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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


  1. Top shows on stage this week: 321 Improv Festival, Andrew Dice Clay



    Justin Peters and Kelly Buttermore know how to live in the moment. The improv duo From Justin to Kelly specializes in "radical simplicity," spending 25 to 30 minutes in a location suggested by the audience.

    "Unlike most improv shows, which are very talkative, we spend most of the show in silence; this forces us to make emotional choices rather than strictly cerebral choices," said Peters, who co-founded New York's Countdown Theatre with Buttermore....

    Four dancers from the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School will perform in the Sarasota Opera Company’s production of La Traviata (Nov. 3-21).
  2. Opera Tampa names three guest conductors for 2017-2018 season


    TAMPA — Opera Tampa has named guest conductors for the 2017-2018 season, a move made necessary by the resignation of previous artistic director Daniel Lipton.

    Jorge Parodi, now a vocal coach and music director of the Senior Opera Theater at the Manhattan School of Music, will conduct Rossini's The Barber of Seville (Feb. 2 and 4). The current music director of opera theater, a required program for seniors at the Manhattan School of Music, Parodi has been hailed for his expressive style....

    Argentinian conductor Jorge Parodi will conduct Rossini's The Barber of Seville for Opera Tampa, Feb. 2 and 4, 2018. Courtesy of the Straz Center.
  3. Light, fluffy and fun: '5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche'


    TAMPA — The show starts at the ticket counter, where audience members walk away wearing female name tags.

    The gesture continues from the opening moments of 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche, as proud leaders of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein address the crowd as fellow members. It's 1956; women attend civic clubs in floral print dresses, heels and hats, and you can practically smell the perfume and powder from the seats in Stageworks Theatre....

    Double-entendres about quiche and lesbianism are frequent as the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein gather for breakfast.
  4. Nonstop hit parade powers 'Motown: The Musical'


    TAMPA — The Supremes are supreme. The Marvelettes deliver with Please Mr. Postman. The machine that is the record industry, and was most certainly Motown, opens full throttle as the careers of the Temptations and the Four Tops, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and dozens of other careers blossom and are soon set upon by record labels as cutthroat as the Daytona 500.

    Motown: The Musical, running at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, is an extravaganza of nostalgic hits, some 50 of them over two and a half hours, wrapped loosely around the persona and career of producer Berry Gordy, who more or less built that engine. This show's objective is as straightforward as the title, its discovery-to-stardom pieces moving reliably along a conveyor belt....

    The nostalgic tour through music history includes The Temptations, portrayed in the first national tour of Motown: The Musical, at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Aug. 8-13, 2017. Photo by Joan Marcus.
  5. Best shows on stage this week: '5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche,' Brad Williams at the Improv


    COMEDY RETURNS: 5 LESBIANS Eating a Quiche

    Members of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein have a lot on their plates. There's a cold war stirring fears of nuclear annihilation. Then you've got their own sometimes conflicting personalities coupled with an emerging solidarity as women.

    But Thursday the members will focus on the society's annual quiche-tasting contest. That includes you, if you take the recommendation of last year's audiences and see 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche, brought back to Stageworks Theatre by popular demand. The 75-minute play by Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgood treats the show as a meeting. All customers get female name tags....

    Comic Brad Williams headlines at the Tampa Improv Aug. 10-13.
  6. Long-standing funeral home Anderson-McQueen exploring a sale


    ST. PETERSBURG — Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, one of the oldest and largest family-owned funeral businesses in the Tampa Bay area, could be on the brink of a sale.

    Foundation Partners Group reportedly has a deal to buy the 65-year-old independent chain, which owns five locations in Pinellas County and one in Hillsborough County.

    A report that Anderson-McQueen had signed a non-binding letter of intent appeared in a recent Funeral Service Insider, a trade publication. Foundation Partners, an Orlando company founded in 2010, operates 60 locations in 17 states, including Sun City Center Funeral Home and Right Choice Cremation in Brandon....

    St. Petersburg-based Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, the area's largest independent chain, is considering a sale of the company. Pictured here:  Bill, Maggi and John McQueen. [Company website]
  7. Good tush news: Straz Center upgrades seats in Morsani Hall


    TAMPA — Seats closest to the stage at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts often cost significantly more than the ones in the mezzanine. But they all wear down just the same.

    Workers this week are replacing seats in Morsani Hall. A Hillsborough County capital improvement grant paid for the seating overhaul, the first since the venue was built in 1987. Work goes in two phases. In the current phase, workers are switching out about 1,400 seats in the orchestra and mezzanine levels with new ones. Then next summer, another 700 in the balcony and gallery levels will be renovated....

    Delfino Lopez of Atlanta, Ga,., cuts anchors from the newly cushioned seatsin Morsani Hall at the Straz Center in Tampa on Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017. They are removing the anchors because women's dresses were catching and ripping from them. 

The Straz is installing 1,387 new seats in Morsani Hall, its largest theater. It's the first time the seats have been switched out since the center was built in 1987. They're in the closing stages. The seating renovation is the first of two phases. Next summer, they will renovate 700 more seats. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]

  8. Florida Orchestra lands rock star Sting for its 50th anniversary gala


    The Florida Orchestra has landed a real rock star.

    The orchestra will celebrate its 50th anniversary fundraising gala with a performance from Sting, one of popular music's biggest icons, the orchestra announced Thursday.

    Orchestra leaders were elated to have finalized the booking with the 16-time Grammy winner, who will play for 90 minutes Dec. 9 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, joined by the orchestra and a three-piece band. Concert tickets for An Intimate Evening with the Florida Orchestra and Sting go on sale to the general public Oct. 2....

    NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14:  Sting performs onstage during the Sting "57th & 9th" World Tour at Hammerstein Ballroom on March 14, 2017 in New York City.  (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Cherry Tree)
  9. Allison Semmes recreates Diana Ross in 'Motown: The Musical' in Tampa




    It's not easy playing a legend.

    Allison Semmes (pictured, center) has been doing that for four years and making it look easy as Diana Ross in Motown the Musical, a jammin' celebration of the sound that shaped America in the late 1960s. The show comes to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts this week....

    Carey Urban plays Olivia, left, and Ben Williamson is Ethan in Sex With Strangers from playwright Laura Eason at American Stage. The play runs through Aug. 13.
  10. With a new hire, Studio@620 looks to raise its profile


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Studio@620, a widely used venue for budding and accomplished artists of all kinds, has hired its first executive director.

    Barbara Mazer Gross, 39, will use her arts marketing background to raise the profile of the studio founded 13 years ago by Bob Devin Jones. Jones will continue to serve as the studio's artistic director.

    "I feel like the arts community in St. Petersburg is exploding and I want to be a part of it," Gross said. "This opportunity to work with the Studio@620 was a great way to get entrenched in this exciting arts community and feel like I was contributing to something really important."...

    The Studio@620 has hired Barbara Mazer Gross as its first executive director.  Courtesy of Barbara Mazer Gross.
  11. Opera legend Sherrill Milnes keeps a quieter profile in Palm Harbor


    TARPON SPRINGS — The soprano sang an aria from The Marriage of Figaro about lost love, but she could have been asking the devil not to steal her soul. A couple dozen opera fans watched, including a silver-haired man with leonine features leaning back in his chair.

    It was impossible to tell whether Sherrill Milnes was happy, annoyed or made indifferent by what he heard from 12 singers on opening night of the Florida Voice Project's summer festival. Mariana Carnovali, who had come from Argentina, attacked the aria of lost love with ardor....

    Gabriela Fagen, of Bloomington, Indiana, responds to a critique by soprano Maria Zouves, right, after performing an aria during the Opera Voice competition on Monday at the Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum. In 2001, Sherill Milnes and his wife, Maria Zouves, founded the VOICExperience Foundation, a non-profit organization for the education of young singers. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times
  12. Fellow musicians and friends perform original clarinet-bassoon composition



    Florida Orchestra musicians Brian Moorhead and Mark Sforzini sat next to each other for 15 years. Moorhead was the orchestra's principal clarinet, Sforzini its principal bassoon. They knew each other's moves so well, they gave their musical partnership a name: "Premium Blend."

    "You can become very attuned to the person next to you, and we often breathed and shaped phrases as one," Sforzini said....

    The summer showcase of the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School on Saturday features students and alumni of the school who now dance with professional companies.
  13. Innovocative Theatre company debuts with workmanlike production of 'Proof'


    TAMPA — A new company debuts with Proof, David Auburn's Pulitzer-winning play. Innovocative Theatre, founded by Dunedin native Staci Sabarsky, is currently running productions out of Stageworks Theatre space. Sabarsky also directs and performs in the show.

    The story, in which the subjects of mathematical genius, family dynamics and mental illness are intertwined, was by 2002 the most widely produced play in the country. A 2005 film followed, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins. For Innovocative, the launch shows a bold new venture standing on shaky legs, taking a shot at Sabarsky's stated mission of diving into thought-provoking and controversial issues....

    Dennis Duggan plays Robert Marie-Claude Tremblay plays Catherine in Innovocative Theatre's first production, Proof, by David Auburn. Photo courtesy of Staci Sabarsky.
  14. Daniel Lipton resigns as artistic director of Opera Tampa


    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.
  15. Review: Time, gender, ethnicity play musical chairs in Jobsite's farcical 'Cloud Nine'


    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).