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Musical Dreamcoat returns

You've heard "back by popular demand" a million times, but this time, it's really true.

A horde of people were disappointed in September when Stage West Community Playhouse didn't have enough seats for them to see its opening musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Word got out quickly after it opened that this was the show to see, and the show was sold out, and then some, for every subsequent show.

Meanwhile, a national road company had started touring with Joseph, and the licensing agency had placed a restriction on any further productions in this area. This meant that Stage West couldn't get permission to extend the run.

That only made the clamor louder for Joseph tickets.

So artistic director Madeline Child called the licensing agent to see if Stage West could get Joseph next year _ and it could. Then she checked to see if the cast could do it again _ and they could. Then she asked the board to approve bringing it back _ and they did.

So, happy ending. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat will be back at Stage West on June 19 through 21 and 26 through 28 as the summer special.

Tickets probably won't be for sale until spring, but when they are, I advise buying early (watch this space). A lot of people who saw it in September, including me, will want to see it again, and everyone who missed it the first time around will not want to miss it this time.

Good news for opera buffs, too. Jerry Ciarcia is back in town.

Ciarcia is the godfather of opera in these parts. In the last few years, he has started opera study groups at libraries in Hudson, Holiday, Palm Harbor and Tarpon Springs.

"We get the videos from the state library in Tallahassee," Ciarcia said. "We have discussion before, during and after we watch them. I don't like just to present; we focus on the discussion."

Ciarcia fell in love with opera as a child when his Italian-born father took him to see operas near his hometown of Waterbury, Conn. Now retired and living part time in an area that is less than saturated with opera, he enjoys getting together with other opera enthusiasts and people who want to be opera enthusiasts.

This year's lineup:

Hudson Regional Library off Fivay Road, 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aida I; Dec. 2, Aida II; and Jan. 6, Il Trovatore.

Centennial Park Library, 5740 Moog Road, Holiday, 1:30 p.m. Nov. 13, Carmen; Dec. 11, Wozzeck; Jan. 8, Don Carlos I; Feb. 12, Don Carlos II; March 12, La Fanciulla del West; April 9, Iolante.

The Tarpon Springs Cultural Center, 101 S Pinellas Ave. (Alt. U.S. 19), shows opera videos at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of every month.

Obviously, Ciarcia goes beyond the tried and true, really delving into the operatic repertoire. The inclusion of the relatively modern, non-traditional Wozzeck is of special interest. Despite its grim theme of psychological torture and breakdown, the 1925 German opera was a surprise success at the Metropolitan Opera in 1959.

Hurrah for Jerry Ciarcia!

As downtown New Port Richey continues to evolve into an interesting destination point, it's nice to hear that Cafe Grand owner Joe Catagnia has started a monthly rotating fine art display in his popular restaurant on Grand Boulevard.

The first artist was Tarpon Springs painter Keith Martin Johns, whose intricately executed river and gulf island scenes are simply breathtaking.

Johns' work was recently removed to make way for sculptor Charlie Partin's very interesting and intriguing raku pottery. Partin will be honored at a wine and cheese reception from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday.

Area art lovers are already familiar with his works. Last year, he had a one-man exhibit at the Pasco Art Center in Holiday. In September, he had a one-man show at the Pasco-Hernando Community College in Dade City.

Since I really like Partin's work, I suppose this means that sometime this month I'll have to force myself to go to the Cafe Grand and eat one of those double filet mignons covered in peppercorns so I can see what he's been up to lately.