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East County Friday, Jul. 1, 2022 1 month ago

Florida Studio Theatre presents "Off the Charts!" in Lakewood Ranch

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Florida Studio Theatre show at Waterside Place features songs from the 1950s to now.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

When Caroline Saldivar hears Backstreet Boys, it reminds her of being a teenager, dancing in her bedroom and singing while using a hairbrush as a make-believe microphone.  

Those memories come up when she’s watching Florida Studio Theatre’s performance of “Off the Charts!,” which Saldivar co-created. 

“Off the Charts!” is a cabaret-style show featuring four actors singing 20 songs that span from the 1950s to now. 

“It’s a show that tracks the history of pop music,” Saldivar said. “In addition to hearing some of our favorite tunes, we also get some context to how the music was made and how it impacted the music that came after it.”

Florida Studio Theatre will host a performance of “Off the Charts!” 7 p.m. July 9 at The Plaza at Waterside. 

Audience members of all ages will be able to enjoy songs by famous artists including Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, The Beatles, Bruno Mars, Backstreet Boys and Taylor Swift.

“Music is a language in and of itself that sometimes we can discount, but it is actually very important to our growth and our connection with our elders and with our children.”

Saldivar and her co-creator, Sarah Durham, listened to the top 50 songs from every decade starting with the 1950s. 

“We started to go out and handpick which songs speak to what that era was or who the big artists of the time were or what our culture in America was at that time,” Saldivar said. “It’s almost overwhelming to look at all the fantastic pop music that has existed.”

Saldivar loves seeing people of all ages dancing and singing along during the performance. 

“It’s a celebration for us to get together again and share some live theater and music with audiences that might not have been to Florida Studio Theatre before,” Saldivar said. “Music has the power to make us feel something, bring us together and give us the freedom to sing and dance like nobody’s watching.”

Florida Studio Theatre’s “Off the Charts!” is touring around Sarasota and Manatee counties in parks, libraries and amphitheaters. Saldivar said touring the area started last year as a result of the pandemic.

Gemma Vodacek and Harry Shaull give it their all during a performance of "Off the Charts!" Photo courtesy of Florida Studio Theatre.

“We wanted to be sharing music and theater with our audiences again safely,” Saldivar said. “We found that when we went out to public places like parks and libraries that we were getting a new audience that hadn’t been to Florida Studio Theatre before. That brought our mission to life because the core point of our mission is to make theater accessible and affordable.”

Saldivar said touring the counties with a free show breaks down barriers such as distance or cost. 

“Being able to get as close to where people live, give them an introduction point to theater is important,” Saldivar said. “We don’t need a lot to make a big impact. We need great performers, a small set, a sound system, a show that speaks to as many people as possible and an audience that comes out and is willing to enjoy themselves and go on the ride with us.”

Saldivar looks forward to the cast performing at The Plaza at Waterside Place. 

“We’re so excited to partner with Lakewood Ranch Waterside,” Saldivar said. “The venue is just beautiful to be able to back right up to that lake and to be at the intersection of everything from the brewery to the restaurants. That provides that community feel for us, lots of open space and beautiful architecture.”

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