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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


  1. Review: Able cast can't save thin material in 'Ain't Food Wonderful!'


    What do you do when you have four really good actors and pretty thin material?

    The best you can.

    That's what happens during Ain't Food Wonderful!, the current production at Jimmy Ferraro's Studio Theatre in downtown New Port Richey.

    Food is the second in a trilogy on familiar situations by playwright Gil Perlroth, a prolific wordsmith whose earlier Ain't Retirement Grand was so popular — and so darned much fun — that Ferraro is bringing it back to his theater June 12 to 28....

    Ain’t Food Wonderful! cast members Pete Clapsis, Tracie Callahan, Jared Michael Shari and Elizabeth S. Phillips rehearse the song Who Doesn’t Like Chinese Food? The musical by Gil Perlroth runs through May 3 at Jimmy Ferraro’s Studio Theatre.
  2. Review: 'I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change' a stellar Stage West show


    SPRING HILL — When it comes to the musical comedy I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, it's like the old song says: T'ain't What You Do (It's the Way That You Do It).

    You can play the show as "woman as sad victim" or you can do it "woman as powerful and funny."

    Stage West Community Playhouse director Carol Ballard and her super-stellar cast of four — Melody Craven, Ryan Bintz, Jessica Virginia and Madison Byers — chose the latter, and the result rippled through the opening-night audience in gales of laughter and tears of recognition and delight....

    Stage West Community Playhouse's production of "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" stars, standing: Madison Byers as Dad, Melody Craven as Mom; sitting: Ryan Bintz as Mitch, Jessica Virginia as Karen.
 Shown in rehearsal.  [Photo courtesy Carol Ballard]

  3. Pasco's Studio Theatre offers another "Aint..." show


    NEW PORT RICHEY — Jimmy Ferraro's Studio Theatre seems to be on a roll — in more ways than one.

    For one thing, most of the eight-month-old theater's recent shows have been almost or completely sold out, including the boisterous Holy Cannoli, the sentimental A Christmas Cabaret, the audience-interactive Murder on the High C's, and the comedy Ain't Retirement Grand....

    “Ain’t Food Wonderful” opens April 10 at Jimmy Ferraro’s Studio Theatre in downtown New Port Richey. Here, cast members Pete Clapsis, Tracie Callahan, Jared Michael Shari and Elizabeth S. Phillips rehearse the song, Who Doesn’t Like Chinese Food?
  4. Stage West will offer "I Love You ... Now Change"

    Human Interest

    SPRING HILL — The musical potpourri I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change played for a dozen years off-Broadway — the second-longest show in history.

    It has been translated into 14 languages and played around the world for years. The most recent of many performances in the Tampa Bay area was a summer special at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in August 2013.

    Stage West Community Playhouse will launch its own version of the lighthearted show on Thursday, followed by a two-weekend run....

    Madison Byers, clockwise from top left; Melody Craven, Jessica Virginia and Ryan Bintz will appear in Stage West Community Playhouse’s production of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.
  5. Mitchell High show will pay tribute to late teacher


    NEW PORT RICHEY — For decades, audiences around the world enjoyed performances by singer/actor/dancer Bill Garon, whether on a five-star luxury liner, in the Far East, Europe, Canada, or the U.S.

    He often played solo, but many Tampa Bay area fans first saw him as the opening act for Liberace impersonator Martin Preston, Garon's longtime partner.

    For three years, 2001-2004, he was an integral part of Jimmy Ferraro's erstwhile Angel Cabaret Theatre in Port Richey, where he acted, sang, directed and choreographed numerous shows....

    Mitchell High drama teacher David O’Hara, seated left front, plays Lazar Wolfe in Fiddler on the Roof, which Bill Garon was involved in. “He was the musical director, stage director, and choreographer for the last six shows at the school,” O’Hara said.
  6. Stage West announces schedule for upcoming season


    SPRING HILL — Stage West Community Playhouse has announced its 2015-16 season, and it includes five shows familiar to local audiences and three musicals that have not been seen in live theaters in the Suncoast area: High Society, Ragtime and Jesus Christ Superstar.

    The remaining musical is the comedy Little Shop of Horrors, which was a Stage West summer special in 2003....

  7. Review: Despite onstage fumbles, 'Moonlight and Magnolias' delivers in many ways


    On its surface, the comedy Moonlight and Magnolias is based on the allegedly true tale of how the final script for the blockbuster 1939 movie Gone With the Wind came about. In it, producer David O. Selznick locks himself and the hastily summoned Hollywood writer Ben Hecht and legendary director Victor Fleming into his office for five days to rewrite the script for what was going to become Selznick's masterpiece....

    Gary Depp as David O. Selznick, standing, and Jim Hansen as Victor Fleming rehearse a scene from Moonlight and Magnolias at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill.
  8. Review: Show-stopping numbers and more in Show Palace's 'King and I'


    The musical The King and I may be the only show ever written for the benefit of one person: singer-actor Gertrude Lawrence.

    It was written at the behest of the wives of lyricist/writer Oscar Hammerstein II and composer Richard Rodgers, who were great fans of Lawrence and wanted to see her on the stage again. Never mind that by that time in her career, Lawrence was 50+ and her voice had seen its best days long before. ...

  9. Lots to like in Richey Suncoast Theatre's production of 'State Fair'


    Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's sweet and sentimental musical State Fair was released as a movie in 1945, following the team's blockbuster first Broadway collaboration, Oklahoma!, in 1943 and a year after another family movie musical, Meet Me in St. Louis, in 1944.

    All three revolve around tight-knit families contending with mostly chaste romances and non-threatening life situations. Only Oklahoma! has a real villain (the sinister Jud Fry), murder (Fry again), or implied impure sex (Ado Annie and Ali Hakim), perhaps because it debuted on the more permissive live stage, rather than under then-strict movie codes....

    Rodgers and Hammerstein’s State Fair runs weekends through March 22 at the Richey Suncoast Theatre in downtown New Port Richey.
  10. Comedy 'Moonlight and Magnolias' opens March 12 at Stage West


    SPRING HILL — Even as the wild and wicked Fifty Shades of Grey was setting box-office records in theaters a couple of weeks ago, millions of people were glued to the Turner Classic Movies channel, where the relatively chaste 1939 Civil War epic Gone With the Wind was playing for the umpteenth time.

    And I'm betting that 10 years from now, Shades will have been mostly forgotten — who has read or watched Peyton Place recently? — and GWTW will still be playing to millions on TCM....

    Craig Balcomb as Ben Hecht, Gary Depp as David O. Selznick and Jim Hansen as Victor Fleming rehearse for Moonlight and Magnolias at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill.
  11. Specialty shows come to Show Palace, Palace Grand


    The Show Palace Dinner Theatre and Palace Grand managers found themselves with a few nights not filled with Broadway shows, banquets, weddings, fundraisers or award dinners and decided it was the perfect time to make those "specialty show" nights.

    "These won't be regular, just once in a while," said Missy Lindblom, box office manager.

    Already, Show Palace Entertainment, the presenters for both venues, has booked four one-time shows, three of them at the Show Palace and one at the Palace Grand....

  12. Sweet, sentimental 'State Fair' opens March 5 at Richey Suncoast Theatre


    NEW PORT RICHEY — In the mood for a folksy, homespun story with some hummable Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II tunes?

    Richey Suncoast Theatre will ladle it on with the musical State Fair, first seen as a movie in 1945 and a remake in 1962, then made into a stage show that wound its way through regional theaters and the Iowa State Fair, to finally land on Broadway in 1996. It plays March 5 and weekends through March 22....

    The midway is alive with carnival barkers. It’s no different in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s State Fair, at the Richey Suncoast Theatre in New Port Richey.
  13. Review: Humor in 'Holy Cannoli' is uproarious, but can be overwhelming


    If you like boisterous plays with pratfalls, double takes, triple takes, quadruple takes and over-the-top physical humor and volume, Holy Cannoli could be your cup of Chianti.

    It's the tale of a sweet Italian girl, Maria D'Angelo (a lovely Christina Kay Jimenez in a distracting red dress) and her platonic roommate, John Douglas (Timothy Michels), and their dilemma when Maria's strict Catholic parents announce they're coming to New York City for a visit and to meet their daughter's roommate, whom they, of course, think is female....

    From left, Michelle Procida, Steve Manfredi, Tom Costello, Jessica Glass and Christina Kay Jimenez team up for some hilarious exchanges in Holy Cannoli, a comedy directed by Jimmy Ferraro in which a young Italian girl living in New York City braces for a visit from her parents by trying to disguise the fact that her roommate is a man.
  14. Review: Spot-on performances make Stage West's 'Oklahoma' a joy


    I suppose you have to have recently seen the profane musical The Book of Mormon, the eye-popping spectacle of The Phantom of the Opera or the for-their-time daring Full Monty or La Cage aux Folles to realize how much musical theater has changed since the heyday of Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1943 classic Oklahoma.

    To be sure, Oklahoma was groundbreaking but in structure and form. Oklahoma took integration of music and plot giant leaps forward, with Hammerstein's lyrics advancing the plot as much as his dialogue, instead of the until-then traditional tacked-on feeling dominating (mostly forgettable) musical theater....

  15. 'Twelve Angry Men' to be staged as fundraiser for Knights of Columbus council


    NEW PORT RICHEY — Ever since he followed the case of accused killer Casey Anthony in 2011, actor and director Maurice Batista has wondered what was said in the room where the jury decided to find her not guilty.

    "I wished I had been a fly in that jury room," Batista said.

    Of course, jury rooms are closed to the public. But many people say that playwright Reginald Rose got it just about right when he wrote Twelve Angry Men, a 1954 teleplay set inside a jury deliberation room. The play was made into a movie in 1957 and again in 1997 and went to Broadway in 2004. ...