Catching a live show is one of the perks of residing in this area. From intimate open mic nights at local pubs to comedy shows at McCurdy’s to live theater at the ornate and beautiful Florida Studio Theatre, we are privy to a number of entertainment outlets. Sarasota Opera House has been entertaining Sarasota residents since 1926 with a vivid repertoire including Verdi Cycle and the American Classics series. But, the crown jewel of Sarasota’s live arts venues remains the iconic Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. They’ve opened 2019 with Broadway superstars and multi-platinum artists and will remain a permanent fixture in Sarasota’s future.
If you have lived in the area for any amount of time, you’ve undoubtedly seen a show at the Van Wezel. From the water the purple shell shape is a reminder that Sarasota is an artsy town, not afraid to be quirky. Serving over 265,000 visitors a year, and nearly 4 million guests since the last major renovation in 2000, Van Wezel is a vital component to Sarasota’s vibrant performance arts community. When plans for Sarasota’s Bayfront redevelopment were shown to omit Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, concerned community leaders and vested non-profit groups assembled to save the facility. Current city plans include preserving the existing structures while repurposing their use as an amphitheater or shade park. Meanwhile, ideas for a new hall on the same grounds are being worked out. The new facility will be built further from the water and will feature abundant seating and two levels of parking underneath the structure. Estimated costs for this venture are expected to be between $240-270 million.
As Van Wezel prepares to celebrate its 50th year entertaining the Suncoast, this year promises to delight every taste. From breathtaking Broadway musicals to soulful crooners, we’ve listed a scrumptious sampling of their upcoming shows through the end of January. Make sure your future events calendar includes a beautiful evening along Sarasota’s Bayfront at the amazing Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
January 13: Air Supply
No need to be all out of love for the duo of Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock who make up Air Supply. This group has been filling the cracks in many a broken heart since the ‘80s. With hits like “Lost in Love,” “All Out of Love,” and “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All,” your memory recall will have you singing along like you did back in Junior High.
January 16 through April 11: Ringling College Library Association-Town Hall
With an interesting lineup of guest speakers, this lecture series serves as a forum for today’s leading sports figures, entertainers, journalists and movers and shakers of the world. The Town Hall Series is the leading fundraiser for The Ringling College Library Association which hosts the program. Kicking off the 2019 lectures is Shaquille O’Neal, a retired NBA player and television sports analyst.
January 22: Pilobolus Shadowland: The New Adventure
If you’re looking for something different, this may be the show for you. Combining science fiction and romance with shadow performance and animation means many facets of your artistic taste will be tingled. The first Pilobolus show, Shadowland, began in 2009 and has been performed in over 32 countries. “The New Adventure” is the follow-up to that production.
January 26: Gladys Knight
Known as the “Empress of Soul,” seven-time Grammy winner Gladys Knight has enjoyed numerous #1 hits including “Midnight Train To Georgia,” “That’s What Friends Are For,” and “If I Was Your Woman.”
January 27: Jerry Lee Lewis
“The Killer” comes to Sarasota ready to thrill guests with hits like “Great Balls Of Fire,” and “Whole Lotta Shakin.” Turning Rockabilly into an everyday word was just one of the feats this master of the ivory has achieved. From Country to the Blues, this Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient is known as one of the greatest songwriters and pianists of all time.
January 30: Neil Berg’s 110 Years of Broadway
With actual performers from shows like “Jersey Boys,” “Wicked,” and “Mamma Mia!” on hand, this star-studded event celebrates 110 years of Broadway. Enjoy some of the greatest moments in Broadway history as Neil Berg recreates snippets from classics and current record-breaking shows.
For ticket prices on all shows and further information on Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, please visit their website here.
Photos courtesy of Van Wezel Facebook page.