Scene & Heard


Scene & Heard


Date: November 9, 2011
by: Heidi Kurpiela | A&E Editor



+ Oscar winning costume designer visits RCAD
The gap between Hollywood and Sarasota continues to get smaller with each VIP that passes through the halls of Ringling College of Art and Design.

Last week students in the college’s digital filmmaking program rubbed elbows with Academy Award-winning costume designer Ann Roth, whose list of film credits include “The Hours,” “The Birdcage,” “Cold Mountain,” “Midnight Cowboy” and “The English Patient,” for which Roth won the 1997 Oscar for Best Costume Design.

During her stay in Sarasota, Roth attended an exhibition of her work, taught three master classes and participated in a Q&A session following a screening of “The Hours.”

(Fun fact about the film: It was Roth’s idea to stick a fake schnoz on Nicole Kidman’s face — a genius move considering Kidman nailed Virginia Woolf and won an Oscar.)

At a reception prior to the movie’s screening, film department head Bradley Battersby could hardly contain his excitement.

“Ann Roth is a legend,” Battersby says. “She’s got more than 100 film credits and more than 70 theater credits. She represents history. You can’t put anyone else on her pedestal.”

Ironically, when the 80-year-old costume designer arrived at the reception, few people noticed. She was draped in a black Pashmina scarf and wearing dark glasses.

When asked how her tour of Ringling College was going, Roth, whose visit was made possible thanks to a grant from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, admitted to being uncomfortable with all the classroom technology.

“I’m a little intimidated by the word ‘computer,’” Roth said.

Given that she’s probably seen more A-list actors in their underwear than anyone else in the business, I’d say Roth has a pretty warped sense of intimidation.

+ Jill Sobule on board for Asolo Rep’s ‘Yentl’
The Asolo Rep’s upcoming production of “Yentl” just prompted me to download a song I haven’t heard in years — and, no, it’s not Barbra Streisand singing “Papa Can You Hear Me?”

It’s “I Kissed a Girl” by singer/songwriter Jill Sobule, whom I recently learned is composing the score for “Yentl.”

On Thursday, members of the play’s cast and crew stopped by the Sarasota Bay Club to meet with sponsors and discuss the new production, which opens Jan. 20.

In addition to Sobule, Director Gordon Greenberg and actors Howard Millman, Carolyn Michel and Doug Jones were in the crowd.

Greenberg, who three years ago directed the Asolo Rep’s revised version of the musical “Working,” met Sobule through another singer/songwriter who shot to fame in the 1990s: Lisa Loeb.

+ Beneva Fruitville moves up in the world
In a show headlined by pretty young burlesque dancers, how is it that a drag queen is the hottest commodity in the house?

As with all of Black Diamond Burlesque’s performances, the troupe’s second “Trick or Tease” show Halloween night at the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre was a sexy success.

Produced by Plush SRQ, the show included a costume contest and dance party hosted by the imitable Beneva Fruitville, played by actor Berry Ayers since 2008.

If you don’t believe me when I say Ms. Fruitville works hard for her money, just check out the list of upcoming appearances on her website.

That’s right. Sarasota’s favorite “Hostess with the Mostess” now has a website — It’s easy to navigate, boasts media clips and (to my delight) includes an excerpt from a September 2010 Diversions cover story.

Ayers is so busy working as Beneva that he needs an assistant to keep his gigs straight.

Alyssa Goudy, the Golden Apple’s stage manager, has been moonlighting as the drag queen’s personal assistant for months now.

“She takes care of my entire schedule,” Ayers says. “And I don’t like going to events alone, so she drives me. I’m her Miss Daisy.”

Key Chorale’s ‘Saint Nicolas’: Key Chorale kicks off its 27th season with a collaborative performance devoted to the patron saint of children. The chorus will perform Benjamin Britten’s “Saint Nicolas” at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 12, at Church of the Nazarene, in Venice. The show should be well worth the drive to South Sarasota County. In addition to 120 adult voices, the concert will include the Pine View School Chorus, student singers from Booker Middle School and tenor soloist Brad Diamond. Also on the bill: music by composers Bonia Shur, Gwyneth Walker and Eric Whitacre. Tickets are $25. For more information, call 921-4845 or visit


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