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Stephanie Hayes, Times Performing Arts Critic

Stephanie Hayes

Stephanie Hayes is the performing arts critic for the Tampa Bay Times, covering plays, musicals, classical music, dance, comedy and more. She also blogs about fashion for the Times' style blog, Deal Divas. She started writing for the Times in 2003, covering everything from suburban politics to zoning to snack foods to Britney Spears. She wrote the Times' feature obituary column, Epilogue, and went on to work as a general assignment reporter, entertainment reporter and higher education reporter. She grew up near Cleveland and graduated from St. Petersburg College and the University of South Florida.

Phone: (813) 226-3394


Twitter: @StephHayes

Blog: Deal Divas

  1. Deal Divas Black Friday Guide: That Escalated Quickly


    Happy almost Turkey Day! Pro-tip: Give that bird in your fridge a tap today and make sure it's not still frozen (NOT THAT THAT HAPPENED ME ME THIS MORNING, NO SIR).

    Here's another tip: Pace yourself if you're planning to go shopping on Black Friday, because there's a lot going on. It seems like everyone and their uncle has a Black Friday sale now, incluing my bank who wrote to inform me of some extra savings (on my own money?)....

    Ron and Brick can handle Black Friday. Can you?
  2. Freefall's 'A Christmas Carol' tradition is full of changes


    How do you keep your best loved holiday traditions fresh? A clean dusting of snow might be a good place to start. For the past few years, Freefall Theatre has presented a musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Freefall has brought the show back for another season. But after riding a wildly successful year that included sold-out productions of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Into the Woods, the theater is devoting new resources to the beloved production. About 75 percent of the cast is new, including David Mann as Ebenezer Scrooge and Joey Panek as Bob Cratchit. Mann should be familiar to Freefall audiences from his roles in Cabaret and Fiddler on the Roof. The production will be full of special effects, including a map of London on the theater floor. And, yes, rumor has it there could be snow. A Christmas Carol opens Saturday and runs through Dec. 24 at the theater, 6099 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $21-$46. (727) 498-5205.

    A Christmas Carol opens Saturday at Freefall Theatre in St. Petersburg. David Mann plays Ebenezer Scrooge.
  3. 'Dirty Dancing' musical spins into Straz Center


    Baby and Johnny, sitting in a corner, D-A-N-C-I-N-G. Only this time, it's happening live. Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage follows in the long tradition of blockbuster movies adapted into crowd-drawing stage productions. Based on 1987's ultimate chick flick starring Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze, the story follows a teen who goes on vacation with her parents, only to forge an unexpectedly steamy relationship with the resort's dance teacher. The stage show is packed with hit songs from the movie, including Hungry Eyes, Do You Love Me and, of course, (I've Had) the Time of My Life, during which we can be sure to expect that famous lift. Dirty Dancing is at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Dec. 4; 8 p.m. Dec. 5; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Dec. 6; and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7. David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. $56-$95. (813) 229-7827.

    Jillian Mueller plays Baby and Samuel Pergande is Johnny in Dirty Dancing at the Straz Center in Tampa. 
  4. Idina Menzel coming to Ruth Eckerd Hall this summer


    Get ready for thousands of little princesses singing along to Let It Go. Idina Menzel is bringing her global concert tour to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater at 8 p.m. July 28, the venue announced Tuesday. Menzel is a Tony Award-winning Broadway star with credits including Rent, Wicked and her current role in If/Then. But in the past year, Menzel has become best known as the voice of Elsa in Disney's Frozen. Tickets are $58.75-$128.75 and go on sale at noon on Dec. 6. Call (727) 791-7400 or visit — Stephanie Hayes, Times performing arts critic...

    NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 24:  Idina Menzel performs during Bloomingdale's Holiday Window Unveiling at Bloomingdale's 59th Street Store on November 24, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images) 524704403
  5. My Outfit Monday: Sweater weather?


    I was so pumped for My Outfit Monday because it has been so crisp and cool lately. A time for sweaters! A time for cozy cups of cocoa! I had just the thing!

    Then it turned out to be about 80 degrees today and I cried inside. Still, I was committed to showing you all the fun, if totally twee, new sweater I got from the Lauren Conrad collection for Kohl's. That would be a cup of cocoa in the chestal region, though I admit at first I thought it was a really poorly executed iced coffee. What I loved most was the robin's egg blue color, one of my favorite shades of all the shades. I love it so much, it also graces the walls of my bedroom. I am especially into LC's collection right now because of her use of spring colors for fall and winter. It's all pinks and blues and pretty soft fabrics that somehow still manage to look seasonal. And I'm going to call it, at least for my tablescape at home (I LOVE TABLESCAPES, AND YES, I AM A MILLION YEARS OLD) -- blue is this year's signature Christmas color. ...

    LC knows we love a good twee sweater around this time of year. SHE SEES INTO OUR SOUL.
  6. 3 picks: Neil Simon play, Florida Orchestra galore, 'So You Think You Can Dance' tour


    Laughter on the 23rd Floor

    American Stage's season was already in place when Sid Caesar died in February, but one play on the lineup unknowingly sat waiting in tribute. The St. Petersburg theater presents Neil Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor, inspired by Simon's time as a writer on Caesar's Your Show of Shows. In the play directed by David Russell, writers try to outwit each other while vying for attention from Max Prince, modeled after Caesar. Watch out for send-ups of famous folks including Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner from the ensemble cast of Chris Jackson, John Lombardi, Joseph Parra, Brian Webb Russell, Larry Alexander, Lauren Wood, Kristian Truelsen, Molly Leigh Healy and Glenn Gover. The show opens Friday and runs through Dec. 14 at American Stage's Raymond James Theatre, 163 Third St. N, St. Petersburg. Wednesday's preview is pay what you can, Thursday's is $29 and opening night is $59 and includes a pre-show reception. Regular shows are $39-$49. Performances are 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. (727) 823-7529.

    American Stage’s show harkens back to Neil Simon’s time writing for Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows.
  7. From monks to music, your guide to 'Carmina Burana'

    Music & Concerts

    Odds are high you've heard Carmina Burana, or at least part of it. (Not sure? Click here to listen to a portion of it.) You might nod knowingly when the topic comes up at a chichi cocktail hour, but do you actually know anything about this musical behemoth?...

    In the 1930s, Carl Orff chose 24 poems and set them to a musically theatrical cantata.
  8. 'Evil Dead the Musical' brings chainsaw splatter to the Straz


    The Evil Dead movies just have so much to offer. There's a cabin in the woods. There's a mysterious force turning people into demons. There's a guy with a chainsaw for a hand. But you know what the films don't have? Musical numbers! Problem solved with Evil Dead the Musical, coming to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa this weekend. Songs include Look Who's Evil Now and All the Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons. True fans might want to get a seat in the so-called splatter zone (orchestra rows AA-CC), and wear white clothing for a bloody built-in souvenir. Shows are at 8 p.m. Thursday and 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $35.50-$79.50. (813) 229-7827.

    Handouts for Evil Dead the Musical, coming to the Straz Center in Tampa. David Sajewich (left) and Callie Johnson.   photographer is Peter Coombs.
  9. Flashback Friday: How to host a clothing swap


    Some of us here at the Tampa Bay Times got together the past couple days to host an in-office clothing swap. It's been a big success and a fun way to break up the day. Personally, I cleaned five bags out of my closet and walked away with one bag of new things. A total win in my book.

    It made me think it might be time to repost our original clothing swap post from years past, explaining how to pull off such a feat at your own workplace or house. Take a spin through our post of yore, and tell us. Have you ever hosted a clothing swap? Got TIPS? Do share....

    Some of the fun swag in our office clothing swap this week. ITEMS GALORE.
  10. Ruth Eckerd Hall's Murray Studio Theater gets major overhaul


    Ruth Eckerd Hall has built a solid reputation staging big Broadway-level productions, but finding the right home for smaller, quality shows has been a quandary.

    Now the Clearwater venue is building a solution.

    Construction has started on the Murray Studio Theater, with a groundbreaking ceremony set for Nov. 19. By spring, it is scheduled to become a high-tech space with a resident theater company and shows from theaters spanning five counties....

    A rendering shows the new Murray Studio Theater, which is funded with a $500,000 state grant and private donations.
  11. Three picks: Playwriting festival, one-woman play and whales set to music


    Ocean Voyagers

    By now you've heard about the Blue Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit continuing through this weekend in St. Petersburg. Count the Florida Orchestra among the collaborators. Audiences can see a screening of the 2007 humpback whale documentary Ocean Voyagers at the Mahaffey Theater, with live accompaniment from the orchestra's musicians. The concert includes the orchestra's premiere of Mason Bates' Alternative Energy, a symphony in four movements featuring everything from fiddle to techno. The show is at 8 p.m. Saturday at 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. $20-$50. (727) 892-3337.

  12. Ben Folds brings signature sounds to the Florida Orchestra


    Wander for a moment back to high school. Picture that music teacher who knew everything about music, dropping terms like clave and sforzando without a blink. He could outplay anyone, but never had the edge to cut it as a rock star.

    Ben Folds is that guy. The difference is, Folds did cut it as a rock star, and so much more. The bespectacled frontman of Ben Folds Five has now ventured into symphonic music, bringing his Ben Folds Experience to the Florida Orchestra on Friday. They'll team to perform his hits, plus an original concerto under the lead of conductor Jacomo Bairos....

    Ben Folds has had success on his own, as part of Ben Folds Five and now with the Ben Folds Experience.
  13. Review: 'Vampire Lesbians of Sodom' is a campy treat


    TAMPA — It might have been a whoops to get tickets for Vampire Lesbians of Sodom on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

    It's no fault of Jobsite Theater, which produced a high-quality and campy comedy even at the matinee hour.

    But if you want the optimal experience, get a ticket for an evening show. Get a gaggle of salty friends together. Have a couple of cocktails. Throw some sass at the cast and the energy should be repaid in full....

    Zachary Hines, definitely the best thing on the stage, stars as the Virgin being sacrificed in this spooky cabaret show.
  14. Last minute, and we do mean last minute, Halloween costumes


    Happy Halloween! Up there in the photo, you'll see my Halloween costume this year (you'll also notice Deal Diva Kameel): The failed Sochi Olympic rings! Props to our friend Hilary (center ring) for dreaming up this gem.

    If you're frantically trolling the internet minutes before leaving work looking for something to throw on for that Halloween party tonight, feel free to steal our look. It involves four hula hoops and one of those expanding balls, painted white and covered in twinkle lights. If you can't find four friends and an expanding ball, we have a couple places to point you for quick ideas:...

    MAJESTY! Photo by our friend, Aaron, who was dressed as a monk.
  15. Three picks: 'Vampire Lesbians,' a 'Fifty Shades' parody and open air opera


    Vampire Lesbians of Sodom

    Every now and then, even the most pearl-clutching theatergoer needs to venture to the wild side. Maybe some Rocky Horror. Maybe some Hedwig. Jobsite Theater is taking up the latest cause of camp with Vampire Lesbians of Sodom. Charles Busch's long-running off-Broadway satire tells the tale of two vampires with a rivalry lasting almost 2,000 years. Jobsite's take combines an old-fashioned horror movie style with vaudeville and burlesque, and will feature live musical interludes. The show stars Summer Bohnenkamp-Jenkins, and Zachary Hines, who is one half of local cabaret act Coco and Homo. The play opens in time for Halloween on Friday and runs through Nov. 23 at the Shimberg Playhouse at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. Shows are 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays. $28. Preview today is $14. (813) 229-7827.

    Vanessa Rodriguez is one of the Opera Tampa Singers who will be performing on Sunday.