Saturday, July 19, 2014

JULY 20, 2014

JULY-AUGUST-SEPTEMBER are usually the slow months in SARASOTA........NOT ANYMORE....

There are several shows playing at different venues as good if not better than IN SEASON...consider THE PRINCE OF SOUL now at Westcoast Black Theatre through August 10th.  This is the second and last show of their summer season, but is an instant hit as it was three years ago. 

Starring as Marvin Gaye is Sheldon Roden, recreating the role again,  he looks talks and sings like Gaye so much that you may think Gaye has come back from his grave to entertain you.  Combining music and drama, this one should not be missed.  Tickets are scarce so call 366-1505 and reserve yours today.

Currently playing at Florida Studio Theatre in the intimate Keating Theatre is a one woman show Becoming Dr. Ruth. Running through this week, unless extended, the show is an insight into America's most famous sex therapist.  Played by Susan Greenhill, who has been at FST in several other productions, Dr. Ruth comes alive as she revisits her fascinating life after the death of her third husband.

A moving, funny portrayal of one woman's determination to survive, thrive and keep learning.  If you enjoyed last season's Thurgood, you will love this!!

BANYAN Theatre company's second production The Sty of the Blind Pig takes place on Chicago's South Side during the 50's in an era that precedes  the civil rights movement.  First presented on Broadway in 1971, it came away with the Drama Desk award among others.  An emotional roller coaster of a story not dimmed by the passing of time, this intimate production is heartwarming emotional stuff associated with good theatre. 

PIG closes in two weeks to make room for the third and final production of the summer, Collected Stories by Donald Margulies. Performances are in the Jane B. Cook Theatre in FSU Center for Performing Arts.

Continuing at Historic Asolo Theatre in the Visitor's Center at Ringling Museum is their annual SUMMER CIRCUS SPECTACULARA one-hour performance of circus acts for all ages.  Performances continue through August 2nd Tues-Fri 11am and 2pm; and Saturday at 2 and 5pm.  In addition to tickets for the show, another $5 gets you admission into Circus Museum.  Many have called this year's edition the best yet.

Christian Stoinev shown above is still in the running on NBC's "America's Got Talent" and returns via tape to that show for another audition round this coming  Tuesday or Thursday at 8pm.  If he makes it out of this round, live performances begin the following week. If he wins the prize is a $1mil contract for Las Vegas performances.

MAIL BAG....Not everyone agrees with my reviews of movies, restaurants, books, shows, television,  whatever.  The purpose of this blog is to let you know what's happening in SARASOTA and where possible I put my own slant on the attraction, book or restaurant.  By now, you know my favorites.  With so many new restaurants opening in the fall, I'm sure there will be more.

I recently gave a not so good review to CULVER'S, a new burger and custard restaurant on University Parkway.  Last week, in a review by Cooper-Levey-Baker correspondent for the Herald Tribune,  he also  would opt out for Five Guys.  One of you disagreed with me and wrote: "I must disagree with your evaluation of Culver's.  I thought it was terrific.  The food was excellent.  It was brought to my table in exactly 5 minutes......"  The writer goes on to compliment restaurant for handling of crowds which by the way seem never-ending both inside and take-out.

Then there's the letter from a reader who bought Harlan Coben's thriller Missing You on my recommendation.   Space does not permit the entire letter...Here are the juicer parts..."single most inane book I've read since "Once We Were Brothers."  Harlan Coben hasn't changed in 30 years.   He still has the same plot formula with a missing person who miraculously appears about 80% into the book as the plot completely falls apart.  Though one of the characters, a 45 year old woman is locked in a box for 6 days, she manages to escape and subdue a grown man by using an ax.........WOW, what a plot.  Please forward your check made payable to me for $10.99 for buying this drivel..." The check was sent but returned with the proviso I not recommend any further reading material....LOL!!!!

YUME SUSHI has a new home, but you don't have to go very far from their old location.  In fact, it is across the street at shuttered  Sangria Tapas restaurant which bit the dust months ago.  Airy and more inviting than its former location, YUME has a new menu with more entrees, but the same delicious sushi they are known for. 

What was most exciting about the evening were the crowds.  Almost full at 6:15; completely full at 7:30 with a decent wait....all this on a Tuesday night.  When going downtown,  with the State Street lot torn up,  parking is at a premium.  But don't let that stop you as the NEW YUME is a great addition to Main st. dining.

Le Chef, not to be confused with Chef, is a French film which in its own way is as funny and delightful as the other.  Playing at the BURNS, it is a pleasant way to spend a hot afternoon or evening. 

Also playing at the BURNS, a documentary dedicated to the life of Roger Ebert, LIFE ITSELF.  Though tough to watch at times,  since Ebert and wife Chaz took part up to his passing;  it is nevertheless a story of a man, his movies and his will to live under terrible circumstances.   Surely, an Academy Award nominee for best 2014 documentary.  You can also view this at home with VOD.

Also showing on VOD, new releases....Snowpiercer, #1 on Entertainment Weekly Must See list last week, Affluenza, Happy Christmas, A Long Way Down, They Came Together and one of  Phillip Seymour Hoffman's last movies before his untimely death  God's PocketIn addition Venus in Fur currently at BURNS while playing as well on VOD.

JIM'S RANT...On Thursday TICKET featured their list of the top 50 places to eat, drink, shop and be entertained in downtown SARASOTA ..........impossible to list every attraction, restaurant and shop....BUT..NO Brooks Brothers, Hyde Park,Eileen Fisher, Patrick's,Yume Sushi, Mattison's, Toasted Mango, Word of Mouth, First Watch, PF Chang's, Reasons, Whole Foods, Starbucks, Opera House, Americano Cafe, Duvals, J. McLaughlin, The Brown Bag, As Good As It Gets, Evelyn and Aurthur ,Envie, Salute!, Station 400, Savory Street, Traders on Main,  Dead Poet's Sushi, Melange,  Sur Le Table , WBTT, and so many more.  LAZY reporting and an insult to our intelligence! For their list click here.

See you again in two weeks.....thanks to Tracy...letter writers...and all of you for reading.....JIM



Saturday, July 5, 2014

JULY 6, 2014


Much has been accomplished since some of you went north for the summer.  Here is a view of rendering and current construction...

There have been several articles recently heralding new arrivals.  Before you left Apple, Crate and Barrell, Lululemon, Pottery Barn, Willaims-Sanoma, Tiffany's , Kate Spade, Michael Kors, White House Black Market, Champs, Aldo filed for construction permits.  Added within the past few months BeBe, Telsa Motors, Johnston and Murphy, Tommy Bahama, Moleskin ,Swaroski , OnedadeMar, plus several more.  In addition, construction permits are ready to be filed forArmani, Gucci and Ferragamo.  And just announced a  beauty and cosmetics product sold in high-end department stores, Kiehl's. Space does not permit all the listings.  Rest assured there are stores for every shopper. 

There will be a wide variety of restaurants.  Starting with Seasons 52, Cheesecake Factory, Brio Tuscan Grille, Capitol Grille and Sophie's at Saks.  Just announced Yo Sushi an overseas sensation.  Your sushi comes on conveyor belt.  I have been to the one in London, and it is terrific.  Rise Pies, a casual pizza chain, will make UTC their first foray into Southwest Florida.  A Sweet Doctors for those of us who like to indulge in pies and cakes.  Add two Starbucks locations along with Stone Cold Creamery, Zinburger, Kona Grill, and Manderin Express for quick take-out Chinese, and every conceivable appetite will be fed.

Beyond the mall in a location still to be determined,  Bass Pro Shops will start construction soon on a 140,000 square foot store. The mega-store outdoor chain, which sells fishing, camping, hunting, boating and other gear will be one of many more coming to the out-parcels surrounding the mall and Shoppes at University Center.  Plans also call for a theatre complex with enough screens for 1700 patrons.

Panera Bread is finally under construction and should open  along with mall in October.   Panera will be sharing its  parcel with an AT@T store, Joseph Bank and a yet to be announced pizza restaurant from West Coast.  Keeping my fingers crossed for California Pizza Kitchen, but that is a long shot.  There will be at least three similar buildings across from UTC.  A Homewood Suites will soon be under construction as well.

If you still haven't purchased your tickets for "The Sneak Peak" on October 15, most charities have sold their allotment.  For $100 you get to be one of the first to spend money at UTC, enjoy food, wine and entertainment and receive a $20 gift card.  The $100 is fully deductible. 

Causing almost as much interest as the mall opening was the announcement of Home Goods replacing a store at Cooper Creek Shopping Center.  They are not closing the Bee Ridge store; only expanding to University area.  As if we needed more traffic.  More about that in my rant this week.

Saw Clint Eastwood's movie Jersey Boys.  Though not receiving great reviews from either the NY Times or Wall St. Journal, it is nevertheless a revealing history of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.  As always, his portrayal of the era and cast performances are excellent.  And the music is similar to the Broadway show only presented in an entirely different light.

If you see the movie, by all means see the show when it is at the Van Wezel March 11-15, 2015 for eight performances.  In addition, there are several other Broadway shows scheduled along with many entertainers.  If you want up to date information and a chance to buy tickets I suggest you get on their email list.  It's simple. Click here and an email prompt will pop up. Complete the process and you're in.

SARASOTA'S Super Boat Grand Prix Boat Race is today(Sunday)  at Lido Beach(between New Pass and Big Pass) 2 heats at 11:00 And 2.  This is the last event of a wonderful JULY 4TH weekend.

Recent news of Eat Here closing their downtown location on Main St. was a surprise. But in an email to clients from Sean Murphy, he admits location was too big for type of restaurant he was developing and will concentrate on his Anna Maria and Siesta Key locations.  His lease is being turned over to World of Beer who continues to enjoy great success in its University location.  There will be a lite menu as well.  With McCurdy's revitalizing the neighborhood, a Ker's Wing House location across the street as well as Hollywood 20, this could become a hot spot for the younger SARASOTA crowd.

Finally, the ROMEO'S continue their weekly luncheon adventures around SARASOTA.  They recently ventured to Libby's on Osprey and came away impressed with quality of food, service and reasonable pricing.  In addition, though I disagree, they have named Libby's french fries the market's best.  As the ROMEO'S travel around the country I will keep you up to date about their progress.

 JIM'S RANT...Why has it taken FDOT this long to address the growing congestion on University and 75?  The impact of UTC will be felt in October only multiplying the increasing traffic from a developing Lakewood Ranch community that continues to expand without much of an east-west alternative other than I70, and no outlet south of University . At 5 pm traffic going west on University from the Ranch onto the expressway can be backed up for miles...

Tracy has done her usual fine job of editing this edition.  Until 7/20....JIM