By Rodger Skidmore
Tony Bennett, Whitney Houston and Madonna were born in August
“They” say that August is a big month for singers and that must be true as there are lots of them performing in Sarasota this month.
Three very special singers will be at Florida Studio Theatre’s Court Cabaret through Sept. 10. They bill themselves as Divas Three and will sing some of the big hits that were made famous by Aretha Franklin, Carole King, Tina Turner, Bette Midler, and Whitney Houston. Songs that can connect to and with all members of the audience, like “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “We are Family,” “It’s Raining Men,” and “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”
Did we say that these songs from the ‘60s through the ‘90s include hits by Celine Dion, Cher, and Dolly Parton? Oh, and also ones by Donna Summer and Abba. Yes, lots of songs, from lots of great singers, to sooth our collective nostalgia.
If four is better than three, then The Surfer Boys might be right up your alley. Four tenors will be crooning that “California Sound”, made famous by The Beach Boys. These hits will include “California Girls,” “Good Vibrations,” “Barbara Ann,” and “Surfin’ USA.”
Remember, this is August — so if you love the beach, but it’s too hot along the Gulf, head for FST’s Goldstein Cabaret any day through the 13th of this month.
If surfer music and girl groups aren’t your thing, then, starting on the 22nd, how about a little Country Rock? Or maybe, some big Country Rock, like the music of Creedence Clearwater Revival? Their hit songs, “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Fortunate Son,” and “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” just might put you in your own private groove.
It seems that in the movie world, everyone loves sequels. However, there aren’t too many of them arriving on the Broadway stage as good playwrights like Shakespeare mostly killed off their top characters (think of Othello, King Lear, Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice, etc.). All very tragic. But a real Broadway sequel has arrived in Sarasota — and everyone is laughing at it. But that’s a good thing as it’s a comedy. Ken Ludwig, who’s written 24 plays and got his start with his Grammy-award-winning hit Lend Me a Tenor, has followed that hit up with A Comedy of Tenors.
This show, at FST’s Gompertz Theatre, takes place in Paris in the 1930s where an aging tenor wants to drop out of a show, causing turmoil and panic, as the producer seeks a replacement. Info for all these singers at Floridastudiotheatre.org.
A beach too far
The Hermitage Artists Retreat down on Manasota Key really isn’t too far, especially if you like poetry. Two prize winning poets, John Murillo and Nicole Sealey, will be reading some of their works there on Aug. 4.
However, if you like your culture a bit closer to home then a quick jaunt over to the Westcoast Black Theatre’s Donelly Theatre (comfortable seats and ample parking) might just be the thing to do in the early evening on the 18th. They will be showcasing From the Heart of Philly: The works of Dave Harris. Mr. Harris is a Hermitage Fellow and award-winning playwright (Lorraine Hansberry Award, and Mark Twain Award from The Kennedy Center, among others). His first film, Summertime, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020. And completing the literary trifecta (besides working a TV project for AMC — Interview with the Vampire) he’s won a Cave Canem poetry fellowship.
The Los Angeles Times wrote that his work “surges with raw theatrical power.” He will be sharing some of his work and discussing his creative process.
A great many of the Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys books had the word “mystery” in their titles, so that you knew there was a mystery. But did you know there was a mystery associated with Alban Berg’s composition Lyric Suite written for string quartet?
Berg, like many modern composers, used a method derived from Arnold Schoenberg’s 12-tone technique. While Berg dedicated this work to Alexander von Zemlinsky, who wrote the similarly named Lyric Symphony, it seems that there might have been a “secret dedication” to someone with whom he’d had an affair. Perhaps the public dedication was a dark ruse (not a russe au chocolat, as the young lady’s name was not Charlotte) to cover up his secret love.
On Aug. 23, Secret Song: Unraveling the Mystery of Berg’s Lyric Suite will be presented by Hilan Warshaw, a Heritage Fellow, at the Sarasota Opera House. Lyric Suite has been called “a latent opera” and attendees can hear, besides Mr. Warshaw, the Emerson String Quartet and René Fleming. All of these Hermitage Retreat Artists presentations are free but a reservation fee is necessary — at Hermitageartistretreat.org.
Too hot for pickleball?
In a pickle about how to get your exercise and yet stay cool? Not to worry, help is not far away. Instead of going for a walk at the mall, head for the Sarasota Art Museum on South Tamiami Trail. It’s air conditioned and there are five things to do inside Sarasota’s old (and refurbished) high school. Actually, not five things to do, but five exhibitions through which you may stroll — with many things to see.
And, if you are there between nine and three and feeling a tad hungry, or just want to take a break, there is a bistro with real food — soups, salads, tartines (the crab and avocado is pretty good), and sandwiches.
But the pièce(s) de resistance are the exhibitions, three of which will be there until Sept. 17. The first is New Black Vanguard Photography between Art and Fashion. These photographs are hard to put into one category, other than to say they are vibrant, alive, colorful, thought provoking, and worth seeing. The second is a solo photograph exhibit titled Stephanie J. Woods: my papa used to play checkers, showing photographs by Mr. Woods’ daughter. These are photos, some with a loop of a moving audio, taken after a residency in Dakar, Senegal in 2021. Ms. Woods handcrafts many of the props used in her photographs.
Some people come out of the closet, some people stay in the closet, and some people are the closet. The third show is titled Sara Berman’s Closet. The show is Mrs. Berman’s closet, containing the closet things that were there during her end time — everything white, including the socks she always ironed. The show was curated by her daughter and grandson.
Chakaia Booker: Surface Pressure runs through Oct. 29 and contains sculptures of rubber, steel, paint, paper and wood. All are produced under extreme pressure creating new configurations of those materials.
Additional works include innovative creations in printmaking and painting.
Also through the end of October is Reassembling Split Light: An Immersive Installation by Carlos Bunga. This exhibition transforms the spatial configuration of the Koski Gallery on the Museum’s third floor using cardboard, tape, and reflected light as his material. Info at Sarasotaartmuseum.org.
On Aug. 19 from noon to 2 p.m. the whole family can attend a free Family Day at the Sarasota Opera House to see what the Youth Opera is all about. Enjoy fun acting games, make props, and watch a wig and makeup demonstration. Wow!