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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. Freefall's 'Red Velvet' tells remarkable true story of Ira Aldridge, who changed theater


    ST. PETERSBURG — Jose Rufino earned a master's degree in theater without hearing of Ira Aldridge, the character he portrays in Red Velvet starting this weekend at Freefall Theatre.

    Lolita Chakrabarti's play tells the true story of the first black professional actor to play the title role in Othello. Born in New York in 1807, Aldridge moved to England in his early 20s and became one of Europe's most celebrated actors. Austrian emperor and arts maven Franz Josef I was a fan, as were the royalty who knighted Aldridge....

    Jose Rufino plays Ira Aldridge, the first black professional actor to play Othello, in Freefall Theatre’s production of Red Velvet. 
Photo by Thee Photo Ninja
  2. Stage Planner: St. Pete Jazz Festival at the Palladium, STOMP at Ruth Eckerd, Freefall opens 'Red Velvet'





    For jazz lovers, the big kahuna in recent decades has been the Clearwater Jazz Holiday. But the Palladium is making a run at bringing St. Petersburg into that conversation. The St. Pete Jazz Festival runs through Tuesday, bringing a range of acts over the weekend, from a hat tip to Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie to drumming and personal wellness....

  3. Calm of Debussy and Duruflé surrounds the storm of Beethoven's Symphony No. 2


    TAMPA — The latest offering by the Florida Orchestra begins with dewdrops and ends on a whisper. Between 20th century compositions by Claude Debussy and Maurice Duruflé bursts Ludwig van Beethoven, like an intruder yanking out all the drawers in the house and smashing everything that can be smashed.

    This season's Masterworks lineup emphasizes French and Russian romanticism. Performances of Debussy's Danse sacrée et danse profane and Duruflé's Requiem for Chorus, Orchestra and Organ, temper the effects of Beethoven's Symphony No. 2, while showcasing a stellar talent in harpist Anna Kate Mackle and the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay....

    Harpist Anna Kate Mackle led the orchestra in Debussy’s Danse sacr?e et danse profane.
  4. Stage Planner: Beethoven, Bodytraffic and 'Forbidden Broadway' at the Straz





    Every job has its drudgery. Truckers have traffic jams. Lawyers have paperwork. Politicians have to shake hands and smile when they don't want to. No one feels especially sorry for them.

    Actors have costume changes. A cast of four in Forbidden Broadway, the parody revue at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, zip on and off stage at dizzying speeds, emerging seconds later in a new outfit, representing another big name on the hit list....

    Heather Krueger has joined the cast of Forbidden Broadway, the parody revue running through March at the Straz Center.
  5. Review: 'The Aliens' at Stageworks an authentic challenge to what we're used to


    TAMPA — It's always nice to see conventions broken successfully. The Aliens, now running at Stageworks Theatre, features elements for which young playwright Annie Baker has been celebrated, notably its use of smart, realistic dialogue and lifelike situations with a minimum of theatrical gimmicks. It's worth seeing.

    It begins in protracted silence, as two 30-something men lounge in a cramped, run-down alleyway behind a coffee shop. That lack of dialogue, at the very moment most playwrights would attempt to grab audiences by the shirt collar and demand their attention, hints at the sly confidence and humor to come. These are longtime buddies who complement each other, both in intelligence and brokenness. Jasper is a writer in the mold of a Kurt Cobain, a troubled underachiever and high school dropout....

    In The Aliens, two 30-something friends, KJ (Derrick Phillips, left) and Jasper (Chris Jackson), unexpectedly bond with a teenager, Evan (Franco Colon).
  6. Inventive staging of Rossini's 'Cinderella' gets lots of laughs for Opera Tampa


    TAMPA — Two hundred years after its debut, the satirical edge in Cinderella still feels fresh. Gioachino Rossini's opera throws out the magic, including the glass slipper and the fairy godmother, and turns romance into a bullied stepchild. A widower and his two daughters hit on all of the deadly sins, with the possible exception of sloth, attempting to force themselves into a higher social position. Even the befuddled prince is no match for most of the story....

    The cast of Opera Tampa’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s comic opera, Cinderella, features, from left, Johanna Fincher as Clorinda, Emily Righter as Angelina and Robyn Rocklein as Tisbe.
  7. 'Fun Home,' 'Waitress,' 'The Color Purple' and more coming to the Straz



    Something familiar, something peculiar, something for everyone.

    That's how the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts is rolling out its 2017-18 Broadway season. The venue starting in the fall will mix up straightforward romance with musicals that tell stories of Latino and African-American experience, with some Riverdance thrown in and recent hits coming back for an encore. Already one of the largest performing arts venues in the state, the Straz cements its claim as the dominant magnet for touring Broadway with 11 musicals, which its leadership hopes will cast a wider net for potential audiences....

    In On Your Feet!, the story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Ana Villafa plays Gloria. It opens Oct. 24.
  8. People still love being with Smokey Robinson


    ST. PETERSBURG – Compared with a couple of recent concerts for younger audiences, this crowd moved at three-quarter speed, gradually making their way through the lobby of the Mahaffey Theater to the $8 cups of wine or the $7 pizza slices, like tourists on a cruise ship, sure that everything would work out like it's supposed to if they were reasonable, the way things always had. 

    That's the difference between a Smokey Robinson crowd and whoever the young people are seeing now. These fans took their time, maybe because they were expecting a warm-up act, or for whatever reason felt no urgency. A half-dozen songs in, they were standing and cheering. ...

    Smokey Robinson performed at the Mahaffey Theater on Feb. 9, 2017.
  9. Interview: In troubled times, Dionne Warwick tells us what the world needs now


    Dionne Warwick walked on stage at the Bayfront Theater on Nov. 3, 1967, in a white sequined gown, and sang about love and harmony at a time when the world was coming apart.

    Warwick, 76, returns Sunday, a half-century after her first appearance at what is now the Mahaffey Theater.

    At the time, Vietnam, the Middle East and race relations at home had Americans on edge. Warwick, one of the most versatile and fluid singers anywhere, was 26 and on her way up. She had recorded 14 singles and was coming off a Lincoln Center appearance and a European tour....

    Dionne Warwick performs at the Mahaffey Theater on Sunday, nearly 50 years after her appearance at what was then the Bayfront Theater. 
Mahaffey Theater
  10. Ehnes Quartet pays tribute to Beethoven's genius


    ST. PETERSBURG – The Ehnes Quartet honored Ludwig van Beethoven on Wednesday in stirring fashion, playing three of the composer’s 16 quartets before a sizeable weekday crowd at the Palladium. 

     The visiting quartet performed the second concert in the Palladium’s chamber music season, which runs monthly through May. Grammy-winning violinist James Ehnes, violinist and former Florida Orchestra concertmaster Amy Schwartz Moretti, violist Richard O’Neill and cellist Edward Arron played quartets from Beethoven’s early, middle and late periods, showcasing a virtuosity that remains undiminished and unmatched. ...

    The Ehnes Quartet was co-founded in 2010 (from left) by James Ehnes, Amy Schwartz Moretti, Richard O'Neill, and Robert deMaine. Cellist Edward Arron moved into deMaine's place in 2016.
  11. Stage Planner: 'Cinderella' at Opera Tampa, Steve Martin and Martin Short, 'The Aliens' opens at Stageworks



    When she's not touring Europe or the United States, Emily Righter, right, gives concerts to support the homeless.

    So it's fitting the mezzo-soprano is singing the lead in Gioachino Rossini's Cinderella (or La Cenerentola, the Italian title), which turns on her treatment of a beggar in the opening scene. It's Opera Tampa's first production of the season. Angelina (the character name in Rossini's version) serves bread and coffee to the visitor, who is actually an envoy to the prince. Based on her current trajectory, Righter could wind up in some pretty elite circles of her own. She has consistently earned kudos for her vocal control and delivery, plus an attention to detail in embodying her roles, a result of talent and high standards....

    Comedians Steve Martin and Martin Short team up to present their variety show, “An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life,” at Ruth Eckerd Hall.
  12. Steve Martin, Martin Short bring one-two punchlines to Ruth Eckerd Hall



    From late-night talk shows to Saturday Night Live, movies and musicals, you've seen them together for decades. Steve Martin and Martin Short have more in common than their reciprocal names and multi-disciplinary comedic styles. They're also close friends and, for the last several years, partners in a variety show all their own.

    Martin and Short bring their show, "An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life," to Ruth Eckerd Hall Saturday, a quirky blend of comedy, standup, sketch comedy and reminiscences....

    Comedians Steve Martin and Martin Short team up Saturday to present “an evening you will forget for the rest of your life.” 
Ruth Eckerd Hall
  13. Review: 'Lend Me a Tenor' is a tough show to pull off, but Hat Trick has done it


    CLEARWATER — In case you didn't know what you were getting into seeing Lend Me a Tenor, a well-traveled farce that opened last weekend at Hat Trick Theatre, the six doors on the set should spell it out.

    This is going to be wall-to-wall hilarity and hijinks, so be ready. Ken Ludwig's complicated play is also difficult to pull off, so hats off to Ruth Eckerd Hall's resident theater company for giving it their all. Fortunately, praise for this show doesn't stop there. Even if mistaken identities, mildly racy bedroom situations and absurd situations aren't your thing, director Jack Holloway and the cast have succeeded where the options for failure are vastly more numerous or even likely....

    The cast of the Hat Trick Theatre’s Lend Me a Tenor includes Brianna Larson, left, as Maggie, David Barrow as the Bellhop, Brian Shea as Saunders and Roz Potenza as Julia.
  14. Itzhak Perlman thrills crowd at Florida Orchestra gala


    ST. PETERSBURG -- Itzhak Perlman wowed a packed Mahaffey Theater crowd with sweet renderings of film scores, delivered as only he can for a variety of reasons. Appreciative ticket holders at the Florida Orchestra's annual gala stood when the 71-year-old violinist took the stage in a motorized wheelchair, then used two canes to climb to the soloist's platform near conductor Michael Francis. ...

    Violinist Itzhak Perlman
  15. Review: Glitter and predictability aside, this musical at the Straz is 'Wicked' slick



    This year's touring stage extravaganza fumes with thigh-high fog, glitters like 10 tons of costume jewelry and screeches with prehistoric monkeys.

    Welcome to Oz, as envisioned by Wicked, a Broadway musical that sometimes looks like halftime at the Super Bowl. It's the season's heavy hitter at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, where the show runs through most of February. And like the Florida State Fair, which will run concurrently, this one came to town in semitrailers loaded with gaudy contraptions that can only move with the help of gears and pulleys....

    Amanda Jane Cooper plays Glinda and Jessica Vosk plays Elphaba in Wicked, the untold backstory of the witches of Oz.