One of the many programs available for Plymouth Harbor residents to attend this month is a special look behind the scenes at the thriving theatre world of Sarasota with guest Jay Handelman, the theater and television critic and a senior arts writer for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Most of us know already that Sarasota is not the average town of this average size, not too big, not too small. There are more performing arts per capita here than almost anywhere we can consider.  Our guest, Jay Handelman has been following and writing about this arts scene for… he’d hate for us to say this, but thirty years.  Needless to say, if Jay does not know about it, it’s not news worth knowing, when it comes to the arts biz, at least.

This is his busy season with at least 2 opening shows a week, probably more. He is THE theatre critic that all professional and amateur theaters in Southwest Florida care about. He is seen in this photo with Bob Turoff (right), a Broadway veteran who started the famed Golden Apple Theater in town.

Jay is one of those critics that is keen-sensing and sensitive to the needs of his readers and the artists he reviews.  He reviews the big professional productions of the Asolo Rep, the innovative shows at Florida Studio Theatre, community productions at The Players, and many other theatrical performing arts – even the upcoming Circus Sarasota shows!

After nearly five years as a reporter and editor for United Press International’s local news bureau in Washington, D.C., including one year as D.C. NewsCenter Editor, Jay joined the Herald-Tribune in November 1984 as Assistant City Editor, working on local news stories, editing and assigning.

He became THE theater critic when the paper established a full-time position in March 1986, later adding television to his beat in December 1994.

We’re all looking forward to learning more about the craft of theater criticism, as well as the behind the scenes tales that make the arts so intriguing.

Behind the Scenes of Sarasota’s Theatre World with Jay Handelman will be in Pilgrim Hall on Thursday, February 6 at 7:45 pm.