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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. The best shows on stage this weekend: Leslie Odom Jr., 'Beauty and the Beast'



    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....

    Mitchell Broadwater and Katie Davis play title roles in Patel Conservatory’s Beauty and the Beast.
  2. Leslie Odom Jr.: 'Hamilton' was 'the ride of my life,' but today is better


    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. accepts the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical in "Hamilton"  during the 70th Annual Tony Awards  on June 12, 2016.  (Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)
  3. Tampa Repertory's new season full of classic American tales



    With its final play of this season, The Other Place, running through June 25, Tampa Repertory Theatre sets its sights on the fall. On tap for 2017-2018 are two southeastern premieres and A View From the Bridge, Arthur Miller's bare-knuckle examination of tumult in an Italian-American family in the 1950s.

    Tampa Rep's play selection in recent years reflects the theater's mission to perform "classics, known and unknown, with a special emphasis on American plays in the 20th and 21st centuries," from The Children's Hour and The Iceman Cometh to highlighting more recent talents such as Will Eno (The Realistic Joneses) and George Brant (Grounded)....

    C. David Frankel is the producing artistic director at Tampa Repertory Theatre, as well as an assistant director for the University of South Florida’s theater program.
  4. Review: Tampa Repertory ends its season with well-produced story, 'The Other Place'


    TAMPA — It's an anxiety most of us dread, if we allow ourselves to think of it at all. What happens when the brain that looks out for the body — and itself — starts to deteriorate?

    That is the question posed in The Other Place, Sharr White's provocative one-act with which Tampa Repertory Theatre closes its sixth season. The play had a Broadway run in 2013, sinking its hooks into audiences with an eminently coherent narration of one woman's descent....

    Lynne Locher (left) plays researcher Juliana Smithton in Tampa Repertory Theatre's production of The Other Place, by Sharr White. Other cast members include Jon VanMiddlesworth and Lisa VillaMil. Photo by Randy Rosenthal.
  5. On the autism spectrum, one man finds a home in the theater


    GULFPORT — Steven Brodnick towers over the boy and girl playing his children, and everyone else. He has a kindly air as he speaks to them in French and smiles, inhabiting a character much more assured than reality allows him to be.

    Steven plays Emile de Becque in this production of South Pacific. ProjectFREE's RizingSTARZ Theater Group, which caters to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, opens the show Friday at the Catherine A. Hickman Theater in Gulfport....

    (Ffrom left to right) Steven Brodnick, 28,  performs with Ali Karakas during a dress rehearsal on Wednesday, June 8, 2017. Steven has autism spectrum disorder and is currently performing in the production of South Pacific put on by ProjectFREE RisingSTARZ at the Catherine Hickman Theatre in Gulfport June 9-11. He plays Emile de Becque in the musical. EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times
  6. What's on stage this week: A queer rock opera, 'South Pacific,' Tampa Rep's 'The Other Place'



    Though the central character in The Other Place, Sharr White's drama with which Tampa Repertory Theatre winds up its sixth season, is a formidably skilled scientist working for a drug company, her dilemma is one any of us could face. Lynne Locher plays Juliana Smithton, a neurologist who becomes profoundly distracted while delivering a lecture about a new treatment for dementia in the Virgin Islands. She returns to Boston believing she has a brain tumor, but her husband, an oncologist, and estranged daughter offer little support. The play's structure involves several shifts as she considers what is happening to her, inviting audiences along on the journey....

    Lynn Locher, from left, Jon VanMiddlesworth and Lisa VillaMil in The Other Place.
  7. With 'Chad Deity,' Stageworks revives Tampa's wrestling history


    TAMPA — The latest show at Stageworks Theatre promises much. The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, an exploration of professional wrestling, earned playwright Kristoffer Diaz recognition as a Pulitzer finalist by unifying two very different forms of theater.

    For Stageworks producing artistic director Karla Hartley, doing the show in her hometown also connects Tampa with its recent past, as anyone who remembers Dusty Rhodes, the Great Malenko or the Briscoe brothers at Fort Homer W. Hesterly Armory can attest. The elaborate entrance to the show itself deepens these bona fides, with black-and-white photos in the lobby of wrestling legends supplied by none other than Mad Maxine (Jeannine Mjoseth), who attended opening weekend....

    The cast of The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, at Stageworks Theatre, includes (from left) Cornelio Aguilera, Leigh Simons, and Brice Batemon as Chad Deity. Jackson Fresh Pictures.
  8. Everyone's a player in 'The Invisible Hand,' a smart and tense political drama at American Stage



    This dimly lit gray world feels closed off, as well it might. This corner of an abandoned warehouse has been converted to a jail cell, without any safeguards. Thus the sights and sounds in The Invisible Hand, a tightly woven hostage drama at American Stage, force the audience to comprehend discomfort from its opening moments.

    Ayad Akhtar won a 2013 Pulitzer for his earlier play, Disgraced. This one shows the same razor-sharp tensions cutting across cultural and political lines. American investment banker Nick Bright is the prisoner, captured in Pakistan. Though there is an allusion to journalist Daniel Pearl, these captors are more opportunist than idealist. They seek $10 million in ransom from the United States....

    The performances of the ensemble are key to the success. Joe Ditmyer, front, plays Nick, a wily banker held captive by, from left, sympathetic Dar (Shrey Neil), idealist Bashir (Benjamin T. Ismail) and leader Imam Saleem (a brilliant Mujahid Abdul-Rashid).
  9. St. Petersburg Opera Co. toasts love and art in 'The Tales of Hoffmann'


    ST. PETERSBURG — A pair of dancers cavort with Dionysian zeal as nearby revelers sing drinking songs. That's how The Tales of Hoffmann starts, and it's an indication of the lengths the St. Petersburg Opera Company has gone to breathe new life into a work that occupies a tier of its own, neither overtly grand nor entirely comic.

    A grainy portrait of the bespectacled composer, Jacques Offenbach, fills a picture frame before each act. The German-born Frenchman composed around 100 operettas from the mid-19th century through 1880. This opera, with a libretto by Jules Barbier, was his last and best-known work. John Kaneklides, last seen by opera fans at the Palladium in South Pacific, makes for a mesmerizing lead as the poet Hoffmann, equipped with matinee idol looks and a electric sound that continues to surprise....

    John Kaneklides plays the poet Hoffmann, and Lara Lynn McGill is the singer Antonia in Jacques Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann.
  10. Governor veto of $500,000 strikes a sour note for Florida Orchestra


    The Florida Orchestra got an unwelcome surprise late Friday when Gov. Rick Scott ruled out $500,000 in funds to help pay for a new outreach program. Beyond the Bay launched in January with a vision of taking the orchestra to schools and community orchestras across Florida. The veto was part of $34 million the governor nixed from the state's budget, leaving that money available for other priorities. ...

    Florida Orchestra music director Michael Francis envision Beyond the Bay as a way to spread music education across the state.
  11. 'Finding Neverland' is a solid musical about 'Peter Pan' playwright J.M. Barrie


    TAMPA — After the success of Peter and the Starcatcher, still another take on Peter Pan does not seem like something that would attract audiences.

    Yet Finding Neverland, a musical about playwright J.M. Barrie now playing at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, succeeds anyway, mainly because it does not try to live up to anyone's expectations. The Broadway production, directed by Diane Paulus, with a book by James Graham and music and lyrics by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy, gets solid backing here with deep casting and a vision all its own....

    Billy Harrigan Tighe plays Peter Pan playwright J.M. Barrie, with Christine Dwyer as Sylvia, in Finding Neverland. Courtesy of the Straz Center.
  12. Terror stakes raised by Ayad Akhtar's 'The Invisible Hand' at American Stage



    A corporate trader gets kidnapped in Pakistan, touching off a high-stakes game of chicken.

    Nick Bright is already is in his makeshift prison cell at the start of The Invisible Hand, Ayad Akhtar's play about terrorism, politics and money, opening at American Stage. Akhtar's Disgraced had long been an item of interest for director Stephanie Gularte. Instead of going with the widely produced Pulitzer winner, the theater's producing artistic director thumbed through The Invisible Hand, which mixes comedy with financial intrigue....

    Playwright Kristoffer Diaz was a 2010 Pulitzer finalist in drama for The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity.
  13. Karen Bail, who helped Gibbs kids get to Broadway, retires


    ST. PETERSBURG — When neatnicks retire, they leave no trace behind. Their desks are clean, like a runway after the plane has taken off.

    On Thursday, her last day of classes, Karen Bail's desk still looked like the airport. Fake flowers stood in vases next to coffee cups and papers. On a bulletin board, posters of musicals she's directed at the Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High maintained prominence, as if announcing next weekend's production....

    Karen Bail, right, musical theatre and voice teacher at Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School with former student Blaine Krauss at the Imperial Theater on Broadway in New York City March 25, 2017 where Krauss is swing and understudy to the lead role of Anatole in "Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812". The play was recently nominated for 12 Tony Awards.  Krauss graduated from PCCA in 2010.
  14. Men have body image issues too


    I have lost and gained weight several times in my adult life. It wasn't a problem when I was younger and working construction. An "ideal" office job 30 years ago started the yo-yo effect. I don't have any more weight to lose, but the potential of gaining it back is always there.

    Over the last dozen years, my weight has fluctuated within a 150-pound range. I have never liked to talk about it much either way. If I was doing well by my standards, I didn't want to jinx it by hearing someone else's experience. If I wasn't, I certainly didn't want to go there....

    November 2014: on the beach in Treasure Island with Linda Mastry.
  15. What's on stage this week: Idina Menzel, 'Finding Neverland,' Sunshine City Opera



    Peter Pan, his tale immortalizing childhood, is now part of Western mythology. Playwright J.M. Barrie has since become the subject of a musical about creativity and courage. Finding Neverland opens Tuesday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.

    Finding Neverland zeroes in on Barrie's story, about a man who finds the child in himself through the four sons of a widow he is dating. It's a sanitized version of Barrie's more tumultuous love life. His real marriage to Mary Ansell ended in divorce following an affair she refused to give up. In the 1890s, he became close with the Llewelyn Davies family. He invented Peter Pan to entertain two of the couple's five sons, in part by telling them that their younger brother, Peter, could fly....

    Billy Harrigan Tighe plays Peter Pan playwright J.M. Barrie, with Christine Dwyer as Sylvia, in Finding Neverland. Courtesy of the Straz Center.