Sarasota News Events:
Unveiling the Tapestry: Exploring the Season’s Theme and Its Resonance with Asolo Rep’s Mission
Our upcoming season is a vibrant tapestry woven from a diverse array of captivating productions. Each experience threads its unique narrative into a larger exploration of profound themes. As you venture into these performances, you’ll discover interwoven motifs that resonate deeply with the core of our theatre’s purpose.
Crazy For You and Intimate Apparel delve into the transformative nature of love and self-discovery. The former, set in the Roaring Twenties, dances through romantic adventures that catalyze personal growth. In parallel, Intimate Apparel unveils Esther’s journey as a seamstress, showcasing how connections and decisions can shift the trajectory of one’s life. Inherit The Wind and Twelve Angry Men: A New Musical thrust us into the realm of justice and morality. One reimagines a historic trial to delve into themes of free thought and truth-seeking, while the latter, with its jazz-infused score, embarks on a musical odyssey that underscores the alignment of our legal system with our ideals. With finesse, Born With Teeth and Dial ‘M’ for Murder unveil hidden truths. The former immerses us in the lives of Shakespeare and Marlowe, unveiling the secrets behind their creative brilliance. Meanwhile, the latter’s suspenseful tale of blackmail and revenge showcases how concealed motives and ambitions can drive individuals to unexpected outcomes. Both Intimate Apparel and Born With Teeth explore intricate dimensions of identity and connection. Esther navigates the realms of race and love in Intimate Apparel, while Born With Teeth offers an alternate historical perspective, reminding us that personal and societal identities are complex webs.
This upcoming season, audiences can expect to be immersed in stories that traverse these universal themes. From the metamorphic power of love to the pursuit of justice, from concealed ambitions to the nuances of identity, our productions offer a rich mosaic of narratives reflecting the world we inhabit. As we unravel these connections, let’s engage in thought-provoking conversations ignited by the enchantment of theatre.
Meet the Artistic Visionaries – A Conversation with Peter Rothstein and Ross Egan
As the curtains rise on a new era for this renowned theater, we sit down with Asolo Rep’s two new dynamic and visionary leaders who are set to shape the future of the Asolo Repertory Theatre – Peter Rothstein, the newly appointed Producing Artistic Director, and Ross Egan, the recently appointed Managing Director.
Read below as we delve into their artistic aspirations, their strategies for enriching the theater’s legacy, and their collaborative vision for bringing captivating stories to life on stage, as well as the exciting prospects they have in store for both the Asolo Repertory Theatre and the vibrant theatrical community it serves.
Q. What was your draw to Asolo Rep?
PR: I had worked as a freelance artist at Asolo Rep for a number of years, and to be honest, from the moment I entered into the first rehearsal there with a production of Ragtime, I thought wow, this could be an artistic home for me. I freelance a lot around the country working in theatre, musical theatre, opera, new work development, but nowhere else did I feel this simpatico that I felt from my very first experience working at Asolo Rep. When Michael Donald Edwards decided to to move on, I thought this might be a job that I’d be interested in. I spent my entire career based in Minnesota. And so it was a big move to to leave Theatre Latté Da, a company I founded 25 years ago. To be honest, I can’t think of another organization I would have left for. My experience at Asolo Rep had been artistically fulfilling. I felt simpatico with the community of artists and audiences. It felt like coming home more than it felt like an entirely new venture.
Q. Something surprising about Asolo Rep?
PR: I’m a bit of a history nerd. So, I’ve been fascinated by Asolo Rep’s history. We’re entering our 65th season, and I’ve been immersing myself in learning about the history of the organization. Its long partnership with Florida State University, the original Historic Asolo Theatre, its home in Asolo, Italy, and how all of that transpired. Then the move into our new home, bringing over the beautiful Mertz Theater, which came over from Scotland. I’ve now prioritized that I need to get to Asolo, Italy and I need to get to Scotland to see the original geographical homes of these historic, awesome buildings. It’s long history in Sarasota, and how Sarasota has history with the circus. I’ve always been fascinated and drawn to the circus. I love everything about it – the aesthetics of it, the energy of it, and the fact that we are right up against the Ringling Museum and the grounds of the Ringling Mansion, and that we share the campus. I actually just bought a new home in Sarasota, and it’s on the grounds of what were the summer headquarters of the Barnum Bailey Ringling Circus. That was a big selling point for me. So, I’ve just been so fascinated and needed to dig into the rich history and the singular history of this of this organization.
Q. What can audiences expect to be different in the upcoming season?
PR: In planning the 2023-24 season, Michael Donald Edwards and I worked very closely together. We were in communication daily as we put this season together. So it really is, I think, a true passing of the baton. Both of us have our our fingerprints on this season. Michael had some ideas in place, before I was hired, and then immediately when I came on board, he circled me into the conversation and I brought titles forward. It was very much a collaborative process, along with the rest of the artistic staff. I hope what people see this season is they see an exciting vision for the future. But it also is everything they’ve come to know and love about Asolo Rep, that is the quality of the work that Asolo Rep is creating the world class theatre here in Sarasota. I want that to be the given. I want people to come and say “yes, this is the quality of work that I expect from this organization”, but also enthusiasm for a slightly new vision, for new ideas and new aesthetics. They can rely on the quality, but I’m hopeful that they’ll join us for new and adventurous evenings in the theater.
Q. Parting words?
PR: You know, coming out of the pandemic, and spending so much time alone has only increased my belief in the power of theatre, and people coming together in a room to hear someone’s story other than their own. There’s nothing else like it, and I’m so grateful to spend my life inside the theater. I hope you’ll join me on this journey.
Q: This is your first season at the Asolo Rep following a very successful tenure at Barter Theatre in Virginia. What are you most looking forward to in your tenure at Asolo Rep?
RE: I think I’m most excited about getting to know our new audience. Asolo has a history of bringing the highest quality productions to Sarasota. Sarasota is such an arts and culture driven community, and I’m excited to see what myself and what my partnership with Peter can bring new to this burgeoning arts community that we currently have. And I’m looking to see what my experience in a rural southwest theater in Southwest Virginia could bring to maybe not such a rural area of Florida.
Q: What is a Managing Director?
RE: I always get asked like, so you direct the shows, right? That’s what people always say to me. And I’m like, no, I’m not. I’m a terrible director! Wherein a managing director essentially handles a lot of the business functions of a theater. So basically a lot of the things that aren’t on stage, whether it be marketing, fundraising, front of house, logistics, backstage facilities, to some extent, a managing director does a little bit of everything on that front.
But it’s also a partnership. I think, with Peter and I, that I do have a voice with what happens on stage. The Managing Director is a pivotal piece in making that happen. I think it’s very easy as an audience to go to a performance and see the actors and assume that that is how the work happens. There are hundreds of people behind the scene, artisans, artists, administrative folks, marketers, fundraising professionals, that allow what you see on stage to happen. I think our audience learning a little more about all those pieces that you might not just directly see on a daily basis is really important and exciting, and lends itself to a deepening relationship with the theater – coming out of understanding
Q: Parting words?
RE: Mostly, what I want to say is you are welcome in this space. We want you to feel great coming to Asolo Rep every single time. We want you to have the best experience you can possibly have. And we want you to tell your friends to come too because if you had a great time, I know they will as well. That’s going to help us as an organization to create the most amazing work that you can possibly see on a stage. What I’d like to say is I want to see you. I want to meet you. I will be here to have a conversation with you and hear what excites you about the work we’re doing. You are welcome no matter who you are, to come to our space and experience the magic that is theatre. When you come, not only are you supporting the artwork, but you’re also in a position to tell people in your immediate vicinity, your friends, your family, your colleagues, your neighbor down the street, to say “Hey, I saw this most amazing thing at Asolo Rep! You need to go see it.” When you do that it welcomes more people in and we build a strong community. It allows us to keep doing this high quality work that I guarantee you will see on our stages for years to come. You are an integral part and making that happen here on a daily basis. So please come. We really appreciate it, and I would love to see you at the theater.
Behind the Curtain: Asolo Rep’s In-House Magic – Crafting Sets and Props Like Nowhere Else
In the heart of Sarasota, Asolo Rep has woven itself into the fabric of the community, forging a unique bond between artistry and locality. Not just a stage for exceptional performances; it’s a place where every aspect of the production process is nurtured, created, and perfected right here at home.
What makes Asolo Rep so special? It’s the dedication to building every asset in-house, a commitment that goes beyond the norm in the world of theater. “We have extraordinary craftspeople and artists who are part of our community. They’re part of the Sarasota community” said Producing Artistic Director Peter Rothstein. “They’re part of the fabric of our society, and they’re working in our scene shops and our costume shops and they’re in our electrics departments and our front of house. We have an incredible staff of artisans who are creating work that I would hold up to any work across the country.”
Asolo Repertory Theatre is currently hard at work crafting one of it’s most ambitious sets to date for the upcoming season’s production of Crazy For You. Working with the bones of last seasons production of Ken Ludwig’s The Three Musketeers, this gargantuan set, complete with portals, is proving to be one of the most ambitious undertakings by the talented scenic department at Asolo Rep.
Meanwhile, the theatrical magic doesn’t stop there—Asolo Rep’s remarkable production of Cabaret is hitting the road, with sets and costumes lovingly created at the Sarasota-based Asolo Rep Scenic Studio making their way to the prestigious Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. The Asolo Rep Scenic Studio, boasting a vast 45,000 square foot space, is more than just a facility; it’s a creative powerhouse. This state-of-the-art production hub supports not only Asolo Repertory Theatre but also a multitude of renowned organizations, from Sarasota Opera and Ballet to Broadway and beyond. With a reputation for top-quality work and unwavering professionalism, the Asolo Rep Scenic Studio continues to be a driving force in the world of theatrical artistry, bringing sets and dreams to life.
Championing Artistic Excellence: How Donors Shaped Asolo Rep’s Daring Inaugural Season
“It is profoundly necessary for a great arts organization to take significant artistic risks. Measuring the success of these risks is not always tangible. But we know that without thinking outside the box, without embracing new ways of thinking and expressing, without providing a platform for boundary pushing ideas, we will become ordinary.” –Michael Donald Edwards
Today, as Producing Artistic Director Peter Rothstein prepares to embark on his daring inaugural season, we remember the ways our donors helped create a system to support the most ambitious work on our stage.
The Artistic Excellence Society (AES) sprang from the imaginations of Lee and Bob Peterson in 2006, at the dawn of Michael Donald Edwards’ term as Producing Artistic Director. The couple thoroughly embraced the notion that artistic vision must be championed and protected, and they committed $100,000 to that end. Their leadership, however, did not stop with their gift. They eagerly chaired a dedicated fund, made their gift a challenge grant, and took personal responsibility to raise the additional $200,000 required to fund the line item in the theatre’s budget. Virginia B. Toulmin, Stanley and Janet Kane, and Cary and Koni Findlay met the inaugural challenge and ushered in a long era of dedicated board members and patrons whose gifts directly support the enhancement of Asolo Rep’s theatrical works. In a 2011 thank you letter to the Petersons, Michael wrote, “With your support our productions can reach their full potential and Asolo Rep will continue to grow its national reputation for presenting original, compelling, world-class theatre. You led the charge to support the theatre in this way and encouraged many others to follow your example. I can truly say the theatre would not be what it is today without your leadership.”
Board member Bob Bartner took the reins of this initiative during the 2011-12 season and promoted a series of engagement events as benefits to donors. Bob felt that members of the AES could help grow this fund, empowering the Producing Artistic Director to make bold choices in selecting works that embody a spirit of risk-taking, collaboration, and innovation. The following season, in support of the development and world premiere of Noah Racey’s Pulse, donors Chas and Mimi Wood generously pledged to match up to $50,000 in new and increased contributions to the Artistic Excellence Fund.
Each year, two to three productions are chosen that will benefit from the enriched support of this intimate group of dedicated donors. These gifts can enhance a show’s production values to take the work from excellent to extraordinary—or—give leadership confidence to take risks on works that are important artistically, that may challenge our audiences in new and exciting ways.
Sixteen years after its inception, the AES continues to advance these aspirations, and Peter Rothstein has identified three productions as a focus for AES support this season: Crazy for You, Inherit the Wind, and Twelve Angry Men: A New Musical. As a welcoming tribute to Peter in his first season, gifts to AES may be designated in his honor, echoing the original purpose of the fund as envisioned by the Petersons. Contributions to AES are 100% tax deductible and begin at $5,000; gifts over $25,000 are recognized at the Leadership level.
Become a champion today. To join the Artistic Excellence Society please contact Sarah Johnson, Director of Development at firstname.lastname@example.org or (941) 351-9010 ext. 4707.
Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence: FSU/Asolo Conservatory Welcomes New Talent and Takes Center Stage
As the golden curtain rises on the 50th anniversary season of the FSU/Asolo Conservatory, anticipation and excitement fill the air. This year, we embark on a journey that not only marks a significant milestone but promises to be a season like no other, with new students joining our ranks and returning 2nd and 3rd-year students taking on more professional roles, including acting in Asolo Repertory productions.
A Classic Start: Three Sisters and Romeo and Juliet
In the fall, we pay tribute to the classics with Anton Chekhov’s timeless masterpiece, Three Sisters. This production will showcase the remarkable skills of our second-year Conservatory actors, who are ready to breathe new life into these iconic characters and transport you to a world of longing and unfulfilled dreams.
As the spring blossoms, we invite you to experience Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in a truly unique manner. Continuing our tradition of innovation, we are transforming the Cook Theatre with a thrust, immersing you in the poignant tale of star-crossed lovers and giving you a new perspective on The Bard.
A Feast for the Senses: The Kitchen Duology
Amidst our classical offerings, we present the Kitchen Duology, featuring two plays set within the heart of a kitchen. August Strindberg’s Miss Julie will take you on a thrilling journey of lust, desire, and tragic consequences, as social barriers crumble in the presence of forbidden passion. Prepare to be drawn into a world where boundaries blur and emotions run deep.
In Lynn Nottage’s Clyde’s, we shift our focus to a different kitchen, where a determined ex-convict and her eclectic team of employees strive to create the perfect sandwich. Will their aspirations overcome the ruthless reality they face, or will the kitchen’s chaotic energy consume them? Join us for this thought-provoking exploration of ambition, struggle, and camaraderie.
A Legacy of Excellence
For half a century, the FSU/Asolo Conservatory has been a beacon of artistic growth and theatrical innovation. As we welcome new students to orientation and empower our returning 2nd and 3rd-year students to take on more professional roles, we carry forward a legacy of excellence that has shaped generations of actors and theatre lovers.
This season promises to be a grand celebration of our past, a thrilling showcase of our present, and a glimpse into the bright future of theater. Join us in honoring 50 years of passion, dedication, and artistic brilliance at the FSU/Asolo Conservatory.