Friday, August 29, 2014

Ask the Locals: Sharon E. Scott, actress and singer

Posted By on Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 6:00 PM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY HEIDI KURPIELA
  • Photo by Heidi Kurpiela

Actress Sharon E. Scott is an acting legend in Tampa Bay. If you’ve seen her sing, chances are you’ve given her a standing ovation. Her megawatt voice and larger-than-life performances bring down houses. In April, her sharp-tongued Evillene ran away with The Wiz at American Stage in the Park.

A New York native, Scott arrived in Sarasota two decades ago to perform in Ain’t Misbehavin’ at Florida Studio Theatre. Unlike most local actors, her star was rising in New York when she decided to settle in Florida. (“I liked the area and I was running away from a boyfriend,” she jokes.)

A fan favorite and critical darling, Scott’s bio boasts a long list of credits, including national and international tours (Ain’t Misbehavin’, Nunsense, How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying), off-Broadway productions (High-Hat Hattie, Bingo) and countless shows at almost every theatrical venue from Sarasota to Tampa.

For years she has owned the role of the narrator in Studio@620’s annual production of Black Nativity at The Palladium. A self-described gypsy, she and her husband recently sold their home in Sarasota and now bounce between gigs in Tampa, St. Pete and Sarasota.

Favorite escape from reality: Staying a night at the Vinoy. “I wrote a play and my aunt came to see it, so we stayed at the Vinoy and she looked around and was like, ‘My god, my niece has made it!’”

Favorite 4th Street staple: Fourth Street Shrimp Store. “I have a major love of seafood. I can’t even say what I order because I pick something different each time.”

Favorite taste of the islands: Jerk Hut. “It gives you a nice Caribbean atmosphere. The food is good, the staff is really friendly and the one on Fowler Avenue has live Caribbean music.”

Favorite place to dine after a show: Macaroni Grill. “Sometimes I have to leave downtown and hit up a chain because people invariably come up to you while you’re stuffing your face. I love Macaroni Grill’s appetizers. I love that they put brown paper and a couple crayons on the table so you can draw and talk at the same time.”

Favorite coffee shop crooner: Bill Schustik. “He’s billed as the American Troubadour. He sings and tells stories at Pastry Art in downtown Sarasota.”

Favorite grassroots venue: Studio@620. “When Bob Devin Jones opened the studio he invited me to bless the place. There was no air conditioning, one light bulb in the middle of the ceiling and extension cords all over the place. Look at it now. It’s this beautiful artistic place.”

Favorite Spanish eatery: Two Senoritas in Sarasota. “It reminds me of a friend I made in Buenos Aires. We did a show there and I stayed long enough to learn how to order breakfast, lunch and dinner in Spanish.”

Favorite local poet: Dennis Amadeus. “His spoken word is just astounding.”

Favorite bohemian hangout: Coffee Loft in Sarasota. “It’s a really neat out-of-the-way place on Tamiami Trail. They have open mic poetry nights, good coffee, tea and sandwiches.”

Favorite hidden gem: Star Keeper Café in Sarasota. “It’s a house they turned into a restaurant near the post office downtown. You’d never know it was there. The backyard has a little porch with bistro tables and a place for singer/songwriters to perform.”

Favorite place for beer and wings: Ferg’s Sports Bar and Grill. “It’s a little loud and a little country. It’s one of those places where the front of the building kind of spills onto the sidewalk. I’d go there with Michele Lamar Richards when we did a play together at the Manhattan Casino.”

Favorite sweet surrender: SweetBerries Eatery & Frozen Custard in Sarasota. “It’s my secret hidey-hole. If I see a bunch of people in line, I’ll knock ’em out of the way to get to the chocolate.”

Favorite beach eats: Crabby Bill’s Seafood on St. Pete Beach. “When I want a nice cold beer with crab legs, this is where I go. You sit picnic table-style right on the beach.”

Favorite picnic spot: Coquina Gulfside Park on Bradenton Beach. “Sometimes we’ll grab sandwiches, take some music and set up under a pavilion. If you want to walk the beach, you hop over the dunes and it’s right there.”

Favorite place to let off steam: Jim & Heather Gills YMCA in St Pete. “It’s so open and welcoming. It’s older people. It’s younger people. It runs the gamut. The other day this little old guy on a treadmill said, ‘I’ll race ya.’ I love a place like that.”

Favorite place to sing: First Presbyterian Church in St. Pete. “It has the acoustics of a palace. It’s exquisite. It captures the nuances in your voice so you don’t have to over-project.”

Favorite young actor on the rise: Torrey Thomas. “He played the scarecrow in The Wiz (at American Stage in the Park). I’ve worked with a lot of people who’ve gone onto Broadway and I think he’s got that potential.”

Favorite local act: La Lucha. “If there’s any up-and-coming jazz ensemble we should watch, it’s these guys. They’re revamping old standards, fusing the traditional with the new. I’m mentoring [drummer] Mark Feinman and I’m about ready to give him my resume so he can hire Miss Sharon.”

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