+ Nobody does ‘Misbehavin’’ like WBTT
No local watering hole was as sexy as the 1920s Harlem nightclub The Westcoast Black Theatre created this month for its production of “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”
The Tony Award-winning Fats Waller revue was that escapist.
Cast members Ariel Blue, Jnana Cherie, Donald Frison,Whitney Johnson and Leon Pitts II brought all the right elements to the swinging musical: rowdiness, humor, relentless energy and intoxicating feistiness.
The production, which opened Dec. 15, closed last weekend after having sold out of every one of its dates.
Longboat Key resident Marianne Hart showed up for the troupe’s Jan. 14 performance with a gaggle of girlfriends.
A WBTT season subscriber for two years, Hart had yet to visit the troupe’s new Orange Avenue theater, so she and her theater companions arrived 30 minutes early just to be safe.
They weren’t the only ones.
The WBTT parking lot was so full, patrons had to park on the grass and along the street.
“The show is just absolutely delightful,” Hart gushed during intermission.
Further proving that Sarasotans just want to have fun, when the voluptuous Blue (cast as Armelia) shimmied up to an older gentleman sitting in the front row during the first act, the man audaciously reached his arms out and pretended to squeeze the singer’s behind.
Hey, it ain’t misbehavin’ if the crowd keeps cheering.
+ ‘Twelve Angry Men’ equals one happy director
Director Frank Galati was all smiles Friday night as people spilled into the lobby of the Asolo Rep Theatre after watching the opening night of his “Twelve Angry Men.”
The director, who won two Tony Awards in 1990 for his adaptation of “The Grapes of Wrath,” was mobbed by fans after the show let out.
In the middle of posing for pictures, the always-affable Galati paused to give his contact info to theatergoer Ellen Berman, who confessed to the director that his version of the Reginald Rose drama was better than the production she saw on Broadway two years ago. (Berman is currently producing a play for a non-profit theater in New York City.)
“I’m sort of surprised by the reaction,” Galati said. “Obviously the play struck a chord with the public, which pleases me. As a rule, I don’t typically hang around the lobby on opening night.”
Exciting news for Sarasota’s theater district: The director and his partner of 40 years — Peter Amster, who will direct the Asolo Rep’s “Deathtrap” this spring — recently sold their place in Miami and moved into a condo in downtown Sarasota.
+ Art under the boardwalk, down by the sea
Finally. Siesta Key has caught onto Downtown Sarasota’s art-walk trend.
Beginning Feb. 1, The Boardwalk at Boat Yard Village, located just south of the Stickney Point Bridge, will begin hosting an art walk every Tuesday featuring fine art, jewelry, photography and wares by 30 local and regional artists.
The walk is free and open to the public from noon until dusk. For more information, call 539-7972.
+ ‘Being Human’ opens at Selby Gallery
An exhibit featuring the work of photographers Emmet Gowin and Tina Barney, as well as painter Harvey Dinnerstein, opened last week at Ringling College of Art and Design’s Selby Gallery.
Not only do the pieces offer a study in heredity, environment and class, Barney and Gowin will discuss the work first hand at an “Artist Talk” luncheon from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20, in Roskamp Hall on the Ringling campus. Michael’s On East will cater the event. Tickets are $40. To make a reservation, call 359-7563.
‘La Bête’: Too busy to hit up Broadway this season? David Hirson’s Molière-inspired comedy about 17th-century street performer Valere runs Jan. 7 to Feb. 20, at the Asolo Repertory Theatre. The play, which is currently enjoying a successful run on Broadway with an A-list cast that includes “Frasier” star David Hyde Pierce, stars Danny Scheie as the charmingly madcap Valere. For tickets, call 351-8000 or visit www.asolorep.org.
‘Marvin Gaye: The Man and His Music’: The Westcoast Black Theatre troupe is on fire. “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” which kicked off the troupe’s 2011 season, sold out of its 10-day run in a matter of days. WBTT fans would be wise to purchase tickets now for the troupe’s next show: “Marvin Gaye: The Man and His Music,” which runs Jan. 26 to Feb. 20. Call 366-1505 or visit www.wbttroupe.org.