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Look at the freaks of The Players’ ‘Sideshow’ PAGES 2-3


3 Things: Luxury on the Links PAGES 8-9

black tie | Mrs. President


Black Tie Children First Gala ‘April in Paris’ PAGE 11 by Mallory Gnaegy | A&E Editor

Mallory Gnaegy

“We did a search for candidates, and she was the only one who got 100%, and I don’t think it’s because the board knew her — it’s because they have confidence in her,” says Karin Gustafson, right, of Jennifer Grondahl, left.

Passing of the Baton The YMCA Foundation transitions from a president of 23 years, Karin Gustafson, to new President Jennifer Grondahl. BLACK TIE COVER STORY CONTINUED ON PAGE 16




// Arts&Entertainment: Freak Speak

by Mallory Gnaegy | A&E Editor

t up and h ig r p e St hinde b a e k ta es the-scen ook al l historic aks of re at the f rs’ ‘Side e The Play w.’ Sho

If you go

When : 7:3


and run 0 p.m. April 25 s throu gh May 5 Where: T h e Players Theatre , 838 N. T amiami Trail

Cost: $25 Info : Cal Mallory Gnaegy

l 365-24 94

Alana Opie plays Daisy and Danae DeShazer plays Violet, and they’ve had to learn to move, walk and even dance as one. “We watch them trip over each other all the time,” ‘Side Show’ director Michael Newton-Brown laughs. he chilling first line of the dark musical, “Side Show,” boasts, “Come look at the freaks!” The musical centers on the tragic lives of Daisy and Violet Hilton, good-looking, Siamesetwin vaudeville performers from the 1920s and 1930s. The history of side shows, which contain variety-act performances, masterful illusions and put persons with physical

deformities or curiosities on display, dates back as early as 1102 to Bartholomew Fair, a London street fair. The shows stemmed from traveling exhibitions, often associated with circuses, carnivals and traveling museums. Some historians claim the sideshow, prominent in the early 18th and 19th centuries, began with showman P.T. Barnum. His first touring act in 1835 was Joice Heth, a woman he claimed was

a toothless 161-year-old nurse of baby George Washington. Eventually he grew a collection of acts, and then the Ringling Bros. eventually had its share of freaks. Circus town Sarasota has historical ties to sideshows nearby. When the Ringlings moved their winter quarters in the 1920s from Baraboo, Wis., to Sarasota, sideshow performers settled nine miles south of Tampa in

Gibsonton — where land was cheap and zoning ordinances allowed their trailers and equipment. A giant who later became the fire chief, George Auger, aka Giant Al, founded the peculiar town; a little person was police chief; and Siamese twins sold Florida citrus. It’s no wonder the history of sideshows intrigues Michael Newton-Brown, director of “Side Show” — he graduated from the

second class of The Ringling Brothers Clown College in 1970. The script features generic characters based on acts that most sideshows contained: a fat lady, tattooed lady, snake charmer, sword swallower, etc. So, ladies and gentlemen, step right up, get your tickets and satisfy your curiosities by learning more about these characters. See them in person before the curtain closes May 5.

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// Arts&EntertainmenT Played by Joseph Grosso

Played by Alana Opie and Danae DeShazer The first set of sideshow Siamese twins, Cheng and Eng Bunker, traveled with P.T. Barnum. They were born in 1811 in China, but had settled in Siam. They both married and had a total of 21 children — NewtonBrown met one of their descendants last year at The Players. Daisy and Violet Hilton were not as fortunate in their relationships as the Bunkers. They were born out of wedlock and sold to a couple that exploited them for profit. Later, their older stepsister and her fiancé enslaved them until age 23. The sisters had pygopagi, the term for being attached at the buttocks. They were good-looking, singing-and-dancing musicians who earned $5,000 a week at the peak of their careers. But their love lives were tragic — they were both engaged and married on multiple occasions, but none lasted, and the musical plays to some of these elements. But it doesn’t touch on how the director of their sideshow absconded with all the money, leaving them to take jobs as grocery store clerks. When they didn’t show up to work one day in 1969, police discovered they had died from the Hong Kong Flu.

According to NewtonBrown, few sideshows carried a Geek, and many performers wouldn’t join a show that carried one. Geeks were typically homeless; being a raging alcoholic who nursed the bottle was seen as a job requirement. The often savage-looking Geek would bite the heads off chickens, snakes or rats. Rumor has it, The Players production has a rubber chicken and fake-blood capsules for this role.

Played by Casey Kelley Trying to find a woman completely covered in tattoos who could sing and dance posed a challenge, so Newton-Brown settled for printed body sleeves. Becoming a tattooed lady was an option for working-class women looking for a job. Nora Hildebrandt and Irene Woodward competed for the title of first tattooed lady in 1882. Hildebrandt’s claim was that Sioux Indians captured her and her tattoo artist father, and he was forced to tattoo her until his death. Woodward’s claim was that her tattoos saved her from an Ute Indian raid.

Played by Alex Mahadevan

Played by Teri Lyons Duncan Fat ladies were typical sideshow acts. One famous fat lady and little person was Carrie Akers. Another was Dolly Dimples (born Celesta Herrmann). She was known as “The World’s Most Beautiful Fat Lady.” Her first words as a child were “meat, meat, meat,” and she dropped out of high school because of teasing classmates. There was also Baby Ruth Pontico, the daughter of a Ringling Bros. fat lady. She wanted to be a stenographer, but was too large for the office equipment. She weighed 815 pounds (gaining an average of 40 pounds yearly) and her slim husband, Joe Pontico, ran a restaurant near Sarasota.

played by Sharon Bartley The sideshow typically included a snake charmer, usually female, or handler who would exotically present snakes. And as Newton-Brown says, “It doesn’t take a lot of talent to be a snake charmer, you just have to have the right kind of friendly snake.” The director says he initially cast a boa constrictor for the snake role, but that it was pulled out due to a custody battle. As of April 18, he was working on signing another.

“Side Show’s” script calls for a reptile man, but Newton-Brown thought it was too generic, and people here could remember the Gibsontoner’s story. The Lobster Boy, the Hilton Sisters and Dolly Dimples are the only characters based on historical figures — the rest are generic. Grady Stiles Jr., aka Lobster Boy, was a second-generation ectrodactyly, or man born with fused hands and feet resembling claws. His legs were deformed, and he walked with his arms. He became a sadistic alcoholic and abused his first wife and five children, two of which were also ectrodactylies. He opposed his 15-year-old daughter Donna’s engagement by shooting her fiancé, Jack Layne, to death, but in 1978 he got out of prison (even with a guilty confession) because it wasn’t handicapped accessible. He and his first wife, Maria Teresa Herzog, eventually rekindled the relationship following his second marriage, when he quit his Seagram’s 7 habit. Herzog and her son from a previous marriage hired a neighbor, Chris Wyant, to shoot him dead Nov. 29, 1992.











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// Arts&Entertainment: COLUMN


HEARD By Mallory Gnaegy | A&E Editor |

 Actor Dylan McDermott doesn’t talk acting Most people who watched “The Practice” would recognize Dylan McDermott. Others might remember him as the hunk who married Julia Roberts in “Steel Magnolias”; younger generations as the blue-eyed eye candy in “American Horror Story” or film “The Perks of Being a Wallflower;” and others might think he’s actually David Duchovny or Dermot Mulroney, or that one guy on “Friends,” which he says happens frequently. But, people rarely think of him as a writer or photographer. His first photography exhibit is opening May 10, in MonMallory Gnaegy treal. He’s been taking Dylan McDermott photos since 1986, and it’s the only thing that made him light up in a recent interview. The exhibit features photos from a trip to Congo, where he photographed women who had been raped. He came to Ringling College of Art and Design, thanks to David Shapiro and Sam Logan, of Future Films LLC, and spoke a lot about his career, but he gave The Observer the inside scoop. For the full Q&A, visit

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If you’re in the market for new furniture, and even if you aren’t, stop by Home Resource to check out its first photography exhibit. This retail store, known for producing full-house theatrical performances a few times, has an even larger artful undercurrent. It’s a traveling project of the World Monu-

ments Fund Modernism at Risk program, which exhibits large-scale photographs by Andrew Moore that showcase modern landmarks and offers educational panels that teach how each was preserved. It features five case studies, which stem from a Trade Union School in Germany to libraries in New York and Michigan. It opened in Gainesville and has been as far as New York and venues in Europe, but it’s special to Sarasota, considering one of the modern landmarks it features is the former Riverview High School building. In 2010, a group was unsuccessful in saving the modern building, and this is the only case study in the exhibit that failed. The exhibit also coincided with the U.S. national symposium of DOCOMOMO “Modern Matters,” which is a nonprofit group devoted to the conservation of all sites modern. The group met April 18 through 21, in Sarasota.

Each week, The Observer releases an episode in its video series, Patron Saints. This series spotlights performing-arts venues around town and the patrons who donate to them. Sarasota Orchestra Board of Directors Chairwoman Anne Folsom Smith was an interior designer who joined the board more than 20 years ago because she wanted to get involved with something more than design. She does it because she believes the more you give, the more you get. Courtesy To see the full episode Anne Folsom featuring Folsom Smith and Smith Sarasota Orchestra, and to see every Patron Saints video, visit http://

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// Arts&Entertainment: SPotlight

by Mallory Gnaegy | A&E Editor

Theatre of Dreams goes live When a tremendous passion for playing music is combined with the Sarasota Ballet dancers’ enormous talent — it’s one of those equations where one plus one equals three. And the dancers always prefer live music to recordings, which is why this year’s Theatre of Dreams program, May 3 to May 5, should be a step above the previous years. Director Iain Webb gives five dancers the opportunity to showcase their hand at choreography and, this year, it features live music. “It brings a richness to the performance, but it also adds a level of spontaneity,” says principal dancer Logan Learned, in his first attempt at choreographing in Theatre of Dreams. Learned’s piece, “Scene de Ballet,” is a farce and comedic take on dancers in the studio before taking a class. He was inspired by real-life. “Seeing how different people get ready for the day is interesting because there are those who are very hardcore and come in early with a whole routine,” he says, “and others who sit around and just wait for class to start.” He’ll emphasize these differences with a mostly classical style incorporating sight gags. His pianist and violinist will be on stage. Incorporating musicians in an onstage performance is typically rare for ballet, yet it’s par for this year’s Theatre of Dreams. Principal dancer Ricardo Graziano is enjoying an exciting year for his choreography — “Symphony of Sorrows,” from last year’s Theatre of Dreams, will be used in the 2013/2014 season; a premiere


of a new Graziano piece will also take place. His work for this year’s program has yet to be named, but it will feature one pianist playing 25 works by Franz Schubert (all average around 60 seconds). Professional choreographer Nacho Duato’s style inspired his contemporary piece. Initially he planned for all men, but he’s recently added women to the cast. “I’m keeping the exact choreography, but I’m having the girls dance male steps — and they are loving it,” he laughs. “I picked tough ladies to do it.” Soloist and veteran choreographer Ricki Bertoni’s piece, “Ragtop,” is vastly different from the electronic-based, color-blocked piece from last year. This year, his cross between classical ballet and modern will feature female dancers in black slinky dresses, bobs, red lips and white gloves. His men will wear white T-shirts and bowler hats. This year’s performance is Fosse-meets-Fred Astaire and features Scott Joplin’s music. “It’s the oldest cool music there is, really,” he says. He hopes to have his sultry dancers hanging around by a stand-up piano to give more of a “rinky-dinky” feel. Kate Honea’s three-section piece, “Baroque and Blues,” will also be different from the choreography audiences have come to know. This year, there will be no props or plot, and it will feature classical ballet with jazz music by composer Claude Bolling as the standout —  Honea will have piano, drums, bass and a flute. She assures that her piece will still

Live music is a new element for this year’s Theatre of Dreams program.

Mallory Gnaegy

Logan Learned, Ricki Bertoni, Ricardo Graziano, Jamie Carter and Kate Honea all prefer live music to recordings. have the characteristic Honea personality, even though her piece is classical. “This is my background,” she says of her use of classical choreography. “So, instead of doing something more theatrical, I wanted to show my love for ballet — my beginnings.” Coryphee dancer and previous choreographer Jamie Carter’s four-movement piece featuring 24 dancers, “Concordium,” will feature a quartet playing from the boxes of FSU Center for the Performing Arts. With that many

dancers, it’s hard to also fit the musicians on stage. There’s more partnering compared to last year’s piece he choreographed for nine women. Carter thinks the live-music element gave them a narrower choice of music, but that “it was really helpful creatively because you may choose a composer or instruments you hadn’t thought of before,” he says. “And everyone’s music is different, so it will be really great for the audience to have such a broad range,” he says.

if you go Theatre of Dreams When: 8 p.m. Friday, May 3; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, May 4; and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, May 5 Where: FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail Cost: $30 to $90 Info: Call 359-0099


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// Arts&Entertainment: reviews



// ‘In the Book Of’

// ‘A Behanding in Spokane’

John Walch’s latest play, “In the Book Of,” provides a pleasant melodrama, which seems to be aimed at gently teaching folks to tolerate one another. The tone of the play comes off as prosaic, considering that the topic is immigration, the locale is set in Mississippi during the recession and imminent danger to the main character is implied. With its light approach to an array of serious topics, the play doesn’t fully succeed at either comedy or drama, whereas the most effective social criticism usually comes out of biting satire or searing drama.  The plot features two women who’ve lost their husbands during the war in Afghanistan. One is an American Army lieutenant and the other is her Afghan translator. When Naomi is discharged, she illegally brings the translator back to the U.S. with her, because staying in the country would leave Anisah in danger. What follows is their subsequent interaction with an almost cartoonish cast of characters who represents a kitchen sink full of causes. Director Kate Alexander keeps the production moving at a perky pace. The acting overall is quite good, and the scenic design by Tom Buderwitz is evocatively Southern, with its dueling front porches and Spanish moss-draped rafters. Sarah Corey portrays an endearing Anisah, skillfully conveying her charm and wisdom, and allowing the audience to feel empathy for the foreigner, which is essential to the success of the play. Rachel Leslie is perfect in her expression of the many transitions that Naomi Watkins, who’s suffering from PTSD as well as grief, must endure. Rita Rehn pulls off the hardto-believe part of Gail, who, as written, seems like a caricature of Sarah Palin.

Martin McDonagh’s “A Behanding in Spokane,” first opened in 2010 on Broadway, where it won a Tony award for Christopher Walken in the lead role. Born in 1970, McDonagh has been called the most important living playwright in Ireland. His Irish trilogies have won scads of international awards, but it doesn’t surprise me that “Behanding” only got Walken an award. It’s his first play to be set in the United States, and it continues McDonagh’s famously absurdist, dark humor and satiric skewering of human behavior, but it’s light on any deeper meaning, making it appear more of an exercise from a Quentin Tarantino cum Coen Brothers wannabe. Venice Theatre’s production is in keeping with McDonagh’s intent, and John Michael Andzulis’s scenic/lighting design delivers a sufficiently sleazy set to impart the low-life ambience. Kelly Wynn Woodland directs the macabre tale of a man in search of his severed hand who, besides being violent, vengeful and obsessed, has a twisted relationship with his mother whom we come to know through her phone calls. Steven O’Dea, as Carmichael, imparts irony, as well as menace and unpredictability, which enhances the main character’s interest. Jeremy Guerrero is especially effective as Mervyn, the “receptionist guy,” a leering, opportunistic aficionado of evil, who delivers a monologue in which he contemplates his relish of playing the hero in a school massacre. McDonagh’s specialty lays in his outrageously racist, sexist language and complete disregard of anything remotely “PC.” Kristofer Geddie, as Toby, displays his mastery of the “MF” word and many others to a ridiculous extent, and creates the bulk of the blatant comedy on the play, although he hasn’t quite mastered sniveling to the same degree. Alison Prouty is also funny,


Rita Rehn as Gail in “In the Book Of.” Andy Prosky plays her husband, Bo Sr., who’s trying to recover from his losses the recession caused. Graham Stuart Allen plays Bo Jr., who is a proponent of conservation and whose emotional life has been stunted by the death of his brother. David Perez-Ribada, playing three different characters, adds a lively spark to each one. — Paula Atwell

if you go “In the Book Of” runs through May 19, at Florida Studio Theatre. For more information, call 366-9000.


“A Behanding in Spokane” at Venice Theatre

if you go “A Behanding in Spokane” runs through April 28, at Venice Theatre. For more information, call 488-1115. but lacks nuance in her portrayal of Toby’s girlfriend, Marilyn, who is a tad low on the IQ scale. The show is darkly appealing and twisted enough to keep the audience in its seat without a break for 90 minutes. It was interesting to get a glimpse of what this much-lauded playwright is all about, but it left me wishing it had been one of his better, earlier works. — Paula Atwell

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// Arts&Entertainment: REVIEWS



// ‘La Fille mal Gardée’

// La Musica

Director Iain Webb has brought a masterpiece to the Sarasota Ballet — Sir Frederick Ashton’s “La Fille mal Gardée.” This classic, two-act, story ballet is like none other: It isn’t a fairy tale and no one dies a tragic death. It’s purely a joyful, humorous tale of a normal farm girl who ends up living happily ever after. Who wouldn’t enjoy that? Plus, add to that gorgeous sets and costumes, live animals and a full-blown orchestra, and you’ve got a winning combination. What took this production to platinum status was the exemplary cast of dancers. The dancers all performed Ashton’s brilliant choreography with what seemed like the utmost joy and exuberance. And the leading cast was spot on; perfect … everything you could ever want as the characters of Lise, Colas, Alain and Widow Simone. Kate Honea danced the role of “The Wayward Daughter,” Lise, while Ricardo Graziano was her dashing love-interest, Colas. Honea danced the role of her life. She danced the incredibly technically challenging role with ease and grace and infused Lise’s character with oodles of humor and girl-like adoration for Colas. Graziano, ever the perfect partner, was right in sync with Honea with his own flawless technique and fabulous acting abilities. The pair enchanted the audience during a ribbon pas de deux, in which they took turns spinning in and out of a long ribbon intertwining them. Then they used the ribbons as reins on each other, mimicking a horse and carriage. They, then, elegantly weaved in and out of another ribbon star held by Lise’s eight friends that ultimately left Honea in the middle of the ribbon wheel en pointe in attitude derriére. The friends proceeded to promenade her by the ribbons. Honea and Graziano each performed a

I’m starting to feel as if I’m in a time warp. Having attended the first three programs of this season’s La Musica concerts at the Opera House, I feel I should be wearing my hair in a pageboy, bobbysocks and saddle shoes on my feet and gloves on my hands. I know times have changed since the 1950s, but being at La Musica’s concerts has taken me back to the good old days of music presented for the sake of music with little heed paid to the performers or, for that matter, the audience. So, the question is, were those really the “good old days?” La Musica’s audiences are dwindling and, from the way the illustrious organization’s programs are made and presented, it’s understandable. Times have changed and chamber musicians have begun showing their enthusiasm and love for their subjects. That doesn’t mean dumbing-down or cutting quality at all. It means more communication with the audience; bringing listeners into the experience; playing better than ever; programming with an eye to format and an ear to invention. La Musica isn’t doing that. All three programs presented in the first week of La Musica’s festival presented the same old, same old. The performers — all string players with the exception of pianist Derek Han — rarely infused any joy or passion into their playing so everything sounded the same. That’s not to say the performances were bad. They were just, well, blah. And there was little attention paid to blend. Violinist Laura Zarina, for example, tends toward a more modern, straight-toned sound. It’s lovely, clear and musical. Cellist Dmitri Atapine’s sound is lush, with a warm, round vibrato. And Han’s piano is edgy and forceful. Put them together in the Brahms “Dumky” Trio and you get a performance that’s all over the place and sounds under-rehearsed. The best and most cohesive works on the three programs were the Ravel String Quartet,


multitude of jumps, leaps, turns and tricks during their own respective solos and codas during the ballet. Most memorable were the many times Honea performed ballottés en avant en pointe seemingly at the speed of light. Also quite notable were the absolute brilliant comedic performances by Ricki Bertoni as Widow Simone, Lise’s mother, and Logan Learned as Alain, the bumbling son of a wealthy vineyard owner, whom Simone wishes Lise to marry. Bertoni was absolutely hilarious as Simone, encouraging Lise to churn butter, then spanking her on the bottom when Lise slacked off. Learned was full of silliness, but made the audience warm to Alain with his funny antics. Another memorable scene was the clog dance performed by Danielle Brown, Christine Peixoto, Emily Dixon and Sara Scherer, along with Bertoni as Widow Simone. The four girls donned clogs over their pointe shoes and managed to dance and create beautiful and humorous rhythms. As mentioned before, this production was perfect in every way. It was as much a joy to watch, as it seemed it was to perform. We can’t wait to see it on the season bill again. — Anna Dearing

Cellist Julie Albers


in which violinists Federico Agostini and Ruth Lenz, violist Daniel Avshalomov and cellist Julie Albers seemed very much at home stylistically and musically, and Tchaikovksy’s A Minor Piano Trio with Zarina, Atapine and Han, who — still not very well blended — came across with a compelling, convincing performance. Then, there was the programming. Boccherini’s C Minor String Trio is a bland and dusty piece that’s usually relegated to “filler” music on a radio station. Agostini, violist Bruno Giuranna and Albers couldn’t make it come alive and we couldn’t help wonder, why try? It was somewhat interesting to hear Richard Strauss’ “Metamorphosen” in its setting for seven instruments but there’s a reason the 23-part version is more popular. And even Rossini hated his Sonata a Quattro No. 3 in C, calling it part of “ … six horrendous sonatas composed by me …” at the age of 12. La Musica has had a wonderful reputation for good reason. It presented interestingly varied programs played by world-class performers. Today, there are too many really good, exciting chamber ensembles and festivals presenting powerful, cogent programs infused with personality and vigor. Without dumbing down anything, La Musica needs to rethink itself. Chamber music is a specialty that we don’t want to lose and there’s no reason La Musica can’t get back in the race. — June LeBell

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The very first amenity Sarasota’s early settlers built for themselves was a golf course, and the town’s love affair with the game has only grown over the years. Beginning in the 1980s, a series of elegant communities, which epitomized the golfing lifestyle, with glamorous homes built along the fairways and an active social life guaranteed in the commodious clubhouses were developed. Today, they define a crucial niche in Sarasota real estate and provide a winning combination of peace and quiet, impeccable security, excellent maintenance and endless golf. Here are three elegant examples currently on the market.

1. Lakewood Ranch 13207 Palmers Creek Terrace Built in 2004, this 5,581-square-foot home is about as big and luxurious as it gets. There’s a living room with a 24-foot ceiling and a curved stairway along one side, plus a two-story lanai surrounding a heated pool and spa, with views out to a lake and nature preserve. Built at the height of the boom, the home has all the extras: a second-floor family room with home theater and wet bar, an office with built-ins and, yes, that’s Swarovski crystal in the chandelier. It’s located on a half-acre-plus in the Palmers Creek neighborhood of the Country Club of Lakewood Ranch. Membership at the country club is optional, but if you join you’ll get 54 holes of golf, plus tennis and social activities. Priced at $1,995,000. For more information, call Lenore Treiman of Michael Saunders at 941-356-9642.

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1280 1280 Northport Northport Dr - Enter Dr - Enter on Royal on Royal Palm Palm Harbor’s Harbor’s Rutenberg erg St. Augustine St. Augustine designated designated CanopyCanopy Road Road to onetoofone Siesta of Siesta Key’s Key’s mostmost at dessetthat thissethome this home dynamic dynamic views views of theofBay theand BayIntracostal and Intracostal Waterway. Waterway.3"LVDOF0RESIDENTSs3ARASOTA &LORIDAs appliances, mium appliances, Sub- Sub3"LVDOF0RESIDENTSs3ARASOTA &LORIDAs Situated Situated on a wrap-around on a wrap-around cornercorner lot which lot which combines combines Thermador. dor. On-demand On-demand huge huge views views and protected and protected boat boat harborage harborage on the on the e water house softening water softening deep water deep water side canal.. side canal.. A3956983 A3956983 $2,195,000 $2,195,000 899,900 0 13



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2. Prestancia 4369 Boca Pointe Drive This neo-classical home in Prestancia has a more formal and traditional look than its neighbors, with a generous touch of Palm Beach-style glamour thrown in — there’s even a billiard room. Symmetrical in plan, it features two beautiful living spaces — a living room and a family room — facing each other across the swimming pool, each with a giant wall of glass overlooking well-manicured landscaping and the fairway. There’s

also a barrel-vaulted grand foyer, several wood-burning fireplaces and the master suite features two separate baths and a large sitting area. Membership at TPC Prestancia is optional, but there are a wide variety of plans, some including privileges at other clubs worldwide. Priced at $1,195,000. For more information, call Joel Schemmel of Premier Sotheby’s at 941-587-4894.

3. Laurel Oak

Photos courtesy of Coldwell Banker

7600 Donald Ross Road

Laurel Oak, just east of I-75, is wellknown for its family atmosphere and a couple of celebrity residents — Monica Seles has a home there, of course with its own private tennis court. With winding tree-lined streets and large homes set on large lots, Laurel Oak exudes a well-upholstered, upper-middle-class lifestyle. There are currently several nice homes on the market for under $1 million, such as this 4,000-square-foot beauty built in 1995. It has four bedrooms, three-and-

Photos courtesy of Premier Sotheby’s



a-half baths and is set on almost one acre of land. Special features include an upgraded kitchen, a second floor bonus room and faux-painted walls. Membership at the country club is optional but with two courses — one designed by Gary Player, the other by Rees Jones — it’s a perfect choice for the serious golfer. Priced at $875,000. For more information call, Lynn Robbins of Coldwell Banker at 941-376-5077.

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by June LeBell | Contributing Columnist |  Jack Dusty’s takes the edge off taxes


For those of us still reeling from the April 15 crunch, Jack Dusty’s, in the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, offered some relief — offering “Tax Day Cocktails” to take the edge off the last-minute rush to the post office. In case you missed out (on your taxes or the cocktails), they’ve given us the recipes so we may drink at the hot spot or in the privacy of our own homes. The “Tax Man-Up” consists of Applejack, Maker’s Mark, maple syrup and coffee liqueur stirred and strained on the rocks into a large, double, old-fashioned glass with a baby apple for garnish. The “Tax Day Sweet Relief,” on the other hand, is made of port wine, Disaronno, Frangelico and egg whites shaken well with ice, strained into a port glass and garnished with a sprinkling of cinnamon. Frothy and fragrant, a couple of these will give you sweet relief.

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 The Green Room at FST is open and informal

The season may be almost over but parking is still difficult, especially in the downtown theater district. Now that Florida Studio Theatre has so many stages, and they’re all going at the same time, getting to any one of them — even a half hour before curtain — can mean several trips around the block or a ride to the top of the new parking garage. One way to beat the odds is to make a reservation at The Green Room, FST’s new café and bar, located in the new Hegner Theatre Wing, adjacent to the Gompertz. The menu is simple, with old standbys such as shrimp cocktail, burgers, sandwiches, quiche and salads so, unless you’re looking for a candlelit, gourmet evening, it fills the pre-performance bill with well prepared, satisfying, fun fare. With an ambience similar to a Lenox, Mass., bistro or a West Village café, the drinks are



Buffet Brunch Omelet Stations, Carving Stations, Hot & Cold Items with Spectacular Dessert Display.

large and well-made, the food fresh and the service pleasing and efficient. To make reservations, call the FST box office at 366-9000.


 Morton’s Gourmet holds first ‘American Made’

Morton’s Gourmet Market is interested in more than gourmet food and fine wine. Morton’s also has a Culinary Education Fund, and a couple of weeks ago it invited wine enthusiasts to sample more than 40 different wines from around the U.S. and enjoy tastes of artisanal cheeses and other gourmet treats in what it promised is the first of many annual “American Made” events to benefit the fund. Wines from Napa, Sonoma, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico and other grape-growing, wine-making areas of the country were available to participants, while Morton’s chefs stood at cooking stations around the market serving their own spin on classic American dishes. There’s nothing like an in-house foodie fundraiser to draw crowds. We’ve been to some in New York City and we’ve never eaten as well. Morton’s, a place I think of as Sarasota’s Zabar’s, has been this town’s full-service specialty food shop for more than 40 years and its prime meats and seafood, bakery, deli, flowers, gift baskets, cheeses, pates and wines fill our refrigerator, freezer and cupboards more than any other market. It’s nice to know it is spreading the wealth.

Served from 11:00 - 3:00 Children $16.95 Complementary Mimosa with buffet offerings. Reservations Suggested. Call 941.388.4415

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Black Tie

INSIDE: Cattle Baron’s Ball PAGE 15

Bernie and Lauren Walsh with Robin Eurick

Chairs Larry and Nola Hietbrink, Allen and Stephanie Hochfelder, Marvin Albert and Gerri Aaron and Wayne and Mindy Rollins

THURSDAY, April 25, 2013

Statues of the Eiffel Tower and bottles with pink flow ers and Chanel No. 5 labels were part of the décor.

Richard and Carol Elliott Ryan and Stephanie Kern

Renee Phinney

vid Fleming d with Elizabeth and Da

Kevin and Julie Stanalan

By Rachel S. O’Hara Black Tie Photographer

Sharon and John Gresham

Phyllis Turner and Taylor Turner

Children First held its 14th annual Celebration Gala Saturday, April 20, at Michael’s On East. Themed “April in Paris,” the evening was chaired by Marvin Albert and Gerri Aaron, Larry and Nola Hietbrink, Allen and Stephanie Hochfelder and Wayne and Mindy Rollins. The transformation of the ballroom and courtyard was quite impressive and gave the illusion of actually being in Paris. The courtyard was decorated with parasols hanging from the roof, as well as miniature Eiffel Towers and “bottles” of Chanel No. 5. The ballroom was turned into a Parisian restaurant with murals — created by a Ringling graduate, through a partnership with the YEA! arts program — depicting scenes from windows overlooking Paris, French art work on the walls, Eiffel Towers as centerpieces. Large crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling and a dance floor

was set up for dancing to the sounds of Big Night Out following dinner and a live auction. The sold-out crowd of more than 340 guests mingled with one another and sipped on the night’s signature drink, French 75 — a cocktail made from gin, Champagne, lemon juice, and sugar. Others enjoyed having portraits drawn of them by former and current Ringling students. Children First volunteers encouraged guests to pick up a “helping hand,” colorful cutouts of hands with different monetary amounts based upon the gift given. The hottest live auction package, emceed by Michael Klauber, was the theme-related package for a trip to Paris, which was donated by Admiral Travel. The lucky bidders were David and Robin Shapiro.

Photos by Rachel S. O’Hara






tales by Black Tie Staff

Ryan Mason, sons of Jill and Adam Mason. (The triplets are the oldest at 20 months.) More than 110 guests included Bea’s sisterin-law, Evelyn Friedman, and long-time friends Paul and Doris Wolf, Don and Pat Hase, Claire Levin, Claire Love, Fred and Anette Nagel, Irv and Marilyn Naiditch and Hal and Gretchen Serrie.

Peter Acker

Claudia, Margot, Warren, Betsy and Lynn Coville

 Living happily ever after, Coville style

Warren and Margot Coville celebrated their 65th anniversary with a feast of family, friends, food and entertainment April 21, at the Bird Key Yacht Club. Friends curious to know what their wedding was like were able to see it on video. And, some even got to meet their best man, Stanford Arden, who came from Atlanta with his wife, Elayne. Stan and Warren have been friends since junior-high school days. As Coville’s daughter, Betsy, noted, “They are so lucky to have friends they have known just as long as they have known each other.”

 A whole new generation of Friedmans

Bea Friedman met a new tier of her family for the first time at her 93rd birthday party April 13, at the Sarasota home of her daughter and son-in-law, Ilene Friedman and Greg Gregory. In town for the occasion were her two great- grandchildren, Ella, daughter of Ariel and James Edson, and, Alex, son of Aaron and Amy Frank. She also welcomed assorted great-grand nieces and great-grand nephews: Lilly, Jake and Hadley Friedman, triplets of Glenn and Pamela Friedman; and Evan and


Emily Walsh and the late Sanford Milter at the JFCS Gala in 2007

 Sanford’s girls

He was social, but not a socialite; He was philanthropic, but not a philanthropist. Most of all, Sanford Milter, who died on April 7, at the age of 93, was a good friend to a great many people, including two past editors of Black Tie, both of whom learned important lessons from him. When Jewish Family & Children’s Service honored him with its first, and thus far only, Lifetime Achievement Award six years ago, Molly Schechter co-chaired and produced

the event, and Emily Walsh was the Vanna White who escorted a stupendously smiling Sanford to the podium. It is a happy image that seems appropriate to share to honor his memory. We extend our condolences to Sanford’s long-time partner, Helen Sherman, and the rest of his family. We will miss him.

 Tidbits

Standout gown … Renee Phinney’s dress definitely stood out at the April 20 Children First gala. The black-and-white stunner was actually inspired by a runway dress she saw in Oscar de la Renta’s spring collection. When she showed the picture to friend Jenn McAllister, the latter believed her mom, Ellen Smith, could recreate the designer gown and voilà … Cougar is as cougar does … A local lady who is going to be 108 years old next week will celebrate with her boyfriend, a mere 104. Teased about being a cougar, her reply was, “At my age, I don’t have any choice.” Looks can be deceiving … Hard to believe that the birthday party Joyce Molly Schechter Cooper threw Joyce for more than Cooper 40 guests April 19, at Michael’s On East, was to celebrate her 80th. Neighbor Doris Kaplan emceed loving presentations by Lois Schottenstein, Marsha Roth, Sylvia Pastor, Liz Bergman, Carol Pettingel (who played “Happy Birthday” on the harmonica), Dee Pinski, Barbara Miller and Marion Levine, plus son Craig Cooper and daughter Stacey Eldredge. Janice Tibbals sent the birthday girl a cake made entirely of flowers … Over the bounding main with Edwards and Galati … Would you spend a few days doing theater in London, then go on a Mediterranean cruise aboard the Crystal Serenity with Michael Donald Edwards and Frank Galati? We thought so. That’s the

program being put together for July 27 to Aug. 10, 2014 to benefit the Asolo Rep. For more information, call Jessica Bailey at 944-0323.

 The calendar calls

BT is collecting events for the 2013-2014 Black Tie social calendar — if we don’t know about it, we can’t cover it! Email the following information to name of your event; group hosting; group benefiting; time, date and place; ticket price; chairperson; contact name; phone number and email; website and event description. Black Tie’s “Occasions” column details of some of the most fabulous local weddings and engagement announcements. Whether you attended the most-talked about event of the year or want to announce your own nuptials, send your engagement and wedding announcements to

Black Tie Affair

Déjà vu: ‘The Love Boat’ Benefiting: Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast When: 6 p.m. Saturday, April 27 Where: Hyatt Regency Sarasota Tickets: $175 per person or $300 per couple Contact: Kelly Thormahlen, 488-4009 Come aboard “The Love Boat” to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast. Attire is cruise formal, come as your favorite Love Boat crewmember or celebrity guest. Dance the night away while enjoying cocktails, dining and costume contests.


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// BLACK TIE: Camera ready

// Women in a Changing World //

Benefiting Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota County Monday, April 15, at Asolo Repertory Theatre

Chairwomen Barbara Collins and Peggy Wilhelm

Photos by Rachel S. O’Hara

Kay Marine and Barbara Nelson

Tracy Henderson and Lenore Demeo

// 10th annual Women Helping Women Luncheon //

Benefiting Samaritan Counseling Services of the Gulf Coast Thursday, April 18, at Michael’s On East Panelists Kimberly Boyd, Julia Arnette, Nancy Markle, Nomi Bergman and Alex Sink

Photos by Rachel S. O’Hara

Bob and Diane Bittner

Dana and Don Lederer

Nadja Koch and Jenny Aguilar

Chris Eisenberg, Eric Waiters and Anjolie Bodden were honored for being national winners in the National Digital Arts competition.

@ The Met Friday and Saturday April 26 and 27 from 11 - 5 pm 35 S. Blvd. of the Presidents Sarasota, Fl 34236 Tel (941) 321-1737 109695




// BLACK TIE: Camera ready

// ‘Raise a Curtain, Raise a Kid’ Gala // Benefiting Asolo Repertory Theatre Guild Friday, April 12, at Michael’s On East

ƒ Eric Cooper, Sandi Cooper and Trudi Cooper

A Wish Fulfilled. The Ones You Love.

The Luxury of Time.

Photos by Rachel S. O’Hara

Pavel Kapic and Alyssia Lazin-Kapic

Glo and Richard Reber

Chairwoman Cheryl MacLachlan with Peggy Roeder

Jack Alogna and Beth Cotner

New Phase Just Released! Start with maintenance-included, energy-efficient homes, designed for care-free coastal living. Combine with resort-style amenities like a private clubhouse, pool, cabanas and proposed marina. Top off with the pleasures of Anna Maria Island. It all adds up to the Florida resort lifestyle you’ve been dreaming of. A place to gather family and friends today and celebrate all the tomorrows to come.

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Exquisite Island Coach Homes from the $370s to $500s.

Guest speaker Jeffrey Toobin, center, with The Hon. David Denkin, Nelly Khouzam, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Morris Silberman and The Hon. Thomas Gallen

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// Library Foundation for Sarasota County Fundraiser featuring Jeffrey Toobin //

Benefiting Library Foundation for Sarasota County Tuesday, April 16, at The Francis

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Renee Martone-Cecil and Rob Struckman ƒ Chairwomen Ina Schnell and Helen McBean



// BLACK TIE: Camera ready


Presenting Fine Properties of


Photos by Rachel S. O’Hara

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// Cattle Barons’ Ball //

Benefiting American Cancer Society Saturday, April 13, at Gettel Acura

Spectacular 11th floor condominium nestled along Sarasota’s famous Lido Key and a short distance to St. Armands Circle. Management and concierge services by The RitzCarlton. Breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico, Bay and the Sarasota city skyline.

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// Black Tie

I could be real ethereal and say that my favorite aspect of being president was the joy of walking through the doors, but you know what? Hell no! We’re here to raise money. – Karin Gustafson back doors of the Goldtree Plaza office building open because there wasn’t money for air conditioning. In the five years under Gustafson’s leadership, the organization had moved into its Carl Abbott-designed building; had formed a strong board; had increased fundraising; and had achieved an identity and sense of direction. She describes the Y in 1990 as a lovely swim-and-gym with a great reputation for its daycare and after-school care program — but CEO Carl Weinrich had a vision for an engine that needed to be fueled with dollars. Cue Gustafson. The YMCA had a few projects taking place the year she came on board — building the $2.7 million Evalyn Sadlier Jones Branch in Palmer Ranch; installing the education-based Black Achievers program geared to helping at-risk children graduate from high school; and the Runaway Youth Shelter was on the horizon. By 1994, the restricted and unrestricted endowment funds grew from less than $2 million to $4.2 million. But Gustafson is humble. “If you give me all the credit for this, I’m going to come and get

We celeb rate our

you,” she smiles while giving her stern and threatening delivery a playful underbelly. ”Because it’s not to any of my credit — it’s all team work.” She worked for the board of directors and provided them support in whatever ways it needed. She was in charge of fund development and raising friends for the Sarasota YMCA. Those donations to the Y Foundation helped initiate the Prevention/Outreach program to educate the public about youth services; the Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters program; a Transitional Living program, a group home for boys and a group home for girls; the Triad Alternative School Program serving 130 students; among others. But her favorite part of the job is when she can do what she refers to lovingly as “the money dance.” “I could be real ethereal and say that my favorite aspect of being president was the joy of walking through the doors, but you know what? Hell no!” she laughs, “We’re here to raise money.” When donations came in, she’d clap her hands, spin, and

dance in a circle yelling, “Yes, yes, yes.” And staff would ask, “How much?” Gustafson didn’t see the donations as a stack of dollar bills; she thought of them as a stack of projects the Y would be able to initiate. Before the recession, the Y Foundation had $15 million in assets, and the mortgage for the new building at Kane Plaza was paid. It’s her vision to get back to that security, and, hopefully, be able to restart the transitional living programs that closed due to lack of funding. Thirty-seven-year-old Grondahl has a similar vision — to support new YMCA President and CEO Kurt Stringfellow by bringing in new volunteers, maintain the history and build the endowments. Gustafson is finally ready to retire, and plans to redecorate the house and sit by the pool for real this time. But she also plans to get more involved in the Animal Rescue Coalition, and she’ll still be around to advise Grondahl. After all, Grondahl has been working eight years for Gustafson in a contractual marketing and events position. Grondahl moved in 2000 to Sarasota, after working for a lob-

bying firm in Washington, D.C. In Sarasota, she first worked for the American Cancer Society as executive director of Manatee, Hardy and Highlands counties before starting her own successful marketing-and-events company, Maestro Marketing/ Events. She was responsible for the Y’s events and annual campaign and also sat in on monthly board meetings. When the position opened up, the board of directors approached her about applying. “The Y means so much to me,” Grondahl says. “I just felt like I needed to be the one to do this.” So she referred her clients elsewhere and picked up the baton from Gustafson. She left her first board meeting in tears after a young man in the Black Achievers program spoke to the board. He told them his supportive father, who had attended all his football games, made a mistake and was jailed. At the same time, this young man’s mother had kidney cancer — she’s now OK. He told his mom when she was still in the hospital, that he wants her to see him successful before anything happens to her, and the head of the Black Achievers’ program has held him accountable. But this upcoming Father’s Day will be the young man’s first without his dad. Grondahl went to the office following the meeting and wrote the student’s name and “Father’s Day” on a Post-it. She plans to make sure that the Y does something special with him on Father’s Day. “That’s something I need to be thinking about,” she says. “That’s just what the Y does. It goes to the deepest level and pulls it out for you.”




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where she served as president since 1990 until her term ended March 8. Adjacent to Gustafson’s office, is the office of new Y Foundation President/CEO Jennifer Grondahl, to whom she’s passed the baton. Gustafson mentions this metaphor of “the baton” frequently: “You can’t do anything by yourself. You’re the person holding the baton and they’re the orchestra.” She’s been conducting this orchestra since she and her husband, Nels, moved in 1984 from Illinois to Sarasota. She talks about her brief stint as a retiree following the move: “I thought maybe I didn’t want to work anymore, and after I redecorated the house and sat around the pool for a few weeks, I got bored out of my skull,” she laughs. In 1985, Gustafson saw an ad in the paper for executive director of the Women’s Resource Center (WRC). She did a self-analysis of her skills and resume: a business degree from Brown’s Business College in Springfield, Ill.; she worked as an aide to then-Gov. Otto Kerner; worked as a staffperson for a U.S. senator, then as a staff person for a congressman; she served as the first woman deputy director of the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles; worked as the general manager of an engineering firm; and her most recent position was treasurer of the city of Springfield. She was perfect for the position at the nonprofit, which had few resources and needed one person to do everything. WRC hired her on the spot. When Gustafson came on board to WRC in 1985, employees would leave the front and

of the

Thanks to YOUR generosity, our community raised nearly $2.8 million to benefit area nonprofits – including numerous arts organizations – during the Giving Partner 36-Hour Giving Challenge. Thank you!



This week’s featured patron is:

Anne Fol so m Smith

To read and learn more about Sarasota’s performing-arts patrons, go to the Black Tie tab on or scan the QR code.

Monday - Saturday 4:00-11:00 Closed Sunday’s 1213 N. Palm Ave. | In the Theatre District Call for Reservations 941- 366 -1840

110248 LV5173


Chair of the board of directors of Sarasota Orchestra, Anne Folsom Smith was an interior designer who joined the board more than 20 years ago because she wanted to get involved with something more than design. She does it because she believes the more you give, the more you get.


Proud supporter of the Sarasota Orchestra





by Stephanie Hannum | Diversions Managing Editor

social studies: Dottie Baer Garner

Upon her upcoming “big birthday,” Dottie Baer Garner reflects on the imprint she’s made on local organizations. The lover of art and music believes everything in life — whether family, friendship or charities — is teamwork.

It seems when people move to Sarasota, no one brings their baggage — everyone comes seeking the good life. This community gave me the opportunity not to forget, but to move on in life, and I’ll be eternally grateful. I’ve been on 10 boards in the community, three of which I’m Butterflies, top left: My love for butterflies stems from a beautiful story. Bob and I were walking through the woods on a hike in Aspen two months after our son died. A butterfly landed on my shoulder and it stayed with me the whole walk. It was so ethereal — it felt to me that Rob was still with me. Ever since then, I’ve felt such a connection to butterflies.

When I was on the symphony

board, Dr. David Klein was also serving on the board. His wife is a teacher at Juilliard in Manhattan and they were friendly with Itzak Perlman. Through David’s connection, the Perlman Music Program started, and he asked me to help get that organized and help it gain a presence in Sarasota. The program is going to celebrate its 10th year and I now serve as an honorary board member. It has such a fabulous educational component — that’s what it’s all about.

Human services and the arts

are very important to Bob and me. I’m a ‘doer;’ I don’t expect other people to do.

After you do something for

an organization, I feel it’s time to move on — change is healthy for the organization. All I truly care about is seeing it work and then moving on and letting someone else come along.

I still have that zest for living and contributing when I can. But eventually letting go and letting others come along, that’s what I think is called progress in the community.

Photo by Stephanie Hannum

We are so family oriented.

One of my daughters and grandsons live in Sarasota. We have two daughters and four grandkids, ranging in age from 5 to 30. We don’t miss a holiday together; it is very important.

We are also very involved

with our grandchildren. They got me on Facebook, and now I seem to be addicted. And I want to move with the times, so I’m also on Twitter. Even though I am the age I am, I don’t want to be left behind. I want to keep going as long as I can go and make a difference.

Bob and I will be married 60

years in December — in today’s society, that’s really a big deal. The secret to a happy marriage is respect. It’s a wonderful feat — life is definitely a journey.

Not only is this a special

year for us, but I’m also having a special birthday. It’s a scary number, but I feel like I’ve packed in a lot of stuff in my years. I hope we continue to have the good life for as long as possible.

For my upcoming birthday,

my husband surprised my two

daughters and me with a cruise from France to Italy. We have never done this — I was so touched and so excited.


of my ‘long-term friends’ recently took me on a birthday excursion to visit the museums in St. Pete — BJ Creighton, Jennifer Saslaw and Elaine Keating and I met when we were on the Women’s Resource board 20 years ago. We are still the best of friends, and I treasure the friendships I’ve made through my organizational work.

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We have been in Sarasota fulltime for 17 years. I feel when you make your money in the community, you give back to the community — my parents taught me that.

still serving on. It feels so good to feel needed and wanted. I still have the capacity to make a difference.


W.Va., and when our children were younger, we used to vacation at the Colony. Shortly after our son Rob died, we moved here and it was such a good thing, because it’s been so rewarding for both of us. We love this community.


We lived in Charleston,




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Diversions 04.18.13  

Diversions 04.18.13