Dancer, choreographer, movement coach, director, painter, writer, storyteller, teacher, cook, Jimmy Hoskins was member on the of the Penn State University theater faculty for 10 years, professor emeritus of theater at Florida State University, staff choreographer for the Asolo Repertory Theatre for 45 years, visiting choreographer at Florida Studio Theater, The Golden Apple, the Sarasota Opera, the Banyan Theater, the Venice Theatre and the Players Theatre and adjunct faculty member of the Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training, following his long and distinguished career in New York, California, Texas, Mexico and Paris.
He wrote three books. “The Dances of Shakespeare,” for which he also did the illustrations; intended for dancer’s, choreographers and directors but which could also be understood by a lay audience. And his two book irreverent and delightful memoir “Our Hearts were Khaki and Gay,” and “No Fairies, No Magic.”
Greg Leaming of The Asolo Conservatory says “He very strongly connected to his students as a friend, mentor and teacher. What he brought into the room was an infectious spirit and a love of the art form.” Richard Hopkins of Florida Studio Theater says “In an age before political correctness, in a society that all too frequently rejected people who were different, Jimmy was proud to be gay. He was adept at teaching us straight guys how to relax with the gay guys, how to revel in our differences, and how to appreciate the depth of our similarities.
He was, as Carl Meyer his beloved partner of 19 years says, a “Renaissance man.” But for me the most enduring memories of Jimmy will be of his sweetness and his generosity. Jimmy was always giving – even when he was suffering he never burdened others with his distress. I was lucky enough to be one of the legions of people who benefited directly from his talent and his willingness to give it selflessly and joyfully. My life is changed forever by both what I learned from Jimmy and how he taught it.
In 2011 the Asolo established the Jimmy Hoskins Visiting Artist Chair for Stage Movement and Dance, an endowed fund that brings guest artists in to work with conservatory students.continue reading
Johnny Epstein has had a long career as a Shakespearian Player and acting teacher. Although he knew from age 7 that he was comfortable on stage – he spontaneously adlibbed to cover a fellow student missed cue – it was a series of unplanned and unintended actions and comments that lead him to realize that acting was his career. To help him overcome a fear of water his parents sent him to Tuffs Magic Circle summer day camp because campers were encouraged to swim and, by the way, spent the mornings doing theater. Johnny spent 3 years there enjoying doing plays but did not think of acting as a “profession.” Following his first performance in a Shakespeare play, As You Like It, the shop teacher a “plain man with little exposure to Shakespeare” said “I saw that As You Like it – you’re a great actor – is this going to be your profession” This was the first time Johnny considered of acting as a profession. Listen to this knowledgeable, articulate man describe the ironic way he got his first role on Broadway and talk about his life, the work of acting, and the upcoming production of As You Like it – his 6th production of this play – performed by his class of 2nd year graduate students at the FSU Conservatory for Acting Training.continue reading
Carlo Thomas is a gift to anyone who wants to sing – or use their voice. He is not only a brilliant singer and teacher, but kind, generous and committed to helping everyone achieve their potential. And Carlo knows a great deal about achieving potential. Born and raised on a dairy farm where his first audiences were his family and the cows, he went on to a career which included Opera (City Opera, Canadian Opera, Berlin Opera, The Spoleto Music Festival, where he was directed by Gian Carlo Menotti), Broadway (1776, Phantom of the Opera), Concert (soloist at Radio City Music Hall), Recording with the Fred Waring band – and anything that required music. With his life partner Timothy Gray (who with Hugh Martin wrote the score for the musical High Spirits – based on the Noel Coward play Blithe Spirit, and many more), Carlo was enmeshed in the theater scene. Listen to this extraordinary man tell the charming, funny and sometimes outrageous stories of a life and career dedicated to the making of beautiful music. And come see the Manatee Community Theaters production of Gian Carlo Menotti’s opera Amahl and the Night Visitors which Carlo not only directed but in which he plays one of the Kings.continue reading
When I say that Dick Hamilton is a musician, I’m not telling you nearly enough. By the time he was two his mother could control her toddler by simply putting on some music, he would stop whatever he was doing mesmerized. Dick Hamilton simply fell in love with music and immediately wanted to create the sounds he heard. Listen to this self-effacing man describe the way he relentlessly pursued this passion which lead him to a career as a studio musician and composer in Los Angeles. Then listen to a cut – I wish I had the time to play more – from his solo (and I do mean solo) album, called Album Myself on which wrote all the songs and played every instrument;continue reading
Piano, Electric Piano, Guitar, Upright Bass, Keyboard Bass, Drums, Percussion, Flute, Alto Flute, Soprano Sax, Trumpet, Alto Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Alto Flugelhorn, Alto Horn, Trombone, Valve Trombone, Baritone Horn and Moog IIIC Modular Synthesizer (1968 vintage – no computer or sequencing to produce the few (italics mine) instruments he didn’t own such as Tuba and Clarinet.
Bill Barbanera is the conductor and musical director of the 45 piece Sarasota Concert Band, a high level semi professional group of musicians who play six to eight concerts a year, the most important of which is their Memorial Day concert honoring those who lost their lives fighting for our freedom. The concert takes place at Philippi Creek Park on May 26th, parking and kids are free others pay $5.00. The band will offer patriotic music and some lighter fare, as well as vocal performances by Ben Turoff. This year they will be highlighting the world premiere of Glory and Honor a stirring piece written by local composer David Ohrenstein and arranged for the concert band by his wife, actor, singer and author, Sharon Lesley. In this interview Bill talks about how he discovered his interest in and talent for playing “anything with a reed in it; saxophone, clarinet, oboe and bassoon,” and how he turned that talent into his career as conductor, musical director and teacher. Also whet your appetite for the real thing by listening to a digital version of Glory and Honor, and hear composer David Ohrensteirn at the piano playing George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.continue reading
Andrei Maleav-Babel – is a Russian Immigrant. The son and grandson of writers and artists, Andrei wrote musicals and directed his parent’s friends in his plays, by the time he was 10 or 12. Luckily coming of age as Perestroika was occurring in Russia, Andrei was able to start his own theater as a very young man. Barely able to speak English, he met, courted and married an American sociology student and became a Professor of Acting at the prestigious FSU Conservatory for actor training, one of the top ten actor training companies in the United States. Listen to him tell his amazing story and talk about his direction of the Conservatory’s production of Candida, which is now playing at the Cook theater, and hear Sharon Lesley’s review of the play.continue reading
I start this interview by saying “I am here with the one and only Austin Pendleton.” This is not a casual or frivolous comment. Nominated for a Tony for his direction of Elizabeth Taylor in The Little Foxes, winner of a Drama desk and an Obie award, actor, director, playwright, producer, teacher and inspiration, Austin Pendelton is one of a kind; a singleton. Unique, special, extraordinary and esteemed by his peers (listen to Meryl Streep and Olympia Dukakis talk about him), Austin has somehow managed to stay under the radar of fame. His love affair with the theater began when at seven years old when he snuck down stairs to watch his town’s fledgling community theater group rehearse in his living room. But young Austin denied his interest in acting to his friends, he says “who would believe that a nerdy kid, who wore glasses and stuttered so badly could be an actor.” Apparently Austin did. Apparently Austin was right. While not able to stop him, his stutter remained an intractable stumbling block on the path to his beloved goal – working in the theater. But Austin is not only incredibly talented, he is also incredibly tenacious; listen to the determination with which he worked to overcome his stutter and so become, while not famous, a professional who is always working, always in demand. Check out Austin Pendleton Theatre Credits and Austin Pendleton – Filmography to see what I mean.continue reading