Arts on the Horizon: June

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Back by popular demand, the month of June is back

Do you remember what you did last year during the month of June?

No? You say you draw a complete blank?

   Well, that’s quite natural as nobody remembers what they did last June — because nobody did anything. It’s like you did something wrong and your parents sent you into the “timeout corner” for an entire month (actually for more like an entire year, but let’s not get into that discussion).

   One of the things you probably didn’t do last June was to go see a play or musical at the Florida Studio Theatre. 

       “Theatre” — as in that thing where you and a bunch of others watch real live people get up on a stage and sing or declaim, or whatever.

   “Real live people” — as in people you really don’t know making believe they are some other people you may or may not have heard of, and they are moving about and talking to each other so that you get an idea of what those other people might have been like (this is called “acting”).

   No, not some people you watch on your TV or your cell phone, but real people who are sad if you don’t applaud their actions when they stop acting. But you do applaud, because it’s so much fun to go out with others (so many others that it kind of fills up a whole theatre, not just one, two, or three people sitting on a couch in your living room) to see this theatre thing.        

   Well, the theatre thing to see at FST starting June 2, at the Gompertz Theatre, is Sophie Tucker: The Last of the Red Hot Mamas.

   Sophie Tucker was an over-the-top Vaudeville and Broadway star who was really big during the first half of the 20th century. She was the Ethel Merman of the stage before there was an Ethel Merman. Big voice, flamboyant delivery, risqué, and funny.

   The person who is making believe (or making you believe) she is Sophie Tucker is none other than Kathy Halenda. Ms. Halenda originated the role of Sophie Tucker and has played her in a number of productions of this musical — to great acclaim.

   Starting on June 30, in FST’s Keating Theatre, is My Lord, What a Night. This is one of those theatre things concerning two famous people — Marian Anderson and Albert Einstein — where you don’t know too much about their personal lives.

   Here’s a chance to learn what went on between these two when she, after a sold-out concert performance, was refused a room at a whites-only hotel and stayed the night with this wild-haired crazy-brilliant guy.

   Want more of a contemporary action musical theatre thing? Then Great Balls of Fire, an FST musical tribute to Jerry Lee Lewis, starting June 15 in FST’s Court Cabaret, is just the ticket.

   Ticket and other info at Floridastudiotheatre.org.

You’ve got a second chance

   Every year, since 2004, the Embracing Our Differences show/exhibition/expo/reminder-that-we-are-all-human-display has come to Bayfront Park here in Sarasota.

   Admit it, some of those years you did not attend. But you had your reasons, and some of them were good reasons — you were in Rome, you visited your mother-in-law after she fell and broke her hip, you spent so many hours every day wishing your mother-in-law would break her hip — whatever.

   But really, those exhibitions were more than two months long each year. But, OK, so you were busy.     

   A lot of people were not out driving earlier this year, so you can’t say there was too much traffic. But you can say that you were one of those people not driving and that’s the reason you missed this year’s show. And, now that we can skip wearing our COVID-19 masks outdoors, we have a second chance to see this year’s Expressing Our Differences display.

   All 50 of the billboard-sized paintings and photos are being placed in a field on Regatta Island out in Benderson Park, next to I-75 (parking is available). Beneath these giant paintings are quotes, many from Sarasota-area students.    

   “A country will recognize its potential only when it recognizes its people”, a quote from Luan Hau Man, a 12th-grade student from New Delhi, India, rests below the painting Punto de Partida (Point of Departure) by Moises Ramos of Jacksonville.

   Those words certainly are food for thought. And speaking of food, Regatta Island seems like a great place for a picnic. Also a great place for one person to silently wander around, for two people to thoughtfully discuss what they see, or for a family to read what people from all over the world think about people from all over the world.    

   Some quotes from prior years:

   “Dr. Seuss NEVER said ‘One fish, two fish, white fish, white fish.’”

   “I may be homeless but I’m NOT LOVELESS.”

   “I like me, but I’m glad everybody isn’t like me.”

   “Pain caused by SILENCE is often worse than pain caused by words.”

   Find directions to Regatta Island and learn how to have a student’s quote entered into consideration for next year by visiting embracingourdifferences.org.

Next stop, the moon?        

   The Legacy Biking, Hiking, Walking Trail started in 2008 with a 12-mile section of an old unused railroad line. As more people used it, the Sarasota County Commission took the hint and extended the plans.

   Now, the northern extension of the Legacy Trail should link up with the Appalachian Trail so that one could go all the way to Maine (our Canadian Snowbirds are demanding extensions to Montreal and Toronto).

   Around Tampa there will be a short eastern spur to permit stopovers in Disney World outside of Orlando and the southern end will stop at Key West.

   No bridge to Cuba is envisioned — that would be a bridge too far.

   OK, maybe not that big a trail, but big and getting bigger. Currently the northern terminus is off McIntosh Road, just north of the Culverhouse Nature Park east of Prestancia. However, three extensions are simultaneously underway that will take the trail all the way north to Fruitville Road with a short spur to the west taking one to the southern tip of Payne Park, right downtown.   

   It’s interesting to follow this construction path which continues along the old rail line. When viewing all of this on a Google map, one can see that the old tracks continue north of Fruitville all the up to University Parkway at Route 301. That is where the line continues up to Bradenton’s Riverwalk Park and across the Manatee River on an old railroad trestle to Palmetto.  

   Going to the south, the trail officially dead ends at Venice Avenue, but actually links up with the Venetian Waterway Park which does a nice loop down to Caspersen Beach.   

   Connector routes are ultimately taking it all the way down to North Port and Warm Mineral Springs.

   When the planned extensions are completed there will be 30 miles of trail with 15 bike- and/or car-parking locations.

An estimated 290,000 people used the trail in 2019 and 409,000 in 2020.

Rodger Skidmore
Author: Rodger Skidmore

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