Scene & Heard


Scene & Heard


Date: November 28, 2011
by: Heidi Kurpiela | A&E Editor


+ ‘Beauty Blueprint’ soars on Amazon
It’s been an exciting month for first-time author Michelle Phillips.

The local radio host’s “The Beauty Blueprint,” which was published earlier this fall, has spent five weeks on Amazon’s bestseller list for beauty and self-esteem releases in the United States and Canada.
Phillips, whom Diversions profiled in October, has already been booked for two “I Can Do It!” events next year. (The conference is a mecca for self-help devotees and Oprah-approved gurus such as Dr. Wayne Dyer and Marianne Williamson.)

Earlier this month, Phillips appeared on “Martha Stewart Living” on Sirius/XM radio and filmed an infomercial in Los Angeles that is set to air nationally in January.

The author will be signing copies of her book Dec. 3 at Books-A-Million in Sarasota.

+ FST prepares for a $5.6 million makeover
Well, look who’s cashing in on its record-breaking ticket streak.

Florida Studio Theatre, which last season posted all-time highs for subscription sales, has kicked off a multi-year, capital-improvement campaign to renovate and expand its 6,000-square-foot Gompertz Theatre.

In addition to the makeover, FST will add two new theater spaces to the Gompertz, which is located at the corner of First Street and Cocoanut Avenue.

The organization’s current programming draws 160,000 people each year to the theater. The $5.6 million project, which will break ground in January, is expected to bring 40,000 more people to the campus and allow the theater to increase its subscription numbers in its mainstage and Cabaret series.

The construction campaign is the largest in FST’s 37-year history. It’s slated to be finished in 2015.

+ Finally, Sarasota Opera finds its ‘Nemo’
Whoever said comic strips were just for reading with your morning cereal never saw Winsor McCay’s “Little Nemo in Slumberland.”

The strip, which ran in newspapers in the early 1900s, chronicled the surreal nighttime dreams of a little boy named Nemo.

Four years ago, the Sarasota Opera announced plans to present an operatic version of the comic strip by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Ned Rorem.

When Rorem stepped down from the commission before it was finished, the work was turned over to composer Daron Aric Hagen.

Last week, the opera once again made headlines when it announced that the Sarasota Youth Opera would premiere the piece in November 2012, as part of the fall opera season.

Co-produced by the University of Kentucky Opera Theater, “Nemo” will use high-tech digital scenery projections to bring the fantasy to life.

Hmm … what’s next? “Tosca in 3D?”

+ Teen actress vies for spot on TV’s ‘Glee’
I can’t be the only arts writer in town who thinks Trina Rizzo and the TV show, “Glee,” are a match made in musical-theater heaven.

The Holmes Beach teen has performed on stage at community theaters since she was in elementary school. At 10, she played Annie at The Players Theatre, followed by “The King and I” at The Manatee Players; “Twelfth Night” at the Island Players; and “Big” at the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre.

She’s crooned the national anthem at McKechnie Field alongside her sister, Holly, who is also an actress and last year played Young Bonnie in the Asolo Repertory Theatre’s “Bonnie & Clyde.”

Rizzo, 18, has since graduated to more grown-up roles. Last season she earned rave reviews for her performance as a coming-of-age teenage girl in “The Fantasticks” and a bratty pageant contestant in “Hairspray.”

Understandably, she’s now vying for a spot on the Oxygen network’s “The Glee Project,” a reality series that serves as an audition for a role on the TV show “Glee.”

In her audition video, Rizzo pitches the role of a “recycle-crazy environmentalist” and sings a beautiful cover of Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours.”

You can vote for Rizzo by visiting



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