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A RT S | E N T E RTA I N M E N T | S O C I E T Y | F O O D | FA S H I O N | D é C O R


reel deal


by Heidi Kurpiela | A&E Editor

Heidi Kurpiela

“It’s no simple task,” says Sarasota Film Festival President Mark Famiglio of the job of director Tom Hall, above. “The sheer volume of movies you have to watch, oh my lord. It’s so difficult. It’s like an avalanche that rolls over you.”

Independent Streak Sure, Tom Hall gets to pick what you see at the Sarasota Film Festival, but that doesn’t mean he watches movies and chats with stars all days. The SFF director paints us a (motion) picture of his job. Tom Hall is answering and deleting emails, clearing his head with each reply and trashed piece of spam. He’s sitting at a desk on the second floor of the Sarasota Film Festival

offices — a 1926 bungalow on Cocoanut Avenue converted into the festival’s downtown headquarters — looking almost mechanical in his efforts to keep his inbox uncluttered.

When he’s through with this task, a look of satisfaction registers on his face. There’s comfort in knowing he has zero messages vying for his attention, even if the moment is fleeting.



KITCHEN CLASSICS Joseph Holt spends hours in the kitchen perfecting dishes / 8


Ringling College of Art and Design: ‘An Evening at the Avant-Garde’ PAGES 9-10

BACKSTAGE PASS Skyspace exhibit / 4-5

2  ■ Diversions


“I’m too anal retentive to just let it pile up,” Hall says, stepping away from the all-too familiar glow of his computer screen. By the time this interview is over, there will be a dozen more emails to sort through. And Hall, who this season was promoted to festival director, will have another 12 hours left to his workday. With the festival just two weeks away, the SFF staff is operating in high gear. Phones incessantly are ringing, merchandise is being disseminated, hotel accommodations are being made, and film guides are piling up. “As a style of working, I like it,” Hall says of the March rush. “You can hyper focus. But you can’t obsess over the films, because it’s a finite thing. You either meet your deadlines or you don’t. It’s not like meeting quarterly with stockholders.” Actually, meeting quarterly with stockholders sounds less stressful. A part-time Sarasota resident, Hall has more on his mind than just movies. Back home in Brooklyn, N.Y., his wife, Jessica, is nine months pregnant with their second child, a boy, due the week after the festival. “Apparently I’m crappy at family planning,” Hall says dryly. “I’m going to go from no sleep to no sleep.” Hired in 2004 as the festival’s director of programming, the 41-year-old Michigan native steadily climbed to the top of the festival food chain. One of only a handful of yearround staffers, Hall was promoted in 2010 to artistic director. Two seasons later, it was announced


(continued from page 1)


The Sarasota Film Festival runs April 13 through April 22. Tickets are available at the SFF box office inside the Hollywood 20 lobby. For more information, call 364-9514 or visit that he would serve as director, a promotion festival president and board Chairman Mark Famiglio says was a no-brainer. “The most appetizing thing about Tom Hall is watching him operate in a staff meeting three weeks before the festival,” Famiglio says. “He’s not just a movie geek. He’s a great manager. He’s organized, and he cares deeply about the independent film community.” Hall grew up in Flint, Mich., where he spent much of his childhood hanging out in mall movie theaters. His parents were avid card players. To keep their two sons occupied during bridge games, they would drop them off a nearby multiplex, where Hall and his younger brother would slip between movies all day. Technically, it was illegal, but the theater employees found the kids so endearing, they turned a blind eye to the sneakiness. As a result, Hall watched more R-rated movies in the 1970s than most adults three times his age. “It really shaped my youth,” he says with a chuckle. “Flint wasn’t exactly an arts and cultural hotbed. Watching all those movies as a kid — it’s one of the main reasons why I got into film.” This also explains his movie-

viewing fortitude. This year, he and fellow programmers, Magida Diouri and Caley Fagerstrom, screened more than 1,000 independent films. From this glut they selected 235 projects — a combination of narrative live action and animated features, shorts and documentaries gleaned from attending other festivals and viewing hundreds of filmmaker submissions. “Ninety-five percent of what plays in our festival will probably never play in Sarasota again,” Hall says. “It’s really like a curatorial process. You’re putting brackets around a year, and you’re saying, ‘Here’s what’s interesting now.’ There’s so much stuff out there it’s impossible for people to see it all. As a curator you want people to trust you. We have a diverse audience, and I’m casting a wide net.” As the festival’s gatekeeper, Hall has the final say on every piece of cinema. This responsibility is one of the best and worst parts of the job. “It’s heartbreaking,” Hall says of rejecting films. “We said yes to 235 people and no to 800.” And, then, there’s the matter of star wattage. To the average mainstream moviegoer, the Sarasota Film Festival is a glittery, red carpet event that draws celebrities to the area. Last year it was Christopher Plummer, Geena Davis and Harry Connick Jr. This year it’s Frank Langella. To Hall, the fixation on celebrities is a nuisance. The consummate professional, Hall says he could care less about the celebrity status of his festival attendees. In fact, in eight years he’s only

Frank Langella in “Robot & Frank.”

Courtesy photo

POPULAR MECHANICS After watching “Robot & Frank” warm the hearts of moviegoers at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Sarasota Film Festival director Tom Hall embarked on a serious mission to bring the movie and its star, Frank Langella, to Sarasota. Directed by Todd Solondz, the movie is a touching and unlikely buddy comedy set in been star struck twice: when the festival hosted documentary filmmaker Werner Herzog and actress/director Liv Ullmann, both of whom Hall had admired for years. “People make a big deal about the getting a major star, but I’ve never thought about it like that,” he says. “I’m passionate about their work and interested in what they’re doing, but hobnobbing? I wouldn’t even use that word.” This doesn’t mean he’s jaded. He’s just too studious to get caught up in the glitz and glam-

the not-so-distant future. Langella stars as an aging jewel thief who bonds with his caretaker robot (voice by actor Peter Sarsgaard). “We knew it was perfect for Sarasota,” Hall says. “I only hope people cast aside any preconceptions they might have about it. It’s a touching movie and a real crowd-pleaser.” our of the thing, a character trait his colleagues are well aware of, especially Famiglio. “He visited us at the Nantucket Film Festival last year,” Famiglio says. “We couldn’t even get Tom to hang out and have lunch because he was stuck in movie theaters all day. He’s totally committed to viewing and analyzing every film. He lives and breathes it.”

Watch the trailer for “Robot & Frank.”



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art scene HEARD

+ Jersey Shore musician rocks on in Sarasota

by Heidi Kurpiela | A&E Editor

+ SeaFair art yacht drops anchor in Sarasota Get your sea legs and appreciate fine art at once? Sounds like the perfect double whammy to me. SeaFair, the $40 million mega yacht that doubles as an art gallery, docked this week at Marina Jack. At 228 feet, it’s the largest commercial ship on the Intracoastal Waterway and the world’s first mobile yacht venue. Last season it turned into a floating cultural hub when it opened its cabin doors to local artists and collectors. This year will likely be no different thanks to a program that includes artist receptions and lectures. This year it’s back with a collection of paintings, sculpture, photography, glass, contemporary design, jewelry and sitespecific installations.

Its inventory even includes a rare Joan Miro painting valued at $750,000 and a Paul Klee work worth $1.2 million. (Apparently you can fit a lot in a mega yacht.) Mainstream contemporary works by Warhol, Lichenstein, Indiana and Bacon will also be for sale. On a local level, the fair will feature work by Sarasota artists Florence Putterman and Alina Eydel, designer and craftsman Phil Stapleton and furniture designer Chad Jensen. SeaFair will be open from noon to 7 p.m. March 30 to April 2. Tickets are $20 at the door; $25 for a multi-day ticket; and $30 for a priority boarding ticket. For a complete schedule of events, call 239-949-5411 or visit

Guitarist/singer Robert Garcia recently left New Jersey to lay down roots in Sarasota, where his covers of classic rock songs will be fully appreciated at area watering holes. “It appeals to a specific demographic,” Garcia says. “Forty-five to 60-year-olds is the real sweet spot — any older

for 4:30 p.m. April 1, at Pelican Alley in Nokomis and 6 p.m. April 1, at the Blue Owl in downtown Sarasota. Typical of a Gulf Coast newcomer, he thinks he can get from Nokomis to downtown Sarasota in 30 minutes … in the middle of season. Best of luck to you, Rob. Oh, and welcome to Sarasota.

Courtesy photo

Robert Garcia

+ New Opera House name a noted tribute In a generous move, Casiana Schmidt, wife of William Schmidt, announced Sunday at the 30th anniversary party of Maestro Victor DeRenzi that she and her husband were “relinquishing” the name of the Sarasota Opera’s theater, known for the past several years as The William F. Schmidt Opera Theater, and renaming it “The Verdi Theater.”  The Schmidts said they were doing this to honor deRenzi’s 30th anniversary as artistic director of Sarasota Opera and because it is the only opera house in the world that will have performed every note Verdi wrote. DeRenzi set out to perform every opera, song, instrumental, chamber and choral work Verdi composed, and he has almost accomplished his goal. Although a few other opera companies have attempted to perform all of Verdi’s operas, no one, to date, has presented the composer’s entire output of music.  

+ Downtown bayfront embraces diversity

“Where Do You Fit In?” by Ella Emmett, Dalton Jett, Sara Martin and Palmer Mays

and you typically get people who like more of a big band/swing type of sound.” Since arriving in town this month, Garcia has been busy booking gigs from Punta Gorda to Bradenton Beach. He’s currently in the midst of knocking out 23 performances in nine days. His next two are slated

I never thought I loved billboards until “Embracing Our Differences” splashed the Sarasota bayfront with colossal art celebrating diversity. These billboards, with their messages of acceptance, love and self-esteem, were a muchwelcome addition to Island Park.

Now in its ninth year, the campaign, which last year attracted 277,000 people, has grown into a major exhibition, drawing submissions from student artists all over the word. This year more than 4,502 submissions poured in from 53 different countries. You think Sarasota Film Festival director Tom Hall (see this week’s Diversions cover story)

has a tough job? Try choosing 39 entries out of 4,000 submissions. The exhibit runs April 1 through May 28. Look for work by students at Lakewood Ranch, Booker and Riverview high schools, as well as Phillippi Shores Elementary, Pine View School and Out-of-Door Academy. “Where Do You Fit In?” by Phillippi Shores second-graders

File photo

Ella Emmett, Dalton Jett, Sara Martin and Palmer Mays should do art teacher Petie Brown proud. Created using paper doll cutouts, the project not only required collaboration, it tackled such meaty topics as bullying, isolation, fun with friends and being different. To see more EOD art, visit

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4  ■ Diversions >>



by Heidi Kurpiela | A&E Editor

Photo by Giovanni Lunardi, courtesy of James Turrell

“Joseph’s Coat” is artist James Turrell’s first and only Florida Skyspace exhibit. It’s also his largest.

Sky-high Worship In an effort to find a little peace and quiet, my husband and I hit up the Ringling Museum’s new Skyspace exhibit. What we found was more peace and quiet than two antsy people could handle. Funny how a hole in the ceiling can change your perspective. As I write this, I’m trying to conjure up the peace I felt last week, when I stretched out on my back and stared at the sky for an hour as it shifted from baby blue to black.

I can’t remember the last time I sat that still for that long, doing and saying absolutely nothing — a personal feat that was as miraculous as the view. What was it that elicited this calm? And even more pressing:

Why was my husband, with his restless leg syndrome, experiencing a similar ease? For these answers I suggest you go see James Turrell’s Skyspace exhibit at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

The photo you see at left, which, by the way, is one of only two images Turrell will let you see of the space, doesn’t do it justice. Similarly, neither will this story. But I’ll try. As some of you know, last summer I had my first baby. He’s about 10 months old now, which means a new sense of normalcy has settled over my household. Quiet, contemplative pursuits, such as watching the sunset with my husband, have taken a backseat to bathing, diapering and feeding a child whose favorite activities include screeching and throwing Tupperware. Rather than accept a fate devoid of tranquility, I decided to meet it head-on inside the zen confines of Turrell’s new Skyspace. To share in my solitude, I brought my frazzled husband, who coincidentally shares a name with the space: Joseph. (Turrell named the installation “Joseph’s Coat,” presumably after a certain Technicolor jacket.) Viewing it during the sunset light program had been on my bucket list since singer Meklit Hadero revealed during her performance this season at the Ringling International Arts Festival that a similar Skyspace inspired the first track on her latest album. “Walk up, walk up, straight through the roof, straight through the hole in the ceiling, take your place in the sky … ” Dreamy and atmospheric, the song had me hooked before the refrain. I couldn’t wait to take my place in the sky. As instructed by the museum staff, we arrived 30 minutes prior to sunset. The sun was still blind-

IF YOU GO “Joseph’s Coat” may be viewed at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art during normal museum hours. The exhibit’s sunset light program runs Thursday through Sunday. Tickets are $5. Arrive 30 minutes prior to sunset. Reservations are recommended. For more information, call 358-3180 or visit ing as we walked from the visitors pavilion to the Searing Wing. At 3,000 square feet, I knew “Joseph’s Coat” was Turrell’s largest Skyspace to date and the only one of its kind in Florida. I knew it had a 35-foot-high canopy, a square aperture in the ceiling and a central viewing area surrounded by columns. Although I’d written about the space before and once toured it during museum hours, I was told the sunset program, an hour-long “show” complete with synchronized LED lights, was a mystical wonder and hard to describe unless you saw it in person. I purposely avoided reading any reviews of it so I could experience it with an open mind. For all I knew, it was highbrow version of a Pink Floyd laser light show. I couldn’t have been more wrong. A dozen or so people were spread out on yoga mats and blankets, gazing quietly at the open ceiling, like alien believers waiting to be beamed up to their mothership. I instantly wished I’d brought a blanket. My husband wished he’d brought his iPod. The silence was deafening.

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James Turrell has spent decades turning a volcanic crater outside of Flagstaff, Ariz., into an observatory for skylight, solar and celestial phenomenon. We took a spot on the benches surrounding the center and began the tedious process of waiting. Because we had arrived 30 minutes before sunset, we had to wait 30 minutes for the show to begin. Far more important than having a blanket is having patience. Watching the sun set in “Joseph’s Coat” is not like popping the cork on a bottle of wine and watching it with your friends on the beach. Communing with nature is not a party. The first set of lights was so subtle, we weren’t even sure the show had begun. Had we eaten dinner earlier, we might have been more patient. “I think it started,” I whispered in Joe’s ear. “I feel like I’m in a Roman fighting arena,” he whispered back. Our stomachs were growling like angry beasts. Some of the people on blankets were doing yoga. The rest were motionless, evidently better suited for rumination than my husband and I.

“Stop shaking your leg,” I whispered. “It’s shaking the whole bench.” It was distracting, but not nearly as distracting as the old guy across the room that repeatedly cleared phlegm from his throat. I decided the hippies on the floor were on to something, so I stretched out on the bench, plopping my feet on Joe’s lap and my head on my purse. It wasn’t a comfortable position, but it significantly changed the way I saw the aperture. The sky was periwinkle at this point. Birds were gliding past. The clouds looked like vapors shifting like veils of fine cotton from left to right, a slow procession, like the trail of a wedding gown sliding down a church aisle. Every so often I’d hear an airplane buzzing in the distance and each time the sound got louder I prayed it would cut through my piece of the sky. I squinted my eyes and blurred the edges of the canopy out of focus so that the sky and the ceiling bled into one. Putting brackets around the sky forces you to focus on it. Manipulating it with washes of color turns it into art. I let go. When the lights really kicked into high gear, flooding the canopy with a slow succession of pinks and oranges, greens and purples, I exhaled so loudly I think I rattled the yogis. My mind grew quiet. Where once I heard throat clearing, I heard white noise, a soft nothing. For 45 more minutes I lay this way. It was at once serene and powerful, comforting and eerie. I felt infinitesimal in all the best ways. I felt as my son must have felt the first time he stared at a mobile. Awestruck. Unbelievably, Joe was also still. I smiled. We had achieved peace. When the program ended and the house lights came on, I turned to my silent other half with curiosity. “You were so zen,” I said sweetly. “Yeah,” he replied. “I was asleep.”


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6  ■ Diversions >>



THEATER >> ‘Hamlet, Prince of Cuba’

Courtesy Photo

Tilda Swinton gives a powerful performance as the mother of boy who becomes a mass murderer.


From the onset, Eva believes she has given birth to a monster. Kevin’s incessant wailing, refusal to talk, continuing to wear diapers until the age of 6 and tormenting his little >> ‘We Need sister (to the point of putting out her eye) have little effect on husband to Talk About Kevin’ I was literally shaking upon exiting Franklin (John C. Reilly). As Kevin develops into a full-blown, manipulathe theater after having seen “We tive psychopath, Eva’s fears intensify. Need to Talk About Kevin.” Was it Meanwhile, Franklin buys the kid the powerfully disturbing subject matter or the masterful performance a bow and arrow. They never talk by Tilda Swinton that caused it? I’m about Kevin. After the massacre, Eva chooses still not certain. to remain in the town where it In this fascinating piece of filmoccurred. It almost seems an act making, Swinton plays a mother of penance on her part for hav(Eva) who desperately attempts to bond, relate and love her son, Kevin ing brought Kevin into this world. Everyone hates her. She endures (played respectively by Rock Duer, Jasper Newell and Ezra Miller). The violent confrontations by the victims’ parents, paint being thrown on her battle begins at conception and house and car and venomous verbal continues after he becomes a mass murderer. Everything that happens in attacks. Eva retreats from reacting ... between is presented in rapid flash- it’s her cross to bear. Director Lynne Ramsay backs (Swinton’s coiffures are key in (“Ratcatcher”) pulls out all the following the sequence of events).

stops, creating textured visuals to intensify the horror. She employs the color red in almost every shot. In an opening sequence, Eva is participating in Spain’s La Tomatina tomato tossing festival. It’s so trippy to behold, you can’t believe what you’re seeing. Red paint, red wine, red jam, red soup cans most certainly represent the blood she believes to have on her hands. “We Need to Talk About Kevin” is a film that feels so real, it hurts to watch. At times, I felt myself squirming at what was playing out on screen. The magnificent Academy Award winner Swinton (“Michael Clayton”) is overwhelmingly responsible for elevating this film to greatness. Her portrayal of a tortured soul is the best performance I’ve seen in ages. “We Need to Talk About Kevin” is a film that doesn’t preach, judge or give answers. It’s a work of art. — Pam Nadon

Michael Donald Edwards’ brilliant adaptation of Shakespeare’s familiar “Hamlet” succeeds at sparking an almost edge-of-your-seat renewal of appreciation of the Bard’s genius. Without the barrier of iambic pentameter and archaic grammar, familiar phrases leap out in surprising ambush. Shakespeare’s lyricism and microscopically introspective speech flash like jewels strewn unexpectedly on a velvety smooth, highly accessible plotline. Edwards’ direction creates an immediacy that leaves no room for coughing, shifting in one’s seat or mumbling, “Alas, poor Yorick,” under one’s breath. Set in fin de siecle, 1900s Cuba, the story of a son’s revenge of the death of his father is especially apt for the Spanish culture. Beyond that, the choice of a Cuban setting has no particular relevance to the play and is represented by lovely Latin music, composed by Fabian Obispo, enjoyable period costume design by Clint Ramos and an ingenious set design incorporating dramatic, huge industrial-looking fans high in the rustic backdrop. The lighting design by Anthony Pearson, specifically the long rows of large cam lights, struck a false over-the-top note for me

If You Go

“Hamlet, Prince of Cuba” runs through May 6 at the Asolo Repertory Theatre. Tickets are $28 to $74. Call 351-8000.

when used to dramatize unfolding events. Frankie J. Alvarez is astonishing as Hamlet. His portrayal is a dynamic infusion of mime, jest, grief, confusion and physical contortion into the body of an overwrought, intellectual teenager. When engaged in dialogue with other actors, he is so utterly convincing and riveting in his inflection and manner that I found it hard to take my eyes off him. The soliloquies, however, seemed disconnected from the rest of his performance. He appeared uncomfortable, and it made me feel that he’d be better off directing the soliloquies to the audience, as in the traditional Shakespearean “aside.” Out of a stellar cast, Mercedes Herrero, as Gertrude; Andhy Mendez, as Laertes; Gisela Chipe, as Ophelia; Luke Bartholomew, as Horatio; and Jake Staley and Jon-Michael Miller, as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, stand out admirably. In dual roles, Douglas Jones shines as he embodies both a loving father and a people-pleasing facilitator as Polonius and a sardonic, saltof-the-earth, commentator on life as the Gravedigger. — Paula Atwell


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are as cold and austere as the people who populate them. Then, as sleigh bells rise from the orchestra pit, there he is. Anatol (Scott Piper) has returned. But it’s not Vanessa’s Anatol. He’s dead, and his son has come in his stead. >> Sarasota Opera: ‘Vanessa’ Piper’s Anatol is a young, vigorous and Waiting. That’s the theme of Samuel opportunistic cad with the voice of an angel. Barber’s “Vanessa,” a melodramatic soapOf course Erika is bewitched, besotopera-of-an-opera, with a libretto by Gian ted and, after being swept into bed with Carlo Menotti that touches on our deepest him, bewildered as she watches her aunt, vulnerabilities, anxieties and insecurities. Vanessa, tumble into the past only to fall in “Vanessa” had its world premiere in love with this new Anatol, as well. 1958 at the Metropolitan Opera with a starThis is where the Menotti theatrical touch studded cast that included Eleanor Steber, begins, taking us into Sondheim-like tiers Rosalind Elias, Nicolai Gedda, Regina of passions and plots, populated by double Resnik and Giorgio Tozzi. Critics have called meanings and multi-layered depths. Is Erika it the greatest American opera. too entrenched in her solitude to love? Does We’ve been waiting, impatiently, for this she refuse Anatol’s proposal because she voluptuous, darkly human American classic sees through him or because she knows her to arrive, and, this season, Sarasota Opera Aunt Vanessa loves him? Is her decision to has given us a “Vanessa” that radiates abort the baby they’ve created in their one bleakness and pathos in a way only grand night of passion selfish or altruistic? opera can embrace tragedy and suffering. Does Vanessa, as she slips into love with Vanessa (Kara Shay Thomson) has been Anatol, realize what a self-seeking, egoistic waiting for Anatol to return to her. She’s scoundrel he is, or is Anatol really somebeen waiting for 20 years! (That’s longer thing of an anti-hero because he, finally, than Butterfly pined for Pinkerton.) Her own gets Vanessa to leave that house of gloom mother, The Old Baroness, hasn’t spoken and enter a world that’s no longer filled with to her in all those years because she won’t waiting? speak with people who live a lie. Erika And why is The Old Baroness so stuck (Audrey Babcock), Vanessa’s 20-year-old in her north country Victorianism that she niece, the granddaughter of the Baroness, can’t see her way to love those around her? is living in this house of darkness, where Stiff-necked and rigid, once she learns her paintings and mirrors are covered. Their only beloved Erika has purposely aborted her visitors are The Old Doctor (Thomas Potter), baby, she returns to her silence, never to Nicholas, the Major-Domo, (Stephen Fish), speak to her niece, just as she cannot bring and their Footman (Andrew Kroes). herself to utter a sound to her own daughter, Waiting for love, undefined, unbridled, Vanessa. unprotected, precarious and perilous is what Relieving this stony silence, Barber’s “Vanessa” is about. Thomson’s Vanessa is music gives us the warmth that inspires justly neurotic and unfulfilled. Her gloriously hope. His soaring, meltingly beautiful melorich soprano conveys the beauty she’s condies sit atop newer harmonies, giving life cealed in her heart, but her ramrod straight to a musical language that raises opera’s spine tells a story of a spinster spurned. emotional ceiling. The hymn he incorporates Waiting. in the second act, with its rhythmic meter Sadler’s Old Baroness is the unyielding, changes, takes Menotti’s text to ultimate unforgiving, stiff-necked Victorian creature heights, exploring the questions swirling Menotti envisioned, but her rich, warm around the lives of the characters. The docmezzo belies a woman inhabited by frustra- tor’s aria, composed at the last minute, is tion. filled with lyricism. And his glorious quintet Babcock, as Erika, begins as a young in the finale is as grand as opera can get. woman who’s lived between two frigidly None of this would be possible without frightened spinsters who won’t yield an inch the commanding vocal and dramatic perof their disappointment in life. She’s waitformances of Thomson, Babcock, Sadler, ing for her spring. “Must the winter come Piper and Potter. Director Michael Unger so soon,” Barber’s soaring aria for Erika, is has given us characters we can take home glorious in its iciness. and ponder. And conductor David Neely has Waiting, the women stare out the windows held it all together with an incredibly musiof their drawing room onto a woodland of cal, vibrant orchestral sound that’s always coldly dancing snow deftly designed by supportive, never overpowering and sensiMichael Schweikardt and frostily lit by Ken tively powerful. Yunker. The icy blues and grays of their sets — June LeBell

Tickets: $40 VIP Tickets: $75

8  ■ Diversions


KITCHEN CLASSICS By June LeBell | Contributing columnist



Joseph Holt’s Wild Mushroom Risotto Start to finish: 45 minutes; Serves 4

Ingredients: 1 large box of stock, vegetable or chicken, low-sodium (or three to four cans) 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1/2 pound assorted mushrooms (golden chanterelle, shiitake, crimini, oyster, porcini, and/or portabello), chopped 1 medium-sized white onion, chopped 4 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 cup red wine 1 tablespoon truffle butter or mushroom sauce with truffles (found in specialty stores) Pinch of sea salt Ground pepper 2 cups arborio rice 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 cups dry white wine (Pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc) Freshly grated Asiago cheese 1 cup heavy cream

DIRECTIONS: • Bring stock to a gentle boil and turn the heat down to low (maintain moderate heat in the stock).

Loren Mayo

score is a blueprint for performing a piece,” he says. “However, the same piece of music will sound different when it’s performed by different people. The indications for ingredients and cooking directions are a blueprint for preparing a dish. In my case, I use the recipe as a jumping off point for experimentation. I tinker with a recipe as much as I tinker with a piece of music, trying different things until it feels right. “Remember that old adage, ‘practice makes perfect’? One summer I was trying out all sorts of recipes for wild mushroom risotto. I became obsessed with making it perfect, as much as I would practice a piece of music on the piano over a long period of time. After a couple of months of working with the recipe, Paco finally suggested— politely — that maybe I should try something else. He was getting tired of so much risotto!” On April 2, Holt will conduct a program that includes mu-

sic from the classical period (Haydn’s setting of “The Seven Last Words of Christ”), and the early 20th century (Vaughan Williams’ “Five Mystical Songs”) in a performance at the Sarasota Opera House that will feature the all-professional singers of Gloria Musicae with members of the Sarasota Orchestra, Met Opera mezzo Leah Wool, Sarasota soprano Michelle Giglio, Matthew Heil of the U.S. Army Chorus and Marilyn Horne Foundation winner (and Vaughan Williams specialist) baritone Marcus DeLoach. Because music and food go hand-in-hand for Holt, there will be a post-concert reception in the courtyard of the Opera House, so everyone who attends will be treated to great music inside and excellent champagne, cheese, canapés and luscious desserts outside. There will not be any risotto served on that occasion, but you can prepare Holt’s now-perfected dish using the recipe at right.

• Put a large skillet on high heat for one minute, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and turn down to medium. Add onions, salt and pepper, and sauté until opaque. Add garlic and sauté an additional minute. Add mushrooms, stir as necessary, five minutes over medium heat. Once the mushrooms have cooked through and reduced, add red wine and deglaze the pan. Add truffle sauce, stir to incorporate, and remove mixture from heat. Reserve in a separate bowl. • Put the same skillet back on high heat for 30 seconds and add 3 tablespoons olive oil (don’t worry if there are bits of mushroom mixture in the pan). Turn heat down to medium and add the arborio rice, sauté until the rice kernels start to turn a slightly dark opaque shade (about one to two minutes). Stir constantly to coat all rice with the olive oil. Add white wine and deglaze the pan, stirring constantly. • From this point forward, you will need to stir the rice mixture until done. Otherwise, the rice will become a sticky mess. Once the wine has been mostly incorporated into the rice, add a cup of warm stock and mix thoroughly. Keep stirring. Once the stock has been incorporated (approximately one to two minutes), add another cup. Keep stirring, rotating the rice around the pan. You never want the mixture to dry completely — it should always be a little wet. Repeat this procedure until the rice is almost done (it will be slightly firm but not crunchy), approximately 15 to 20 minutes. If necessary, add more stock or water to the pot and bring to a boil. You always want to add the stock when it’s heated, never cold or tepid. • Once the rice is almost completely cooked, add the mushroom mixture into the skillet — liquid and all. Stir to incorporate. Add cream and freshly grated Asiago cheese. Continue to stir until liquid has been mostly absorbed (risotto is a wet rice dish, not completely dry). • Serve immediately — risotto will thicken if you let it sit. Accompany with salad and thick crusty Italian bread. For a variation on this recipe, add veal pieces (slightly cooked with the mushroom mixture).

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As if living in Sarasota and participating in its arts scene isn’t enough, Dr. Joseph Holt and his partner, Paco Martinez-Alvarez, just renovated their home, including a brand new kitchen and a few extra rooms that weren’t there when the house was built in 1931. “We’ve always had a kitchen that was separated from the rest of the house,” Holt says, referring mainly to their home in the Washington, D.C., area where they lived for more than 20 years while he was the pianist for the United States Army Chorus. “A kitchen is the heart of a home, and we wanted the renovation to create a warm, inviting space, not only for preparation and cooking, but also for the social time spent with family and friends,” he says. Even though the original kitchen was remodeled in the ’70s, all the appliances were dated and the house had wood paneling on the walls. So, they lightened up the space and put in stone countertops and a central island for chopping and preparing meals for their musical friends. Holt, who looks and acts too young to have been in the service all those years, is the primary cook in the family. MartinezAlvarez is a lawyer who works with non-profit organizations. He is originally from Puerto Rico, but the two of them have done a lot of international travel so their tastes in food are eclectic. The same can be said of their musical tastes. “I’m highly influenced by certain music when I’m in the kitchen, particularly if we’re listening to something Latin,” Holt said. “Music from Puerto Rico can be quite rhythmic and energetic, as well as expressive. The highly charged rhythm of salsa is infectious.” And how his music-making has influenced his cooking? “As a musician, the musical

Artistic director Gloria Musicae





INSIDE: Second Annual Firefly Gala / PAGE 15 THURSDAY, MARCH 29, 2012

By Loren Mayo | Black Tie Editor

Dr. Larry Thompson and his wife, Pat, pose in directors’ chairs labeled “John Wayne” and “Maureen O’Hara.”

It's always a surprise to see what — or, in this case, who — Dr. Larry Thompson will show up as to the Ringling College of Art and Design annual gala, “An Evening at the Avant-Garde.” This year's theme, “Hollywood Premiere,” featured not one, but two John Waynes, thanks to Thompson and David Meeker. Other partygoers came dressed as a variety of stars of the screen, including Ann Margaret; Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo from this year's movie hit “The Artist” with their own Uggi in tow; John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John from “Grease”; The Blues Brothers; Julie Andrews from “The Sound of Music”; and Charlie Chaplin. Thompson introduced Oscar-winning RCAD alumni, ’95 graduate Brandon Oldenburg, who arrived via limo with his wife, Shannon, and Oscar in tow. Oldenburg, who now employs 15 Ringling graduates at his firm, Moonbot Studios, in Shreveport, La., announced the 2013 Avant-Garde Endowed Scholarship winner, illustration major Kaitlyn Priestley. The event's live-auction items definitely drew some attention this year. One item, which sold for $5,500, featured a trip for four people to visit the set of a Paul Schiff film in Los Angeles and have lunch with the crew — including James Franco. Another item was the opportunity to visit the set of the HBO blockbuster, “True Blood,” with Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer, which went for $4,500. (The latter item was won by Sue and Adam Armbruster, whose son, Alec, is a freshman film student at Ringling.)

Vicky Randall and Jill Lerner strut their stuff on the red carpet.

See more photos on page 10

Jackie Rodgers interviewed guests as they arrived on the red carpet, including Rachel Cavanaugh and Ray Fogg.

Kristi Bonsack, Sandra Rios, Mary Kay Ryan and Tom Heatherman

Patricia and Roger Courtois came as Katy Perry and Russell Brand.

Brandon and Shannon Oldenburg pose with Brandon Oldenburg’s recently won Oscar.

Bob and Diane Roskamp

Photos by Rachel S. O’Hara

10  ■ Diversions >>




The Newlyweds BRIDE AND GROOM: Samantha Allard and

Nathan Eckert

BRIDE’S PARENTS: Jeff and Donna Pfohler GROOM’S PARENTS: Rick and Patty Eckert

Stacey and Michael Corley with their dog, Pipi, came as the stars of “The Artist.”

HOW THEY MET: Nate and Sam met at a mutual friend’s birthday party at Beach Access 5, on Siesta Key. Nate was living in the Village at the time, and Sam and some other people from the party hung out at his house for a little while after the beach. It was there that Nate discovered Sam liked some of the same indie bands that he did.  Sam casually suggested that Nate burn some CDs of his favorite music. Nate had the CDs ready in a week and used them as an excuse to set up their first date. THE PROPOSAL: Nate proposed on Christmas 2010. Sam was just coming home from working the night shift at SMH. Previously, Nate and Sam decided they were only going to get each other stocking stuffers, then purchase a new TV together. Nate wrapped and hid the ring box in the bottom of Sam’s stocking, putting odd gifts like Sam’s favorite Ramen noodles above it. Sam got to the bottom of her stocking, wore a look of disbelief after opening the box, then happily accepted Nate’s proposal. THE WEDDING: The Dec. 3 ceremony was on a semi-private beach at a house the couple rented on Siesta Key, right around the bend from Access 5, where they met. THE RECEPTION: The reception was in the beautiful backyard of the house, where the guests ate and danced under a gorgeous, starry sky and drank beverages from the

Dr. Jennifer Awe, associate dean of students at Ringling College, posed on the red carpet as an Oscar.

Celine and Alan Kilburg

Peggy Wilhelm with Randy and Isabel Norton

Mimi Edlin and Paul Reamer

Courtesy photo

canoe cooler Nate and Sam painted red to match the wedding colors — red and turquoise. THE DRESS: A sexy, fitted ivory gown BRIDE-AND-GROOM’S FIRST DANCE: Ben Harper’s “Forever” HONEYMOON: Nate and Sam spent an extra couple of nights at the beach house after the wedding and are looking forward to attending a music festival in either Austin or New Orleans this fall. FUN FACT: The groom and groomsmen all wore matching Vans shoes for the wedding, and Sam wore matching ones for photos.

Submit your story Send your engagement and wedding announcements to Black Tie Editor Loren Mayo at

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black tie tales by Loren Mayo and Molly Schechter | Observer Staff

+ The perfect fit Sarasota designer and entrepreneur Diana Kelly’s classic shoes have been generating buzz all around town since their debut in 2010, but now they are also capturing national buzz on the pages of Southern Living. The article profiling young designers appears in the magazine’s March issue. “We were thrilled to have been featured by Southern Living, a magazine that three generations of women (my grandmother, mother and I) all love to read and pull ideas from,” says Kelly. As the Diana E. Kelly brand continues to grow, Kelly is bringing on a new team member. The Observer’s Stephanie Photo courtesy of Rebecca Baxter Hannum will be leaving Diana Kelly and Stephanie Hannum after six years as Black Tie editor and, most recently, advertising coordinator, to be Kelly’s vice president of operations. “The Observer has been the most wonderful family, so I’m excited to take on this great opportunity armed with all the experiences and lessons I’ve learned at the newspaper,” says Hannum. “In addition to getting to work with a truly inspirational designer, what girl would not love to work with shoes?!” To find out more about Diana E. Kelly, visit

+ Ohhh, Sandy!

+ A year of firsts …

There she was in the Miramar Room at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, happily seated in a chair and pouring herself a spot of tea. Four-time Grammy award winner and breastcancer survivor Olivia Newton-John was the keynote speaker at the Moffitt Cancer Center Foundation’s 13th annual Sarasota Women’s Cancer Awareness Luncheon March 19. Newton-John, a member of Moffitt’s national board of advisers, advocates for early detection and encourages women to take an active role in their breast health. This April, she will launch a cookbook in which she talks about her relationships with food, cancer and how to eat healthy. All profits will benefit the Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre — Austin Hospital, in Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia. When asked about her father winning the Nobel Prize (it was actually her grandfather, physicist Max Born), Newton-John replied, “Yes, my grandfather was a Nobel Prize winner, and I ended up singing. What are the chances?” During a question-and-answer session, a woman asked Newton-John if she would sing something. Her response: “For $10,000 for Moffitt, I’ll sing a few bars.” The next person to pick up the microphone was Tom Koski. He surprised the room and said he was willing to write a check. Newton-John then took his hand and sang part of the requested, “I Honestly Love You.”

Jewish Family & Children’s Service launched its Celebrity Chefs & Wine Tasting event eight years ago with the goal of attracting a younger audience to a less expensive, more casual event, versus its annual black-tie gala. The concept originated with Marion Levine, of Longboat Key, who is considered the “founding chairman.” This year the event attracting some 600-plus guests March 19, to the Longboat Key Club Islandside tent. It was “firsts” galore for event Co-Chairs Randy and Susan Mallitz and Golf Challenge Chair Shaun Benderson: more total guests, more young ones and more corporate sponsors. It was also the first time it rained on this event. Most of the mild discomfort fell on the 25 guest chefs positioned at the outer edges of the tent, among them Edward Geyfman, of event sponsor Longboat Key Club & Resort, Carlos Moran, of Toasted Mango Café, and Dino Carta, of Café Americano. On a fashion note: The notice-itfrom-across-the-room necklace worn by Susan Mallitz’s sister from Florida’s east coast and a 40-year-old Abe Schrader print shirtwaist worn by Ruth Kreindler that looked newer than the newest prints in the fanciest stores. See photos page 17 and online at

Olivia Newton-John

+ Tidbits Double duke … Ringling College of Art and Design President Dr. Larry Thompson, who went as John Wayne to the Avant-Garde gala, asked David Meeker, who also went as John Wayne, if Larry could be young John and David, old John … Gentlemen’s moment … two husbands seated next to each other at Saturday’s Firefly Gala did some major male bonding and at one point, one husband exclaimed to his new BFF’s wife, “ I love your husband Rachel S. O’Hara — he’s like a ball of string and John Wayne, aka Dr. Larry Thompson I’m the cat!” … Happy, happy … Denise Mei celebrated her birthday during the Firefly Gala — BT found her trying to corral a group of highly excited women as they attempted to pose for photographs with as many “Happy Birthday” and “Wild Thing” signs as would fit in their arms …

Loren Mayo


The 14Th AnnuAl




12  ■ Diversions >>



Girls Incorporated 24th Annual Celebration Luncheon Tuesday, March 20 | Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota

Co-Chairwomen Diane McFarlin, Louise Bruderle, Lisa Walsh and Lisl Liang (not pictured Julie Milton and Kelley Lavin)

Liliana Burrow

Photos by Loren Mayo

Honorees Pam Truitt, Susan Jones and Flori Roberts

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Eric Scott Anthony and Casey Gensler. Photo by Maria Lyle.

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revives a European Tradition the First Wednesday of every month, with this exciting new event. Come enjoy a wide variety of entertainers from classical guitarist & cellists, to living statues, jugglers & mimes. Caricature artists to portrait artist, musicians & dancers and a few vocalists thrown in for good measure.

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Wednesday nights on St. Armands is the place to be as we begin our new “Wonderful Wednesdays on the Circle” line up of special events! For more information, or to submit a Buskers Application to perform, please visit the St. Armands Circle Association website at or call 941-388-1554.

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Cat’sino Catsablanca Gala

‘As Time Goes By’

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Champagne Reception Fashion Show Lunch Shopping Boutique

Fashion show and shopping boutique by Saks Fifth Avenue Hat contest with fabulous prizes Chair Aimee Cogan Mark Zaloudek and June Bowers

Benefiting New College Library Association

Buccaneers cheerleaders Kelli Jones and Holly Sellers

Fuego Español and Sabor Flamenco

Reservations: For more information or to receive an invitation, please contact Johnette Cappadona: or (941) 487-4600. Photos by Mallory Gnaegy

Sue Waxman and Penny Left: Chase Perkins deals to Chris Getty, Wendy Johnston, Gloria Grenier and Lynn Ahrends

Former Dolphins player Mercury Morris with Cat Depot Director of Operations Karen Slomba, event Chairwoman Shelley Thayer and Director of Communications Lynn Rasys


Ruby E. and Carole Crosby Family Foundation

14  ■ Diversions >>



Sarasota Opera Executive Director Susan Danis and Maestro Victor DeRenzi

Eleanor Williams and Victoria Leopold

Sarasota Opera 30th Anniversary of Maestro Victor DeRenzi Sunday, March 25 | The Peterson Great Room Pat Edmonds, Peggy March, Dorothy Lawrence and Jane Jones

Larry English and Elissa Soyka

Sandra and Erik Lindqvist with Jacqueline Morton

Photos by Loren Mayo

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Second annual Firefly Gala Saturday, March 24 | The Concession Golf Club

Blondie performed at the event.

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Ernesto Oliveira and Billy Gamble

Rachelle Considine and Chairwoman Ariane Dart

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Host Donna Simmons, seated left, with Lavonne Martin, Susan Brennan, Belinda Coffrin, Gail Bowden, standing, and Kristi Bonsack, seated right

Ron and Dorothea Morris

Karin Gustafson, Dan Long and Susan Kretz

YMCA Foundation of Sarasota VIP Dinner ‘Fete New Orleans’ Thursday, March 22 | Coucher de Soleil

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8th Annual JFCS Celebrity Chef   & Wine Tasting Tuesday, March 20 | Longboat Key Club & Resort

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Co-Chairs Randy and Susan Mallitz with Shaun Benderson

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18  ■ Diversions >>



Sarasota Film Festival Sponsor Kick-Off Monday, March 19 | Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Chairwoman Nadia Ritter, Helen Glaser, Joy Weston, Peri Smilow and Bunny Skirboll

Women’s Passover Celebration Photos by Loren Mayo

Allison Koehler and Tom Hall

Julie Mays and Mary Bensel

Thursday, March 22 | Michael’s On East

Mark Famiglio and Veronica Pastore

Jimmy and Paige Dean, Eric Moody and Suzette Jones


Sue Jacobson, Dorothy Jacobson and Jocelyn Stevens

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Debbie Haspel and Nanci Rand


what you are missing...


Mike Wilton, Bud Polley and Arnie Vance

Thanks to the successful treatment of our rotator cuff injuries, we are all actively enjoying our passion for SPORTS once again. Rotator cuff muscle injuries are very common. Due to the function of these muscles, sports which involve shoulder rotation such as tennis and golf, often put the rotator cuff muscles under great stress, resulting in an inability to play. A variety of treatment options are available.


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Director of Sports Medicine of the Premier Sports Campus at Lakewood Ranch

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5831 Bee Ridge Road • Suite 200 • Sarasota, FL 34233

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CAMERA READY Women’s Cancer Awareness Luncheon   featuring Olivia Newton-John Monday, March 19 | Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota

Chairwoman Eileen Curd, Olivia Newton-John and Charlene Wolff Barb and Dr. Thomas Sellers and Graci McGillicuddy

Dr. Maria Perrone and her daughter, Francesca Perrone

Jill Larson and Kristi Cuza

Skye Aiello, Stephanie Moore, Kristi Quarles and Jasmar Molina


COme AS yOur fAvOrITe mOvIe Or STAr

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Call us to discuss your next project at 941.366.7280

205 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota, FL (by City Hall)

Sally a. TrouT InTerIor DeSIgn 76509

Full–service luxury and coastal residential design

75 Cocoanut avenue, Sarasota ~ 941.953.4418 ~ Please visit our showroom CurrenT for art, accessories and Furniture

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frIDAy, AprIL 20, 2012 6:30 pm uNTIL LAST DANCe $175/perSON & $300/COupLe hyATT reGeNCy, SArASOTA SILeNT & LIve AuCTION, rAffLe, COSTume CONTeSTS bbbSSuN.OrG 941.488.4009 preSeNTING SpONSOr


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Photos by Loren Mayo


Lorraine Kaplan and Isabella Paspa



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