LWRWC “On Stage” at the Van Wezel
By MONIKA TEMPLEMAN and EILEEN BUZZARD
On Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015, forty members from the Lakewood Ranch Women’s Club took a memorable Backstage Guided Tour of the world renowned Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota.
The tour was arranged and conducted by the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and the Fine Arts Society of Sarasota (a not-for-profit organization founded in 1969 that provides cultural and educational opportunities for its members and organizes projects to benefit the entire community and its many visitors.)
Courtesy of the excellent and knowledgeable tour guides Pat Burrows Sherri Schaefer, Kim Kisacky, Pat Burrows and Richard Benson, the Club Members saw highlights of the art collection on permanent exhibit at the Hall, including, paintings and sculptures by some of Florida’s most renowned artists, such as the wonderful bronze sculpture of three children by artist, Glenna Goodacre entitled “The Facts of Life.” They also viewed the majestic 6,000 square foot Grand Foyer that opens onto the Terrace and Bayfront Lawn.
The ladies were then were afforded the opportunity to go behind the scenes of the Van Wezel for a look at the workings backstage; view the myriad of ropes, pulleys and flys for creating scenery and special effects, the movable orchestra pit, star and performer dressing rooms, hydraulic lifts, practice halls; and the Green Room where performers relax between shows.
The tour included an up close look at the impressive stage, allowing the ladies to experience being “on stage” at the Van Wezel.” The tour culminated in the beautiful 1,736-seat Roskamp Auditorium, where, Janet Arena (Marketing Associate and Group Sales Coordinator) and the tour guides shared the fascinating history and interesting facts about Sarasota’s cultural treasure where audiences have been entertained for more than 42 years with a wide variety of performers and shows, including world-class symphonies, both classical and modern dance companies, jazz artists, pop legends, comedy and Broadway.
The women’s club was particularly delighted with the story of how The Van Wezel’s seashell design was conceived by William Wesley Peters of Taliesin Associated Architects of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and why the building is painted purple. This design actually came from two seashells from the Sea of Japan, which are permanently displayed in the Hall. The lavender and purple color scheme selected by Wright’s widow, Olgivanna Lloyd Wright and the seashell form has helped to make the building a Sarasota architectural bayside landmark. Since purple is considered a royal color it is fitting for the Van Wezel, Sarasota’s cultural crown jewel.
Backstage and Art Tours are offered to the public the first Tuesday of the month, October through May at 10:00 a.m. in the Main Lobby for $5 per person. Proceeds benefit the Van Wezel’s Education/ Outreach Programs, Community Engagement and the Fine Arts Society.
In keeping with their motto of Fun Friendship and Community Service, the ladies culminated their exciting day with a gourmet lunch at Louis Modern in downtown Sarasota.