TAMPA — As if Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr. isn't full of enough glitter and glamor, co-director Scott Daniel's birthday made the set even sweeter.
Tiaras, cupcakes and wrapped presents lined the front of the Ferguson Hall stage at the David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts. Running off a sugar high, the cast in grades 5 to 8 and the crew rehearsed in the larger hall, while their set was being constructed in the TECO Theater for opening night....
It's no coincidence that when customers walk in to a PDQ restaurant, there is a family-friendly atmosphere.
From the never-frozen food to the interactive ordering, everything is geared toward creating a relaxing yet quick dining experience.
So it should come as no surprise that the CEO of MVP Holdings, the company that owns PDQ, Lee Roy Selmon's, Glory Days Grill and the new Wow! That's Fresh, is a down-to-earth family man himself. ...
Hairspray takes its high school characters, their parents and the town on a journey of self-discovery.
With its 1960s themes about gender, stereotypes and race, Hairspray took the Patel Conservatory students preparing to perform the musical at the Straz Center on a similar journey.
"It's weird doing the show because we have been working on all the numbers all the time, but the black and white cast members are never in the room at the same time," said Blake High student Regan Moore, who plays Amber Von Tussle, the archnemesis of lead character Tracy Turnblad. "We are only in one song together and that's the last song, so it's been funny and kind of interesting....
The ballerinas in Next Generation Ballet's performance of Sleeping Beauty in Ferguson Hall at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts devote their lives to dance.
Only 15, they are already turning their dreams into reality, though it's no easy feat.
"If you want to be serious, you have to give up things in your life other kids our age have, but it's what we love to do," said Hannah Stanford, a 15-year-old who lives in South Tampa....
LUTZ — Ryan Santello, 17, traded in his figure skates for cowboy boots to take on the role of Curley in the Patel Conservatory's presentation of Oklahoma!, which opened Thursday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.
And his sister, Victoria Santello, 15, will join him as part of the dance ensemble.
Though they love theater now, the ice was the first stage for the Santello siblings, who live in Lutz. They were attending a birthday party at an ice rink 11 years ago when they discovered their hidden skating talent....
04/25/14 Human Interest
Just past the farms and grazing horses in Lutz sits one little house that serves as a haven to grieving children.
The Suncoast Kid's Place, founded by the Van Dyke Church, provides a place where children can feel safe and open up about the death of their loved ones.
Bright pinks, blues and greens with rainbows, flowers and teddy bears fill each of the six rooms.
One room is dedicated to play, with a basketball hoop and ping-pong, air hockey and foosball tables. ...
03/19/14 Human Interest
From the back kitchen of a mom-and-pop grocery store to an Ybor City restaurant and to a now-booming food truck business, the best Cuban sandwich in Tampa has come a long way.
Michelle Faedo's On the Go food truck has won first place in the traditional category in the Cuban Sandwich Festival competition for the past two years, and will compete again Saturday and Sunday in the third annual event....
03/07/14 Human Interest
Following in his father's footsteps, leading sermons, would have seemed the obvious future for the Rev. Dr. Bartholomew Banks Sr. Naturally, he would help the community, preach on Sundays and take seniors on trips to the Florida Strawberry Festival. But, his career didn't start behind the pulpit. It started from behind a calculator when he was a University of South Florida student in the early '70s. While studying for his bachelor's degree in accounting, a diploma that would only accumulate dust on a shelf, Banks needed a way to make extra money. The self-trained organist answered a job opening at St. John Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, where he found his calling. Nurtured by the pastor, he climbed the church ranks from organist to becoming a pastor himself. In the sparse free time he has between juggling his church duties and his responsibilities as the director of Aging Services for Hillsborough County, he still enjoys playing the organ and watching black-and-white films that remind him of simpler times. He recently spoke with Times staff writer Arielle Waldman....
02/28/14 Human Interest
Drawing from her multiple performing experiences in front of hundreds at the Patel Conservatory at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts has helped 9-year-old Ashlyn Lopez master a role that will be viewed by millions this week.
Lopez, who lives in Lithia, portrays Young Nadia Petrova on an episode of CW's The Vampire Diaries that airs Thursday locally on WTOG-Ch. 44....
TAMPA — In a way, the Gorilla Theatre's journey has been as much an epic narrative as An Iliad, its show that debuted last weekend.
When the theatre's last living founder, Aubrey Hampton, passed away in 2011, the 23-year company's funding went with him. That year also saw the theatre leave its home in Drew Park and begin a search for new places to perform.
However, the challenges didn't halt productions. With the help of directors, including Bridget Bean and President Sandra Lynne Locher, they formed a new board of members and began raising funds independently....
From books to television to the big screen, producers always wrap the classic tales of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in mystery and wit.
Rarely, though, has the detective duo's portrayal been as laugh-out-loud funny as Jobsite Theater's The Hound of the Baskervilles, running through Feb. 2 at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts' Shimberg Playhouse.
Adapted by Peepolykus and Steven Canny, this Holmes mystery unravels on a simple set with a trio of male actors. Giles Davies plays Holmes, along with a number of other characters, David Jenkins portrays Dr. Watson, and Shawn Paonessa handles the role of Sir Henry Baskerville. ...
12/11/13 Visual Arts
TAMPA — Robert Butler, 70, sat next to a Folgers can full of paintbrushes, sipping his mint tea, surrounded by paintings crafted by him and his children.
One depicts a teacher with her students in front of a U.S. flag and another captures the image of a boy dressed in overalls, working over a wooden table.
The majority of the artwork, however, shared the same theme, what propelled Butler to where he is today: Florida landscapes....
11/15/13 Human Interest
Dan Jurman knew the workload that comes with helping a community in need. He knew the troubling statistics relating to health, economy and safety. He knew there were families to help, kids to feed and diseases to fight. His knowledge was personal — he grew up in a similar poverty-stricken neighborhood. • As executive director of the University Area Community Development Corp. since January 2012, Jurman, 43, brings people together to work toward a common goal of helping the 3.4-square-mile area west of the University of South Florida in Tampa. He wants to make changes that last through the use of youth programs, housing and more facilities, training, planning and support. • To that end, he's able to rely on community resources including the University of South Florida, surrounding business and hospitals to make a difference at the UACDC (uacdc.org). • But Jurman hopes his passion will make the most impact. • He recently spoke with Tampa Bay Times staff writer Arielle Waldman about his vision for the corporation and the neighborhood, and Magic Johnson's September media conference at the center to promote greater health access for HIV/AIDS patients. ...
11/12/13 Human Interest
Saudi and Shalyah Fearing were driving around with their parents when they saw the big purple letters of the Patel Conservatory at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts and decided they wanted to check it out.
The Hudson siblings had performed in shows and played in bands at Music Matters in New Port Richey, but it was time for a change.
The siblings received scholarships and began participating in Patel programs this summer. Shalyah's most recent performance was Ursula in The Little Mermaid Jr....
Shannon Magrane's American Idol journey came to an end in March 2012, throwing her back into reality.
She went from celebrity judges to teachers, from the glittery stage to a Blake High School classroom.
But life after Idol continues to be a fast-paced juggling act between musical stardom and academic pursuits for Magrane, now 18.
She balances writing, recording, ACT's and college prep with regular teenage stuff. She's making real-life decisions and planning her next step, whether it be college or making a full-time commitment to music. ...