Make us your home page

Back in town setting the stage

Broadway veterans Jimmy Ferraro and Dee Etta Rowe are opening Jimmy Ferraro’s Studio Theatre on Main Street in downtown New Port Richey. Church Basement Ladies, a musical comedy, opens June 6.


Broadway veterans Jimmy Ferraro and Dee Etta Rowe are opening Jimmy Ferraro’s Studio Theatre on Main Street in downtown New Port Richey. Church Basement Ladies, a musical comedy, opens June 6.

Really, has it been 10 years since Jimmy Ferraro and his wife, Dee Etta Rowe, quietly shuttered their Angel Cabaret Theatre in Port Richey and returned to the thing that first brought them to theater: acting and singing on stage?

Indeed it has. But now they're back, living in Weeki Wachee, and opening their own theater again, this time called Jimmy Ferraro's Studio Theatre, in the former Tri Arts Printing shop on Main Street in downtown New Port Richey.

"We'll do small plays and musicals" in the cozy, 68-seat theater that has been completely renovated by contractor Keith Snyder — the same man who did their Angel Cabaret Theatre back in 2001. Snyder took one look at the interior and told Ferraro, "I think this can be a little gem."

"I said, 'Keith, I am leaving it in your hands,'" Ferraro said. "He has just been working constantly since then."

That was in mid March, shortly after the Ferraros saw the small "for rent" sign in the store's window and decided to convert it to a performing and teaching venue. Snyder stripped the interior down to the walls and built a small lobby, a box office, a concession booth, spacious and accessible restrooms, all painted deep rose with white trim, and designed an auditorium with a nice-size stage, dressing room with vanities and mirrors and a suspended sound and light gallery with spiral staircase. Seating will be in individual, padded arm chairs.

The new theater will open June 6 with Church Basement Ladies, a 2005 musical comedy that "has been sweeping the country," Ferraro said, and already spawned four sequels. Set in a 1950s Minnesota Lutheran church basement, it's the story of the women who bond and bicker at the cook stoves downstairs while weddings, funerals and other celebrations go on upstairs.

"It's perfect for this market," Ferraro said. He has brought in longtime associate David Craven to direct the five-member cast that includes Rowe as Mavis, the good-humored, handy one; Linda Copperfield as Vivian, the hyper-critical matriarch; Nicole Cavalani as Karin, the runaway bride who has never lived that escapade down; Katie Miesner as Signe, Karin's ambitious daughter; and Pete Clapsis as Pastor E.L. Gunderson, who referees spats and tends to his flock.

The past 10 years

For the last decade Ferraro and Rowe have been touring and acting in musical productions from Denver to Sonora, Calif., and points in between.

Even though they both loved every minute of it, "it was grueling," Ferraro said. For eight of those years, Rowe played two characters in Menopause, the Musical in their home base of Denver and on tour, while Ferraro was company manager for five of those years. In between, he played Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof (his favorite role ever since he played in the Broadway revival in 1981 at Lincoln Center's New York State Theatre under the direction of the late Jerome Robbins), Sancho in Man of La Mancha, and various other roles at several theaters.

The pinnacle for both came in the 2012 national touring production of Fiddler, with Ferraro playing Tevye and Rowe his wife, Golde.

A show highlight comes with the song Do You Love Me? when Tevye asks Golde if she does indeed love him after 25 years in a marriage arranged by their parents.

"We celebrated our 25th anniversary on stage," singing that song, which affirms Golde's love and prompts Tevye to muse, "It's nice to know."

"It was wonderful to spend those moments together — a show so close to my heart," Ferraro said.

After that, it seemed time to come back home, settle down and get busy on a new project that would appeal to their many friends and followers in the area.

"This is what we're supposed to be doing," Ferraro said.

.if you go

Jimmy Ferraro's

Studio Theatre

5732 Main St., New Port Richey. 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets $25, tax included, plus $2 credit card fee. Call (727) 409-0293 or visit box office one hour before show. Facebook: Jimmy Ferraro's Studio Theatre.

June 6-29: Church Basement Ladies, a musical comedy.

July 18-Aug. 10: Coupled, a musical for grownups by Diana Rogers.

Sept. 5-28: The Singing Divas of Broadway and Hollywood.

.if you go

5th & Blues Jam Festival

When: 2 to 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Horse Lake Field, adjacent to Beef 'O' Brady's, 7601 Horse Lake Road, Brooksville

Admission: $5; free for children 10 and younger

Information: or (352) 540-5838

Back in town setting the stage 05/28/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 5:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Tuesday May 30


    Finding Neverland: The hit Broadway show follows the story behind playwright J.M. Barrie as he struggles to find inspiration to create Peter Pan, until he meets four young brothers and their beautiful widowed mother. 7:30 p.m., Carol Morsani Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, …

    Mitchell Wray, Jordan Cole, Finn Faulconer and Ben Krieger as the Llewelyn Davies Boys in the National Tour of Finding Neverland. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
  2. Big rents and changing tastes drive dives off St. Pete's 600 block

    Music & Concerts

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kendra Marolf was behind the lobby bar of the State Theatre, pouring vodka sodas for a weeknight crowd packed tight for Bishop Briggs, the latest alternative artist to sell out her club.

    Sam Picciano, 25, left, of Tampa and Molly Cord 24, Palm Harbor shop for record albums for a friend at Daddy Kool Records located on the 600 block of Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, Florida on Saturday, May 20, 2017. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times
  3. Restaurant review: Features Gastropub in Riverview is fine as movie theater fare, but unimpressive otherwise

    Food & Dining

    Movies aren't exactly dying. Despite all the sturm und drang of predictions that Netflix and streaming videos would kill the cinema, global box office receipts hit $38.6 billion in 2016, a 1 percent gain over the previous year. But that doesn't mean going to the cinema is precisely what it was a generation …

    Soft pretzels are displayed with a beer at the Features Gastropub in the Riverview 14 GDX  theater in Gibsonton, Fla. on Thursday, May 25, 2017.   The 5,900-square-foot Features Gastropub open in the . This element of the project is the brainchild of Philadelphia chef Brian Duffy, who appears frequently on NBC's The Today Show and the Spike TV show Bar Rescue
  4. From the food editor: I love that food is a huge part of Master of None's transcendent second season


    Deep into a late-night binge of Master of None, Aziz Ansari's Netflix series that returned for its second season May 12, I realized I was laying as far back on my couch as possible, blanket clutched up to my chin, eyebrows permanently raised.

    Dev (Aziz Ansari) and Arnold (Eric Wareheim) eat lunch in Modena, Italy, in the second season of "Master of None."
  5. Three 'MasterChef' contestants from the Tampa Bay area talk cooking inspiration and more


    When Gordon Ramsay's MasterChef begins its eighth season tonight, the Tampa Bay area will have three contestants to root for. A marketing director from Tampa, a dentist and Palm Harbor native, and an employee for a steel supply company are all trying to impress a trio of judges with their home-cooking skills.

    Jeff Philbin, from Tampa, left, Palm Harbor native Paola Annoni Patel, and Danny Flores, of Land 'O Lakes, will be competing on the season premiere of "Masterchef."