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. Stageworks presents nine short plays with local flavor


    Catch a slate of fresh local plays when Stageworks and Tucker Hall present Tampaworks 2014: Play Local. This year's collection of nine short plays include one about a couple trying to clear the memories from their South Tampa home and another about a backstage tour of the Palladium that turns macabre. Shows are at 8 p.m. today through Saturday at Stageworks Theater, 1120 E Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. $20. Call (813)374-2416 or visit

    Masks; Comedy; Drama; Tragedy; Jupiterimages
  2. Jobsite Theater gets artsy with 'Inventing Van Gogh'


    Vincent van Gogh's final self-portrait, painted right before he died, has never been seen before now. At least, that's the premise of Inventing Van Gogh, the latest production from Jobsite Theater. The drama tells the story of contemporary painter Patrick Stone and his dealings with van Gogh, a story set in the converging universes of a modern-day art studio and 19th century France. The play, directed by Karla Hartley and starring Steve Fisher and Jordan Foote, opens Friday and runs through Aug. 3 in the Shimberg Playhouse at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $28. (813) 229-7827.

    Steve Fisher, left, and Jordan Foote, right, star in Jobsite Theater’s production of Inventing Van Gogh, which opens Friday in Tampa.
  3. Upright Citizens Brigade headlines Sarasota Improv Festival


    It's summer, everyone is sweaty and cranky. Time for a laugh, right? Get it when Florida Studio Theatre presents the Sarasota Improv Festival on Friday and Saturday, headlined by the award-winning Upright Citizens Brigade. Sixteen national improv comedy groups will perform, from ImprovBoston to Miami's Improv Against Humanity to Tampa Bay's own Post Dinner Conversation, Dear Aunt Gertrude, Hawk & Wayne and more. Tickets range from $10 to $59. The theater's at 1241 North Palm Ave., Sarasota. Call (941) 366-9000 or visit — Stephanie Hayes, Times performing arts critic...

     Patrick Parhiala is in front from ImprovBoston and Chris Dinger from SAK Comedy Lab is behind Patrick.  . Florida Studio Theatre presents the Sarasota Improv Festival Friday and Saturday, headlined by the award-winning Upright Citizens Brigade. Sixteen national improv comedy groups will perform, from ImprovBoston to Miami‚€™s Improv Against Humanity to Tampa Bay‚€™s own Post Dinner Conversation, Dear Aunt Gertrude, Hawk & Wayne and more.
  4. Deal alert: Shoes 60 percent off at Payless


    A little dollop of shoe love for you on this Tuesday (Wednesday, Jr! Which means the week is almost half over!): Payless clearance shoes are up to 60 percent off right now, which means you can snag these nifty blue suede shoes for $14, these mushroom-colored lace-up boots for $24.99 and these fancy silver laser-cut loafer for $11. Or perhaps all three?...

    Someone could maybe step on these. They seem sturdier. Still rude, though. $24.99.
  5. July 4 weekend deals to light your fashion fireworks


    Maybe it's the fact that I'm officially on mini-vacation in T-minus four hours, but I'm sporting a very patriotic outfit today, two days before our officially-sanctioned Independence Day of gaudiness and sparkle. I'm a festive burst of navy blue and white dots with red nails and lips, a regular Alex P. Keaton in a dress. Patriotism!

    We know you're all gearing up to enjoy your long weekend, too. And if you're a regular around these parts, we know your long weekend plans probably include shopping. We found a handful of deals to get your holiday hauls started. Add any other good sales you know about in the comments or on Twitter @dealdivas. Have a safe and happy 4th, and for the love of Katy Perry, do not blow off any fingers this year....

    Shopping shoes? On the 4th of July, anything goes. These beauties were snapped in 2012 for the Times by Daniel Wallace.
  6. Pick your pleasure from Straz's new season


    The Broadway lineup was set. The opera lineup was set. Now, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts has filled out the rest of its 2014-15 season, welcoming a slate of salty pop culture theater, music, dance, comedians and celebrity speakers.

    The big Broadway acts, which the Straz announced earlier this year, are Pippin, Dirty Dancing, Motown the Musical, Phantom of the Opera, Beauty and the Beast, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella and The Book of Mormon. And Opera Tampa's selections for this season are Puccini's Madama Butterfly and Verdi's Rigoletto....

    Tumblers, contortionists and jugglers with the Peking Acrobats will perform on March 8.
  7. Review: St. Pete Opera's 'West Side Story' both shines, stumbles


    ST. PETERSBURG — Leonard Bernstein said it himself. West Side Story is really hard to cast.

    "The characters had to be able not only to sing but dance and act and be taken for teenagers." Bernstein once said. "Some were wonderful singers but couldn't dance very well, or vice versa ... and if they could do both, they couldn't act."

    His assessment holds true today. The St. Petersburg Opera Company has tackled Bernstein's enduring work about social ills and love, filling it with a slate of stunning opera singers....

      Photo credit is Steven Le, Thee Photo Ninja.
  8. Miss Florida pageant crowns the wrong winner

    Human Interest

    In a cross between Miss Congeniality and "Dewey Defeats Truman," the Miss Florida pageant has a real oops moment on its hands.

    The pageant announced Friday that someone miscounted the beans and crowned the wrong woman, forcing officials to dethrone the winner named last week in St. Petersburg.

    After holding the title of Miss Florida for just six days, Elizabeth Fechtel of Leesburg has been replaced by first runnerup Victoria Cowen of Panama City. Cowen gets to advance to the Miss America pageant Sept. 14 in Atlantic City....

    Elizabeth Fechtel is shown as the winner in the Miss Florida pageant’s Facebook photo. The newly declared winner, Victoria Cowen, is second from the left. 
  9. Summer beauty review: Model in a Bottle makeup setting spray


    Florida summer scenario:

    You sit in your cool, crisp, air-conditioned home carefully applying your makeup, the soft brush stroke of the blush brush dancing up and down your cheeks, the mascara wand carefully coating each lash to a perfect proportion, French music frolicking out of your iPod, not a care in this temperature-controlled world. You are perfect!

    Then, you open the door. You step outside....

    My Model in a Bottle face after an hour-long cycling class. Sweaty but intact!
  10. Is 'West Side Story' an opera? Close enough for St. Pete Opera



    Maestro Mark Sforzini walked to the piano on a recent morning and played a series of notes in a steely, foreboding movement. Dun, dun, dunnnn. Ma-ri-aaaaaa. • "What does that interval make you feel?" he asked the crowd. • Suspense, they offered. Conflict. Dissonance. Tension. General ick. • Those notes, he explained at the St. Petersburg Opera Company's Mornings With the Maestro series at the Museum of Fine Arts, are the basis for West Side Story. The maestro was there to discuss the ins and outs of the opera's next production. • Wait. West Side Story? Opera? • Not exactly, but Leonard Bernstein's version of Romeo and Juliet comes very close. Although Bernstein himself said he wanted to avoid falling into the "operatic trap" of indulgent singing over plot, there is no denying it: • "West Side Story is what I consider to be one of the most operatic musicals that exists," Sforzini said. Here's why....

    Gilad Paz plays Tony in “West Side Story,” presented by the St. Petersburg Opera Company at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg.
  11. Florida Orchestra names Michael Francis new music director


    The global search went on for three years, but in the end it took just two key performances for Florida Orchestra leaders to know they had their conductor.

    On Tuesday, they named British musician Michael Francis as the orchestra's new music director. Leaders were so wowed by Francis, they ended their hunt a full year earlier than expected.

    "I will work the orchestra," Francis said, calling from home in Eton in England. "They seem keen, hungry. And they're almost crying out for it."...

    Conductor Michael Francis   Photo: Marco Borggreve
  12. Review: Stageworks' The Sugar Bean Sisters' is full of Florida fun


    TAMPA — Terrible, awful things happen every day in Sugar Bean. Weird things. Things no one can explain. Florida things.

    Stageworks Theatre's latest production, an absurd Southern gothic comedy set in the fictional swamp town of Sugar Bean, Fla., is about three women desperate to escape the drudgery of their lives. One wants to be taken away by aliens. One wants to find a good Mormon husband and get to the celestial kingdom, not "one of those lower kingdoms." And the other just wants out of her troubled, small-town existence....

    Need proof of the play’s Florida-ness? Look no further than the characters of the Reptile Woman (Ami Sallee, left) and exotic dancer Videllia Sparks (Caitlin Eason).
  13. Sale to beat the sale: Extra 40 percent off at Loft!


    It's the war of the sales!

    Nice try, Katie, but even she admits her so-called sale at Anthropologie is not really a good enough sale around these cheap-o parts of the Deal Diva internet. Here's another sale that may just edge out things like this $40 striped tee shirt at Anthro. Everything is an extra 40 percent off at Loft, a great place to stack up on summer shorts staples and work dresses....

    Striped popover, a cool $20.
  14. Orange is the New Black + Gilt + Dress for Success = Love


    I am a little behind my fellow Divas, but this week I finally started season 2 of Orange is the New Black on Netflix. Observations: I want Laverene Cox to do my hair, and I would totally hire Taystee to work for my (imaginary) company. Also, I watched with glee the second episode, in which the prison ladies get job interview makeovers from Dress for Success, where I volunteer once a month. (No, I have never done a prison makeover, though I would!)....

    This stuff would never fly in a job interview.
  15. 'Yes man' the creative force behind Studio@620, entering 10th year



    Bob Devin Jones sat in a row of empty chairs at the Studio@620, exposed rafters looming over him like a cirrus cloud. He considered the props left from a performance art piece the night before: a beta fish floating in a bowl, a woman's hat, a book.

    It was past noon, and in a matter of hours, the studio had to transform for a roundtable discussion about women in the arts. And Jones still had to get home and make enough salmon to feed the 30 guests....

     Standing, left to right: Artist, Hunter Payne,  Director, Actor Chris Jackson,  Bassist, John Lamb, Painter, Carol Dameron, Photographer, Herb Snitzer Sitting left to right: Author, Ray Arsenault, Performance artist, Alice Ferrulo, Architect, Tim Clemmons, Painter, Stephen Palladino, Glass artist, Duncan McClellan Sitting on floor:Painter, Ignacio Aguerrevere Bazo    JOHN PENDYGRAFT | TIMES