By Becca Jennings
Despite what some Hollywood producers might say, there’s no prescription for a hit song. There’s also no artistic prescription for a hit show. But every once in a while, the stars align, artistic inspiration strikes, and you create something that audiences just can’t seem to get enough of. To do that twice in a row, is an even more challenging feat.
And, yet, that’s exactly what FST’s artistic team has done this season in the Cabaret. A fever of musical nostalgia has swept over our Downtown campus with two hit original FST productions that critics and audiences are calling “world class” and “absolutely fantastic.”
The world could use a little more harmony, and FST is serving it up, nine shows a week. Four dynamic male voices are bringing new life to the great male harmony groups of the 20th century with hits like “Blue Moon,” “16 Candles,” and “Working My Way Back to You.” Beginning with doo-wop, and moving through to Mowtown and other popular music that soon followed, the show is captivating audiences who frequently dance in their seats and sing along night after night.
With another Cabaret production, The Wonder Years: Music of the Baby Boomers, slated to take over FST’s Court Cabaret on February 6, Unchained Melodies must close, as scheduled, on February 3. However, due to popular demand, Unchained Melodies will return in a special encore production across the street in FST’s Keating Theatre beginning March 7.
“Every once in a while we are fortunate enough to get a runaway hit like Unchained Melodies,” explained Rebecca Hopkins, Lead Developer on the show. “Of course, we want as many people as possible to get to experience these productions, but sometimes we are pressed up against the realities of calendar and space restrictions. We are thrilled we could make this extension possible by moving this hit production across the street to our Keating Theatre in March.”
“Any excuse to come back here, I’ll always jump on because FST is like a second home to me a this point,” shared second tenor Nick Anastasia. “I love the people, the audiences, and I just love being here. I’m looking forward to more Melodies this March.”
While the men behind Unchained Melodies are bringing harmony to the people of Sarasota, the women (and man) behind Guitar Girls are striking chords of their own.
Featuring hits like “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “Jolene,” “Big Yellow Taxi,” and “I Will Always Love You,” Guitar Girls celebrates a century of female singer-songwriters, offering a history of the woman’s perspective told through music.
“It’s women song-writers and some of the greatest music of the twentieth century,” explained Lead Developer and Producing Artistic Director Richard Hopkins.
Sarasota Herald-Tribune described the show as “rich, gritty, and bluesy” and full of “beautiful harmonies.” Audiences agree FST has another hit on its hands, calling the show “a fantastic evening,” “fabulous,” and “one of the best.”
“Watching this particular production come together has been especially magical,” shared Director Catherine Randazzo. “This cast has such great chemistry together. They can go from Dolly Parton’s sweet ‘Coat of Many Colors,’ and turn on a dime to bring you Janis’ wild and gritty ‘Me and Bobby McGee.’ It’s full of soul, storytelling, and a whole lot of fun.”
Whether you’re in the mood for soaring melodies or rousing girl power, you’re likely to find something to sing about this season in FST’s Cabaret.
Tickets for Unchained Melodies and Guitar Girls are now on sale at 941.366.9000 or by clicking here.