Scene & Heard by Heidi Kurpiela

Scene & Heard 02.04.10

Posted February 3, 2010 at 9:00 am

by Heidi Kurpiela

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+ The Players Theatre rearranges some furniture
Leggy Sarasotan grannies quietly wept last week, when The Players Theatre shipped its big red rocking chair to the Children’s Garden and Art Center, in Gillespie Park.

The 12-foot-tall chair, which was adorned with a holiday wreath in December, has been sitting outside the theater, facing North Tamiami Trail, for months. Built by Players’ Technical Director Matt Nitsch and Scenic Arts Manager John C. Reynolds, it was used in a Lily Tomlin skit presented by The Players Senior Follies in October.

“We didn’t have a place to store the chair,” said Michelle Pingel, the theater’s managing director. “I couldn’t let such a cool chair be taken apart. The Children’s Garden and Art Center is the perfect place for kids to enjoy it.”

Upon receiving the red rocker, Robin Fulk, the children’s garden manager, called the chair “magical” and “so ‘Alice in Wonderland.’”




+ Sarasota Elf gets serious and starts whispering
Joey Panek has ditched his pointy elf shoes and green-velvet suit for wire-rimmed glasses and fitted polo shirts in his latest HuB project.

The same viral marketing geniuses that brought you an entire holiday season of Sarasota Elf Webisodes (HuB co-founders Matt Orr and Rich Swier) are at it again, except this time they’ve asked Panek, a local actor and HuB staffer, to host 12 weeks of online videos as “The Art Whisperer.”

The project is a more straight-laced and overtly advertorial approach to highlighting Sarasota County arts and culture via online videos. Even weightier: “The Art Whisperer” is sponsored by the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and the granddaddy of all Sarasota nonprofit organizations — the Sarasota County Arts Council.

“Today’s atmosphere requires creativity in reaching new audiences,” says Arts Council Executive Director Jim Shirley. “This campaign will provide unique, interactive opportunities for Sarasota County’s arts-and-cultural organizations to introduce themselves to new audiences.” 

Follow “The Art Whisperer” on Facebook and Twitter, or visit




+ Woody Allen’s banjoist drums up local ties
Wait –– Woody Allen has a band? Oh yeah. The bespeckled filmmaker plays the clarinet every Monday night with his band, Woody Allen & The Eddie Davis New Orleans Jazz Band, at the Carlyle Hotel, in Manhattan, N.Y.

But what does this have to do with Sarasota, you ask? Well, Allen’s longtime banjoist, Cynthia Sayer, will be in town this month visiting her parents and performing with her band, Sparks Fly, at 8 pm. Monday, Feb. 15, at The Players Theatre. Jazz Club of Sarasota musicians Bob Switzer (on trumpet) and Mark Neuenschwander (on string bass) will join Sayer for the evening performance.

One of the world’s top four-string banjoists, Sayer is the subject of the new PBS documentary, “The Banjo Project,” along with Pete Seeger, Bela Fleck and Earl Scruggs.

Bert and Barbara Sayer, who initially encouraged their daughter to attend law school, must be so proud.



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Currently 3 Responses

  • 1.
  • Thanks for commenting! I'll be looking for Cynthia's PBS documentary. Bertram & Barbara –– please let me know when it'll air.
  • Heidi Kurpiela
    Wed 3rd Feb 2010
    at 9:25pm
  • 2.
  • Yes, we are very proud of Cynthia! And I think she has a lot more fun playing her banjo around the world tan she would have if she became a lawyer!
    Bertram Sayer, Cynthia's father

    Speaking as Cynthia's mother, I can tel you that her show is the best anywhere. Seriously, even if she wasn't my daughter, I would still love her performance. It's all good music and good entertainment. My husband and I will certainly be there, and we hope to see you all there too!
    Barbara Sayer, Cynthia's mother
  • Bertram Sayer
    Wed 3rd Feb 2010
    at 2:28pm
  • 3.
  • Saw Cynthia perform in NYC in December. She's fantastic!! We're lucky to have her here in Sarasota. I highly recommend going to hear her on the 15th...I'll definitely be there!
  • Carol Lewis
    Wed 3rd Feb 2010
    at 2:13pm
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