Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Pop culture icons?

No one can explain why it happens, but every so often a pop culture phenomenon surfaces and it’s seemingly everywhere.


Saturday Night Live”?
Twin Peaks”?

And, now, Sacco and Vanzetti?

The two Italian immigrants were executed in 1927 for a murder they may or may not have committed.

It was one of the early “trials of the century,” but the pair had not received much publicity in recent years.

But in just the last two weeks, Sacco and Vanzetti have been the answer to a “Jeopardy question,” mentioned by Jon Stewart BEFORE he came to Tampa and the title subject of documentary filmmaker Peter Miller’s new movie.

And, of course, their story inspired Maestro Anton Coppola to write an opera about them, which will be staged in a special concert presentation on Feb. 17 in Ferguson Hall here at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. The opera had its world premiere in Tampa at TBPAC in 2001.

Miller said he was drawn to their story for many reasons.

“I was drawn to their ideology. They were hardworking and believed in opportunity and idealism,” Miller told Newsweek magazine in the current issue. “I read the amazing letters they wrote to their children from prison and I thought theirs was a story that everyone should know.”

Miller thinks their story still has relevance.

“We are at a time when people have been willing to sacrifice civil liberties to preserve national security, and people have been increasingly anxious about the presence of immigrants in our society, so this story shows the country in a similar time in history,” he said. “There are many parallels that can be drawn to our current struggle with immigration.”

– MichaelK/TBPAC

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Cigar City Chroncles - free pre-show discussions!

We are hosting a series of discussions in conjunction with the world premiere of Cigar City Chronicles: A musical history of Tampa. Pre-show talks will be held at the John Germany Library auditorium (often referred to as "the big egg building" or simply "the egg") across the street from TBPAC. In addition to the scheduled scholar, a CCC representative, such as director Claude McNeil, Rick Criswell from our producing department, composer Stan Collins, a cast member, or another TBPAC representative will be in attendance.

Come and dig a little deeper into our collective history with the scholars who helped advise the playwright, then enjoy the show!

*EDIT* New event added!
Informance lecture, Monday, Feb. 5
TBPAC will offer a free Cigar City Chronicles Informance lecture on Monday, Feb. 5, at 7 p.m., in the Jaeb Theater. Featuring members of the creative team and cast the Informance will include the audience in a discussion on the process of what it’s like to build an original musical from scratch. Those who attend will learn about the history of Tampa and the many sources of inspiration for this ambitious and entertaining tribute to the city and the people of Tampa. Informances are for everyone, novice and expert alike.

Panel will include: Claude McNeil – Author, Lyricist, & Director / Stan Collins – Composer / Rick Criswell – Project Director / Alison Burns – Performer / Rodney Kite-Powell – Scholar

Thu., March 29 from 5:30 – 6:30 PM

USF History professor, author and Tampa Tribune history columnist Dr. Gary Mormino will speak on the history and contributions of Italians in Tampa followed by Q & A from the audience.
Gary R. Mormino, the Frank E. Duckwall Professor of History, is co-director of the Florida Studies Program at USF St. Petersburg. He is a prolific writer, author of a wide range of academic and popular books. Immigrants on the Hill (University of Illinois press, 1986) won the Howard Marraro Prize as the outstanding book in Italian history. The Immigrant World of Ybor City (University of Illinois Press, 1987) received the Theodore Saloutos Prize for the outstanding book in ethnic-immigration history. In addition, two of his articles have received prizes for the best writing in Florida history. He has written for the St. Petersburg Times, Orlando Sentinel, and Miami Herald. He currently writes a bi-weekly column on state and local history for the Tampa Tribune.

Almost two decades ago, he began to research a social history of modern Florida. Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams: A Social History of Modern Florida was published in the spring of 2005 by the University Press of Florida. Readers have called it a seminal study in state history.

Michael Gannon, Distinguished History Professor at the University of Florida, writes that Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams “will be the book by which all future studies of modern Florida will be measured.” In 2006, the Florida Historical Society awarded the book the Charlton Tebeau Prize.

Dr. Mormino received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina and has taught at USF since 1977. In 2003 the Florida Humanities Council named him its first Humanist of the Year.
Sat., March 31 from 12:30 – 1:30 PM.

Scholar and discussion TBD. I'll be sure to post more when I get the information.

Thursday, April 19 from 5:30 – 6:30 PM

Dr. Kenya Dworkin y Mendez, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies at Carnegie-Mellon University, will talk about the history and cultural importance of Spanish theater in Ybor City, followed by question and answer.
Dworkin y Mendez received her Ph.D. from the University of Hawai’i. Her current research involves an analysis of the cultural and sociolinguistic survival of a unique Latin community in Ybor City, Florida, through its tradition of Spanish-language and particularly Cuban theater. More specifically, the project also involves an analysis of the U.S. government's WPA Federal Theater Project during the 1930s and 1940s and its assimilatory goals with respect to the Spanish-speaking community in Ybor City. Other projects include 1) a sociolinguistic, ethnographic study of the circumstances surrounding the emigration of Puerto Ricans to Hawai’i; 2) a psycholinguistic and cultural analysis of the literary production of Latino monolingual, bicultural writers; and 3) an analysis of the self- contradicting discourse of identity and independence in late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Cuba. She has published in Nuevo Texto Crítico and Lucero: A Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies.

YouTubesday: Joe Bonamassa at '04 Montreal Festival

I found this video of Joe Bonamassa playing the Montreal Jazz Festival on YouTube, so I thought I'd share.

Joe plays TBPAC's Ferguson Hall on Feb. 14. Nothing says "I Love You" to your own guitar hero than tickets to see a living legend.


Patty Larkin confirmed!

A little birdie has told me that we've confirmed Patty Larkin for a Club Jaeb date later this year.

She put on a great show last year, so we're excited to have her back. More details on all that as I get them.

I hear you missed a great show last night in LeRoy Bell and His Only Friends. He had a very small but enthusiastic audience.

We also have Catie Curtis coming back on Feb. 26. Get those tickets while they last - she was a big seller last year, and we're already moving tickets pretty quickly.

Know anyone we should be keeping an eye on for this series? Let us know!


Friday, January 26, 2007

Feed your mind!

Yesterday was opening night of Mind Games, and I took a group to see what’s so intriguing about Marc Salem’s Mind Games. I’ll admit it… I was pretty blown away.

He starts off with a few “simple” games to get warmed up, and builds up the show to a mind blowing finish. Several people in my group were chosen to partake in the show, and it was quite an experience. I was pretty relaxed and determined to stump this mentalist, but that was all shot when he began focusing on me. I’m not sure what gave me away, but he was right on the money.

I encourage everyone to witness this amazing show. Keep a sharp focus or you’ll trip up on the easiest questions. Believe me, several people did and it was hilarious!

-Pablo A.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Suzanne Farrell in Tampa


She left her home in Cincinnati at to go to New York City and audition for the legendary George Balanchine. On her fifteenth birthday, she danced for him in a private audition – 2 days late she had a full scholarship to train at his School of American Ballet. By 16, she was a member of Balanchine’s acclaimed New York City Ballet. He created Meditation for her. He created Tzigane for her. He created Diamonds for her. He was her teacher and friend. She was his muse.

By the time she retired from the stage in 1989, Suzanne Farrell achieved a ballet career without precedent or parallel. During her 28 years on the stage, she danced a repertory of more than 100 ballets, nearly a third of which were created expressly for her by Balanchine and other choreographers, such as Jerome Robbins and Maurice Béjart. Her autobiography, “Holding On to the Air”, was published in 1990 and has been reissued by the University Press of Florida. The film Suzanne Farrell – Elusive Muse was nominated for an Academy Award in 1997 as Best Feature Length Documentary.

A 2005 recipient of the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors, Farrell now spends her time traveling the world as a repetiteur for The George Balanchine Trust and as artistic director of her own Washington, D.C.-based company The Suzanne Farrell Ballet. She’s in Tampa this weekend at the Patel Conservatory auditioning young dancers for her summer intensive program Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell – a rare and enriching experience for the area’s dance students.

SuzanneFarrellin Diamonds

- Paul B.

SPAM has never been so good!

Not the food (though I'm sure it's a tasty, cholesterol-infused treat) but the Broadway hit SPAMALOT. The show opened on Tuesday and the reviews are SPAM-tastic (yes, that's a word)! Check them out for yourself ...

St. Petersburg Times
The Tampa Tribune
Sarasota Herald-Tribune

-Angela L.

Gasparilla weekend: Life does go on, you know?

I suppose in a way it's unavoidable. The arts coverage in Tampa is light enough without any help from political cycles, natural disasters or pirate invasions. Yet it seems every year by the middle of January all eyes start to focus on Bayshore and the Gasparilla parade. Well, all the parades. Isn't there one like every week from New Year's to St. Patrick's Day now? I can't keep up.

One of the greatest misconceptions I've noted though is that people think Downtown is horribly overrun with drunk fruitloops all night long after the big parade and that's simply not true. Downtown's actually a little dead (I mean like, more dead than it normal) that night.

The best theory is that all the amateurs that pour out to get their drink on all day are passed out somewhere from the combination of alcohol and the sun. Those that are still out lighting it up - those people are professionals and by and large you don't need to worry about them.

Ok, so there are bound to be places full of yuck after a hard day of bead tossing and retrieving, but unless you're hanging out on Howard, at The Hub, in Channelside or Ybor - you're not going to have a problem.

We at TBPAC actually have a very full calendar this year for Gasparilla weekend, and if you're itching for something to do that doesn't involve driving around for an hour to find a $40 parking spot and counting how many times you get stepped on or run over by a pram, you should really give us a look. Follow the links for show times and more info:

Monty Python's Spamalot
- Carol Morsani Hall
Marc Salem's Mind Games - Jaeb Theater
This is How it Goes - Shimberg Playhouse
All the Great Books (abridged) - Shimberg Playhouse

I promise you there will be plenty of places to park, and traffic shouldn't be too bad. Take 275 if you're coming from S. Tampa - those side streets down there may be a little congested still - and even if not you're better off driving someplace else. Tampa St. from Tampa/Seminole Heights and even further north than that straight into Downtown will be a breeze.

And if you simply can't agree to do anything else than hunker down in your house all weekend, or if you're dead set and determined to party like the proverbial piratical rock star - why not try drying out here Monday night as the Club Jaeb series presents LeRoy Bell and His Only Friends.

We've got a lot going on, take advantage!


Monday, January 22, 2007

See Marc Salem on 60 Minutes

Check out this link to watch mentalist Marc Salem on 60 Minutes. He'll be in Tampa Jan. 25-28.


Meet the cast of Spamalot!

Several of the cast members of Spamalot will be participating in Discover Broadway at the Carrollwood Barnes & Noble this Wednesday, Jan. 24, from 5-5:45 p.m. It's a completely FREE opportunity to meet some of the show's cast members and ask them all sorts of questions about their experiences as an actor and touring with the national tour of Monty Python's Spamalot.

Coming soon … Discover Broadway for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Doubt and the return of The Producers.

-Angela L.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Crosby Loggins to open for Joe Bonamassa

Crosby Loggins (son of Kenny) will be supporting Joe Bonamassa in Tampa.

Crosby Loggins will be touring as a duo playing an acoustic set each night with the very talented violinist Paul Cartwright. Below is his website which has everything from his bio and some press clippings. Also below are several different tracks you can download and listen to. Please note these tracks are unmixed and un-mastered so the quality might be a little off ...

Wanna Be You

Good Enough

March on America

- dj

Red Molly - New Artist of the Year

You may remember Red Molly from Michael's posting back in December. This is pretty good news!

Hey Everybody!

WUMB 91.9 FM in Boston MA is the country's foremost radio station for acoustic music. Last week, we found out that our CD "Never Been to Vegas" was chosen by WUMB listeners as #6 in the Top Ten CDs of 2006!
Today, it got even more exciting. We just found out that Red Molly was voted New Artist of the Year!

This is a terrific honor, considering the number of excellent new artists that WUMB plays each year. A Red Molly song will be played at the bottom of every hour today, beginning at 7:30 am. Tune in to
91.9 FM or go to and click the "Listen Live Now"

Our heartfelt gratitude goes to Jake Jacobson, of Circle of Friends Coffeehouse in Franklin MA (, for getting things started for us in the Boston area.

Laurie, Abbie & Carolann
Red Molly

Monday, January 15, 2007

LeRoy Bell and His Only Friends - Jan. 29

This is a guy you gotta see and hear.

When TBPAC started its Club Jaeb Monday night series in fall of 2005, they promised a great variety of talented veteran and up-and-coming artists in folk, Americana, blues and jazz. So far, Patty Larkin, Kenny Rankin, Catie Curtis (who’s coming back on Feb. 26!) and others have fulfilled that promise. It doesn’t hurt that the Jaeb is an intimate listening room that holds only a few more than 200 people.

Now, singer/songwriter LeRoy Bell is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 29, at 7:30.

Bell may be the best singer-songwriter you’ve never heard of. One of the problems, of course, is that radio formats are so tight that there’s little room for an artist who can’t be shoehorned into a box. So we depend on indy stations, Paste and other music magazines plus iTunes and other artist referral sites to find new music. Nobody likes to be compared to anybody else, but as much as anybody, Bell sounds like the wonderfully sensitive singer Seal.

Bell built his growing reputation by opening for B.B. King, Al Green, Taj Mahal, Keb Mo, LeAnn Rimes, the Temptations, the O'Jays, Mavis Staples and Colin Hay. He recently released his first full-length CD, Two Sides To Every Story. (Check out a song sample at TBPAC.ORG) It reflects his themes of love, humanity, social issues and individualism. His first solo release Spending Time (2003) gained critical acclaim for the unique “acoustic soul” sound. Selling more than 12,000 units independently and gaining airplay on over 100 radio stations, it set the groundwork for the current release.

You won’t be disappointed.

-MichaelK, TBPAC

Thursday, January 04, 2007

This Stuff Writes Itself

Every morning I diligently google “opera news” and patiently wait for the little cyber spiders to bring me juicy tidbits from the World Wide Web. Each morning I wake with a faint glimmer of hope that today will be the day that I get a headline like this:

Opera singer claims bedbugs bit her 150 times

To be honest, after I wiped the coffee off my monitor (come on – it’s a spit take headline – admit it!), I did quickly scan the article to make sure it wasn’t Deborah Voigt who was bitten. That would be tragic. That would be terrible. Would it be my responsibility to make sure she had calamine lotion backstage this Friday?

Fortunately for us, Deborah Voigt was nowhere near a Hilton Suites in Phoenix Nov. 20 -26, when the incident occurred. Unfortunately for soprano Alison Trainer, it was she who was sleeping in a bed, in a Hilton Suites, in Phoenix, Nov. 20-26, infested with bedbugs.

What does 150 bed bites cause? Well, aside from some itching and bleeding, it also left Ms. Trainer “afraid to sleep in a bed, caused her to lose weight and made her uncomfortable about her physical appearance.”

“She looks like a piece of wood that has been attacked by termites,” said Trainer’s attorney, Kenneth J. Glassman.

Wow. I mean really, wow. Who’s snickering right now? It can’t be just me. Where’s your schadenfreude?

She slept there (for SIX days) because, “She noticed the itching and the blood right away, but she didn’t know that this was being caused by bedbugs.”

Um, okay. But it was probably caused by something right?

I’m obviously missing the point. The point is: Somebody. Has. To. Pay.

How much? Well, Ms. Trainer is asking for 6 million dollars.

That’s $400,000 a bite. Hilton bed bugs have expensive tastes.

But never fear – Ms. Trainer has kept all her scheduled appearances despite the bites on her face, since the bedbug attack, Glassman said.

“She’s a professional,” he said.

I’m just going to leave it at that.

-Kari G.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

How Monty Python gave SPAM a new meaning...

As I was reading through some of the supporting materials for the upcoming production of Spamalot, I came across an insane amount of information about SPAM. Truly, this is information you might only find useful if you like to annoy your friends w/ random facts or plan to become a contestant on Jeopardy. But I thought, what the hey, I'd share it with you fine folks...
SPAM was on of the few meat products excluded from the British food rationing that began in World War II (and continued for a number of years after the war), and the British grew tired of it. The British comedy troupe Monty Python used this as the context for their Spam sketch, which gave rise to the term spam.
In the Python sketch, a restaurant serves all its food with lots of SPAM, and the waitress repeats the word several times in describing how much SPAM is in the items.
When she does this, a group of Vikings (do you really need to ask?) in the corner start a song: "SPAM, SPAM, SPAM,SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, lovely SPAM! Wonderful SPAM!" Until told to keep quiet!
Thus the word SPAM became a term to describe something that keeps repeating and repeating to great annoyance. Today, the term "spam" also means network abuse on the Internet particularly junk e-mails and massive junk postings.
Hormel, the maker of SPAM, does not object to the term, but insists that it be spelled in lower case so as to distinguish it from the capitalized SPAM trademark.
And now you know!

- Angela L.

Viral Video 2006

A "best of" collection featuring those wild and wacky videos we spend so much time watching, courtesy of the AP.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Celtic group Altan honored with a stamp

Altan, a Celtic band generally considered to be amongst the best of their genre, alongside other Celtic staples The Chieftains, The Clancy Brothers and The Dubliners were all recently honored with a stamp bearing their likeness.

Altan was the selection to represent the 1990's. They play TBPAC's Ferguson Hall on Sat., Feb. 24.