Friday, April 29, 2011

Bradenton's Have Gun, Will Travel and many more to play BAAMO bash Saturday

BAAMO's latest album “Tales of Highways & Low Roads” is a superb, judiciously chosen overview of the excellent, diverse music emerging from Southwest Florida.

The disc opens with Bradenton alt-country ensembles Have Gun, Will Travel’s stirring new song “Time Machine.”

It also includes choice, original cuts by other Tampa Bay area artists with national acclaim such as Ronny Elliott, Rebekah Pulley, Will Quinlan and The Human Condition as well as a wicked  cover of "White Line Fever" by the Mojo Gurus.

Fourteen of the 20 artists (including HGWT) on the album will be performing Saturday in Ybor City at the cozy, always well-stocked venue New World Brewery.

Details: 5 p.m. April 30, New World Brewery, 1313 E. Eighth Ave., Ybor City. $10 donation includes copy of the CD or download card. Information: (813) 248-4969 or

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Swamp blues star Kenny Neal at Ace’s on April 29

Kenny Neal/photo from

New Orleans native Kenny Neal’s searing guitar work, hot harmonica playing, and emotive vocals have made him one of today’s top purveyors of swamp blues.

He’s also a superb showman, making this easily the best bet for concerts in Bradenton this week.

Read about Neal on his Blind Pig Records page..
Details: 8 p.m. April 29, Ace’s 4343 Palma Sola Blvd., Bradenton. $12 (advance); $15 (door). Information: (941) 795-3886.

Kenny Neal in Turkey 2010

Monday, April 25, 2011

WATCH: Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays with the Damon Fowler Group and special guest Skyla Burrell Band

UPDATED 11:30 p.m. Click to to watch.

This week's edition of Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays features superb singer, songwriter and guitarist Skyla Burrell (pictured) with her acclaimed blues band.

From Burrell's website:
Skyla Burrell was born in Los Angeles and raised in Orange County, California. Skyla formed her first band at the age of 13 and has been a working musician ever since. Skyla played with several bands as a teenager, working her way up and down Southern California. At 18 she recorded her first original demo with some help from Mike Campbell (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - she also later recorded backing vocals for Mike Campbell's first solo album) and Jerry Swallow (Tanya Tucker).  Later that demo was re-mixed by legendary producer Dennis Sands (Whitney Houston).  Skyla also had a brief stint on NBC's hit sitcom "Wings" and appeared in a "Movie of the Week" with Charles Bronson before relocating to the East Coast where she continued learning and growing from her musical experiences and eventually co-forming the Skyla Burrell Band. In addition to her singing, writing and guitar duties, Skyla also plays piano and bass.

Blind Pig recording artist the Damon Fowler Group will also be performing.

Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays
Showcasing the best in touring talent
8 p.m. Mon., April 25with special guest:
No cover

Click to watch the performances at
8 p.m. Monday, April 25

Watch live streaming video from sugarshackmonday at

UPDATED 4/27: 'Glee' star Jane Lynch returning to Manatee

 Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester/Fox Broadcasting Co.
UPDATED 4/27: Read my interview with Lynch, running on front of today's Bradenton Herald:

"Jane Lynch, of ‘Glee’ fame, coming to Manatee."


TV's toughest coach continues to help Manatee County’s first rowing team.
Former Sarasota resident Jane Lynch, who has won an Emmy and Golden Globe for playing snarky Sue Sylvester on the hit musical television series “Glee,” and her wife, Lara Embry, gave $15,000 in money and equipment to the Palmetto High School Rowing Club in February.

Lynch and Embry are returning for a fundraiser on May 14. The event is a brunch with Lynch that includes a lottery called a "Chopper Dropper." Tickets are $50, tax deductible, and still available.

Click for details.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

FAN MAIL: 'Are you just a JERK??'

Bill will no longer be purchasing the Bradenton Herald.

Because I'm a "jerk."

“2.3 billion people cannot be wrong, you must be very jealous of our British History or are you just a JERK??,” reads the email Bill sent me today. “I wonder how many Brits will stop buying your paper after your unnecessary comments about our Royal family, I know I will.”

The Bradenton Herald has a British readership?

They read my Sunday column?


And I’m sure the majority of them have a greater sense of humor than Bill.

After all, we’re talking about a country that has produced such satirical, comic geniuses as the Monty Python crew, Peter Sellers, Ricky Gervais and Russell Brand, just to name a few.

I wonder at which point Bill decided to fire off the proverbial “cancel my subscription” missive.

Maybe as soon as he saw the headline: “A royal wedding protest.”

Or a little father down when he got to this paragraph:

“That’s 2.3 billion estimated viewers.
Am I missing something here?
After getting hitched, will Prince William and Catherine Middleton be making a special announcement?
A plan for peace in the Middle East?
Maybe a nuclear disarmament declaration?
Perhaps J.K. Rowling has penned a new Harry Potter novel?”

I found my finale kinda funny. Bill probably didn’t.

“The days of make-believe royalty should have been abolished back in 1215 along with the issuing of the Magna Carta — or at least by the time the Duchess of York became a shill for Weight Watchers.”

I hope Bill and the rest of the Bradenton Herald’s British readership don’t jump ship because this Yankee decided to take the, ah, mickey, out of the royal family.


UPDATED 4/29: Southern rock showdown coming to Bradenton


Here's the website for the Mac Fest/link to festival's Facebook page.


Stay tuned for more details — and more artists — being added to this killer downtown Bradenton event.

Monday, April 18, 2011

WATCH: Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays with the Damon Fowler Group and special guest The Rockin' Jake Band

UPDATED 4/19: Scroll down and click on Live Stream link to watch performances and interviews I did with super fan puppets, Fowler and Rickin' Jake.

This week's edition of Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays features harmonics ace Rockin' Jake (pictured) and his band.

From Jake's website:
Based out of New Orleans since 1990, Rockin' Jake relocated briefly to Ft. Worth, Tex. since being flooded out by Hurricane Katrina, then settled in St. Louis where he now makes his home.

Rockin' Jake has been hailed by many as one of the premier harmonica players in the country. His original sound is a hybrid of second line, swamp funk, blues and zydeco with influences from Paul Butterfield, Big Walter Horton, James Cotton, The Meters,WAR, J. Geils Band, Clifton Chenier, and the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Jake has conjured up this formula that is blowing crowds away from coast to coast. Widely known as a touring juggernaut among his peers, his schedule of over 200 performances per year include clubs, concert venues, and festivals.
Blind Pig recording artist the Damon Fowler Group will also be performing.

Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays
Showcasing the best in touring talent
8 p.m. Mon., April 18 with special guest:
No cover

Click to watch the performances and my interview with Fowler and Jake:
8 p.m. Monday, April 18

Watch live streaming video from sugarshackmonday at

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Christopher Plummer closes Sarasota Film Festival in style

L to R: David Edelstein and Christopher Plummer

He riffed on playing everyone from Hamlet to Captain Von Trapp to Mike Wallace.

Dished on getting hammered with Sir Reginald Harrison.

And had the auditorium howling when he talked about kissing a man for the first time in his new movie “Beginners.”

Yes, the venerable, 81-year old actor proved an exceptional raconteur at the Sarasota Film Festival’s “In Conversation with Christopher Plummer,” which took place from noon until nearly 2 p.m. today at the Sarasota Opera House.

David Edelstein, film critic for New York Magazine, NPR’s “Fresh Air” and “CBS News Sunday Morning,” conducted the interview, which spanned Plummer’s illustrious career.

Questions were largely drawn from the actor’s 2008 memoir “In Spite of Myself.”

“It was cold and we drank a lot,” Plummer said, with a smile, when asked about growing up outside Montreal.

Much of the interview focused on Plummer playing the titular prince in “Hamlet at Elsinore.”

The festival screened the world premiere of the film’s restoration Saturday.

The only sound film shot in the actual Dutch castle where William Shakespeare’s play is set, “Hamlet at Elsinore” aired in the United States in 1965, earning Plummer an Emmy. Robert Shaw, Michael Caine and Donald Sutherland are also in the movie.

Television cameras taped the entire interview and Edelstein explained that the “Hamlet” portion would be used as bonus material for the BBC’s upcoming DVD release of the movie.

“Michael Caine had us in stitches all through the shoot,” Plummer said. “The stories he had! A million of them.”

Plummer praised both Caine and Shaw and then, in regard to the latter said, “He was the most competitive man I’ve ever met. He was extremely violent over ping-pong. Can you imagine that? But I adored him.”

Plummer said he did “The Sound of Music” because he was a fan of Julie Andrews and wanted to learn to sing. Plummer admitted, though, to becoming irritated when told he would have to sing before filming started. Director Robert Wise eventually allowed him to do his singing during post-production but not before the actor became perturbed.

“I behaved badly on set,” Plummer said.

“How did the children react?” Edelstein asked.

“I think they enjoyed it,” Plummer responded, laughing. “They were sweet but the presence of so many nuns, that’s what depressed me.”

Plummer, who briefly replaced the difficult Rex Harrison on the infamously over-budget production of the 1967 musical film “Dr. Dolittle,” would indulge in heavy drinking sessions with Harrison and wife Rachel Roberts.

“Rachel would have a few too many and holler like a wild wolf,” Plummer said before unleashing a loud yelp.

Asked about his relationship with Harrison, he laughed and said, “I don’t think Rex was a dear friend of anybody — but I liked him,” Plummer said.

As for his own alcohol intake, he admitted it had gotten out of hand before he met third wife Elaine Regina Taylor. They have been married since 1970.

“She saved my life,” Plummer said. “Absolutely, no question about it.”

Edelstein lauded the actor’s portrayal of Mike Wallace in the Oscar-nominated 1999 film “The Insider,” which also starred Al Pacino and Russell Crowe.

“I watched Mike Wallace since the 1950s,” Plummer said. “I admired his guts.”

“Beginners,” the festival’s closing night film, which has its second and final screening at 7:30 p.m. today, features Plummer playing a gay man who comes out of the closet late in life. Ewan McGregor plays his son. It’s a poignant — often warmly humorous — movie (tI attended a press screening Friday).

But when Edelstein asked him about preparing for his first kiss with a man, Plummer couldn’t resist making the hall roar with laughter.

The actor who “plays my boyfriend is very butch and nervous and then petulant about it,” Plummer recalled. “I said to him, ‘What’s wrong with kissing me?’”

He added, with a chuckle, “It was rather pleasurable.”

A couple hours before the first, 5 p.m. screening of “Beginners” at Regal Cinemas Hollywood 20 today, I met with the film’s writer/director, Mike Mills, across the street at Brasserie Belge, home during the festival of the “Sponsor and Filmmaker Lounge.”

Mills’ own life inspired “Beginners.”

He started writing the script after his dad died in late 2004. Focus Features, the studio behind such blockbuster, critically acclaimed films as “Brokeback Mountain” and “Traffic,” will distribute “Beginners.” It hits theaters nationwide June 3.

“I wanted Christopher because it would be surprising for audiences to see Christopher play a gay man just as it was surprising for me to see my dad as a gay man,” Mills said in between sips of iced coffee. “Christopher, as you saw today, has tremendous intelligence and wit but also a subversive punk-y sense of humor — and that’s echoed in the character I wrote.”

Mills added, “Casting him was pretty much a no brainer.”

All photos by Wade Tatangelo.

Click my past Sarasota Film Festival coverage and here for today's front page SFF story.

PHOTOS: Geena Davis, Christopher Plummer at Sarasota Film Festival

Geena Davis on red carpet.

So, I just got back from Sarasota Film Festival Filmmaker Tribute (public), dinner (private) and after party at Ceviche (public). Here's my story running on front page of today's Bradenton Herald:
Geena Davis dazzled throngs of fans as she strolled down the red carpet outside the Sarasota Opera House.
Recent Academy Award nominee Christopher Plummer -- who played Captain Von Trapp in the classic film “The Sound of Music” -- had a similar affect.
Super producer Sarah Green joined Davis and Plummer for the Sarasota Film Festival’s Filmmaker Tribute at the opulent opera house, which seats about 1,100 and appeared completely filled Saturday.
And here are some more pics:

L to R: Christopher Plummer with Jennie Famiglio and husband/SFF prez Mark Famiglio
Geena Davis with husband Dr. Reza Jarrahy.
Geena Davis

And that's all for now. Must sleep. Attending Plummer event tomorrow.

All photos by Wade Tatangelo.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bradenton-shot 'Workers' Comp' actors Robert Carradine, Charley Koontz and more to walk red carpet tonight

The Bradenton-shot TV show pilot "Workers Comp" will make an appearance tonight at the Sarasota Film Festival's Filmmaker Tribute.

PAUL VIDELA/ Actor Robert Carradine on the set of Worker's Comp. 

"Workers' Comp" cast members Robert Carradine ("Revenge of the Nerds," "Lizzie McGuire," "The Big Red One"), Castille Landon ("Workers' Comp" creator/co-star), J. Larose ("Saw III," "Saw IV," "Insidious") and Charley Koontz (NBC's "Community") are scheduled to walk the red carpet.

PAUL VIDELA/ Actor Charley Koontz on the set of Worker's Comp.

Morgan Fairchild, star of "Workers' Comp," sent me a message via Twitter earlier in the week:

"I leave Sat. so won't be here for the event. Hope it's fun!"

Filmmaker Tribute Event and Award Ceremony:

Click on name for interview I did:

Christopher Plummer, Cinema Master Award recipient
Geena Davis, Inaugural Impact Award recipient
Sarah Green, Producer’s Award recipient

Red Carpet 5:30PM| Curtain 7:00PM
Sarasota Opera House | 61 N. Pineapple Avenue
If you go

PHOTOS: Geena Davis partying at Sarasota Film Festival's 'Night Under a Thousand Stars - Beach Edition'

Geena Davis

Geena Davis radiating star power and charm Friday on the red carpet outside the Ritz-Carlton Member Beach Club on Lido Key. It was during the Sarasota Film Festival's "Night Under a Thousand Stars" bash.

Geena Davis

I spoke with Davis for a few moments —mostly about this interview we did and her luncheon appearance earlier that day — and then she reached out and shook my hand while flashing that tremendous, trademark smile of hers. Gotta admit, felt a bit starstruck.

Geena Davis with husband Dr. Reza Jarrahy.
L to R: Jennie Famiglio and husband/SFF prez Mark Famiglio with Geena Davis and Dr. Reza Jarrahy.
Geena Davis and husband Dr. Reza Jarrahy
Arriving early - 6:30 p.m.  - for the party.
Crowd shot by Bradenton Herald Features Editor Jana Morreale.

Woman in the bubble in the pool.
Bubbles surround woman in the bubble.
Sunset by Bradenton Herald Features Editor Jana Morreale.
Fireworks by Bradenton Herald Features Editor Jana Morreale

All photos by Wade Tatangelo except ones credited to Jana Morreale.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

PHOTOS: Sarasota Film Festival's "Cinema Tropicale" party

Beautiful, fun event — Cinema Tropicale — last night at Sarasota Yacht Club. Here are pics:

Awesome idea with bubbles and poster in the pool.

Circus Sarasota representing.
Save room for the shrimp.
No one fell in the pool; at least not before I left around 10:30 p.m.
We were all impressed by the fancy dancers. 
Early bird gets the booze. Party fueled by Tito's Handmade Vodka.

All photos by Wade Tatangelo.

TODAY: NFL stars at Sarasota Film Festival's 'Through the Tunnel' screening

Lincoln Trojans alums gather by “the tunnel” in Lincoln Park in Palmetto. From left, Henry Jones, Henry Lawrence, Chip Nelson, coach Eddie Shannon, Willie Jones and Robert N. Hamilton

NFL standouts will add more star power to Thursday night’s Manatee County-made “Through the Tunnel” screening at the Sarasota Film Festival.

Following a reception and screening of the documentary at the Sarasota Opera House, Michael Clayton and Michael Coe, of the New York Giants; Rod Harper, of the Philadelphia Eagles; and Dexter McCluster, of the Kansas City Chiefs, will join former Oakland Raider and Lincoln standout Henry Lawrence in the post-screening discussion.  Sean Smalls, of the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, will also be in attendance.

“Through the Tunnel” focuses on the former all-black Lincoln Memorial High School in Palmetto and how its first-rate football team played a crucial role in the integration of the Manatee County public school system.

Read my recent  "Through the Tunnel" story "Sarasota Film Fest spotlights Manatee movie."

Click for info.

Photo by Grant Jefferies/

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Syesha Mercado makes movie debut in 'Dreams'

Mercado/publicity photo
"American Idol" finalist Syesha Mercado has gone from TV to stage to the silver screen.

The former Bradenton resident and Booker High School graduate recently finished filming her movie debut.

Mercado, who played lead Deena Jones in the "Dreamgirls" national tour that hit the Straz Center in November, will be seen in the feature film "Dreams."

"We're really excited for her," said Mercado's sister, Xtavia Bailey, unti director at the Boys & Girls Club of Bradenton. "They're finishing editing it now."

Mercado stars alongside Angie Stone ("Brown Sugar," "Dr. Dolittle 2"), Geoffrey Owens (Elvin on "The Cosby Show"), and Jazsmin Lewis ("Barbershop").

Check back for more details coming soon.

DREAMS - 2011 Extended Trailer from DreamsOnScreen Productions on Vimeo.

Monday, April 11, 2011

WATCH: Damon Fowler's 'Sugar Shack Mondays with special guest Mike Zito and the Damon Fowler Group

UPDATED 4/12: Click to watch performances by Mike Zito, Damon Fowler Group and my interview with Mike and Damon (which actually starts at 11 min. mark).

Mike Zito/

This week's edition of Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays features special guest Mike Zito, one of the most eclectic and exciting artists on the blues circuit. The singer/songwriter and guitarist excels at various electric and acoustic styles. He can rock out with the best but also deliver stirring soul and folk numbers.

His latest release, "Pearl River," which reached No. 6 on Billboard's Top Blues Albums chart, features guests appearances and songwriting collaborations with Cyrille Neville, Anders Osborne, former Stevie Ray Vaughan keyboardist Reese Wynans and Susan Cowsill (of the Cowsills).

In addition to penning solid originals, Zito has put his stamp on songs ranging from Sonny Boy Williamson's "Eyesight to the Blind" to Prince's "Little Red Corvette."

Zito will be performing tonight with the Damon Fowler Group. Yeah, this is one Sugar Shack Monday you don't want to miss!

Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays
Showcasing the best in touring talent
8 p.m. Mon., April 11 with special guest:
No cover

Click to watch at 8 p.m. Monday (April 11)

Webcam chat at Ustream

Sunday, April 10, 2011

UPDATED 2 p.m.: Message from Morgan Fairchild on having arrived in Bradenton for shooting of 'Workers' Comp'

Morgan Fairchild from her Twitter page

UPDATED 2 p.m.: Morgan Fairchild and I have been messaging back and forth on Twitter. Here's what she posted on her page:

Morgan Fairchild
@ Ah! Thanks Wade! Very interesting. Hope to meet you while I'm here. I'll retweet the article.
Morgan Fairchild
@ Thanks! Nice 2 hear there's buzz! No idea yet what work schedule will be here. Should know more later 2day. Nice article u did!


Judging by a recent tweet, Morgan Fairchild has arrived in Bradenton and had a "lovely dinner" with "Workers' Comp" creator/writer/co-star Castille Landon and her mom, the show's executive producer Dori Sperko.

Here's what the TV icon tweeted Saturday:
@jrrose18 U warned me about heat! Lovely dinner with my new writer/co-star & her mom/producer. Makes heat easier when folks are so nice!

I recently met with Landon and co-writer/director Harrison Sanborn at VADAR Productions in downtown Bradenton for "'Workers' Comp' starts filming in Manatee this week," running on front of Bradenton Herald today.

Past coverage of "Workers' Comp."

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sarasota Film Festival: Werner Herzog's 'Cave of Forgotten Dreams' added to lineup for Florida premiere April 10; scroll down for pics from opening night party

There were no surprise celebrity sightings at the Sarasota Film Festival's sold-out "Opening Night Film & Party" Friday at the Opera House.

But attendees did cheer a significant addition to the fest's already robust lineup.

Before the screening of the opening night film, the potent documentary "Page One: A year Inside the New York Times," Tom Hall, the fest's artistic director, got on stage and announced Werner Herzog's return to the festival.

The Oscar nominated director best known for such films as "Grizzly Man" (2005) and "Aguirre: The Wrath of God" (1972) will screen his new documentary "Cave of Forgotten Dreams." 

Shot in 3D — the first 3D film ever to play the Sarasota Film Festival — Herzog "takes viewers into the Chauvet Cave in southern France; the cave, closed to the public since its discovery in 1994, is home to the earliest known cave paintings by humans," reads the publicity material.

"Using the power of 3D filmmaking, Herzog brings the viewer into the caves and into the paintings, giving the audience a chance to explore these beautiful drawings in a unique way."

Sun, Apr 10th 8:30pm
Regal Cinemas Hollywood 20 Theater 10
Tickets: $12/$8 (students)

Pictures from Sarasota Film Festival's sold-out "Opening Night Film & Party":

Locally shot "Beautiful Noise" stars Jay White and Danielle White being interviewed on red carpet.
Pre-partying in the Sarasota Opera House courtyard
Tom Hall making announcement prior to screening of "Page One."
Pre-partying in the Sarasota Opera House courtyard.

Country star Kellie Pickler: more of my interview with today's Ribfest headliner

Kellie Pickler publicity photo
Here are a couple tweets by country star Kellie Pickler -- and what she had to say about them -- that didn't make final edit of my Weekend cover story "Pickler dishes on her recent tweets."

Pickler headlines the Gulf Coast Rhythm & Ribfest 8:30 p.m. today at the Manatee County Fairgrounds.

Tweet: “See The Big Man Cry”- Charlie Louvin

Pickler: I love him. My grandparents had a huge part in raising me and I grew up listening to all the old country greats. I don’t know if I’m the only 24 year-old who listens to that but it’s what I grew up on. Hank Williams, Tammy Wynette, Waylon Jennings, Al Dexter and “Pistol Packin’ Mama” (laugh), Hank Thompson, Dolly Parton.

I’m just a sucker for the classics. That’s where my soul is. That’s what I listen to on the radio that makes me feel like I’m with my grandma and grandpa sitting around the record player. Fans will tweet “what are you listing to?” And I’ll give some random song from the 1930s. I love that I have young people following me on Twitter and being able to show them what real country music is.

Tweet: In the studio with the best musicians ever. I’m surrounded by brilliance, talent, & grace. New music is on the way, thanks 4 your patience.

Pickler: Frank Liddell is producing this record and it has been an amazing, long process — we’ve been working for close to two years. Frank saw something that not a lot of people have seen in me as an artist. The process of making this record is so hard.

What I want to sing is Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette and Conway Twitty stuff; but times have changed and we’re trying to find songs that are country but still commercial enough for today’s format. Everybody’s definition of country is different and it’s not that I dislike (mainstream) country radio. I love radio and always wanted to be part of country. I can’t help that I grew up on older stuff. I wanted to move to Nashville because Dolly Parton lived here and I wanted to sing like Dolly and Loretta Lynn.

I love country from the 1940s, ’50s, ’90s and I love, love Miranda Lambert. There’s a lot I dig right now but my heart is on “Willie’s Place” on (Sirius XMRadio) and I love “Outlaw Country” (Sirius XMRadio). It’s funny, because you would not hear my music there but I love that music, that’s my favorite. (Long pause). I’m not meaning any of that in a negative way and I hope it’s not being taken that way. I love it all.

Pickler would reiterate this point — that she’s not knocking contemporary, mainstream country music — again at the end of the interview when asked if she had anything to add.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

'Sopranos' actor joins cast of Bradenton-shot sitcom pilot 'Workers' Comp'

David Proval, best known for his role on television's "The Sopranos" and movies such as "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Mean Streets," has been added to the cast of "Workers' Comp."

He will play a character with a questionable background named Joe Basq.

The TV show pilot “Workers’ Comp,” a comedy about zany employees dealing with weird insurance claims, stars Morgan Fairchild and Robert Carradine.

Most of “Workers’ Comp” will be shot in Bradenton later this month.

Executive Producer Dori Sperko and producer David Sauers ("Taking Woodstock") confirmed today at VADAR Productions in Bradenton that Proval had committed to the project.

"Workers' Comp" co-creators Castille Landon (who also co-stars on the show) and Harrison Sanborn (who's directing) were also present at VADAR being interviewed for an upcoming feature story.

For more info, read my April 3 feature: "Morgan Fairchild to play lead in 'Workers' Comp." 

Click for "Workers' Comp" breaking news post from March 10.

Photo of David Proval courtesy of HBO TELEVISION.

Manatee Players resume work on new venue

Photo taken at 9 a.m. today of work being done on Manatee Performing Arts Center provided by Manatee Players.

The Manatee Players' new home in downtown Bradenton just got a little closer to completion.

More importantly, it has taken a big step closer to looking like a majestic venue rather than a monolithic eyesore.

"Work has resumed on the exterior of the new Manatee Performing Arts Center on 3rd Avenue West in downtown Bradenton," Denny Miller, marketing manager of the Manatee Players, said today in a statement. "The current project of grading of the property, exterior sealing and exterior paint and stucco work is expected to last approximately four months."

On Feb. 8, I reported: "Manatee Players to start work on exterior of new theater."

Sunday, April 3, 2011

WATCH: Damon Fowler returns from world tour for Sugar Shack Mondays at Ace's in Bradenton


Damon Fowler Group's first set:

My interview with Fowler:

Damon Fowler Group second set featuring Ed Wright on guitar/vocals:

Damon Fowler Group encore featuring Doug Demin and Ed Wright on guitar, plus Andrew Gohman on bass:

Damon Fowler near his Bradenton Beach home. TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE/

This week's edition of Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays features none other than the Damon Fowler Group, which just wrapped a world tour  that included a Caribbean cruise, dates in Italy, cross-country tour to San Francisco and shows in Canada.

Fowler, who lives on Bradenton Beach,  has been touring in support of his new album "Devil Got His Way" (Blind Pig).

Story that ran on cover of Weekend in January:
It’s a devilish good time these days for Southwest Florida’s most buzzed-about roots musician.
Damon Fowler has spent the past week on the sold-out Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, playing his way through the Caribbean with the likes of Taj Mahal, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Joan Osborne. Fowler makes his second trip to Italy in as many years for 10 dates in February. And a West Coast tour starting in San Francisco -- as well as gigs in Canada and the Midwest -- will keep him busy through March.
Damon Fowler's Sugar Shack Mondays
Showcasing the best in touring talent
8 p.m. Mon., April 4 with special guest:
The Damon Fowler Group
No cover

Click to watch at 8 p.m. Monday (April 4)

Streaming Video by Ustream.TV

Saturday, April 2, 2011

REVIEW: Asolo Rep kills with “Deathtrap”

Left to right: Bryan Torfeh, Mercedes Herrero, Dane Dandridge. Photo by Frank Atura.

The venerable Asolo Rep doesn’t usually dabble in thrillers.

Probably because theater snobs love to lambast the genre.

They do now — big time — and they did when Ira Levin sat down to write “Deathtrap,” which premiered in 1978.

One of the biggest successes in Broadway history, the play pretty much sticks to murder mystery standards while offering superb shock/awe moments peppered with laugh-out-loud humor.

But Levin also smartly pokes fun at himself.

More specifically, he delivers a sly spoof of the formulaic, plot-driven nature of the suspense-surprise genre.

Asolo Rep has a devilish good time with “Deathtrap,” which is a play about a play titled “Deathtrap.”

Sure, there are plot points that don’t quite result in suspension of disbelief.

Staging a fake murder so the onlooker has a deathly heart attack?

Come on.

But, on balance, Levin’s script holds up.

Director Peter Amster puts all the pieces together just right but it’s the cast — chosen by Michael Edwards, Asolo Rep’s artistic director — that makes what could be creaky, vibrant.

Bryan Torfeh has a field day with formerly fortunate playwright and closet homosexual Sidney Bruhl, who would kill for his first hit in 18 years.

It’s a big role that Torfeh tackles with ease. He’s by turns smarmy, charming and maniacal. Torfeh drops droll lines with aplomb one moment and manages to be downright scary the next. You can sympathize — at least to the measure required of the role — with Sidney, even when he behaves, ah, badly.

Dane Dandridge is Clifford Anderson, Sydney’s admirer turned lover turned nemesis. An Asolo Conservatory student, Dandridge has no problem keeping up with the four other veteran Equity actors on stage. He has the pretty face to play the pretty face and the chops to be as equally conniving as Torfeh’s Sydney. It’s a joy watching the two men verbally and physically spar throughout the second act.

In addition to Sydney’s witty remarks, comedy comes from Dutch or German psychic Helga Ten Dorp, played by Carolyn Michel.

Mercedes Herrero as Sydney’s wife and James Clarke, who crushed as Juror Three in the Asolo Rep’s brilliant production of “Twelve Angry Men,” as Sydney’s lawyer, round out the five-person, first-rate cast.

Another important player in the play is the setting for all six acts: Sydney’s study in the Bruhl home in Westport, Conn. Designer Michael Schweikardt has created a spooky sanctuary full of warmth and weaponry that’s nearly as intriguing as the actual action.

Levin’s “Deathtrap” might not ask any meaningful questions about the human condition but it’s exceptionally entertaining.

And the play’s most famous line, “nothing recedes like success,” spoken by Sidney, rings completely false in regard to the Asolo Rep’s staging of the comedy-thriller that first blew Broadway away 33 years ago.

The Asolo Repertory Theatre's production of"Deathtrap" opened April 1 and runs through May 14 in Sarasota. Click for info.
This review ran on page 2A of the Bradenton Herald on Sunday, April 3.