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Sarasota's summer cabaret craze

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  • | 12:18 p.m. August 5, 2014
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“Are you going to the cabaret show?” asked a friend as I was walking in front of Venice Theatre on Friday evening.

“No ... I am going to the show, Cabaret.”

This summer in Sarasota has been inordinately show-focused — it’s like the theater community has all been drinking the same water. And in that water is a dangerous flesh eating bacteria. Only instead of eating flesh, the water is forcing never-ending show tunes out of our every pore.

Let's take a  look:

My Five Wives … ”


The summer kicked off when Artistic Director of the Players Theatre, Jeffery Kin, turned 50. Naturally, he couldn’t just throw a party and serve cake. Instead, he produced a show and benefit for the Players, called  “My Five Wives, Three Girlfriends and One Son,”  starring numerous area performers who’ve all played Jeffery’s onstage family.

Attendance was great — 260 people showed up to support, and the Players raised $7,100 for its endowment campaign. I was even honored to appear onstage as a once “girlfriend” of Jeffery’s, learning six or seven new songs and overall having a blast ... but that was only the beginning.

 21 cases of cabaret-itis

Around the same time, Venice Theatre announced the acts that would be appearing in its second-annual Summer Cabaret Festival. Twenty-one distinct shows, featuring talented local singers and actors make up the list. Since then, Pinky’s Cabaret has been a petri dish of performances. As part of the singing trio, Vocal Vixens (performing Aug. 23 and 24th), I am learning and working on at least 12 new numbers. Cabaret-tastic!



It’s Like Singing For the Kings

In one of the more heartfelt gatherings of the summer, a celebration of the marriage of Sarasota theater royalty, Bob Nosal and Bob Trisolini, involved ... wait for it ... a cabaret! After 35 years (!) of being together, “The Bobs,” as they're affectionately called, tied the knot July 24, in New Jersey. Holding a reception on Longboat Key, the core of the local theater community got together to celebrate their momentous occasion.

“What do we do when theater people get together,” Trisolini asked a packed house. “We put on a show!”

More than a dozen singers provided the evening’s entertainment, including Kathy Halenda, who is appearing at Florida Studio Theatre right now as part of its … no, seriously, wait for it ... Summer Cabaret! She’s doing her one-woman show, “Somewhere Over the Rose,” a tribute to Judy Garland and Bette Midler, Aug. 5 through 31.

I also was privileged to perform two numbers for The Bobs, who sat on the side of the room in matching chairs to partake and bask in the evening dedicated to them. Sarasota star of many different mediums, Joey Panek (who also appeared at the Venice Theater Summer Cabaret Festival), joked as he got up to perform a few numbers: “It’s like singing for the kings.”


And, finally, a show that's actually called "Cabaret," because we're not confused enough already

Alongside the series of cabaret acts being produced at the Venice Theater, its main stage is now featuring the hit Kander and Ebb musical, "Cabaret," as part of its Summer Stock. I had the privilege of seeing it Friday night and was thoroughly impressed!

Directed and choreographed by Brad Wages, with musical direction by Michelle Kasanofsky, what is particularly unique to this production are the performers — rather, their ages. The Summer Stock program is considered a theater “boot camp,” nurturing senior-high and college-aged performers interested in pursuing professional careers in theatre.


From the Kit Kat Girls to the ensemble and the show’s leads, played by Tony DeNiro, Kaitlyn Terpstra and Patrick Mounce, the level of onstage talent was remarkable. Running through Aug. 10, this is a cabaret that you can still go see! Learn more about it here.

An entertaining summer

Ultimately, all this cabaret action has been exciting to witness and be a part of. I remember the days when a Sarasota summer was quite uneventful. We spent our afternoons listening to thunderstorms while planning for season auditions and daydreaming about the shows we might be in.

This growing assortment of entertainment options (with audiences to boot) establishes that our summer is now, simply put, “another op’nin, another show.”

Have you been to any of these productions? Did I miss any cabarets? Let me know in the comments!


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