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Andrew Meacham, Times Staff Writer

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

Email: ameacham@tampabay.com

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  1. String quartet that includes St. Petersburg native wins $100,000 prize

    Stage

    The Calidore String Quartet, which appeared at the Palladium in April and includes St. Petersburg native Ryan Meehan, has won the grand prize in a new music competition, the University of Michigan announced.

    The $100,000 M-Prize Chamber Music Competition drew 172 applications from 13 countries in Ann Arbor, Mich. Announced last October to recognize the best chamber music ensembles, the M-Prize is among the largest in the world in prize money and number of applications, the university said in a statement. ...

    The Calidore String Quartet.
  2. Review: 'If/Then' is a mixed bag, long on concept, short on substance

    Stage

    TAMPA — I am feeling ambivalent about If/Then, which runs through the weekend at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. We are talking about an original musical that takes on a few big questions and tries to answer them. That is bold and commendable.

    That the result teases and hints more than it delivers; that its characters are not especially believable; that it remains more of a cerebral exercise than the heart-twisting meditation on fate and love and passion it seemingly strives to be, makes seeing it either a confusing work-in-progress forced onto the stage or a perfectly respectable piece of art worth a lingering look. The ambivalent impressions it leaves behind stem not from its central premise, but the priorities embraced by Brian Yorkey, who wrote the book, in telling these twin stories. ...

    In If/Then, Elizabeth (Jackie Burns, center) must choose whether to stay with a friend (Tamyra Gray) or leave with Lucas (Anthony Rapp), an annoyingly endearing activist. 
  3. Stage Planner: 'Two Thirds Home' held over, orchestra does Rachmaninoff, 'Undateable' Ron Funches at the Improv

    Stage

    HELD OVER: TWO THIRDS HOME

    One of the newer local theaters is getting traction with an intense family drama. Two Thirds Home by Padraic Lillis has been held over an extra weekend. The intimacy of the 35-seat theater, tucked into a mall on W Hillsborough Avenue, works well, said Ward Smith, right, artistic director of the Heather: a Theatre Company and this show's director....

    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 16:  Marlon Wayans attends the NBCUniversal 2016 Upfront Presentation on May 16, 2016 in New York, New York.  (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images) 639508693
  4. Stroke of fate brought writer, composer of 'If/Then' together

    Stage

    TAMPA — Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt, the writer and composer team, obviously were made for each other.

    The pair won a Pulitzer for drama in 2010 for Next to Normal, a musical they created about bipolar disorder. They followed up with If/Then, another musical made from scratch that won a Tony nomination for Best Original Score, plus a nomination for star Idina Menzel.

    Now If/Then, a story about choices and the consequences of going one way or the other, is coming to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. It stars Jackie Burns, the Broadway standby for Menzel for both If/Then and Wicked. It also stars Anthony Rapp from the original Broadway cast of RENT and Tamyra Gray from American Idol....

    Writer and lyricist Brian Yorkey (left) shares a laugh with composer Tom Kitt during a rehearsal of If/Then, which they wrote. Photo by Matthew Mur.
  5. Stage Planner: Workshop with Broadway playwright, 'If/Then' opens, 'RuPaul's Drag Race' alums perform

    Stage

    TWO ROADS DIVERGE: IF/THEN

     

    The popular Broadway musical, If/Then, with a splashy song list and intriguing premise, comes to the Straz Center. Jackie Burns, the standby for Idina Menzel on Broadway, plays the lead role of Elizabeth, an urban planner who has moved back to New York for a fresh start. It also stars Anthony Rapp from the original Broadway cast of RENT and Tamyra Gray from American Idol....

    Michelle Visage, 46, a singer, radio host and judge for Logo TV's RuPaul's Drag Race will host the live show at The Ritz Ybor on March 31.
  6. Opera singer Vanessa Rodriguez directs students in 'Mary Poppins'

    Blog

    The cast and crew of Mary Poppins, a musical performed by home schooled students through DeArmon Creative Arts School and Theater (CAST), are feeling more than a spoonful of joy over their run, which concludes this weekend.

    The show features mostly high school students, but a few middle schoolers play roles as well. DeArmon CAST is a nonprofit organization that provides creative arts education in a Christian environment for home schooled kids. It’s founder, Sharon DeArmon, is directing Mary Poppins....

    Students of DeArmon CAST perform Mary Poppins, the musical.
  7. Students "elated" midway through run of 'Mary Poppins'

    Blog

    The cast and crew of Mary Poppins, a musical performed by home schooled students through DeArmon Creative Arts School and Theater (CAST), are feeling more than a spoonful of joy over their run, which concludes this weekend.

    The show features mostly high school students, but a few middle schoolers play roles as well. DeArmon CAST is a nonprofit organization that provides creative arts education in a Christian environment for home schooled kids. It’s founder, Sharon DeArmon, is directing Mary Poppins....

  8. 'The Great Gatsby' and 'Avenue Q' highlight Stageworks' 2016-2017 lineup

    Stage

    TAMPA — Stageworks Theatre will offer a blend of suspense and camp, probing discontent and a throwback to Tampa's wrestling past in its 2016-2017 season.

    The theater, tucked into an intimate space above Powerhouse Gym on Kennedy Boulevard and Meridian Avenue, opens with Psycho Beach Party (Oct. 6-23), by Charles Busch. This campy throwback to 1962, billed as "Beach Blanket Bingo meets Sybil," casts a Malibu surf set as unwitting victims of "Chicklet Forrest," the tomboy who wants to fit in with them. Unfortunately for them, she suffers from multiple personality disorder. Her alters include a checkout girl, a radio talk show host, a male model, an accounting firm, and a "sexually voracious vixen" who wants to take over the world....

  9. Review: 'Broadway Bound' is Neil Simon at his best, with powerful performances

    Stage

    TAMPA

    Sometimes the most ambitious thing a writer can do is just to tell the truth about something.

    This season, Stageworks Theatre has taken audiences to prison (Lights Rise on Grace), confronted them with the seemingly hopeless struggles of the disenfranchised (In the Blood), made them laugh (Sylvia) and invited them to reflect on timeless questions (Inherit the Wind). Promising new playwrights might get a shot here, and the voiceless are sure to be represented....

    Broadway Bound is the third and final of Neil Simon’s autobio-graphical “Eugene trilogy,” tracing the playwright’s roots through his emergence as a comedy writer.
  10. Review: For better and for worse, 'Silent Sky' challenges audiences

    Stage

    TAMPA — The work of astronomer Henrietta Leavitt changed the way scientists looked at the night sky. Despite conditions that can only be described as sexist, Leavitt eventually earned recognition for her discoveries, upon which Edwin Hubble and others built to prove the existence of other galaxies.

    A recent play, Silent Sky, celebrates Leavitt's life and work against a backdrop of limited roles for women. The play by Lauren Gunderson makes its Florida premiere at Tampa Repertory Theatre. Like most of the theater's productions, this one directed by Connie LaMarca-Frankel explores meaningful territory in a serious way. This is not fluff....

    In Tampa Rep’s Silent Sky, Emilia Sargent, left, uncovers the layers of cerebral astronomer Henrietta Leavitt with Karissa Barber as her sister, Margaret.
  11. Stage Planner: Stageworks with Neil Simon, Florida Orchestra does the Police

    Stage

    BROADWAY BOUND: GOTTA DO NEIL

    Sometime last fall, Stageworks Theatre producing artistic director Karla Hartley announced the season's lineup before a performance and mentioned Broadway Bound. I can't remember exactly how she introduced the play that opens this weekend, sandwiched between Inherit the Wind and 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche, but it sounded something like, "We're doing Neil Simon, because why not? It's Neil Simon." Which got a chuckle from the crowd....

    Photo  by Desir?ˆš??e Fantal. Emilia Sargent (left) plays astronomer Henrietta Leavitt and Karissa Barber plays her sister, Margaret Leavitt, in Tampa Repertory Theatre's Silent Sky.
  12. Review: 'The Maids' serves up a potent brew of love, abuse and betrayal

    Stage

    TAMPA — The Maids, Jean Genet's superior piece of art, still wears well.

    The 90-minute one-act, which opened in 1947 in Paris, keeps getting performed because the issues it raises remain touchy and up-to-the-minute. The current production at Jobsite Theater is a straightforward representation of Genet's work, with good results.

    Inspired by a true story, the story centers on two servants who conspire to kill their employer, a wealthy older woman. In the meantime, they take turns wearing her clothes and role playing with each other. The women are also sisters who exude a strong sexual attraction for each other, at least when they are playing games laced with anger and submission, abuse and revenge....

    The story in The Maids at Jobsite Theater centers on two servant sisters (Georgia Mallory Guy as Solange, Katrina Stevenson as Claire) who conspire to kill their employer.
  13. Review: Freefall's 'Mr. Burns' devolves into the abstract, masquerading as deep

    Stage

    ST. PETERSBURG — Like any other transaction, going to the theater implies a contract, a quid pro quo.

    The seller promises to deliver certain merchandise in exchange for cash. Unlike, say, Sears, performing arts do not guarantee your satisfaction, and may intentionally try to undermine those notions. In the best of circumstances, that is because they regard part of their product as educational, and learning is not always pleasant....

    Photo by Allison Davis. Christopher Rutherford plays Mr. Burns in Freefall Theatre's production of Mr. Burns: A Post-electric Play.
  14. Review: Florida Orchestra takes on Beethoven's 'Eroica' with passion and purpose

    Stage

    TAMPA — The suffering artist is a cliché. It's tempting to dismiss, because dismissing a cliché sounds smart and we love to sound smart.

    But there is no way to listen to Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 in E Flat Major, better known as the Sinfonia Eroica, and not connect its tenderness and shattering intensity with events in the composer's life. Friday night at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, the Florida Orchestra took on the Eroica, a symphony that changed the way the public understood music, as it nears the close of the season. It is a reverent and serious interpretation with which I can find no fault....

    Michael Francis, who opened the season with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3), conducts the Florida Orchestra in Beethovan’s Eroica for his last concert this season.
  15. Review: 'Beautiful: The Carole King Musical' makes the Earth move at the Straz

    Stage

    TAMPA — Nostalgia is a powerful draw. You would expect a musical about one of the baby boomers' most beloved singer-songwriters to fill the house, as Beautiful: The Carol King Musical did Tuesday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.

    The story is about much more than King, of course, known to younger boomers for her breakout album Tapestry, still one of the top sellers of all time. The book by Douglas McGrath and Broadway production directed by Mark Bruni is mostly a prequel to her stardom, an inspirational tale for a generation that believes one door closing means another will soon open. Like nearly all historical drama, this one cuts a few corners (characters are introduced and phase out in ways that enhance the story line) and softens edges, perhaps to avoid legal entanglements with the living. ...

    Curt Bouril, Ben Fankhauser, Abby Mueller and Becky Gulsvig star in 'Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.' Photo by Joan Marcus.