Tag "Florida Studio Theater"

  • Interviews with Beth Duda and Michael McKeever

    7-30-13 – 2 Audio Interviews First Beth Duda and second Michael McKeever

    Beth Duda still remembers being the tightrope walker in her kindergarten circus show, and cajoling her non artistic family to participate in and be the audience for the shows she relentlessly insisted on creating. But she followed her practical upbringing and became a teacher instead of a performer, until the twists and turns of her life made it possible for her to pursue/combine both of her passions, today she is the Director of Education and Resident playwright at Florida Studio Theater. Listen to this delightful, enthusiastic woman tell her charming story.

    Multi-talented, Michael McKeever decided that he had a better chance of making money as an artist – something he was very good at and enjoyed doing – rather than in the theater where he “soul really was.” He majored in advertising design and did in fact make “stupid money” as an art director. But when life gave him opportunity and he jumped on it. He wrote his first play at 30 years old, and his “soul” must have been right because in the 15 years since he wrote that first play, Michael’s written 21 plays and all of them, including the first one, have been produced. Listen to this exuberant, passionate man talk about the joy of finally being what he was always meant to be. And come to Florida Studio Theater where his play funny, thoughtful, compelling play South Beach Babylon is currently running.

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  • Interview with Bruce Jordan

    7-23-13 – Audio Interview

    Bruce Jordan discovered his passion for performing in the 7th grade when the audience broke up laughing as he danced with a broom named Matilda. Bruce says “it was like a drug, you want to have more of it.” But while, for many, this experience would have triggered a yearning for an acting career, Bruce yearned to emulate his Jr. High and High School drama coaches, he wanted to be an drama teacher and give others the gift he’d been given. So having soaked up everything he could from his years at Geneseo University, he worked for “4 of the happiest years” of his life as a High School drama teacher. And here is where the story gets ironic. Realizing that he didn’t have know enough about the business of acting to help those students who wanted to become professional actors, Bruce decided to take a year off, go to NY and experience it firsthand. But the third agent he saw sent him to audition for a national commercial – he got the commercial and his first check was more than a year’s salary teaching. Needless to say he never returned to teaching. Listen to this delightful man tell a story which is full of the serendipities which led him to places “he loved,” doing things “he loves” including directing The Underpants which is currently running at Florida Studio Theater.

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  • Interview with Zak Edwards

    6-18-13 – Audio Interview

    Do you like toe-tapping music, incredibly clever lyrics, and exuberant choreography performed by a remarkably talented ensemble? Then run right down to Florida Studio Theater’s Gompertz Theatre to see The World Goes Round a revue of John Kander and Fred Ebb’s music – much of which will be familiar to you as it comes from Chicago and Cabaret and many other of their splendid musicals. And in that delightful revue (which has been extended through June 29th) you will see the very talented Zak Edwards who says he was “always a musician,” having begun piano lessons at 5 years old and performing professionally by the time he was in the 4th grade. Listen to this skilled performer talk about his recognition of what he was meant to do and be, and hear his interesting explanation of what it means to be the dance captain of a show.

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  • Interview with Robert Fowler and Rita Rhen

    Audio Interview

    Although always surrounded by music in his childhood, Robert H Fowler followed his parent’s advice and became an electrical engineer. He was working as an engineer and studying gymnastics as a hobby when his coach suggested he take a dance class. Someone in his class offered him a job dancing in Las Vegas and he never looked back. Although that job fell through it freed him from his previous life and set him on the path to a career as a dancer, a singer, and an actor. Rita Rhen was not only a working professional by the time she was 11 but an entrepreneur as well. She and her sister created The Entertainers – a group of young girls who put on plays and became so successful that they were in demand in their community. Listen to these two talented people talk about the interesting and very different paths they took to becoming professional performers. And come see the result of all their hard work in By Gershwin and The Book Of at Florida Studio Theater.

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  • Interview with Jeff Plunkett

    2-26-13 – Audio Interview

    Even in the 2nd grade Jeff Plunkett didn’t want just to read the story in class – he wanted to act it. To deal with his chronic ear infections Jeff’s doctor prescribed voice lessons and from the time he was 13 he not only studied voice but had small roles in his voice teachers Opera Company. Although majoring in biology/psychology in college (thinking he might become a doctor), Jeff took every acting role he could and by the time he graduated knew that acting, not medicine was his path. Jeff says that he was “graced’ but I think it is we that are graced by being able to watch this wonderful actor become the role he is playing. Hurry out to see Jeff’s outstanding performance as the real life Joseph Alsop in the Florida Studio Theater production of “The Columnist” and listen to this thoughtful, intelligent man talk about character he is playing, and the world he inhabited.

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  • Russ Trez

    1-22-13 – Audio Interview

    When he was 7 years old Russ Trez saw the original production of “Where’s Charlie” with the remarkable Ray Bolger and that began his “entertaining” career. He wrote little plays to entertain his family’s guests. In the 6th grade he wrote a play about George Washington and the Cherry Tree which his school allowed him to perform for students waiting to take the bus home. A graduate student at Yale, he entered as one of 20 students and was one of only 6 to graduate. Then his career seems to have a life of its own, a year teaching at Interlochen Arts Academy lead to running a theater in Ashtabula Ohio. Finally making the leap to New York, his perseverance and his talent paid off. Listen to his delightful stories; how he got the “tree” for his George Washington play, how his attempt to lower the teasers by releasing the sandbags resulted in his being suspended several feet off the ground. And come to see his directing work at the Florida Studio Theater production of “Urban Cowboys” – which is the first to appear in its brand new Cabaret Theatre.

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  • Interview with Kevin Morrow

    1-15-13 – Audio Interview

    Kevyn Morrow is an actor, dancer, singer, director and choreographer, who hit the ground running. Seen performing as an all American College Band Dancer at Disneyland, he got an audition and his first professional a job at 19 in the National Touring Company of A Chorus Line, where he worked with the legendary Michael Bennett, and again in Dreamgirls. He made his Broadway debut in the Tony Award nominated musical Leader of the Pack. And from there he has done everything, including music videos with Stevie Nicks and a background dancer for Ann-Margret and Cher. As a boy Kevin was interested in everything; and he was lucky enough to have had parents who supported whatever it was their son wanted to do – even when that was acting – something they didn’t understand and were concerned would not support him. He excelled in sports, played the violin and drums, and trained in ballet, and minored in architectural design. But it was the image of his older brother, saying his one line in a local production of Peter Pan, which captured his 6 year old heart and stayed with him. And it was singing, dancing and acting that became his abiding passion. Currently you can see Kevyn’s directing and choreographing skills on stage in the Florida Studio Theater (FST) production of Smokey Joe’s Café and his acting chops in the FST production of Best of Enemies. Listen to this charming, funny man tell his own story and hear him sing a song from a show he was in.

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  • Interview with Stephen Hope

    November 6th, 2012 – Interview

    All kinds of music was sung and played in Stephen Hope’s home, but it wasn’t until his first role as the cowardly lion in a Jr High School production, that Stephen found what was “right for him. “ Knowing that “people were laughing because of what I was doing – that we were all laughing at the same thing so we weren’t separate, we were one, it was very powerful.” That night Stephen’s Dad said “this is what you should be doing,” and the die was cast. In his 20’s Stephen took a detour; attempting to see if another path was right for him, but he soon realized that while he could do it – his “heart wasn’t there.” So he returned to the theater, to what makes him “happy,” to what is “right for him.” Come see the delightful choreography he created to enhance “Let’s Twist Again,” a glorious explosion of 50’s music currently playing at Florida Studio Theater in Sarasota, Florida.

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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

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  • Interview with Kate Seipert

    8-28-12 – Interview

    Actress Kate Seipert

    Actress Kate Seipert
    photo by Maria Lyle

    Eight year old Kate Seipert was making her exit in her 4H club’s annual show when she spontaneously made a face that caused the audience to break up with laughter. That moment in the spotlight was suspended in time for little Kate and she knew that being on stage and making people laugh was what she wanted to do. She’s pursed this goal with a vengeance. She got her BFA from Wesleyan then became a member of Chicago’s prestigious Improv Olympic (now known as IO). She went to London to study at one of England’s most respected acting schools, and finally took the scary plunge; a move to New York City. Currently she is breaking us up as part of the ensemble cast of Perfect Wedding, a delicious farce which is the opening show at the almost newly renovated Gomperz Theater – a part of the Florida Studio Theater Complex. Listen to the still exuberant, passionate and funny Kate Seipert and run down to see what her moment in the spotlight and vigorous training have accomplished.

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  • Interview with Maren Bush

    8-7-12 – Interview

    Maren Bush fell in love with the musical Annie at age 4 or 5. She made her parents play the cast album over and over “until it wouldn’t play anymore.” In an attempt to create “well rounded adults” Maren’s parents encouraged their daughters to audition for a local production of Oliver and little Maren experienced the feeling of being “at home.” She wrote in her high school “time capsule” that in the future, she hoped to be an actress – working at a regional theater. And true to her prediction, after college she moved to Minneapolis where she “got on the radar of,” and worked at, the prestigious Guthrie Theater. Feeling the need for more training she auditioned for and was accepted to the Theater Program at UCSD at San Diego. After which she made the big jump to New York – so when they read her time capsule in 100 years they will know that she got it wrong. Currently Maren is bringing her talent and her passion to the Florida Studio Theater production of Talley’s Folly, a role for which she is especially perfect.

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  • Interview with Billie Wildrick

    Brunhilde from Das Barbeque7-3-12 –Interview

    Billie Wildrick can’t remember a time when she wasn’t making up stories, becoming characters and singing all the time. Her Mom would carry little Billie into company so she could sing Thummertime, so it is not surprising that Billie became a performer. And she got lots of breaks as people easily saw her talent and potential. She was spotted by a talent agent in grade school and went to NY for auditions but her Mom wasn’t comfortable with the role of stage mother and brought her home. Right out of college, she was “scooped up” by the prestigious 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle, where she will be performing in her 20th production next year. But even with all her talent Billie’s journey has not been easy. At auditions and certain venues she suffered such severe anxiety, that her body shook and she could not sing “with her voice.” But she has found ways to deal with that obstacle and you can see the glowing result in her performance as Brünnhilde in Das Barbeque currently playing for another 2 weeks at Florida Studio Theater in Sarasota. You can hear her story and hear her singing in this interview, and see a picture of her as Brünnhilde here.

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  • Interview with Katherine Michelle Tanner


    Katherine Michelle Tanner is one of the lucky ones; with an actress mother, artist father and concert pianist grandmother, she grew up surrounded by, and encouraged to, experience the all of the arts. As a result she’s played with and mastered virtually all of them; a dancer, who convinced her ballet master to take her on before she reached the mandatory age, a pianist, violinist, artist, singer and actor, Katherine is currently part of the ensemble cast of Next Fall at Florida Studio Theater. Listen to Katherine talk about the intricacies of this play – it will make you want to run out and see it and her.

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  • Interview with Judith Hawking

    3-6-12 –Interview

    Judith Hawking is definitely an actress! Seeing her on stage you would think that she came out of the womb performing, but it isn’t so. As she says she was not one of those who “always knew,” in fact she might just as likely have become a lawyer or a neuroscientist (both interests of hers) except for the fact that in the 11th grade she needed extra credit and a teacher suggested she get it by going to drama class. She did and was hooked. Listen to this exuberant, articulate, interesting woman talk about her life, acting, the play she is currently in (Next Fall at the Florida Studio Theater), and the impact of ego.

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  • Interview with Will Willoughby


    Will Willoughby is a brave man. He might deny it. He might say that he had no choice, but that would not diminish the extent of his courage. Will says he was “different” from his family and most of his school mates in his home town in Nebraska. He suffered the teasing, punishment, ostracism and even torture of those who are uncomfortable with the “difference” of others. But even his family’s abandonment did not keep Will from honoring his “self.” And his strength of character – what he calls his “integrity” – helped him not only survive a dreadful childhood and adolescence, but become a joyful soul who, to quote his mentor, can “feast at life’s banquet.” Finding acceptance in drama class in high school Will followed his passion, luckily receiving lots of help along the way, and finally finding a “home” at Sarasota’s Florida Studio Theater, where he is currently stage managing the wonderful play “Savannah Disputation”. Listen to this inspiring story.

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  • Interview with Lisa McMillan and Susan Greenhill


    Lisa McMillan and Susan Greenhill are 2 of the very talented 4 member ensemble cast of The Savannah Disputation playing till Sept 4th 2011 at Florida Studio Theater in Sarasota Florida.

    While still in Jr. High School Lisa, who was always drawn to words and language, spent hours in the garage of her family home making herself laugh and cry, by reciting monologues from Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams. Lisa was accepted into and graduated from the 6th class at Julliard – where they accepted 35 students but only graduated 15. Listen to her stories of fellow students like Robin Williams and Kelsey Grammer and the tragic story of one student who wasn’t asked back.

    In Kindergarten Susan was drafted by some older kids (4th, 5th and 6th graders) to be in the musicals they were putting on. Susan knew immediately that she was “home.” Her parents however, insisted that she consider acting a hobby and get a real job. So Susan minored in Education in college and began to teach, but it only took a very short time for her to realize that it was not for her and she announced her intention to pursue a career as an actor. Susan is now and has been for many years a working actor, but she hasn’t become rich and famous. Very few are willing to be as open and candid as Susan is about her early yearnings and how she has come to accept her quite lovely life “most of the time.” Listen to her honest and very funny description of her struggle.

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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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  • Interview with Richard Hopkins

    September 21, 2010

    Richard Hopkins has been the very successful Artistic Director of Florida Studio Theater in Sarasota FL for 30 years, but he didn’t see a play until he was 19. Coasting through college with no idea what he wanted to do with his life until 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” wherever it took him – even when the conventional wisdom said that path was a dead end.

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