Sunday, June 24, 2018
Stage

Back in town setting the stage

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.

Comments
On stage this week: Freefall Theatre’s ‘The Musical of Musicals,’ Jay Pharoah

On stage this week: Freefall Theatre’s ‘The Musical of Musicals,’ Jay Pharoah

SENDUP: MUSICAL OF MUSICALSFive composers, a talented cast, choreography by Cheryl Lee and music directed by Michael Raabe — that’s Freefall Theatre’s recipe for a laugh-filled, season-ending summer musical, appropriately titled The Musical of Musica...
Published: 06/20/18
Jobsite’s ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ should be more gripping than it is

Jobsite’s ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ should be more gripping than it is

TAMPA — The virtues of Dancing at Lughnasa, with which Jobsite Theater closes its season, are many. This drama by the celebrated Brian Friel opened in 1990 to much acclaim. It captures a family’s joys and sadnesses, and the quickness with which one s...
Published: 06/19/18
Irish boxer brings his dream to St. Petersburg

Irish boxer brings his dream to St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — In his vision for this weekend, Connor Coyle is standing in the ring at the Coliseum, and the referee is raising his gloved fist.He’s got a National Boxing Association middleweight championship belt around his waist, the first of sev...
Published: 06/15/18
Irish boxer brings his dream to St. Petersburg

Irish boxer brings his dream to St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — In his vision for this weekend, Connor Coyle is standing in the ring at the Coliseum, and the referee is raising his gloved fist.He’s got a National Boxing Association middleweight championship belt around his waist, the first of sev...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/16/18
Why this ballet dancer is skipping college in favor of her own St. Petersburg Ballet Conservatory

Why this ballet dancer is skipping college in favor of her own St. Petersburg Ballet Conservatory

GULFPORT — Brianna Melton is as serious a ballet student as they come.By her junior year at St. Petersburg High’s International Baccalaureate program, she had already spent four summers training with ballet companies across the country and had narrow...
Published: 06/14/18
What’s on stage: The Illusionists, ‘Dancing at Lughnasa,’ G. David Howard

What’s on stage: The Illusionists, ‘Dancing at Lughnasa,’ G. David Howard

OPENING: DANCING AT LUGHNASAIrish playwright Brian Friel, who died in 2015 at 86, won’t be traveling anymore. But I’ll bet he packed a tidy suitcase. Dancing at Lughnasa, Jobsite Theater’s season closer, manages to address a lot of issues: race, reli...
Published: 06/13/18
Ruth Eckerd Hall tees up comedy, romance and Kristin Chenoweth for 2018-19 Broadway season

Ruth Eckerd Hall tees up comedy, romance and Kristin Chenoweth for 2018-19 Broadway season

Ruth Eckerd Hall rolls out a new lineup of musicals for its 2018-19 season, a mix of comedy, favorite musicals and romance."For the last 35 years, Broadway has always been a staple at Ruth Eckerd Hall," chief executive officer Zev Buffman said in a p...
Published: 06/12/18
A tense night at the Tony Awards ends in euphoria for Largo doctor Jeffrey Grove

A tense night at the Tony Awards ends in euphoria for Largo doctor Jeffrey Grove

Dr. Jeffrey Grove sat three-quarters of the way back from the stage at Radio City Music Hall, waiting for his moment. The Largo physician made the trip with family to New York for Sunday’s Tony Awards, where he hoped to see his investment in O...
Published: 06/11/18
Neal Boyd, ‘America’s Got Talent’ winner, dies at 42

Neal Boyd, ‘America’s Got Talent’ winner, dies at 42

SIKESTON, Mo. — Neal Boyd, an opera singer who won America’s Got Talent and dabbled in Missouri politics, has died. Scott County Coroner Scott Amick says Boyd died around 6 p.m. Sunday at his mother’s house in Sikeston. He was 42. Amick says Boyd had...
Published: 06/11/18
Parkland drama teens bring down the house with stirring performance at Tony Awards

Parkland drama teens bring down the house with stirring performance at Tony Awards

Members of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s drama team stole the show at the 72nd Annual Tony Awards Sunday night.The performance brought the crowd— many of whom were wiping tears from their eyes— to its collective feet at the Radio City Music ...
Published: 06/11/18