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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. Merry Christmas! Leggings are not pants.


    Back in my halcyon youth, I was much more principled on the matter of leggings. They're not pants, I would cry! They're tights! Your butt is showing! Put on a tunic! Put on a dress! Have some decorum!

    Things have changed, and as I type this to you, I am wearing leggings as pants. That's right, everyone. I'm not particularly proud of this, but it's Christmas Eve, and practicality has prevailed. I need stretch. I need give. I need melted cheese. I need leggings. I don't need pants. I DON'T NEED YOUR PANTS....

    Sorry, not pants in Montana. But if you want to rage against authority, these Fair Isle Deer Pattern Leggings are $17.90 at Forever 21.
  2. Get bitter with 'Santaland Diaries' at American Stage


    Perhaps you have tried to get into the holiday spirit, but just find yourself hating everyone and everything around you. Well, here's the show for you! Catch the final performances of Santaland Diaries at American Stage in St. Petersburg. In Joe Mantello's stage adaptation of David Sedaris' famous holiday story, an out-of-work writer takes a job as a Macy's elf over the holidays, wearing velvet knickers, becoming more bitter with each passing day. Brian Shea handles the role of Crumpet the elf in the one-man show, with performances at 8 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at American Stage's Raymond James Theatre, 163 Third St. N, St. Petersburg. $19. (727) 823-7529.

    Brian Shea plays Crumpet the elf in Santaland Diaries, showing at American Stage in St. Petersburg.
  3. Moscow Ballet brings 'Great Russian Nutcracker' to the Mahaffey


    It can be easy to slip into nutcracker overload this time of year, but the Moscow Ballet has some ways to keep the classic story feeling fresh. The company's Great Russian Nutcracker comes to the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg on Sunday, bringing with it 10-foot silk puppets, life-sized Russian nesting dolls and a white "dove of peace" with a 20-foot wingspan created by dancers. Performances are at noon, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. $32-$190. Call (727) 893-7832 or visit

    The Moscow Ballet brings its Great Russian Nutcracker this weekend.
  4. 10 noteworthy Tampa Bay performing arts moments in 2014


    The performing arts scene in Tampa Bay continues to evolve into something bigger, better and more influential each year. But tectonic shifts don't happen without incremental changes, good, bad and otherwise. • This year brought big infusions of cash, hungry audiences and leadership mix-ups that will ripple into 2015 and beyond. Here are 10 of the most noteworthy moments in Tampa Bay's performing arts scene this year. — Stephanie Hayes, Times Performing Arts Critic...

    Tasha Smith, guest instructor at the festival.   Tampa Bay Theatre Festival at Straz Center for the Performing Arts Aug. 29, 2014  - Aug. 31S, 2014
  5. Deal Diva Netflix binge: Advanced Style


    My Netflix page is scary. I have a habit of falling deep into a rabbit hole of weird, sometimes dark and usually odd documentary films. Anything with a narrow counter culture or an exploration of a fandom or a history of conjoined twins, I'm all about. So when I log on to my Netflix homepage, the recommendation bots are like, "Since you watched "I BATHE MYSELF IN KILLER BEES AT BRONY CONVENTIONS" you might like "SLEEPING ON A BED OF NAILS IN THE BACK OF A SUSHI BAR."...

    Oh, those lashes! The poster for Advanced Style.
  6. Review: 'Into the Woods' finds harmony on film


    What fans of Into the Woods have long wished for, more than life, more than anything, more than the moon, is a movie version of the sardonic fractured fairy tale.

    If that line meant nothing to you, you're probably not fan enough to recognize it as a lyric. That could spell a problem for folks going sight unseen into the film rebirth of this odd and at times slow 1986 musical.

    But for fans of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's stage show, Rob Marshall's film for Walt Disney Pictures may work better in ways than some live productions. Lapine adapted the script for film, and while there are some subtle changes, they shouldn't send Into the Woods devotees into a rage as once predicted....

    The witch is played marvelously by an utterly ugly and then lusciously gorgeous Meryl Streep.
  7. Review: New 'Phantom of the Opera' at the Straz still an alluring spectacle


    TAMPA — Some things in life are just reliable. A Delmonico from Bern's Steakhouse. A quality cashmere sweater. Hot coffee on a cool morning.

    Add to the list The Phantom of the Opera. It doesn't much matter what anyone says about the nuances of the production, or the structure of the story. This tale of a hideous beast finding redemption in the bowels of an opera house will draw a crowd night after night, simply because Phantom satisfies....

    The new staging allows Chris Mann’s Phantom more opportunities to lurk in shadows as he stalks Christine, Katie Travis, in The Phantom of the Opera.
  8. Deal Divas Gift Guide: Fashion books


    As professional writers, we're all pretty big book nerds here. And as fashion junkies, we're especially big nerds for fashion books. Sound like someone in your life? We wanted to list a few of the beautiful and interesting fashion reads that have arrived at DDHQ over the holiday season and throughout the year, perfect last minute gifts for the stylish reader in your life. It totally helps, by the way, that I sit next to the Tampa Bay Times book editor. We spend lots of time oohing and ahhing over the pretty pages that show up in the review pile. Why not you?...

    Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent
  9. Florida Orchestra to serenade the sick with free Moffitt concert


    When the musicians of the Florida Orchestra take their seats to play today, it won't be in a concert hall full of subscribers.

    Rather, in a simple yet meaningful concert, the orchestra will visit Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa to play a free show for patients, employees and anyone who stops by. It's the first sign of a shifting culture at the orchestra, one moving toward more community involvement....

    “This is very much what I believe to be an important aspect of an orchestra. . . . To make music not just a form of entertainment, but something that is so utterly intrinsic and necessary.” Michael Francis, 
incoming conductor
  10. Three questions for opera star Elizabeth Futral, coming to St. Pete Opera


    Elizabeth Futral has performed with the Metropolitan Opera, at Carnegie Hall and all around the world. She's been everyone from Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire to Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare to Musetta in La Bohème.

    But the coloratura soprano was just Elizabeth when she happened to meet St. Petersburg Opera Company maestro Mark Sforzini in Virginia. The two had dinner, and he invited her to be a soloist in St. Pete Opera's annual Seasonal Sparkle concert. Futral has family in Clearwater and Brandon, so the opportunity had a built-in holiday vacation....

    Elizabeth Futral, 51, who lives in Roanoke, Va., has family in Clearwater and Brandon, so her visit will also be a holiday vacation.
  11. Touring 'A Christmas Carol' comes through Ruth Eckerd Hall


    There's certainly no shortage of A Christmas Carol productions this year. But Nebraska Theatre Caravan has been redeeming everyone's favorite Scrooge since 1979. The professional touring wing of the Omaha Community Playhouse brings its adaptation of Dickens' Christmas ghost tale to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Monday. $38-$78. (727) 791-7400 or

    Matt Kamprath as Scrooge and Sarah Kloster as the Ghost of Christmas Past in Nebraska Theatre Caravan’s A Christmas Carol, which has been touring since 1979. It comes to Ruth Eckerd Hall on Monday.
  12. My Outfit Monday: Holiday swapping


    Remember that time we had an office clothing swap? How could you forget?

    Well, this weekend we saw the spoils of our efforts play out in real life. Each year, some of the talented female journalists at the Times get together for a cookie exchange in which we all attempt to bake gourmet sweets to varying degrees of success. The best part of the event is the storytelling that accompanies each recipe, i.e., that time I tried to make peppermint bark and it turned out gray....

    Posing outside the cookie exchange in the gorgeous Florida December weather. Does not suck.
  13. Incoming Florida Orchestra conductor Michael Francis welcomes a daughter

    Music & Concerts

    A special package has arrived just in time for the holidays.

    Michael Francis, the incoming conductor of the Florida Orchestra, and his wife, Cindy welcomed their first child at 12:21 a.m. Thursday, according to the orchestra.

    Annabella Grace Francis weighed in at 7 pounds, 8 ounces. An email from orchestra president Michael Pastreich reported that mother and baby were doing well and that Francis is "both relieved and joyously happy."...

    Michael Francis, new dad.
  14. Interview with Cameron Mackintosh: Why 'Phantom' needed to change



    The most successful theater producer in the world could have been anyone, smiling and avuncular in a khaki vest. He mazed through the Broward Center for the Performing Arts with fingers clasped around a Starbucks cup.

    He was days from escaping to a mountain vacation. But Cameron Mackintosh did not get to be Sir Cameron Mackintosh by ignoring details, and the results speak for themselves....

    The company performs Masquerade for The Phantom of the Opera. Photo by Alastair Muir for the David. A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts
  15. Take 30 percent off at Gap through Sunday


    If you're scrambling for a last minute holiday party dress, don't neglect everyone's favorite pants and crew neck sweater provider, Gap. Today through Sunday you can lop 30 percent off regular price items with the code SHOP. Check out a couple cute options above.

    And once again, I'll wheel out my annaul sermon about Gap's Perfect Trouser, the greatest pants of all time. If you're short like me, the ankle length is perfecto. A Christmas miracle....

    Don't neglect the best pants of all the pants, Gap's Perfect Trouser. Best to stock up during sales like this because they run $69.95 a pop.