Asolo, Sarasota Ballet Unveil Upcoming Works

By Megan McDonald March 8, 2012

The current arts season is still in full swing, but the Asolo Rep and the Sarasota Ballet are already getting their patrons excited about next season.

Both organizations announced their 2012-13 schedules this week, the Asolo at a town hall reception in its theater, and the ballet at a press conference on the University of South Florida campus.

The Asolo season will be an all-American affair, featuring new and classic works by American playwrights.  The season opens two weeks after the November presidential election with the musical 1776, about the writing of the Declaration of Independence.

“After what promises to be divisive election, I thought it would be an appropriate time to do a show that can help heal,  one that reminds us of our collective strength and identity,” said Michael Edwards, the Asolo’s producing artistic director.

A native of Australia and now a U.S. citizen, Edwards said he has a love and passion for aspects of American life that native-born residents may take for granted. That’s why he’s launching a five-year initiative at the Asolo  to explore the American character.

The Asolo’s winter repertory season will open in January with the classic George S. Kaufman-Moss Hart comedy  You Can’t Take it With You.  Set in the Depression, the show focuses on the chaos that ensues when the daughter of a  free-thinking Manhattan family falls for the son of a conservative Wall Street executive.

“Considering the economic times we’re in, it’s a timely play that examines what’s really important in life,” Edwards said.

It will be followed by David Mamet’s lacerating Glengarry Glen Ross, set in the cutthroat, unscrupulous world of high-stakes real estate sales.  Then comes Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles, about a an art history professor trying to balance her career and family life, and Bruce Norris’s Clybourne Park, a comedic look at race relations that pays homage to Lorraine Hansberry’s  A Raisin in the Sun.

All four of the winter rep plays have one thing in common: each is the winner of a Pulitzer Prize.

The season will also include a new comic murder mystery by Ken Ludwig, the author of Lend Me a Tenor and Moon Over Buffalo.  The play,  The Game’s Afoot,  is a show-business mystery revolving around William Gillette, a real-life actor who became famous for portraying Sherlock Holmes.

The Asolo will also do two world premiere works, to be announced later, as well as the dance musical Pulse,  which was originally scheduled for this season but then delayed.

Greg Leaming, the director of the FSU/Asolo Conservatory, announced the four plays that the graduate students in the program will be performing next year. The season opens with the Shakespearean comedy about love and mistaken identity, Twelfth Night, and also includes another classic, George Bernard Shaw’s Candida. Two contemporary works will  be in the mix, Annie Baker’s The Aliens,  a delicate drama about friendship, and Diana Son’s Stop/Kiss, about a kiss between two women that leads to tragedy.


The Sarasota Ballet has been invited back to the Kennedy Center. And this time, the dancers will have the stage to themselves.

Sarasota Ballet will perform at the Washington, D.C. landmark in June 2013 as part of the “Ballet Across America III” festival. The company made its Kennedy Center debut last fall in a collaboration with the Suzanne Farrell Ballet.

“To be invited back straight-away, and this time on our own, is tremendous,” Artistic Director Iain Webb said at the Tuesday press conference.

The troupe is one of only nine companies from throughout the country invited to participate in the third annual festival.  The company, which under Webb has gained a national reputation as a leading exponent of the work of Sir Frederick Ashton,  will showcase Ashton’s ballets at the festival.

The company will also perform several  Ashton works in Sarasota during the 2012-13 season, including his witty full-length ballet, La Fille mal Gardee and Symphonic Variations.

The season will open in October with Sarasota Ballet presenting the renowned Paul Taylor Dance Company. In November, Sarasota Ballet will dance its first Taylor work, Company B, an exuberant piece performed to the music of the Andrews Sisters. The  program will also include a reprise of Christopher Wheeldon’s There Where She Loves.

December means The Nutcracker, but not the one you’re used to seeing. Sarasota Ballet is creating a new production that will salute Sarasota’s circus heritage. In this version, set in the 1930s, young Clara meets John Ringling at a New York Christmas party, and is transported not to the land of the Sugar Plum Fairy, but to the magical world of the circus at its Sarasota winter quarters.

“This is Sarasota’s Nutcracker, and in fact, it should be a production for the entire state,” Webb said.

After debuting at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall with a live orchestra, the production will move to Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall.  Zev Buffman,  Ruth Eckerd’s president and CEO, attended the press conference and said he was “blown away” by Sarasota Ballet’s “delicious idea.”

As a veteran booker at various facilities, Buffman said he’s seen many productions of the holiday ballet classic, “and some of them are getting pretty old. This Nutcracker is really going to make a statement.”

Rounding out the season will be performances of Sir Antony Tudor’s Lilac Garden and resident choreographer Dominic Walsh’s Neapolitani, as well as a program of dances by company members Ricardo Graziano and Kate Honea.

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