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Asolo Rep unveils its 2009-2010 company

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  • | 5:00 a.m. November 18, 2009
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The energy at Asolo Rep’s annual town hall announcement Tuesday, Nov. 10, was a mix of wonder, romance and anticipation, as producing Artistic Director Michael Donald Edwards introduced this season’s repertory artists.

Among those were third-year conservatory student Kirstin Franklin, who will appear in “The Perfume Shop,” (Dec. 4 to April 1) an adaptation of “La Perfumerie,” a play that inspired Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan’s romantic comedy “You’ve Got Mail.”

Guest artist and British actor Paul Whitworth, who, in 2008, played Dysart in “Equus,” will return to the Asolo next month to play Galilei Galileo in “The Life of Galileo” (Dec. 11 to Feb. 17).

Directed by Edwards and translated by Tony Award-winning playwright David Edgar, “The Life of Galileo” is German dramatist Bertolt Brecht’s most famous work. Despite its enormous cast, expensive cosmic set and historical costumes, the Asolo Rep board unanimously approved the big-budget play, which will mark the 400th anniversary of the year the Italian astronomer first demonstrated his famous wooden telescope.

“I’m immensely proud of our city and our company for deciding to do ‘Galileo,’” said Edwards, addressing a crowd of conservatory students, theater patrons and board members.

Opening in time for Valentine’s Day is “Searching for Eden: The Diaries of Adam and Eve,” (Dec. 18 to Feb. 25) by James Still. The play’s lush, utopian set is already generating buzz among Asolo staff; in addition, its gorgeous stars, real-life married couple Sam Osheroff and Kris Danford, are adding a delightful back story to the production. Danford, who appeared as Cinderella in the 2006’s Asolo Rep hit, “The Plexiglass Slipper” met Osheroff, a second-season guest artist, when the two were students in the Asolo’s conservatory program.

Danford and Osheroff will also star as Cathy and Jamie, a husband and wife falling out of love in “The Last Five Years” (Jan. 21 to Feb. 28), an intimate musical by Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown. Both actors should be familiar with the roles because they performed them in 2007 with the Peterborough Players, a professional theater company in Peterborough, N.H.

“Hearts” (Jan. 22 to April 11), the story of a Jewish-American soldier in World War II, opens in January and runs through April. Longtime Asolo Rep artist Douglas Jones, now in his 24th season with the theater, stars as Donald Waldman, based on playwright Willy Holtzman’s own father.

“Managing Maxine” (March 12 to April 18), starring 14th season Asolo Rep veteran Sharon Spelman, will carry the theater into its spring season. The comedy depicts a feisty widow while she falls in love with a retired judge, also a widower, despite their daughters’ protests. The play, written by Atlanta playwright Janece Shaffer, is reportedly based on an actual Sarasota couple’s relationship. According to Edwards, the couple has already purchased 50 tickets.

Contact Heidi Kurpiela @ [email protected]

It’s a small world after all
Recently, while watching the closing-night performance of a friend’s play in London, actor Paul Whitworth whispered to the director of the National Theatre of London that he would be leaving soon for Sarasota to star as Galileo at the Asolo Repertory Theatre.

Suddenly, in the middle of describing the theater to the director, Whitworth was tapped on the shoulder by a man who said he was the architect that supervised the relocation of the Asolo’s 500-seat Mertz Theatre from Dunfermline, Scotland, to Sarasota in the 1980s.

Whitworth was so blown way by the chance encounter he couldn’t wait to share it with Asolo Rep patrons. 



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