 votes were cast for the People's Choice winner of Bonni Bakes Artsy Undies 2: Boxers, Briefs and Jockstraps contest/exhibition, which raised money for prostate cancer.

The winner:
Olivia Karau for her creative entry "Atomic Fireballz." Runners up was "Screw Prostate Cancer" and "Protect the Family Jewels."

Bonnie Bakes Edible Art is at 930 12 Street W., Bradenton, in the Village of the Arts. Call 746-6647 for more info.

Bayshore and Southeast High schools receive local honors

Bayshore and Southeast high schools were honored earlier this week by Asolo Repertory Theatre for outstanding achievements in drama.

Bayshore received an certificate of excellent for its production of "Clowning Scenes," director by Brendan Murphy.

Southeast received a certificate for "What's My Age," directed by Jason Scheissl.

Both schools were finalists for the annual Guilder Award. This year's award was given Booker High school for "Animal Farm," directed by Dan Bright.

This season 30 Asolo Rep Guild adjudicators critiqued 15 productions at high school in Manatee, Sarasota and Charlotte counties.

Manatee's high schools has dominated the competition for the last several years. Congrats!

Monday, May 3, 2010

REVIEW: 'Jar the Floor'

Westcoast Black Theatre’s “Jar the Floor” is a relishing comedy that takes audiences into a complicated Chicago family whose members are able to laugh despite the deep wounds inflicted on each other and the outside world.

The story takes place in MayDee’s home just outside of Chicago during the celebration of her grandmother MaDear’s 90th birthday. Though the birthday event is supposed to be a happy one with MayDee’s daughter coming into town for the day, MayDee (Alice M. Gatling) is flustered by the following: She hasn’t seen her daughter, Vennie (Jaszy McAllister) in two years, and knows she is only visiting because she wants something; Vennie invites her friend Raisa (Amanda Schlachter) to come at the last minute; MayDee’s grandmother (Tammy Elaine) is suffering from a touch of Alzheimer’s, and MayDee is waiting on an important phone call that will hopefully make her career.

Also, her mom, Lola, makes her daily visit, criticizing MayDee’s choice to focus on a career instead of finding a decent man.

Presented as a theater-in-the-round piece at the intimate Art Center Sarasota space, the production, directed by Van Huff, brings a range of entertaining drama and emotions while touching on some hot-button issues — such as sex. Audiences will enjoy how those issues play out through Cheryl West’s witty dialogue and invigorating performances fueled by the cast.

One of the most dynamic and refreshing on the set was Nate Jacobs, who stepped into the role of the spunky female role of Lola at the last minute when an actress had to back out of the role due to unforeseen circumstances. Jacobs was a life force in the play, taking on Lola with gusto. His interchanges with Gatling are the most enjoyable to watch as the mother/daughter duo often come head to head with each other.

Gatling also delivers as the stern and independent mother of Vennie, who does her best not to lose her cool amid the circumstances. McAllister brings a soft, yet rebellious quality to her role while Schlachter has a boisterous approach to her free-spirited character. Elaine also has a few zippy one-liners as the soft-spoken MaDear.

While there were a couple of times the story seemed to slow down in the second act, these moments were few. Funny, and often relatable, “Jar the Floor” will keep you engaged.

Performances continue through May 9 at ArtCenter Sarasota. Tickets are $20. For more information, call 366-1505.

In case you missed it - Manatee Players news

The Manatee Players has added the hit musical ‘Hairspray’ to its 2010-11 season. The musical will replace “The Drowsy Chaperone” next year. Artistic director Rick Kerby said the change was made because the community theater was the first in the Tampa Bay area to secure the rights to the show.

Whenever a new piece comes up, everybody clamors for it,” said Kerby. “We wanted to be the first to do it. I thought it was a good option for our patrons, to do something fresh.”

Especially since the “The Drowsy Chaperone” will make an appearance at two other area theaters. The Golden Apple Dinner Theatre will produce the musical in June, followed by Venice Theatre, which will produce it next April.

“Hairspray,” set for Jan. 13-30, 2011, is a dance comedy that takes place in 1962. Plus-sized Baltimore teenager Tracy Turnblad wants to be on the city’s most popular TV dance show. When things start to go her way, she becomes an overnight sensation. But she still has to fight for the affections of her crush, vanquish the reigning Teen Queen and fight against the racial discrimination some of her friends are facing with the TV dance show. The musical features songs such as “Welcome to the ‘60s,” “It Takes Two” and “You Can’t Stop the Beat.”

Season subscriptions are now available. For more information, call 748-5875