Arielle Waldman, Times Staff Writer

Arielle Waldman

Arielle Waldman traded in the chilly New England winters for the Tampa sunshine in 2007, when she moved to attend the University of Tampa. Now, she is an editorial assistant covering the Things To Do section and a staff writer reporting on human interest stories.

Phone: (813) 226-3321



  1. Confident, humble Brandon teen stars at Patel Conservatory


    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....

    Alexa Lowrey plays Millie Dillmount in Thoroughly Modern Millie Jr. “She came to the table with who she thought Millie was,” director Scott Daniel said of Alexa’s audition.
  2. Love of food, football line career track of Jesuit alum


    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. ...

    MVP Holdings principal and Outback Steakhouse co-founder Bob Basham, left, and MVP CEO Nick Reader open a PDQ on S Dale Mabry in Tampa in late 2011. Reader says he worked in the restaurant every day for six months. “I did everything. They would tell you I didn’t do well, but I thought I was really good.”
  3. 'Hairspray' debuts at Straz with cast having learned a history lesson


    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....

    Regan Moore, who plays Amber Von Tussle, rehearses for Hairspray, which debuts tonight at the Straz Center.
  4. Next Generation Ballet dancers can't sleep on starring roles


    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....

    Katarina Smith, 15, is a Next Generation Ballet dancer who will perform in the production. “It’s good to learn the story of Sleeping Beauty, because it’s classic,” she said.
  5. Steinbrenner High siblings head to 'Oklahoma!'


    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....

  6. Lutz facility helps kids cope with grieving

    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. ...

    Tiles decorated by kids who lost a loved one are some of the art projects at the Suncoast Kid’s Place. To learn more about the facility, go to or call (813) 990-0216. 
  7. Michelle Faedo aims for three-peat at Cuban Sandwich Festival

    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....

    Michelle Faedo prepares her claim to fame in her food truck at Lykes Gaslight Square Park on a recent Wednesday.
  8. The Rev. Dr. Bartholomew Banks Sr. juggles county, church jobs

    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....

    The Rev. Dr. Bartholomew Banks Sr. fulfills his passion for helping people as pastor of St. John Progressive Missionary Baptist Church and director of Aging Services for Hillsborough County. Banks earned an accounting degree at the University of South Florida.
  9. Lithia girl makes TV debut on Vampire Diaries

    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....

    Ashlyn Lopez, 9, performs Thursday in a dress rehearsal for the play Joust! at the Patel Conservatory at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa.
  10. Gorilla Theatre's journey moves forward with An Iliad


    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....

    Actor Brendan Ragan stars as the Poet in Gorilla Theatre’s adaptation, An Iliad. 
  11. Review: 'Hound' at the Straz is a pack of laughs


    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. ...

    David Jenkins, from left, Giles Davies and Shawn Paonessa star in this goofy adaptation of the celebrated Holmes story.Davies, with seven roles, is a standout.
  12. Famed Florida Highwayman stages benefit for Community Stepping Stones

    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....

    Butler says of his method: “I start with the sky, then think, ‘Where am I in Florida?’ ”
  13. University Area Community Development is a growing force

    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 ( • 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. ...

    Dan Jurman poses with basketball legend Magic Johnson after a media event in September. Jurman is the executive director of the University Area Community Development Corp. Johnson spoke at the center about increasing health care access for HIV/AIDS patients.
  14. Hudson siblings star in latest production at Patel Conservatory

    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....

    Shalyah, 13, rehearses with the members of her cast. Along with acting, Shalyah plays the piano and sings.
  15. Novemberfest brings former 'Idol' singer Shannon Magrane to Brandon


    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. ...

    Shannon Magrane of Blake High School performs tonight.