Archive for October, 2012

Times theater critic John Fleming calls the American Stage production of Wit, currently running on the Palladium’s main stage, “good medicine.” 

The show has heart and humor, a powerful main character and a great supporting cast. The production is a partnership between American Stage, St. Petersburg College Theater Program and the Palladium at SPC.

The Pulitzer Prize winning play – which was nominated for a Tony Award this year on Broadway – runs through Sunday with evening and some matinée shows.

 For more details visit www.mypalladium.org.  Tickets are available from the  American Stage box office and at the door.

For the full review click on:



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If you check the Palladium website, you’ll notice a shortage of shows this week. That doesn’t mean it’s quiet down here.

The crew from American Stage is in the building, finishing the set and the lighting work for the upcoming production of the Pulitzer Prize winning drama, Wit. Working with them both backstage and in the rehearsal hall are students from the St. Petersburg College Theater program.

Palladium and American Stage fans will recall that we initiated a partnership last year which brought the American Stage production of August: Osage County to our stage. The show was a hit and won the Critics Choice Award for Outstanding Play at this year’s Jeff Norton Theater Awards (also held at the Palladium).

This year the SPC theater program joined the partnership. Eighteen SPC students, ages 20-35, are participating in the production in a variety of capacities, such as acting, costumes, props, set loading and assistant directing. Students began rehearsals on Oct. 2. The show runs from Oct. 21 – Nov. 4 at the Palladium at SPC.

“This is an extremely new experience for me,” said Erica Simpson, 24, an Associate in Arts student at the Clearwater Campus. “The amount of professionalism that’s being displayed is out of this world. It’s been a great learning experience!”

SPC student participation doesn’t stop with the theater program. Interns from the college’s Music Industry and Recording Arts program will work alongside the Palladium tech crew and the American Stage crew during all the productions. During regular MIRA classes at the Palladium, student will learn first-hand how major theatrical productions are mounted, including lighting, cues and working with more than a dozen body microphones.

The college’s theater program was restarted in the fall 2011 after a nine-year hiatus. When Scott Cooper was hired as SPC’s theater director, he was asked to focus on getting the program more involved with American Stage.

“Todd Olson, Artistic Director of American Stage, and I have actually done this before, when I was teaching at Eckerd College,” said Cooper, who has designed scenery for American Stage, Jobsite, Gorilla, Jaeb (Straz Center for the Performing Arts), Stageworks and freeFall theaters in the Tampa Bay area. “So it was something that he and I have always talked about doing again.”

“For our theater students, this is a master class in what it’s really like to do theater professionally,” Cooper said. “The students that are participating will get real master classes with the professional actors— connections that most college theater students can only dream of making.”

The students have the opportunity to work with leading actress Kim Crow, a 2012 Emmy award nominee as co-producer and female voiceover talent for Echoes from the Holocaust, and other professionals including Joe Parra, Barbara Redmond, LuLu Picart and Bill Grennan.

“I think they feel very lucky to have this kind of experience and I am so happy the SPC theater department can provide this for them,” Cooper said.

SPC students perform multiple roles in Wit, which is the story of Vivian Bearing, an uncompromising English professor who is dying of late-stage ovarian cancer.

For some of these young actors, the play touches them in a personal way.

Simpson hopes this will help students realize the importance of staying informed about their health.

“Vivian Bearing waited four months before she went to get checked out because she was having cramps,” she said. “I think that students, whether we have insurance or not, we need to go see a gynecologist and get things checked out when we feel like something is not right. Usually when we say that ‘I don’t feel right,’ or ‘there’s something going on in my body,’ usually we’re right.”

Some material from a previously published article in the Blue and White was used in this post. For details on Wit and ticket info visit www.mypalladium.org or www.americanstage.org

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Grant Peeples

Everybody’s favorite Left-Neck singer/songwriter, Grant Peeples, is bringing his Bob Dylan tribute show to our area for the first time. Grant and five other bands will be doing more than two hours worth of Bob tunes at the Palladium on Friday, Oct. 12 at 8 p.m.


These shows – Bob Night: All Bob Dylan, All Night Long– have played to packed houses in cities around Florida, so don’t miss this one – especially since Grant says he’s hanging up his guitar for a while.

To find out more about the show and what’s happening with this rising star of the Americana music scene, I called Grant this week to catch up. Hope you enjoy the interview. I know you will enjoy the show. Here we go:

I know you’ve organized Bob Dylan tributes in other cities in Florida. What got you started with these Dylan shows? 

 Staying up too late at the Florida Folk Festival.   It started with one of those campfire things when somebody plays a song and somebody else plays one based on a thread from the song.  In this case it was a Dylan songs.  We started just after midnight and at sunrise we were still going and nobody had repeated a song.    My friend Carrie Hamby said,  ‘We ought to take this to a stage sometime.”   That was four years ago.  Ten cities and maybe thirty shows.

How much of an influence is Dylan on your songwriting?

 When I heard the words:   “With your mercury mouth and you missionary eyes, and your eyes like smoke and your voice like rhymes, who among them do you think could bury you?”   I knew that nobody had ever written a song like that.  Ever.   And that was how I wanted to use words.

Do you have a favorite Dylan era? The ‘60s? Blood on the Tracks era? The Time Out of Mind period? Or his resurgence in the new millennium?

   I don’t look at him in terms or eras, I don’t think.   But my three favorite albums are Blood on the Tracks, Blonde on Blonde and Street Legal.    

Favorite song and why?

I think it would have to be  “Things Have Changed,”  which he wrote when he was 50.   It is reflective without being preachy.    It is both comedic and deadly dramatic.   It is the story of his life in full circle, lyrical and passionate and groovy,  a chorus that ramps up in the listeners head like boiling pot.    “Been a lotta water under the bridge, and a lotta other stuff, too.”    Who else could have written that?

Tell me about some of the other acts and musicians on the bill:

Free Hugs, whose center piece is Aaron O’Rourke, hands down the world’s best dulcimer player.  He’s joined by Australian fiddle master, Mark Russell, and Erik Alvar, who is—ask anybody on the Florida folk scene—the best stand-up bass player within 1000 miles of the Palladium. 

 There’s Radio Free Carmela, who has played several Bob Night’s, and who will finish off the show with a rendition of ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues that is worth the price of the ticket.    We have Waking Giants, formerly Elysian Sex Drive   (an unfortunate name change if there ever was one)  who are an all-girl burn-down-the-house sorta band.  

And then there is Sarah Mac Band.   There is nobody like Sarah Mac.   We’ve done quite a bit of singing together, and to stand next to her on the stage is like standing next to a steel furnace; and the people in the back of the room feel it, too.  She’s a monster.

You recently announced that you were taking a break from touring. First, thanks for not cancelling your Palladium show. What prompted that decision and what’s next for Grant?

 I ran out of gas.  The taste for it all left my mouth.  I had been running like a fool for over four years, trying to make a name for myself, and all of a sudden—-after a two month, 35-state summer tour–the taste for it all left my mouth.   I have basically retired to my library, where I read about three or four hours a day, everything from Joyce to Jung to the Bible, Joseph Campbell, Shakespeare, a lucid Buddhist monk named Pema Chodron, poetry by these great poets that really speak to me, guys like Robinson Jeffers, Harvey Mudd, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

 And then for about four or five hours a day I’ve been writing:  some songs, a lot of poetry, and two plays.   The poems are working for me, I’m breathing better in the creative process, I’m able to access concepts and ideas and rhythms that I just couldn’t do with songs.  What’s next for me is about all of this, and where all this is going to lead.   But there won’t be any picking up where I left off, I don’t think.   That trail is cold.   Maybe I’ll go around and read my poems.

Your latest album, Prior Convictions, is charting all over the place. Tell us a little about the album:

 I didn’t realize it when I recorded it earlier this year that I was essentially making a record that defined and mapped out the causes and conditions that were centered in this change I was just speaking of.  The ambiguity in the title itself frames the situation as it stands.   I put Dylan’s “Things Have Changed” on the record, not really even cognizant of the personal symbolism that might be at play.  There’s a song called Gunning For The Buddha which is about danger of belief.   Every song is connected by a thread that ties back to the vulnerability of a conviction, a belief, a chosen path and the cliffs that lie beyond.   I understand the record better today than I did early this summer.

When do we get a full Grant Peeples show back at the Palladium?

 When’s your next poetry night?

For tickets and information on Bob Night, visit www.mypalladium.org. You can reach the Palladium box office by calling 727 822-3590.

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If you love cabaret shows, as I do, you’ll enjoy this story on the state of art form from Sunday’s New York Times by Stephen Holden. It is also a good overview of the best artists at work today.

Selling tickets for cabaret shows remains a challenge, as we learned last season at the Palladium. But the genre stays alive and new artists are joining the ranks.

You can check it out with this link:


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I wanted to share this note from the Suncoast Jazz Classic about the passing of our good friend Mat Domber. I’ll be writing more about Mat and his support for jazz and the Palladium’s jazz programming later this week.  

   Classic & Jazz World Saddened By Loss Of Mat Domber


Mat Domber

  Suncoast Jazz Classic lost a board member and major festival supporter and the jazz world a “champion of jazz” with the death of Mat Domber. It was a sad day on Sept. 19 when we learned that Mat had lost his battle with cancer.
    Jazz has many “heroes” but few have been as important to the advancement of jazz as Mat Domber and his Arbors Records. Mat has produced and recorded over 400 musicians, staged several sold out Invitational Jazz Parties, directed tours by the renowned Statesmen of Jazz and joined with Jazzdagen Tours in sponsoring the Annual Jazz Alive swinging jazz cruise in December. You might say the Arbors Records catalog is a current historical review of the advancement of jazz since Mat launched Arbors Records in 1989. 
   While his presence will be missed, he leaves behind a legacy of jazz-related support that guarantees that Mat Domber will be remembered and “Classic Jazz Will Live On.”

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