Asolo Repertory Theatre
The Asolo Repertory Theatre or Asolo Rep (AKA: Asolo Theatre Company, Inc.) is a professional theater in Sarasota, Florida. It is the largest Equity theatre in Florida, and the largest Repertory theatre in the Southeastern United States. Asolo Rep is a resident regional theatre company which also invites in guest artists. It works in conjunction with Florida State University's MFA Acting program, the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training. It is currently housed in the Florida State University Center for the Performing Arts, which is a multi-theater complex, located on the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art property. The 2008–2009 season marked Asolo Rep's 50th anniversary.
History of the Historic Asolo Theatre
The original performance space for the Asolo Repertory Theatre was housed in a historic theatre that was initially located in Asolo, Italy just outside Venice. Built in 1798 by Italian impresario Antonio Locatelli, the theatre stood in the former audience hall of the castle of Caterina Cornaro, the former Queen of Cyprus. The horse-shoe shaped theatre contains four tiers of boxes and was modeled after La Fenice. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the building was the home theatre of the great Italian actress Eleonora Duse.
In 1930, the Asolo Theatre was dismantled and put into storage. In 1949 the museum director of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art learned of the theatre's existence and saw the theatre as an ideal acquisition for the museum. The State of Florida agreed and purchased the theatre which was crated and shipped to Sarasota, Florida. In 1952 the theatre was set up in a gallery in the Ringling museum. In the late 1950s it was decided that the theatre should be reconstructed so that modern theatre performances could be staged. The reconstructed theatre therefore incorporates the historic architecture into a building that is modern in design.
The Asolo Theatre opened its doors on January 10, 1958 with a production of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail. Presented by the New York City Opera, the production was directed and conducted by Julius Rudel. The opera starred Robert Rounseville as Belmonte, Beverly Bower as Konstanze, Herbert Beattle as Osmin, and Jacquelynne Moody as Blonde.
The theatre has since been moved to another location on the Ringling grounds and is now known as The Historic Asolo Theatre. The Asolo Repertory Company still puts on a few productions there each year, but it is no longer its primary location. Most shows for the Rep Company are performed at the Mertz Theatre, which is housed in the Florida State University Center for the Performing Arts, which is across the street.
History of the Mertz Theatre
The Harold E. and Esther M. Mertz Theatre was brought over from Scotland, where it had its first life as the Dunfermline Opera House. The Mertz Theatre was dedicated on January 27, 1990. The 2009/2010 season marks its 20-year anniversary, which will be celebrated with a Scottish-themed event in January.
- My Fair Lady by Alan Jay Lerner; November 18–December 23
- Once in a Lifetime by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart; January 6–February 29
- God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza; January 13–April 6
- Yentl by Leah Napolin and Isaac Bashevis Singer; January 20–April 26
- Fallen Angels by Noël Coward; March 9–May 13
- Hamlet, Prince of Cuba by William Shakespeare, adapted by Michael Donald Edwards; March 23–May 6
- RED by John Logan (writer); March 30–April 22
- Tommy Tune Presents: Pulse, A New Dance Musical Starting Noah Racey by Noah Racey; May 25–June 7
- Hamlet Redux
- Bonnie & Clyde: A New Musical (Pre-Broadway Run) by Frank Wildhorn (music), Don Black (lyrics), and Ivan Menchell (book), directed by Jeff Calhoun; November 19, 2010 - December 19, 2010
- La Bête by David Hirson, directed by Michael Donald Edwards; January 27, 2011 - February 24, 2011
- Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose, directed by Frank Galati; January 14, 2011 - March 31, 2011
- Boeing Boeing by Marc Camoletti, translated by Beverley Cross & Francis Evans, directed by Greg Leaming; January 21, 2011 - April 23, 2011
- Deathtrap by Ira Levin, directed by Peter Amster; April 1, 2011 - May 14, 2011
- Las Meninas (The Waiting Women) by Lynn Nottage, directed by Michael Donald Edwards; March 18, 2011 - May 15, 2011
- Antigone Now by Melissa Cooper (based on Antigone by Sophocles); preview on October 4, 2010, followed by a performance on October 9, 2010, and then TBA touring dates
- George Gershwin Alone by Hershey Felder; May 19, 2011 - June 5, 2011
- Beethoven, As I Knew Him by Hershey Felder; June 8, 2011 - June 12, 2011
- Asolo Rep UNPLUGGED 2011 (A new works festival, comprising a world premiere of a new play, and four staged readings of new works); - April 15, 2011 - May 14, 2011
The FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training
- The Two Gentlemen of Verona by William Shakespeare, directed by Greg Leaming; October 26, 2010 - November 14, 2010
- reasons to be pretty by Neil LaBute, directed by Barbara Redmond; January 4, 2011 - January 23, 2011
- The Lady from the Sea by Henrik Ibsen, directed by Andrei Malaev-Babel; February 22, 2011 - March 13, 2011
- Tartuffe by Molière, directed by Wes Grantom; April 12, 2011 - May 1, 2011
World Premieres, American Premieres, and Pre-Broadway Runs
Asolo Rep frequently incorporates new works into its seasons.
The 2010–2011 season will involve a pre-Broadway run of Bonnie & Clyde: A New Musical by Frank Wildhorn (music), Don Black (lyrics), and Ivan Menchell (book). The production will be directed by Jeff Calhoun, and will run November 19, 2010 - December 19, 2010.
The 2009–2010 season showcased the world premiere of a new adaptation of the play Parfumerie by Miklós László called The Perfume Shop (adapted by E.P. Dowdall). Under the helm of KJ Sanchez, the Conservatory class of 2010 created a play based on over 250 interviews with high school students, called Life in the Middle. It was also the inaugural year of the "Asolo Rep Unplugged Festival" of new works. The festival involved How to Pray by Michelle Carter; The Innocents by Steven Drukman; Higher by Carey Perloff; Fizz by Rogelio Martínez; Lend Us Your Voice - original ensemble works by area high school students; Love & Irony by Craig Lucas
A Tale of Two Cities (musical)
In September 2007, rehearsals started for the Asolo's first major new musical endeavor - a Broadway tryout production for Jill Santoriello's A Tale of Two Cities (musical). The musical agreed to hold audition for local actors, many of which were featured in the ensemble. All set pieces were built in Sarasota, and those set pieces were all held in storage in New Jersey while Tale waited for a Broadway theatre. The production starred James Stacy Barbour, Derek Keeling, who was freshly off of the NBC Casting show Grease: You're the One that I Want!, and Jessica Rush as Lucie Mannette. It featured Alex Santoriello and Natalie Toro, among others in the large cast from both Tale alums from previous workshops in New York (and new New York faces) and several local actors.
The show received mixed to positive notices from Sarasota and select national critics, but the show was declared a hit from the people at the Asolo and in Sarasota. Tale's run was entirely sold out, and provided a big boost for the Asolo economically, and re-put them on a national level. Tale transferred to Broadway after 10 months in August 2008, but closed, with mainly negative reviews and due to the troubled economy in November.
The Asolo has engaged a collection of talented artists throughout the years, including all those listed below.
- James Stacy Barbour
- Wendy Barrie-Wilson
- Mimi Bessette
- Deanna Dunagan
- Wayne Duvall
- Linda Eder
- Rob Evan
- Richard Falklen
- Hershey Felder
- Kelsey Fowler
- Anthony Heald
- Donald C. Hepner
- Polly Holliday
- Jayne Houdyshell
- Tom Hulce
- Jeremy Jordan
- Kevin Massey
- Ann Morrison
- Brad Oscar
- Laura Osnes
- John G. Preston
- Paul Reubens
- Walter Rhodes
- Jessica Rush
- Natalie Toro
- Melissa van der Schyff
- Granville Van Dusen
- Chuck Wagner
- Elizabeth Ward
- Jeff Calhoun
- Warren Carlyle
- Brad Dalton
- Keith Fowler
- Frank Galati
- Lillian Garrett-Groag
- Gordon Greenberg
- Tony Walton
- Howell Binkley
- Virgil Johnson
- Matthew Parker
- Richard Pilbrow
- Eduardo Sicangco
- Tony Walton
- Robert Wierzel
- Harrison Swain (January 12, 1958). "Glittering Opera Performance Opens Asolo Theatre Building". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved August 13, 2009.
- "My Fair Lady".
- "Once In A Lifetime".
- "God of Carnage".
- "Fallen Angels".
- "Hamlet, Prince of Cuba".
- "Tommy Tune...".
- "Hamlet Redux".