Arts on Horizon: Stranger Things

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What’s strange to me (a peanut butter and sardine ice cream cone) may seem quite normal to you – if that is what your mother served you as a child. And most every neighborhood in America celebrates Halloween with jack-O’-lanterns hanging in windows for weeks before the actual day arrives. In the Halloween season, that’s normal.

But what about the snatching season? Maybe that’s not your cup of tea.

     But, if year after year, neighborhood kids have been disappearing, then maybe the snatching season becomes the norm. That’s why, in the community along Odella Creek, they have a curfew so that all the children are off the street before they are … snatched. 

     This story about strange happenings is not just a story, or even just a horror story, it is a Southern Gothic horror story – the best kind. Does the snatching creature creep up behind unsuspecting young ones, or does it, like the Pied Piper of Hamlin, just do a little enticing? 

     Yes, strange things are happening at the Urbanite Theatre from now until June 30, in this world premiere play entitled Oak (maybe why you’ve not yet heard of it) by Terry Guest.

More info at urbanitetheatre.com.

     The Fourth of July comes in … July, but the 4 of June are coming to the Florida Studio Theatre this June. The first is a Kander and Ebb musical revue, The World Goes ‘Round, featuring songs from a number of their shows: Cabaret, Zorba, Chicago, etc. and, of course, Flora, The Red Menace, which starred Liza Minnelli. The singers and dancers of this revue will run through their repertoire June 5 through 30 at the Gompertz.

     Glen Campbell had a hit back in ’75 with “Rhinestone Cowboy.” Well, ol’ Glen isn’t with us anymore but the Goldstein Cabaret will be hosting, fresh from an extended tour in southern Alaska, Rhinestone Cowgirls through July 28. These three ladies will be taking you on a tour of country music, from its very beginnings to today, featuring songs made famous by Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn and Carrie Underwood.

     Want a bit of rock with your folk and country music? Then The Music of Laurel Canyon is the show you’ll want to see at the Court Cabaret June 18 through Aug. 25. The band Buffalo Rome, providing the alt-country music behind the lyrics, is closer to Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds, and the Doors than they are to Hank Williams or Dolly Parton. But then, these differences are what makes the world go ‘round. 

     Bowne’s Lab is the scene, through the 28th, where you will direct FST’s improv group in Directors Cut, as it reconstructs, alter, maim, and “laughterfy” some of Hollywood’s greatest (you pick them) comedies, mysteries and horror films.

Info at floridastudiotheatre.org.

Prometheus unbound

     Shelley’s most famous work, in four acts, was a lyrical drama. Well, music itself can be lyrical, dramatic, romantic, stark, and/or melodic. So, yes, Music Unbound is an apt title for this year’s Sarasota Music Festival, running through the 22nd of the month. And one would have to be running to keep up with the 13 concerts and one lecture that will be coming our way. The available music can be a “pick-and-choose” kind of feast, or an all-you-can-hear musical buffet.

     The concert that begins the month, June 2 at Holley Hall, is titled New Beginnings and begins with a 300-year-old work by Français Couperin, Le Rossignol en amour – not to be confused with Manning Sherwin’s Un rossignol a chanté à Berkeley Square. Jeffrey Kahane, on harpsichard, accompanies Marianne Gedigian, whose flute shimmers with melodic bird-like sounds.

Works by Martinů, Cornish, and Arensky soon follow.

     Music from the 1920s (Ravel’s Violin Sonata No. 2 and Schulhof’s Duo for Violin and Cello)) through 1960 (Bacewicz’s String Quartet No. 6) and on to 1994 (Françaix’s Trio for Oboe, Bassoon, and Piano) coalesce on June 6, also at Holley Hall. The Borromeo String Quartet, which plays these compositions, joins forces with festival faculty on the 7th, at the Sarasota Opera House, in an equally enchanting evening, starting with movements from Jeff Scott’s Passion for Bach and Coltrane. This work starts with Bach’s Goldberg Variations and leaps into the deep end of John Coltrane’s oeuvre, A Love Supreme. More Bach and Mozart complete the evening.

     The Opera House, on the 8th, continues as a venue for Festival Firsts, with pieces and/or musicians new to you. The Beethoven and Mendelssohn compositions are preceded by Reena Esmail’s Teen Murti which weaves together three Hindustani ragas using Western classical techniques.

     And speaking of three, there are three Rising Star concerts (the 9th, 16th, and 21st) where festival fellows perform movements from their (your?) favorite chamber works. All at Holley Hall.

     And would you like to hear these top musicians play additional compositions by Duruflé, Beethoven, Dvořák,Strauss, Scott, Vaughan Williams,Hailstork, Copland, Dieupart, Monroe, Block, Bach, Poulenc, Kaila, Dohnáni, Tchaikovsky, Franck, Ravel, Clyne, and Brahms? Of course you would. And listen to a lecture by Robert Lenin on Improvisation? You bet.

Just go to sarasotaorchestra.org and pick your dates.

Between birth and death there is, hopefully, life

     At the moment of birth, there are at least two people participating: The mother, who is so involved (if she is awake) in the process that she is hard put to give a coherent version of all that has happened.

The others, the children, are in such an emotional state that few remember any specific details, let alone the full narrative. Yes, there are bit players who come and go, some with forceps and others with ice chips or long shiny needles, but they have seen the same scene in so many plays that, perhaps, no specific one seems truly distinct.

     Death is another matter: Some of us get to see a preview of what is to come: a bad accident followed by a coma, and then a light at the end of the tunnel – LED, incandescent or florescent, who knows, it depends on the age of the operating room. Other previews take one through some stage 4 of one type or another, one lingers awhile, and then, presto, remission. Although these previews are of a death that seems totally personal, there is no guarantee that lightening will finally strike the way life’s tarot cards predicted.

     And while there might be a small circle of friends and family, or a multitude of strangers sitting ringside, when the candle at the end of your tunnel is snuffed – when you close your eyes – you are truly alone.

     So, the in-between time is something we call life; something that we see ourselves and, most often, ourselves are seen. But … who knows what was seen, when you die alone? No family, no friends, nor strangers to see you go and, perhaps, therefore none to connect you to the you that you were.

     See The Lonely Death of L. Harris being presented at the Cook Theatre at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts June 6 and 8 during the Squeaky Wheel Fringe Festival. Original live music by John Munnelly. It is an improvised (with audience participation) comedy/drama.

More info at squeakywheeltheatre.org.

Rodger Skidmore
Author: Rodger Skidmore

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