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Andrew Meacham, Times Staff Writer

Andrew Meacham

Andrew Meacham is the performing arts critic for the the Tampa Bay Times, covering the growing local venues for theater, orchestra, opera and dance. Andrew previously served as the Epilogue obituaries writer for the Times. He grew up in St. Petersburg, graduated from Eckerd College and holds a master's degree in journalism from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

Phone: (727) 892-2248

Email: ameacham@tampabay.com

  1. Stage Planner: Patton Oswalt at the Straz, and Tampa Bay Theatre Festival



    Fans of comedy know Patton Oswalt as an original talent and one of the most influential comics working today. He will riff on obsessive-compulsive disorder in one moment and comic book heroes the next, drawing on literature or video games with equal ease.

    Millions of children who don't know his name would probably recognize Oswalt's voice, at least when molded into that character of Remy the rat in Disney's Ratatouille, one of two dozen voiceover roles he has played for animated movies or television....

    Comedian Patton Oswalt performs Saturday at the Straz Center in Tampa.
  2. Stage Planner: Rob Schneider at the Improv, National Theatre Live streaming at Straz





    Saturday Night Live alum Rob Schneider headlines at the Tampa Improv Comedy Club this weekend, part of the comedian's return to standup that began a couple of years ago after a 20-year absence.

    Schneider broke out of the club circuit in 1990 when SNL's Lorne Michaels warmed to the comedian's oddball, self-deprecating schtick. He stayed on as a cast member for four years, earning a recent Rolling Stone ranking of No. 44 out of SNL's all-time cast of 141....

    Helen Mirren portrays Queen Elizabeth ll in the play The Audience, which has won her an Olivier Award and a Tony. The Straz Center will stream a performance of the play March 20.
  3. Review: Stageworks' 'Sylvia' more than the sum of its paws



    Cecil the lion had a name and we were outraged. The Chick-Fil-A cow has none, and we laugh.

    To bestow a name is to recognize that person or animal or thing. Names elevate.

    That is the central premise behind Sylvia, A.R. Gurney's play at Stageworks Theatre. The two-act play directed by Karla Hartley is enjoying a return engagement, after a popular run three years ago with the same cast....

    In Sylvia, Greg (Harold Oehler) brings a Labrador mutt named Sylvia (Kari Goetz, right) home to his Manhattan apartment. Greg’s wife (Elizabeth Fendrick) disapproves, and a love triangle ensues.
  4. Stage Planner: Becca McCoy reflects, Dave Koz coming to Ruth Eckerd Hall




    Ruth Eckerd Hall has opened ticket sales for a Dave Koz holiday concert. One of the most prolific and accomplished saxophonists in jazz, Koz has been nominated for nine Grammy awards and topped Billboard's contemporary jazz albums charts seven times.

    This year's Dave Koz Christmas Tour features Dutch saxophone star Candy Dulfer and R&B virtuoso guitarist Jonathan Butler, both of whom have appeared with Koz before. The tour's newcomer is Bill Medley, who co-founded the Righteous Brothers with Bobby Hatfield....

    Dave Koz is bringing the Dave Koz Christmas Tour 2015 to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater.
Getty Images (2012)
  5. Review: Cirque du Soleil's enchanting 'Varekai' does not disappoint


    TAMPA — Cirque du Soleil's Varekai begins quietly, with lavishly costumed forest creatures traipsing out of their hiding places, creeping or crawling with the assurance of ballet dancers.

    The two hours passed quickly at the Amalie Arena on opening night (with one 20-minute intermission), the story line of Icarus falling into an enchanted world traced delicately and without artifice. The characters frame Cirque's amazing array of performers from a melting pot of countries and backgrounds....

    Cirque du Soleil's Varekai performance follows the fall of Icarus into the pit of a volcano, where he interacts with strange and magical creatures.

Photos by John Davis, Costumes by Eiko Ishioka, copyright 2010 Cirque du Soleil.
  6. Stage Planner: 'Sylvia' at Stageworks, plus Dave Coulier, Chris Hardwick and Sinbad



    As Sylvia, the canine title character in a 2012 production at Stageworks Theatre, Kari Goetz had chances to wander through the audience on all fours.

    It was "a wonderful opportunity to root around in people's purses and sniff wallets," said Goetz, who has taught improv as a social tool at the business school of the University of South Florida. Patrons loved it, some even offering her their wine....

    Sinbad will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday at Clearwater’s Capitol Theatre.
  7. Almost famous: The bumpy road for mid-tier comedians


    In this culture, big-name comedians have enormous cachet. Richard Pryor shocked audiences and made them think. Some people revere Louis C.K. the way they would a favorite pastor, and sometimes he sounds a lot like one.

    Such unique brands create wealth and supersede death. No one else will ever be George Carlin or Joan Rivers or Robin Williams.

    But further down the scale live the working comics....

    Ricky Reyes headlines a show at Side Splitters Comedy Club in Tampa last month. He has opened for Larry the Cable Guy and filled in for an absent Mitch Hedberg.
  8. Florida Orchestra celebrates video games with Final Fantasy concert


    ST. PETERSBURG — True to the spirit of fun that has followed incoming director Michael Francis, the Florida Orchestra has announced a concert celebrating the musical score of a popular video game.

    The orchestra will perform Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy at 8 p.m. Feb. 6 at St. Petersburg's Mahaffey Theater. Composed by Nobuo Uematsu, Distant Worlds signals with sweeping tones a new age of home entertainment, in which customers clamor for sound systems that make them feel every rumble, roar and note....

  9. Cirque du Soleil returns to Tampa with high-flying 'Varekai'



    Icarus falls from the sky with a barrage of drums and smashing cymbals, violent keyboards and screaming thunder.

    The central unfolding of Cirque du Soleil's Varekai, playing at the Amalie Arena, holds nothing back. The impetuous young man must spin and stretch and dive within a net that ensnares him as he plunges to the ground, as little bells and wind chimes signal both danger and the thin threads of hope....

    As Icarus flails through space, he dives and contorts acrobatically in a net that holds him captive.
  10. Stage Planner: A Sarasota ballet gala, yes; tickets for 'Mame,' no



    The Sarasota Cuban Ballet School, which has turned heads since opening three years ago, is rewarding some of its best dancers Saturday in a special performance. "On Stage," the school's annual gala event, brings a few student dancers to perform at the Sarasota Opera House alongside guest performers from Havana's Cuban National Ballet School....

    Francisco Serrano, son of the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School’s founders, won the International Student Ballet Competition in Havana in 2014. He will perform at Saturday’s gala.
  11. At 20, Clearwater native Vinny Ortega is running a theater company in New York



    As directors met for the first time to kick off a theater festival in June, an organizer approached a fresh-faced teenager in their midst.

    In so many words, the man asked Vinny Ortega, of Clearwater, what he was doing there.

    "Is your director here?" the stranger asked. "Are you an intern?"

    Ortega, then 19, replied that he was the director of Hopeless, a one-act play about inner-city adolescents, as well as its playwright....

    Clearwater native Vinny Ortega, right, performs in No Entiendo, a play he co-wrote about a teenage immigrant from Mexico.
  12. Idina Menzel brings the best of Broadway to Clearwater


    CLEARWATER -- A near-capacity crowd filled Ruth Eckerd Hall on Tuesday to see one of Broadway's most recognizable names. A fair number of the 1,858 in attendance were girls in their teens and younger, but a lot of silver heads dotted the crowd as well for a show scheduled to start at 8 p.m.

    With the star attraction more than a half-hour late, the crowd broke into rhythmic clapping. Menzel finally made her entrance at 8:37. Her opening number, Defying Gravity, brought audience members roaring to their feet, an indication of goodwill that would only grow stronger over the next two hours. Menzel, 44, delivered the powerhouse vocals that got her nominated for Tony awards in the musicals Rent, Wicked and If/Then (winning in 2004 for Wicked), and drove Let It Go from the Disney movie Frozen to the top 10....

    Menzel finally made her entrance at 8:37. Her opening number, Defying Gravity, brought audience members roaring to their feet, an indication of goodwill that would only grow stronger over the next two hours.
  13. Stage Planner: Local comics test their chops, playwrights write short


    COMEDY time: show your stuff

    Call it summer and winter madness. The second Tampa Bay Comedy Tournament at Side Splitters Comedy Club is well under way and likely won't conclude until January or February. The 64-comic format is modeled after the NCAA basketball tournament and pits local performers against each other in an elimination process designed to bring out the best....

    Side Splitters Comedy Club in Tampa.
  14. Idina Menzel combines stellar pipes with down-to-earth charm



    Since launching her world tour a couple of months ago, Idina Menzel has turned crowded stadiums into her living room.

    She has been known to take off her shoes and go barefoot, then curl up at the edge of the stage to tell a story. The Broadway superstar makes her concerts feel like hanging out with a friend.

    Look for Menzel to do the same Tuesday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, where she is likely to mix hits from her roles in Wicked (Defying Gravity) and the movie Frozen (Let It Go) with anecdotes from nearly 20 years in the spotlight....

    The cast of the film Rent, front row from left, Adam Pascal, Rosario Dawson, second row from left, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Tracie Thoms, Idina Menzel, and Taye Diggs, third row from left, Jesse Martin, and Anthony Rapp, pose for a photo on a film set in San Francisco in 2005.
  15. Review: Gritty realism doesn't quite flesh out in Stageworks' 'The Motherf----- With the Hat'


    TAMPA — Try not to be put off by the title.

    Calling his play The Motherf----- With the Hat might just be playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis' way of signaling a gritty tone to his one-act set in the Washington Heights area of Manhattan. Saturday's performance, directed by Karla Hartley and midway through Stageworks Theatre's three-week run, delivered on the "gritty" part, although in an uneven way....

    The Motherf----- With the Hat focuses on ex-convict Jackie (Jesse Carolan-Rodriguez) and his attempts to go straight while tied to a tempestuous romantic relationship with Veronica (Jessy Quinones) and neighborhood loyalties in New York’s Washington Heights.
Courtesy of Caroline Jett