Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tweet your Valentine

The Herald is looking for the catchiest ways to express love in 140 characters or less for Valentine's Day. Tweet your submissions to us, leave a comment here or email before V. Day. The best ones will be published in our Valentine edition.

-January Holmes

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tim Dorsey appearance at Books-A-Million Saturday

Tim Dorsey fans will have the opportunity to meet the author at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Books-A-Million store in Bradenton. There, Dorsey will be promoting his newest book, "Gator A-go-go."

The story features Serge and his sidekick Coleman, who hit the road on a Spring Break adventure complete with sports cars, rock 'n' roll, pawned class rings and church breakfasts. Along the way, though, they attract not just top college students but a mysterious gang that leaves a trail of young bodies in their wake. Many questions arise: Are the kids safer under Serge's protection? When did Coleman get all those trophies? And can kids successfully climb fences while carrying pizzas?

Dorsey, a Tampa-based writer, has penned about 10 other Florida-based novels that include "Florida Roadkill," "Orange Crush" and "Atomic Lobster." He was a reporter and editor for the Tampa Tribune from 1987-1999.

The book store is in Cortez Rd. Plaza, 4255 14th St. W. For more information, call 748-3911.

- January Holmes

Tampa-based film looking for extras

The Tampa Film Network has put out a call for extras to work on a feature horror film in the area - no experience necessary. The flick is called "As the Night Falls" - about a mom and dad who punish those not in bed by nightfall.

It's scary stuff according to the film's Web site, "As the Night Falls" is a slasher film that "proves that blood is thicker than water, but it can spray just as far. Who will make it through an evening with the folks, alive? When Home Sweet Home becomes Hell on Earth, you'd better hope they've said their prayers."

Those who are brave enough to be extras can contact production coordinator Mici Falvo at at

The film is in day five of a 22-day shoot. Catch daily video production here:

- January Holmes

Monday, January 25, 2010

Three cheers for LWR's drama club

Three cheers for Lakewood Ranch High School as it advances to the Florida State Thespian Festival in April.

The school's drama department received superior ratings across the board for its one-act play "(Ab)Normal," during the recent International Thespian Society's District 6 Competition at the Northport Performing Arts Center.

"We were also recognized for Best Tech (Messica Morrison, Cameron Helwege, Sean Knowles and Cast), Best Sound (Sean Knowles), Best Lighting (Cameron Helwege) and Best Dramatic Actor (Lucas Thompson)," writes Roxane Caravan, director of the school's drama department. "In Individual Events (Musical Theatre, Acting, Tech, we received 12 "Superior" rating and 2 "Excellent" rating. Overall, we were also recognized as "Judges Choice' in Large Group Musical, Small Group Musical and Duet Musical."

The state conference will be held April 7-10 at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. I'm sure Lakewood Ranch High will be represented well!

- January Holmes

Thursday, January 21, 2010

For self esteem, don't look to Montag

All I really can think of is how sad these reality TV people are becoming. For instance, look at how "The Hill’s" Heidi Montag turned out — 10 plastic surgery procedures in one day?! One day! Isn’t 10 the lifetime limit?

And the sad thing about it all is that Montag wasn’t frumpy-looking to begin with. Her husband, Spencer Pratt, may be one of TV’s biggest loud-mouth brats, but I wasn’t holding that against her. Dating and marrying strange people is forgivable nowadays, to an extent.

The biggest question is what kind of message does Montag’s beauty stunt send to young women who may be struggling with their own body image. It’s already hard enough for them to see airbrushed images of beauty on the cover of magazines and on TV. It doesn’t help when they get teased about little things either, which apparently is what happened to Montag growing up. Yet telling girls "Feel bad about yourself? Well, get tons of plastic surgery!" doesn’t seem applicable in serious conversations. Whatever happened to inner beauty shinning through? Or beauty is the eye of the beholder? Being happy with what God gave you? Or girl power?

But maybe I’m wrong, maybe the nation’s teenagers and young women aren’t looking up to Montag — or any TV persona for that matter. I mean, aren’t there days when you feel like even Oprah’s let you down? Every once in a while her choice of talk show topics bores me.

But at least you don’t see Oprah going under the knife. She turns to exercise gurus, top chefs, her best friend, Gwen, and Dr. Phil instead.

For those wondering what Montag got: a brow lift, Botox (that stuff looks scary on people, especially when they get too much), a nose revision and fat in her cheeks, which was probably taken from her neck and/or waist, hips and thighs (those areas were all liposucked, by the way ).
I’m not finished. She also received a chin reduction, got her ears pinned back, her chest pumped up with more silicon and a backside augmentation. All this supposedly equals beauty, even the pinning back of your ears.

A complete waste of money on someone who was already beautiful to begin with.
-January Holmes

Monday, January 18, 2010

Manatee Players announce new season

I'm really excited about the upcoming season at Manatee Players. Here's a few reasons why:

"Guys and Dolls."
And "Singin' in the Rain."

Oh, and don't forget "The Drowsy Chaperone."

Makes one want to try out for them all. Oh, if only I had the time.

Look for all these shows and more during the 2010-2011 season, which was announced by the Players just a couple of hours ago. Here's more info on the season:


"SOUTH PACIFIC" – August 19 - September 5, 2010

Music by Richard Rodgers Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II Book by Oscar Hammerstein II, Joshua Logan Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize winning novel "Tales of the South Pacific" by James A. Michener

Set in an island paradise during World War II, two parallel love stories are threatened by the dangers of prejudice and war. Nellie, a spunky nurse from Arkansas, falls in love with a mature French planter, Emile. Nellie learns that the mother of his children was an island native and, unable to turn her back on the prejudices with which she was raised, refuses Emile's proposal of marriage. Meanwhile, the strapping Lt. Joe Cable denies himself the fulfillment of a future with an innocent Tonkinese girl with whom he's fallen in love out of the same fears that haunt Nellie. When Emile is recruited to accompany Joe on a dangerous mission that claims Joe's life, Nellie realizes that life is too short not to seize her own chance for happiness, thus confronting and conquering her prejudices.

"SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE" – September 23 - October 10, 2010

Book by James Lapine Music by Stephen Sondheim Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

One of the most acclaimed musicals of our time, this moving study of the enigmatic painter Georges Seurat won a Pulitzer Prize for its deeply insightful and highly personal examination of life through art and the artist. Act One follows the inarticulate Seurat as he fights a losing battle to maintain a relationship with his mistress Dot as he creates his painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” amid the scorn of the artistic community. The second act takes place 100 years later, introducing us to his American descendant, also an artist, burned out and uncertain of the path he must take.

"NUNSENSATIONS!" – October 28 - November 14, 2010

By Dan Goggin

NUNSENSATIONS! The Nunsense Vegas Revue takes the sisters on a brand new adventure. When a parishioner volunteers to donate $10,000 to the sisters' school if they will perform in a club in Las Vegas, Mother Superior is hesitant to accept. However, after being convinced by the other sisters that "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" Reverend Mother agrees. What follows is the most feather-filled, sequin-studded, fan dancing Nunsense show ever! Performing in "The Pump Room" at the Mystique Motor Lodge, the sisters experience "show-biz" like never before. You'll meet Sin-City Sue, find out who's Black and White with Her Money on Red, and try to win a new car with the "Holy Rollers Giant Slot Machine."

"OLIVER" - December 2 - 29, 2010

Music, Lyrics and Book by Lionel Bart Licensed by Arrangement with Oliver Productions, Ltd. and Oliver Promotions, Ltd.

Nothing works on the stage like a well-crafted tale, and OLIVER! is just such a show. Based on the Dickens novel, it will engage your audience with its pathos and drama, while delighting everyone with its outstanding musical numbers. Food, Glorious Food, I'd Do Anything, Where is Love?, Consider Yourself, As Long As He Needs Me, Who Will Buy and Reviewing the Situation are musical theatre classics. Dickens' characters are brought to life-perhaps larger than life-with all their facets glowing in this production.

"THE DROWSY CHAPERONE" - January 13-30, 2011

Music and Lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison Book by Bob Martin and Don McKellar

A rare combination of unprecedented originality and blinding talent, THE DROWSY CHAPERONE boldly addresses a great unspoken desire in all of our hearts: to be entertained. If you've ever sat in a dark theatre and thought, "Dear Lord in heaven, please let it be good," this is the show for you!

It all begins when a die-hard musical-theater fan plays his favorite cast album on his turntable, and the musical literally bursts to life in his living room, telling the rambunctious tale of a brazen Broadway starlet trying to find, and keep, her true love.

"GUYS AND DOLLS" - February 17-March 6, 2011

Book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows Music by Frank Loesser

Lyrics by Frank Loesser

Based on The Idyll of Sarah Brown and characters by Damon Runyon

Set in Damon Runyon's mythical New York City, this oddball romantic comedy - considered by many to be the perfect musical comedy-soars with the spirit of Broadway as it introduces us to a cast of vivid characters who have become legends in the canon: Sarah Brown, the upright but uptight "mission doll," out to reform the evildoers of Time Square; Sky Masterson, the slick, high-rolling gambler who woos her on a bet and ends up falling in love; Adelaide, the chronically ill nightclub performer whose condition is brought on by the fact she's been engaged to the same man for 14 years; and Nathan Detroit, her devoted fiancé, desperate as always to find a spot for his infamous floating crap game.

"SHOUT!" – March 24 - April 10, 2011

Co-Creator - Phillip George and David Lowenstein

Continuity - Peter Charles Morris

SHOUT! flips through the years like a musical magazine and takes you back to the music, the fashion and the freedom of the 60's! This smashing revue tracks five groovy gals as they come of age during those liberating days that made England swing! Join this non-stop journey through the infectious and soulful pop anthems and ballads that made household names of stars like Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield and Lulu. SHOUT! uses letters to an advice columnist, true confessions, quizzes and advertisements as a frame for terrific new arrangements of such chart-topping hits as "To Sir With Love," "Downtown," "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me," "Son of A Preacher Man," and "Goldfinger." With its irresistible blend of hip-swiveling hits, eye-popping fashions and psychedelic dances from the 60's, this fun-filled musical will make you want to throw your head back and SHOUT!

"SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN" – May 5 - 22, 2011

Screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green Music by Nacio Herb Brown Lyrics by Arthur Freed Based on the MGM film (1952)

You remember the plot. You love the characters. You know "the song." It's no less than the stage adaptation of one of the most celebrated and beloved films of all time. 1920s Hollywood is the setting for this zany, light-hearted romantic comedy about the early days of sound film, when many a movie studio found itself scrambling to salvage the career of its chipmunk-voiced silent picture star.

Friday, January 15, 2010

REVIEW: "Blue/Orange"

The FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training’s production of "Blue/Orange" is an intensely entertaining drama that plays out brilliantly on the Cook Theatre stage.

Taking place in a psychiatric hospital in London, this dark comic drama is the story of two doctors arguing over the treatment of Christopher, a mental health patient. The argument is over whether Chris (Will Little) should be kept longer. Bruce (Dane Dandrige Clark), a new, young doctor, believes Chris should stay while his mentor, Robert (Kenneth Stellingwerf) thinks otherwise.

At the heart of this play — directed by Barbara Redmond — is the power struggle between the young doctor and the more established doctor. A struggle of new ideas versus old ones.

The tension between Bruce and Robert is played out on a variety of fronts — from serious to sarcastic. Audiences shouldn’t be afraid to laugh, as there are several moments in the Joe Penhall dark comedy that will make one smile. Some of those moments involve the doctors analyzing Chris. Little does a good job switching his characters' moods on a dime from hyper to complacent to tense, etc. Though, it would have been nice to see him make his mental illness just a tad bit more edgy in the first act, he pumps it up just right in the second act. He also does well humanizing Chris.

Little's fellow castmates are wonderful to watch in their roles, especially Stellingwerf, who brings the right combination of authority and sarcasm. He is very believable as the polished doctor, just as much as Clark is as the wet-behind-the-ears Bruce.

The plot has several twists in turns as the audience tries to figure out just how serious Chris’s mental illness is and which doctor truly seems to be off his rocker, so to speak. It also puts the race card on the table with the issue of Chris, who is black.

There are several scenes in this play that are performed very well, such as the scene where Chris reveals to Robert who he believes his father is in the first act.

The small three-person cast packs a powerful punch in this production. Though intense, audiences will appreciate the deepness of the script and the actors.

- January Holmes

Thursday, January 14, 2010

George Clooney plans Haiti telethon

Actor George Clooney is planning a telethon for Haiti that will take place in about a week. Details are forthcoming. The telethon would be a good way for locals to help aid Haitians after this week's devestating earthquake.

Read more about it here.

-January Holmes

"Idol" favorites

After two nights of watching the new season of "American Idol," I realize how much I will miss the crafty crabbiness of Simon Cowell.

No one could hurl better insults yet be entirely dead on at the same time as he tells people they look like Latoya Jackson and such. He actually seems tamer this year, though.

Last night's show, featuring auditions in Atlanta, brought out some strong talent that I'm looking forward to seeing during Hollywood week. My favorite so far is the country girl from Vonore, Tenn. - Vanessa Wolfe. She's the girl that likes to jump off bridges and brought her pink audition dress from the Dollar Store.

That's pretty down home.

Her dream is to get out of the dead-end town she feels "trapped in." She has the sweetest personality and a great voice. I'm worried that she'll get thrown to the wolves during Hollywood week, though. And if she does, by the grace of God, happen to triumph, I still worry that when forced to sing other genres, she might not do so well. But here's hoping.

I'm also looking forward to the dude (Antonio "Skii Bo Ski" Wheeler) that said the all the crazy stuff on last night's show that no one could understand while trying to make his stage name the new catch phrase. He may not have the best voice in the world, but he certainly pumps some fun into "Idol." It's amazing he got through.

Too bad 62-year-old Larry Platt is too old to move on. I really liked his original "Pants on the Ground" song. Seems Simon did too.

-January Holmes

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Late Night Wars continue

So whose side are you on? Team Conan or Team Jay?

I, for one, am rooting for Team Conan.

The Webosphere has just now exploded with activity since Conan O'Brien's latest statement on the matter.

He plans on leaving NBC if the network pushes the "Tonight Show" to 12:05 a.m. to give Jay Leno his old 11:35 p.m. time slot.

If Jay can't pull in the numbers at 10 p.m. will a sleepier crowd take him back for a half-hour of laughs? I can't imagine that.

All I know is that Letterman is probably glad he didn't take that"Tonight Show" gig way back. On a brighter note, if Conan ends up leaving, then maybe "American Idol" can snag him to replace Simon Cowell.

Wouldn't that be entertaining?

-January Holmes

Friday, January 8, 2010

Manatee Players auditions coming soon

Manatee Players will hold its next set of auditions at 7 p.m. Jan. 17-18 at Saint Stephen's Episcopal School. The troupe is looking to fill role for these two shows: "Joseph and the Amazing Techincolor Dreamcoat" and "Gypsy."

The first show will be directed and choreographed by Dewayne Barrett. The second, by Rick Kerby.

Adults and children should come prepared with a song and to dance. Auditions will be held at the school's music and theater department. The best way to get there is through the parking lot at the traffic light of 39th St. W. and Manatee Ave. W. across from Publix.

- January Holmes

Save the Date!

The Players Theatre presented its 2010-2011 Broadway series today during a luncheon at The Bijou Cafe. Artistic director Jeffery Kin, with the help of managing director Michelle Pingel, unveiled their picks to board members and media that gathered for the event.

There's lots to look forward to for next year:

The Fantasticks by Harvey Schmidt & Tom Jones
Sept 16-26, 2010
Since 1941 generations have embraced this sweet love story and its unforgettable music. Try to Remember, Much More, Soon it’s Gonna Rain.

Oklahoma! by Rodgers & Hammerstein
Oct 21-31, 2010
The ground-breaking story of rivalry and true love. I Cain’t Say No, People Will Say We’re in Love, Surrey with the Fringe on Top.

Mame by Jerry Herman
Dec 2-12, 2010
“Life is a banquet…” The fabulous adventures of a fun-loving woman. Gooch’s Song, Open a New Window, Bosom Buddies.

Big: The Musical by John Weidman
Jan 13-23, 2011
The dazzling, energetic and heartfelt musical based on the hit movie. I Want to Go Home, Fun, Stars, Stars, Stars.

Rumors by Neil Simon
Feb 17-27, 2011
The fun, farcical romp during a posh dinner party involving the police, the mayor, the media and an accidental earlobe shooting.

The Producers by Mel Brooks
Mar 10-20, 2011
An exhilarating musical comedy and 12-time Tony Award winner. I Wanna Be a Producer, Springtime for Hitler.

Victor Victoria by Edwards, Wildhorn, Mancini
Apr 14-24, 2011
A woman, disguised as a man, entertains as a female impersonator and becomes the toast of
Paris. Le Jazz Hot!, You & Me.

Season Subscriptions: $80-126
Single Tickets: (Available in September) $23 Adults; $12 Students.
Box Office: 941-365-2494,10 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon-Sat.
Tickets are also available at and at the door one hour before show times.
The Players Theatre is located at 838 N. Tamiami Tr. between Blvd. of the Arts and 10th Street.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New space for Asolo

Asolo Repertory Theatre has established the Robert and Beverly Koski Production Center Campus at 1009 Tallevast Rd., Sarasota. The 45,000 building will house scenery and production facilities and the theatre's costume and prop collection, which is so large that it is currently stored in two separate buildings.

The property was purchased for $1.65 million through the combined gifts of Beverly Koski, Herman and Sharon Frankel, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice and an anonymous donor.

- January Holmes

A star is rising

Remember this name: Brannon Westfall.

Though, longtime residents of Bradenton may already know Brannon from his youth. The 23-year-old son of Lawrence and Valerie Westfall attended Manatee High School and State College of Florida when it was known simply as MCC. He was also a familiar face on the Manatee Players' stage. Though he never had any speaking lines.

"I was the cute kid that would come on stage and the audience would say 'awww,'" he said when we chatted by phone during his holiday break here in Bradenton.

These days, Brannon has been making a name for himself in Hollywood as a background actor on TV and film. Sure, background actors really don't have a lot of speaking lines per se nor do they get much face time on the screen, but Brannon has been defying those odds in the eight months he's been out West.

Brannon moved to Hollywood last year in hopes of pursing his dream of working behind the camera after he lost his job at the Blockbuster on Cortez. With the job market dried up last summer, his friend Justin Safari encouraged him to move to California to find a job as a production assistant. Safaei said Brannon could stay with him until he could get on his feet. Though the would-be actor landed a few production jobs, in this business it's all about who you know. And Brannon didn't know a lot of people. Those he did know would often tell him he had a face suited for the camera. So he took a chance and signed up with Central Casting in L.A.

So far, he's landed on shows that include "CSI Miami," "Criminal Minds" and MTV's "Parental Control" - he even had a long speaking part in that one. Remember the cafeteria scene between Claire Bennet and her new friend in college? Brannon walked right by the pair in the scene, he said.

He's even landed on the silver screen. You can catch him in the new "Alvin and the Chipmunks" film in the scene where the Chipmunks compete in a singing competition against the Chipettes. He's in the crowd wearing a bright green polo shirt.

Other films to watch out for with Brannon: "Priest," slated for August, which stars Paul Bettany. According to IMBD, the film is about a priest who disobeys the church to track down the vampires that has kidnapped his niece.
Brannon also has an appearance in the upcoming May release of "Iron Man 2," starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Scarlett Johansson. In the film, Brannon is a "French Street Hipster" hanging out at the race track.

Brannon said he couldn't have gotten this far without the help of his friend and his parents. And now that he's eligible to become a member of the Screen Actors Guild, his goal for 2010 is to find an agent so he can land bigger roles and a nicer paycheck.

We wish Brannon good luck. Or rather, in theater speak, break a leg!

-January Holmes