The Life and Times of John & Mable Ringling Premiers On The Historic Asolo Theater Big Screen
SARASOTA, Fla. – Aug. 23, 2006 – The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art premiers the film The Life and Times of John & Mable Ringling for public viewing in the Historic Asolo Theater, Aug. 28, 2006. The 30-minute film produced by WEDU and narrated by acclaimed actor Hal Holbrook, is a docu-drama that tells the uniquely American, rags-to-riches story of John and Mable Ringling.
The film will be shown on a regular basis in the Historic Asolo Theater throughout the year at the Ringling Museum and will air on WEDU on select dates.
“The idea to show WEDU’s film on the Historic Asolo Theater big screen makes one of the Museum’s finest works of art – the theater panels themselves – accessible to Museum visitors,” said Executive Director Dr. John Wetenhall. “It also allows us to tell the story of John and Mable Ringling in one coherent, compelling feature, bringing to light the true significance of all our venues.”
The Life and Times of John and Mable Ringling delves into late nineteenth century America and the important role played by circus entertainment. The film also spotlights the Roaring Twenties, the Florida land boom and the Great Depression. But most of all, the film chronicles the triumphs and tragedies of two remarkable individuals: John and Mable Ringling.
Hal Holbrook is the legendary star of stage, screen and television. He is best known for his theatrical reincarnation of humorist Mark Twain. Critics hailed the 1967 CBS television adaptation of “Mark Twain Tonight” as one of the best programs ever broadcast.
With Holbrook’s textured tones and expressive voice, the half-hour production weaves a fascinating storyline with a mix of vintage black and white films, live-action re-enactments, historic photos, voice actors and a lively sound track.
More than seven months in the making, the moving documentary was produced and directed by Larry Elliston, an Emmy winning writer-producer based in Tampa. Elliston co-wrote the film with Los Angeles writer Al Salton.
Looking back on the production of the compelling narrative, Elliston said “As a native Floridian, I thought I knew a little something about John and Mable Ringling. But as I dug deeper into their lives I realized there was so much more to their spectacular story. I think people who watch this film will be totally amazed by the Ringlings and all they managed to accomplish. I’m certain it will add a great deal to the experience of anyone who comes to The Ringling Museum complex.”
The live-action sequences, including gorgeous scenes capturing the lavish interiors and beautiful settings of Ca’ d’Zan, were filmed and directed by Academy Award winner Curtis Graham of St. Petersburg.
The visuals and graphic design for The Life and Times of John and Mable Ringling were artfully edited in High Definition by WEDU’s Emmy award winning Dax Bedell.
Stephan Scott Lay’soriginal music composition and performance, which intertwines seamlessly with other selections of period music, touches the senses adding drama to the storyline. Gary Rivera of Tampa’s WestEnd Recording enhanced the rich sound design.
Bay Area actors featured in the live-action portrayals include Scott Kinsler (younger John Ringling), Ben Alderson (older John Ringling) and Kerry Curtis (Mable Ringling).
Carolyn Michaelof the Asolo Theatre Company provided production assistance and consultation on the project.
The Executive Producers were Paul Grove and Ellyne Lonergan for WEDU and Dwight Currie and Tess Koncick for The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. The Asolo Theatre Company actors used in the production were featured as the voices.
“Whether you enjoy love stories, circus history, Sarasota history or you are simply interested in learning more about the Ringlings, there is something for you in this film,” said Curator of Theater Programming Dwight Currie.
Richard M. Lobo, WEDU’s President and CEO conceived the idea for a production that would bring to life the world of John and Mable Ringling. He approached the Ringling Museum in 2002 about updating a feature program about the Museum from the 1990s. According to Wetenhall, upon further discussion it was determined that such a film could have a broader life by showing it as a permanent feature in the historic theater in addition to premiering on the airways and four years later it has.
The $120,000 project was brought to fruition by the generous financial support of Sarasota residents Alexandra Jupin and John W. Bean with Ideal Foundation; David W. and Linda L. Houze and Tana and John Sandefur.
A second 7-minute film about the Historic Asolo Theater was also produced. The shorter film, produced and directed by Ken Cherry, will air immediately before The Life and Times of John & Mable Ringling and is designed to orient Museum visitors with the theater itself.
“We realized that many people will be experiencing the theater for the first time and may not know the history and detail of the space itself,” said Ringling Associate Director of Collections Tess Koncick. “We hoped to capture the audience with the art of the theater by briefly sharing its origins and journey as a work of art.”
The short about the theater was funded by a gift from successful real estate entrepreneur Michael Saunders.
Both films will be shown in the Theater to the public beginning, Monday, Aug. 28, 2006 with four showings daily. The film’s scheduled showings will vary throughout the year to accommodate other theater programming. Tickets may be purchased with regular Museum admission or as a stand-alone ticket for $5 for adults and $2 for children. Museum Members receive free admission to the film and Museum. Films shown on are first come, first served and reservations are highly recommended. Reservations are accepted by calling (941) 358-3180.
The films debut on WEDU, Brighthouse and Comcast channel 3, on Wednesday, Oct. 11 at 8 p.m. and will show again on Oct. 12 at 2 p.m. and Oct. 15 at 7 p.m.
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Florida State University, is the state art museum of Florida. It preserves, develops, and enhances the legacy of John and Mable Ringling and engages and educates a large and diverse audience in a world-renowned collection of art, Cà d'Zan (the Ringlings’ mansion) and its historic contents, collections documenting the circus and its history, the historic Asolo Theater, and the architecture, courtyard, gardens, and grounds overlooking Sarasota Bay.