Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Britney Spears to play Tampa?

On Tuesday, Britney Spears' North American tour dates were announced.

After kicking things off in California on June 17, Brit Brit plays Florida in July. Check out the open date between Orlando and Miami:

I have no confirmation, but think it's a pretty safe bet Spears might be returning to Tampa's St. Pete Times Forum where she played in 2009 or hitting the nearby Gary Amphitheatre on July 21.

Stay tuned...

Click for review of Spears' new album "Femme Fatale."

Image: Britney Spears performs for ABC's "Good Morning America" (Reuters) via Los Angeles Times.

Monday, March 28, 2011

'TV ME!' winners include Anna Maria resident

A local, unpublished author might have just landed the break of a lifetime.

At the very least, she’s enjoying recognition for her work, a cash reward and professional tips regarding the commerce aspect of the art process.

“A Love Worth Waiting For” by Myra Holmes of Anna Maria won first place in the one-off category in the inaugural Sarasota County Film & Entertainment Office (SCFEO) “TV ME!” pitch contest.
The winners were announced Monday.

“Well, I was really thrilled, I love to write and had that story with me since 1990,” Holmes said.

She won for a 15-page treatment of her unpublished novel of the same name.

Holmes describes it as: “A sensuous and provocative love story between a journalist and a nun beginning in Florida, then moving to Albany, N.Y., Nicaragua and Washington D.C.”

Born and raised in Tampa, Holmes retired as a librarian/media specialist in 1990 and relocated to Anna Maria with her husband. When he died in 2005, she started writing “A Love Worth Waiting For.”

“I finished it last year,” Holmes said, “just in time to enter this contest.”

Sarasota resident Austin McKinley’s television series treatment “Quixotic” earned the grand prize. In addition, McKinley also earned first place in the scripted category for his sitcom pitch “Local Access” and third place in the one-off category with a sci-fi, made-for-TV movie pitch “Quintessence.”

“Each of the 250 entries was judged ‘blind’ to ensure that the judges didn’t know whether the creator was local or out-of-state, man or woman or a writing team, young or old, or any other identifying characteristics that could unfairly influence a judge’s opinion,” said Jeanne Corcoran, director of the SCFEO, a division of the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County (EDC), in a statement.

As the grand prize winner, McKinley will travel to Los Angeles with complimentary airfare, hotel accommodations, ground transportation and meals as well as a $350 cash stipend.

The SCFEO will host McKinley at meetings with Hollywood decision-makers where he will make an in-person pitch and promote his winning original TV concept.

McKinley will also receive a $7,500 production grant from Sanborn Studios, which has facility in Lakewood Ranch, to create a two-minute demo video of the winning concept

Sanborn’s Los Angeles office representative will host the behind-the-scenes tour in Hollywood, as well.

“It was unexpected that one writer would be outstanding across multiple categories and take several awards,” Charles Meyer, contest director, said in a statement. “It’s a testament to the winner’s talent. We also far exceeded our expectations on the number of entries in our first year of the contest, and we attracted talent from across the nation.”

South Orleans, Mass., resident Caroline Gallagher’s “Yes Kids Can,” an inspirational reality TV pitch, won first place winner in the unscripted category.

Entrants from California, Arizona and Nevada as well as Floridians from Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Homosassa Springs and Boca Raton won second and third place awards in the three categories. A complete list of winners is available at:

Each first place category winner for scripted, unscripted and one-offs (“A Love Worth Waiting For” by Holmes) received a $250 cash prize, a custom-designed award and other gifts at the event.
Winners will also receive a practice pitch session with the professional pitch coaches. Additionally, the concepts of the first place category winners will be sent to executives and decision-makers in the television industry for consideration.

WATCH: Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays with Davina and The Vagabonds


Watch performance by Davina and The Vagabonds:

Watch my interview with Davina:

This week's edition of Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays features one of the most respected women on the blues scene, Davina Sowers (pictured).

Here's some info on the singer/pianist:
Davina Sowers hit the Midwest scene in February 2005 and she hasn't looked back since. It didn't take her long after moving to Minnesota from Key West, FL to start making a name for herself. With great vocals and piano, she commands attention on stage and leaves everyone smiling. Davina has been performing since the age of 5, with the support of an extremely musical family. Sowers, a classically-trained pianist, has years of experience in piano performance. She and her band made a big splash at Duluth's Bayfront Blues Festival in 2006 to 2008, having the highest sales in CDs all three years. She has been called the "hardest working blues woman in frigid Minnesota.” “Two things remain consistent in all her shows: her throaty, but cushion-y voice, which has a sort of hard-mattress comfort to it that's part Bonnie Raitt, part Etta James and a little Amy Winehouse; and her band's rollicking New Orleans flavor, driven home by dueling horn players and a bay-outhick stand-up bass." (Chris Riemenschneider, Star Tribune) Davina has already shared the stage with Little Feat, Buddy Guy, Elvin Bishop ... at venues such as House of Blues in Atlantic City, NJ and the Bayfront Blues Festival in Duluth, MN.
Click for more info on Davina and The Vagabonds.

Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays
Showcasing the best in touring talent
8 p.m. Mon., March 28 with special guest:
Davina and The Vagabonds
No cover

Click to watch at 8 p.m. today (March 28)

Online TV Shows by Ustream

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Festival sARTee dates and deadline announced

The next Festival sARTee will take place October 8 through 23, with many activities happening in and around downtown Bradenton.

Festival sARTee welcomes local and regional artists to participate by submitting an application for events and programs.

Applications for participation in sARTee are available at and are due by April 15, 2011.

Sartee is the wrap around festival for the Ringling International Festival.

Last year there was not a selective application process.

This year's sARTee will again run concurrently with the Ringling International Arts Festival, which takes place Oct. 11 through 16 in Sarasota.

Click for the third annual RIAF lineup, announced March 7.

Realize Bradenton is coordinating the sARTee applications from downtown Bradenton organizations, schools and non-profits. The Manatee County Cultural Alliance is coordinating the applications from all other Manatee venues outside downtown Bradenton. For Sarasota County, contact the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County.

About sARTee:
The Festival sARTée expands the energy and excitement of the Ringling International Arts Festival (RIAF), in Sarasota-Manatee Counties 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.  Festival sARTée derives its name from both Sarasota and Manatee Counties, joined by the common element of art. The counties are situated along Florida’s west coast.  Festival sARTée is organized through a partnership between the Arts Council of Manatee County, Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Realize Bradenton, Inc., Sarasota Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Sarasota County Arts Council.

Read about last year's sARTee Soiree: "Manatee Players shine at festival’s closing Soiree."

Monday, March 21, 2011

UPDATED 3/22: WATCH Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays with Victor Wainwright and The Wild Roots

Victor Wainwright

Click to watch:

My intro.

Wainwright's superb performance.

My interview with Wainwright.


This week's edition of Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays features another multi-skilled musician who goes far beyond the stereotypical blues box:

Memphis-based singer/pianist/boogie man Victor Wainwright and The Wild Roots.

From Wainwright's website:
Victor Wainwright, the twenty something singer, pianist, “hepcat” from Memphis by way of the Savannah, Georgia; creates powerhouse blues and roots rock by playing his own unique style of boogie piana’. He effortlessly pays frequent homage to past music greats, while simultaneously adding his own youthful excitement. He's a raucous high-octane dynamic performer and crowd pleaser with soul to spare. After earning what he calls a "double major in Boogie, a Ph.D. in Swing and a master's in Rhythm," the "Piana' from Savannah" is undoubtedly making a name for himself in a big way. 

Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays
Showcasing the best in touring talent
8 p.m. Mon., March 21 with special guest:
Victor Wainwright and The Wild Roots
No cover

Click to watch at 8 p.m. today (March 21)

Video chat rooms at Ustream

Friday, March 18, 2011

UPDATED 6 p.m.: Tickets prices high; Charlie Sheen coming to Tampa: The most watched train wreck in history headed this way

UPDATED 6 p.m.: Tickets for the Tampa show go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday (3/19); range from $46.75 to $104.45, according to

Charlie Sheen's "My Violent Torpedo of Truth" will hit the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa on April 22.

Here's the deal:
Charlie Sheen will make $7 million dollars on his "Charlie Sheen LIVE: My Violent Torpedo of Truth" tour ... TMZ has learned. Sources connected with the concert tour tell us ... the deal is for Charlie to perform on 21 dates. He'll get 85% of the profits, with Live Nation getting the remaining 15%.  Charlie's cut is projected to average between $250,000 - $275,000 for each show ...

The show will last 1 hour and 15 minutes.  It's essentially Charlie doing comedy in a chair, so the overhead is minimal.

And since the shows are selling out off of Charlie's Twitter, there are no advertising costs.

Tickets for Sheen's Tampa appearance not available yet.

Undated Charlie Sheen photo by Chris Pizzello/Associated Press.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Country star Kellie Pickler playing Palmetto

Kellie Pickler headlining Ribfest

Country star Kellie Pickler ranks as a pretty good get for the fifth edition of The Gulf Coast Rhythm & Ribfest.

The lineup announcement came today for this year’s fest taking place April 8-10 at the Manatee County Fairgrounds in Palmetto.

Pickler performs April 9.

The 2005 "American Idol" finalist's hit singles include "Red High Heels," "I Wonder," "Best Days of Your Life," "Didn't You Know How Much I Love You" and her most recent, last year's "Makin' me Fall in Love Again."

In addition to 24-year-old Pickler, Tampa-formed Southern rock heroes the Outlaws, popular smooth jazz saxophonist Eric Darius (who grew up in Tampa) as well as contemporary R&B crooners Lloyd and Tank are also confirmed.

Regional and local artists include The Boss Hawg Band, The Dr. Dave Band, The Mitch Clark Band, AJ and the Automatics and the On Que Players.

Ribfest tickets go on sale March 18.

Click for details/complete entertainment roster.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sarasota Film Festival Kick-Off Party at Selby Gardens

SFF chief Mark Famiglio at Selby Gardens in Sarasota

Sarasota Film Festival Executive Board President Mark Famiglio greeted sponsors, local filmmakers and journalists this afternoon at the splendid Selby Gardens.

L-R:  SFF's Tom Hall & Holly Herrick; Mark Reese, Gus Mollasis ("Jack Kerouac Slept Here")

Famiglio reiterated SFF news I reported here regarding Christopher PlummerGeena Davis and more.

Wade Tatangelo, ah, me, overlooking the festivities and Sarasota Bay

Tracy Morgan headed to Tampa

Photo: Tracy Morgan. Credit: Kevin Mazur /WireImage
Everybody's favorite big-bellied funny man will make a stop in Tampa this spring.

Former “Saturday Night Live” and current "30 Rock" co-star Tracy Morgan will perform June 4 at the Straz.

Ticket go on sale at noon March 18.

Click for interview Morgan did with L.A. Times

Details: 8 p.m. June 4, Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N. MacInnes Place, Tampa. Tickets start at $24.50. Information: (813) 229-7827 or

Monday, March 14, 2011

UPDATED 3/15: WATCH Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays with Terry Hanck

Terry Hanck
UPDATED 3/15: Click to watch intro, performance by Terry Hanck with Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones, my interview with Hanck.

This week's edition of Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays features singer/songwriter and sax man Terry Hanck (pictured).

From Hanck's website:
Terry Hanck is well known for his hard blowing sax, incredible range and gusty vocals.  Born in Chicago, Hanck was heavily influenced by the blues, soul and jazz music of the 50’s and early 60’s.  After moving to California in 1965, he toured with Elvin Bishop through most of the 70’s and 80’s and Bishop gave him plenty of opportunities to hone his craft on stage.  “Terry Hanck is a fine vocalist, an amazing showman, and my favorite sax player,” says Bishop.  Terry Hanck left the Bishop band to tour under his own name in the late 80’s playing a signature mix of New Orleans Gumbo, West Coast Jump and East Bay Funk, all delivered with a heavy dose of blues and soul. 

Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays
Showcasing the best in touring talent
8 p.m. Mon., March 14 with special guest:
Terry Hanck
No cover

Click to watch at 8 p.m. today (March 14)

Live video by Ustream

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Geena Davis at Sarasota Film Festival: Gender equality activism makes Academy Award winner spot-on selection selection for SFF's first Impact Award

Geena Davis at the 2009 Tribeca Film Fest

Here's my column on the importance of Geena Davis attending the Sarasota Film Festival to receive its first Impact Award:
Sure, she has portrayed strong characters in films such as “Thelma & Louise” and the television show “Commander in Chief.”

But she also founded The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

Since 2004, Davis’ organization has campaigned to expand roles for women and girls in film and television. It has also sought to eliminate gender stereotypes in media directed at children younger than 11.

Davis’ activism got her appointed to the California Commission on the Status of Women, and she is a partner with UN women, which aims to change the way media represent women and girls globally.
Continue reading.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

UPDATED 4/15: Morgan Fairchild sitcom pilot 'Workers' Comp' shooting in Bradenton, Palmetto and Sarasota

Fairchild: April 5, 2010 in Los Angeles/
UPDATED 4/15:  "On set in Bradenton with Morgan Fairchild"
UPDATED 4/10:  "Morgan Fairchild has arrived in Bradenton for shooting of 'Workers' Comp'"

UPDATED 4/5:  "'Sopranos' actor joins cast of Bradenton-shot sitcom pilot 'Workers' Comp'"

UPDATED 4/3: OK, here are the facts. Running on front page of today's Bradenton Herald:

Local production company lands star and others for TV show pilot"

UPDATED 3/11: "I understand Harrison (Sanborn) is a co-writer, and that the story is actually based upon the other writer’s background or family experiences of actually running a workers comp office," reads e-mail sent from Sarasota County Film and Entertainment Director Jeanne Corcoran at 2:33 p.m. March 11.  "The production company we’ve been assisting with permit information and other production questions and resources is not Sanborn Studios."

Emmy Award-nominated actress Morgan Fairchild will be in Bradenton and Sarasota shooting the comedy pilot "Workers Comp" in April.

Sanborn Studios chief Ken Sanborn's 19-year-old son Harrison Sanborn co-wrote the script.

Sanborn Studios, which has a facility in Lakewood Ranch,  did not return a message left via phone with its receptionist this afternoon regarding "Workers Comp."

There's no mention of the show on the film and television company's website.

My e-mail exchange with Sarasota County Film and Entertainment Director Jeanne Corcoran did not reveal if Sanborn Studios is involved:

Tatangelo (7:11 p.m.): "'Workers Comp being shot in Sarasota and Bradenton ... Do you have any news regarding this Sanborn Studios production of sitcom starring Morgan Fairchild ... scheduled to shoot in Bradenton and Sarasota on April 10?"

Corcoran (8:48 p.m.): "Morgan + Robert Carradine are in 'Workers Comp' shooting here April."

Charley Koontz, Robert Carradine, Castille Landon and Jennifer Lee Wiggins also star in the independently produced "Workers Comp" from David Sauers ("Taking Woodstock") and Mark Wooster.
The comedy centers on a family insurance business owned by Joan (Fairchild) and the often odd workers comp claims  that they are forced to manage.

"Filming will begin April 10 in Tampa, Fla.," reads Fairchild's website.

Harrison Sanborn co-wrote the script with Landon.

E-mails and phone messages were also been left this afternoon with Fairchild's rep and Sauers.

Fairchild, who was nominated for an Emmy in 1990 for her guest appearance on "Murphy Brown," can be seen on NBC's "Chuck."

Koontz appears on NBC's "Community."

Carradine's credits include "Lizzie McGuire."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Asolo Rep announces 2011-12 season

Asolo Rep Nov. 19, 2010/Photo by Wade Tatangelo

A classic musical, a bilingual take on a William Shakespeare masterpiece and a pair of world premieres are among the highlights of the Asolo Rep's 2011-12 season, announced today.

The Tony Award-winning favorite "My Fair Lady" opens the nationally acclaimed, professional Sarasota theater company's 53rd season on Nov. 18. The innovative "Hamlet, Prince of Cuba" will perform in Miami after its Sarasota run.  And Asolo Rep will produce the world premieres of "Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock?" as well as Tommy Tune presents: "State of the Art Song & Dance."

“Constructing a season for a repertory company of this caliber requires considering a vast array of issues," said Producing Artistic Director Michael Edwards in a statement. "It must all be shaped so carefully; the stars must truly align. Our company, the artists and organizations with which we’ve developed such strong relationships, combined with the strength of our production studios, collaborative resources, and amazing theatres–-are all factors that put us in a unique position to do what most theater companies can only dream of doing. 

"And with the enormous responsibility we have as a State Theatre of Florida, we strive for the season to be as exciting and appealing for as many different people as possible,” Edwards continued. “We’ve created a season filled with the thrill of new works, brilliant classics produced as though they were brand new, searing dramas, outrageous comedies, and soaring musicals. It is a season that will challenge, astonish, and delight – come and dream with us.”

Asolo Rep 2011–2012 season in chronological order

"My Fair Lady": Nov. 18-Dec. 23
Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner; Music by Frederick Loewe
Based on George Bernard Shaw’s "Pygmalion"
Directed by Tony Award-winner Frank Galati, who also directed Asolo Rep's riveting production of "Twelve Angry Men,"running through March 26. Click for my review.

"Once in a Lifetime": Jan. 6-April 1, 2012
By Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman
Directed by Mark Rucker

"God of Carnage": Jan. 13-Feb. 29, 2012
By Yasmina Reza
Translated by Christopher Hampton
Directed by Greg Leaming

"Yentl": Jan. 20-April 26, 2012
A play based on Isaac Bashevis Singer’s short story “Yentl The Yeshiva Boy”
Adapted for the stage by Leah Napolin and Isaac Bashevis Singer
Directed by Gordon Greenberg

"Fallen Angels": March 9-May 13, 2012
Directed by Peter Amster

"Hamlet, Prince of Cuba": March 23-May 6, 2012
By William Shakespeare, adapted and directed by Michael Donald Edwards
Spanish Translation by Eduardo Machado
With performances in both Spanish and English. The play will first run in Sarasota, and then will travel to Miami to perform as part of the South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center (SMDCAC) Grand Opening. The SMDCAC performance is part of an artistic exchange between Asolo Rep and the Miami Dade County Cultural Alliance, which began with "Las Meninas," which opens March 18.

"Who the *$&% Is Jackson Pollock?" March 30-April 22, 2012
Directed by Anne Kauffman
World premiere in the Historic Asolo Theater, in co-production with the Ringling Museum of Art
By Liz Brixius; based on the film by Harry Moses
Written by "Nurse Jackie" creator Liz Brixius, Asolo Rep will co-present this commissioned new work.

Tommy Tune presents: "State of the Art Song & Dance": May 25—June 17, 2012
Conceived, choreographed and starring Noah Racey
World premiere musical event celebrating the state of the art of Broadway song and dance. Directed by Jeff Calhoun, who also directed the Asolo Rep's Broadway-bound production of "Bonnie & Clyde." Click for my review. Click for "Bonnie & Clyde' to open on Broadway."

"Asolo Rep Unplugged 2012"
Greg Leaming, curator
Asolo Rep’s new play festival returns, with readings planned for the spring 2012.
Full details, titles and final dates will be confirmed in 2012.
Subscriptions are available now. Single tickets go on sale in September. Information: (941) 351-8000 or

The FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training 2011-12 season

The FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training also announced its 2011-12 season today. The Conservatory features first-rate acting students performing in a series of four plays in two venues: the Cook Theatre in the FSU Center for the Performing Arts and the Historic Asolo Theater at the Ringling Museum. In addition to the second year class season, third year Conservatory students perform on the Asolo Rep mainstage with the professional company.

"The Brothers Karamazov": Nov. 1–20
By Anthony Clarvoe; based on the novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky

"Lobby Hero": Jan. 3-22, 2012
By Kenneth Lonergan

"The Robbers": Feb. 1-March 11, 2012
By Friedrich Schiller

"Cloud Nine": April 3-22, 2012
By Caryl Churchill.

FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training 2011-2012  ticket/subscription information: (941) 351-8000 or

Ringling Int'l Arts Fest 2011 lineup announced

Brooklyn Rider/Photo by Amber Darragh

Another awesomely eclectic lineup has been announced for the next edition of the Ringling International Arts Festival.

Dance, music and theater artists from Europe, North and South America will enliven the Ringling International Arts Festival, Oct. 11-16, at the Ringling Center for the Arts in Sarasota.

Eight stage productions were announced by festival organizers, The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and the Baryshnikov Arts Center, at the Historic Asolo Theater on Saturday.

This year’s lineup includes Brooklyn Rider (watch live performance clip below), Colin Dunne, Doug Elkins and Friends, Meklit Hadero, Piano Foursome, Soledad Villamil Canta Tangos and Hermanos Macana, Company Stefanie Batten Bland / sbb birdlegs and The Wooster Group.

Ringling Museum of Art Courtyard
“In collaboration with the Ringling Museum, we look forward to bringing together a group of artists from the world of dance, music and theater to present creative works that reflect the expressive art forms and bold ideas of artists that have made, or are currently making, a name for themselves,” said Mikhail Baryshnikov, the artistic director of the Baryshnikov Arts Center, in a statement."

He added, “Where else but at the 2011 Ringling International Arts Festival can audiences see, just to name a few, a 21st century marching band, an authentic proponents of the Argentinean tango, a new take on Irish step dance, a rare performance of Carl Czerny's virtuosic Quatuor Concertant, as well as a ground-breakingly original interpretation of a Shakespeare play and a classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical?”

The Ringling International Arts Festival, now in its third year, resulted from a partnership between The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and New York’s Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC). Over the course of the festival, there are also art exhibitions and special events, as well as a host of activities in, and around, the grounds of the 66-acre Ringling Museum estate situated by Sarasota Bay. Previously held over four days, this year’s festival has been extended to a fifth day due to its popularity.

“The Ringling International Arts Festival has in just two short years gained a loyal following,” said Dwight Currie, Ringling Deputy Director, in a statement. “Patrons come from near and far to Sarasota/Bradenton to experience this unique festival and the talented artists who are hand picked by the Baryshnikov Arts Center to grace the charming stages and facilities around the Ringling Museum estate. We’re excited by the prospect of seeing familiar and new faces in the audience this year, watching the looks on their faces and hearing what struck a chord with them.”

Orders for multiple-performance festival passes with prime seating are now being accepted at the Historic Asolo Theater Box Office at the Ringling Museum of Art: (941) 360-7399. Tickets for:

• Four Performance Pass: All tickets $42 each ($168 for pass) / $38 each ($152 for pass) for Museum Members.
• Six Performance Pass: All tickets $40 each ($240 for pass) / $36 each ($216 for pass) for Museum Members.
• Eight Performance Pass: All tickets $38 each ($304 for pass) / $34 each ($272 for pass) for Museum Members.
• Add Opening Night to your RIAF Pass: $135 / $115 for Museum Members

Single tickets go on sale in early May.
More information on individual acts will follow.

TODAY: Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays with Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones

This week's edition of Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays features Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones (pictured) plus Nashville's Al Hill, singer touring keyboard player and musical director for The Bettye LaVette Band.

Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays
Showcasing the best in touring talent
8 p.m. Mon., March 7 with special guests:
Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones
No cover

Click to watch at 8 p.m. today (March 7)

Broadcasting Live with Ustream.TV

Manatee Players' multiple wins in Atlanta; nationals up next

Manatee Players' "Sunday in the Park with George"/Paul Videla

In addition to winning Best Production on Saturday, the Manatee Players' staging of “Sunday in the Park with George” at the Southeastern Theatre Conference in Atlanta on Friday, which January Holmes gave us a mini review of the same day here,  also picked up some other big honors:
  • Best Director (Rick Kerby)
  • Best Music and Vocal Direction (Rick Bogner)
  • Best Technical and Production
  • Best Actress (Dianne Dawson)
  • Featured Actor (Steve Dawson)

As reported Saturday, Manatee Players now move to the national competition, AACTFest, in Rochester, N.Y., in June. Click for national festival information.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sarasota Opera announces 2011-12 productions

Sarasota Opera 2007 production of Madama Butterfly/Photo by Deb Hesser

Freshly released info on Sarasota Opera's 2011-2012 productions:
Vixens and Victims at the center of five-opera season
Vixens and Victims, what would opera be without them? Cio-Cio San (Madama Butterfly), Carmen, Lucia, Desdemona (Otello), and Vanessa — they’re all part of the lineup for the 2011-2012 season at Sarasota Opera, a season packed with beautiful music, excitement, lust, desire, love, and tragedy.

The season will begin in the fall with Puccini’s classic tale of tragic love, Madama Butterfly, on October 28. A favorite of Sarasota audiences, it was last performed here in 2007. The Winter Festival returns for its 53rd year, with four works including two Sarasota Opera premieres. The 2012 festival will begin with Bizet’s lusty Carmen. Donizetti’s tragic Lucia di Lammermoor will be the second work of the season. The company’s acclaimed Verdi Cycle will continue with Otello. Finally, Sarasota Opera will present the second offering of its new American Classics initiative with a production of Samuel Barber’s Vanessa. The Winter Opera Festival will conclude March 25 with a special gala concert celebrating Victor DeRenzi’s thirtieth anniversary at Sarasota Opera.

American Classics: Vanessa
This is the second year of Sarasota Opera’s departure from its traditional repertoire ranging from Mozart to Puccini to Verdi. With the company’s Verdi Cycle coming to a close in 2013, the American Classics series was begun in 2011. “Looking forward, we think this is a good time to for us to move ahead in other directions,” Maestro Derenzi said. Adding that “We remain committed to finishing the cycle and having Verdi’s works remain a part of our repertoire.”
Composed by Samuel Barber in 1956-57, Vanessa was first performed at the Metropolitan Opera on January 15, 1958. The premiere was lauded by the New York Times and Barber was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his work. This will be the first time Sarasota Opera has performed Vanessa, which opens March 10 and will have six performances through March 24.
Maestro DeRenzi’s 30th Anniversary Concert
To celebrate the thirty-year anniversary of Maestro DeRenzi, this gala concert will take a look back and a look forward as Maestro conducts his favorite selections.
Opera Lovers Weekends
Sarasota Opera’s famous Opera Lovers Weekends, which are popular with tourists and allow audience members to see all the Winter Festival selections in three days, continue with three full weekends of opera in repertory. The final Opera Lovers Weekend will include the Gala Concert celebrating Maestro DeRenzi’s 30th anniversary with Sarasota Opera. Opera Lovers Weekends for 2012 will be March 9-11, 16-18, and 23-25.
Subscriptions will go on sale March 8 by calling (941) 328-1300 or visiting the Sarasota Opera Box Office. Single tickets will go on sale August 1 online ( and September 1 at the Box Office.

2011 Fall Opera Season
Madama Butterfly
Opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini.  Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giocosa.
Sung in Italian with English supertitles
Performances (6): October 28, 30m, November 2, 5m, 9m, 15
Evening performances at 8 p.m., matinees at 1:30 p.m.
Opera in four acts by Georges Bizet.  Libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy.
Sung in French with English supertitles
Performances (11): February 11, 14, 19m, 22, 24, March 4m, 8, 11, 16, 20m, 24
Evening performances at 7:30 p.m.(except for opening night on February 11)
Opening Night February 11 at 4 p.m.
Matinees at 1:30 p.m.
Sarasota Opera 2002 production of Lucia di Lammermoor/Photo by Deb Hesser

Lucia di Lammermoor
Opera in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti.  Libretto by Salvadore Cammarano.
Sung in Italian with English supertitles
Performances (9): February 18, 21, 23, 26m, March 2, 7, 9m, 17m, 23
Evening performances at 8 p.m., matinees at 1:30 p.m.
Opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi.  Libretto by Arrigo Boito.
Sung in Italian with English supertitles
Verdi Cycle
Sarasota Opera Premiere
Performances (7): March 3, 6, 11m, 14, 17, 22, 25m
Evening performances at 8 p.m., matinees at 1:30 p.m.
Opera in three acts by Samuel Barber.  Libretto by Gian Carlo Menotti.
Sung in English with English supertitles
American Classics
Sarasota Opera Premiere
Performances (6): March 10, 13, 15, 18m, 21, 24m
Evening performances at 8 p.m., matinees at 1:30 p.m.
Maestro DeRenzi’s Thirtieth Anniversary Concert
March 25 at 7 p.m.

Sarasota Opera recently opened "The Crucible."

Information: (941) 328-1300 or online at

Friday, March 4, 2011

Manatee Players in Atlanta: 'Solid and entertaining'

HERALD FILE PHOTO Steve Dawson as George and Dianne Dawson as Dot in the Players’ production of “Sunday in the Park with George.”

The Manatee Players are poised for another national honor.

The Bradenton community theater company staged an abridged version of the first act of Stephen Sondheim’s Pulitzer Prize-winning musical “Sunday in the Park with George” at the Southeastern Theatre Conference today at Spelman College in Atlanta.

"The Manatee Players were ambitious bringing 'Sunday In the Park With George' to this year's competition," reported former Bradenton Herald features writer January Holmes, who now lives in Georgia. "Their performance was solid and entertaining. And their mastery of a challenging Sondheim score, especially in a condensed competition format, continues to distinguish their theatrical reputation in the region."

The Herald will learn if the Players win late Saturday.

If they do, they will compete at the American Association of Community Theatre's AACTFest11. The national theater event brings the best community theatre productions from across the country and the U.S. Armed Services in Europe to Rochester, N.Y., June 20-26. More than 600 people are expected to participate in this event. A victory there ranks as the highest honor in the nation bestowed upon companies such as the Manatee Players.

In 2005, the Manatee Players won Best Production for “Metamorphoses” at the 2005 AACTFest.

The Players' staging of “Sunday in the Park with George” ended its two-week Bradenton run last October and later that same month won at the Florida Theatre Conference Festival.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

UPDATED 3/10: New Yes album 'Fly From Here' ready for release

UPDATED 3/10: "Yes’ Squire on band’s first album in a decade"

Progressive rock titans Yes will release a new album this summer, said bassist/co-founder Chris Squire during a phone interview today.

"At the moment, we just finished recording our first studio album since 2001," Squire said. "It will probably be ready by July of this year."

What's the title?

“'Fly from Here,'” Squire said. "It's the title of the main song."

He also confirmed longtime Yes collaborator Trevor Horn produced the album.

I called Squire today for an upcoming story to advance Yes' March 11 performance at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Lauryn Hill to play Tampa

Former Fugees and solo star Lauryn Hill is scheduled to perform March 23 at The Ritz Ybor, 1503 E. 7th Ave. Tampa.

Tickets start at $65. 

Call 813.229.7827 or 800.955.1045 outside Tampa Bay, in person at the Straz Center Ticket Office or at

Photos: Lauryn Hill, Aug. 2010. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez/ Los Angeles Times.