Some comedy stars are famous for one long-running character; others for a host of them. Lily Tomlin, who began her career in the public eye more than 35 years ago on TV's Laugh-In, is one of the latter. Tomlin will bring some of those popular characters to the Van Wezel stage March 5 for An Evening of Classic Lily Tomlin; call 953-3368 for tickets.
Q. Tell me a little bit about your show. I perform 10 or 12 of my characters, including favorites like Ernestine and Edith Ann. It's an informal standup concert with a lot of interaction with the audience.
Q. Where do the characters come from? People you know? Composites of real people? Or are they parts of you? All of those elements. Edith Ann was probably most patterned on me; I definitely drew on my own life as a starting point there. Ernestine just came about because I wanted to do something about the phone company, which was still a monopoly in those days and one that everyone in New York hated. Plus there was the whole political thing of Ernestine being able to tap phones and working with J. Edgar Hoover.
Q. How do they all stay fresh for you? Some of it is just classically funny, and if it still makes me laugh I add material if needed to keep them relevant. But there's such a wide variety of cultural voices, from Mrs. Beasley to a cheerleader to Sister Boogie Woman, the audience still finds something new in them, and that delights me.
Q. What are your audiences like? I'm not really sure-some hard-core base and some newcomers, I suppose. They used to be so broadly diverse that one of my crew said, "Well, there are 2,000 people out there who wouldn't normally be caught dead in the same room." Because I always had one foot in the counterculture and one in the mainstream.
Q. You're in a new film coming out this spring, Prairie Home Companion, along with a lot of other stars. Talk about that. It's a tremendous cast-Kevin Kline, Tommy Lee Jones, Lindsay Lohan-mostly working for next to nothing because we'll do anything for [director] Robert Altman. Meryl Streep and I play what's left of a singing act. Altman just has something going on that artists like.
Q. Who do you find funny these days? So many.Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle. Ellen [DeGeneres] is very charming. Of my contemporaries, I've always liked Steve Martin, and of course Richard Pryor, who was not only brilliant but had that vulnerability someone like Rock lacks.
Q. What's up next for you? I'm always trying to get my partner [Jane Wagner] to write a new theater piece. I'd love to take one more show to New York.
Q. Do people still always ask you about Laugh-In? Many times. It was a tremendously good time on that show, and half the population was watching it. It's amazing to come into a restaurant and have middle-aged people with napkins on their heads saying, "That's the truth" and blowing a big raspberry, like Edith Ann.-Kay Kipling
Leslie Lerner's paintings recall the compositional grandeur of artists Thomas Cole and Frederic Church, who documented unfamiliar places for the 19th-century American. His elegantly mannered figures are like those of Watteau, who painted a fantasy world of idyllic landscapes for the elite of 18th-century France. The powerful presence of a well-defined tree reminds us of Renaissance painter Giovanni Bellini's similar choice to focus the viewer's attention. The total integration of these references, combined with his own narrative devices, positions Sarasota's Lerner as one of the most interesting of contemporary artists.
Here he presents an extraordinary vista from a rocky promontory populated by two creatures. A dark-haired figure that appears to be a man gestures toward the scene below. A monkey seated behind him seems pensively possessed by the view. The distant horizon line is craggy with peaks of mountains and rock formations constructed with glazes of color. From foreground to distant background, the landscape evolves from cool blue grays to creamy ochers tinged with green. Miles away a river snakes through the valley, and a small dwelling defines itself on the banks. Somewhere in the middle distance is a single elegant tree establishing a point of interest and perspective.
Lerner's paintings connect us to universes we might encounter as well as those only he could imagine. His work is on view at Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art.-Mark Ormond
All of the Sarasota Film Festival fans who were used to getting their fix in January can rejoice: The festival, with its new dates of March 31 through April 9, is finally here. And the idea is that without competition from Sundance, Telluride and other fests that have already taken place, this year's event can generate even more star power.
At press time, none of those big names had yet been announced, though. What is known: More than 100 films in all genres, including shorts, documentaries and kids' movies, will be shown. Seminars, symposiums and a filmmakers' breakfast are all still on the schedule. And so is the raft of parties, luncheons and dinners that make the festival sparkle as Hollywood glamour meets Sarasota chic.
Included in the eighth annual festival are an opening night film (at the Van Wezel) and party (at the Ringling Museum), March 31; a Women and Wine Reception April 2; the World Cinema Celebration culminating in an indoor/outdoor party on Lemon Avenue, April 5; Luncheon Under the Banyans with a star TBA at Selby Gardens April 6; the Night of a Thousand Stars at Michael's On East April 7; the Filmmakers Tribute Dinner April 8, this year in the new venue of the Longboat Key Club & Resort; and, of course, the Late Night Wrap Party following that-always a much talked-about event.
Single movie tickets go on sale March 24, and the festival's film schedule should be available March 13 at www.sarasotafilmfestival.com. For other information, call 364-9514.
DRESSED FOR SUCCESS
Florida Studio Theatre continues its presentations of more daring, edgier work this month at its Stage III location at the Gompertz Theatre building with I Am My Own Wife, winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize and 2004 Tony Award for Best Play.
The work, by Texas-born playwright Doug Wright (whose previously best-known play was Quills, later turned into a film, about the Marquis de Sade), may be challenging for some audience members with its depiction of the main character, real-life German transvestite Charlotte von Mahlsdorf (born Lothar Berfelde), an antiques curator who survived both the Nazis and the Communists, living into the era of Germany's reunification.
But it's even more challenging for the actor who portrays not only Charlotte but a host of other characters in this one-man show, including one based on the playwright, who spent hours interviewing his main source and ended up including himself in the play.
Jefferson Mays won the Tony for Best Actor for his work in New York portraying 40 characters that bring to life much of the history and fabric of the 20th century. But the actor tackling I Am My Own Wife for FST has pretty impressive credits himself.
Todd Almond, a graduate of the University of Cincinnati's Conservatory of Music, is a songwriter and recording artist as well as an actor (he and sometime Asolo director Gus Kaikkonen have co-written a new musical called People Like Us). Plus he scored raves recently in Cincinnati with his onstage work in another play dealing with gender, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, as a transsexual rocker left mutilated by a botched sex change operation.
No word yet on whether Almond will also play Hedwig when Stage III presents that show in May. But he'll hit the stage as Charlotte March 1-24. For tickets call 366-9000.
Selby Gallery. Continuing through March 3: Contemplation and Action: The Drawings and Paintings of Richard Upton. Opening with a reception at 5 p.m. March 10 is Carrie Mae Weems: The Louisiana Project, featuring photographs, projections and installations on a theme drawn from New Orleans' past. A lecture takes place at 7 p.m. March 9. 359-7563.
Venice Art Center. Continuing through March 7: Art Ukraine 2006. Opening with a reception at 2 p.m. March 12 is a show of baskets and fiber art, running through March 28. 485-7136.
Art Center Sarasota. A watercolor exhibition continues through March 11 in the Main Gallery, with animation from the Ringling School in the Front Gallery. Opening March 23: The Art of Travel, plus a show featuring visiting Russian artists and also a show of works by Julie Trigg and Pat Kaufman. 365-2032.
Ringling Museum of Art. Waking Dreams: Art of the Pre-Raphaelites from the Delaware Art Museum continues through April 2. 359-5700.
Tampa Museum of Art. Wild Things: The Art of Maurice Sendak showcases the work of the artist and author over the last 50 years, through April 23. (813) 274-8130.
Salvador Dali Museum. Continuing through April 23: Pollock to Pop: America's Brush with Dali. (727) 823-3767.
Museum of Fine Arts. On view through April 30 at the St. Petersburg museum: Photography Past/Forward: Aperture at 50, which includes works by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, William Eggleston, Annie Leibovitz and others. (727) 896-2667.
The Gallery. Continuing at the Towles Court gallery through May 5 is An Artist's View of Rockport, Maine, featuring prints and encaustics by Marilyn Helfenbein. 730-6265.
Apple & Carpenter Galleries. A spring exhibition of American and European paintings takes place March 1 through April 29. 951-2314.
Palm Avenue Gallery. Oil paintings by Patricia May are on view all month at the gallery. 953-5757.
Galleria Silecchia. A Lasting Impression, opening March 3, features sculpted glass and metal by Hiroshi Yamano and Nick Mount, original pastel drawings by William Whitaker and bronze anthropological studies by William Morris. 366-7414.
Longboat Key Center for the Arts. The annual student show takes place March 3-20. Also this month: a collaboration with Art Center Sarasota March 24 through April 16; art, sculpture, pottery and prints by members opens March 8; a National League of American Pen Women show March 22 through April 24; and a jazz concert at 7 p.m. March 14. 383-2345.
Manatee Community College Fine Art Gallery. Works by Beth Reynolds related to the lives of Cuban Jews go on display, starting with a reception at 6 p.m. March 3; continuing through April 6 (closed for spring break March 20-26). 752-5252.
Painted Lady Outdoor Art Show. More than 20 juried Florida artists will display their work at this event, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 11 (rain date March 12) at the art school and gallery of Colleen Cassidy-Berns, 4613 S. Tamiami Trail. 924-1200.
Sharp-Stevens Gallery. New works by watercolorist Marge Bennett go on display, with a reception at 4:30 p.m. March 17. 365-4222.
Creators and Collectors Tour. The Fine Arts Society of Sarasota presents this opportunity to visit seven local artists in their studios and purchase work, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 17 and 18 (and again next month, April 21 and 22). Artists include Beth Arthur, Jason Luper, Joseph Palmerio, Judy Lyons Schneider, Beth Surdut, Betty McGeehan and Leslie Uguccioni. Tickets available at the Van Wezel, Davidson Drugs, Ace Hardware, the Paper Pad and Venice Art Center. 330-0680.
McCurdy's Comedy Theatre. Up this month: Reno Collier, March 1-5; Kathleen Madigan, March 10-12; Jim Brick, March 15-19; Ralphie May, March 24-26; and John DiCrosta, March 29-31. 925-3869.
Sarasota Comedy Festival. The 11th annual fest promises plenty of laughs along with original artwork by nationally syndicated cartoonists and some surprises as well. Highlights: the Funnybones Luncheon March 20 at Michael's On East, featuring the comedy of Tammy Pescatelli; and the Cartoon Classic Gala March 25, also at Michael's, featuring John Heffron, winner of season two of NBC's Last Comic Standing. Proceeds benefit the Child Protection Center; for more information, call 365-1277 ext. 118.
Russian National Ballet Company. The 50-strong company presents the classic Sleeping Beauty, at 8 p.m. March 3 at Van Wezel. 953-3368.
Martha Graham Dance Company. Dance of a very different style from the acclaimed Graham troupe, at 8 p.m. March 10 at Van Wezel. 953-3368.
Forever Tango. A cast of 26, including 14 tango dancers, offers music, drama and passion in this celebration of the Latin art form. Onstage at 8 p.m. March 17, and 2 and 8 p.m. March 18 at Van Wezel. 953-3368.
Sarasota Ballet of Florida. The company celebrates its 15th anniversary with a gala performance at 8 p.m. March 21 at Van Wezel. Includes Bolero, the Love Duet from Madame Butterfly, and Homage to Sarasota, created for the evening by artistic director Robert de Warren. Also this month: a reprise of Carmina Burana, at 8 p.m. March 24, 2 and 8 p.m. March 25, and 2 p.m. March 26, also at Van Wezel. 552-1032.
Through Women's Eyes: Women's International Film Festival. Twenty-three documentaries and short films show the world Through Women's Eyes, from noon to 9 p.m. March 3 and 4 at Hollywood 20. Presented by Gulf Coast Chapter of UNIFEM/USA; call 284-1027.
Sarasota Film Festival. The 2006 festival kicks off March 31 with the opening night film and party, the former at the Van Wezel and the latter in the courtyard of the Ringling Museum of Art. The film to be shown was not yet announced at press time; for up-to-the-minute details, call 364-9514. The festival continues through April 9.
Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary. "Edutainment" demonstrations about big cats, bears and other wildlife take place each Saturday and Sunday throughout the spring at 1:30 p.m.; reservations required. Call 371-6377 for reservations and location information.
Sarasota County Fair. Step right up, folks; it's time once more for the annual agricultural displays, cotton candy, entertainment, midway rides and more. March 17-26 at the Sarasota Fairgrounds. 365-0818.
Selby Gardens Spring Plant Fair. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 18 and 19. 366-5731.
PAL Sailor Circus. Talented, athletic Sarasota County students demonstrate their prowess during the spring run of the circus, March 29 through April 8 in the big blue tent on Bahia Vista. 361-6350.
Polish Chamber Orchestra. Sir James Galway leads the orchestra, with Lady Jeanne Galway on flute. On the program: Mozart's Symphony No. 40 and more. At 8 p.m. March 1 at the Van Wezel. 953-3368.
The Marriage of Figaro. The scheming Figaro returns once more in Mozart's comic masterpiece, onstage March 1, 5, 11, 18 and 25 at the Sarasota Opera House. 366-8450.
I masnadieri (The Robbers). This seldom-seen Verdi work, part of the Sarasota Opera's Masterworks Revival Series, tells the story of a young nobleman exiled to life as a robber, March 2, 5, 8, 11 and 18 at the Opera House. 366-8450.
La bohème. Puccini's tragic tale of love, art and poverty, presented at the Sarasota Opera House March 3, 10, 17, 19 23 and 25. 366-8450.
Die Fledermaus. Revel in the melodies of Johann Strauss Jr. in this popular operetta, onstage March 4, 7, 9, 12, 15, 19, 22, 24 and 26 at the Sarasota Opera. 366-8450.
Venice Symphony. Get into Music Outside the Box, at 4 p.m. March 5 at Jacaranda Trace. Then prepare for classical concerts at 8 p.m. March 17, and 4 and 8 p.m. March 18 (Church of the Nazarene) and a free Pops in the Park concert at 4 p.m. March 25 at Blalock Park. 488-1010.
MCC College Orchestra. In concert at 8 p.m. March 7 at Neel Performing Arts Center. 752-5252.
The Philadelphia Orchestra. Christoph Eschenbach takes the baton in performances of Beethoven's Symphony No. 8 and Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 2, the latter interpreted by Tzimon Barto. At 8 p.m. March 7 at Van Wezel. 953-3368.
Florida West Coast Symphony Masterworks. Violinist Karen Gomyo joins the orchestra in performances at 8 p.m. March 9 at the Van Wezel, 8 p.m. March 10 at Neel Performing Arts Center, and 8 p.m. March 11 and 2:30 p.m. March 12 at Van Wezel. On the program: Britten's Four Sea Interludes, Prokofiev's Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 19, and Sibelius' Symphony No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 82. Coming up with performances March 30 and 31: André Watts performing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5, the Emperor Concerto. 953-4252.
MCC Choirs. In performance at 8 p.m. March 9 at Neel Performing Arts Center. 752-5252.
Joey Dee's Pure Platinum. Joey Dee performs with fellow Starliters Dave Brigati and Bobby Valli, at 2 p.m. March 12 at Neel Performing Arts Center. 752-5252.
Willie & Lobo. The longtime duo performs at 8 p.m. March 12 at the Players of Sarasota. 365-2494.
The Woodwind Quintet of the New York Philharmonic. In performance at 8 p.m. March 12 at the Van Wezel, in a Sarasota Concert Association event. Call 955-0040 to see if tickets are available.
The Diamonds. Rock 'n' roll hits from the ensemble, March 12 and 13 at Venice Little Theatre. 488-1115.
Russian National Orchestra. It's the month for great orchestras; this one winds up the Van Wezel's orchestral season with performances of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23, and his Manfred Symphony in B Minor, Op. 58. Under the direction of Vladimir Jurowski, with Yefim Bronfman at the piano. At 8 p.m. March 13. 953-3368.
MCC Symphonic Band. The band performs at 8 p.m. March 14 at Neel Performing Arts Center. 752-5252.
Florida West Coast Symphony Great Escapes. You'll feel Lost in Space with performances of Haydn's Mercury Symphony, Claire de Lune and Star Trek, March 15, 16, 17 and 18 at Holley Hall. 953-4252.
The Pipes, Drums and Highland Dancers of 1st Battalion Black Watch and the Band of the Welsh Guards. Stirring music and pageantry from the United Kingdom on the Van Wezel stage, at 8 p.m. March 15. 953-3368.
Cocktails at the Cà d'Zan. Entertainment by Shaman and refreshments on the terrace, from 6 to 9 p.m. March 16. 359-5700.
Tony Kenny's Ireland. Everybody's Irish at this time in March. Kenny is joined by comic George Casey, the Dublin City Dancers and more Irish talent, at 2 p.m. March 19 at Van Wezel. 953-3368.
The Artist Series of Sarasota. Violinist Jennifer Frautschi performs, at 7:30 p.m. March 19 at Holley Hall. 388-1188.
An Evening with Marvin Hamlisch. Hamlisch pays tribute to some of his favorite composers, including Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim, in an evening that also includes, of course, some of Hamlisch's own work. At 8 p.m. March 19 at the Van Wezel. 953-3368.
Smooth Jazz on St. Armands: Fourth Friday with Style. The Mike Macarthur Group performs this month, beginning at 6 p.m. March 24 on the circle. 388-1554.
Florida String Quartet. The ensemble takes a musical trip From Budapest to Paris, with works by Haydn, Bartok and Debussy scheduled, at 7:30 p.m. March 24 at Holley Hall. 953-4252.
Natalie Cole. Songstress Cole entertains, at 8 p.m. March 28 at the Van Wezel. 953-3368.
Sarasota Ski-A-Rees. Free water-ski shows at 2 p.m. each Sunday (except Easter) through May 7. At Ken Thompson Park on City Island. 388-1666.
Baseball Spring Training. Peanuts, get your peanuts here. The boys of summer arrive this spring in Sarasota and Bradenton. The Pittsburgh Pirates commence their exhibition games at McKechnie Field in Bradenton March 1 and continue throughout the month; call 748-4610 or 747-3031 for ticket info. And the Cincinnati Reds call Sarasota's Ed Smith Stadium home for games beginning March 1 as well; for tickets here call 954-4464.
Ringling School Library Association Town Hall. Speakers this month include writer Amy Chua on the subject of globalization, March 2, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, March 14. Both speak at 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the Van Wezel. 925-1343.
An Afternoon with Jack Klugman. The actor shares stories from his more than half-century in show business, with plenty of time for questions from the audience as well. At 2 p.m. March 5 at the Van Wezel. 953-3368.
Sarasota Institute of Lifetime Learning (SILL). This month presents Music Mondays, March 6, 13 and 20 at Holley Hall; Arts and Humanities, March 7, 14 and 21 at the Players Theatre of Sarasota; Contemporary Public Issues, March 1, 8, 15 and 22 at the Players; and International Challenges, March 2, 9, 16 and 23, also at the Players. Contemporary Public Issues are also the topic March 1, 8, 15 and 22 at the Venice Community Center, as are International Issues, March 2, 10, 17 and 24. For full details call 365-6404 or go to www.sillsarasota.org.
Education Center Lecture Series. On tap this month at the Longboat Key Center: Dina Shachar-Labes on Spanish dance, March 7; Emanuel Tanay on The Holocaust: Memories and Misconceptions, March 14; Bruce Rodgers on From Pringles to Picasso, March 21; and Terri Wonder on Radical Islam's Attack on American Education: The USF Case, March 28. All talks at 3 p.m. Also this month at the center: From Hester Street to Hollywood, featuring Art and Joyce Liebman, March 10; and I Can't Remember Anything, a short play by Arthur Miller, March 24. 383-8811.
Books & Coffee. Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier is the book under discussion by Dr. Martin Tucker. At 10:30 a.m. March 14 at Selby Library. 365-5228.
Friends of Selby Library Luncheon. Emanuel Tanay, author of Passport to Life: Autobiographical Reflections on the Holocaust, is guest speaker, March 21 at Michael's On East. For tickets, call 365-5228.
Man of La Mancha. The musical about Don Quixote closes March 5 at the Players of Sarasota. 365-2494.
Urinetown. The funny musical with the yucky name ends its run March 12 at the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre. 366-5454.
Singin' in the Rain. The umbrellas over at Venice Little Theatre will be closing up as the show-biz musical winds to a close March 12. 488-1115.
The Elephant Man. The true story of John Merrick, whose deformity brought him attention both welcome and unwelcome, ends its run on the Manatee Players stage March 12. 748-5875.
Piano Men. A musical revue highlighting piano work from Scott Joplin through Billy Joel, onstage through March 25 at Florida Studio Theatre's Goldstein Cabaret. 366-9000.
Trying. A two-person show about the growing friendship between aristocrat Francis Biddle and his young secretary, continuing through April 8 on the Asolo's mainstage. 351-8000.
Moonlight and Magnolias. A comic look at the writing of the screenplay for Gone with the Wind, continuing through April 8 at Florida Studio Theatre. 366-9000.
Anything to Declare? An adaptation of a French sex farce, about a newlywed's troubled attempts to consummate his marriage. Continuing through April 27 at the Asolo. 351-8000.
To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee's classic story of a small Alabama town torn by a rape trial continues through May 6 at the Asolo. 351-8000.
Five by Tenn. Five short playlets by the late Tennessee Williams, onstage March 1-19 in an FSU/Asolo Conservatory production at the Jane B. Cook Theatre. 351-8000.
I Am My Own Wife. Doug Wright's Pulitzer winner, in which actor Todd Almond embodies 35 characters including Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a transvestite who survived the Nazi regime. March 1-23 at Florida Studio Theatre's Stage III. 366-9000.
An Evening of Classic Lily Tomlin. Tomlin brings many of her comic characters to life in this one-woman performance, at 8 p.m. March 5 at Van Wezel. 953-3368.
Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore. Little Buttercup, Ralph Rackstraw, Dick Deadeye and the "ruler of the Queen's Navy," all onstage in this satiric operetta. Onstage at 8 p.m. March 6 at Van Wezel. 953-3368.
Little Women. Louisa May Alcott's classic story is brought to the stage in this musical version starring Maureen McGovern as Marmee. March 7-12 at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. (80) 955-1045.
Lady Windermere's Fan. Oscar Wilde's comedy of manners about a very moral young lady and her dilemma when she fears her husband is straying, onstage March 10 through May 7 at the Asolo. 351-8000.
Sweet Songs of the Soul. Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe brings performer Melba Moore to town in this autobiographical play with music, a benefit event for the company. Set for 7:30 p.m. March 13 at the Asolo, with a reception with the star following. For ticket details call 363-9300.
Disney's Beauty and the Beast. The "tale as old as time" is retold once more, March 14 through May 28 at the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre. 366-5454.
The Dunes. Venice Little Theatre's Stage II brings the Florida premiere of this work by Craig Pospisil to the stage; it concerns a fading movie star, her family and what seems the inevitable loss of their Long Island home. Echoes of The Cherry Orchard are duly noted. March 16 through April 2. 488-1115.
Nobody: The Bert Williams Story. Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe artistic director Nate Jacobs stars in the company's world premiere production of this piece about the African-American entertainer of the early 20th century. Onstage March 23-26 at the Glenridge Performing Arts Center, March 30 through April 2 at the Backlot. 363-9300.
Chapter Two. Neil Simon's autobiographical play concerns a widower finding new love, and new problems. Onstage at the Island Players March 23 through April 9. 778-5755.
Greater Tuna. Two actors populate a Texas town in this often giddy comedy, onstage March 28 through April 15 at Venice Little Theatre. 488-1115.
Putting It Together. A revue of much of Stephen Sondheim's finest work, March 30 through April 9 at the Players of Sarasota. 365-2494.
Ethel Waters: His Eye Is on the Sparrow. A reprise engagement of playwright Larry Parr's one-woman show about singer-actress Waters, starring Jannie Jones. Onstage for selected dates March 30 through April 23; call 366-9000.