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SRQ DAILY Dec 31, 2021

Friday Weekend Edition

Friday Weekend Edition

"We got through Eubie without any outbreaks because it was before the Omicron variant started surging in the state, We also had a very successful gala with 400+ people and nobody got sick; so, things were going really well for us."

- WBTT Executive Director Julie Leach

[Cancellation]  As ‘Joyful! Joyful!’ Surges, So Does Omicron
Andrew Fabian, andrew.fabian@srqme.com

The run of Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s (WBTT) “Joyful! Joyful!” had found a groove in its final weeks as it sold out most of its shows. Unlike “Eubie,” which only saw the second half of its run sold out as many of WBTT’s ticketholders remained up North, “Joyful! Joyful!” surged almost immediately when it opened on December 1st. Unfortunately, yet another variant of COVID-19 was also surging and continues to temper the optimism of the return of theatre.

On Tuesday, WBTT announced that the final three performances of “Joyful! Joyful!” were cancelled following three positive COVID-19 tests from members of the production team. All three shows were sold out.

“We got through ‘Eubie’ without any outbreaks because it was before the Omicron variant started surging in the state,” says WBTT executive director, Julie Leach. “We also had a very successful gala with 400+ people and nobody got sick; so, things were going really well for us.”

The news of the positive cases comes as Broadway experiences its own high-profile cancellations, including “Music Man” in the wake of Hugh Jackman’s positive test. “And he’s boosted,” says Leach, “along with everyone in our company too. But this just goes to show that even with a vaccination and our #SafeArtsSarasota protocols, breakthrough infections can still derail things.”

Fortunately, none of the production team that tested positive are experiencing serious symptoms, a sign that vaccines, combined with the reportedly less severe effects of the Omicron variant, are an effective measure against severe illness. It’s a silver lining on a gray cloud of disappointment, but for Leach and WBTT, the message of hope in “Joyful! Joyful” has been adopted within the organization as it closes out 2021 and moves into 2022 armed with optimism and preparedness.

“Nate wrote ‘Joyful! Joyful!’ because he wanted to celebrate that we’re still here, that it’s a privilege to have made it and to be able to continue to share live theatre with each other. And I think moving forward we just have to remain flexible. We all need to be able to see our families and find ways to be together, so we’re going to keep our #SafeArtsSarasota protocols and do what we can to keep putting on shows. This was a setback for sure, but we’re still excited about 2022 and we think we’re ready for whatever it brings.”

WBTT’s box office will issue automatic refunds for those who purchased tickets to the final three “Joyful! Joyful!” shows. The next run of shows begins January 12th with the world premiere of the musical “Ruby,” written by Nate and Michael Jacobs. 

Photo by Sorcha Augustine.

More about WBTT.

[Exhibit]  Rainforest Masks of Costa Rica Returns to Selby Gardens' Downtown Sarasota Campus

The Rainforest Masks of Costa Rica exhibition returns to Selby Gardens’ Downtown Sarasota campus this January. The 18th annual exhibition and sale showcase art from the Indigenous Boruca tribe in Costa Rica, where traditional mask making is a way of life. Guests will experience (and be able to purchase) vibrant, hand-carved and painted balsa wood masks featuring the stunning flora and fauna of the tropical rainforest. This year’s Rainforest Masks exhibition also spotlights the Borucan tradition of textile making. Borucan weavers use natural resources such as leaves and plant seeds to dye their cotton material, and the display will include several dried plant specimens from the Selby Gardens Herbarium that are found in their region. Proceeds from mask sales support the Borucan village and also benefit Selby Gardens’ education, research, horticulture, and scientific work. Go here for more details.

Schedule of Events: January 7: Preview Event (special admission required) Visitors have two options to gain early access to this breathtaking show and participate in the mask sale before the general public. Capacity is limited. January 8-9: Opening Weekend and “Pop-Up Shop”: during the exhibit’s official opening weekend, the Museum of Botany & the Arts will offer additional handmade items, such as jewelry, for sale. January 8 - 30: Annual Exhibition and Sale

Early Admission: 10 am – 2 pm: $55 for Selby Gardens members, $60 for non-members
Regular Admission: 2 – 6 pm: $25 for Selby Gardens members, $30 for non-members

Purchase tickets online.

[New Show]  The FSU/Asolo Conservatory Presents Belleville

Belleville is “a stylish psychological thriller predicated on the idea that the person closest to you may in fact be a complete stranger” (LA Times). Young Americans Zack and Abby have the perfect ex-pat life in Paris: a funky bohemian apartment in an up-and-coming Belleville, a stable marriage and Zack’s noble mission to fight pediatric AIDS. But when Abby finds Zack at home one afternoon when he’s supposed to be at work, the questions and answers that follow shake the foundation of their seemingly beautiful life.

“Belleville is both a tragedy and a thriller,” said Jou, noting that Herzog’s writing astutely observes the ways Abby and Zack distort their own visions of themselves and each other. “The play offers us a lot to contemplate: what it means to know ourselves, when do we know when something is over and what happens next?”

Herzog is an American playwright whose works have earned her numerous awards, including the Whiting Writers Award and the New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award. Her dramatic comedy 4000 Miles won an Obie Award for Best New American Play and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Belleville was commissioned by Yale Rep, where it premiered in 2011. The play received a Drama Desk nomination and led Herzog to be a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

The FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training prepares to open its second show of this season, Amy Herzog’s Belleville. Directed by Jesse Jou, the show runs Jan. 5–23, with a pay-what-you-can preview on Jan. 4. 

More about the FSU/Asolo Conservatory Season

[Recognition]  ALSO Youth Executive Director Recognized as Watermark's Remarkable People of the Year

ALSO Youths Executive Director Mickey Stone was recognized as one of Watermark's Remarkable People of the Year. According the Watermark, "When an individual can fit over a year’s worth of accomplishments into less than half of that time, that is the textbook definition of remarkable. ALSO Youth is so proud of the remarkable Mickey J. Stone, who led the successful implementation of a year’s worth of initiatives under five full months." The organization notes that Mickey, who was hired in June 2021 while the Centers were still primarily operating virtually with very limited open hours, focused on getting both Centers in Sarasota and Bradenton fully reopened with a robust slate of programs. 

[Certification]  Hackett-Kaufman Certified in Plant-Based Nutrition Launches New App

Sarasota-based fitness and healthy lifestyle advocate Heather Hackett-Kaufman recently became certified in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, a program sponsored by Cornell University. Hackett-Kaufman and her husband, Dr. Ken Kaufman just completed a year developing Optamiz™, the first mobile phone app designed for scalable plant-based living. “The number of people who are curious about plant-based foods and healthier living is growing. There’s been a tremendous increase in plant-based food sales,” Hackett-Kaufman noted. “But many people don’t know where to start, or how to make the transition.” The Optamiz app, available in January 2022 for both iPhone and Android devices, is a central “source for restaurants, recipes, resources, products, and services to live a plant-based lifestyle for anyone, regardless of how casual or committed,” said Hackett-Kaufman. “It can help newbies learn about the basics of plant-based diets, while at the same time help experienced vegans find restaurants, products and more.” 

Hackett-Kaufman has been an outspoken advocate for plant-based diets, and recently published the “Plant-Based Jumpstart Manual”, a 70-page guide for anyone wanting to easily transition to a plant-based lifestyle. The Plant-Based Jumpstart Manual is free with the Optamiz app download. Heather Hackett-Kaufman and Dr. Kaufman are partners of Optamiz Health, Inc. and and Sarasota Sports Medicine in Sarasota, Florida. The Optamiz App is your source for restaurants, recipes, resources, products, and services to live a plant-based lifestyle, regardless of how casual or committed. Optamiz, “The App for Plant-Based Living” can be downloaded on Google Play as well as the Apple Store. For additional information or media inquiries, please email 

[Connectivity]  City of Sarasota Launches City News

The City of Sarasota announced the inaugural edition of City News, a multi-media digital newsletter dedicated to sharing updates on projects, initiatives, upcoming meetings and happenings of interest in the community the Friday afternoon prior to a regular City Commission meeting.  

For feedback and suggestions, email CityNews@SarasotaFL.gov.

Click for more info.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Discover Sarasota Tours: Holly Jolly Trolley , December 1 – December 31

During December join us for a special holiday trolley or van tour complete with cocoa, carols & Christmas stories about Sarasota. Step onboard our Holly Jolly Trolley or Van with guide Jenny Jingle for our special daytime holiday tour with cocoa, carols & Christmas stories of Sarasota. Visit city spots with Christmas story connections, hear about our Sarasota traditions during the holidays & sing along to your favorite Christmas songs. Includes FREE cocoa at the Trolley Cottage before the tour. We award prizes for best Ugly Sweater on our Holly Jolly Trolley Tours during December so dress in your holiday best. Tour ticket includes FREE Parking.

[SOON]  GALLERY: Conservation Foundation: Photography of Mary Lundeberg , November 16 – December 31

Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast welcomes nature photographer and writer, Mary Lundeberg, and her exhibit, Share the Shore. Lundeberg’s exhibit highlights the variety of threatened coastal wildlife species that nest on our beaches, including least terns, black skimmers, snowy plovers, American oystercatchers, and sea turtles. The opening artist’s reception is November 17 from 5pm to 7pm in the foundation’s Burrows-Matson House headquarters at Bay Preserve, 400 Palmetto Avenue in Osprey. Limited edition photography printed on infused aluminum will highlight beach-nesting wildlife and their habitat. A portion of the proceeds from these limited-edition prints will benefit Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast. In addition to the artist’s reception, Lundeberg will host a virtual presentation on Thursday, November 16 at 10am, entitled Beach-Nesting Wildlife and the Challenges They Face. The one-hour presentation will feature her images of threatened beach-nesting birds, as well as coastal sea turtles. Registration for both the artist’s reception and virtual program is required. To learn more and RSVP, please visit conservationfoundation.com/events or call 941-918-2100. The exhibit will be on display through December 2021 and may be viewed Monday-Friday from 9am to 4pm.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Van Wezel: Jefferson Starship - Mother of the Sun Tour , December 31, 8pm

JEFFERSON STARSHIP has toured all 50 U.S. states, five continents and countless countries around the world, drawing from a massive setlist of hit after hit! In addition to original member David Freiberg, the band includes drummer Donny Baldwin (whose Jefferson Starship roots go back to 1982), keyboardist Chris Smith (who joined in 1998), guitarist Jude Gold (who joined in 2012), and singer and guitarist Cathy Richardson (who joined in 2008), after founding member Paul Kantner saw her tour with Big Brother and the Holding Company. This show will take place on Friday, December 31 at 8pm.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Asolo Repertory Theatre: Hair , November 17 – January 1, Varies.

Hair is the rock musical that started it all. This joyous rebellion proudly reclaims love as the heart of what it means to be American. Packed with music that is beautiful, irreverent, and deeply evocative, the quirky, all-inclusive vibe doesn’t shy away from poignant social commentary. This iconic musical and Grammy Award-winning score get an exuberant and resonant retelling in the hands of Broadway and Asolo Rep favorite Josh Rhodes. Unforgettable numbers like “The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In),” “Aquarius,” “Good Morning Starshine,” and “Hair” will bring audiences to their feet. Contains mature themes, language, and brief nudity. Recommended for age 16+. Hair will show November 17, 2021–January 1, 2022.

[SOON]  GALLERY: Art Uptown Gallery: Glass Shapes by Esther Jensen , January 1 – January 28, Gallery hours.

In January, Art Uptown Gallery will feature the work of Sarasota glass artist Esther Jensen in an exhibit of her fused glass art entitled ”Glass Shapes.” Esther’s art evokes her familiarity and love of living near open water, first in her native Denmark, then on the Gulf of Mexico in Southwest Florida and now from her studio on Sarasota Bay. Her Scandinavian background influences most of her designs which are simple and straight forward and include both functional and decorative pieces. The “Glass Shapes” exhibit runs from Saturday, January 1 through Friday, January 28. The public is also invited to a reception on First Friday, January 7, from 6-9pm. Art Uptown Gallery welcomes you to the 1367 Main Street gallery, where the diverse art works of 29 local artists are shown seven days a week. Telephone: 941-955-5409 for hours and further information. www.artuptown.com.

[SOON]  THEATER: Florida Studio Theatre: Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story , November 3 – January 2, Varies.

Experience the true story of Buddy Holly’s meteoric rise to fame, from “That’ll Be the Day” hitting the airwaves in 1957 to “The Day The Music Died” two years later. With over a dozen of Holly’s greatest hits brought to life by performers playing their own instruments, Buddy celebrates the legend who changed the face of Rock & Roll forever. Featuring Holly’s “Peggy Sue,” “Everyday,” and “Oh Boy,” plus Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba” and The Big Bopper’s “Chantilly Lace.” Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story by Alan Janes will play beginning November 3, 2021 through January 2, 2022 in FST's Gompertz Theatre. 

[SOON]  THEATER: FSU/Asolo Conservatory: Belleville , January 4 – January 23, Varies.

Young Americans Zack and Abby have the perfect ex-pat life in Paris: a funky bohemian apartment in up -and-coming Belleville; a stable marriage; and Zack's noble mission to fight pediatric AIDS. But when Abby finds Zack at home one afternoon when he's supposed to be at work, the questions and answers that follow shake the foundation fo their seemingly beautiful life. Belleville will take place from January 4, 2022 at 7:30pm to January 23, 2022 at 2pm.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: McCurdy's Comedy Theatre: Al Romas , January 5 – January 9, 7pm, 6:30pm, and 8:50pm

A McCurdys favorite ….Al's TV credits include "Standup Spotlight, "Evening at the Improv" + Comedy Central, just to name a few. Al Romas will perform from January 5 to 9 at 7pm, 6:30pm, and 8:50pm in The Green Room.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Van Wezel: Il Divo , January 6, 8pm

Making their Sarasota debut, the iconic group IL DIVO transcends categorization, uniting the classical and the popular in multiple languages and infusing the passion of opera into their performances worldwide for over a decade. The quartet has earned over a hundred gold and platinum awards in over 30 countries, and has solidified their status as a global sensation with a timeless sound. This show will take place on Thursday, January 6 at 8pm.

[SOON]  FILM: The Ringling: Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict , January 7, 6:30pm

A colorful character who was not only ahead of her time but helped to define it, Peggy Guggenheim was an heiress to her family fortune who became a central figure in the modern art movement. As she moved through the cultural upheaval of the 20th century, she collected not only art but also artists. Her colorful personal history included such figures as Samuel Beckett, Max Ernst, Jackson Pollock, Alexander Calder, Marcel Duchamp as well as countless others. A collector of art and artists, Peggy Guggenheim fought through personal tragedy to build one of the world’s most important collections of modern art, now enshrined in her famous Venetian Palazzo. The film is a compendium of famous 20th century painting and sculpture mixed with the wild and iconoclastic life of one of the most powerful women in the history of the art world. Art Addict will show on January 7 at 6:30pm at the Historic Asolo Theater.

[SOON]  FESTIVAL: Fresh Fridays: Dance Under the Stars , January 7, 8pm-11pm

To help usher in a new year of joy and success, Fresh Fridays presents DANCE UNDER THE STARS on January 7th from 8-11pm. 2022’s first big first Friday event of the year will take place on Palm Avenue between the Palm Ave parking garage and Main Street, and will feature dance showcase/ /instruction in three different styles. Led by decorated competitive dancer Maks Lototskyy of Dynasty Dance Clubs, attendees can participate in ballroom from 8-9 p.m., country/Western from 9-10 p.m., or disco from 10-11pm. Guests are encouraged to patronize downtown restaurants and merchants the day of the event, making attendance at the Fresh Fridays program an easy walk. As with previous events, the first arrivals will get a free party favor to adorn their evening. Ample parking is available in the Palm Avenue parking garage and State Street parking garage, as well as street-side on Palm Avenue, Gulfstream Avenue, Main Street, Pineapple Avenue, and Cocoanut Avenue. 

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: 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.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. 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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