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Andrew Meacham, Times Performing Arts Critic

Andrew Meacham

Andrew Meacham is the performing arts critic for the Tampa Bay Times, covering the growing local venues for theater, orchestra, opera and dance. Andrew previously served as the Epilogue obituaries writer for the Times. He grew up in St. Petersburg, graduated from Eckerd College and holds a master's degree in journalism from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

Phone: (727) 892-2248

Email: ameacham@tampabay.com

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  1. Daniel Lipton resigns as artistic director of Opera Tampa

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    TAMPA — Daniel Lipton has resigned as artistic director of Opera Tampa, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts announced.

    Lipton, 76, was the company's second artistic director, succeeding 17-year director Anton Coppola in 2012. He had completed five years of a six-year employment agreement, said Judith Lisi, president of the Straz Center, where Opera Tampa is based. His resignation is effective immediately....

    Daniel Lipton took over the post when 17-year director Anton Coppola retired in 2012 at age 95.
  2. Review: Time, gender, ethnicity play musical chairs in Jobsite's farcical 'Cloud Nine'

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    TAMPA — Seven actors and a doll play 17 roles in Cloud Nine, Jobsite Theater's last production of the season. The farce by British playwright Caryl Churchill was a local hit in 2003, one that helped establish Jobsite as the resident theater at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, in part due to the crazy complexities it embraces and the social conventions it lampoons....

    Plantation owner Clive (played respectably by Giles Davies, right) controls everyone, including wife Betty (David M. Jenkins, left).
  3. New theater company, Innovocative Theatre, opens at Stageworks with 'Proof'

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    MEET INNOVOCATIVE THEATRE: PROOF

    A new professional theater takes a major step forward this weekend with Proof, a Pulitzer and Tony winner in 2001 that explores the lines between genius, mental illness and family dynamics. Innovocative Theatre was established by Staci Sabarsky, who directed a well-received one-woman show at the recent Tampa International Fringe Festival, Dark Vanilla Jungle. It aims to make audiences think with quality material....

    Dennis Duggan plays Robert while Marie-Claude Tremblay plays his daughter Catherine in the play Proof at Innovocative Theatre.
  4. Review: Big wigs and bigger thinking shape Freefall's 'Marie Antoinette'

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    ST. PETERSBURG — Freefall Theatre's Marie Antoinette takes audiences back in time and maybe forward. This interpretation of David Adjmi's play casts the historically maligned title character as a real person while not diminishing the vacuous detachment the world saw, perhaps rightly, as arrogance.

    This production does so much more, however, than render a lively version of history. There's a visually arresting continuous palette of color. There's a running montage of video imagery that either represents events of the French Revolution and an abundance of luxury or speaks to the constructs of Marie's mind. And there are some very solid performances in leading roles. It all combines for as serious a statement as you're likely to find on topics that will strike many as timely, even presciently so....

    Lucas Wells as King Louis XVI, from left, Megan Rippey as Marie Antoinette and Matthew McGee as The Sheep in Freefall Theatre’s “Marie Antoinette.”
  5. American Stage delivers a smart look at relationships in 'Sex With Strangers'

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    ST. PETERSBURG — As might be inferred from the title, Sex With Strangers is about seduction.

    The meaning of that word changes over the course of the play, the last of the season at American Stage, from flirtation to persuasion and from right now to something more long-term and contractual. The story by House of Cards writer Laura Eason tracks a whirlwind relationship between two very different sorts of writers. Janis Stevens directs this smart, introspective romance that prompts reflection on how our means of communication in the digital age have altered the messages we relay to each other and who is listening....

    Novelist Olivia (Carey Urban) and sex blogger Ethan (Ben Williamson) try to reinvent themselves online while navigating a new relationship.
  6. The best things on stage this week: Sarasota Improv Festival, Puddles Pity Party

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    SARASOTA IMPROV FESTIVAL: BLANK! The Musical

    The idea was so crazy it had to work. Get in front of an audience to perform a musical. Get there on time, sell the tickets, all of that.

    The only thing you don't need is the musical. No script, no lines and no music. It's the premise on which Blank! The Musical got its start. The country's hottest improv troupe, with bases in Chicago and New York, where it's in the midst of a second off-Broadway run, is headlining this weekend's Sarasota Improv Festival. You'll even have a chance to create characters and throw out song ideas....

    BLANK! The Musical, an improv troupe based in Chicago and New York, will perform at the Sarasota Improv Festival July 14 and 15 at Florida Studio Theatre.
  7. Review: 'The Little Mermaid' at the Straz has something for kids and adults

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    TAMPA — Like the pre-fixed ideas Disney's the Little Mermaid tries to fight, the show itself resists labeling.

    This touring version comes to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts significantly tweaked by director Glenn Casale, who aimed to improve the show that ran on Broadway nearly a decade ago. The changes update a story that began as a Hans Christian Andersen fable, about a mermaid who trades away her voice to live on land with a prince....

    Diana Huey plays Ariel in the title role of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, at the Straz Center July 11-16, 2017. Courtesy of the Straz Center.
  8. Review: Racial, sexual tensions combine in taut production of 'Race' at Heather Theatre

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    TAMPA — For a while now, the Heather Theatre has been one of the Tampa Bay area's best kept secrets. The professional company holds shows in a converted office suite in a nondescript park behind a Popeye's restaurant on W Hillsborough Avenue.

    Its selections favor intense content that draws the maximum out of small casts, the actors usually coming from a school the theater runs four nights a week. In a space that can hold about 30 seats, actors don't have to "project," let alone wear microphones. They can just talk....

    The excellent cast of the Heather Theatre’s Race includes Sharell Nichole Williams, left, as Susan, Vincenzo Hinckley as Jack, Pierce Lackey as Charles and Darren Constantine as the world-weary Henry. 
Heather Theatre
  9. Freefall, American Stage and Jobsite wrap up seasons with sex and satire

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    Turn out the lights, the party's over. Almost.

    For three theaters, the season draws to a close this weekend, and the variety of subjects covered should make local fans feel pretty good about our scene. They transport audiences from the French Revolution to the digital age, offering glimpses of the past and some unsettling implications about our collective future. The artistic directors of American Stage, Freefall and Jobsite theaters have managed to stay afloat with content that always says something about the way we live. They won't please all of the people all of the time, and thankfully, don't aim to....

    Carey Urban as Olivia and Ben Williamson as Ethan in Sex With Strangers, written by House of Cards’ Laura Eason, at American Stage.
  10. Best things on local stages this week: 'The Little Mermaid,' Val Kilmer

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    PART OF OUR WORLD: DIANA HUEY

    A recent trivia game with theater friends reminded Diana Huey of her passion for Disney movies.

    "I am not one of those people who is like a Rolodex for every actor or director that ever was," said Huey, who plays Ariel in Disney's The Little Mermaid, which opens Tuesday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. "But I am more nerdy on the Disney end."...

    Actor and writer Val Kilmer will introduce “Cinema Twain,” a film of his one-man play about Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, on July 11 at Tampa Improv. After the screening he will answer questions.
  11. Into the weeds: Unintelligible production falls flat at St. Petersburg Opera

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    ST. PETERSBURG — The St. Petersburg Opera Company closes its season with Stephen Sondheim's musical, Into the Woods, an ambitious undertaking for which it is ill-suited.

    The problem is not that it's a musical. The company produces musicals every summer, including Putting it Together and West Side Story, which were written or co-written by Sondheim. Last year's production of South Pacific was perfectly fine, as well acted as it needed to be and, of course, beautifully sung. Opera has always been mostly about singing, never much about acting. Whether that is regrettable or inevitable is a topic for another day. But we understand those things going in and accept the trade-off — singers parading around in rented costumes, by turns offering lifeless or ham-handed portrayals while singing gloriously. If they want to have some fun and end the season with a musical instead of an opera, why shouldn't they? ...

    The cast of Into the Woods, St. Petersburg Opera's production of the Stephen Sondheim musical, includes (back row, from left) Tim Wilt as Milky White, Caroline Tye as the Baker's wife, Caitlin Mesiano as Little Red Riding Hood, Clayton Brown as the Baker, and Megan Pachecano as Cinderella; (front row) Paula Broadwater as Jack's mother, and Justin Berkowitz as Jack. Photo by Jim Swallow.
  12. Florida Orchestra and Tampa Bay Master Chorale scrap search for a joint conductor

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    TAMPA

    After a yearlong effort, the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay and the Florida Orchestra have abandoned their search for a conductor capable of leading both groups.

    Instead, the chorale recently named Doreen Rao visiting artistic director for 2017-2018. Rao lives in Chicago, and has long associations with the Chicago Symphony Chorus and Orchestra, the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and Buffalo Master Chorale. ...

    Doreen Rao conducts a concert with the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra in December 2010. Photo by Enid Bloch.
  13. The best things on stage this week: Miss D and her dancers, 'Into the Woods'

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    BRINGING IT: MISS D AND THE DANCING DOLLS

     

    On the dance floor, this reality star carries a mystique born of excellence and swagger. Her eye-popping cuts on Lifetime's Bring It, as hard-edged as Michael Jackson's, coupled with an air of utter self-assurance, have made even her full name unnecessary. Some of her biggest fans probably don't even know who Dianna Williams is....

    John Carmichael leads the Florida Wind Band during a rehearsal for their July 1 performance at the University of South Florida.
  14. The best shows on stage this weekend: Leslie Odom Jr., 'Beauty and the Beast'

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    MITCHELL BROADWATER

    At age 18 and standing 6 feet 6, actor Mitchell Broadwater hopes he hasn't outgrown a lot of leading roles.

    "There are not a lot of parts for that height," the 2017 Countryside High graduate said.

    There's at least one — Broadwater plays the Beast in the Patel Conservatory's Beauty and the Beast, opening Thursday.

    He heads to St. Petersburg College this fall. Broadwater dreams of transferring to the Royal College of Music in London, then earning a master's degree in voice at the Royal Academy of Music....

    Hamilton star Leslie Odom Jr. brings his solo cabaret show,  An Evening of Song with Leslie Odom Jr., to the Straz Center on June 23, 2017.
  15. Leslie Odom Jr.: 'Hamilton' was 'the ride of my life,' but today is better

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    TAMPA — For a few moments at the Tony Awards, Leslie Odom Jr. nearly made the world forget that a year had passed. The co-star of Hamilton, who had won for best actor in a musical in June 2016, was back in a duet with fellow winner Cynthia Erivo, belting out New York, New York.

    When he won for his portrayal of Aaron Burr, Odom had been playing the role for 16 months. He had marveled at the buzz the show was generating, the fact that he had to pass through metal detectors because President Barack Obama would be in the audience....

    Leslie Odom Jr. performs at the 2016 US Open.  (Getty Images)