Sunday, June 24, 2018
News Roundup

Former actor from north Suncoast lands Broadway lead

It was Aug. 21, 2010, when I wrote this line about Mitchell High School grad and former Richey Suncoast Theatre and Stage West Community Playhouse actor Justin Matthew Sargent: "Look for big things — and I mean very big things — from this talented actor/singer/dancer."

But never did I dream that those "big things" would happen so soon. Google Sargent's name today and you'll find him in the headlines of Playbill.com, Theatre Opinion, News and Information and several other online publications.

That's because young Sargent just landed the lead role of Broadway's smash hit Rock of Ages, winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2009. The show is built around the rock hits of the 1980s (Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Journey) to tell a love story set in Los Angeles. Among the show's songs are Don't Stop Believin', I Wanna Know What Love Is, Here I Go Again and the list goes on and on.

The character of Drew is described as a "city boy born and raised in South Detroit" — about as far as you can get from the upscale community of Trinity in south Pasco County, where Justin and his family lived until 2003 (his parents are in Kentucky now).

I first got to know Justin when his mom Lyn came on board as ad director at the Pasco Times in the 1990s. Lyn and husband Jim were active volunteers at Richey Suncoast, and Justin tagged along to an audition one night in 1999, when he was 14. On a whim, Justin — then a cute and chubby little kid — decided to try out for a role. He was cast as the wily Artful Dodger in Oliver!, never mind that he'd never acted, danced or sung on a stage before.

One look at him, and you could tell he just had "it," whatever "it" is. Charm? Cheekiness? Confidence? Whatever, Justin decided right then that he would have a life on the stage.

He went to the University of Central Florida (class of 2008) and was accepted into the elite theater program there. After graduating, he went on to act in theaters around Florida and at Sea World, then went to the Big Apple to try his luck there.

A couple of other things: he grew tall, slender, and eye-rollingly handsome, too. But he still has that adorable, totally disarming grin.

Justin was cast as understudy for the actor playing Drew a year and a half ago, but got an offer for a bigger role in the new musical Bonnie and Clyde. He opted for that, but B & C closed in December, so he was available again when the actor playing Drew moved on this month, and Rock of Ages grabbed him.

This is Justin's first lead role on Broadway, and, as far as I can tell, he's the first actor from Pasco County to land such a plum.

So, if you're in New York City, drop by the Helen Hayes Theatre to see the local boy doing good. SAVE THESE DATES

Richey Suncoast Theatre's next production, the musical Mame, doesn't open until May 10, but that doesn't mean that the theater is dark by any means.

The theater has five big shows lined up for April, starting with the Frank Parsons Big Band's "Easter Parade Pageant" at 2 p.m. on April 11, with tickets going for $11.

Then the annual high school talent show and scholarship fundraiser, Ticket To Broadway, will be at 8 p.m. April 14 and 2:30 p.m. April 15, with tickets at $15.

One of my favorite annual events, The Black Maria (pronounced muh-RYE-uh) Film Festival will be at 7 p.m. April 20. For just $6, you get a look at some of the world's best and most entertaining short films.

The Doo Wop show starring The Saints will be at 8 p.m. April 21 and 2:30 p.m. April 22, with tickets at $17.

And at 7:30 p.m. April 28, a whole lineup of singers and musicians will present A Salute to Our Veterans, with proceeds going to homeless veterans. Tickets are $17 adults, $8 ages 11 and younger.

For tickets to any or all of these shows, call (727) 842-6777. The theater is at 6237 Grand Blvd., New Port Richey.

Comments
Suspect dead, 2 injured in St. Petersburg home invasion-turned-shooting

Suspect dead, 2 injured in St. Petersburg home invasion-turned-shooting

ST. PETERSBURG ó Three people forced their way into a St. Petersburg house before dawn Sunday before gunfire broke out, killing a suspect and injuring two residents, police said.About 5:30 a.m., the people arrived at a house in Childs Park, on the 41...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Head-on crash kills Pasco teenager, injures three

Head-on crash kills Pasco teenager, injures three

NEW PORT RICHEY ó A 19-year-old driver died in a three-car crash on Moon Lake Road on Saturday afternoon, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.Jillian Faith Hitt, 19 and of New Port Richey, was driving north on the road in a 2008 Hyundai Accent, weari...
Updated: 1 hour ago
President Trumpís trade war threatens the US newspaper industry

President Trumpís trade war threatens the US newspaper industry

STERLING, Ill. - As a longtime editor of small-town newspapers, Jeff Rogers has seen his industry face the collapse of print advertising, the rise of the internet and more. Today, his 18 employees work in a newsroom here that puts out two daily newsp...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Police on scene at New Tampa traffic crash with critical injuries

Police on scene at New Tampa traffic crash with critical injuries

The Tampa Police Department is on scene at a traffic crash with critical injuries at New Tampa Boulevard and Wood Sage Drive.This is a developing story.Contact Paul Guzzo at [email protected] Follow @PGuzzoTimes.
Updated: 2 hours ago
Police: St. Petersburg driver falls asleep at wheel after drinking, kills motorcyclist

Police: St. Petersburg driver falls asleep at wheel after drinking, kills motorcyclist

ST. PETERSBURG ó A 22-year-old driver fell asleep at the wheel after drinking and ran a red light, hitting and killing a motorcyclist Saturday night, police said.Just before midnight, Michael P. Majchrowski, 48, was riding a 2016 BMW motorcycle eastb...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Making the case for more drones

Making the case for more drones

BLACKSBURG, Va. - They considered how well everyone slept the night before. They considered the chances a military jet might scream by on a training mission. They considered the farmer in the field.Then they considered some more.After making it throu...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Why a small-town restaurant owner asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave - and would do it again

Why a small-town restaurant owner asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave - and would do it again

LEXINGTON, Va. - Stephanie Wilkinson was at home Friday evening - nearly 200 miles from the White House - when the choice presented itself.Her phone rang about 8 p.m. It was the chef at the Red Hen, the tiny farm-to-table restaurant that she co-owned...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rays team up to beat Yankees again 4-0

Rays team up to beat Yankees again 4-0

ST. PETERSBURG — With all that's been said, tweeted, ranted and written on these pages and elsewhere about the Rays' odd, unorthodox, weird and some days downright wacky pitching plan, this might be the craziest thing yet:It's working.Like, rea...
Published: 06/23/18
Greg Auman answers your questions about NFLís investigation into Jameis Winston

Greg Auman answers your questions about NFLís investigation into Jameis Winston

There are many unanswered questions and discrepancies about the story of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston and the March 2016 Uber ride in Arizona that has led to his upcoming three-game suspension for violating the NFL's conduct policy.The Bucs won't ...
Published: 06/23/18
Will this be Jameis Winstonís last season in a Bucs uniform?

Will this be Jameis Winstonís last season in a Bucs uniform?

A t his introductory news conference after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Bucs in 2015, Jameis Winston said to judge him on his actions moving forward."Actions speak so much louder than words, or what they may have read or what they may have hear...
Published: 06/23/18