Top 10 Arts Events for Sarasota-Manatee: Jan. 27-Feb. 2

·8 min read
Ricardo Graziano in The Sarasota Ballet’s 2016 production of “The Rake’s Progress.”
Ricardo Graziano in The Sarasota Ballet’s 2016 production of “The Rake’s Progress.”

‘Love & Betrayal’ at the Ballet

COVID may have led The Sarasota Ballet to reduce the number of pieces it presents this weekend from three to two, but the program “Love & Betrayal” still features a couple of classics with a rich history. The weekend includes Frederick Ashton’s “Valses nobles et sentimentales,” a 1947 work that had nearly vanished from the dance repertoire before Sarasota Ballet recreated it for a 2012 company premiere. Artistic Director Iain Webb had danced in Ashton’s own revival with the Royal Ballet of London in 1987. The program also includes Dame Ninette de Valois’ “The Rake’s Progress,” which had its debut in 1935. It’s a short ballet based on six paintings by the 18th century artist William Hogarth. The company dropped “Napoli Act III” by Johan Kobborg after several dancers tested positive for COVID, limiting rehearsal time. Performances of “Love & Betrayal” are Friday through Monday in the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. For ticket information: 941-359-0099; sarasotaballet.org

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Honoring Cindy Balestreri: Longtime Sarasota County teacher named to Florida Music Educators’ Hall of Fame

Artist Vitus Shell, seen in his studio, is featured in an exhibit at Art Center Sarasota.
Artist Vitus Shell, seen in his studio, is featured in an exhibit at Art Center Sarasota.

Art Center hosts solo and juried shows

It’s opening weekend for four new exhibitions at Art Center Sarasota, including “Visions in Black,” the Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative’s juried exhibition. It features the works of local art students sharing space with pieces by more experienced artists of African descent. There’s also a juried exhibition called “Anything Goes,” which includes works in a variety of styles and mediums, from paintings and drawings to photography and sculpture. The center is highlighting the work of Louisiana-based artist Vitus Shell, who investigates the past, present and future of the Black experience and identity in the show “31 Flavors.” And there’s also “JAVO: Revisited,” featuring work by the Puerto Rico-born artist Javier Rodriguez. He creates intricate works on canvas. He says the new work gave him the opportunity to “travel out of my comfort zone to where every inch mattered.” An opening reception will be held from 6-8 p.m. today (masks are required) at the Art Center, 707 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. The exhibits will remain on display through March 5. Admission is free. 941-365-2032; artsarasota.org

Meet Kinsey Robb: New Art Center Sarasota director wants to build awareness and connections

Changing of the guard: New leaders shaping future of Sarasota arts groups

Pianist Emanuel Ax performs an all-Chopin program for Sarasota Concert Association’s Great Performers series.
Pianist Emanuel Ax performs an all-Chopin program for Sarasota Concert Association’s Great Performers series.

Emanuel Ax plays Chopin in Sarasota

The Sarasota Concert Association is getting a delayed start to its Great Performers Series season with the return of acclaimed pianist Emanuel Ax performing an all-Chopin program at 7:L30 p.m. Tuesday in the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. The series was originally scheduled to begin earlier this month with an appearance by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, which canceled its Florida tour due to COVID concerns. Ax, who has made numerous appearances in Sarasota over the years, is the winner of multiple Grammy awards for his chamber music and solo recordings. The program includes Chopin’s Sonata No. 3, Scherzo No. 4, nocturnes and mazurkas and the Polonaise-fantasie. Tickets start at $25. For more information: 941-966-6161; scasarasota.org/tickets

Great Performers Series: Sarasota Concert Association resets for 2022 season

Performers dance to the music of George Gershwin in the musical “An American in Paris.”
Performers dance to the music of George Gershwin in the musical “An American in Paris.”

Musical cast dances to Gershwin

Gershwin returns to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall with the Sarasota premiere of the Broadway musical hit “An American in Paris.” The stage show, inspired by the film musical that starred Gene Kelly, follows the adventures of a World War II veteran named Jerry Mulligan as he explores life in liberated Paris and tries to make his way as a painter. But things take a turn when he meets a young ballet dancer who is also looking for a new beginning. The show features such Gershwin standards as “I Got Rhythm,” “ ’S Wonderful,” “But Not For Me” and “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise.” The musical won four 2015 Tony Awards. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Feb. 3 at Van Wezel, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets are $42-$107. 941-263-6799; vanwezel.org

A new season of hit shows: Broadway returns to Sarasota’s Van Wezel hall in fall

The cast of Florida Studio Theatre’s production of the comedy “The Play that Goes Wrong.”
The cast of Florida Studio Theatre’s production of the comedy “The Play that Goes Wrong.”

Editor’s note: After publication, Florida Studio Theatre announced the opening of “The Play That Goes Wrong” will be delayed until Feb. 9.

Laughing through troubles at FST

Just two days before it was scheduled to open, Florida Studio Theatre delayed the start of performances of the comedy “The Play That Goes Wrong” due to complications from COVID-19. The show that was scheduled to open last week was then set to open Friday in the Gompertz Theatre, 1265 First St., Sarasota. Because of a variety of production delays, the show has been postponed again until Feb. 9. The play was created by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and henry Shields for the Mischief Theatre Company before it went on to long-running successes in London and on Broadway. It depicts an amateur theater company attempting to put on a performance of the fictional whodunit “The Murder at Haversham Manor,” even though just about everything possible goes awry. Bruce Jordan, a co-creator of “Shear Madness,” directs the production. “The Play That Goes Wrong” runs through March 20 in the Gompertz, 1265 First St., Sarasota. The theater also is presenting the world premiere of Jason Odell Williams’ “America in One Room” and the cabaret shows “The Wanderers” and “Friends in Low Places.” 941-366-9000; floridastudiotheatre.org

Delayed laughter: COVID cases force Florida Studio Theatre to postpone comedy ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’

FST cancels Stage III series: Positive COVID-19 tests disrupt Sarasota arts schedules

Natalie Helm is principal cello for the Sarasota Orchestra.
Natalie Helm is principal cello for the Sarasota Orchestra.

enSRQ fills a ’void’ in world premiere

ensembleNEWSRQ returns Monday for the world premiere of New Renaissance Artist Elizabeth A. Baker’s “void,” a co-commission it sponsored with ensemble VIM from Atlanta. A full-length work, enSRQ says this new piece “combines the power of visual projection, electronic processing and acoustic performance in an experience that should not be missed.” It is made of up of modular performances for each individual ensemble, which allows for unique performances from both ensemble VIM and enSRQ. In Sarasota, the ensemble features Sarasota Orchestra principal cellist Natalie Helm, and enSRQ founders and artistic directors Samantha Bennett (violin) and George Nickson (percussion). The program is at 8 p.m. Monday at First Congregational Church, 1031 S. Euclid Ave., Sarasota. Tickets are $25 for the live, in-person performance. A streaming option is $10. For more information: ensrq.org/tickets

Alex Benito Rodriguez and Jamie Saunders play siblings in the Asolo Repertory Theatre production of “Our Town.”
Alex Benito Rodriguez and Jamie Saunders play siblings in the Asolo Repertory Theatre production of “Our Town.”

Asolo’s repertory season underway

One of the things that makes Asolo Repertory Theatre unique is the way it schedules its shows in rotating repertory. At the moment, there are two plays alternating times on the Mertz Theatre stage, a moving production of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” and Bess Wohl’s recent Broadway comedy “Grand Horizons.” Stage crews shift the sets from one play to another between performances, whether from night to night or even from a matinee to an evening. The two shows will be joined in a few weeks by the long-delayed “The Great Leap” by Lauren Yee, when you’ll be able to see three different plays in two days. To check the schedule and for ticket information: 941-351-8000; tickets/asolorep.org/events.

Thornton Wilder classic: ‘Our Town’ speaks to changing times as Asolo Rep opens new production

Composer and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas walked the red carpet before being recognized as one of the 2019 Kennedy Center Honorees.
Composer and conductor Michael Tilson Thomas walked the red carpet before being recognized as one of the 2019 Kennedy Center Honorees.

Musical family legacies

The Sarasota Orchestra’s latest chamber soiree concert “Inheritance” is all about the family business. Each of the composers featured music from his father. It includes an early opus by Beethoven for piano and winds. Michael Tilson Thomas’ brass quintet “Street Song” was dedicated to his father, Ted, whom he described as the “central musical influence on my life.” Mozart’s String Quartet No. 17 was one of six he dedicated to Haydn, considered the “father” of the musical form. And the program includes poet Bruce Weigl’s “The Harp,” which is an ode to paternal artistry and influence. It will be read by Florida Studio Theatre actor J. Paul Nicholas during the concert in Holley Hall in the Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center, 709 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets are $38. For more information: 941-953-3434; sarasotaorchestra.org.

Multidisciplinary artist Ni'ja Whitson presents a program for the Hermitage Artist Retreat.
Multidisciplinary artist Ni'ja Whitson presents a program for the Hermitage Artist Retreat.

Hermitage artist looks at creative spirit

Ni’Ja Whitson has been hailed as “majestic” and “magnetic” and a culture influencer and is described on their website as a “gender nonconforming/astral transmorgrifier.” A Hermitage fellow, Whitson returns to the Hermitage Beach at 5 p.m. Friday for a program that explores moments of inspiration. Whitson will be joined by playwright Ronán Noone, author of “The Smuggler,” which is now running at Urbanite Theatre. Both will talk about what inspires them and Noone will present selections from “The Smuggler.” 6660 Manasota Key Road, Englewood. The program is free, but there is a $5 per person registration fee. For more information: hermitageartistretreat.org

Rising composer: Angélica Negrón wins 2022 Hermitage Greenfield Prize

Hermitage Major Theater Prize: Hermitage Artist Retreat selects Radha Blank as inaugural winner of theater award

Jennifer Leigh Warren is part of the cast of the American Stage production of “School Girls: Or the African Mean Girls Play.”
Jennifer Leigh Warren is part of the cast of the American Stage production of “School Girls: Or the African Mean Girls Play.”

‘Mean Girls’ in Africa at American Stage

For the regional premiere of Jocelyn Bioh’s “School Girls: Or the African Mean Girls Play,” American Stage has recruited a couple of prominent stage and film actresses. The play is set at an all-girls school in Ghana in 1986 where a new girl in town, an American, takes aim at the reigning school queen. The production will be staged by the theater’s new producing artistic director, Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj, and he describes cast members Phyllis Yvonne Stickney and Jennifer Leigh Warren as “iconic African American actors of stage and screen.” Stickney was most recently seen in the Showtime series “Shameless, and Warren appeared in the original off-Broadway cast of “Little Shop of Horrors” and in the Broadway musical “Big River.” The show begins Tuesday and continues through Feb. 27 at the Raymond James Theatre, 163 3rd St., North, St. Petersburg. For ticket information: 727-823-7529; americanstage.org

If you would like your events to be considered for this column, please email jay.handelman@heraldtribune.com with your information and photos at least two weeks before our Thursday publication date. Show schedules are subject to change; check with venues in advance to confirm or for questions on COVID-19 protocols.

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This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Top 10 Arts Events for Sarasota-Manatee: Jan. 27-Feb. 2