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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

Email: shayes@tampabay.com

Twitter: @StephHayes

Blog: Deal Divas

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  1. 3 picks: Neil Simon play, Florida Orchestra galore, 'So You Think You Can Dance' tour

    Stage

    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. americanstage.org....

    Top dancers from the show like Ricky Ubeda and Lauren Froderman are on a live tour that comes to Ruth Eckerd Hall on Tuesday.
  2. 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.
  3. 'Evil Dead the Musical' brings chainsaw splatter to the Straz

    Stage

    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. strazcenter.org....

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

    Blog

    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.
  5. Ruth Eckerd Hall's Murray Studio Theater gets major overhaul

    Stage

    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.
  6. Three picks: Playwriting festival, one-woman play and whales set to music

    Stage

    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. floridaorchestra.org....

  7. Ben Folds brings signature sounds to the Florida Orchestra

    Stage

    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.
  8. Review: 'Vampire Lesbians of Sodom' is a campy treat

    Stage

    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.
  9. Last minute, and we do mean last minute, Halloween costumes

    Blog

    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.
  10. Three picks: 'Vampire Lesbians,' a 'Fifty Shades' parody and open air opera

    Stage

    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. jobsitetheater.org....

    Spank! The Fifty Shades Parody stars clockwise from front: Amanda Barker, David Raposo and Danielle Trzcinski. 
  11. Straightforward Susan Boyle coming to Ruth Eckerd Hall

    Stage

    Talking to Susan Boyle is a bit startling.

    It's not the thick Scottish accent. It's not that she's inherently difficult to talk to — she's plenty friendly.

    It's startling because the conversation lacks almost all the bloated, generalized platitudes celebrities are accustomed to passing out. Boyle is self-depreciating, does not seem that impressed with herself, does not give answers for the sake of filling air....

    Susan Boyle has sold more than 22 million albums. Her debut album entered the Billboard 200 at No. 1 and spent a record six consecutive weeks in the top spot.
  12. Review: New Florida Orchestra conductor Michael Francis wows crowd

    Stage

    By STEPHANIE HAYES

    Times Performing Arts Critic

    TAMPA -- It was an evening of significance for the Florida Orchestra, in many ways.

    First, Friday's Masterworks concert introduced new conductor Michael Francis, who officially starts his contract in 2015. This weekend marks the first of his three conducting jobs this season.

    Francis was "delighted" to have the role, he told the crowd at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. The audience showered him with cheers and applause as he stood smiling in tux and tails....

  13. Review: 'Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella' sparkles for a modern crowd

    Stage

    TAMPA — Much has been made about Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella being a revised feminist fairy tale fit for a new generation.

    Indeed, our sooty heroine is much smarter here, and she falls in love with the prince as a person rather than a throne. She's interested in the democracy of her kingdom. And in a twist, she takes control over that whole glass-slipper incident.

    That said, there's still a wedding dress large enough to rival Princess Diana's. And there's still the over-arching notion that for the ladies of the town, ultimate happiness hinges on snagging a man....

    Paige Faure as Cinderella and Andy Jones as Prince Topher.
  14. Florida Orchestra's Michael Francis talks making music and a home

    Music & Concerts

    Michael Francis was relieved. His books had just arrived from overseas.

    The British conductor was starting to plot a life here as music director of the Florida Orchestra. He had spent the weekend with his pregnant wife, shopping for furniture to fill their new Land O'Lakes home, visiting Bed, Bath & Beyond, narrowly avoiding Ikea.

    But to Francis, the reading materials were as vital as tables and chairs. There were magazine pieces on Barber, the book on Copeland and the Great Depression, the biography of Mozart …...

    British conductor Michael Francis’ three-year contract starts in the 2015 season. His local ties run deep; his wife, Cindy, is from Lutz.
  15. Remembering Oscar de la Renta

    Blog

    "I'm not interested in shock tactics. I just want to make beautiful clothes."

    So said Oscar de la Renta, the iconic fashion designer who died Monday at 82 after battling cancer. It was one of many quoteables from the man with a unique ability to make old-fashioned glamour feel fresh, who informed the way American women dress today.

    He outfitted everyone from first ladies to movie stars, wrapping Sarah Jessica Parker and Jennifer Lawrence and Amal Alamuddin in his lacy, figure-flattering confections. The gowns were always ladylike, always achieving some equilibrium of sleek and dainty. His power to balance a ballgown skirt with a chevron stripe was arresting, not distracting. In an era where sweatpants at the airport reign, he stood for getting dressed. He walked the walk in his tailored pinstripe suits and colorful pocket squares....

    Oscar de la Renta in 2008.