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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. Four voices, chemistry click in Sinatra tribute at Show Palace


    The jackpot for a theater casting director is finding a triple threat —a performer who can act, sing and dance.

    So it must feel like a Powerball win when the director gets a quadruple threat — a performer who can act, sing, dance, and play a cool piano.

    That's what director Michael Mathews hit when he snared Matty Colonna, a smooth crooner and dancer who can tickle the ivories and (if you've seen him in previous shows like The Andrews Brother, West Side Story, The Addams Family and, most of all, as Paul in A Chorus Line) act — and is good looking to boot. Quintuple threat perhaps?...

    My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra, featuring Mike, left, and Jessica Mathews, will run matinees and weekends through 
Aug. 14 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson.
  2. Show Palace set to open musical tribute to Frank Sinatra

    Music & Concerts

    HUDSON — The Show Palace Dinner Theatre brings to stage the songs of what many have called "the top entertainer of the 20th century" in My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra, playing Saturday through Aug. 14.

    Unlike all too many other Sinatra tributes, My Way doesn't try to replicate the sound of Sinatra, but instead presents the sounds of Sinatra, with two men and two women singing and sometimes dancing to more than 50 songs made famous by Ol' Blue Eyes....

    Aingers Molly Ross, left, and Matty Colonna take part in My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra, which opens Saturday at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson. 
  3. Theaters offer plenty of options on summer stages


    School is out and vacations are in, but several local theaters are as busy as they are during the traditional season, with plays, musicals, comedies and specials throughout the long, hot summer. With careful planning, local theater lovers can see a different show almost every week without driving very far.

    Stage West Community Playhouse

    8390 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill (352) 683-5113...

  4. Review: Despite some glitches, 'Andrews Brothers' is a pleasant summer diversion


    The most touching moment at opening night of the musical comedy The Andrews Brothers at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson happened before the curtain ever went up. Master of ceremonies Troy LaFon asked for the house lights to be turned up; he then asked all military veterans in the house to stand up.

    As silence fell over the room, men in their 70s, 80s and 90s (I didn't spot anyone younger) rose to their feet — about one-third of all the men in the room and at least one woman — some with canes, others with help from nearby friends or spouses, most with no assistance. The applause for them was long and loud. These were people from the Greatest Generation, when every able-bodied man, and more than a few women, joined the fight to defend this country....

    The Andrews Brothers at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson stars, from left, Marc Ciemiewicz, Matty Colonna, Christoff Marse and Andrea Wright
  5. Brothers step in for missing sisters in 'The Andrews Brothers' at Show Palace


    HUDSON — It's 1945 on a small Pacific island, and hundreds of GIs are getting ready to ship out for a major battle the following morning. But before they do, they're going to get a bang-up send-off by a big USO show, starring pinup girl Peggy Jones and the world famous singing Andrews Sisters.

    Only one thing: The Andrews Sisters are nowhere to be seen, and it's only a couple of hours before the show is supposed to start. That means no rehearsal and perhaps no show....

    From left, Marc Ciemiewicz plays Lawrence, Matty Colonna is Patrick, Christoff Marse is Max and Andrea Wright plays Peggy in the musical comedy The Andrews Brothers, which opens June 4 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson.
  6. Show Palace 'specials' to bolster entertainment offerings

    Music & Concerts

    In March, the Mara family, owners of the Show Palace Dinner Theatre, acquired Richard Nader Entertainment, a legendary producer of rock 'n' roll, classic rock and golden oldies shows. It launched in 1969 with a series of sold-out shows in Madison Square Garden — the first ever done there — and immortalized in the movie Let the Good Times Roll, two 90-minute television specials, an 80-city tour, and formats for scores of radio stations....

  7. Ferraro's Studio Theatre closes, seeks new location


    NEW PORT RICHEY — Almost two years to the day after opening, Jimmy Ferraro is shutting down his 68-seat Studio Theatre on Main Street and canceling the four summer shows scheduled from June 10 to Sept. 25.

    But he is far from giving up theater or theater ownership.

    "It is no secret that we have outgrown our intimate Studio Theatre," he said. "We decided that the summertime would be (the) best time to reorganize and find a new location that would better accommodate our guests. And so we will be closing for the summer."...

    Jimmy Ferraro says the lack of seats and parking problems hampered the theater.
  8. Funny, clever 'Urinetown' provides a royal flush at Richey Suncoast


    Please, please, please don't let the icky title of Urinetown, The Musical, put you off. If you do, you'll be depriving yourself of one of the funniest, cleverest, and, as done by Richey Suncoast Theatre, best-performed shows you will see in ages.

    It takes satirical punches at the legal system, corporations, greedy capitalists, heartless business titans, irresponsible people who don't think of anything but themselves and their immediate needs — the heck with the future — and, of course, corrupt politicians on the take....

    Mike McGuigan plays Officer Lockstock and Liz Onley is Little Sally in Urinetown at Richey Suncoast Theatre.
  9. Review: Stage West cast brilliant in production of 'Jesus Christ Superstar'


    The musical Jesus Christ Superstar is very loosely based on the Bible stories of the last days of Jesus Christ. But the message in the musical is quite different from that of redemption and salvation, the bedrock of modern Christianity, instead being about the price of fame and the mind-boggling vicissitudes of human behavior.

    For that reason, some may find Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's 1970 sung-through rock opera disturbing, even offensive. For others, the parallels to the dangers of mob psychology and to current politics, set to a hard-driving rock score, will be inspirational. That appeared to be the reaction of the great majority of the opening-night audience at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill, where the musical plays through May 22....

    Jesus Christ Superstar plays through Sunday at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill. Shown are Kristen Ballard as Mary Magdalene, left, Keith Surplus as Jesus and Victoria Primosch as Judas.
  10. Musical 'Urinetown' makes North Suncoast debut at Richey Suncoast Theatre


    NEW PORT RICHEY — Drought in California. Hailstones the size of baseballs in the Midwest. Floods in Texas. Outrageous medical costs. And an election where half the candidates are climate change deniers.

    What better time for Urine­town, a dark, quirky musical satire on the ugly ramifications of climate change and how greedy corporate titans move in to exploit a natural bodily function as it happens. The Tony Award-winning show debuted in 2001 — two days after 9/11 — and has become even more timely in the years since....

    The popular satirical musical Urinetown opens Thursday at the Richey Suncoast Theatre.
  11. Once condemned, popular musical 'Jesus Christ Superstar' coming to Stage West


    SPRING HILL — The rock opera concept album Jesus Christ Superstar arrived in 1970 to shock and anger among some Christian groups, enraged that Jesus was portrayed as a human with human emotions and frailties, rather than a divinity above it all.

    One famous evangelist condemned it outright as blasphemy, though he admitted he had never heard it. Later, he changed his mind, saying it could bring agnostic or atheist young people to church to hear the full story, especially after churches around the country began playing music from the show during services. Not long after that, churches began to produce the entire show themselves, knowing it would be a big draw....

    Kristen Ballard as Mary Magdalene, Keith Surplus as Jesus and Victoria Primosch as Judas rehearse Jesus Christ Superstar at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill.
  12. Review: Talented cast delivers nonstop laughs in Jimmy Ferraro's 'Cookin' with Gus'


    Patrons exiting Jimmy Ferraro's Studio Theatre after having seen the comedy Cookin' with Gus will probably be asking themselves three questions:

    1. How did director Ferraro manage to snare four of the area's top performers to be in this one show?

    2. How does the Studio Theatre's tiny stage manage to contain all that prodigious talent?

    3. How do the walls of the theater in downtown New Port Richey withstand all the laughter and applause of the audience without severely cracking or crumbling?...

    Cooking With Gus continues weekends through May 15 at Jimmy Ferraro’s Studio Theatre in downtown New Port Richey. Cast members Rand Smith, left, Jessica Glass and Jimmy Chang serve up entertaining performances.
  13. Review: Songs and rousing dance numbers make Show Palace's 'Grease' a hit


    At first glance, the musical Grease is a happy-go-lucky look at teenage life, with great songs and some rousing dance numbers, and there are plenty of both in the Show Palace Dinner Theatre production playing through May 22.

    Look deeper, though, and the show is more what it started out to be in a 1971 Chicago nightclub: a send-up of the raunchy world of young hoodlums — the T-Birds and sexually promiscuous girls, the Pink Ladies — and a put-down of the goody two-shoes world of cheerleaders, athletes and study hall nerds, with the hoods and floozies winning, for the time being anyway....

  14. Review: Despite flaws, plenty of guffaws in Stage West's 'A Bedfull of Foreigners'


    Probably the most vexing decision the director of a play set in a foreign country must make is what to do about accents.

    Should Shakespeare be done in Elizabethan English? Should everyone in A Little Night Music have a Swedish accent? Should Fiddler on the Roof be done with Russian enunciation? What about any Ray Cooney English farce?

    Kathy Capelle, the director of A Bedfull of Foreigners, playing weekends through Sunday at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill, had an even more daunting task. Bedfull is set in a small French hotel near the German border, with guests and employees from England, France and, perhaps, Hungary or Mexico. Accents could come from all over the map. And that, indeed, is what they did, including from the plain ol' U.S. of A. It wouldn't be disconcerting, except that some of the players switched back and forth throughout the production on opening night....

  15. It's back to 1959 with Show Palace production of 'Grease'


    HUDSON — Time for girls to drag out their pedal pushers and guys to don their white T-shirts (with a pack of ciggies rolled in the sleeve) and go back to 1959 at Chicago's Rydell High School, home to the Burger Palace Boys and their Pink Ladies, and all the singing, dancing, romance, illicit sex and other things that create Grease, the 1972 record-breaking, Tony-nominated Broadway musical....

    Grease opens April 16 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre.