Can Crowns, a musical about African-American women and their church hats, top the Asolo's runaway hit from last summer, the all-time best-selling Menopause the Musical? Time will tell, but at the very least one expects the show's rousing gospel music to raise the roof of the Mertz Theatre.
The show, adapted from Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry's photo-essay book Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats by award-winning playwright and actress Regina Taylor (you may remember her from TV's I'll Fly Away or as Anita Hill in Strange Justice), has been the most popular new musical to play regional theaters in the past two years. Asolo producing artistic director Howard Millman heard so much about Crowns' record-breaking success that he went to see it for himself at Washington, D.C.'s Arena Stage and promptly booked it for the Asolo, where it's set to run May 13 through June 18.
While that good old-time music (including His Eye Is on the Sparrow, Put Your Trust in Jesus and When the Saints Go Marching In) and those hats (which range in style from ornate to offbeat) are the attention grabbers, Taylor has also fashioned a story to tie things together, about a streetwise Brooklyn teen who gets sent to her grandmother's Southern home to shape up after some personal tragedies and trials. So a "feel-good vibe" seems bound to prevail.
No word at press time about the cast, but they'll be directed by Marion J. Caffey, a onetime song and dance man who's also conceived the popular shows Cookin' at the Cookery and Three Mo' Tenors. For tickets, call 351-8000.
STEEL A GLANCE
For the Season of Sculpture's exhibition on the downtown waterfront, Vicky Randall created a monumental sculpture in stainless steel. It's called Clockwork: Six Weeks in July, 2005. To use a colloquial expression—it is awesome! Compelling from a distance, it becomes more intriguing with close inspection. Cut from sheets of steel, it has beautifully sinuous lines. The platform armature is a perfect polished disc with five beautiful caps disguising the bolts underneath.
The form Randall has created is abstract, and in a way, its shape echoes the organic nature of the trees around it. Despite its size, the sculpture denies its mass and weight. Although static and stiff with hard edges, it seems to ripple like a flag. As it curves upward from the base it's both lyrical and assertive of the space it occupies.
Randall's majestic work of art encourages a view upward. An almond-eye-shaped aperture crops the passing clouds in the sky. The surface of the steel has been polished and adds yet another dimension of movement to the sculpture. Sunshine, moonlight and manmade light bounce off its surface during the 24 hours of a day, further animating the work and energizing its presence.—Mark Ormond
Selby Gallery. The Best of Ringling Annual Juried Student Exhibition continues here through May 6. Opening with a reception at 5 p.m. May 12 are two exhibitions: Gallery I will feature works by members of Women Contemporary Artists; Gallery II will display the works of the late Sarasota artist Leona Sherwood. Running through June 2. 359-7563.
State of the Arts Gallery. Continuing on view through mid-May: Hands On, an exhibit exploring artists' techniques. Following that show, to run through mid-June: White Hot, which illustrates the power of white in art and its contrast. 955-2787.
Selby Gardens. On view through May 23 is the 26th annual Juried Photography Exhibition. Also this month: Garden Music Concerts, May 7 (Telegraph Creek) and 14 (The Venturas), and a Reggae on the Bay concert, May 17. 366-5731.
Museum of Fine Arts. The St. Petersburg museum presents Picasso: Passionate Printmaker through June 11. Also on view, through Sept. 10, Keris Invincible: Sword Handles from Indonesia from the Birmingham Museum of Art; and through Aug. 6, A Complex Eden: Photographs of the American West by such artists as Ansel Adams and Stephen Shore. Opening May 13 to run through July 23: Archipenko 2D/3D: Prints and Sculpture, presenting 12 sculptures and 25 prints by Alexander Archipenko. (727) 896-2667.
Tampa Museum of Art. Continuing on view through June 11 is Keith Haring: Art and Commerce, a tribute to the late artist's SoHo Pop Shop. Opening May 7 to run through June 9 is the museum's eighth annual underCURRENT/overVIEW exhibition, a juried show open to all artists working in the northern region of Florida. (813) 274-8130.
Salvador Dali Museum. Returning Treasures: Selections from Dali Centennial Exhibitions continues at the St. Petersburg museum through November. (727) 823-3767.
Apple & Carpenter Galleries. On view May 1 through June 30: Distinguished Art Resurfaced, American and European Paintings dating from 1850 to 1950. 951-2314.
Venice Art Center. The South County Public Schools exhibition displays the work of talented art students, May 2–18. Coming up May 26, to run through June 15: The Art of the Word. 485-7136.
Galleria Silecchia. The exhibition Slightly Smaller Than Life includes bronze portraits of American Indian storytelling by Roxanne Swentzell and Richard Hunt, botanical glass and metal sculpture by Flo Perkins, aluminum vessels by Paul Tamanian, and oil paintings by Yuri Gorbachev. Opening May 5. 365-7414.
Palm Avenue Gallery. Paintings by John Horejs fill the gallery May 5 through June 1. 953-5757.
Art Center Sarasota. The Annual Florida Photography Show takes place May 16 through June 17, with a reception at 5 p.m. May 18. Also this month in the Members' Gallery: works by Joseph Melancon, May 9 through June 10. 365-2032.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. A rollicking musical version of the classic Mark Twain tale, told by Venice Little Theatre's Theatre for Young People, May 11-21. 488-1115.
McCurdy's Comedy Theatre. On the comedy club's stage this month: Tommy Blaze, May 3-7; Tammy Pescatelli, May 10-14; and Al Romas, May 17-21. 925-3869.
Kathy Griffin. Griffin takes a break from reality TV to perform her standup show, at 8 p.m. May 13 at the Van Wezel. 953-3368.
Chinese Film Festival. Presented at the Players of Sarasota, two movies, one evening, Chinese food served between showings. At 8 p.m. May 8. 365-2494.
St. Armands Circle Association. Happenings on the circle this month include a classic Corvettes show, May 6, and a "Circle of Boats" show, May 13 and 14. 388-1554.
Ringling Festival of the Arts. Highlighting community, visual and performing artists, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 13 and 14 at the Ringling Museum. 358-3180.
Spirit of Sarasota Restaurant Week. Area restaurants are offering prix fixe lunches and dinners, along with interactive demonstrations, May 16–21, to celebrate what Sarasota eateries have to offer. For more information call 955-0991 ext. 208.
Courtyard Concert. The Bay Band entertains from 6 to 9 p.m. May 4 in the Ringling Museum Courtyard. 358-3180.
Evening Under the Stars. A Kentucky Derby theme highlights this annual concert featuring musicians from the Florida West Coast Symphony in a Manatee Community College Foundation event, 6 to 9 p.m. May 6 at the Sarasota Polo Club at Lakewood Ranch. 752-5390 or 408-1418.
Salon Afternoon. The four ensembles of the Florida West Coast Symphony present a Spring Fest, playing works by Brahms, Ramsier and Telemann at 4 p.m. May 7 at Holley Hall. 953-3434.
Sarasota Youth Opera. The talented students of the youth opera present Aaron Copland's The Second Hurricane, the story of high school students helping with a rescue effort after a major storm who soon become imperiled themselves. At 5 p.m. May 13 and 1:30 p.m. May 14 at the Sarasota Opera House. 366-8450.
Cocktails at the Cà d'Zan. The Venturas provide the music for this evening on the terrace, 6 to 9 p.m. May 18. 359-5700.
Festival Latino. Celebrate Latin music, dance and style with this event, at 7:30 p.m. May 20 and 21 at the Players of Sarasota. 365-2494.
Cherish the Ladies Celtic Band. Get set for traditional Irish music with flair from this ensemble that sings, plays and dances, at 8 p.m. May 20 at the Van Wezel, a Florida West Coast Symphony offering. 953-3434.
Donna Summer. The onetime disco queen performs in a concert rescheduled from earlier in the season, at 8 p.m. May 25 at the Van Wezel. 953-3368.
Smooth Jazz on St. Armands. Live jazz, wine and food, from 6 to 9 p.m. May 26 at St. Armands Circle Park. 388-1554.
Sarasota Music Festival. The venerable chamber music festival begins May 29 as faculty and students arrive and begin classes and rehearsals; full concerts at Holley Hall and the Sarasota Opera House to come in June. For complete info call 953-3434 or 953-4252.
Make-A-Wish Tennis Tournament. With a weekend tournament May 6 and 7 at Bath & Racquet, Make-A-Wish hopes to raise enough money to grant 20 children's wishes. For information on how to participate, call 926-9474.
Sarasota Ski-A-Rees. The final free water-skiing show of the season takes place at 2 p.m. May 7 at Ken Thompson Park on City Island. 388-1666.
Forum 2006. Pollster-author Andrew Kohut (America Against the World: How We Are Different and Why We Are Disliked) talks about polls and the upcoming 2006 elections, at 7:30 p.m. May 11 at the Hyatt Sarasota. 349-8350.
To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee's beloved classic ends its run at the Asolo May 6. 351-8000.
Lady Windermere's Fan. And Oscar Wilde's witfest about the upper crust likewise winds up at the Asolo, May 7. 351-8000.
Pericles. Shakespeare's tale of pirates, storms at sea, true love and more is told through May 7 in an FSU/Asolo Conservatory production at the Cook Theatre. 351-8000.
Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Enjoy the tale of love, redemption and singing, dancing kitchen utensils through May 28 at the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre. 366-5454.
Around the World in 80 Days. Jules Verne's spectacular takes to the Florida Studio Theatre mainstage, complete with hot air balloons, stampeding elephants and much more, through the talents of playwright Ron Brown and five hard-working actors. Through June 10. 366-9000.
The Flip Side. Florida Studio Theatre looks at musical wordplay and lyrical lunacy, from Monty Python to Shel Silverstein, in this world premiere musical revue onstage through June 10 at FST's Goldstein Cabaret. 366-9000.
Little Women. Louisa May Alcott's March family is brought to life May 2-14 at Venice Little Theatre. 488-1115.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The rock musical about a music star hunting for fame, love and an answer to his/her sexuality after a botched operation, onstage May 3–19 at Florida Studio Theatre's Stage III. 366-9000.
Follies. Stephen Sondheim's memorable musical set at a reunion of old showgirls at a theater about to be demolished has special resonance for the Manatee Players; with their Riverfront Theatre about to face the same fate to make way for a new building, they present this piece May 11–28. 748-5875.
String of Pearls. Michele Lowe, whose The Smell of the Kill entertained Asolo audiences last season, is back with this story intertwining the destinies of 27 women with one necklace, May 12 through June 18 in an Asolo Theatre Company production in the Cook Theatre. 351-8000.
Crowns. Regina Taylor's adaptation of the book celebrating African-American women, their church hats and their stories of love and loss. Onstage May 13 through June 18 at the Asolo. 351-8000.
Sarasota Festival of New Plays. Three works, Echoes by Mia McCullough, Hand of God by Michael McKeever and Laughing Matters, Too, developed by Florida Studio Theatre staff, are presented in staged readings at FST, May 13, 20 and 27 (dates for each offering TBD). For more details, call 366-9000.
Rounding Third. A comedy by Richard Dresser that uses two fathers coaching Little League baseball to examine parenthood and the meaning of success. Onstage May 18 through June 17. An Asolo Theatre production, in the Cook Theatre. 351-8000.
Mixed Emotions. A couple in their 60s, longtime friends, weigh the possibility of marrying in this Richard Baer comedy, onstage May 18-28 at the Island Players. 778-5755.
Big. What happens when 12-year-old Josh Baskin wishes he were a grown-up? You know if you saw the Tom Hanks movie, but this version of the story, by Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire, with book by John Weidman, adds songs to the mix. Onstage May 30 through July 23 at the Golden Apple. 366-5454.