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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. Stage planner: Mini dinner theater, Florida Orchestra Brass Quintet, a comic opera



    Dinner and a show. It's not exactly a new idea. People like to eat and be entertained. Now an intimate European restaurant is pairing original one-act plays with dinner, courtesy of a group of community theater players.

    At least once a month, Gulfport's La Cote Basque reserves a room for Mary and Company, who perform before, during and after a three-course meal. ...

    Musicals written by composer Tom Sivak have been performed in New York, Chicago and around the country.
  2. St. Petersburg City Theatre struggles to climb out of debt


    ST. PETERSBURG — In April, St. Petersburg City Theatre was thinking ahead, preparing for the fall season of performances.

    Then the calls started.

    Staffers told Bruce Cook, then the theater's president, about getting calls from vendors wanting to be paid.

    "Utility bills, printing bills, that sort of thing" were all past due," Cook said. "That's when the red flags went up."...

    Hopeful signs have emerged for St. Petersburg City Theater after a fundraising blitz brought the debt down to $30,000.
  3. Theater directors evaluate the candidates' stagecraft


    Political conventions don't happen spontaneously. Strategists plan every detail, which makes those rare unscripted moments memorable.

    Sometimes that's disappointing. We want to feel moved, the way a play can transport us from everyday life. But neither the hackneyed oratory of vote-casting delegates nor most speeches can get us there.

    Acceptance speeches by the nominees are a little different. They represent the kickoff in our political Super Bowl. Contestants are each undertaking a high-stakes mission, the outcome of which depends partly on their motivation and character....

    Stephanie Gularte is the producing artistic director of American Stage Theatre Company.
  4. Stage Planner: Piano and trumpet at MFA St. Petersburg, comics Brad Williams, Ward Smith, Paul Venier





    It's been a little quiet lately. A few shows are running, but most performing arts venues are lying low, at least for another couple of weeks.

    It's a great time to appreciate one of our performing arts amenities, the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg. The museum's Music in the Marly series this weekend brings pianist Rachel Kudo and trumpeter Brandon Ridenour to the Marly room....

    Pianist Rachel Kudo, who made her orchestral debut at age 16, has performed at Carnegie Hall and numerous venues around Europe.
  5. Stage planner: Patel's 'Showstoppers,' Tampa playwrights in New York Fringe Festival



    Just how talented are Thursday's high school performers? One of the last shows of the summer season at the Patel Conservatory might provide answers.

    This weekend's Showstoppers: A Jukebox Musical Revue, created and choreographed by Scott Daniel, pushes a promising ensemble of members to the top of their game.

    A veteran of national Broadway tours and cruise ships, Daniel is perhaps better known in the Tampa Bay area as half of the Scott and Patti Show, a slick variety show with Matthew McGee. Showstoppers, which he also directs, serves up classics by Billy Joel, Queen, Carole King, Elvis Presley and the Four Seasons....

    Tampa Bay Theatre Festival founder Rory Lawrence, left, and actor Harry Lennix take a break during an intensive master class Lennix taught last year.
  6. Review: Freefall's futuristic 'Pirates of Penzance' will steal your heart


    ST. PETERSBURG — Good theater stretches the mind, makes us think on eternal delights and dilemmas in new ways. One of the hallmarks of Freefall Theatre, which is closing its season with Pirates of Penzance, is that it often prompts those experiences by repurposing tried and true works.

    The latest example, Freefall artistic director Eric Davis' adaptation of the Gilbert and Sullivan classic, is one of the most striking in a while. The concept alone feels like a giant leap for mankind, an exquisite mashup of a 19th century operetta with Star Trek culture, with 1960s go-go dancers thrown in. This musical changes all previous impressions of everything it touches, from the perfect iambic librettos of A.S. Gilbert to Star Wars and Star Trek irreverently mangled together. The result is silly and spectacular and fun....

    Kelly Pekar, left, and Hannah Benitez play Edith and Kate in Freefall Theatre’s adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance.
Courtesy of Allison Lynn Photography
  7. Balloon Boy family makes video supporting Donald Trump


    Say this for the Heenes, a cheery stage dad who with his wife and three sons have been promoting the "world's youngest heavy metal band" for a couple of years now: They are persistent.   

    The family, once at the center of the most notorious hoax in recent history, on Thursday uploaded an original song and video supporting the candidacy of Donald Trump.  ...

    The cast of "American Chilly" rehearses in a Hudson warehouse Monday, Oct. 12, 2015. From left is Bradford Heene, Greg Gebauer, Falcon Heene, Johnny Vegaz, (Dressed as a sheriff), Dean Pskowski, Jennifer Pskowski and Madeline Smyth. Behind the drums is Ryo Heene. American Chilly is a musical performance that features heavy metal music, acting and audience participation.
  8. Stage Planner: Junkyard percussion, 'Pirates of Penzance' in space, tickets on sale for Legend of Zelda concert



    If you check out Recycled Percussion on YouTube, it's impossible to avoid one conclusion: These guys are having fun.

    The foursome specializes in found percussion instruments, turning everything from paint buckets to car parts and the occasional oxygen tank into a riotous explosion of sound. These pioneers of "junk rock" regularly pass out pots and pans and sticks to the audience so they can bang along too....

    Freefall’s Pirates of Penzance features a spaceship twist. It stars, clockwise from top, Sara DelBeato as Ruth, Kaylin Seckel as Mabel, Hayden Milanes as the Pirate King and Nick Lerew as Fredric.
  9. With a five-year extension, Bill Edwards' company looks to expand Mahaffey programming


    ST. PETERSBURG — As the Mahaffey Theater refines its identity in Tampa Bay's performing arts landscape, mortgage magnate Bill Edwards will continue to run the show.

    In a new five-year contract with the city of St. Petersburg, Edwards' Big3 Entertainment will book the acts for the city-owned theater. The deal gives Edwards more autonomy over operations — for instance, the ability to sell naming rights for rooms within the theater. ...

    Amy Smith, Big3’s new vice president of programming and marketing, is expected to usher in a new era for the Mahaffey.
  10. Stage Planner: Florida Lyric Opera returns, kids take a bow, Dancing Dolls



    After a couple of years dark, the Florida Lyric Opera has reopened. The company, which traces its roots to some of the state's oldest efforts to establish opera, returns with Gaetano Donizetti's farce Viva la Mamma.

    It stars Katy Lindhart, who debuted earlier this year with Boston's Odyssey Opera, as a soprano in rehearsals for a serious opera. Baritone Stefanos Koroneos, an international performer, plays her stage-managing mother....

    Jeff Lluis performs in the opening of the Covadonga Comedy Show in Tampa.
  11. Review: 'The Pitmen Painters' digs into weighty subjects with a light touch


    ST. PETERSBURG — It isn't often someone even tries to accomplish what Lee Hall has done in writing The Pitmen Painters, a discussion of a serious subject — in this case art — built into a storyline people are meant to watch and enjoy.

    The show, with which American Stage closes its season, is therefore an ambitious undertaking. Five men take a course in art appreciation in the 1930s. That is the premise....

    Derrick Phillips, left, Ally Farzetta and Gavin Hawk star in American Stage’s production of The Pitmen Painters. 
Photo by Joey Clay.
  12. Ted Nugent plays guitar, stokes resentments


    CLEARWATER -- Apart from a boisterous few, the crowd nearly filling Ruth Eckerd Hall on Saturday to see rocker Ted Nugent seemed remarkably calm, even a little sedate at first. Many were regulars, their loyalty praised by Nugent, who has been passing through for decades. 

    Some wore American flag shirts, flag bandanas or even flag pants, the couture matching two flags on the stage and a gigantic flag backdrop that appeared as Nugent appeared in the fog, playing the National Anthem. Nugent loves America, a fact he underscored repeatedly over two very fast-paced hours. ...

    Ted Nugent performed Saturday at Ruth Eckerd Hall.
  13. Patel Conservatory names former Pinellas teacher new theater chairwoman


    TAMPA — Nancy Sears, who took several high school plays to the Florida State Thespian Festival and was twice nominated for Pinellas County Teacher of the Year, has been named the new theater chairwoman at the Patel Conservatory at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.

    Sears brings a career in theater to the position, from her days running the Los Angeles children's entertainment company she created to chairing theater programs in District 4 of Pinellas County Schools. The 21-year educator also coordinated college transfer auditions for the Florida Theatre Conference....

    Nancy Sears was twice nominated for Teacher of the Year.
  14. Stage planner: American Stage's 'The Pitmen Painters,' Scott and Patti, Bjorkestra



    Once again, Gregg Weiner performs at American Stage playing an artist. The Coral Springs actor, who turned heads last year with his portrayal of artist Mark Rothko in Red, is back at American Stage, playing a coal miner in The Pitmen Painters. The play by Tony winner Lee Hall is directed by Brendon Fox.

    The final play of the season for American Stage is based on a true story about a group of English miners in the 1930s who discovered a passion for art through a government education program. The painters, who had no formal education in art, became world sensations. ...

    From left, Derrick Phillips, Ally Farzetta and Gavin Hawk are cast members in American Stage’s production of The Pitmen Painters.
  15. Sarasota Improv Festival draws local and national talent


    SARASOTA — The Sarasota Improv Festival, a three-day event that brings in some of the biggest names in improvisational theater, kicks off Thursday at the Florida Studio Theatre.

    This weekend's main attractions include the Los Angeles-based Impro Theatre, which has taken its brand of spontaneous composition and performance worldwide; ImprovBoston, a staple of late night television and fount of inspiration for acclaimed comics, producers and directors; and North Coast Improv, named one of the top 10 best comedy shows by Time Out New York. ...

    Patrick Parhiala (front) from ImprovBoston performed at the festival in 2012. ImprovBoston, a staple of late-night television, will return to this year’s three-day event.