Make us your home page

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: Laughs abound in Stage West's production of 'Nuncrackers'


    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.
  2. A decade later, John Leggio's 'Holidazzzzzle' remains a holiday tradition



    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.
  3. Review: Song, laughs make for pleasant 'Christmas Cabaret' at Jimmy Ferraro's


    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....

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


    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.
  5. Nunsense bunch returns to Stage West for Christmas


    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.
  6. Santa Claus hit with legal action in Richey Suncoast Theatre's Christmas show


    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.
  7. 'A Christmas Cabaret' aims to put audiences in the holiday spirit


    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....

    Directing the show and playing Santa’s elf is singer-actor Pete Clapsis.
  8. 'A Christmas Carol' bringing timeless tale to Show Palace


    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.
  9. Review: Onstage and off, Stage West clicks with 'Greater Tuna'


    Review | Greater Tuna

    There may have been only two actors on the Forum stage at Stage West Community Playhouse (and a few brief appearances by a stagehand or two), but there was an army of behind­-the-­scenes people who were, arguably, just as important to the delightfully successful opening-night production of the comedy Greater Tuna, the two-person show with 20 characters, set in the third-smallest town in Texas....

  10. Stage West takes on the challenge of 'Greater Tuna'



    It's not often you get a chance to see the comedy Greater Tuna at a community theater, and there's one big reason why: It's just too danged difficult to do.

    First, you have to find two actors (two men or two women or one of each) who have the talent to play 22 characters, complete with split-second costume, demeanor and attitude changes.

    Then you have to find a director who can guide these actors....

    Dalton Benson and Ellen Hutt in Greater Tuna at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill.
  11. Review: Talented cast takes a lighter look at retirement


    If you're a retiree (or know one), the musical Ain't Retirement Grand! probably won't hold any shocking revelations for you. You've been there, done that.

    What the show does have is a new, plucky way of looking at retirement and retirees that brings laughs, smiles and nods of touching recognition.

    The laughs come often, thanks to composer-lyricist-writer Gil Perlroth's incisive view of life after a lifetime of work. It's the 23rd play that the Pinellas Park-based writer has written, many of them on this subject. It's a load of fun from start to finish, made even better by the four singer-actors doing the regional premiere of this collection of songs and comments running weekends through Nov. 16 at Jimmy Ferraro's Studio Theatre in New Port Richey. These players have the range of talents needed to do these tunes and vignettes to a turn....

    Ain’t Retirement Grand!, written by Gil Perlroth, runs through Nov. 16 at Jimmy Ferraro’s Studio Theatre in New Port Richey.
  12. Review: Confident 'Swim Club' cast brings plenty of laughs to Richey Suncoast stage


    It's a familiar entreaty to theater audiences in curtain speeches almost everywhere: "So, sit back, relax, and enjoy" whatever play is to come.

    Familiar or not, it's oh, so true for the comedy The Dixie Swim Club, playing weekends through Nov. 2 at Richey Suncoast Theatre in New Port Richey.

    The five women playing the college swim team members who meet in an Outer Banks cottage every August for a weeklong reunion with "no men, no work, no kids" seem like five longtime pals, cognizant of each other's foibles, but loving each other unconditionally anyway....

    The Dixie Swim Club stars, from left, Christine Stoll, Emily Nettnin, Natalie Pozdol, Heather Clark and Dee Curran.
  13. Review: Stage West production of 'Hairspray' is a 'don't miss'


    Okay. If you're going to see only one stage show this year, make it Hairspray, the cheeky, Tony Award-winning 2002 musical that's all fun and songs on the surface, but sweetly subversive to the core.

    A sparkling rendition of the 1988 movie turned 2002 Broadway musical turned 2007 movie musical plays Friday through Sunday at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill. Truly, it is the "don't miss" show of this season....

  14. 'Ain't Retirement Grand!' comes to Pasco — finally


    It's about time, I'd say.

    For more than 25 years, theaters have been doing Gulfport playwright-composer-lyricist Gil Perlroth's Florida-friendly shows far and wide — but not up the road in Pasco County. Audiences have flocked to Gulfport: the Musical, Francis Wilson: The Man and His Theatre, Encounters, Letting Go, and his trilogy Ain't Retirement Grand!, Ain't Food Wonderful! and Ain't Sex Sensational! for ages, but not in this area....

    From left, cast members Vicky Stinnett, Matthew Ruley, Tracie Callahan and Pete Clapsis perform a skit.
  15. College pals keep in touch as 'Dixie Swim Club' opens at Richey Suncoast


    Fans of The Golden Girls, Steel Magnolias, Same Time, Next Year and good laughs will likely become fans of The Dixie Swim Club, the comedy playing at Richey Suncoast Theatre Thursday and weekends through Nov. 2.

    It's about five women who starred on their college swim team together decades ago, but have remained friends through the years, despite living far apart and in different worlds. The women meet once a year for a week in a secluded cottage on North Carolina's Outer Banks, free of husbands, kids and careers. They catch up on each other's lives, triumphs and tribulations, giving support when it's needed and raised eyebrows when it isn't sought....

    Christine Stoll as Sheree, from left, Emily Nettnin as Jeri Neal, Natalie Pozdol as Lexie,  Heather Clark as Vernadette and Dee Curran as Dinah are the members of Richey Suncoast Theatre’s Dixie Swim Club.