Last year, when Blake Walton and Ann Morrison started to put together the first SaraSolo festival, they didn't know what to expect.
They knew the shows would be great, since they chose them themselves, but they didn't know whether Sarasota audiences would respond to the unusual multi-genre festival of one-person performances.
Turned out they had nothing to worry about.
"Annie and I always do the curtain speeches," Walton said. "And sometimes we'd be looking out a sea of people."
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It looks as though this year's festival will be even more popular.
"Carolyn Michel's show is sold out already," Walton said Tuesday, four days before the festival was set to open. "Last year, we didn't have any shows that were sold out."
Walton said he and Morrison patterned SaraSolo after the United Solo Theatre Festival in New York, at which they have both performed. United is a mammoth festival, with about 150 productions over 10 weeks. Broadway veteran and cabaret performer Morrison lives in Sarasota, and Walton used to, so they decided to try something similar here.
It's on a much smaller scale, of course. SaraSolo features 16 performances, four each on Saturday and Sunday for the next two weeks.
In between is what they call their "Betwixt Week," when the festival performers and others conduct classes and workshops.
This week, Morrison and Blake are bringing in more acts from out of town, including some who had hit shows at the United festival. They try to get as many different styles of solo performance as they can, and this year's lineup includes music, dance, cabaret, improv, storytelling, puppetry and performance art.
Details: Jan. 23-24, 30-31, Crocker Memorial Church, 1260 12th St,. Sarasota. Show times: 1, 3, 5 and 7 p.m. each day. Tickets: $15 for individual performances, $50 for one-day pass, $90 weekend pass. Information: 941-323-1360, sarasolo.org.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.