Thursday, July 31, 2008

Jennifer O'Connor online widget

If you're a long-time fan of Jennifer O'Connor's work, or if you just came and enjoyed her Club Jaeb show last season, here's the code for a nifty widget you can add to your blog, website or preferred social networking site.

Banner 2 Banner 1 go!

Stay tuned, Club Jaeb fans - our 0809 announcement is coming soon!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Watch GMA for more RENT!

Check it out, some exciting stuff here - including info on who will be coming to Tampa with the show!

From a tour release sent to us:






The cast of the landmark Broadway musical RENT will perform as part of the “Good Morning America” Summer Concert Series on Friday, August 1. The concert will air nationwide on ABC in the half hour beginning at 8:30 am.

The concert will include a special performance by original cast members Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp who are not currently in the Broadway company, but who will be starting a national tour of the show in Cleveland, Ohio on January 6, 2009.

The cast of RENT includes Tracie Thoms who starred as Joanne in the movie of RENT and has come to the Broadway company in the same role as well as Will Chase as Roger, Renee Goldsberry as Mimi, Eden Espinosa as Maureen, Michael McElroy as Collins, Adam Kantor as Mark, Justin Johnston as Angel, Rodney Hicks as Benny with Shaun Earl, Andrea Goss, Marcus Paul James, Telly Leung, Tracy McDowell, Jay Wilkison, and Gwen Stewart (“Seasons of Love” soloist). Rodney Hicks and Gwen Stewart were both in the original company of RENT and have rejoined the cast to close the show.

RENT, written by Jonathan Larson and directed by Michael Greif, opened at Broadway’s Nederlander Theatre, on April 29, 1996 following a history making, sold out, extended limited engagement at off-Broadway’s New York Theatre Workshop. The musical went on to win every major best musical award, including the Tony Award, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for drama. RENT is the seventh longest running show in Broadway history. RENT is scheduled to close on Sunday, September 7.

Visit for more information.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Notes on Idina Menzel

Check your tickets: an original flyer for the show and this week's CreLo listing show the concert at 7. It's actually 7:30 (so, hey, that just means everyone will actually be on time to the show, right?).

Also, pick up a copy of the St. Pete Times Weekend section for a cover story on Idina, including a center double-truck. All full color! Oo-la-la.

Talk about Popular ...


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"Money, Money, Money"

The folks behind "Mamma Mia!" are singing just that! The movie debuted this past weekend at No. 2 earning $27.6 million. And it doesn't stop there. The "Mamma Mia!" soundtrack holds the #3 place on the Billboard 200 . ABBA also continues to be huge landing on the Top Pop Catalog and Top Cast Album charts. Now I'd say that's something to sing and dance about!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Follow TBPAC on Twitter

If you're a user of the nifty (if not always reliable) service Twitter, follow TBPAC to get instant updates, news, notes and offers.

(and hey, check that out, the post itself was in fact under 140 characters ...)

"How can you afford to see all those shows?" Ushering.

Our Director of Patron Services brought back this article from a recent trip to Atlanta on how people can save money by volunteering at a theater, where a key fringe benefit is almost always being able to see show for free.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Red, White and Plaid!

The guys for the TBPAC production of Forever Plaid sang the “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “O’ Canada” at the Sunday afternoon (7/20) game at the Trop between the first place Rays and Toronto Blue Jays.

Sure there was a guy dressed as giant cup of Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee wandering around the field, a dude that played “God Bless America” on a violin and a couple of Frisbee-catching pups, but the highlight of the day was certainly the tight harmonies of the Plaids out on the infield in front of a crowd of 21,037.



While the Plaids fared well … the Rays did not. They lost to Toronto 9-4.

-Paul B.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Phantom II coming?

Looks like Sir Andrew is looking to keep the story going on some of his most famous creations in Christine, Raoul and the Phantom as he shows off the first act of Phantom: Once Upon Another Time to a select group at his annual Sydmonton Festival outside London.

He could have done worse - we could have always had Starlight Express II: Locomotive Boogaloo or somesuch. What about a new take on an old idea - LOLCATS?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Parallels: Arts and Journalism

Recently St. Pete Times Arts Critic John Fleming wrote a bit of a scathing preview on the fact that we have Forever Plaid playing again in our Jaeb Theater. He also managed to take a swipe at other shows we do in the theater like Menopause the Musical, Hats! and so on. Shows that sell extremely, extremely well and that help our building do work like the Off Center Series (was Expanding Horizons) and that allow TBPAC to be able to work with Jobsite, The Florida Orchestra and Orlando Ballet.

Today a coworker forwards me this link from to a letter to the editor of the Times that agreed with Mr. Fleming's assessment. In short that the building offers too much sweets and not enough sustenance.

Both stories suggest that TBPAC has a responsibility to do more "artistic" and "challenging" work.

Now, I have to walk a careful line here as both an employee of and a producing artist at TBPAC. I didn't really start this blog post today to argue why we should produce Plaid over Sondheim.


The following is really nothing more than my thoughts, with a lot of experience thrown in, and also in the end a comparison of our field to the field of journalism - sparked by a recent Frontline documentary I watched. There are some striking similarities it seems.

First, to the idea that it's a bad thing to produce or present work that people actually want to see - even if it's been here before. Um, it's not a bad idea. At all. This building has nearly 4,500 seats all told on any given night, and there's way more variety here than a lot of folks actually give us credit for.

The juggernaut is of course Broadway, and long running shows that play in the Jaeb, but the truth is that those are the shows that get the bulk of the people in the door, that train folks to come here and have a good time. I know, as a member of the TBPAC marketing team, that we do everything we can to get folks interested in other work once we get them in the door for one of the blockbusters. We want them to come back and discover all we have to offer. What's the saying about flies and honey?

And, if I can editorialize a tiny bit, Fleming says in his original article that "It's as if TBPAC is trying to appeal to those who never go to the theater" - like that's a bad thing. That elitist tone, often found in fine arts criticism, is in my opinion part of the problem as to why a lot of people - unaccustomed to going to fine arts shows - find a lot of fine art inaccessible. It's a fact that there are obviously not enough die-hard fervent theatergoers to keep any organization here in the area in the clear, so everyone makes their adjustments.

If we're to survive as an industry we have to find a way to get new people into the theater and to have people in an extremely poor economy, where disposable income just isn't very disposable choose to come here over less expensive options like movies or free options like just going to a park or staying in and watching the toob over a home-prepared meal. Did I mention we have about 4,500 seats a night across five theaters?

TBPAC isn't just serving cake. It's more like the big table of desserts when you walk into a restaurant that gets you hungry and excited to be there in the hopes that you'll look to all corners of the menu to see what they chef really has to offer and come back again and again.

Since I am involved with both marketing and programming here, I can honestly say that there is always a desire to do more "artistic" or "meaningful" work, and all of the programmers have a deep love and passion for what they do and wish that they could do more of it. We still have a budget to balance. We're still a not for profit. We're still in a horrid economy. It's a common misconception that money is just falling out of TBPAC's pockets. I know for a fact that there is always a desire to balance the "art" with the "entertainment." There is a commitment to converting those who may only come to our pop shows to try something different.

It's harder than it looks. Way harder.

As individuals we like what we like. We can tell an audience member that this dance company or that symphony orchestra is the finest in the world and list off every award they've ever been given and it won't likely transfer over to ticket sales. If that same orchestra backs up Taylor Swift on a VH-1 special and the MSM makes a big giant deal over it and they end up on the cover of Entertainment Weekly - then we might have a chance.

Personal illustration - I have a Masters of Fine Arts degree, and you'd practically have to drag me kicking and screaming to just about any opera (ok, so I like Wagner). I'm not much of a fan of Broadway, but I'll watch just about any off-the-wall one person show, obscure expressionistic play, gritty modern drama and so on. I like what I like. If I don't want a Brussels Sprout - I'm a grown, educated man and I do not have to eat one. And in the end it's my opinion. I'm sure plenty of people think what I like is too "out there" or "not real art."

A lot of people might not eat a Brussels Sprout because they may not want to eat anything just because someone says it's good for them. Others plainly may not like the taste. Not everyone wants to develop a taste for something, and if you tell them they have to acquire a taste for anything - they may simply tell you they have better things to do with their time and money than sit around and eat something they hate in the hopes one day they might change their mind. Then of course there are those who may be predisposed to new things or experiences, or are just simply moved to give something a shot - and those are the people we want to go after. We can't force-feed anything to anyone.

If you just produce - for the sake of argument let's just say classical music, which historically has a hard time just about anywhere - and continue to lose money on it month after month, year after year at what point do you maybe decide to adapt? The only other option is to find enough funders who are ok with your mission of continually losing money on programming that has no one seeing it.

Have you ever been to a live show where it's been empty? Isn't that a miserable, odd feeling? Artists aren't too fond of that either.

So I think TBPAC largely has it right - support one with the other, and make a sincere effort to turn people on to something new while they're here. The discussions about bringing in more "art" to balance the "entertainment" are ongoing and lively, I assure you.

And don't even get me started on the irony that the newspapers generally bend over backwards to write story after story on Spamalot! or The Lion King, but we fight tooth and nail to get any mention at all for a show like the Beijing Modern Dance Company or the Turtle Island String Quartet or a South American adult-oriented puppet troupe coming in to do Romeo and Juliet in Spanish with marionettes.

Now, to my journalism comparison. That Frontline documentary I watched bemoaned the slow death of true journalism in this country for what's essentially tabloid or magazine journalism. Soft journalism. Sensationalist, human interest stuff.

Now, the old school journos in the documentary all sat and talked about how they had a responsibility to the people and to their profession. The new school editors and media owners also claimed a responsibility (and not just to shareholders), a responsibility to offering a wide palette of information and types of stories in a 24/7/365 news world where there is option upon option.

A lot of the argument went back to ratings - the hard news old school shows just didn't pull the numbers, but hide a camera in a house where a guy is going to go try to pick up an underage girl and they're through the roof. People are voting with their remote, and the market follows.

I think 60 Minutes might have one of the better balances of hard and soft journalism on TV. They're giving both. Like I feel TBPAC does with art.

And there's that irony again that we get beat up a little for bringing in shows too many times or shows that appeal too much to the "lowest common denominator" (yet another elitist statement), yet those are still the same shows that get the press while dozens of "artistic" and "challenging" shows go by every year that the press ignores.

We have to be careful - be it in the arts or the news - when we start talking too surely and with too much certainty that we know what's best for people. Our job is to be here for the entire community and to offer a wide variety. Who are we to tell anyone that the type of show they like isn't "good enough," particularly when it's selling a theater out for weeks straight? We stop offering the things people want to see, they could stop coming here altogether and then we'd really be in crisis.

Got a thought? Sound off. There's a whole lot to be had of this discussion, to be sure.

Vote in the 2008 CreLo Best of the Bay Awards

Now is your chance to vote for all that is right (and wrong) with Tampa Bay as the polls are open in the 2008 Creative Loafing Best of the Bay Awards Reader's Poll.

There's around 100 categories that you can let your voices be heard on as to the best of Tampa Bay when it comes to where to eat, drink, party, play, live, love and loathe. You have to vote in at least 26 categories for your ballot to count. Should be pretty easy to get that many in, even if you're not a socialite. Best Beach? Check. Best Soul Food? It's all there.

Now of course we're putting this over here on Culture Shock for a reason - we want your votes! So see some recommendations below as some ways you can show your love for all that goes on at TBPAC!

Best Theater Troupe: Jobsite Theater (TBPAC's resident theater company that performs in the Shimberg Playhouse
Best Actor/Actress: Ok, so no way we can single a guy and gal out here. Even if we could, we don't want to live with that wrath. So this is what we'll say - did you see a show in the Jaeb Theater or Shimberg Playhouse in 2008? Odds are they were local, and they'd love for you to vote for them. Can't remember their name? Dig out that program! Did you lose it? Ask me in the comments, maybe I can help you remember.
Best Live Concert Venue: Again, your call - maybe you're a fan of the super-intimate shows in out Club Jaeb Series - where every seat is perfect and you can practically reach out and touch the notes. Maybe Ferguson Hall is more your speed - where Idina Menzel plays later this month. Or, perhaps you just can't get enough of our acoustically-perfect opera house Morsani Hall.
Best Kept Secret: Again with the choices! Is there a part of TBPAC that you just can't believe doesn't get more attention? Maybe it's the locally-produced spectacles put on by Opera Tampa, the offerings of the Patel Conservatory, the cutting-edge work of Jobsite Theater or the soulful singer-songwriters of the Club Jaeb Series. Seems like we have a lot of secrets!
Most Underrated Thing in Tampa Bay: For our organizational size, operating budget, footprint in Downtown's landscape, world-class programming and outstanding attendance - you think every show we'd have would simply be bursting at the seams full of people. We're in no way saying we're the little guy, but you can certainly make the argument we're, as a whole, an underrated part of life in Tampa Bay.
Best Place to Volunteer: TBPAC. 'Nuff said.

Now it's your turn to put your votes where you think they belong. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Broadway goes 9 to 5

The working ladies of 9 to 5 are back and hitting Broadway. There will be performances this fall in LA and then the show moves to Broadway in March 2009 for previews. Official Broadway open date is April 23, 2009.

Set to star in the Broadway version are four-time Emmy Award winner and Tony Award nominee Allison Janney as Violet, Stephanie J. Block (if you saw Wicked in Tampa, she was Elphaba) as Judy, Megan Hilty as Dorelee, and two-time Tony Award nominee Marc Kudisch as Mr. Hart.

The book is written by the original screenwriter, Patricia Resnick. Music and lyrics are by, who else, Dolly Parton. Tony Award winner Andy Blankenbuehler (In the Heights) will choreograph.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Forever Plaid returns on Friday!

Can you believe it's been 15 years since Forever Plaid first played our Jaeb Theater? And did you know that this was the first theater outside of New York to ever host the kitschy, harmonious squeaky-clean musical?

Well, it is and it was. I was actually in attendance at one of those first performances while and undergrad at USF back in 1993.

But, that was then and this is now. We have a completely fresh, all-new cast and they're chomping at the bit to get in front of a live audience. Preview performances start tomorrow night (those looking for a deal might want to think about calling, previews are typically not advertised but are traditionally priced at least half of what normal performances are). The show officially opens on Friday.

Here are a few press shots of the new cast and the TV spot (click for larger versions).

Plaid is only here for a limited time - through Aug. 11.

TBPAC Forever Plaid2©Rob Harris

TBPAC Forever Plaid ©Rob Harris

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Edgar Vincent (1918 - 2008)

You may not know his name, but Edgar Vincent was responsible for the names of opera stars you do know – Placido Domingo, Lily Pons, Anna Moffo, Risë Stevens, Eleanor Steber, Jussi Bjoerling, George London, Leonard Warren, Mirella Freni, Shirley Verrett, Beverly Sills and, more recently, Cecilia Bartoli, Dolora Zajick and Salvatore Licitra. He was responsible for the careers of scores of opera luminaries and other classical artists including conductors Erich Leinsdorf, Leopold Stokowski and Georg Solti; the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich; Mikhail Baryshnikov; and the violinist Isaac Stern.

His connection to Opera Tampa was very strong. He represented our Opera Tampa Apprentice Micaela Oeste and was a strong supporter of VoicExperience. One of the new voice teachers at our Patel Conservatory, Eleni Matos was the first singer Mr. Vincent signed when he moved from publicity to management.

I had the honor of meeting Mr. Vincent at a VoicExperience event at The Players Club in New York City this past Spring. I knew I was meeting a huge part of opera history in the 20th Century, but I didn’t expect him to “look” the part. A consummate gentleman, he was dressed in the fashion of a man of society. If I had called Central Casting and asked for an “opera manager” I am quite sure they would have sent Edgar Vincent over to play the role. He personified dignity and class, yet he had an affable and generous way about him that made him much younger than his 90 years.

I am honored to have met Mr. Vincent and I am sure that Beverly Sills will be so pleased to have her close friend and advisor with her again.

-Kari G.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Phantom keeps going, and going, and going

July 3 will mark the 8500th performance of Andrew Lloyd Weber's The Phantom of the Opera. Already the longest running Broadway show in history, Phantom is in its 21st season. This fall, Oct. 30-Nov. 22, the TBPAC will have its 5th engagement of the show. The show goes on sale to the public Sunday, July 13, at noon. It's only here for 4-weeks, so I'd suggest you get tickets early. There's a reason the show is going to hit its 8500th Broadway performance!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Fly – the opera – the hits – just keep on coming ...

I don’t know what is worse out of this preview for The Fly which will open in Paris – the fact that it’s an opera or the fact that the article incorrectly credits the 1986 Jeff Goldblum film as “the original.”

On behalf of Vincent Price and the 1958 cast of The Fly, “Help Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

I guess ripping off the rip-off is the new rip-off. Somewhere in a dark room, creativity just died.
-Kari G.

Sirius ABBA

Can't get enough of ABBA? Don't worry, Sirius satellite radio has your fix. For a limited time starting on Monday, July 7, channel 3 will play 24/7 ABBA. Now if that doesn't put you in the mood to see Mamma Mia (the movie or live here at the TBPAC in August) I don't know what will.

Not a Sirius radio subscriber, don't worry. You can get a 3-day trial when you visit their website. And no... I don't secretly work for them or own stock. Just a fan!