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SRQ Daily Feb 13, 2018

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"I hope it invokes conversation about what we are capable of as human beings."

- Laura Rook, "Rhinoceros"

[Theater]  Running of the Rhinos at Asolo Repertory Theatre
Philip Lederer, Phil.Lederer@srqme.com

Opening this past Friday, Asolo Repertory Theatre brings an absurdist classic to the stage with Rhinoceros. The story follows an ordinary man named Berenger, who enjoys his ordinary life and ordinary job until the extraordinary happens and his fellow townspeople begin suddenly transforming into rhinoceroses. Written by Eugene Ionesco in the wake of World War II as commentary on conformity and personal integrity, two-time Tony Award-winner Frank Galati brings his own adaptation to the Asolo stage.

Though written near 60 years ago, the production retains its resonance in the modern day, says actor Laura Rook, who plays Daisy in the Asolo production. “There’s a timelessness because it’s so abstract,” she says, likening the play to an abstract painting. Whereas something figurative tends to anchor the observer in a time and place, an abstract experience allows for the artwork to float unstuck in time, endlessly interpreted by audience after audience. In this way, Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, through its non-literal exploration of the social mechanics and philosophical conundrums creating tension between conformity and individuality, speaks to audiences and issues today as it did in a world recovering from WWII.

But, and as further evidence of Ionesco’s genius, according to Rook, the play remains an absolute delight, even when commenting on the rise of fascism. “It’s almost a farce,” she says, “because it’s so absurd.” Full of quick wit (streamlined and focused by Galati’s sharp editing, she says.) and masterful physical comedy, the play never dulls or dips, instead powering through one sequence after another like a rhino at full charge. And prepare to be shocked at how the cast and crew have brought the rhinos to life, says Rook, though the details remain a surprise for ticketholders.

Part of the trick, says Rook, in tackling such serious subject matter yet keeping the atmosphere open and enjoyable, lies in Ionesco’s keen avoidance of casting blame. “He doesn’t take one side,” says Rook. “He’s interested in asking the question.” By not insisting on the answer, Ionesco avoids being preachy and creating easy villains, simultaneously creating a more inviting environment for discussion. “I hope it invokes conversation about what we are capable of as human beings,” says Rook.

Currently onstage at Asolo Repertory Theatre, Rhinoceros runs through April 14. 

Pictured: Laura Rook, David Breitbarth and Matt Mueller in Asolo Rep’s production of “Rhinoceros.” Photo by Cliff Roles.

[GoodBite]  Roses are Red, Veuves are Bubbly
Brittany Mattie, brittany.mattie@srqme.com

For the gentlemen who make last minute dashes for a birthday card at the drugstore and wait till Christmas Eve to shop for presents, Libby’s Cafe + Bar has got you covered. The Lovers Valentine’s Dinner is carefully crafted from an à la Carte love-inspired menu running throughout this entire week. Highlights include Long Island Blue Point oysters, New Zealand rack of lamb, lobster and shrimp fettuccine and a molten chocolate lava cake. The concierge packages include a bottle of wine or bubbly, flowers and the dinner. With two packages to choose from and no possibility to go wrong with either, Libby’s has the holiday covered for those 11th hour planners! When making reservations, be sure to include notation for either the Rose or Tulip package, and you’ll be guaranteed a pre-set table with all the requested items ready upon arrival. The Rose Package includes a half-dozen red roses and a choice of either Veuve Clicquot, Paul Hobbs Chardonnay or Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir. The Tulip Package includes a half-dozen pink tulips and a choice of either Mumms Brut Sparkling, Rodney Strong Chardonnay or Erath Pinot Noir.  

Tableseide Restaurant Group

[Community]  Online Survey Collecting Community Input on Bayfront Development

The team behind planning for proposed development on the Sarasota Bayfront, including the designers and architects of Sasaki, are looking for more community input and have put up an online survey to that end. The survey will be live for a limited time, and everyone is encouraged to weigh in. The survey can be found at the link below. 

Bayfront Survey

[Government]  Sarasota County Launches PulsePoint App

Sarasota County Fire Department has collaborated with the surrounding fire departments to bring a life-saving app called PulsePoint to Sarasota County. Together, these agencies, North Port Fire & Rescue, Venice Fire Department, Nokomis Fire Department, Longboat Key Fire & Rescue, Englewood Fire Department and Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport Fire Department, form a cooperative consortium of forward-thinking first responders. The free mobile app alerts citizens trained in hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) when someone in a nearby public place suffers sudden cardiac arrest. Public safety communications centers send alerts through the app at the same time they dispatch first responders to the scene. The app also notifies users of the closest available public access automated external defibrillator (AED). 

Sarasota County

[Construction]  J.E. Charlotte Construction Completes Pinkerton Building

J.E. Charlotte Construction Corp., a Venice-based commercial construction company, recently completed the 10,000-square-foot retail and office building in downtown Venice for Pinkerton Private Wealth. Located between the Bank of America building and the U.S. Post Office at 304 W. Venice Ave., the two-story building now holds the headquarters for Pinkerton Private Wealth in the Venice Main Street district. The structure houses four ground-level retail suites while the second floor features professional office space. Seaside Chic, Tangi & Jess and Venice In Voguel will occupy approximately 1,200-square-foot spaces. Designed by Beebe Design Studio Architects, the building blends with the city’s Mediterranean revival style and the historical elements of the existing buildings. 

J.E. Charlotte Construction Corp.

[TODAY]  GALLERY: American Watercolor Society Traveling Exhibition , February 13 – March 23

The American Watercolor Society celebrates 150 years of fine art with a traveling exhibit making a stop right in Bradenton. Featuring the work of near 150 artists, including Sarasota’s own Judy Saltzman, the show hangs in the Kellogg Gallery. In the Searle and Reid Hodges Galleries, the Florida Suncoast Watercolor Society Exhibit brings even more watercolor to a day at ArtCenter Manatee.

ArtCenter Manatee, 209 9th St. W., Bradenton

[SOON]  MUSIC: It's Been Reel , February 14 – February 17, 5:30pm, 7:30pm, and 8pm

Movies and their musical scores go hand in hand. Gone with the Wind, The King and I, and Raiders of the Lost Ark all are as memorable for their music as their lasting lines and compelling stories. We won't need a movie screen in this orchestral concert.

Holley Hall, 709 North Tamiami Trl., Sarasota

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: Thunder by the Bay , February 15 – February 18

The Annual Thunder By the Bay Motorcycle Festival continues to rev up a great time raising money for Suncoast Charities for Children. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, this year’s festival includes a Born To Be Wild Kickoff Party, Cruise for Cash Charity Motorcycle Ride, Bikes On Main Block Party, and a two day festival held at the Sarasota County Fairgrounds with a special musical performance by Vegas McGraw. 

[SOON]  THEATER: Hunchback of Notre Dame , February 15 – March 4

From the Academy Award-winning team comes a lushly scored retelling of Victor Hugo’s epic story of love, acceptance and what it means to be a hero.

Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 3rd Ave West., Bradenton.

[SOON]  GALA: Van Wezel Foundation Gala , February 16, 5:00pm

Join the Van Wezel Foundation in celebrating their 30th Anniversary at their annual Gala. Enjoy an evening filled with cocktails by the Bay, dinner by Michael’s on East, premium performance seating and an exclusive after-party. Headlining this incredible evening will be pop music icon, Barry Manilow in his Sarasota debut. Proceeds help support the Van Wezel’s Schooltime Performance Program, community outreach and special needs of the Hall. 

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34236

[SOON]  BUSINESS: Sarasota Chamber Annual Breakfast ft. Eric Spiegel , February 16, 7:30am

Former CEO of Siemens USA Eric Spiegel will be the keynote speaker at this 98th annual breakfast. Additionally, The Chamber will also briefly present its 2018 strategic goals for its membership.

Ritz-Carlton Sarasota, 1111 Ritz-Carlton Dr., Sarasota.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Jim Kweskin and Roy Book Binder , February 17, 8pm

Jim Kweskin is best known as a singer and bandleader. He also created one of the bedrock guitar styles of the folk revival, adapting the ragtime-blues fingerpicking of artists like Blind Boy Fuller to the more complex chords of pop and jazz. Musically, Roy Book Binder is difficult to categorize. His eclectic repertoire includes blues, country tunes, bluegrass, folk and popular songs that originated on Tin Pan Alley. This combination of musicians is sure to treat their audience to a musical experience that they do not get to hear everyday.

Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center, 525 Kumquat Ct., Sarasota.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Carmen , February 17 – March 24

Ill-fated passion rules the tumultuous love of a gypsy and a corporal. Carmen is a musical experience that will take you on a journey through Seville, to the mountains with the smugglers, and finally to the bullring, where Carmen and Don José’s story comes to its tragic end.

Sarasota Opera House, 61 North Pineapple Ave., Sarasota.

[SOON]  MUSIC: President's Day with Bill Schustik and James Hawkins , February 18, 7pm

For this show, Bill Schustik will open his troubadour's songbag to share stories and songs about our nation's former presidents. James Hawkins will share songs about Florida history and the Venice/Sarasota area. 

Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center, 525 Kumquat Ct., Sarasota.

[SOON]  THEATER: Dreamgirls , February 20 – March 18

An opportunistic show business promoter sets the career of a female trio of black singers soaring as 1960s Motown music becomes popular with both white and black audiences. The group's success leads to the lead singer's demotion in favor of a more glamorous singer who had previously sung backup.

Venice Theatre, 140 Tampa Ave W., Venice

[SOON]  THEATER: Constellations , February 21 – March 16

Can one word alter the course of your life? A simple encounter between a man and a woman leads to a spellbinding journey across time and space. Science and romance collide in this unusual love story of infinite possibilities and the difference between choice and destiny.

Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 North Palm Ave., Sarasota.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Midori Honors Bernstein , February 22 – February 25, 2:30pm and 8pm

Internationally acclaimed violin legend Midori makes her Sarasota Orchestra debut with this tribute concert to iconic American conductor Leonard Bernstein. Settling on the theme of love, Midori interprets Bernstein’s serenade for violin and orchestra, bringing the passion and virtuosity that audiences first saw when Midori took the New York Philharmonic stage at age 11.

Van Wezel, 777 North Tamiami Trl., Sarasota

[SOON]  FOOD: Men, Whiskey, and Watches South County , February 22, 6:00PM

Men, Whiskey and Watches South County held at the Suncoast Air Center will feature a deluxe tasting from local restaurants, open bar and casino entertainment. Also enjoy whiskey tasting from select distillers, an assortment of fine luxury watches, premium cigars, and live and silent auction. Network with the area’s business community and help us raise awareness about child abuse in our beautiful community. Proceeds will support Child Protection Center’s mission in the prevention, intervention, and treatment of child abuse.

Suncoast Air Center, 400 Airport Ave. E Venice, FL 34285

[SOON]  THEATER: Bullets Over Broadway , February 21 – March 11

Loaded with big laughs, colorful characters and the songs that made the ’20s roar, this show brings musical comedy back with a bang. Based on the screenplay of the acclaimed 1994 film by Woody Allen, this musical is a love letter to the Golden Age of Broadway. A straight-arrow playwright plans to stand firm against compromising his work but quickly abandons that stance when his producer finds a backer to mount his show on Broadway.

The Players Theatre, 838 N Tamiami Trl., Sarasota

[SOON]  MUSIC: Heather Maloney , February 22, 7pm

Coming to Sarasota is Signature Sounds artist, Heather Maloney. Maloney has toured nationally as a headliner as well as in support of acts like Lake Street Dive, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Gary Clark Jr., Colin Hay and Mary Chapin Carpenter. In 2014 she collaborated with the rising Boston quartet Darlingside on the Woodstock EP, a tribute to the Joni Mitchell-written, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young-covered 60’s anthem. The cover was featured on the New York Times and garnered attention from Graham Nash himself. Her sound is inspired by a mix of 60's and 70's rock and 90's radio hits from women like Fionna Apple and Mariah Carey. 

Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center, 525 Kumquat Ct., Sarasota.

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine and edited by Senior Editor Phil LedererNote: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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