People doing improv on stage at Florida Studio Theater
Florida Studio Theatre's annual Sarasota Improv Fest

Summer Stage: Catch a Sarasota Show in 2019

The spotlight is on Sarasota County as summer performances and special seasons abound at several local performing arts venues

While many of the stage performers in Sarasota take a much-needed break during the summer months, the hottest season still inspires some of the hottest performances of the year. From dance to stage, laughter to tears or classic to innovative, a show awaits every type of audience in the summer season.

Dog Days Theatre

The FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training offers two shows during these warm summer months: “Theophilius North” and “Harbor” running July and August, respectively. These emotion-packed performances are the perfect escape during the dog days of summer. Also held at the stunning Scottish venue, Asolo Rep’s performance of “Around the World in 80 Days” in June will wow everyone from age 7 and above (the 2 p.m. performance on June 15 is designated Family Day).

Afternoon and evening shows available June 7-23, July 11-28, and August 8-25. Asolo Repertory Theatre, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota; tickets sold online.

Summer Circus Spectacular

A visit to the Historic Asolo Theatre is an event in itself. John and Mable Ringling acquired the 18th century theatre from Italy half a century ago and had it restored, brick by brick, here in Sarasota. The venue hosts a variety of showstoppers throughout the year. Included in this summer’s repertoire is the Summer Circus Spectacular. The intimate seating ensures close proximity to the performers and a keen eye on the acts.

Shows held June 11 through August 3. Performances at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Tickets sold online, with prices from $12 to $16 per ticket. Historic Asolo Theatre, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota.

The Players Centre for Performing Arts

A local favorite, The Players has been bringing performances to Sarasota since 1936. A combination of professional and non-professional performers gives a unique freshness to their shows. Their Summer Sizzler Series is a guaranteed good time in 2019. “Love Loss, and What I Wore” from Delia and Nora Ephron (writer of “When Harry Met Sally,” amongst others) dishes up insightful monologues sure to hit home. “SHOUT! The Mod Musical,” will get you dancing with music from the 1960s. Anyone who has seen “The Odd Couple” will appreciate its relatable, timeless humor, and The Players is putting it on stage to ensure laughs from scene to scene. In addition to their Summer Sizzler, a bonus performance will grace this local stage. The Players New Play Festival Winner “Wonder of Our Stage” debuts in July. The play is a unique take on Shakespeare reimagining it as an automation, making you wonder – was The Bard actually a robot?

Shows held June 12-23, July 10-21, July 23-28, and August 14-25; afternoon and evening performances available. The Players Centre for Performing Arts, 838 N. Tamiami Trail/US 41, Sarasota; tickets sold online $15-$18.

Florida Studio Theatre (FST) Summer Mainstage

Between its ideal downtown location and multiple stages, Florida Studio Theatre has much to offer any theatre-goer. This summer, take your pick from their Summer Mainstage, Summer Cabaret, Children’s Theatre, or FST Improv as they put on their 2019 Stages of Summer program.

On the Summer Mainstage, FST is offering the Off-Broadway musical “The Marvelous Wonderettes.” See what happens on prom night in the late 1950s as the four friends belt out favorites such as “It’s My Party.”

“Ethel Waters: His Eye is on the Sparrow” mixes classic hits with musical history in this biography of Ethel Waters. Take a sharp turn to get to “The Cottage,” a combination of history, love, and comedy . Dining is also available at their Green Café prior to the shows. Menu and reservations available online.

Afternoon and evening performances available May 29-16, June 26-August 4, and July 31-August 18; FST Gompertz Theatre, Hegner Theatre Wing of FST, 1241 North Palm Avenue, Sarasota. Tickets available online $29-$49.

FST Summer Cabaret

To venture into the music scene, the Summer Cabaret series will get your hips swinging and your toes tapping. The performances gracing their John C. Court Cabaret Stage this summer include “Come Together: When the 60s Met the 70s,” an explosion of rock from “one of the most exciting, controversial, and impactful decades our country has ever seen” (the late ‘60s and early ‘70s). By request, the popular Swingaroos are back and traveling to the ‘30s and ‘40s in “The Swingaroos: Hollywood Serenade.” Travel back in time to the era of legends Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire in this unforgettable performance. Then, amaze your eyes and ears with the music and dance talents in “Who Loves You: Musical Tribute to Frankie Valli and Beyond.” Feel free to sing along and do the moves you know and love. Optional dining available at the table you reserve for the show; details online. 

Get the kids out of the sun and singing along with “Off the Charts!” This single performance will connect generations through song – your littles will be amazed when you know every word from a variety of family-friendly pop hits from the past 100 years.

“Off the Charts” performs at 10 a.m. on June 22. Cabaret shows available at matinee and evening times; June 11-July 21, July 23-August 30, and September 3-October 13; FST’s John C. Court Cabaret, Hegner Theatre Wing of FST, 1241 North Palm Avenue, Sarasota. Tickets available online.

FST Improv

Get ready to laugh with the wickedly sharp-witted talents that make up the FST Improv. This summer, plan on a belly laugh at their Comedy Freestyle, When X Meets Y, Comedy Lottery , or The More You Know. Each show tackles improv with a unique spin, resulting in fresh laughs, week after week. As an audience member, you’ll participate in the experience and see what these talents weave into the moment. The ultimate experience, however, is their 11th Annual Sarasota Improv Festival. Continuous hilarity ensues across 25 performances with over 20 improv troupes. Festival passes varying from a single show to full weekend access are available on their website.

Shows available Saturdays at 7:30 and July 12-13. Bowne’s Lab Theatre, Hegner Theatre Wing of FST, 1241 North Palm Avenue, Sarasota. $12-$15. Tickets available online.

McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre

Get your laugh on with a show at McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre and Humor Institute in downtown Sarasota. Featured performers like Pauly Shore, Josh Blue and Jamie Kennedy will ring a bell, while new talent can be enjoyed with their Open Mic Competitions. Mix it up with a ticket to the Black Diamond Burlesque or local favorite Beneva Fruitville’s Drag Queen Bingo Bonanza – two unique shows you’ll never forget!

Want to stand on the other side of the mic? Pop into their Adult Comedy Bootcamp and give stand-up a shot. Then, share what you’ve learned at all those summertime BBQs. Can’t commit? The World Series of Comedy stops at McCurdy’s in July featuring 40 professional comedians in one week, all vying for the ultimate title and a trip to Las Vegas. They’re putting their best out there and all you have to do is sit back and laugh.

Stand up shows nightly; World Series of Comedy on July 17-20. McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre, 1923 Ringling Blvd, Sarasota; tickets sold online.

Urbanite Theatre

The edgier shows in Sarasota are found at a quaint, intimate theatre just off of the main drag downtown, tucked away at Urbanite Theatre. Known for their gritty, raw truth, Urbanite Theatre’s Summer Series maintains their theatrical honesty – crossing lines and pushing boundaries, venturing into topics such as race, slavery, crime, and sex. First up is “The Niceties” with its regional premiere of this two-person play that explores race, history, and power. Appropriate to the season, “Scorch” is directed by Summer Wallace; this dramatic solo performance explores a myriad of topics, including online relationships, love, and gender curiosity. Following every Thursday performance, audience members are invited to Talkback Thursdays, a free conversation with the actors to discuss the show and their craft.

Showtimes May 31 to June 30 and July 26 to August 25; 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, 2 p.m. on Sunday. Urbanite Theatre, 1487 2nd Street, Sarasota; tickets vary between $5 for students and up to $30 for adults.

The Ringling

For an evening summertime treat, experience Turrell Skyspace: Joseph’s Coat at The Ringling Art Museum. The unique 1-hour experience begins at sunset as overhead LED lights alter your perception of space viewed through the courtyard ceiling; it’s an event unlike any other and words don’t do it justice. Attendees will want to dress for outdoor conditions, arrive 30 minutes prior to sunset, and bring something to lie on (such as a yoga mat).

Thursday and Friday evenings at sunset. $10 for non-members or free for museum members;  Ringling Art Museum, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Sarasota’s botanical gardens, abutting Sarasota Bay, is always an experience in itself. In addition to their lush gardens, through June Selby Gardens features a temporary exhibition inspired by artist Paul Gauguin entitled Voyage to Paradise. The horticultural masters at the gardens utilized plants inspired by the artist’s works and transformed their conservatory into a Tahitian-inspired exotic wonderland. Within the historic house, visitors may peruse the artists’ woodcut prints, engravings and historic, influential photographs and maps.

To visit the Gardens at a cooler time of day, Gaugin Nights gives a different, more intimate perspective to the Gauguin exhibit. The evening will encourage visitors to utilize all their senses by incorporating musical performances into the beautiful, aromatic grounds.  In June, the Sarasota Music Festival, one of the top classical music events in the nation, performs as a culmination of the season. Tickets include admission, hors d’oeurves, and cocktails.

Visit the exhibits through June 30 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Evening performance on June 12, 6-9 p.m. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 900 S. Palm Avenue, Sarasota; tickets available online.

Movies at Sarasota Opera House

The stunning Sarasota Opera House, with its velvety seats, dropped pit, and ornate décor, closes its doors to Opera during the summer months, but opens them to film buffs with their summertime HD at the Opera House and Classic Movies at Opera House, where they play classic movies, opera, and ballet on the big screen. At HD at the Opera House, $20 will give you prime viewing of such ballet classics as “Romeo & Juliet” and “The Nutcracker” and operas such as “Faust” and “Die Walkure.” Select weekend evenings bring you five timeless films, including “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “Young Frankenstein.” It feels like a time machine, watching these classics in the large historic theatre.

Sundays at 1:30 May 19-October 6 and Fridays at 7:30 June 28-September 6. Purchase tickets and receive more information online. Sarasota Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota.

Art Center Sarasota

Inside the Art Center Sarasota a collection of art awaits unlike any other. Sculptures, paintings, drawings, collages, videos, and more reside within. Free to visit, rotating art from local artists, including those at nearby Ringling College of Art + Design, adorning the galleries for your eyes to behold.

Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.;Admission is free (donations accepted). Art Center Sarasota, 707 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.