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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. Award-winning 'Nice Work If You Can Get It' set to open at Richey Suncoast

    Stage

    NEW PORT RICHEY — You would think a Broadway musical comedy featuring songs by George and Ira Gershwin and set in the 1920s Prohibition era is an oldie but goodie.

    Think again.

    Nice Work If You Can Get It is a frisky 5 years old, having made its Broadway debut in March 2012. Writer Joe DiPietro (who also wrote Over the River and Through the Woods, which recently played to sold-out crowds at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill) did the book, deftly working in George Gershwin's music and Ira Gershwin's lyrics and sound as though they were all written at the same time....

  2. Musical version of 1970s classic opens Saturday night at Show Palace

    Stage

    HUDSON — Think of iconic movie scenes — Rhett Butler carrying Scarlett O'Hara up a broad staircase two steps at a time in Gone with the Wind, Rocky Balboa running up the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Rocky, Bette Davis's Margo Channing standing on the staircase snarling, "Fasten you seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!" in All About Eve. A fourth likely would be John Travolta as 19-year-old Tony Manero, strutting along a Brooklyn sidewalk to the Bee Gees' Stayin' Alive in Saturday Night Fever....

    Saturday Night Fever runs Feb. 25-April 2 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson. Pictured are cast members Heather Baird as Stephanie and Aaron Atkinson as Tony.
  3. Pauses aside, fine actors relate touching story in 'Stop Kiss'

    Stage

    Don't get me wrong. The drama Stop Kiss has a fine script with a compelling story. The cast of the Richey Suncoast Theatre II production playing through Feb. 26, is an honor roll of the theater's best actors, plus a newcomer who promises to be a great addition to that list.

    Despite all this, the play isn't quite stellar, strictly because of playwright Diana Son's many short scenes that require numerous blackouts for set dressing and costume changes. I counted at least 15 scenes during the 90-plus minutes of the one-act play, meaning most are no more than 4 or 5 minutes long, some much shorter. Even though the backstage crew works quickly and quietly to change out set dressings and pieces, there's no getting around the fact that so many pauses break the flow of the story. Fortunately, the opening night audience sat respectfully silent between scenes, for the most part, allowing patrons to reflect on what they'd seen and anticipate what might come next....

  4. Cast, crew, script combine for superb 'Over the River' at Stage West

    Stage

    You know, I almost regret having to give the comedy Over the River and Through the Woods a rave review.

    Not because the play doesn't deserve it. Indeed, it deserves raves and a lot more.

    It's just that the Forum at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill, where the dramady is playing through Sunday, Feb. 19, has a limited number of seats, most of which are already sold. And once people start hearing how enjoyable and well-rendered this play is, thanks to Joe DiPietro's marvelous script and director Sandy Penwarden's top-notch cast and crew, all those seats will be gone. And everyone else will be left regretting they didn't buy a ticket sooner. Oh, well....

    Over the River and Through the Woods plays until Sunday, Feb. 19, at the Forum at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill. From left, portraying the loving grandparents of the main character, are: Ernie Rowland as Frank, Gary Kopitzke as Nunzio, Betsy Glasson as Aida and Barbara Santoro as Emma.
  5. Skelton Cabaret production of 'Stop Kiss' explores relationships, loyalty

    Stage

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Even though it was written in 1998 before sea changes in public attitudes toward gay and lesbian people and several U.S. Supreme Court rulings protecting their rights, the adult drama Stop Kiss is as timely today as it was then, what with violence against gays still a threat.

    In it, New York City radio traffic reporter Callie (Suzanne Meck, Jolene in Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels) agrees to tend to the cat of a friend of a friend, Sara (Gemma Davimes), a third-grade schoolteacher from St. Louis doing an internship in the Bronx. The two women soon become close friends, hanging out at West Village coffee shops and strolling through New York streets, talking into the wee hours of the morning....

  6. Stage West to reprise 'Over the River and Through the Woods'

    Stage

    SPRING HILL — When it comes to connecting with local audiences, what could be better than a story about doting New Jersey Italian-American grandparents and their loving, but ambitious grandson who is ready to get on with his life, even if it means moving from New York City to Seattle for a better job, thus ending his regular Sunday visits with them?

    It gets even more pertinent when it's revealed that the young man's parents have moved to Florida, leaving both sets of his grandparents in Hoboken with only Nick left behind for them to pamper and adore....

  7. Richey Suncoast Theatre announces series of shows

    Music & Concerts

    NEW PORT RICHEY

    The increasingly active Richey Suncoast Theatre has announced two series of shows, three special shows and the date for the annual short film festivals at the theater at 6237 Grand Blvd.

    Although the series and shows don't start until January, season and individual tickets are on sale now at the box office or by phone at (727) 842-6777. Both series are at 2 p.m. on Wednesdays. All ticket prices listed are cash or check. Processing fees are added to credit card purchases....

  8. Everyone is suspect in Stage West's production of 'The Butler Did It'

    Stage

    SPRING HILL — If you're thinking of writing a play, you may want to avoid the title The Butler Did It. There are at least a half-dozen existing plays by that name in circulation, starting in the early 1900s, and yours would be just one more.

    The phrase has been around so long, in fact, that it's become a cliche and is always good for a laugh. (One imaginative playwright named his play A Butler Did It, thus vaulting his play to the top of the alphabetical list of Butler-Did-It shows.)...

    The whodunit The Butler Did It opens at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill on Thursday. Stephanie Cooper, left, is cast as Victoria, John Pridgen as Aldo and Cheryl Roberts as Angela.
  9. Skelton Cabaret's first production will be back on a familiar stage

    Stage

    NEW PORT RICHEY — The new Richey Suncoast Theatre II, named the Charlie and Marie Skelton Cabaret, will open its first black box production Nov. 11, the Pulitzer Prize-, Tony Award- and Drama Desk Award-winning drama Proof.

    Except it won't be in the actual Skelton Cabaret space on Main Street. Instead, the drama will be performed on the stage at Richey Suncoast on Grand Boulevard, with the audience also on stage, seated in regular chairs and bar stool-height chairs and the play on a slightly raised platform, in true black box theater tradition....

    Dennis Duggan, left, and Marie-Claude Tremblay star in a black box production of the drama Proof, which runs Nov. 11 to 13 and Nov. 18 to 20 at Richey Suncoast Theatre.
  10. Review: Show Palace's 'Marvelous Wonderettes' hits the right notes

    Stage

    Almost two years before the phenomenally successful four-man musical Forever Plaid hit the boards, there was The Taffetas, the tale of a girl group hoping for fame and fortune. Both shows have four characters, sketchy plots, lots of songs from the 1950s and '60s and have been worldwide hits.

    That success spawned a spate of similar shows, some wildly successful — Menopause, the Musical, for example — and not a few bombs — Hats! The Musical, which was nothing more than an annoying 90-minute commercial for the Red Hat Society....

    The Marvelous Wonderettes is showing through Nov. 13 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson. From left are cast members Heather Baird, Colleen Campbell, Caitie Moss and Kristin Wells. [Photo courtesy of Show Palace Dinner Theatre]
  11. Review: Laughs aplenty in Richey Suncoast Theatre's smartly cast 'Leading Ladies'

    Stage

    How many laughs and smiles can be packed into a single two-hour, 40-minute show?

    Richey Suncoast Theatre gives that question a good test with a splendid rendition of the comedy Leading Ladies, playing weekends through Oct. 30, thanks to smart casting decisions by director Robin New and solid performances by each actor.

    Outstanding is award-winning Richey Suncoast newcomer Miguel Rodriguez (director-actor at Carrollwood Players) whose comic timing and physical humor as Leo Clark, a down-on-his-luck Shakespearean actor, is priceless....

    Jason Hoolihan, left, and Miguel Rodriguez star in the comedy Leading Ladies at Richey Suncoast Theatre through Oct. 30.
  12. Review: 'I Do! I Do!' takes audience back in time at Stage West

    Stage

    The musical I Do! I Do! is showing its age — and that could be encouraging, rather than distressing.

    The 1966 show takes the audience through several phases of a 50-year marriage in just over two hours, including intermission, which makes for some jarringly quick changes in emotions and actions by both husband and wife. But that's the nature of the script, not the fault of the players in Stage West Community Playhouse's nicely done version of the show, thanks to actors Dorothy Ferguson as Agnes and Keith Surplus as Michael and director Kathy Capelle....

    Dorothy Ferguson portrays Agnes and Keith Surplus plays Michael in Stage West Community Playhouse’s Do! I Do!
  13. Skelton Black Box Theatre announces first season

    Stage

    NEW PORT RICHEY — The hammers, saws and paint buckets are still visible, transforming the former Jimmy Ferraro's Studio Theatre in downtown New Port Richey into Richey Suncoast Theatre's first satellite venture, the Charlie and Marie Skelton Black Box Theatre, a small venue dedicated to shows geared toward adult audiences.

    As the remodeling work wraps up, executive director Marie Skelton has announced the venue's first full season of four shows, starting Nov. 11 with the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning drama Proof, and ending on June 18 with the last performance of the 1985 multi-generational drama Eleemosynary. In between are the tragedy Stop Kiss and the zany comedy The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged)....

  14. Stage West production of musical 'I Do! I Do!' features bold casting move

    Stage

    SPRING HILL — The director of Stage West Community Playhouse's musical Jesus Christ Superstar, made a daring casting decision for its production of that show last season: She cast a female in the role of Judas Iscariot, a role traditionally played by a male, usually a black male.

    It was an inspired move. Actor/singer Victoria Primosch did a magnificent job with the role and went on to win a coveted HAMI Award, the single HAMI given to the show in a tough season that included the musicals Ragtime and Little Shop of Horrors....

    Dorothy Ferguson portrays Agnes and Keith Surplus plays Michael in Stage West Community Playhouse’s production of I Do! I Do!
  15. First North Suncoast production of 'Menopause the Musical' highlights Show Palace's 2017-18 season

    Stage

    HUDSON — The Show Palace Dinner Theatre has announced its 2017-18 season of shows, four packages of season tickets at discounted prices and a small increase in price for all shows.

    "For the first time in six years, we have had to raise all pricing by $1," said Jennifer Mara, business manager for the theater.

    The season comprises eight musicals, including Smokey Joe's Cafe, the longest-running musical revue in Broadway history, and, for the first time on the North Suncoast, Menopause the Musical, a four-woman musical launched in an erstwhile Orlando perfume shop that has gone on to become an international sensation....