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Barbara L. Fredricksen, Times Staff Writer

Barbara L. Fredricksen

Barbara L. Fredricksen writes about the fine arts and performing arts in Pasco, Hernando and upper Pinellas counties. She joined the Times in 1986.

Phone: (727) 869-6262

Email: fredricksen@tampabay.com

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  1. Richey Suncoast Theatre reaches beyond traditional shows for 2015-16 season

    Stage

    NEW PORT RICHEY — For years, theaters — especially community theaters — have relied on tried-and-true classic musicals for their bread and butter. A Rodgers and Hammerstein (South Pacific, Carousel) or Lerner and Loewe (My Fair Lady, Camelot) favorite can fill seats (and coffers) as dependably as summer rain.

    But for the 2015-16 season, Richey Suncoast Theatre is breaking with that tradition, going with three relatively new and offbeat Broadway musicals that haven't been produced by RST or any other community theater nearby: the Mel Brooks comedy Young Frankenstein from 2007, the cheeky political satire Urinetown from 2001 and the parody of musicals themselves, The Drowsy Chaperone, which made its Broadway debut in 2006....

  2. REVIEW: Well-coached cast stands out in 'Whose Wives?' at Richey Suncoast Theatre

    Stage

    The first five sex comedies by playwright Michael Parker presented by Richey Suncoast Theatre had very similar setups: Philandering husbands somehow manage to get away from their trusting wives for a little hanky-panky, the wives show up and mayhem ensues. They're always good for big laughs and have been popular with audiences.

    Now comes something from Parker altogether opposite: two husbands who adore their wives, are totally faithful to them and would not even think about playing around with any other woman. In Whose Wives Are They Anyway?, all ambitious young company vice presidents John Baker (done with seriously contained outrageousness by Chris McGinnis) and David "Dave" McGachen (played with coolheaded conviction by Jason Hoolihan) want to do is have one last weekend of uninterrupted golf before the new president of their recently purchased cosmetics company arrives and the two have to spend every weekend working to impress him. They've even sent their wives (Ali Lagrant and Christine Stoll) off to New York for a fun weekend of shopping....

    MICHELE MILLER  |  Times
There's a little confusion over  who's married to who in the  production of  Michael Parker's comedy/farce, "Whose Wives Are They Anyway?" at the Richey Suncoast Theatre in New Port Richey. Pictured here are cast members Emily Nettnin Earle (left) as D.L. Hutchison and Chris McGinnis (right) as John Baker.
  3. Stage West's 'Mockingbird' holds attention with compelling performances, story

    Stage

    To Kill a Mockingbird is not an "action" play. It's a thought-provoking, often subtle, generally gentle play packed with bone-rattling themes and implications. It takes deft guidance and a perceptive cast to pull it off, and the production playing weekends through Jan. 25 at the Forum at Stage West Community Playhouse impresses mightily in both categories.

    Based on Harper Lee's 1960 book of the same name, Mockingbird revolves around a small-town attorney, his family and his neighbors in the town of Maycomb, Ala., before, during and after a 1935 trial of a black man, Tom Robinson (a splendidly convincing Steve Muriel) — casually, repeatedly and often loudly called "n - - - - -" by the populace. Tom has been wrongfully accused of raping a white woman, without one scintilla of physical evidence, and is fighting for his life....

    Isabel Cuevas (Scout) and Sam McCall (Atticus Finch) rehearse a scene from To Kill a Mockingbird recently at the Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill.
  4. Review: Voices, funny moments help make murder-mystery at Jimmy Ferraro's a success

    Stage

    Take a little schmaltz, some melodrama, a lot of hamming it up, add some truly fine voices and comical (over) acting, and you have Murder on the High C's, the audience interactive musical murder-mystery playing through Feb. 1 at Jimmy Ferraro's Studio Theatre.

    This is playwright David Craven's 12th such show, and he has the mood and feel down pat. Choose good actors and singers, give them the bones of a humorous situation, then leave them to fill in the meat and muscle of the production....

    The cast of Murder on the High C’s, which runs through Feb. 1 at Jimmy Ferraro’s Studio Theatre in New Port Richey, include, from left, Jerry Cowling, Trish Farber, Tricia LLoyd, Nicole Cavalani, Heather Spillane,  Michelle Procida and Keith Surplus.
  5. Top draw 'Crazy for You' returns to Show Palace stage

    Stage

    HUDSON — Thirteen years ago, when the Show Palace Dinner Theatre first did the George and Ira Gershwin musical Crazy for You, it was one of the three top box office draws in the venue's history, drawing almost 12,000 people during its run.

    Now the Show Palace is bringing back the show, with a new cast, direction by actor-singer-director Steven Flaa, and choreography by Andi Sperduti, who also did Kiss Me Kate, Cabaret, The Full Monty and other favorites....

    Crazy for You opens Thursday at the Show Palace with a 20-member cast.
  6. Farce breaks out on Richey Suncoast stage when the wives are away

    Stage

    NEW PORT RICHEY — In the mood for some big, easy belly laughs? Just in time comes Whose Wives Are They Anyway?, the sixth comedy/farce by Michael Parker to play at Richey Suncoast Theatre in the past few seasons.

    Previous — and highly popular — ones have included The Sensuous Senator, The Amorous Ambassador and Hotbed Hotel. The themes are comfortably alike — philandering husbands getting caught — but the details are just different enough to make each one funny in its own way....

    There’s a little confusion over who’s married to whom in the upcoming production of Michael Parker’s comedy/farce, “Whose Wives Are They Anyway?” opening Jan. 15 at the Richey Suncoast Theatre in New Port Richey. Pictured here are cast members Emily Nettnin Earle (left) as D.L. Hutchison and Chris McGinnis (right) as John Baker.
  7. 'To Kill a Mockingbird' set for two-week run at Stage West

    Stage

    SPRING HILL — By now, just about everyone has either read Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, or seen the 1962 Gregory Peck movie.

    Set in a small Alabama town in 1935, it's the story of principled lawyer Atticus Finch agreeing to defend black man Tom Robinson, who has been accused of raping a 19-year-old white girl. Atticus is a widower, rearing his two young children, Scout and Jem, with the help of a strong-willed black woman named Calpurnia....

    Heck Tate (Gary Depp) and Judge Taylor (Rich Fogg) speak with Atticus Finch (Samuel McCall, right) in a scene from the upcoming production of To Kill a Mockingbird at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill.
  8. Review: Laughs abound in Stage West's production of 'Nuncrackers'

    Stage

    SPRING HILL — If you liked Nunsense, Nunsense 2: The Second Coming and Nunsense Jamboree, you'll probably enjoy Nuncrackers: The Nunsense Christmas Musical, playing at Stage West Community Playhouse. It's the fourth of seven Nunsense musicals about the adventures of the high-spirited Little Sister of Hoboken by playwright Dan Goggin.

    This chapter is a good-hearted spoof of just about everything connected with the holiday — home-shopping channels, last-minute shopping, hilariously misunderstood song lyrics, the spirit of giving, and, of course, the beloved Nutcracker ballet....

    Patty Villegas as Reverand Mother, Matthew J. Veasey as Father Virgil  “Nuncrackers: The Nunsense Christmas Musical” rehearsal at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill.
  9. A decade later, John Leggio's 'Holidazzzzzle' remains a holiday tradition

    Stage

    SPRING HILL

    John Leggio, founder/owner of John Leggio's Center for the Performing Arts, says it best: "Holidazzzzzle has become a must-see during the holiday season for the past decade, and this year will be no exception."

    Anyone who loves exciting, glitzy, truly dazzzzzling dance and has seen one of his high-energy shows will agree. This year, Leggio is moving his 100-member show back to the large Eleanor Dempsey Performing Arts Center at Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School on Hays Road in Hudson/Spring Hill, with its state-of-the-art light, sound and stage-rigging systems and partial stadium seating, and he says he has created a show that "has a little bit of everything for everyone of all ages"....

    Jasmine Smith and castmates rehearse Step in Time for Holidazzzzzle. The show will be performed Dec. 11 and 12 at Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School.
  10. Review: Song, laughs make for pleasant 'Christmas Cabaret' at Jimmy Ferraro's

    Stage

    NEW PORT RICHEY — When theater owner Jimmy Ferraro makes a promise, he delivers.

    This year, he promised a traditional Christmas show with songs, glitter, nostalgia and some good chuckles, and that's exactly what A Christmas Cabaret gives at Ferraro's Studio Theatre, much to the delight of those at a recent nearly sold-out matinee show.

    Against set designer Keith Snyder's backdrop of a cozy living room, the eight-member cast does songs old and new decked out in an ever-changing rainbow of satins and fur....

  11. Review: Show Palace offers up a holiday treat with 'A Christmas Carol'

    Stage

    Review | A Christmas Carol

    HUDSON — If you're looking for something special for holiday guests — or just for yourself — you could do no better than the Show Palace Dinner Theatre's splendid rendition of A Christmas Carol, the Broadway musical, playing through Dec. 25.

    The story closely follows Charles Dickens' 1843 novella about an ill-tempered miser named Ebenezer Scrooge (Tom Bengston), who is turned into a warmhearted philanthropist after he's visited by ghosts of his long-dead business partner, Jacob Marley (Christoff Marse), who suffers forever in the chains of his own greed, apparitions of Christmases past and present, and a look at what could be — and it ain't pretty — if he doesn't change his selfish ways....

    Performing in A Christmas Carol, from left, are Tom Bengston as Ebenezer Scrooge, Clay Smith as Bob Cratchit and Evana Foisy as Tiny Tim.
  12. Nunsense bunch returns to Stage West for Christmas

    Stage

    SPRING HILL — If anyone can bring smiles and laughter to the holidays, it's the Little Sisters of Hoboken, the zany Nunsense bunch from Mount Saint Helen's Convent who have sung and danced their way from the fronts of greeting cards to more than 8,000 productions around the world, a 10-year off-Broadway run, two television specials, numerous theatrical awards and more than a half-million dollars in revenue....

    From left, Stage West Community Playhouse actors Leanne Germann as Sister Robert Anne, Patty Villegas as the Reverend Mother, Angelena Burrow as Sister Mary Hubert, Matthew J. Veasey as Father Virgil and Toni Merchant as Sister Mary Leo star in Nuncrackers.
  13. Santa Claus hit with legal action in Richey Suncoast Theatre's Christmas show

    Stage

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Oh dear, oh dear. That harridan, Mrs. Artiluke, is back at Richey Suncoast Theatre, once again trying to ruin Christmas for everyone — except herself, of course.

    As longtime RST patrons already know, Mrs. Artiluke is the creation of the late Charlie Skelton, and, for years, she's been done to a turn by Jeanne Botz.

    Mrs. Artiluke is the quintessential spoil-sport, haranguing anyone and everyone who doesn't do exactly as she says. As president of Citizens Against Virtually Everything, a.k.a. CAVE dwellers, she has held her homeowners association's clubhouse hostage unless her little daughter, Erika, gets the lead in every play. She's shown up at political rallies (always on the loudest-talking side), parties and family gatherings to stick it to everyone and ruin the day....

    Richey Suncoast Theatre’s original presentation, Santa’s North Pole, opens Friday and plays on weekends through Dec. 7.
  14. 'A Christmas Cabaret' aims to put audiences in the holiday spirit

    Stage

    NEW PORT RICHEY — If you're a theater buff and been in the area a decade or more, you may have seen one of singer/theater owner Jimmy Ferraro's Christmas shows, either at his Angel Cabaret Theatre, Angel "garden cafe" Theatre or the Show Palace Dinner Theatre.

    They're always upbeat and happy, filled with traditional holiday songs, some comedy routines and ditties, lots of glittery costumes and a heartwarming finale to boost the Christmas spirit....

    The cast is the largest that’s been on stage at Jimmy Ferraro’s Studio Theatre and includes Elicia Nystrom, Dee Etta Rowe, Debra Snyder, Jackie Snyder, Pete Clapsis, Dakota Ruiz, Lindsey Ruiz and Janine Paradiso. Ferraro promises “a dazzling array of new songs and dances to delight all ages.”
  15. 'A Christmas Carol' bringing timeless tale to Show Palace

    Events

    HUDSON — A Christmas Carol, the Broadway musical, is a lot like the movie Apollo 13 or The Nutcracker ballet: Almost all of us know exactly what is going to happen and precisely how it ends, but even so, we're mesmerized by the whole thing, from start to finish.

    Local audiences will get a chance to see this longtime favorite (it ran for nearly a decade at New York City's Madison Square Garden) at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre from Thursday through Dec. 25....

    Tom Bengston, left, (Ebenezer Scrooge), Clay Smith (Bob Cratchit) and Evana Foisy (Tiny Tim) star in A Christmas Carol, opening Thursday.