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Broadway again finds stage in school

A year ago, I asked a baker's dozen of local theater people to help me present a four-part seminar on Broadway shows for the Senior Academy at Pasco-Hernando Community College.

The students and panelists had so much fun that PHCC asked me to do it again, and I happily said yes.

Once more, the sessions will be at the PHCC Performing Arts Center on the New Port Richey campus. Dates are March 3, 17, 24 and 31. Hours are 10 a.m. to noon.

This year will be the same subject, Broadway theater, but it will be a different presentation and lots of new information, in case someone who attended last year wants to come back for round two.

Last year, we discussed the history of the Broadway musical, how theater operators put together a season of shows, what it means to be an "Equity" theater and the purpose of theater reviews. We also took a small peek at putting a theatrical production together.

This year, we're going into depth about producing a show.

Each session will start with a brush-up on theatrical terms and brief discussions by various people connected with theater. Then we'll shift the spotlight to the day's experts for some exciting theater learning.

For the first session on March 3, professional, award-winning actor/director Harvey Laskey will direct two actors putting together a scene from the comedy Run for Your Wife, which Laskey directed at Stage West Community Playhouse last season and will direct for Show Palace Dinner Theatre in July. Actors Candler Budd (Amos in Chicago; Jerry/Daphne in Some Like It Hot) and Matthew McGee (Devil in Damn Yankees, Jacob in La Cage aux Folles), who will play the leads at the Show Palace, will be there with scripts in hand to learn the scene before our eyes.

In the second half, makeup artist/actor Sara DelBeato (Fanny Brice in Funny Girl; Sweet Sue in Some Like It Hot) will show how to make Victor into Victoria.

On March 17, Show Palace musician Joe Camper, sound engineer Tony Sessa and musical director Stan Collins will show how music is recorded and then coordinated with dance and dialogue during a show. We'll also have some panel discussions and Q&A sessions.

On March 24, award-winning theatrical designer Tom Hansen will show the development of a stage set, from coordinating script with set to drafting the design and building it. He'll share some scenic secrets _ just how do scrim curtains work anyway? _ and answer questions. After that, costume designer Joy Platt will show how costumes are made, and she and Hansen will demonstrate how to get actors off the stage and into a new costume without embarrassing the audience or the actor.

Our final session on March 31 features former Broadway dancer John Leggio, who will explain and demonstrate how to choreograph a production. Don't be surprised if Leggio brings along some dancers to help give the inside scoop.

We'll have surprise guests, and with all this expertise, I'm sure we'll all learn a lot and have some fun along the way.

The fee is $44.16 for non-Senior Academy members and included in Senior Academy tuition (if the member's schedule isn't already too full). You can sign up at the Student Services office on any PHCC campus. Or call (727) 816-3439.

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The past two weeks since my cat Bustopher died unexpectly have been very sad ones for me, but the sadness has been softened by the basket full of letters, cards, e-mails and calls I've received from other pet lovers who understood my sorrow.

Many people wrote long letters about the loss of their own furry companions and sweet stories about the good times they had together. It's clear that these little fellers have comforted many of us through terrible emotional pain and have brought much happiness into our lives.

I wish I could thank each writer in person for their warm and heartfelt messages, but I'm hoping these words will let them know how much their expressions of sympathy meant to me.

I'm making an album of the letters and cards and e-mails so that I will never forget my little Bustopher and how dear and kind people were when I lost him.

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