Make us your home page

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


  1. Stage Planner: 'Kinky Boots' mirrors real life, catch these shows before they end



    You've heard of the musical Kinky Boots, which won six Tony awards in 2013. Perhaps you saw the 2005 movie. Both are "based on a true story." The Broadway show opens Tuesday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.

    But have you heard the story on which Kinky Boots is based?

    The hit musical comes with a lot of bells and whistles, including a Tony-winning original score by Cyndi Lauper. The story centers on Charlie Price, a fourth-generation owner of a struggling shoe factory. To save the factory, which sold quality men's shoes, he begins manufacturing flashy women's boots for drag queens....

    Costume designs for Kinky Boots earned a Tony nomination for Gregg Barnes.

Courtesy of the Straz Center.
  2. Audacious or feel-good? 'Kinky Boots' is a little of both


    Auditions for a new musical in Chicago started with a rough patch.

    Kinky Boots, preparing for its rollout three years ago, relies heavily on the costuming that is embedded in the message of the show. Specifically, this musical is about boots — shiny, thigh-high statements worn by men, whose mass and weight distribution often differ from those of women.

    It is also a show that uses drag queens to redefine what is natural. While it is hardly the first to do so (and was molded around a book by La Cage aux Folles author Harvey Fierstein), Kinky Boots also bears the weight of an overtly symbolic title. The men wearing those boots are drag performers, who strut and spin and pirouette on the stage....

    Costume designs for Kinky Boots earned a Tony nomination for Gregg Barnes.

Courtesy of the Straz Center.
  3. Stage Planner: 'The 39 Steps' at American Stage, Sinatra tribute and Sebastian Maniscalco



    Let's get this part out of the way first: This is a crazy plot.

    The 39 Steps, a spy thriller immortalized by Alfred Hitchcock and later turned into a stage comedy, is going to stay at least 39 steps ahead of you. Well, maybe just two or three — but enough to keep you on the edge of your seat and often laughing, if the folks at American Stage have anything to say about it....

    Richard Hannay gets an important message from a love interest in The 39 Steps, one of three characters played by Juliana Davis. Photo by Chad Jacobs.
  4. Florida Orchestra shines, but concert still all about violinist Tianwa Yang


    TAMPA — What makes a great violinist?

    Is it the quality of tone, superior interpretation, technical mastery, something else? Whatever that "It" factor is, Tianwa Yang has it, in the eyes of the music world. On Friday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, she showed why.

    The Beijing native, who at 13 became the youngest violinist to release recordings of the 24 Paganini caprices, is now a few years shy of 30 and still growing in critical acclaim. At the Straz, (with other performances Saturday in St. Petersburg and tonight in Clearwater) Yang led the Florida Orchestra in the Brahms' Violin Concerto, one the composer called his "most melancholic" work....

    Tianwa Yang joined the Florida Orchestra for three bay area performances, the final of which is tonight at Ruth Eckerd Hall.
  5. 'Movement love letter' aims to establish dance presence in St. Petersburg


    ST. PETERSBURG — As you glance over the weekend's events, you might want to note one that is different.

    More than an evening's entertainment, Beacon: A Performance Series for St. Pete, held Saturday at the Palladium, is part of an effort to start a dance company in St. Petersburg. The organizers, choreographers and dancers either live in the city or work here.

    The Palladium is co-sponsoring the event with St. Petersburg natives Helen Hansen French and Lauren Ree Slone, who also perform in the program....

    One of the first photos of Kisiri and her new female rhino calf, born Oct. 16 at Busch Gardens Tampa. [Busch Gardens Tampa photo]
  6. Review: Good 'Newsies' for lovers of Broadway musicals


    TAMPA — People who pay to see a musical aren't asking for much, other than to be entertained and maybe even intellectually engaged. Anything on top of that is a bonus.

    But sometimes a show surprises by hitting every angle — story, writing, acting, visual representation, music, dancing — and then some. Newsies, a touring Broadway production at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, is such a show....

    Associated Press
  7. Stage Planner: Chamber music and full orchestra, a St. Pete dance scene and 'The Glass Menagerie' at a glass studio



    The Palladium Chamber Players, a quartet that sometimes invites other musicians to perform with them, launches its third season Wednesday. The group was formed in 2013 by violinist Jeffrey Multer, the concertmaster for the Florida Orchestra.

    The quartet focuses on the classics — Brahms, Schubert, Dvorak, Mozart, Beethoven and the like — though sometimes with newer, shorter pieces mixed in....

    Violinist Tianwa Yang leads the Florida Orchestra’s Brahms Violin Concerto.
Courtesy of the Florida Orchestra
  8. 'Newsies' promises high-flying dancing around a David and Goliath story


    TAMPA — The characters in movies about labor unions might be noble or embittered or corrupt, but they typically have one thing in common.

    They are adults. That adultness was a quintessential part of their persona.

    Think of a scowling Lee J. Cobb in On the Waterfront, or Sally Field and those exhausted-but-not-defeated eyes as the title character in Norma Rae.

    But the real precursors of the labor movement had fresh faces, though sullied by the New York sidewalks where they sometimes slept or bloodied in fights. The newsboys strike of 1899, hundreds of boys as young as 6 to their teens, helped bring about an awareness of unfair working conditions, including child labor laws....

    The story centers on the boys who hawked newspapers on the streets in 1899, paying 50 cents to buy 100 copies of the New York World owned by Joseph Pulitzer or the New York Journal owned by William Randolph Hearst. 
Straz Center
  9. Cirque du Soleil launches 'Toruk,' an 'Avatar' prequel


    TAMPA — Imagine a mythical land far away, populated by exotic beings who move gracefully and can in magical things with their bodies.

    Sounds like Cirque du Soleil, right?

    Yet while Cirque may like mystical and subterranean worlds (see Varekai, the most recent tour), the level of originality guarantees you haven't seen this before. The latest creation is Toruk — The First Flight, a prequel to the James Cameron film Avatar, and it's coming to the Amalie Arena in March 2016....

    Cirque du Soleil has a new touring show, "Toruk — The First Flight."
  10. Stage Planner: Time for 'Newsies,' 'West Side Story,' Florida Orchestra performances



    West Side Story, with which the Asolo Repertory Theatre opens its season Nov. 13 (previews Tuesday, Wednesday and Nov. 12), appears to be in good hands. Joey McKneely, who is directing and choreographing the show, spent six months in 1989 working on the musical with Jerome Robbins, who conceived and choreographed it.

    "With West Side, the dancers have to be characters," McKneely told Time Out Chicago in 2011. "They actually have to act, and they have to carry the plot from dance to scene, back to dance, back to scene, interwoven. I think that challenges the dancers in a way they don't usually get challenged."...

    Michael Francis will conduct the Florida Orchestra in three concerts this weekend. Two musical interpretations of works by Edgar Allan Poe are driving the performances.
  11. Stage Planner: Orchestra plays Halloween Broadway pops, theaters resurrect the undead





    The Florida Orchestra is celebrating Halloween with music from Broadway and Hollywood. Halloween Pops on Broadway, with principal pops conductor Jeff Tyzik, features selections from Phantom of the Opera, Jekyll and Hyde, Sweeney Todd, Cats and Beauty and the Beast as well as tunes from Jaws, The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz and Pirates of the Caribbean....

    Freefall Theatre’s The Importance of Being Earnest with Zombies wraps up this weekend.
  12. Florida Orchestra celebrates the seasons with sweet strings


    TAMPA — Just as the summer might be relinquishing its grip (it doesn't like to let go), the Florida Orchestra offers a concert celebrating the change we are seeing and feeling in the air.

    Vivaldi's The Four Seasons for Violin, Strings and Continuo opened Friday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, led by violin soloist Lara St. John. It is a sensual feast, full of recognizable strains often heard during the holidays. The orchestra coupled the selections from Opus 8 of Antonio Vivaldi's concerto with selections by Johann Sebastian Bach and Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla....

    There was no need for a conductor Friday as violinist Lara St. John led the Florida Orchestra at the Straz Center in Tampa.
  13. Review: 'A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder' is fast-moving fun


    TAMPA — Some plays set out to make the audience think, to challenge conventions or just tell a good story.

    Musical comedies aim to lift the mood. They want to make you leave feeling better than when you came in.

    By that measure, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, which opened Tuesday at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, surpasses expectations. It's easy to see how the show won four Tony awards in 2014, including best musical. Gentleman's Guide is as lavish as the upper-crust British nobility it spoofs, a visual spectacle....

    Particularly extraordinary visual effects include a massive Dutch masters painting behind guests at a dinner table in the D’Ysquith estate.
  14. Stage Planner: Florida Orchestra plays Vivaldi, 'Gentleman's Guide' at the Straz



    Here are a few things you probably don't know about violinist Lara St. John, who will be playing in the Florida Orchestra's Vivaldi's The Four Seasons masterworks concert this weekend.

    For starters, the Canadian native got an early start, first soloing with an orchestra at age 4. To keep her practicing, her mother bribed her with toy dinosaurs. Now St. John is the proud owner of Baby Cain, a 4-foot iguana that wanders her home at will....

    Comedian Helen Keaney has performed on A&E’s An Evening at the Improv,” Lifetime’s Girls’ Night Out, and Comedy Central’s Make Me Laugh, among other venues.  [Photo courtesy of Erika Flaskamp]
  15. Review: 'Silence! The Musical' is solid and silly, also not for the faint of heart


    TAMPA — Silence! The Musical, the unauthorized parody of The Silence of the Lambs, which opened last weekend, will almost certainly be Jobsite Theater's splashiest show of the season, and its most controversial.

    This inventive take, with music and lyrics by Jon Kaplan and Al Kaplan, satirizes the movie based on book about a serial killer who makes dresses out of human skin. Advertising for this production, directed by Jobsite artistic director David Jenkins, describes itself as being for mature audiences, even warning the squeamish with an additional sign in the lobby of the Jaeb Theater. ...

    Ryan Sturm as Dr. Chilton surrounded by the chorus of Lambs (Heather Krueger, Caitlin Greene, Colleen Cherry, Nick Hoop, Spencer Meyers, and Jon VanMiddlesworth).