What's Happening at Asolo Rep

By Kay Kipling December 20, 2010


The Asolo Rep’s hugely successful production of Bonnie and Clyde closed last week, but not before a technical glitch that occurred at an inopportune time.

During the Wednesday matinee of the Broadway-bound musical, the computer system crashed, making it impossible to project the vintage photos and film clips that are an integral part of the show. The performance was stopped for about 15 minutes as the tech crew tried in vain to fix the problem. Then the show resumed without the projections.

Unfortunately, two representatives of Disney Theatricals were in the audience to assess the show in case they want to be involved with a New York production. I’m told they were still impressed with the talent and the music, even though they didn’t get the full effect of the production.


Putting the Rep in Asolo Rep

Now the Asolo moves into the heart of its season. At a press conference last week, producing artistic director Michael Edwards noted that three plays, La Bete, Twelve Angry Men and Boeing, Boeing, are in rehearsal in the FSU Center. “That makes this probably the single most active theater building in the country,” Edwards said.

That’s because the Asolo is one of only three companies in North America that performs in rotating rep. That means that several plays are presented during the same week, rather than in consecutive straight runs. In some cases, audiences can see the same actors play lead roles in a drama one day and perform a supporting role in a comedy the next.



Asolo Rep directors Greg Leaming, Peter Amster, Michael Edwards and Frank Galati. Photo by Cliff Roles

Edwards will direct La Bete (opening Jan. 7), a comedy about a classical actor trying to protect theatrical tradition from a vulgar but popular newcomer. “It’s a documentary of my daily life struggle to reconcile artistic integrity with commercial success,” Edwards joked.

Tony Award-winning director Frank Galati will direct Twelve Angry Men (opening Jan. 14), the classic play about the American judicial system. The cast includes Asolo veteran David Howard, who noted that, at age 82, he thinks he’s the oldest actor ever to perform on the Asolo stage. He quipped that he’s “sharing the AARP dressing room” with two other Asolo veterans, John Arnold and Douglas Jones.

Boeing, Boeing, opening Jan. 21, is a fizzy farce set in the swinging ‘60s, about a bachelor juggling relationships with several flight attendants. Edwards noted that the show’s director, Greg Leaming, has a great affinity for outlandish farces with characters coming and going at a frenetic pace. “It will not surprise you to learn that, once again, there are several doors in a Greg Leaming set,” Edwards said, adding that he envied Leaming’s comic sensibility.


Holiday Highlight

I’ve been meaning to get to an Artist Series of Sarasota concert for a couple of years. I picked a real winner on Saturday: The Sounds of Christmas, featuring husband-and-wife Broadway singers Kate Baldwin and Graham Rowat.

The duo performed traditional carols and contemporary seasonal songs such as Baby, It’s Cold Outside, and spoke with wit and warmth about their holiday traditions. Baldwin, who earned a Tony nomination last year for her performance in the musical Finian’s Rainbow, is a former voice student of Lee Dougherty Ross, the co-founder of the Artist Series.

Baldwin and Rowat shared the stage with two outstanding local ensembles, the Belle Canto Singers and the Sarasota Brass Quintet. The quintet brought down the house with an arrangement that blended The Hallelujah Chorus with When the Saints Come Marchin’ In.

The cozy Historic Asolo Theater makes the perfect venue for the classical and Broadway concerts in this series, which continues through the spring.
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