Highlights of the 2016-2017 Performing Arts Season in Sarasota

Gear up for an exhilarating season of theatre, dance, music and stage arts in Sarasota, the epicenter for the performing arts on Florida's Cultural Coast.

Our guide to the performing arts in 2016-2017 sneaks a peek at the playbill in Sarasota County as Florida's top performing arts institutions prepare to present a dazzling season of provocative contemporary theatre, lighthearted Broadway classics, world-class symphony and opera productions, chamber pops, contemporary dance, classical ballet and more.  

Get the scoop about what's in store on stage.

Theatre Arts

Asolo Rep

Noted as a hallmark among the top theatres in the southeastern United States, the Asolo Repertory Theatre consistently draws award-winning actors, directors, and designers to present bold productions on its historic stage—ranging from familiar stage classics to provocative contemporary works.

This season at the Asolo Rep, catch the American classic, Guys and Dolls in November to kick off the winter season. Other season highlights include The Originalist (a play based on late Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia), the world premiere of Beatsville (set amongst the beatniks in 1959 Greenwich Village) and a chance to explore the depths of the ocean with Captain Nemo in a stage adaptation of Jules Verne's Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

In summer, 2017, the Asolo will launch the inaugural season of 'Dog Days of Theatre,' a new series presented by the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training. This new company will present modern plays "perfectly suited to the dog days of summer," starting with Relatively Speaking, a raucous romantic comedy of errors.

Learn more about what to expect in the upcoming Asolo rep season by checking out the theatre's season at a glance online.

Florida Studio Theatre

From contemporary theatre to improv comedy, cabaret and kids productions, downtown Sarasota's Florida Studio Theatre (FST) offers an eclectic array of options for theater-goers. Here's a look at some highlights audiences can look forward to this season:

FST produces high quality American classics on its Winter Mainstage. This season presents Tony Award-winner Million Dollar Quartet, Clever Little Lies, brownsville (b-side for tray), and Rich Girl. On the FST Cabaret Stage, the theatre presents three musical performances: Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves, Piano Men, and the musical comedy revue, Older Than Dirt.

Check in with FST Improv every Saturday night, or bring the kids for the Children's Theatre series—this season featuring The Velveteen Rabbit, Alice With a Twist, and The Dragon Vs. the Hiccups.

Check out the full FST schedule and order tickets online.

The Players

Sarasota's oldest community theatre, The Players Centre, was established in the 1930s and has seen the likes of stars such as Montgomery Clift, Jayne Meadows, and Charlton Heston on its stage. It remains to this day a hallmark in the Sarasota-Manatee performing arts community.

The Players celebrates its 87th Broadway season this year with highlights including the late Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein musical, Legally Blonde: The Musical, multiple Tony Award-winning Sweet Charity, the stage adaptation of Big Fish, Footloose, and Boeing Boeing.

Backstage at the Players produces cutting-edge contemporary American plays in an intimate, black box theatre setting. The 2016-2017 season includes Next Fall, an LGBT portrait of modern romance, and God of Carnage, presenting a tense slice of life as two sets of Brooklyn parents meet to resolve the matter after their 11 year-olds engage in a playground altercation.

Check out a list of upcoming shows at The Players Centre. 

Urbanite Theatre

Downtown Sarasota's edgiest scene, Urbanite Theatre, is a black box theatre known for its raw and gritty productions. Fringe theatre-goers have a place to call home at Urbanite, where actors consistently push the envelope, explore mature themes, and spark new dialogues with their provocative productions.

Upcoming highlights from the 2016 season include My Barking Dog, in which two reclusive apartment dwellers start to embrace their animal instincts when a coyote begins visiting their fire escape; Ideation, a darkly comic corporate suspense thriller, and Bo-Nita, a dysfunctional family comedy set in the Midwest with a "dash of magic realism."

Learn more about the Urbanite Theatre and see their season lineup

Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

Sarasota's recognizable bayside icon, the great purple Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, offers a broad spectrum of performing arts programming, with acclaimed headliners and performance groups from across the globe. Here's the scoop on some season highlights:

Celebrate the winter holidays with the Beach Boys, share a story with prolific American storyteller Garrison Keillor or humorist David Sedaris, experience the soulful tunes Gladys Knight or Smokey Robinson, or share a laugh with Steve Martin and Martin Short when the legendary comedians take the Van Wezel stage together.

This season, the Van Wezel Broadway repertoire includes Fame: The Musical, Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella, Dirty Dancing, Chicago, and Kinky Boots. The Van Wezel's Classical series is one of its biggest yet in 2017. Highlights include Keith Lockhart & the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, four-time Emmy and 15 Grammy award-winning violin virtuoso, Itzhak Perlman, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and Orchestre National de Lyon. The Van Wezel also brings an eclectic dance series to the stage this year, with classical and contemporary acts ranging from the Russian Ballet's Swan Lake to Alvin Ailey's modern dance company.

Learn more about the upcoming season at the Van Wezel. 

Venice Theatre

South Sarasota County's hallmark community theatre, the Venice Theatre is one of the largest community theatres in the United States, and a treasure in the Gulf Coast theatre community.

Patrons of the Venice Theatre can look forward to an exciting season in 2017. On the Venice Theatre mainstage, Billy Elliot: The Musical kicks off the season in November. Upcoming season highlights include productions of Sister Act, Gershwin's Crazy For You, and the interactive Catholic comedy, Late Nite Catechism. Oldies music fans may want to reserve their tickets early for sixties legend, Peter Noone, and his band, Herman's Hermits, playing the Venice Theatre Feb. 26 and 27.

View the full season lineup and get tickets to the Venice Theatre here.

West Coast Black Theatre Troupe

Sarasota's West Coast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) is the only black theatre troupe on Florida's west coast, and one of the most celebrated in the nation. The WBTT is nationally acclaimed for staging engaging, high quality works that celebrate the African American experience, black history, and black artists' contributions to American theatre and popular culture.

2016-2017 season highlights include the WBTT's production of The Wiz, running through Nov. 19, and the world premiere of WBTT director, Nate Jacobs' Girl Groups: The 60s Explosion—a musical that steps back in time with The Supremes, The Shangri-Las, and other "leaders of the pack" in the golden age of girl groups. Girl Groups runs March 1-April 8, 2017.

Learn more about these productions and others from the 2016-2017 WBTT season—including a returning favorite, Jacobs' stage adaptation of Langston Hughes' Black Nativity, and the comedy Dearly Departed by David Bottrell and Jessie Jones—by visiting the West Coast Black Theatre Troupe online.

Music and Dance

Sarasota Ballet

The Sarasota Ballet offers a selection of subscription packages for patrons, including full and partial subscriptions, as well as the "Downtown Package" that for those who wish to attend the four Sarasota Ballet programs being staged at the downtown venues of the Sarasota Opera House and the Van Wezel Theatre.

Visit the Sarasota Ballet online to peruse the program offerings for the 2016-2017 season.

Sarasota Contemporary Dance

Sarasota Contemporary Dance (formerly Fuzion Dance Group) embarked on its 11th season in October with a collaborative performance with a jazz ensemble led by trumpet player, Shane Chalke. Here's a look at what else to expect from SCD this season:

The Voices of SCD showcase taking place in December presents original pieces choreographed and danced by SCD company members, and chosen during the company's summer dance festival to bring to the mainstage. SCD brings the work of nationally-acclaimed contemporary choreographers, Michael Foley, Doug Gillespie and Adele Myers to the stage in Dance Makers, taking place in February. The third and final performance of the 2016-2017 season, Evolving/Revolving, includes new works by Sarasota hip hop sensation, Kris Tetris Powell, former Sarasota Ballet dancer, Sayward Grindley, and Austin Critics Best Dancer Award-winner, Alyson Dolan in May.

For more info about upcoming SCD performances and to acquire tickets, visit Sarasota Contemporary Dance.

Sarasota Opera House

Over its 50+ year existence in the downtown Sarasota theatre district, the Sarasota Opera House stage has showcased some of the most memorable musical experiences in Sarasota: from an electrifying concert by a young Elvis Presley in 1956 to the completion of the Verdi Cycle (a 27-year undertaking of the entire catalogue of Giuseppe Verdi, concluded by the Opera this year)—the Opera House is has a reputation for ambitious, high quality programming.

In the Sarasota Opera's 2016-2017 season, experience Donizetti's Don Pasquale, Puccini's Madame Butterfly, Rossini's The Italian Girl in Algiers, Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites, Montemezzi's The Love of Three Kings, and a Youth Opera production of The Secret World of Og—adapted from the popular Canadian children's book by the same name by Pierre Berton.

Learn more about the 2016-2017 Sarasota Opera House season here.

Sarasota Orchestra

The Sarasota Orchestra celebrates its 68th season in 2017 with a selection of stunning concert series lineups. The orchestra is committed to engaging, educating and enriching the Sarasota community with high-quality music experiences through its Masterworks, Pops, Chamber, and Great Escapes series, as well as its seven youth ensembles and the world renowned Sarasota Music Festival, which takes place annually in June.

The Sarasota Orchestra brings world-class classical music performance to the Sarasota stage with its Masterworks series, this year featuring two guest conductors and soloists, as well as the Grammy-award winning Estonian Philharmonic Choir. Highlights of the 2016-2017 Great Escapes series (a lighthearted, themed mix of pop and classical favorites) include a villainous "Breaking Bad" theme, "Timeless Tales" and "The Sounds of America."

See the Sarasota Orchestra 2016-2017 concert schedule for additional info on Masterworks performances, the Pops and Chamber series', Youth Orchestra performances, and  upcoming special events and galas.

Venice Symphony

Established in 1974, the Venice Symphony is a landmark institution in the music and performing arts scene in south Sarasota County. The Venice Symphony offers year-round music education programs for all ages, including a 'Symphony in Schools' program that immerses more than 1,700 elementary students in Sarasota County schools in classical music. The concert season includes classical, pops, and festival concerts performed from November through April.

Highlights of the Venice Symphony's 2016-2017 concert schedule include an evening of Bernstein, Tchaikovsky and Brahms with world-renowned violinist Joseph Swensen to kick off the season in November; Smetana, De Falla and Beethoven with celebrated pianist Tatiana Roitman in January, and the powerful love story of Romeo and Juliet in a collaboration with the Venice Chorale and soprano soloist, Elisabeth Slaten, in March.

See the Venice Symphony concert schedule or call 941-207-8822 to get tickets and learn more about the 2016-2017 season.