+ Sarasota students head to Atlanta theater fest
The kids at Sarasota’s Spotlight Theatre Productions must be on a total high right now.
As if the holidays weren’t enough of a reason to get giddy, 18 musical-theater students from Spotlight Theatre Productions have been accepted into the invitation-only Junior Theater Festival Jan. 13 to Jan. 15, in Atlanta.
Presented by New York’s iTheatrics and Atlanta’s Theater of the Stars, the festival is the world’s largest musical theater festival for elementary- and middle-school students.
Each year it draws 3,000 students, teachers and Broadway professionals to Cobb Galleria Centre, in Atlanta.
This is the first time Spotlight Theatre has landed a spot on the coveted roster.
Led by Director Cynthia Howe Ashford and Musical Director Terri Solomon, the Spotlight troupe will perform Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland Jr.”
The group includes students from Pine View School, Booker Middle School, Booker High School, Sarasota School of Arts and Sciences, McIntosh Middle School, Haile Middle School and Venice Middle School.
Best of luck to you all. I hear talent scouts will be combing the crowd for stand-out performances. Let the hamming begin!
+ Two local artists land prestigious residency
Here’s a big shout-out to local artists Evelyn McCorristin-Peters and Meg Pierce, who were each awarded residencies at Weir Farm, in Wilton, Conn.
Located in the only state park devoted to art, Weir Farm grants just 12 residencies a year — one for every month. Coincidentally, McCorristin-Peters and Pierce were granted back-to-back residencies.
McCorristin-Peters will occupy the residency in January; Pierce will fly up in February. And get this: The two women didn’t even know one another before this. Hello, small world.
McCorristin-Peters is a Myakka artist known for her landscapes, still life and animal portraits rendered in lush oil paints. Her commissioned dog portraits are hugely popular and almost Van Gogh-ian in nature.
Pierce is a former art teacher who has worked out of her Towles Court studio for nearly seven years. A mixed-media artist, she received the John Ringling Towers Fund Award for an individual artist in 2009. A meticulous artist with an eye for detail and near-kaleidoscopic layering, Pierce’s work often includes photography, found objects and vintage fibers.
You’re the only Floridians I know who are planning to fly north in the dead of winter to hole yourselves up on a remote Connecticut farm.
+ Toby Perlman shares her secret to unwinding
OK, so by now we all know the Perlman Music Program nurtures young, gifted orchestral musicians by providing a loving, healthy, learning environment devoid of competition, pressure and unreasonably high expectations. (See this week’s Backstage Pass.)
But what about Toby Perlman? The energetic wife of violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman founded the program after raising five children. Now a grandmother of eight, Perlman is still all-hands-on-deck when it comes to raising her biggest baby — the 18-year-old Perlman Music Program.
How does she cope with the rigors of directing two intense music residencies?
“What I do is I make a promise before I leave to take one hour every day to myself,” Perlman says. “Usually I do it in the afternoon when everybody has chamber music (practices). My husband is teaching, and I can usually steal an hour. If it’s a nice day I’ll go down to the (hotel) pool and read. I might even sneak out and get a manicure. It’s really important. Otherwise I’ll burn out.”
Sounds like music to my ears.
• Greet the Light: Solstice Celebration in the Courtyard: There’s not too many events going on near Christmas, so this one bears mentioning again if only because it includes fake snow and a guy who eats fire. (Spoiler alert: His name is Zach Evers, and he works as a server at Treviso.) Held on the longest night of the year, the Solstice Celebration runs from 8 p.m. to midnight Dec. 22, in the courtyard at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Tickets are $25 at the door. For more information, call 360-7339 or visit ringling.org.
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