Entertainment and Tours

By staff February 1, 2005

Oh, Brave New Tent

Circus Sarasota audiences always have plenty to look at when the jugglers, clowns, aerialists and other performers are in the center ring; but this year they'll be forgiven if for a few short moments early in the show they're primarily dazzled by the company's luxurious new tent.

Handsome and accommodating, the red-and-white tent (rented from Italy) holds approximately 2,000 in seats acquired from New York's Big Apple Circus. Circus executive director Pedro Reis says the arrangement offers more seats right around the ring along with elevated box seating that gives ticket holders a real bird's-eye view. Plus there's an 8,700-square-foot front foyer tent that affords guests plenty of room to mingle and munch on circus-style concession food before the show (and, of course, that tent is available for private parties should you be ready to host a Big Top event of your own).

Still, once the first oohs and aahs over the tent are over, this year's stars of "Live the Dream" should have no trouble reclaiming their rightful respect. As always, expect familiar faces and new. Sarasota's own high-flying Dolly Jacobs returns with partner Yuri Rjkov, as do ringmaster George Cahill and the acclaimed clown Renaldo. Also entertaining will be the Garden family horses, a troupe of aerial acrobats from Peking, China, tightrope artist David Dmitri, the Jabale Troupe tumbling act from Africa, hand balancer Ricardo Sosa, Cossack-like riders from Russia, and former Ringling circus clown Johnny Peers and his Muttville Comix, winner of the Animal Planet Pet Art Award for their canine antics.

Performances are Feb. 4-27 under that spacious new canopy on Tuttle Avenue, south of Fruitville at the Sarasota County Fairgrounds. For tickets call (941) 355-9805.-Kay Kipling

Designer Treats

Circus Sarasota isn't the only show in town that's running Feb. 4-27. The Florida West Coast Symphony Association's 30th annual Designer Showcase is throwing open its for those dates as well, at the newest tower at Meridian at the Oaks Preserve in Osprey.

Two residences with more than 5,500 square feet have been decorated by 20 or so of the area's top designers in two different lifestyles, in a spot that association president Mary Garrick calls "the last great treasure on Sarasota Bay." A patron party at the Oaks Country Club and the largest boutique marketplace in the showcase's history are also part of the showcase's offerings.

Once you've gazed your fill at the rooms and taken notes for your own design dreams, however, you may still find an inner hunger has gone unfulfilled. To take care of that problem, the symphony association presents two tempting options: the Designer Chefs series and Gourmet-On-The-Go.

The first highlights Sarasota's restaurant chefs at their best (among them, chefs from the Bijou Café, Mattison's Culinary Group, Michael's On East, Ophelia's on the Bay, Vernona at the Ritz-Carlton and Zoria). Each week during the showcase, a different chef demonstrates and prepares special menus in a residence kitchen; and guests get to taste the happy results.

The second, Gourmet-On-The-Go, reveals how to take the work out of entertaining, as chefs from Casa Italia, Morton's Gourmet Market and Williams-Sonoma share tips and recipes. Advance reservations are in order for both special events; call (941) 685-0425.

For tickets to the showcase itself ($15 in advance, $20 at the door), call (941) 953-4252 for ticket outlet info.-Kay Kipling

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