Make us your home page
Instagram

With new Black Box Theatre, Saint Leo University prepares for full slate of 2016-17 shows

Elizabeth Panek, a biology major and spring graduate of Saint Leo, played Letitia Blacklock in A Murder is Announced.

Courtesy of Jonathan Shoemaker

Elizabeth Panek, a biology major and spring graduate of Saint Leo, played Letitia Blacklock in A Murder is Announced.

ST. LEO — When the Saint Leo Theatre Company came together last spring to stage A Murder is Announced, a play written by Leslie Darbon and adapted from the novel by Agatha Christie, cast and crew faced a mystery that had nothing to do with the whodunit theme of the play itself.

"Saint Leo has had a drama department for years, but no theater," said Alicia Corts, assistant professor in the department of language studies and the arts at Saint Leo University and director of the play. "We performed plays in lecture halls and sometimes outside."

The mystery has now been solved. The university's Black Box Theatre opened to the public April 1, played to packed houses for A Murder is Announced and is now preparing for a busy 2016-17 season.

The theater is on the ground floor of Benedictine Hall, the former home of Holy Name Monastery and the residence of the Benedictine Sisters of Florida.

When the Benedictine Sisters moved to a smaller facility across State Road 52, Saint Leo University acquired the building, repurposing the space for faculty offices and, on the ground floor, the performing arts facility.

According to the university, the theater owes its name to its status as a rectangular shell of a space with dark walls — one that can be easily adapted for smaller productions.

"All things are possible here," said Corts. "This theater is wonderful."

The 40- by 40-foot performance space can accommodate 100 to 150 people.

"It's an intimate space," said Corts. "The audience is right here with us."

The theater also features a box office, a sound studio, and a full costume storage and changing area.

"Trying to arrange costumes for the plays we performed outside was always an adventure," said Rebecca Van Orskie, a member of the costume crew for A Murder is Announced. "Here we can really put it all together."

Both cast members and crew for the play found much to like about the new facility.

Stage manager Nadia Marshall said she felt the new setting would teach her a great deal about theater technology. Elizabeth Panek, a biology major who played Letitia Blacklock, the lady of the house, appreciated the technical aspects of the production.

Said Vincent Pensabene, who played the role of Patrick Simmons, one of Miss Blacklock's cousins: "In this theater, you have a more intimate experience with the audience."

Other cast members, while not drama or music majors, feel that they are still learning a great deal through their theatrical experience.

"Here kids of all majors are valued," said Amelia Evans, a marketing and multimedia management major who played Julia Simmons, another of Miss Blacklock's cousins. "Here you get knowledge and hands-on experience."

Corts said the theater company plans to stage multiple productions each year at the Black Box Theatre, which also will host school concerts.

>>if you go

In the wings

Saint Leo University has announced the 2016-17 performance schedule for its Black Box Theatre. All performances will be at 7 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

Fall Into Song: The Music of Mystery, a musical production by Saint Leo music students, 4 and 7 p.m. Oct. 11.

Women on the Move: The Story of the Benedictine Sisters of Florida, new original play, Oct. 28-30.

A Walk in the Woods, by Lee Blessing, Jan. 27 and 28.

• Saint Leo City Sweethearts, musical production for Valentine's Day, Feb. 15.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, March 31 to April 2 and April 7 to 9.

• Tunes in Bloom: A Musical Showcase, April 18.

For information about seating or suggested donations for events, contact Jennifer "Megan" Orendorf at

jennifer.orendorf@saintleo.edu or (352) 588-8401.

With new Black Box Theatre, Saint Leo University prepares for full slate of 2016-17 shows 09/21/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 21, 2016 5:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Glen Campbell's wife Kim discusses challenges, guilt caregivers of Alzheimer's patients, others face

    Life Times

    If there's one thing Kim Campbell would change about caregiving for Alzheimer's patients, it's the attitude so many of us have toward transferring a loved one from home to a long-term care facility. According to Campbell, it's often the most kind, loving decision you can make. It's not a sign of failure, but one of …

    Kim Campbell, wife of country music legend Glen Campbell, is acknowledged by those attending the free event where she shared the story of her personal journey with Alzheimer???‚??„?s disease and the struggles she faced caring for her husband on Friday (5/26/17) at the Suncoast Hospice's Empath Health Service Center in Clearwater. Empath Choices for Care, a member of Empath Health, and Arden Courts Memory Care hosted the free event where Kim shared her story to help others understand the early stages, how the disease changes lives, the challenges families face and the role of caregiver.
  2. What happened when I took my dad to a Pitbull concert

    Music & Concerts

    TAMPA — "So, you know how you like Pitbull?" I asked my dad. "We can see him."

    Selfie of Divya Kumar and Anand Kumar at Pitbull/Enrique Iglesias concert.
  3. Tampa City Council votes to accept travel invitation from Cuban ambassador

    Blogs

    The invitation came to Tampa City Council chairwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin in a June 9 letter from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.

    The Tampa City Council voted 6-0, with Frank Reddick out of the room, to respond to a travel invitation from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 25

    Events

    St. Pete Pride Festival: The daytime festival covers Central Avenue's Grand Central District with more than 350 vendors, multiple stages, live music, art and food. 9 a.m., Grand Central District, 2429 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 342-0084.

    Kristen Whalen poses for a photo before the start of the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg last year. It's that time of year again, so check with us for your planning purposes. [LUIS SANTANA  |   Times (2016)]
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 24

    Events

    St. Pete Pride Block Party and Night Parade: St. Pete Pride's popular parade moves to downtown St. Petersburg's scenic waterfront. The block party brings DJs, food and drinks starting at 2 p.m. The parade steps off at Fifth Ave NE and Bayshore at 7 p.m. with fireworks at 9:45 p.m. 2 p.m., North Straub Park, Fifth …

    Thousands line the streets of Central Ave. during the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg.  [Saturday, June 25, 2016] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]