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. ...
It's 7:15 on a Saturday morning in Hazlet, N.J.
The Beneventos sit in the beer-can littered living room of their small row house, speaking with Det. Robert Williams. The 23-year-old blue-eyed mother is dressed in a black shirt, black leggings and black slip-on shoes, appropriate given the circumstances.
The father, who is even younger than the mother, wears a white tank top, a backward hat and jeans that hang a little too low. They hold their heads in their hands, sharing the same worried yet lifeless expression. The detective begins asking questions, going over every detail of the previous night — the night their 4-year-old daughter went missing. ...
Mobile desks, interactive whiteboards, high-definition projectors, sound-reflecting panels, friction-resistant floors. And enough bandwidth capable of supporting 999 devices.
Those are among the features in Tampa Preparatory School's renovated 6,400-square-foot wing dedicated to the study of careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, popularly referred to as STEM. The renovations cost between $500,000 and $600,000....
TAMPA — Queen Cleopatra, a pair of ancient Mayan twins, Ptolemy and a fourth-grader from the year 2061 time-traveled on the TECO Theater stage.
They sang about stars, books and science. Cleopatra shared her astronomical theory that monkeys make the stars and planets revolve. The Mayan twins shared their thought that jaguars held up the sky. Ptolemy asserted his theory that everything revolved around the emperor....
The clash of drums, the soul of the saxophone and the vibration of the guitar strings filled the University of South Florida School of Music classroom.
Five young musicians racked their brains trying to create a song for Bruce Springsteen.
The only problem? Not one was very familiar with his work. They each had their own music style, reflected in their wardrobe choices: the guitarist tapping his bright orange Vans and the pianist rocking sunglasses like the greats....
08/07/13 Public Safety
Deputy's canine partner eases into retirement
When you're working in bomb detection, a dog really is a deputy's best friend.
Just ask sheriff's Deputy Jason Allen, who works with Chino, a German shepherd/Malinois mix who is easing into retirement this month.
"When I get ready in the morning and put on my uniform he gets so excited and jumps in the car," Allen said of their relationship....
TAMPA — Only a month into his freshman year at Jesuit High School, Dominic Kynkor sat across from Nick Suszynski, director of development, with a proposal to complete an iPhone app for the school.
"I've never been approached by a freshman who was so confident," Suszynski said with pride.
Dominic knew the school was having trouble creating a mobile app, so he took over.
"Creating apps just sounded interesting and I've always been good with computers," said Dominic, 15....
07/17/13 Human Interest
On a bare wood set, just a week into the Summer Intensive Program at the Straz Center's Patel Conservatory, students already had brought Little Shop of Horrors to life.
The Doo Wop girls hit their high notes in athletic clothes and heels while the man-eating plant lurked in Mr. Mushnick's florist shop. They practice their numbers, calling out lines when needed, which isn't very often....