Whoooo-weeeee! Give up the funk! “Soul Crooners 2” is a hip-twitching, funkadelic good time. A follow-up to last year’s sold-out “Soul Crooners,” the new show is equally, if not even more, enjoyable. WBTT Artistic Director Nate Jacobs has done a great job as adapter/director/choreographer of the current production, which has added two additional performances to its run. This soul music of the ’70s revue highlights artists such as Lou Rawls, Earth Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, Jackson 5, Sam & Dave, The Four Tops, Teddy Pendergrass and the Isley Brothers. The sound, under the talented direction of James E. Dodge II and musicians Todd Bellamy, Jamar D. Camp, Etienne J. Porter and James Johnston, is top-notch.
The all-male cast has been most fittingly decked out in flashy bell-bottom flares, white boots and brightly colored tunics, then adorned with black sequined jackets for Act II by costumer Cristy Owen. The matching, oversized handkerchiefs are de rigeur for these guys, because they give it everything they’ve got. The choreography is evocative of the era, tightly synchronized and demanding.
The signature songs are introduced by Emmanuel Avraham with snappy, explanatory patter written by Jacobs, who also performs. Jacobs shows his elegant, tuneful voice can also “get down,” and he shines in Al Green’s serpentinely hypnotic number, “Here I Am, Baby.”
If there’s anyone more fun to watch than John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd singing “Soul Man,” it’s got to be the big guy with the bedroom eyes and the sock-it-to-me style, Leon Pitts, II. Pitts puts the moves on the floor and the ladies in the front row with songs such as “Close the Door” and “For the Love of You.”
Michael Mendez is looking more like Fred Astaire with every show. He’s both funky and romantic, and it really shows in “Me and Mrs. Jones” and “Going in Circles.” Chris Eisenberg made his first appearance with WBTT in “Soul Crooners” at the age of 9. He’s still adorable and absolutely rocks “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind” and “Play That Funky Music.”
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Sound of hope
The holiday season hasn’t officially started until our favorite bell ringers return to their posts.
Shoppers and residents were treated to some holiday harmonies by the Senior Friendship Centers’ group, the Second Wind Harmonica Players, in Downtown Sarasota.
Stepping up to the plate
The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County teamed up to bring the anti-bullying event Rachel’s Challenge to Sarasota Dec. 3.