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Andrew Meacham, Times Performing Arts Critic

Andrew Meacham

Andrew Meacham is the performing arts critic for 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


  1. Review: Plodding adaptation of 'The Great Gatsby' is a shadow of the real thing


    TAMPA — Like any other adaptation of a great novel, getting The Great Gatsby to the stage requires ambition and steel nerves.

    Stageworks Theatre, which has never shied away from daunting tasks, has picked up the mantle with Simon Levy's adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic. Levy, a Los Angeles playwright and director, was a finalist for a PEN Literary Award for the play, which opened in Seattle in 2006....

    Cast member in Stageworks Theatre's The Great Gatsby include (from left) Lauren Buglioli as Daisy, Nathan Jokela as Nick Carraway, Dahlia Legault as Jordan Baker, R. James Faurote as Gatsby, and Jamie Jones as Tom Buchanan. Courtesy of Stageworks Theatre.
  2. Ephraim Sykes' painful St. Petersburg past fuels his performance in NBC's 'Hairspray, Live!'

    Human Interest

    Getting kicked out of the mall for a sideways baseball cap was one of the worst things that ever happened to Ephraim Sykes.

    It might also be one of the best. The painful memory has given Sykes the fuel to succeed in what has been an already outstanding career as a dancer and actor. Sykes had a role in the original cast of Hamilton in Broadway. And on Wednesday, Sykes, 31, appears in NBC's Hairspray Live!, bringing the St. Petersburg native before a TV audience of millions....

    Maddie Baillio, left, as Tracy Turnblad, Harvey Fierstein, center, as Edna Turnblad and Ephraim Sykes, right, as Seaweed J. Stubbs in the television special "Hairspray Live!" [NBC]
  3. Florida Orchestra concertmaster Jeffrey Multer shines as soloist


    TAMPA — Every year, some of the world's best violinists play on our stages. This year, young sensations Simone Porter and Benjamin Beilman wowed Florida Orchestra audiences. Early next year, Joshua Bell and Itzhak Perlman pass through the bay area.

    Most of the time, Jeffrey Multer has been content to play a supporting role, albeit as the Florida Orchestra's most recognizable face. As concertmaster, it's Multer's job to stand before concerts and play a single A-note on his violin, which helps the other musicians tune their instruments. Then he sits on the edge of the first chair to the conductor's left and attacks the score in an almost physical way, as if slipping punches....

    Florida Orchestra concertmaster Jeffrey Multer showed the precision and expression that has distinguished his career.
  4. Review: 'Into the Woods' starts new tour at a pleasant if meandering walk


    TAMPA — The unmistakable imprint of Stephen Sondheim shines through from the prologue of Into the Woods, in which fairy tale characters confess their deepest desires.

    Cinderella wants to attend the ball. A simple boy named Jack, known for the beanstalk he unwittingly planted, only wants his cow to produce milk. A baker and his wife wish for a child.

    Their interrelated needs unfold deep in the midst of a comforting and sometimes terrifying forest, set once upon a time and today. Sondheim's musical, for which James Lapine wrote the book, debuted on Broadway in 1987, winning Tony Awards in a field that included Phantom of the Opera. A new national tour opened its first stop this week at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. This is a serious effort to capture the humor and humanity of a unique musical. ...

    Lisa Helmi Johanson as Little Red Ridinghood and Anthony Chatmon II as The Wolf in Into The Woods. Photo by Joan Marcus
  5. Stage Planner: 'The Great Gatsby' at Stageworks, 'The Nutcracker' by St. Petersburg Ballet



    In her early 20s, Lauren Buglioli stood on the threshold of a dream. A triple threat who had trained at the Lee Strasberg school and acted alongside Wesley Snipes in Unstoppable, as well as on British sitcoms, she was close to inking a contract with the soap opera Guiding Light. Instead of that next step, Buglioli found herself in a hospital bed with double pneumonia....

    Concertmaster Jeffrey Multer will solo in Ludwig van Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in a series of concerts at the Straz Center, Mahaffey Theater and Ruth Eckerd Hall from Dec. 2-4.
  6. Stage planner: 'Into the Woods,' Havana Cuba All-Stars, an AIDS memorial



    As a singer in the chorus at Tampa's Blake High, Bonne Kramer performed at what is now the Straz Center. Kramer went on to graduate magna cum laude from the University of Tampa's musical theater program in 2003 and has been a working actor ever since. She returns to the Straz as a performer Tuesday, where she'll play two roles in Into the Woods, the James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim musical....

    The Havana Cuba All-Stars bring an explosive mix of congas, cajons, guitars, trombones, trumpets and percussion in the group’s debut U.S. tour.
  7. Stage Planner: iLuminate breaks it down at the Straz, orchestra salutes Gilbert and Sullivan



    Most high schools didn't offer break dancing instruction in the early 2000s. Kids hungry to learn couldn't get help at dance studios or the local rec center either.

    So they turned to the only source they had: each other.

    In Tampa, a small group of aspiring dancers included Simon Mendoza, who attended Riverview High. He returns to the area Sunday as part of the dance group iLuminate. The troupe, which combines hip-hop dance with surrealistic suits that glow in the dark, broke through on America's Got Talent in 2011 and has been touring ever since....

    Simon Mendoza plays Lt. Bob with the iLuminate dance troupe, and is a featured act on the Harlem Globetrotters tour. Courtesy of Simon Mendoza.
  8. Florida Orchestra connects sea-themed works, old and new


    TAMPA — The Florida Orchestra has paid tribute to the big guns of music, with Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 and Mozart's Jupiter Symphony so far this year, with Mahler and Tchaikovsky yet to come.

    Between such no-brainers in the Masterworks series, the orchestra sometimes works in a "concept concert," performances built around a theme. This weekend's Songs of the Sea: Britten, Elgar and Debussy is a prime example. Friday's opening at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts rolled out four works inspired by oceans, both literal and personal. Musicians and music director Michael Francis, who conceived and conducted the concert, seemed especially on point in delivering a message that was uniquely theirs, and uniquely ours....

  9. Daughter's words live on in composition, 'The Work at Hand'


    Of four works on this weekend's Florida Orchestra program, Songs of the Sea: Britten, Elgar and Debussy, only three are actually about oceans. And they were an afterthought.

    The piece inspired the concert, The Work at Hand, by American composer Jake Heggie, grew out of an unpublished poem about cancer. Its author, Laura Morefield, died at 50 in 2011, of colon cancer.

    On Friday, Morefield's mother will attend the concert at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. Charlene Baldridge, 82, also watched the piece debut last year in Carnegie Hall, then with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. ...

    Months before her death, Laura Morefield sent her poem, The Work at Hand, to composer Jake Heggie, who set it to music. Courtesy of Charlene Baldridge.
  10. Stage Planner: Florida Orchestra's Songs of the Sea; Veterans Day benefit from Heather Theatre



    Some of the Florida Orchestra's most interesting concerts have come about through inspiration, grouping a few pieces together to form an image. A good example is the performance this weekend, Songs of the Sea: Britten, Elgar and Debussy.

    "The orchestra can unite the bay in a very powerful way," said Michael Francis, the orchestra's music director, who lives in Hillsborough County. The concert runs the same weekend as the Blue Ocean Film Festival, which showcases environmental documentaries, Francis noted....

    The On the Bench cast includes, from left, Darren Constantine, Holly Swain and Carrie Drazek.
  11. Review: 'Curious Incident' delivers unusual theater in several dimensions


    TAMPA — Watching The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is like going for a run when you're out of shape. Muscles of imagination grumble at being reawakened before they feel refreshed.

    The hit play, now at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, is easy to enjoy but not to explain. Its staging combines bare-set minimalism with sophisticated visual design. The dialogue of its central character, the brilliant but troubled Christopher Boone, jumps from the tiniest observations of the physical world to the mathematical formulas that hold it together....

    Adam Langdon, foreground, stars as Christopher, a teen who struggles to express himself.
  12. Review: Violinist Benjamin Beilman electrifies at Florida Orchestra concert


    TAMPA — A young violinist got the crowd leaping to its feet, and the Florida Orchestra celebrated three innovative composers on Friday with Mozart's "Jupiter'' symphony.

    A nearly full Morsani Hall, at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, took in the performance of Benjamin Beilman, who walked on stage with a 1731 Stradivarius violin, out of which he managed to get some really uncommon sounds. Beilman, 26, has been on a fast track to musical fame and is surely on the verge of being recognized as a top-tier performer....

    Benjamin Beilman performs Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Florida Orchestra. The concert will be repeated tonight.
  13. 'The Voice' finalist Shalya Fearing, Opera Tampa singers at free Straz Live! concert Sunday


    TAMPA -- The Buccaneers have already played, and there is no remaining excuse to stay inside on what looks to be a spectacular Sunday. Straz Live! in the Park, a free outdoor concert, looks to outdo previous years with a star-studded lineup from 3 to 5 p.m. at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.

    Performers include singers from the Broadway production of Wicked, Opera Tampa singers and The Voice finalist Shalyah Fearing, who hails from the Patel Conservatory. Picnic lunches encouraged, food trucks will be available. Activities start at 1:30 p.m....

    Opera Tampa singers to perform at Straz Live!
  14. Interview: Adapting 'A Curious Incident' brought out the best in playwright Simon Stephens


    TAMPA — A boy with amazing gifts and social setbacks becomes obsessed with the murder of a neighbor's dog. He undertakes a Sherlock Holmes sort of investigation.

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which opens Tuesday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, has been acclaimed for its electrifying portrayal of an unusual mind. A novel by Mark Haddon, on which the play is based, had done the same....

    Alex Sharp as Christopher Boone, a brilliant but antisocial 15-year-old, in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, coming to Tampa next week.
  15. Stage Planner: 'Curious Incident' coming to Straz Center, Florida Orchestra shows and tickets



    The journey from hit Broadway play to theaters near you is often a long one. Hamilton won't make it to most of the 18 cities on its current tour schedule until fall 2017 at the earliest, with none closer to the Tampa Bay area than Atlanta.

    After cleaning up since its debut in London in 2012, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time opened on Broadway in 2014. That garnered a 2015 Tony Award for best play. The U.S. tour, which started in September, comes Tuesday to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. It runs through Nov. 13....

    Playwright Simon Stephens adapted Mark Haddon’s novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.