Florida Studio Theatre Summer Season Strikes a Lighter Note

A mix of music, comedy and drama takes over FST's summer stages.

By Kay Kipling May 2, 2017

The days (and nights) may be getting hotter, and the snowbirds may have flown, but that doesn’t stop Florida Studio Theatre from keeping the lights on, and the entertainment coming, with a handful of summer productions.

The company just announced its line-up for three mainstage productions and three cabaret shows, and while artistic director Richard Hopkins and crew may try to maintain a lighter tone for summer shows than the winter season’s fare, there are still questions to ponder in the summer’s offerings.

When it comes to the summer season opener at the Gompertz Theatre, though, the feeling is mostly nostalgic. Burt & Me, with a book by Larry McKenna, features the popular songs of Burt Bacharach and Hal David in a jukebox musical that brings together two long-separated high school sweethearts who once bonded over basketball and music. Yep, you can expect “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head,” “I Say a Little Prayer” and more crowd pleasers here. Onstage June 2-18.

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Songwriter Burt Bacharach, in 1972.


The next summer show, in the Keating Theatre, is a Southeastern regional premiere that on its surface may sound grim. The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey centers on the disappearance of a flamboyant 14-year-old boy; it’s a one-man show in which frequent FST actor Jeffrey Plunkett will play a variety of roles, from a New Jersey detective on the hunt for Leonard to some eccentric small-town citizens who all knew Leonard in their own ways. By James Lecesne; onstage July 5 through Aug. 6.

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Actor Jeffrey Plunkett takes on multiple roles in FST's The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey.


Rounding out the mainstage season is Stephen Spotswood’s Doublewide, a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere. This comedy revolves around one man’s dream to replace his family’s double trailer with a real house his daughter can inherit. Can he pull it off? Onstage at the Gompertz Theatre Aug. 2-20.

Meanwhile, the Court Cabaret presents three shows that welcome out-of-town musicians to take the stage. The first, The Jersey Tenors, offers four guys from Jersey who know how to blend opera and rock with music by artists from Queen to Frank Sinatra to Springsteen. Onstage June 13 through July 16.

Next up: the return of The Blue Eyed Bettys, an original music group that actually formed here while performing in the FST show Poems, Prayers and Promises. Daniel Emond on banjo, Sarah Hund on fiddle and Ben Mackel on guitar unite to present a contemporary bluegrass sound, July 18 through Aug. 20.

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The Blue Eyed Bettys


And finally, singer Carole Bufford (in town recently for an Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota performance) returns with Roar! The Music of the 1920s and Beyond, featuring classics from the Jazz Age songbook by Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Ruth Etting, Al Jolson and more. That show takes audiences back to an era of bathtub gin and fabulous flappers, Aug. 22 through Sept. 24.

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Songstress Carole Bufford

Image: Seth Walters


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