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Performing Art
Tom Sherak
Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Mar. 7, 2012 8 years ago

Scene & Heard

by: Heidi Kurpiela Contributing Writer

+ Ringling students grab Academy Award
And the Oscar goes to … whoever got lucky enough to hold the statue last Friday during Tom Sherak’s tour of Ringling College of Art and Design.

Sherak, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, was in town last week to give a presentation to Ringling College donors and clients of PNC Wealth Management.

Following his lecture Thursday night, Sherak and his wife, Madeline, toured the RCAD campus Friday morning in the company of President Dr. Larry Thompson.

The actor/producer, who is now serving his second term as academy president, spoke to students in the college’s digital filmmaking and computer animation programs.

In addition to waxing inspirational about his own journey, Sherak explained that students can find a bounty of internship and grant opportunities on the Academy Awards’ website.

And, then, he pulled out an actual Oscar.

According to RCAD development officer Mary Lee Richey, the statue was bigger and heavier than she imagined — 8.5 pounds and 13 inches tall, to be exact.

“All my life I wanted to carry an Academy Award,” Richey says. “It was a great surprise. We didn’t know he was going to bring it.”

Prior to Sherak’s tenure, the statue was routinely kept under lock and key. However, in an effort to make the Academy seem less stodgy, the president has begun to travel with the award.

Fortunately for Sherak, Oscar is a light dresser. TSA screeners rarely have to ask him to remove his shoes or belt.

+ Asolo Rep pledges to present all ‘American’ season
God bless the USA and the Asolo Repertory Theatre.

On Monday, the company announced the lineup for it 54th season, and all I’ve got to say is red, white and blue never looked so colorful.

Next fall, the company will kick off a five-year project focused on American theater. Dubbed the “American Character” project, the series will celebrate, over the course of five seasons, the people, culture and history of the United States.

First on the patriotic program: the Founding Fathers’ musical “1776,” directed by Frank Galati.

If you think Galati’s interpretation of Victorian-era London was spot-on in “My Fair Lady,” wait until you see him recreate the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

The original Broadway production opened in 1969 and went on to win three Tony Awards — that’s one more Tony than Galati has on his mantle.

Best of luck to resident hair and makeup artist Michelle Hart, as she begins the tedious task of customizing powdered wigs.

The theater also announced its 2013 shows, starting with Kaufman and Hart’s Pulitzer Prize-winning ode to wacky/lovable American families (“You Can’t Take it With You”); David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning ode to real-estate greed (“Glengarry Glen Ross”); Wendy Wasserstein’s Pulitzer Prize-winning ode to feminism (“The Heidi Chronicles”); and Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning ode to Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” (“Clybourne Park”).

Throw in Ken Ludwig’s murder mystery “The Games Afoot,” one to-be-announced world premiere and a new dance musical helmed by “Bonnie & Clyde” director Jeff Calhoun, and you’ve got one roaring repertory season.

I know the expression is “united we stand,” but, in this case, I’d say “united we sit” sounds about right.

+ Ballet nabs second Kennedy Center gig
The Sarasota Ballet will continue its Washington, D.C., hot streak next year, when the company performs in June 2013 as part of the Kennedy Center’s “Ballet Across America” program.

One of nine companies invited to dance in the festival, Sarasota Ballet will likely perform a work by British choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton, whose work has helped the company stand out in the American ballet industry.

In October, the organization danced George Balanchine’s “Diamonds” with the Kennedy Center’s resident company, Suzanne Farrell Ballet.

“Next year we’ll be there in our own right,” says Director Iain Webb, who met the festival’s organizer, Meg Booth, during his time last fall in Washington, D.C.

The news comes after Webb announced this week that the company would stage a circus-themed “Nutcracker” by Matthew Hart, the British choreographer behind this year’s season-opener, “Tchaikovsky’s Ballet Fantasy.”

The new “Nutcracker,” which will be set to live music by the Sarasota Orchestra, will be staged Dec. 14 and Dec. 15, at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and play Dec. 21 and Dec. 22, at Ruth Eckerd Hall, in Clearwater.

What else can we expect next season from Webb and company, aside from a Ringling-esque “Nutcracker” and another Kennedy Center engagement?

The season leads off Oct. 26, with a guest spot by the New York-based Paul Taylor Dance Company at the FSU Performing Arts Center, followed by a performance in November of one of Taylor’s most popular works — “Company B,” a modern take on America on the verge of World War II.

The 2013 season begins with three back-to-back premieres of Ashton ballets, including the choreographer’s full-length masterpiece, “La fille mal gardée,” (“The Wayward Daughter”) in April at the Van Wezel.

In keeping with the popularity of its “Theatre of Dreams” program, the season will end in May with an original program choreographed by principal dancers Ricardo Graziano and Kate Honea at the FSU Performing Arts Center. According to Webb, Honea’s piece will be set to live music by a local performing-arts organization.

And, if that’s not enough, the director is gearing up for 2014, when he will undertake one of his most ambitious projects to date: an international festival devoted entirely to performing Ashton’s work.

“It’ll be 25 years since Ashton passed away,” Webb says. “We’re going to try to (dance) it all ourselves.”

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