Monday, May 21, 2018
Features and More

'A Show Palace Christmas' falls short on holiday stage

Here's the most pleasurably memorable part of the Show Palace Dinner Theatre's Christmas show: the buffet. It is terrific. Kudos to executive chef Dinah Teaford and crew. You made our day — and you saved the occasion for those who quietly slipped out the door at the intermission of the two-act musical that followed dinner.

This isn't to say that "A Show Palace Christmas" is a complete washout. It has its bright spots: Tom Hansen's colorful, meticulously detailed sets; darling costumes in holiday colors; near-perfect lights and sound; 14 talented singers, a few who got tiny little chances to show they are also terrific dancers; guitarist Nick Orfanella's rendition of Leroy, the Redneck Reindeer; even an appealing premise in the script, in which Santa and his elves leave the North Pole to fly south to save Christmas in Christmas, Fla.

The problem is that, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein, there's not enough there there. The show is like a cute 15-minute skit at Walt Disney World, only it's stretched to fill two hours and 15 minutes, including the apparent padding near the end.

Also, the story seems headed one way — Mrs. Claus (an appealing Bonnie Smith) trying to persuade Santa Baby to fly to the warmer climes of Miami for Christmas — then veers off to Santa (Rick Kistner) and the elves trying to bring Christmas spirit to Christmas, Fla., leaving the unfinished toys back up north.

Unless a production is strictly a talent show or a school play, it needs one of two things: a terrific, coherent story line (Hello, Dolly, Showboat and Chicago, for example) or at least two or three boffo performers who can sing, dance or act while the rest of the cast supports them (think Matthew McGee, Susan Haldeman, Sara DelBeato, and/or Candler Budd).

A Show Palace Christmas has a respectable collection of fine supporting players and not a few potential stars: gifted comic Justin Lore, who plays the bad elf Sidney; Laurie Sutton, doing the lovely, love-smitten elf Esmerelda; Rebekah Shade in several roles; and Orfanella, with his unique appearance and charming demeanor.

It's just that they're not yet strong enough to carry a show, and this meandering production desperately needs a star or three as focal points, some big production numbers (the area has several great choreographers to call on) and/or a solid story.

It's the same problem that the "Fabulous '50s and '60s Revue" had in August and September, and, not coincidentally, that was also a product of LTM Productions, one of the outside companies the Show Palace started hiring to bring in shows after the owners decided to stop doing in-house shows with Equity performers.

Perhaps we Show Palace regulars have gotten spoiled over the years, expecting every production to be top-notch, and we have rarely been disappointed. After the less-than-satisfying "50s/60s" show, we thought the place was back on track with the wonderful The Sound of Music, a classic show with sterling performances by Equity actor Susan Haldeman, stage veteran Brian Minyard and obvious budding star Kelly Pekar, backed by strong supporting players and directed by the multitalented William Garon.

Now this.

As the audience began shuffling toward the door 35 or 40 minutes into the second act when it appeared that the show was ending, Santa said, "Wait — we're doing our Christmas finale."

An elf shot back, "Finally?" And, no doubt, the audience agreed.

Comments
Taste test: new (and very sugary) cereals

Taste test: new (and very sugary) cereals

My addiction to sugar began as a child. I loved sugary breakfast cereals as a morning meal or an evening snack, the sweeter the better. We used to joke in my house that I even added table sugar to Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes and Lucky Charms. Thankfu...
Published: 05/21/18
Florida Orchestra closes 50th masterworks season with Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony

Florida Orchestra closes 50th masterworks season with Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony

TAMPA — The Florida Orchestra wraps up its final masterworks concert of the season with a masterfully complex Johannes Brahms piano concerto and Ludwig van Beethoven’s warmly accessible Symphony No. 6, commonly known as the "Pastoral."Friday’s sold-o...
Published: 05/19/18
Walt’s Fish Market, a Sarasota institution, to celebrate its 100th anniversary

Walt’s Fish Market, a Sarasota institution, to celebrate its 100th anniversary

A Sarasota seafood fixture is celebrating its 100th anniversary.Walt’s Fish Market, Restaurant and Tiki Bar, 4144 S Tamiami Trail, will host a party at noon on Sunday complete with a mechanical shark, live music, live auctions, silent auctions, an al...
Published: 05/18/18
Prince Charles to walk Meghan Markle down aisle at royal wedding

Prince Charles to walk Meghan Markle down aisle at royal wedding

WINDSOR, England — Prince Charles will walk Meghan Markle down the aisle at the royal wedding — stepping in after the father of the bride fell ill just days before the ceremony. Kensington Palace said Friday that Markle’s future father-in-law, the he...
Published: 05/18/18
Unique bond helps carry Robinson, Alonso girls to state flag football titles

Unique bond helps carry Robinson, Alonso girls to state flag football titles

Editor’s note: Robinson High junior Macy McClintock, a member of the school’s championship flag football program, shares her thoughts about the Knights’ third consecutive state title and the bond it shares with Alonso High, which won its first state ...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Oldsmar ice cream shop opens right in time for summer

Oldsmar ice cream shop opens right in time for summer

Ice Cream Theory, a new ice cream shop in Oldsmar, offers cool and tasty treats to help beat the summer heat."We wanted it to be fun," said co-owner Jessica Weintraub. "We wanted it to be a place for kids to just hang out and enjoy some ice cream."Hu...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Terra Gaucha opens on Dale Mabry

Terra Gaucha opens on Dale Mabry

A new Brazilian style steakhouse is now open in South Tampa and upholds the traditional Southern Brazilian barbecue "churrascaria" dining experience- Gauchos (Southern Brazilian cowboys) roasting large pieces of skewered meats over an open flame.Terr...
Published: 05/17/18
McDonald’s giving away free food to military members today

McDonald’s giving away free food to military members today

TAMPA— All current and former military service members in central Florida can stop by their local McDonald’s and grab a free burger today.In celebration of Military Appreciation Month, McDonald’s is giving away a "Taste of Thanks." All veterans and c...
Published: 05/17/18
Meghan Markle says father won’t attend royal wedding due to health

Meghan Markle says father won’t attend royal wedding due to health

WINDSOR, England — Meghan Markle announced Thursday her father will not be at her marriage to Prince Harry due to health problems. "Sadly, my father will not be attending our wedding," she said in a statement released by Kensington Palace. "I have al...
Published: 05/17/18
Philadelphia’s American Revolution Museum winning battle for tourists

Philadelphia’s American Revolution Museum winning battle for tourists

Associated PressPHILADELPHIA The Museum of the American Revolution is a year old and officials say it has landed a decisive victory in capturing tourists’ attention in a city with lots of revolutionary competition. In honor of its first birthday Apri...
Published: 05/17/18