• Interview with writer, director, educator, Brad Battersby Part 1


    5-30-17 Part 1
    Emulating his architect father, Bradley Battersby began drawing as a very small child but it was his 7th grade art teacher who showed him the potential magic of film. Listen to this dedicated, passionate man talk about how he and his father communicated with blocks, and describe the innovative, out of the box experience his art teacher provided for her class – the experience which turned Brad into a film maker. In the first part of our two part interview follow the twists and turns of his career as he pursued his dream of becoming a film maker and making the perfect film.

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  • Interview with Director Jesse Joou

    2-14-17 Interview

    2-14-17 Director Jesse Jou is in Sarasota for the second time – this time – directing The Drunken City, for the students at the FSU-Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training. Jesse is an alumnus of the Cherry Lane Mentor Project, the Drama League’s Directors Project, the Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, and the Civilians R&D Group. He received his MFA in directing from the Yale School of Drama and is currently on faculty at the School of Theatre & Dance, Texas Tech University. While many believe that in order to succeed in life you must have a goal; know where you’re going and exactly how to get there. Jesse simply took the next step when it appeared and remarkably found himself exactly where he should be. He was thirty when he left his straight, well paying, comfortable job and went to Graduate School to study Directing. Listen to this introspective, interesting man describe a path that may not have been right for others, but was exactly right for him. And hear him describe the unexpected nuances in his current project.

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  • Interview with film/video producer Mark Palmer

    1-3-17 Interview

    1-3-16 Mark Palmer defies definition. Equally interested in shooting guns and film, Mark relentlessly pursued all of his very varied interests. The military intrigued him because was decisive and he was a natural shot, scoring almost perfectly at the firing range. The theater drew him – initially because that was where the girls were – but it retained his interest by giving him things to design and build. Mark was, and continues to be fascinated by everything that creates pictures, listen to his story of shooting regattas from a plane. He went to film school and studied photography and video soaking up all the information he was given. Today putting it all together Mark is Mars Vision a video and film Production Company, where like a general (otherwise known as the Director) he helps people create their vision.

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  • Interview with Andre Malaev-Babel

    8-2-16 Interview

    12/13 /16 Andrei Maleav-Babel is a Russian Immigrant. The son and grandson of writers and artists, Andrei wrote musicals and directed his parent’s friends in his plays, by the time he was 10 or 12. Luckily coming of age as Perestroika was occurring in Russia, Andrei was able to start his own theater as a very young man. Barely able to speak English, he met, courted and married an American sociology student and became a Professor of Acting at the prestigious FSU Conservatory for Actor Training, one of the top ten actor training companies in the United States. Listen to him tell his amazing story and talk about his direction of the Conservatory’s production of Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge,” opening on Dec 27th

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  • Interview for Bell Book and Candle

    8-2-16 Interview

    8-9-16 Bell, Book and Candle at the Players Theater

    Although always a “dramatic” child – acting out scenes from TV and making up stories, it wasn’t until her middle school teacher’s extremely positive reaction to the pantomime she’d created and performed, that Helen Holliday, realized her “passion.” From then on she knew that she was going to be an actor, and although her parents would have preferred another occupation for their “dramatic” daughter, they knew, as she knew that nothing was going to stop her. Listen to Helen describe how her complete “confidence” in her ability drove her and how that ability created a lifetime of performing, direction, stage managing and anything and everything that had to do with the theater. And come she her direction of Bell, Book and Candle at the Players.

    Ann Gundersheimer knew from a very young age that she wanted to be an actor; she can still recite a piece she performed in elementary school. Her father, a charismatic lecturer, inadvertently encouraged this impulse by sharing his love of oratory with his daughter. But her parents frowned on the idea of her having a career on the stage so Ann majored in English instead of theater in college, although she “acted all the time,” and then got her Master’s Degree in theater. But her life took several other turns so she wasn’t able to purse her passion for acting until she retired. And now she is finally able to act as often as she is cast, which is fortunately quite a lot. Listen to this thoughtful, talented woman talk about her life and come to see here as one of the larger than life characters in the Players production of Bell, Book and Candle

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  • Interview with Mark St Germain and Jason Cannon

    7-26-16 Interview

    7-26-16 Although he adored stories, read everything he could get his hands on and went to the theater as often as possible, Mark St Germain never expected to be a writer. He never considered it an option – no one he knew was a writer… In his mid-20’s he was helping to put on a woman’s poetry event and decided it needed something comedic to lighten the mood – no one would write it – so he did. When the audience laughed, he was so delighted that he decided then and there to be a writer. Listen to the way he pursued this goal which lead to the creation of many wonderful plays. Mark has had a long relationship with Florida Studio Theater in Sarasota, which has produced many of his plays. Most recently they commissioned a play called Relativity and produced its premiere performance. In it protagonists, Albert Einstein and the daughter he gave away when she was 2, debate the thorny question of whether a great man – one who contributes to the good of the community/world – need also be good. In this show Mark talks about his life and work and Jason Cannon, who directed and was part of the creative collaboration which culminated in Relativity, discusses the development and production of the play and Sharon Leslie reviews it.

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  • Interview with Joel King

    5-24-16 Interview

    6-14-16 Artist, singer, dancer, actor, playwright, producer, director Joel King discovered his multiple talents unexpectedly. He would simply do these things; draw, sing, dance, write and act, and luckily for him people continually congratulated him on his skill and encouraged him to do more of it. Over time Joel realized that what he wanted to do was sing but to please his mother who, who recognizing his artistic skill and like many other parents wanted him to choose a career that would pay, encouraged him to major in Architectural Design. So Joel majored in Architectural Design and minored in music. Then after auditioning for and capturing a role in a play, Joel was’ persuaded by the heads of the drama dept. to add another minor in theater. He said “I still liked Architectural Design, but I loved theater.” Since graduation Joel has written, produced and directed many original shows and acted in many others. Currently he got to see a workshop production of his HipOpera “Real Life,” done by the West Coast Black Theater Troupe in Sarasota FL. Listen to this gentle, ingenuous young man talk about the ironic way he discovered his talents and his passions and what he wants to accomplish in his life

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  • Interview with Barry Pearl

    3-15-16 Audio Interview

    Barry Pearl believes he was born to perform. He was singing, telling jokes and mimicking as a toddler. As the youngest boy in tap class, little Barry and the youngest girl performed for a large audience and Barry was “bitten.” He began to get roles in an adult company and was playing the Duke of York in a production with Roy Scheider when he was 9 years old. He got his first role on Broadway, that of Randolph McAfee in Bye Bye Birdie, when he was 11. And has been an actor ever since. Listen to Barry describe the “woo woo” way his life progressed: the unexpected way he became a director and the irony of having lost a role on a TV show just in time to be cast in the movie version of Grease. Currently Barry lives and works as an actor, director and teacher in Los Angeles. He has just finished a production of the musical 13 and will open a production of Camp Rock for Panic Productions at the NoHo Arts theatre in North Hollywood on May 6th.You can also see Barry as Stan Weaver (the producer for National Bandstand) in GREASE: LIVE which will air on March 27th on FOX.

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  • Interview with George Tynan Crowley

    March 8 Audio Interview

    George Tynan Crowley had a mystical experience at the age of 7 when he spontaneously volunteered to read the prayer at communion and knew that he was meant to “speak out.” From then on he followed this path to speak out by becoming a versatile, talented actor, director, writer, and producer. Listen to this charming, articulate man talk about his work in theater and film, his belief in the power of theater to transform lives and his personal philosophy of life. Come see his powerful performance in the meaningful and beautiful play, Outside Mullingar, currently running at Florida Studio Theater and listen to Sharon Leslie’s review of the play.

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  • Interview with Emily Sophia Knapp

    2-2-16 Audio Interview

    Having accompanied her mother to rehearsals when she produced West Side Story for a local theater group, nine year old Emily Sophia Knapp feel in love with the theater and when she saw her friend in a 50 kid production she knew that was what she wanted to do. But Emily has many interests and she didn’t want to miss out on anything. At Harvard she pursued independent research but found it too solitary and so she went to England to study acting. She sent a letter to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival asking for an audition and spent 2 years living the actor’s life in NY until OSF finally responded, gave her an audition and offered her a position. It was during her two years as an actor at the festival that she discovered an interest in everything about “how plays get produced;” she learned to write grants and developed a software program for the festival. It was there that she also began to direct, becoming assistant director for the earliest productions of All the Way – which she is currently directing for the Asolo Repertory Theatre Company. Listen to this exuberant, flexible, charming woman talk about her unusual path and hear Sharon Leslie’s review of All the Way.

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  • Interview with Dewayne Barrett

    1-5-16 Interview with Dewayne Barrett

    Dewayne Barrett knew he was a performer by the time he was four. He was encouraged by a family that recognized and enjoyed his talent – putting him on the kitchen table to do the popular dances and getting him on the Romper Room. Always able to mimic whatever movement he saw Dewayne was offered scholarships wherever he applied; first at the Georgia Ballet Company and the Atlanta Jazz Theater and later with Steps on Broadway. All through high school Dewayne studied dance, voice and acting and remarkably a choreographer saw him dance and offered him a job and a place to live in New York City and Dewayne has been working dancer, actor, choreographer, director ever since. Listen to this charming Southern boy talk about his extraordinary ride, and hear some of the iconic songs from A Chorus Line which he is currently directing and performing in for the Manatee Performing Arts Hall.

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  • Interview with Justin Lucero

    12/15/2015 Audio Interview

    Justin Lucero says he was always “bossy,” always telling his siblings and friends what to do and how to do it. He was addicted to anything Disney but had no access to theater and never imagined being – what he became – a theater director. A talented saxophonist, he was unable to make music his college major because his parents insisted that he major in “something to do with computers,” an area that neither he nor they knew anything about but which his parents apparently thought would make him able to support himself. A series of accidents and unforeseen opportunities lead Justin to a discovery of theater and on his ironic journey towards his final goal. Listen to the hilarious and serendipitous events which lead him to work, right out of conservatory, with Timothy Sheader, one of London’s foremost directors and winner of back to back prestigious Olivier Awards, then later spent four years with the El Paso Opera. Yearning for more training Justin applied for and was accepted to the first director training position at the Asolo. There w he assisted Michael Donald Edwards, Frank Galati, Peter Amster, and Greg Leaming. Greg was so impressed with Justin’s work that he has assigned Justin to direct The Liar, the second production of the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training season which opens on December 30th and runs thru 1/17.

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  • Interview with James Harkness of The Color Purple Part 2

    10-27-2015 Audio Interview Part 2

    In Part 2 of my interview with James Harkness, he tells the remarkable story of how he wound up on Broadway, before he really understood what a big deal it was In it he also talks at length about The Color Purple, explaining why he believes it such an important piece. And listen to more of the wonderful music from The Color Purple.

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  • Interview with James Harkness of The Color Purple Part 1

    10-20-2015 Audio Interview

    Part I James Harkness is currently appearing on Broadway in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. He took a leave of absence in order to make his directorial debut for the WBTT production of The Color Purple in which he performed and choreographed the Broadway debut in 2005 – and will return after the show opens. He recently performed alongside Betty Buckley in Grey Gardens The Musical. His stage credits include Aida, Guys and Dolls, Chicago, Dreamgirls and Smokey Joe’s Café. Film credits include The Maid’s Room and The Mend. He has earned numerous creative credits as a choreographer. Listen to this charming, delightful, spontaneous man tell the story of the ways in which life conspired to help him embrace the dancer he has always been, and to discover the choreographer and director he was always meant to be.. And listen to music from The Color Purple.

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  • Audio Interview with Vincent Carlson-Brown

    8-25-15 Audio Interview

    The third and final show of the Urbanite Summer Season is Issac’s Eye; a play about the tug of war experienced by people whose passion puts them at odds with conventional wisdom. Using the historical figure of Issac Newton it mixes fact and fiction, and uses a clever device to constantly let the audience know which is which. It is compelling and intelligent theater, deftly directed by Vincent Carlson-Brown with wonderful performances by Kimberly Stephenson, Robby May, Tony Stopperan and. Benjamin Williamson as Issac Newton. Listen to Vincent talk about how his early experiences with local theater lead him to make theater his life’s career. And listen to both Vincent and Ben talk about Issac’s Eye, its vision, its theme and the meaning and impact it had on them.

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  • Audio Interview with Don Walker and Donna Gerdes

    6-23-2015 Audio Interview

    At the Banyan Theater this summer Don Walker stars in Art from 6/25-7/12 and directs My Old Lady with Donna Gerdes from 8/6-23 and Katherine Tanner reprises her extraordinary performance in The Amish Project from 7/16-8/2.

    Don Walker knew he wanted to act from the moment he stepped on stage in the third grade. And although he studied theater in college and graduate school, life made it necessary for him to use his other skills to make a living. Serendipitously, Don’s straight job relocated to Sarasota and after a hiatus of 26 years he risked the audition process (with knees a-knocking). Of course talented as he is he was immediately scooped up by local theaters and is once again able to “feed his heart and soul.” Listen to this gentle, self-deprecating man talk about the art (no pun intended) of acting and the plays he is performing in and directing this summer.

    Donna Gerdes was writing performing plays for family and friends by the time she was 5 or 6. Thinking she was going to be a doctor, Donna majored in Biology and Chemistry and minored in Drama in College. She won a singing competition whose prize was a month long Opera Workshop where she met a friend who said “move to NY with me, my voice teacher can get us jobs with a Gilbert and Sullivan company.” Terrified, but determined, Donna took a train to Penn Station. She and her friend did become Gilbert and Sullivan apprentices and “it just took off from there.” Donna got role after role in musicals in regional theaters around the country, until she met and married her husband and his 4 children. Believing that the children come first, Donna gave up the theater and had many prestigious jobs. But now free of those responsibilities she is back on the boards. Listen to this talented, resourceful, gentle woman talk about her passion for the theater, her deep sense of responsibility and her joy at once again being able to get on stage where she always knew she belonged.

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  • Interview with Dewayne Barrett

    3-24-15 Interview

    Dewayne Barrett knew he was a performer by the time he was four. He was encouraged by a family that recognized and enjoyed his talent – putting him on the kitchen table to do the popular dances and getting him on the Romper Room. Always able to mimic whatever movement he saw Dewayne was offered scholarships wherever he applied; first at the Georgia Ballet Company and the Atlanta Jazz Theater and later with Steps on Broadway. All through high school Dewayne studied dance, voice and acting and remarkably a choreographer saw him dance and offered him a job and a place to live in New York City and Dewayne has been working dancer, actor, choreographer, director ever since. Listen to this charming Southern boy talk about his extraordinary ride. And come see his amazing work at The Players Theater where he directed and choreographed the stunning production of the Broadway musical Catch Me if You Can and to Florida Studio Theater where he choreographed the cabaret piece Never Marry a Girl with Cold Feet.

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  • Interview with Amanda Friou

    March 3, 2015 Audio Interview

    Amanda Friou is in Sarasota to direct the Asolo Conservatory production of the Broadway musical Title of Show. Although she’d been performing since she was little, Amanda always thought she’d be an astrophysicist. Fortunately her show choir teacher told Amanda that she was really meant to be in theater and gave Amanda opportunities to use her acting and directing talents. These experiences, which Amanda didn’t ask for and were often intimidating, set the stage (so to speak) for Amanda to realize the theater was where she belonged. Listen to this delightful woman talk about the way things just seemed to “fall into her lap,” until she decided that if she wanted to be a director (which she did) she had to take the reins of her life in her own hands. And come out to see the results of that decision in her direction of delightful musical Title of Show.

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  • Jimmy Hoskins – A Celebration of Life

    2-3-15 Audio interview with Jimmy Hoskins

    There will be a celebration of Jimmy’s extraordinary life at 4:00 on Mon 2/9 2015 at the Mertz Theater in the Asolo Repertory Theatre complex.

    Dancer, choreographer, movement coach, director, painter, writer, storyteller, teacher, cook, Jimmy Hoskins was member on the of the Penn State University theater faculty for 10 years, professor emeritus of theater at Florida State University, staff choreographer for the Asolo Repertory Theatre for 45 years, visiting choreographer at Florida Studio Theater, The Golden Apple, the Sarasota Opera, the Banyan Theater, the Venice Theatre and the Players Theatre and adjunct faculty member of the Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training, following his long and distinguished career in New York, California, Texas, Mexico and Paris.

    He wrote three books. “The Dances of Shakespeare,” for which he also did the illustrations;. And his two book irreverent and delightful memoir “Our Hearts were Khaki and Gay,” and “No Fairies, No Magic.” which can be purchased at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

    Greg Leaming of The Asolo Conservatory says “He very strongly connected to his students as a friend, mentor and teacher. What he brought into the room was an infectious spirit and a love of the art form.”Richard Hopkins of Florida Studio Theater says “In an age before political correctness, in a society that all too frequently rejected people who were different, Jimmy was proud to be gay. He was adept at teaching us straight guys how to relax with the gay guys, how to revel in our differences, and how to appreciate the depth of our similarities.

    He was, as Carl Meyer his beloved partner of 19 years says, a “Renaissance man.” But for me the most enduring memories of Jimmy will be of his sweetness and his generosity. Jimmy was always giving – even when he was suffering he never burdened others with his distress. I was lucky enough to be one of the legions of people who benefited directly from his talent and his willingness to give it selflessly and joyfully. My life is changed forever by both what I learned from Jimmy and how he taught it.

    In 2011 the Asolo established the Jimmy Hoskins Visiting Artist Chair for Stage Movement and Dance, an endowed fund that brings guest artists in to work with conservatory students. Contributions to the Jimmy Hoskins Visiting Artists Chair in Stage Movement and Dance are welcomed by sending a check, payable to FSU Foundation (reference Jimmy Hoskins Fund in note section) to the Florida State University Foundation, Suite 300, 2101 Levy Ave., Tallahassee, FL 32310, or by giving online at

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  • Interview with Chuck Smith

    1-27-15 Audio Interview

    As a boy director 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 open a local Community Theater. 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, who is dedicated to expanding the reach of African American theater, is a resident director at Chicago’s prestigious Goodman Theater and is a freelance director anywhere that African American theater is growing. Currently he directed a production of Knock me a Kiss written by his friend playwright Charles Smith, for the Westcoast Black Theater Troupe.. Listen to this unusual man tell his unusual story, and come out to see this interesting play which runs through February 8th

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