Pensacola, Florida
Saturday December 16th 2017

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Fall Guide—Part 2 Arts

By Shelby Nalepa

Not every city is lucky enough to have a quality community theatre, symphony orchestra, ballet company and opera house. But Pensacola is.

If you aren’t already a supporter of our local performing arts community, we hope you change that this season. We promise it’s not as intimidating as it seems. Sure, not everything is for everyone, but we believe everyone can find something to get excited about if they try. That’s why we put together this guide every fall, to give you a season overview and help you find the find the right shows for you.

From a play about a coat of many colors to a ballet with a magic carpet ride, we urge you to try something new you haven’t seen or heard before. You’ll be glad you did.

Pensacola Little Theatre
This season, the Pensacola Little Theatre (PLT) actually kicked things off during the summer.  But don’t worry if you somehow missed Cats, they still have a full slate of shows through the fall and winter planned too.

“We are especially excited for our big musicals coming up, ‘The Wedding Singer’ ​ and ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,’” said Ashley Simmons, PLT marketing and public relations specialist. “We love the opportunity to stretch our dramatic muscles as well as explore the absurd. In contrast, we also love the classics like next spring’s ‘Little Women’ and season finale ‘The Odd Couple.’ This will be our fourth run of ‘The Odd Couple,’ which debuted on the PLT stage back in 1968.”

Simmons said that “Joseph” is a theatre favorite and was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s first musical.
“Mario Cieri is the director, and we are especially thrilled to have him back at PLT,” she said. “He was the technical director way back in the late ’90s, and early 2000s when we first moved into the Cultural Center.  He has professional credits and experience and has put together an A-list team to pull off this extravaganza of a show.”

Likewise, Simmons said that long time PLT volunteer Billy Buff is the director for “The Wedding Singer.”

“He most recently directed the blockbuster season finale, ‘Footloose!’” she said. “As an ’80s guy, Billy is filling this fun show with all sorts of nostalgic images and iconic stars.”

PLT is also bringing back Short Attention Span Theatre in May 2018, a collection of five or six acts that will focus on mothers, kids and parenting.

“We have lots of interesting stuff going on in our smaller theatre space for Studio 400,” Simmons said.
There is a huge buzz for “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead,” directed by Denley Messerly and premiering in October.

“This is a dark comedy that imagines the adolescent Peanuts gang, full of angst and peer pressure and self-exploration,” Simmons said. “This is not the kiddie version of Charlie Brown, but it is full of twinge-worthy observations and great laughs.  Another dark show for Studio 400 is the sibling drama ‘In a Forest, Dark and Deep’ directed by Maureen McNeill. This drama explores the deep relationship that family builds and the wounds created when those relationships go bad.”

Simmons said that their directors work hard for months and sometimes years to prep for the shows they select.​

“This year’s slate of directors is especially strong with longtime vets as well as volunteers who have been with PLT for decades and have worked their way into the director’s chair,” she said.
​Simmons said that the titles selected are ones they are passionate about, so the result is terrific story-telling and great variety of theme and artistic vision.

“Theatre, music, dance and art are all part of the human expression,” Simmons said. “We love our playlists, but it’s a whole other experience to go to a live concert and to feel the vibrations of drums, amps, the human voice, strings. The same goes for theatre. We watch TV and movies and videos all the time, but experiencing the live performance of storytelling is so visceral.  Whether or not a play breaks the ‘fourth wall,’ the audience is a part of the action and reaction of the actors, shaping the meaning just by being there. Pensacola is uniquely blessed with more than our fair share of the arts. It is part of what makes us a great place to live.”

PLT SHOWS
Mama Won’t Fly
Sept. 22- Oct. 1
A road trip comedy centered around three generations, who are traveling from Alabama to California for a wedding.

Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead
Oct. 20-28
This is not the Peanuts gang you remember from childhood. In this totally unauthorized parody, we see Charlie Brown and company as teenagers dealing with puberty, drugs and death.

The Wedding Singer
Nov. 2-12
Fans of the late ’90s rom-com will love this musical, which premiered on Broadway in 2006.

24 Hour Theatre: Fall and Spring
Nov. 18 and March 3
This show is exactly what the name says: six short one-act plays, completely cast, written, directed and performed within 24 hours.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Jan. 26-Feb. 11
A theatre favorite, this musical is based on the coat of many colors story of Joseph from the Bible’s book of Genesis and features lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

In a Forest Dark and Deep
March 9-17
An exhilarating story of secrets and sibling rivalry, this play explores some seriously dark territory. It’s definitely not a kid-friendly show.

Little Women
April 6-15
Everyone who’s read Louisa May Alcott’s classic 1869 novel has a favorite March sister and they will all be here for this retelling—tomboy Jo, romantic Meg, pretentious Amy and sweet Beth. And Marmee too. Unlike the last production, this play is suitable for all ages, including children.

Short Attention Span Theatre
May 4-13
A PLT favorite, this show of several acts usually focuses on love and relationships, but the theme is changing this season and will explore parenthood and mothers.

The Odd Couple
June 8-17
In this classic tale of opposites, PLT will revisit the hilarious and relatable relationship between Felix and Oscar.

PENSACOLA LITTLE THEATRE
WHERE: 400 S. Jefferson St.
DETAILS: 432-2042 or
pensacolalittletheatre.com

Ballet Pensacola
Ballet Pensacola’s season kicks off in October with “Mixtape,” a compilation of three different ballets into one. Later in the season will be productions including “Monster Mash,” a Foo Foo Fest children’s event, the holiday classic “The Nutcracker, and “An American in Paris” based on the Academy Award-winning film from 1952.

Frank Giammaria, Ballet Pensacola’s Executive Director, said that “Mixtape” is a compendium of ballets that are in the Ballet Pensacola repertoire, from neoclassical to contemporary pointe work.

“The evening is comprised of the company’s most successful past productions including ‘and so….The Millions,’ ‘Thunderstruck,’ and ‘In the Upper Room,’” he said.

The company also produces the holiday favorite “The Nutcracker” every season.

“Ballet Pensacola updates the production every year and Artistic Director Richard Steinert adds new choreography,” Giammaria said. “‘An American in Paris,’ premiering in February, is a new production for the company, although Steinert’s production of the ballet first received its premiere in Little Rock, Arkansas in the late 1980′s. The production will also feature a Ballet Pensacola world premiere of Richard Steinert’s and Christine Duhon’s Stars and Stripes Forever.”
Giammaria said that “Aladdin,” which will premiere next April, has been brought back due to audience demand and popularity after it received its Pensacola premiere in 2015.

“We will also be hosting a special Foo Foo Fest production designed for children,” he said. “‘Monster Mash’ will include main performers that are the top level students from our training academy. Ballet Pensacola is excited about all four of these performances.”

Ballet Pensacola’s principal dancers this season include Kayla Bartlett, Debi Janea, Dustin Simmons and Brodrick Todd. This will be Bartlett’s seventh season with Ballet Pensacola, and she’s danced the roles of Clara and Sugar Plum Fairy in “The Nutcracker,” Mina in “Dracula” and Odile in “Swan Lake.” This will be Janea’s, Simmons’ and Todd’s second year as principal dancers with the company. Soloists include dancers Marsalis Rene Anderson-Clausell and Reid Ginoza in their debut season, Erin Lapaglia-Kottler in her eighth season, Scarlett Rustemeyer in her second and Jazmine Rutherford in her fourth season.

Giammaria said that season tickets can be ordered by calling Ballet Pensacola. Individual tickets are also available now for all shows except “The Nutcracker,” which go on pre-sale Oct. 2.

BALLET PENSACOLA SHOWS
Mixtape
Oct. 6-14
This production combines three fan favorites into one thought-provoking performance. “and so….The Millions,” “Thunderstruck,” and “In the Upper Room” feature the artists of Ballet Pensacola combining modern movement and contemporary music, including Mahalia Jackson.

Monster Mash
Nov. 3-4
Monster Mash, supported by Foo Foo Fest, is inspired by the music and sci-fi creations of the ‘60s. The ballet will feature 20 Ballet Pensacola Academy students and is an all ages show, designed for 3-10 year olds.

The Nutcracker
Dec. 15-17
Because no December is complete without a journey through the Land of the Sweets with Clara and her Nutcracker Prince, Ballet Pensacola is bringing back this classic again. Fan favorites the Mouse King and the Sugar Plum Fairy will, of course, be there too.

An American in Paris
February 16-18
A patriotic evening of dance that fans of the 1952 movie are sure to enjoy.

Aladdin
April 20-28
Aladdin, Princess Jasmine and a magic carpet ride. What else could you need in a classic love story?

BALLET PENSACOLA
WHERE: 400 S. Jefferson St.
DETAILS: 432-9546 or
balletpensacola.com

Pensacola Opera
Pensacola Opera is gearing up for two Broadway-turned-opera performances this season as well as a special Foo Foo Fest event.

“The story of Puccini’s ‘Madama Butterfly’ is familiar to fans of the Broadway musical ‘Miss Saigon,’” Pensacola Opera Executive Director Jerome Shannon said. “Based on a true story, ‘Madama Butterfly’ is one of opera’s most popular titles and a great ‘first’ opera. Puccini’s music is so expertly crafted that we actually experience the full range of human emotions right along with the world-class singers.”

Shannon said that while “Man of La Mancha” was written for the Broadway stage, it is finding its rightful home on the stages of opera companies around the country.

“We’re proud to present the Pensacola Opera premiere of this iconic work,” Shannon said. “Based on the writings and life of Cervantes, ‘Man of La Mancha’ inspires all of us to ‘fight the unbeatable foe,’ while we ‘dream the impossible dream.’ We look forward to sharing these two works with our community with great anticipation and enthusiasm.”

Shannon said that Soprano Elizabeth Caballero singing the title role of “Madama Butterfly” will certainly be an event.

“Elizabeth made a spectacular company debut a few seasons ago as Violetta in ‘La Traviata,’ and we’re very excited about her being with us as ‘Madama Butterfly,’” he said. “We’re also very proud that Corey McKern will return to our company in the title role of ‘Man of La Mancha.’  A familiar figure on opera stages around the world, Corey is one of our audience’s most beloved performers.

Shannon said that two of their Artists in Residence, Soprano Evelyn Saavedra and Baritone Brent Hetherington, are back with Pensacola Opera for the second year.

“They will be joined by Mezzo Camille Sherman and Tenor Eric Wassenaar,” Shannon said. “This season we celebrate the 15th anniversary of our young artist training program. Last year our Artists in Residence presented over 200 free programs for 40,000 children and adults.”

Prior to those main productions in November, Pensacola Opera will be putting on a special Foo Foo Fest event at the Pensacola State College campus.

“‘Maria de Buenos Aires’ is a tango opera by Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla, the father of the modern tango,” Shannon said. “The story features María as she encounters the full spectrum of life in Buenos Aires. With singing by our Artists in Residence, musicians from the Pensacola Symphony, and Richard Steinert’s new choreography created especially for his Ballet Pensacola company, this Foo Foo Festival event is not to be missed.”

Pensacola Opera also has a wide array of special events planned this season, including Jukebox Gala and Dinner & An Aria.

“Jukebox Gala is one of our signature fund-raising events, and one of our most popular,” Shannon said. “This year 13 singers will entertain over 200 attendees. Audience members are encouraged to bid on familiar arias and songs with the winning bid being serenaded at their table.  Dinner & An Aria is a delightful collaboration with Jackson’s Steakhouse. Now in its 10th year, this evening allows you to experience the artistry of our Artists in Residence while enjoying an exquisite meal created by Chef Irv Miller.”

Pensacola Opera also has Yoga at the Opera every third Thursday of the month at 6 p.m. and Jazzercise every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at noon. Shannon said that season tickets are currently on sale and that good seats are still available, as subscribers receive an array of exclusive benefits.

“The arts make a good city great,” Shannon said. “Whether it be visual, theatrical, musical… the arts create a community of shared experiences. The arts enlarge our hearts, enliven our spirits and enlighten our minds.”

PENSACOLA OPERA SHOWS
Maria de Buenos Aires
Nov. 10 and 12
Astor Piazzolla’s Nuevo tango and Horacio Ferrer’s libretto combine for this official Foo Foo Festival production. This tango opera is a surreal spiritual journey set to the beat of the Argentinian people. Totally consumed by passion yet fiercely maintaining her independence, Maria fights for survival and freedom, never surrendering.

Madama Butterfly
Jan. 26 and 28
Considered Giacomo Puccini’s greatest operatic masterpiece, this opera explores the depth of human emotions through duets and arias. Set in Nagasaki, Japan, the plot centers around a geisha’s love for an American naval officer.

Man of La Mancha
March 16 and 18
Set against the backdrop of the Spanish Inquisition, “Man of La Mancha” is inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’ 1651 epic “Don Quixote” and tells the story of Cervantes and his manservant who are imprisoned for treason.

PENSACOLA OPERA
WHERE: 75 S. Tarragona St.
DETAILS: 433-6737 or
pensacolaopera.com

Pensacola Symphony Orchestra
Pensacola Symphony Orchestra (PSO) has a slew of performances this season celebrating some of the most well known classical composers, as well as some dynamic contemporary performers visiting Pensacola.

“For ‘Awakenings,’ PSO commissioned a visual piece titled ‘Pensacola: Then & Now’ by multimedia artist Nicholas Bardonnay of Westwater Arts,” said Courtney Dell, Patron Development and Communications at PSO. “We collaborated with the University of West Florida

Historic Trust to select images of Pensacola’s past, and we asked the community to submit images from Pensacola’s present. Bardonnay will live cue these images that will be projected on a 440-square-foot screen above the orchestra. This visual concerto will be choreographed to the music of American Composer Joseph Curiale’s vivid piece, ‘Awakening.’”

A patron and symphony favorite, the PSO is also bringing back the Beatles tribute show, “All You Need is Love” this season.

“The arrangements are exact, the costumes are spectacular and the nostalgia is thick enough to cut with a knife,” said PSO Music Director Peter Rubardt. “PSO along with Classical Mystery Tour will present ‘All You Need is Love: A Beatles Tribute’ featuring favorites like ‘Yesterday,’ ‘Here Comes the Sun’ and ‘Eleanor Rigby.’ These songs are woven into our culture.  Everybody will have their own associations, their own memories.”

PSO will also welcome distinguished concert electric violinist Tracy Silverman for one of its most popular events, “Beethoven & Blue Jeans.” Named one of the 100 distinguished alumni by The Juilliard School and lauded by the BBC Radio as “the greatest living exponent of the electric violin,” Dell said that Silverman has contributed to the development and repertoire of the six-string electric violin and non-classical style approach he calls “21st-century violin playing.”

“There will be something for everyone as we welcome Tracy to perform his own composition, and the orchestra shares one of Beethoven’s most well-known works, Symphony No. 5,” Dell said. “Dress is distinctly casual as the audience, orchestra and conductor will all be in denim.”

Dell said that Gil Shaham will also be joining the symphony for “Russian Spectacular” scheduled in April.

“Shaham is a Grammy Award-winning violinist that our Music Director Peter Rubardt has called ‘the finest violinist performing today,’” Dell said. “He is one of the foremost violinists of our time and his flawless technique combined with his inimitable warmth and generosity of spirit has solidified his renown as an ‘American master’.”

To ring in the new year, Dell said that leading female jazz vocalist Dee Daniels will be performing following in the tradition of Billy Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn. Called the “Great Ladies of Swing,” Daniels show will be backed by a jazz trio and the full Pensacola Symphony.

“You can count on ringing in the new year right,” Rubardt said. “New Year’s Eve in downtown Pensacola has become quite the festive affair. With a 7 p.m. starting time, the symphony concert can dovetail into the rest of the party as much or as little as you like. However you plan it, the Pensacola Symphony concert is a great way to start the year.”

Dell said that season tickets are currently available and benefits include up to 50 percent off single ticket prices, choice seating and ticket exchange privileges.

“Patrons may choose from our five-concert Masterworks series or our two-concert Pops! Series,” she said. “They may also create their own subscription, choosing any three concerts that interest them.”

The PSO has a total of ten diverse performances this season. PSO Executive Director Bret Barrow said that the organizations that serve Pensacola through various art forms are vital stewards of amazing community assets that serve us all.

“I think that the arts are personal,” said PSO Executive Director Bret Barrow. “Art that you can see, hear, touch or create where you live is amazingly important to us. The gamut of emotions and the entire entertainment spectrum is uniquely conveyable through the arts. I honestly can’t imagine a true thriving community that didn’t embrace their importance. I know their value and I want to share these important experiences for my family, friends, colleagues and neighbors.”

PSO SHOWS
Opening Night
Oct. 7
This concert features Strauss’ Suite from “Der Rosenkavalier” and guest performer Santiago Rodriguez performing Saint-Saens’ Piano Concerto No. 5, “The Egyptian.”

Awakenings
Nov. 4
As a Foo Foo Fest event, this “symphonic photo-choreography” event will feature iconic photos from Pensacola’s past and present projected just above the orchestra, choreographed to the music of Joseph Curiale’s “Awakening.”

Celebrate the New Year
Dec. 31
Say ‘hello’ to 2018 with vocalist Dee Daniels and a swing, soul and blues-inspired program featuring familiar tunes by Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles and more.

Beethoven & Blue Jeans
Jan. 13
What can you expect from this returning favorite show this season? A denim dress code, electric violinist Tracy Silverman and one Beethoven’s most well known works.

Mozart Madness
Feb. 3
This event will feature six Mozart pieces, including “The Marriage of Figaro,” performed at First United Methodist Church.

All You Need is Love
Feb. 10
The Classical Mystery Tour and PSO are teaming up again for a night of signature hits by The Beatles.

Papa Haydn
March 3
A night of music by Joseph Haydn, who is widely known as the “Father of the Symphony.”  This event will highlight the orchestra, with the UWF Chorus on “Te Deum” and the return of soloist Scott Kluksdahl on the Cello Concerto in C Major.

Russian Spectacular: Gil Shaham Plays Tchaikovsky
April 7
Grammy-award winning violinist Gil Shaham will be the featured artist for this show, which has a romance theme courtesy of “Romeo and Juliet.” Shaham will perform Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto.

Symphonie Fantastique
April 28
A performance featuring Berlioz’s composition and works by Nielsen, with guest composer Chris Rogerson.

Music for Families
May 19
This is a chance for families to join the Pensacola Symphony at the Saenger for musical activities for all ages, followed by a mini-concert by the full orchestra.

PENSACOLA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
WHERE: 205 E. Zaragoza St.
DETAILS: 435-2533 or
pensacolasymphony.com