Scene & Heard


Scene & Heard


Date: July 3, 2012
by: Heidi Kurpiela | A&E Editor


+ WBTT’s ‘Crooners’ woos crowd abroad
The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe has got some serious fans. Or shall I say seriously well-heeled fans?
Horst Thurau, I’m talking about you.

The part-time Sarasota resident was so taken with the troupe’s “Soul Crooners” show that he flew the entire cast and musical crew to last month Germany to perform at his 60th birthday party.

The soiree, which also doubled as a celebration for Thurau’s company, attracted 330 people to a theater in Detmold, Germany.

WBTT’s Executive Director Christine Jennings said the Sarasota crooners “brought the house down.”

Jennings and trustee Marian Moss were the only two women to accompany the entourage on the six-day trip.

The all-male revue included troupe founder Nate Jacobs; performers Michael Mendez, Leon S. Pitts II, Sheldon Rhoden, Charles Manning; and band members Jay Dodge, Todd Bellamy, Etienne Porter and Jamar Camp.

Originally performed four years ago at Art Center Sarasota, “Soul Crooners” apparently made a groupie out of Thurau.

According to Jennings, the German businessman came to see the show three times during its October run.
Who can blame him? James Brown always feels good.

+ Givens brings joyful new play to Bradenton
Am I the only one who thinks it’s a strange coincidence that actress Robin Givens is work-shopping a new play, “Joy in the Morning,” at the Manatee Players just as her ex, Mike Tyson, is hitting his stride with a one-man show on Broadway?

Givens, who arrived this month in Bradenton, will remain in the area until her play with music is ready to open Aug. 2, at the Manatee Players Theatre.

The work, which was originally presented during a play reading 10 years ago at Carnegie Hall, will be performed this fall in Toronto, Canada.

In addition to directing the piece, with cast coordination by producing Artistic Director Rick Kerby, Givens will teach an acting course at the Palmetto Boys and Girls Club.

Dubbed “The Art of Living Through Acting,” the twice-weekly session will be open to 30 teens and preteens. Givens, who starred in the 1980s TV series “Head of the Class,” most recently appeared in the TV Land sitcom “Retired at 35.”


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