Artistic Director

  • Interview with Director James Dean Palmer

    11-12-18 Interview

    11/12/18 Director James Dean Palmer’s life is proof that miracles can still happen. James’ miracle was not metaphysical – it was human. Born into circumstances which almost certainly would have doomed him to an unpleasant and perhaps short life, James was lucky enough to have many people intervene. These interventions allowed him to recognize, utilize and benefit from abilities and skills he might otherwise never have known he had. Listen to this delightful, passionate man tell his moving story and describe his remarkable journey. And come down to the Asolo Conservatory to see him use those skill in his direction of Tom Stoppard’s powerful play Arcadia.

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  • Interview with Actor Brendan Ragan

    6-4-18 Interview

    6/4/18 Actor, theater maker Brendan Ragan loves being on stage. He always knew he was a natural; but he “never wanted to settle for pretty good,” and the need to hone his “artistry,” to be pushed, to be torn down and rebuilt if that was what it took for him to reach his personal best, drives him. It drove him to risk to joining 11 other graduates to create Single Carrot, a theater company in Baltimore on what was – although they didn’t know it – the most dangerous street in town; it drove him to leave there, although people thought he was crazy to leave that wonderful set up, and apply to graduate school; and its driven him to join Summer Wallace and Harry Lipstein in creating the Urbanite theater in Sarasota. Listen to this passionate, articulate man talk about his obsession to create the very best theater experience he can for himself and his audience, come see him demonstrate his “artistry” in the Urbanite’s current production of “Incognito”

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  • Interview with Director Chuck Smith – Having Our Say

    4-30-18 Interview

    5-7-18 As a boy Chuck Smith felt his family’s distress when his uncle, a Merchant Marine, was lost at sea. Chuck decided that he wanted to matter as much as his beloved uncle and, as soon as possible, enlisted in the Marines, believing that he would spend his life in the service. After two tours Chuck decided to check out civilian life but he found it boring and was just about to re-up when friends asked him to stand in for an actor who had dropped out of a play which was just about to. Chuck had no experience of, or even any interest in the theater – in fact he was insulted to be to be asked – after all he was “a military man!” But he agreed to help out his friends. The reaction he got from the audience when he came out for his bow changed his life. Today Chuck, is a resident director at Chicago’s prestigious Goodman Theater where he is currently directing Having Our Say and a freelance director anywhere that African American theater is growing. Listen to this extraordinary man tell his unusual story.

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  • Interview with Actor, Dancer, Singer, Writer, Educator Marie Thomas-Foster

    5-14-18 Interview
    5-14-18 Marie Thomas-Foster knew by the time she was twelve years old that she didn’t want to follow in her families tradition – and become a teacher – she wanted to perform. She began taking dance lessons as soon as she could and convinced her friends to create “shows” in which they sang and danced. She misled her mother into thinking she was majoring in Education when she was actually studying Theater. And her determination paid off as her career has taken her to roles on Stage and Screen (big and little). But apparently the power of her early training never quite left her as she also taught theater at the City College of New York and created Theater Workshop where she gave hundreds of youngsters and opportunity to learn to sing and dance and act. Today she is staring in Having Her Say at the Goodman Theater in Chicago directed by Chuck Smith.

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  • Interview with Jason Cannon – director of Constellations

    3-12-18 Interview

    A self-described “multi-hyphenate” Jason Cannon is the quintessential theater professional. A union actor, union director, published playwright, stage manager, set designer, and educator, Jason’s title as Associate Artist at Florida Studio Theater, does not begin to describe his duties. In addition to all the jobs I mentioned he is also responsible for new play development, mentoring the acting apprentices, and teaching classes in everything from Playwriting to Shakespeare. Listen to Jason describe the ironic way he discovered the path that was definitely meant for him, and describe “Constellations,” the unusual and compelling play he recently directed for Florida Studio Theater

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  • Interview with the extraordinary Wayne Adams Part 2

    12-12-17 Interview

    12-12-17 Part – 2 In this second part of my interview, Wayne Adams continues to relate his remarkable life. Listen to him describe his delightful meeting with legendary acting teacher Maggie Flannigan; and how his production of Ralph Pape’s Say Goodnight, Gracie directed by Austin Pendleton, resulted in his determination to bring Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company to Broadway; first in the production of True West with John Malkovich and Gary Sinise and then in the Lincoln Center production of And a Nightingale Sang with , Joan Allen. Wayne says “I’m interested in being the human being that I am,” and he reminds us that “life is taking chances, not doing what someone else thinks you should do but doing from yourself honestly according to your own instincts.” Listen and be inspired.

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  • Interview with the extraordinary Wayne Adams Part 1

    12-5-17 Interview

    12-5-17 – Part 1 – Actor, Director, Broadway Producer, Lighting Designer, Art Gallery Owner waiter, server in an upscale tie store and more, octogenarian Wayne Adams did everything with passion, commitment and panache. Adopted by an extraordinary couple who wanted him to experience everything and encouraged him to “be himself, and to take responsibility for everything he attempted,” Wayne has done just that. A musician, an artist and an actor.As a boy, Wayne majored in commercial design and minored in history of architecture at Ohio University, and although he never took a “theater course” he was in 11 productions during his four years at school with the result that when he graduated he knew that after his mandated stint in the air force he would go off to NY to pursue a career as an actor. Listen to the remarkable diverse jobs he tackled – all with the same commitment to excellence and hear how he discovered “what it really means to be an actor.”

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  • Interview with Brendan Ragan

    5-24-16 Interview

    7/12/16 Actor, theater maker Brendan Ragan loves being on stage. He always knew he was a natural; but he “never wanted to settle for pretty good,” and the need to hone his “artistry,” to be pushed, to be torn down and rebuilt if that was what it took for him to reach his personal best, drives him. It drove him to risk to joining 11 other graduates to create Single Carrot, a theater company in Baltimore on what was – although they didn’t know it – the most dangerous street in town; it drove him to leave there, although people thought he was crazy to leave that wonderful set up, and apply to graduate school; and its driven him to join Summer Wallace and Harry Lipstein in creating the Urbanite theater in Sarasota. Listen to this passionate, articulate man talk about his obsession to create the very best theater experience he can for himself and his audience

    continue reading
  • Interview with Summer Dawn Wallace

    5-24-16 Interview

    7-5-16 Summer Dawn Wallace discovered acting at four years old. Listen to the sweet story of how little Summer learned that a person could be anything she wanted to be. For example, every day she pretended to be a different animal, and if that day’s animal was a cat, little Summer refused to eat at the table insisting that her mother feed her on the floor This began a lifelong commitment to creating alternate realities for herself and her audiences culminating, with co-founder Brendan Ragan in the creation of the Urbanite Theater, Sarasota’s newest and most unique theater company. In a very short time The Urbanite has proved Brendan and Summer right – that they are clearly filling a need in the community, is borne out by their swift and remarkable success.

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  • Interview with Summer Dawn Wallace

    5-24-16 Interview

    7-5-16 Summer Dawn Wallace discovered acting at four years old. Listen to the sweet story of how little Summer learned that a person could be anything she wanted to be. For example, every day she pretended to be a different animal, and if that day’s animal was a cat, little Summer refused to eat at the table insisting that her mother feed her on the floor This began a lifelong commitment to creating alternate realities for herself and her audiences culminating, with co-founder Brendan Ragan in the creation of the Urbanite Theater, Sarasota’s newest and most unique theater company. In a very short time The Urbanite has proved Brendan and Summer right – that they are clearly filling a need in the community, is borne out by their swift and remarkable success.

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  • Interview with Rob Ruggiero

    11-11-14 – Interview

    When he was eight years old Rob Ruggiero would make up stories, corral his cousins, costume and rehearse them and put on performances for his large Italian family. He instinctively knew who he was and what he wanted to do with his life – but like so many of us, he forgot. Luckily in his high school senior year Rob, already a disco dancer was asked to dance in a production of Oklahoma and he says that it was there that he “found his place, his people, his family.” Still, while he knew that the theater was his path, he didn’t discover his role in it until he took his first directing class in his senior year in college and remembered his eight year old passion for creating theater by directing. In addition to a prodigious free lancing career as one of the few directors to earn national recognition for his work in both straight plays and musicals, Rob is the producing artistic director of theater works in Hartford CT. The only director to have received four Kevin Kline Awards (2 for Best Direction of a Musical (Urinetown and Ella) and two for Best Direction of a play (Take Me Out and The Little Dog Laughed), he is in Sarasota FL to direct his fourth production for the Asolo Repertory Theatre Co, this time and intimate production of the Roger’s and Hammerstein musical classic South Pacific. Listen to this charming, ebullient, delightful man talk about his circuitous path to the place he calls home.

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  • Interview with Harry Bryce Part 2

    10-28-2014 Audio Interview

    Poet, Dancer, Choreographer, Actor, Director, Harry Bryce is the former artistic director of Memphis Black Repertory Theater, and creator of the Harry Bryce Dance Company and Choreographer in residence for Vinnette Carroll’s theater co, taught dance and theater at Atlanta’s Morehouse and Spellman colleges Harry says that he came out of the womb dancing. And when you talk to him you can well believe it. Wise beyond his years Harry began writing poetry (although he didn’t know it was poetry) when he was a young boy in order to “stay sane.” He couldn’t take ballet lessons like his older sister because boys simply didn’t do that; but when she came home from her lesson his sister would take him into the back yard and do the lesson again for him. By the time they were ten years old Harry and his sister were a popular dance act appearing at local weddings and events. Listen to this exuberant, reflective man talk about his life and his work – which is currently directing the West Coast Black Theater Troupe’s ground breaking production of the comedy horror rock musical Little Shop of Horrors.

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  • Interview with actor and director Jeffrey Kin

    9-9-14– Audio Interview

    Jeffrey Kin is a sextuple threat! He sings, he dances, he acts, he writes, he directs, and he produces with talent, skill and joy. Luckily for us he brings all of this knowledge and skill to his position as the Artistic Director of Sarasota’s community theater – The Players. A farm boy who discovered as a small child that he was a performer, listen to him talk about how he discovered that, and pursued his chosen field with a vengeance. Listen to this charming, dedicated, funny man talk about his life, his work and the recreation of the hilarious, back by popular demand production of Lend Me A Tenor which opens on Sept 10th.

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  • Interview with Kevin Earley

    3-18-14 Audio Interview

    Actor Kevin Earley got his first taste of the joys of being on stage at the age of four when his mother, who would become the artistic director of a Chicago theater, created a singing group with him and his three older brothers. He got roles in a professional acting company when he was ten and then again when he was thirteen, so he knew from the beginning what he wanted to do with his life. But as happens to many people for whom success comes easily, Kevin says he was “lazy about his acting,” depending on his looks (which are terrific) and his “big voice.” Listen to this thoughtful professional talk about the importance recognizing what you are lacking and having the willingness and the discipline to do the work required strengthening your “tools.” Also come out to see the result of his hard work and discipline in the delightful Florida Studio Theater production of Daddy Long Legs.

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  • Interview with Rob Ruggiero

    11-26-13 – Audio Interview

    When he was eight years old Rob Ruggiero would make up stories, corral his cousins, costume and rehearse them and put on performances for his large Italian family. He instinctively knew who he was and what he wanted to do with his life – but like so many of us, he forgot. Luckily in his high school senior year Rob, already a disco dancer, was asked to dance in a production of Oklahoma and he says that it was there that he “found his place, his people, his family.” Still, while he knew that the theater was his path, he didn’t discover his role in it until he took his first directing class in his senior year in college and remembered his eight year passion for creating theater by directing. In addition to a prodigious free lancing career as one of the few directors to earn national recognition for his work in both straight plays and musicals, Rob is the producing artistic director of TheaterWorks in Hartford CT. The only director to have received four Kevin Kline Awards (2 for Best Direction of a Musical (Urinetown and Ella) and two for Best Direction of a play (Take Me Out and The Little Dog Laughed), he is in Sarasota FL to direct his version of Show Boat, which he created for the Goodspeed Opera House, and which garnered him his fifth Connecticut Critics Circle award, to open the 2014 season at the Asolo Repertory Theatre. Listen to this charming, ebullient, delightful man discover his deeper connection to Show Boat and talk about his circuitous path tp the place he calls home.

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  • Interview with Richard Hopkins

    10/30/12 – Interview

    Unlike all of the above Richard Hopkins didn’t see a play until he was 19 and had no idea where his path lay. He was “coasting through college” with no idea what he wanted to do with his life, when a speech teacher told him he would get a better grade if he helped build sets. This led to taking a drama class and he was “hooked;” he had found his “window to the world.” And then, as he says he does everything, Richard became “obsessed,” and “followed his bliss,” even when the conventional wisdom said that the path he’d chosen was a dead end. Of course as it often is, the conventional wisdom was wrong, as for over 30 years Richard has been the very successful Artistic Director of Florida Studio Theater in Sarasota FL, which will be celebrating the opening of its most recent addition – the spectacularly rebuilt Gompertz Theater with The Next Act Gala on November 29, 2012

    The event kicks off at 5:30pm with pre-show cocktails that will take place in the Israeloff Lobby of the new Hegner Theatre Wing. Attendees will have the chance to take tours of the newly renovated Gompertz Theatre and the two additional spaces: the New Cabaret Theatre and the John Court Theatre. Moving into the evening there the Spelman award recipient will be announced, followed by a special performance. Ending the evening will be dinner at The Frances, a new restaurant opening under the Palm Avenue Parking Garage.

    For tickets and information contact:

    Audra Lange
    Marketing Associate
    (941) 366 – 9017 ext. 313
    alange@floridastudiotheatre.org

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  • Interview with Rick Kerby

    7-31-12 – Interview

    Actor, dancer, singer, director choreographer Rick Kerby says “his life has been one big wave, which he’s ridden wherever it took him.” Opportunities did seem to pop up in front of him but Rick was always ready – listen to the charming and funny story of how he learned to dance for his college audition. While on a trip to NY with his college to see shows Rick courageously placed himself in front of the wave by walking into Actors Equity and, as a non equity actor, auditioning for the tour of Oklahoma. He got the job and never looked back. He was continually working. He toured and toured and toured in Oklahoma and The Best Little Whore House in Texas, he worked in Las Vegas and he taught. Today he brings that wealth of skill, experience and expertise to his position as producing artistic director of the Manatee Players Theater in Bradenton Florida, where on August 2nd and 3rd they will be presenting the premier of a play by Robin Givens.

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  • Interview with Greg Leaming

    1-24-12 – Interview

    In this show I am replaying portions of an interview I previously did with Greg Leaming who is the Director of the FSU Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training Company and Assistant to Michael Donald Edwards the Producing Artistic Director at the Asolo. In that interview Greg described his philosophy of teaching acting and gave interesting insights into training techniques. Then I am playing a follow up interview in which Greg talks about directing and specifically his direction of the Tony Award Winning “God of Carnage”.

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  • Interview with actor Greg Leaming

    7-19-11 Interview

    Greg Leaming thought he wanted to be an actor, but his height (he’s 6’6) made that very difficult, so he turned his talents and his interest to the study of directing. This stood him in terrific stead when, as associate and artistic director, he shepherded various regional theaters. Now, combining all of his skills, Greg is the Artistic Director of the Graduate Actor Training Program of Florida State University and the Associate Director of the Asolo Repertory Theatre, which administers the FSU program. Listen to Greg talk about the challenges faced by acting students, and the skills required to help them become as good as they possibly can be.

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  • Interview with Kate Alexander

    September 28

    Kate Alexander is not only assistant Artistic Director of the Florida Studio Theater, but an extremely talented actor and director. She was not an outgoing or precocious child and says that no one would have expected her to become an actress. Even in college where she majored in drama her teachers “didn’t know what to do with her.” But although she couldn’t say exactly why, Kate had decided at age 8 that the stage was her destiny, and difficult and discouraging as her path was, Kate knew she had to travel it, and it has brought her to where she always wanted to – and knew she should be.

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