“The Taste of Sunrise” is a Play from Two Worlds, English and American Sign Language

“The Taste of Sunrise” is a Play from Two Worlds, English and American Sign Language

Florida State College of Jacksonville DramaWorks Review

DramaWorks presented playwright Suzan Zeder’s dynamic and intriguing “The Taste of Sunrise” November 8-11 at Nathan H. Wilson Center for the Arts in Jacksonville. Directed by Professor of Theatre Ken McCulough. It was his 49th production as the head of FSCJ’s Theatre Performance at South Campus. As a critic, I have seen most of his work over the years and have always looked forward to his productions, which ran from musicals to comedy, to serious and have been always entertaining and thought-provoking.

In “The Taste of Sunrise” he presented a play from two worlds with two languages: English and American Sign Language.

The play was set in a town in the Deep South during the years of 1917-1918. The play opened with a baby name Tuc being born deaf because of Scarlet fever. The rest of the play follows Tuc as he grows up adjusting to life and learning sign language along the way. His Father (Gabriel Alexander Pride) is persuaded to send him up North to a prominent school for the blind whose theory for the deaf was forbidding them to use sign language and pushing students only to learn to speak. (An ideology no longer used in this field).

Taste of Sunrise, FSCJ DramaWorks

While he is there, his father dies and he is suddenly an orphan. Tuc meets a young girl Maizie (Cameron Raine Smithgall) who becomes a close friend. Tuc was played by Lance McGlockton, a First Coast Technical College student. His performance was excellent. Tuc never spoke, only signed (something he had to learn to do in this role). Translating his gestures to live words was Allen L. Melton acting as Tuc’s voice. All the hearing actors constantly had someone on stage that would sign what they said; similarly the deaf actors had someone to speak the words they signed.

A number of people came in to Tuc’s life and included Emma (Autumn Franks), Nell Hicks (Betsey Totten Darnell) , Izzy (Erin Stephens), Clovis (Kendric Harris), Hunter 2 (Michael G. Muse), Dr. Graham (Carl Stokes), Dr. Grindly Mann (Angus Reid), Roscoe (Zach Beers), Hunter 1 (Joseph Mercedes), Nurse (Kaitlin Cody), and Patron 1 (Michelle Hamilton).

Taste of Sunrise, FSCJ DramaWorks

Florida State College of Jacksonville has an American Sign Language/English interpreting program and students from this program were among the ever present interpreters on stage for this production. They were Gabriel Babbit, Kristina Clifton, Elizabeth Hunter, Dylan Randall, and Jessica Rzemien. The interpreters were assisted in their roles by Pamela Bernkrant, a Professional Interpreter, Lori Cimino, an Instructional Program Manager for ASL/English Interpreting, James Pope, a Professor of ASL and Amy L. Ryals, a Language Consultant.

The technical aspects added much to the enjoyment of this play. Award Winning Scenic and Lighting Designer Johnny Pettergrew along with this staff and the students in the technical classes at FSCJ produced an excellent setting for this play. A floor to ceiling backdrop against the rear wall flashed colorful photos of settings germane to the action of the play.

Taste of Sunrise, FSCJ DramaWorks

“The Taste of Sunrise” is the middle play in playwright Suzan Zeder’s “Ware Trilogy, a series about the complexities of deafness that took her thirty years to complete. “Mother Hicks” and “The Edge of Peace” are the 2nd and third parts of this trilogy. The final play has Tuc going back home , still deaf of course but is able to make a living doing odd jobs and as a mechanic.

I thought that this play would have been one performed in St. Augustine, Florida since it is the home of the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. It was obvious that this is an expensive play to do and FSCJ is to be commended for the fine actors and outstanding production. Twelve hundred students from the St. Augustine school attended a performance as special guests of the Wilson Center.


Ken McCulough (Director), Johnny Pettegrew (Scenic & Lighting Design), The Costume Crew (Costume Design), Bob Rupp (Scene Shop Supervisor), Mike Wills (Sound Design), Brandon Gelinas (Sound Assistant) , Grace Guevarez (Stage Manager), Adis Alic & Sierria Henry (Assistant Stage Managers), Tara Paige (Poster Design & Program Layout), Brenna Anderson & Elizabeth Stermer (Property Supervisors)


Getting to Know You: “The King and I” Inspires and Delights at the Times-Union Center November 13-18

Energetic, engaging, and entertaining from the overture through the reprise, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I opened Tuesday, November 13 at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Jacksonville. Offering a riveting and visually enthralling adventure, The King and I triumphantly inspires and delights young and old alike. The show runs from November 13-18, 2018.

tue13nov(nov 13)7:30 pmsun18(nov 18)10:00 pmFeaturedRodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and IBroadway in Jacksonville7:30 pm – 10:00 pm (18) Times Union Center for the Performing Arts, Moran Theatre

Based on the 1944 semi-biographical novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon, The King and I is a familiar story that has appeared on the big screen numerous times over the decades. For many, the 1999 adaptation Anna and the King starring Jodie Foster and Yun-Fat Chow likely served as their first introduction to the tale of Anna Leonowens and the King of Siam. Rodger & Hammerstein’s The King and I will be recognizable to film fans, though it presents the timeless tale in a powerful and unique manner only live theater can accomplish.  

Anna in Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I. Photo by Jeremy Daniel, “The King & I” is presented by the FSCJ Artist Series Broadway
Photo by Jeremy Daniel

The year is 1862. Anna Leonowens (played by Angela Baumgardner) is a strong-willed British schoolteacher and a widow who comes to Bangkok at the request of the King of Siam (played by Pedro Ka ‘Awaloa) to educate his many children. She’s part of his bold plan to modernize his nation.

Read interview with Angela Baumgardner here: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘The King & I’: A Treasured Heirloom Comes to Jacksonville Nov. 13-18

Anna finds herself in a world completely unlike her own in this East vs. West drama, yet she refuses to be intimidated by the king and his representatives. When her contract is violated, she does not relent in demanding rectification. The British schoolteacher quickly comes to adore the Siamese princes and princesses in her care. Yet cultural differences, the King’s ego-centric and macho personality, and the demeaning treatment of Siamese women prevent Anna from getting too comfortable.

Through her consistent kindness and perseverance, Anna and the King begin to respect and understand one another. Despite their differences, an unlikely friendship blooms. When she learns the British plan to take over Siam as a protectorate and that the King is portrayed as barbaric in the West, she’s outraged and helps him entertain the British envoy and prove to the world that the King, despite his flaws, is a leader deserving their respect. Anna witnesses true growth in the King of Siam. Drama and differences ensue, but in the end true progress is made and the future of Siam looks to be brighter and more accepting.

The King of Siam and Anna Leonowens in Rodgers & Hammerstein's King and I. Photo by Jeremy Daniel, “The King & I” is presented by the FSCJ Artist Series Broadway

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musical adaptation of The King and I was born when Gertrude Lawrence, who wanted to play the leading role, brought Landon’s novel to their attention in the 1940s. Both Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s wives wanted to see the book brought to life on stage as well. When the gentlemen saw a screening of the 1946 film adaptation, they finally came around to the idea. There was certainly plenty to write about—Eastern vs. Western civilization, female vs. male dynamics, despotism vs. democracy, and so much more. The King and I became the most expensive Rodgers & Hammerstein production to date, debuting on Broadway on March 29, 1951.

This classic Broadway musical has enjoyed a revival recently, transporting a new generation of theatergoers to 1860s Siam. The FSCJ Artist Series musical production masterfully does just that. While at times uncomfortable in an age of political correctness, theatergoers find themselves in a riveting and decidedly foreign world of colonialism and the Orient. The sets, costumes, lighting, and sound captivate the imagination and draw theatergoers into this magical, mystical world so foreign from our own.  Familiar songs like “Getting to Know You, “Shall We Dance,” “Something Wonderful,” and “Whistle a Happy Tune” delight the audience and inspire rousing applause. Producing a well-known Broadway favorite for a modern audience was a monumental task, yet Restaging Director Shelley Butler succeeded beautifully at the Times-Union Center in this breathtaking Broadway musical based on the 2015 Tony Award-winning Lincoln Center Theater production.   

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I , FSCJ Artist Series, Jennifer Melville

We attended the 17th Annual Family Night on Broadway at the Opening Night of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I and the atmosphere was instantly engaging. Events such as these encourage the entire family to come out and enjoy fine theater close to home. We arrived an hour before show time to participate in a variety of kid-friendly activities. The children learned the difference between horns and antlers at the Jacksonville Zoo table, decorated an elephant with MOSH, crafted floating candles at the Jax4Kids booth, made noisy kazoos at the Jacksonville Science Festival table, and thoroughly enjoyed the Green Screen Photo Shoot sponsored by PRI. If you have kids or grandchildren of any age and want to take them to a Broadway musical, I absolutely recommend attending Family Night for any FSCJ Artist Series Broadway in Jacksonville production. We thoroughly enjoyed the festivities and my young theatergoers remained gainfully occupied in the antsy time before the performance began.

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I , FSCJ Artist Series, Jennifer Melville
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I , FSCJ Artist Series, Jennifer Melville

The children were instantly captivated as a ship sailed into Bangkok through the mist at the musical’s opening and they found the princes and princesses of Siam to be the best part of the production. I was worried that themes like colonialism, polygamy, and period-accurate degradation of women would be too heavy for them, but the musical was so tastefully arranged and the unconventional heroine so charmingly portrayed and empowering that we enjoyed the production from beginning to end. The experience sparked later discussions about history, social roles, and other challenging concepts. Fine art inspires and challenges the viewer; that’s part of its power.

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I , FSCJ Artist Series, Jennifer Melville

My young teen walked away with a new passion for a story she previously disliked.  My younger theatergoers (ages 10 and 8) enjoyed the dancers very much, though they were quite wiggly and restless by intermission. It’s a long night indeed. The show started at 7:30 PM and wrapped up with a rousing ovation around 10 pm.   Based on content, length, and weeknight performance time, I would recommend this production for ages 10 and up. Of course, there will always be exceptions. My younger kids enjoyed it, but my oldest got more out of the experience and did not spend the second half wiggling in her seat or yawning dramatically. As a musical theater fan, I personally enjoyed every second. The pitch-perfect musical score made my heart sing and I found the stage crafting absolutely breathtaking.

Two vastly different worlds collide in amusing, at-times shocking, and captivating ways in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I.  There’s something for everyone. If you’re a long-time fan, you’ll appreciate how beautifully it’s brought to life here in Jacksonville and the music will tempt you to sing along. If you’ve never seen it before, prepare for an experience you’ll never forget. Whether attending as a family, with friends, on a date, or as a solitary Broadway enthusiast, The King and I at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts is a world-class experience simply too beautiful to miss.


Art Republic’s Two Weeks to Change the World

Art Republic, Public Art Installations, Downtown Jacksonville, murals

Art and industry collide as Art Republic 2018, a communal celebration of public art changes the face of downtown Jacksonville again. Art Republic is known for infusing the city with bold outdoor murals that define an area’s character. Exhibitions, which are curated by industry experts, showcase the top artists in their field of expertise to create a sense of place, spark global conversations, and inspire community engagement.

Art Republic, Dourone x David Petroni
Dourone x David Petroni

Muralists for the 2018 collection include 2Alas, Pastel, Chris Clark, Datastorm, Golden, Sipros and NEAN. Murals will be installed at various locations throughout the Downtown Core from November 1st-11th. This year, Art Republic also will include partnerships with the leading international digital and video artists to demonstrate the shared capacity for affecting change.

Mohamed L'Ghacham, rt Republic, Public Art Installations, Downtown Jacksonville, murals
Mohamed L’Ghacham

In the spirit of walking down different streets, Jacksonville-based photographers Toni Smailagic and Khalil Osborne created captivating photographs of Eyes Wide Open, the photography exhibition on November 2nd in Springfield. The exhibition serves as a portal into the eyes, perspectives and experiences of the city’s diverse population based on cultures, race, ethnicities, age and religions. The opening event featuring art, music, live performances, light installations, cocktails and food is free to the public.

An immersive digital art exhibition created by one of the industry’s premiere digital artists will open November 10th at the Prime Osborn Convention Center. “Reometry” by REO is a full-sensory show designed to challenge perceptions of the surrounding world in the present. REO bridges the gap between high art and technology using music and digital art, taking you into an experience designed to change the way you see the world. REO has developed graphic design, animations and video projections for such high-profile businesses as Nike, Spotify, Aprite, Adidas and Veuve Clicquot and big-name clientele from Beyonce to Bruno Mars. Having just completed visuals for Travis Scott’s VMA performance and the iconic, On The Run II Tour of Jay Z and Beyoncé, REO is heartily welcomed back to Jacksonville for his first solo digital art show. The opening of “Reometry” is a ticketed event that includes music, hors d’oeuvres and an open bar.

REOMETRY Digital Art Show by REO TOMORROW! 7PM at the Prime Osborn Convention Center, only a few tickets left, get yours now!https://artrepublicglobal.com/product/reometry/ *this video is a part 1/2 stay tuned to our page to learn about REO’s mission as an artist tomorrow! Video by Eriden Images

Posted by Art Republic on Friday, November 9, 2018

Art can illustrate the importance of passion, leadership, human potential. It also serves as a form of self-maintenance and an escape from the drudgery of daily life. Art Republic invites us to view the world from a broader, inspired perspective. Join in the movement, and get more information at www.artrepublicglobal.com.

Reometry, Art Republic, Public Art Installations, Downtown Jacksonville, murals

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A Play For The Times: The Crucible at the Island Theater

By Madeline Delorie

The Crucible, The Island Theater flyer

In 1953, Arthur Miller wrote a play called The Crucible as an allegory for the McCarthyism which was sweeping the country at the time. The Tony award winning play became destined to become an American classic. With repeated productions on Broadway and regular treatment in the classroom, The Crucible is a play that has withstood the test of time. This season, The Island Theater produced the show in a similarly tumultuous political landscape.

The play is originally set in 1692 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony In the house of Reverend Samuel Parris (portrayed by Solomon Greene). Betty Parris (played by Jillian McKinney) and several of the town’s young women have fallen ill and rumors of witchcraft being the cause start.

The Island Theater, The Crucible
The Island Theater, The Crucible

Against the advice of the town motherly figure Rebecca Nurse (played by Shelley Finn), Reverend Hale (played with intensity by Mitchell Hale) of Beverly is sent for to investigate the cause and through a series of twists and turns, some of the most notable people in town are accused and put on trial for witchcraft.

The Island Theater’s production starts in 1692 as originally intended and then takes a unique turn as the scenes progress. The characters and dialogue stays the same but the time periods shift through the use of costumes and set to reflect how the same issues of hysteria and mob rule have repeated over time. It takes a thoughtful audience to keep pace with the story but through the use of the program and unique lighting and set design the journey is worth it.

The Island Theater, The Crucible

The cast is dynamic and nuanced as the characters on stage. John Proctor (played by the talented Rich Pintello) is a flawed man. Rich Pintello makes him sympathetic even in the realization that his faults lie at the root of the deception of the villains of the piece. His relationship on stage with both former lover, Abigail Williams (Asia Kravats), and his wife, Elizabeth (Erica Villenueva), is both realistic and dramatic at the same time. Erica Vilenueva and Rick Pintello have such a natural chemistry – their scenes seem to be reenactments of actual conversations versus scripted lines.

While the cast works well together on stage, the transformation of Solomone Greene and Mitchell Wohl from self assured Reverends of the community of note to men barely holding on by the end of the play is one worth watching from their words, costume changes to the mere facial expressions the two actors used when faced with reality.

Equally notable newcomer Kellyanne Correale renders a noteworthy performance as Mary Warren, the girl torn between what is right and what will keep her safe in this dangerous world. Ms. Correale gives a multi-faceted performance as she is questioned and bullied by all sides, torn down by the merciless Ms. Hawthorne (played with vicious vigor by Caitlin Charrier) and alternately coaxed and threatened by Governor Danforth (portrayed by Alexander Banks).

The Crucible’s cast is rounded out by Julie McKinney (mother of Jillian McKinney), Jim Warren, Lyrica Singh, Zhariya Smith, Natalie Lucas, Robert Frohlich, Clark Taylor, Rachel Taylor, Josh Katzman and feature film actor, Whit Williams.


Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘The King & I’: A Treasured Heirloom Comes to Jacksonville

Like many beloved Broadway musicals, the story of “The King & I” has traveled through decades and across oceans like a treasured heirloom passed down from generation to generation. Based on the true story of Anna Leonowens in 1860’s Bangkok, its carries with it the truths of the cultures reflected in this extraordinary telling.

“The King & I” is presented by the FSCJ Artist Series Broadway in Jacksonville November 13th-18th in the Times-Union Center’s Moran Theater (www.artistseriesjax.com). The musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a British school teacher whom the modernist King brings to Siam to teach his many wives and children. Considered one of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s finest works, The King & I boasts a score of such classics as ‘Getting To Know You,’ ‘I Whistle a Happy Tune,’ ‘Hello Young Lovers,’ ‘Shall We Dance’ and ‘Something Wonderful.’

Angela Baumgardner was familiar with story long before she auditioned for the role of Anna. As a child, she’d traced her fingers along its intricate details and dreamed of its exotic beauty. She didn’t know how or even why, but she felt that she was destined to one day experience that magic as her own.

“It’s such an iconic role. The beauty of it is that I’ve gotten to see this production, the 2015 Tony Award-winning production from Lincoln Center, so I was already captured by this particular interpretation. For me, any acting piece that I do, I look at what parts of her character resonate with me. Even since 2015, there have been several different Annas, and everyone is different because every person is different. For me, the biggest thing that stands out is her strength. I don’t think there is a weak bone in her body, except maybe for the children, and I can totally relate to that as well.”

“[During] her struggle in Siam and with all that is going on, she is strong in her beliefs and her principles. There are moments that she just wants to leave, but it’s for the sake of the children that she always stays. There was a point in my life, too, when I just had this revelation that everything we do is all about the next generation, and I see that in Anna. She has a sense of destiny and a sense of purpose, even in going to Siam, even in accepting the King’s offer. And what she is able to do there is invest in and impact the next generation, specifically the next King. She’s given this great offering, and I think that’s what captured me even in the rehearsal process with the children and the young prince, soon-to-be king.”

The masterful score by Rodgers & Hammerstein sets the tone of the course and brings the audiences along for the journey which exists in a space all its own. As in most of the productions scored by the brilliant team, there is a political undercurrent that runs alongside stories of forbidden love, differences in class and clashes in culture.

The King of Siam and Anna Leonowens in Rodgers & Hammerstein's King and I. Photo by Jeremy Daniel, “The King & I” is presented by the FSCJ Artist Series Broadway
Photo by Jeremy Daniel

“There’s a challenge that every couple is facing, and there’s always a political thing as well. In “Cinderella,” yes, it’s a class difference, and the prince that will become a king. In “The Sound of Music,” it’s set against the backdrop of a Nazi invasion. In Siam, it’s the clash of cultures and Anna trying to exert herself as an equal, but there is no equal to the king. He is worshiped as a god.  I grew up on Rodgers and Hammerstein. I’m from Oklahoma, so every child performed in Oklahoma. We’re one of the ony states with a musical written about us. I’ve grown up with all these stories and loved all the stories since I was a child. What I loved about the relationships is they are so multi-dimensional. There’s an attraction, but there’s the high stakes of who she is and who he is. In “The King & I,” it’s an intellectual attraction and respect and admiration.”

The chemistry between actors is important in order to deliver an authentic performance and be believable in the portrayal of the characters. The connection between Anna and the King exists in the restraint of propriety and the electricity charged by an underlying sexual tension rippling beneath the surface – in a family friendly way, of course.

Before she’d won the role, before she’d even auditioned, Baumgardner met the future prince outside the backstage door of the iconic Lincoln Center where “The King & I” captivated audiences with its Tony Award-winning run. Pedro Ka’ Awaloa was auditioning for the part of the future King and the two entered together as a pair of young hopefuls with a destiny to fulfill.

Anna in Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I. Photo by Jeremy Daniel, “The King & I” is presented by the FSCJ Artist Series Broadway
Photo by Jeremy Daniel

“With any actor you play against, you have to like them. During my audition process, there was only one being that I ever auditioned with, and that was Pedro. Our audition was actually at Lincoln Center, which never happens. You’re always auditioning at some studio or rehearsal space. For both us, I’d never been inside Lincoln Center backstage, so just to be there was incredible. We first met outside the backstage door, and we shared this moment together walking in, and they took us into this rehearsal hall, and said ‘ok, you two are going to read together.’ So already there was this excitement and energy, and it worked right away,” says Baumgardner.

“We had a great first introduction, and were able to build off that during the rehearsal process. And seeing each other grow in the role has just taken it to another level. The audience sees the finished product, but we’re investing hours in every scene and every nuance. It’s been a treat to see how our performances together, and our reactions and chemistry and tensions together, grow every time we go back to the scene. It thrills me to know what the audience is going to get to experience based on the time we’ve put in together.”

Remembering that little girl in Oklahoma, Baumgardner relishes the time on stage with her youngest castmates. She imagines the experience through their young eyes and the memories they will carry on through their lives. It’s the same feeling she gets when she catches the moment the music strikes a chord with a young audience member. She remembers that spark and is grateful for the opportunity to not only share this amazing journey but to ignite the passion for storytelling and music.

“For them to write this musical in the 50’s, and for it to still have such an impact today is incredible. It is a gift to share this with the next generation, just as I learned it when I was a kid. It’s a timeless story and a show that has something for everyone.”


REVIEW: ‘Savannah Sipping Society’ Opens at Theatre Jacksonville

Savannah Sipping Society, Hillary Hickam at Theatre Jacksonville
Hillary Hickam

Theatre Jacksonville opened the first production of its 99 season on November 2 with The Savannah Sipping Society. It will run through November 18th at 2032 San Marco Ave. Call 904-396-4425 for reservations.

This play is by the writing team of Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten or better known as Jones Hope Wooten. These three former TV sitcom writer s have created their comedy scenarios for several years and their combined plays have close to 4,000 performances. Two of their plays are well known to Jacksonville audiences, The Dixie Swim Club at the Alhambra Theatre and Always a Bridesmaid right here at Theatre Jacksonville.

This is a comedy about four unattached mature women who meet by chance in Savannah, Georgia and spend the next six months developing deep friendships. Three of them met briefly at an exercise gym, then move on to the lovely home owned by Randa Covington and a fourth woman joins them in their “sipping” sessions of various alcoholic drinks as they plan various adventures together.

Savannah Sipping Society, Abigail Hunger, Hillary Hickam and Kelley Norman at Theatre Jacksonville
Abigail Hunger, Hillary Hickam and Kelley Norman

Hillary Hickam is Randa, a very qualified professional architect who is currently out of a job and income. She owns the very lovely house that has a veranda where most of the action takes place. The set by TJ Designer and Technical Tim Watson is gorgeous and you will want to move in. Ms. Hickam’s home is in Jacksonville but she has performed on stage and in film all over the USA. Jacksonville audiences have seen her remarkable performances as Marsha in Vanya and Sonia and Marsha and Spike and as Karen in August, Osage County at Players by the Sea.

Kelley Norman is Dot, the most senior of the four women. Dot is a widow and recently lost her husband and now worries about retirement. Mrs. Norman is very convincing in this role. She has been a teacher in Macclenny, Florida for 38 and one of the mainstays of the Baker County Community Theatre. Theatre audiences are very familiar with her daughter Sara Beth Summers an award winning actress on Jacksonville stages.

Marlafaye, the woman who moved to Savannah from Texas is played by Abigail Hunger in her 3rd performance at Theatre Jacksonville. As Lala she was the funniest actor in The Last Night of Ballyhoo. Then in a complete reversal, she was the very serious Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall. She is back to her unique comic ways in this show and is very funny, as a women who lost her dentist husband to his pretty much younger dental hygienist but is planning her revenge on her ex husband. Miss Hunger dresses strangely in this role and has long black hair that looks like a dead squirrel.

Savannah Sipping Society, Kelley Norman, Sommer Farhat, Hillary Hickam at Theatre Jacksonville
Kelley Norman, Sommer Farhat, Hillary Hickam

Actress Sommer Farhat is Jinx, a life coach who plans many of the adventures taken by these four ladies. Ms. Farhat has been in many plays on TJ’s stage, both comedy and serious roles. She has a role of some authority in this play; she speaks in a clear voice that is remarkable that came in loud and clear to me sitting beyond the middle of the theatre.

One final cast member has a cameo role as Grandmother Covington that is comic and brief. Barbara Stevenson is line perfect since she has no dialogue at all.

Jason Collins directed this play and the program listed his many directing accomplishments all over this city. He is also a fine actor and has performed in variety of roles and he really loves comedy. Jason is a member of the inprov group, the Awkward Silence.

Savannah Sipping Society, Abigail Hunger, Sommer Farhat, Kelley Norman and Hillary Hickam at Theatre Jacksonville
Abigail Hunger, Sommer Farhat, Kelley Norman and Hillary Hickam

This show marks the Jacksonville debut of Costume Designer, Amanda Moore, who went to school in Gainesville and her costume accomplishments are well known there. She will be back, she is good. Miss Moore had these ladies changing clothing many times to show the passage of 6 months time in their lives. And I was impressed with the wardrobe selections for everyone.

The open night audience consisted of mainly married couples who loved this show and laughed long and hard all evening long. As I sat there, I thought it was exciting to be drawn into a comedy in which female characters are the driving force. 2018 is truly the year of the women. Many are running for political offices all over the country. Women have exercised their rights in the work place! This play is funny and shows us the potency and power of friendships in our lives. Don’t miss this show; it is well worth a little over 2 hours of your time.


REVIEW: Jacksonville University College of Fine Arts Delights Audiences with “Into the Woods”

Jacksonville University College of Fine Arts, Into the Woods

Jacksonville University presented four performances of James Lapine’s award winning musical “Into The Woods” from November 1 to 4 at Swisher Theatre.

This musical won three Tony Awards on Broadway in 1987. It was made into a movie in 2014 with Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp and grossed over 200 million dollars at the box office.

This is one of the most unique musicals in that the script combines several fairy tales into one story with the paths of familiar characters crossing and changing their lives. The cast is large and it takes a skilled Director Kimberly Beasley to keep all those hoops in the air without losing sight of the lives of the characters.

Jacksonville University College of Fine Arts Delights Audiences with “Into the Woods”

JU musicals are known for having wonderful voices in their musicals and there was a stage full of excellent well trained actors and singers. In addition to singing the cast engaged in witty word play and well-executed physical comedy.

The first act concerns a baker (Axel Berry) and his wife (Isabella Martinez) who have no children due to a curse placed on them by The Witch (Emily Pate) that requires them to obtain four items to lift the spell. They must find a white cow, the red cap of Red Riding Hood (Kelly Wolfe), hair the color of corn from Rapunzel (Jackie Glassman) and a slipper pure as gold.

Jacksonville University College of Fine Arts Delights Audiences with “Into the Woods”

Many characters are encountered as the action progresses including Cinderella (Shauna Clark), her mother (Candace Dickens), her step mother (Sarah Stepp), Florinda (Melissa Allen), Lucinda (Andrea Vilarino), Jack of bean stalk fame (Joshua Andrew), Jack’s Mother (Alexandra Gravine), Rapunzel (Jackie Glassman), Rapunzel’s Prince (Nic Gonzales), Granny (Cailyn Cook), Steward (Abrien Nelson) ,Snow White(Kalei Dela Cruz) and Sleeping Beauty (Rachel Sandowski). Christopher Mandel plays Cinderella’s Prince and the Wolf. Joseph Mahoney is the Narrator and Mysterious Man. The voices of Nati Gonzales as the Giant, and Cinderella’s father (Ben Beck), are heard over the sound system.

All come to realize that their hopes and dreams have not been fulfilled; the lesson learned is that actions have consequences and we must go “into the woods: and confront them.

This musical is the very first performed with computer generated music rather than a live JU orchestra. Under expertise of Music Director Benjamin Beck it sounded excellent. This was also training for those cast members who are planning to go into professional theatre upon graduation since many theatre to control cost use similar systems now.

The only glitch technically was when a microphone of the Narrator went dead in Act I and it was difficult to hear him above the music. He came back with a new mike in Act II and that was appreciated by audience applause.

Jacksonville University College of Fine Arts Delights Audiences with “Into the Woods”

Scenic Designer, Brandon Lettow,  filled the stage with hugh tree trunks to create an interesting forest. Lighting Designer Austin Kelm further presented a foreboding forest.

Costume Designer Curtis Williams created the authentic fanciful and colorful costumes.

The cast, besides having such talent voices that handled Stephen Sondheim’s amazingly complex lyrics and music, presented enjoyable witty word play and well-executed physical comedy and thus a musical that was uproariously entertaining.

Coming up in the spring, JU will present another well known musical “Legally Blonde”. Plan to see that one for sure. JU and Swisher always take a commendable and flexible approach to theater prices that everyone can afford.


Beyond Downtown Artwalk: Duval Mercantile Pop-Up Shop for the Holidays

Duval Mercantile, Art Walk pop-up, Downtown Jacksonville, Emily Moody, Varick Rosete

A Jacksonville business owner is making it easier to shop local this holiday season. Emily Moody-Rosete, who operates the downtown Wolf & Cub boutique on Laura Street, is bringing a pop-up storefront to the space formerly occupied by La Cena restaurant. Located at 211 North Laura Street, Duval Mercantile will grace the historic Elks Building.

Duval Mercantile will celebrate its grand opening November 7th during Artwalk and will remain open through the month of December. As the former owner the live music venue Underbelly in the downtown core and Anomaly in the Five Points neighborhood, Emily Moody-Rosete knows how to create a buzz. She’s hoping to energize Downtown with a concept that will bring together artists and makers in a shared space and inspire shoppers to curate an interesting and eclectic list of locally produced goods this holiday season.

Vendors like Congaree and Penn and Jax Brothel will be among those to stock such items as local gourmet foods and sundries, candles, pottery, and vegan bath products. There are no plans to update the interior space with a major build out save for adding a couple coolers to refrigerate necessary items. “Because its a pop-up, we didn’t want to spend a ton of money making it real pretty,” she says. “It’s going to compliment Wolf & Cub but still have its own vibe, too.”

Bee Friends Farms, Downtown Jacksonville, Emily Moody, Varick Rosete, Beyond the Artwalk Marketplace - Duval Mercantile Sets Up Pop Shop for the Holidays
Bella Lina Bath, Downtown Jacksonville, Emily Moody, Varick Rosete, Beyond the Artwalk Marketplace - Duval Mercantile Sets Up Pop Shop for the Holidays

While the concept is designed to give local makers a dedicated space to showcase and sell their goods, Moody-Rosete is also hoping to increase Downtown’s accessibility to retailers in an area plagued by more empty storefronts than established businesses.

“Being Downtown now for a few years, I hear on a daily basis from clients coming in and people traveling through, tours actually coming through to visit the city. It’s embarrassing to hardly have any retail Downtown, so people walk in my shop and ask what else is there to do down here, and I give them a little run down. There’s lots of places to eat and drink, but there’s not a lot of retail,” says Emily Moody-Rosete.

Downtown Jacksonville, Emily Moody, Varick Rosete, Beyond the Artwalk Marketplace - Duval Mercantile Sets Up Pop Shop for the Holidays

“That’s unfortunate, but the city doesn’t really encourage the nurturing of small business. They’re more into the multi-million dollar projects, which I get too, but, at the end of the day, the small guys are the ones who are creating the culture and the feel for a district.”

“That’s unfortunate, but the city doesn’t really encourage the nurturing of small business. They’re more into the multi-million dollar projects, which I get too, but, at the end of the day, the small guys are the ones who are creating the culture and the feel for a district. That’s what I seek out. When I travel, I go to all the cool little local businesses, and that’s how I get the feel for a city. That’s where Duval Mercantile comes in.”

Macmaddies Candles, Downtown Jacksonville, Emily Moody, Varick Rosete, Beyond the Artwalk Marketplace - Duval Mercantile Sets Up Pop Shop for the Holidays
1748 Bakehouse, Downtown Jacksonville, Emily Moody, Varick Rosete, Beyond the Artwalk Marketplace - Duval Mercantile Sets Up Pop Shop for the Holidays

Emily and Varick Rosete based the model for Duval Mercantile on their early experiences with Wolf & Cub, which they initially operated at such venues as Jaxsons Night Market and Artwalk. The couple expanded the business and opened a pop-up shop in Riverside’s Brooklyn Station during the 2015 holiday season. The success of that venture led to a permanent storefront the following year. If Duval Mercantile does well, it could become a regular fixture and establish a business model to encourage more retailers to follow suit.

“We’re just trying to make it work for a few months. If it sticks, then we’ll visit maybe signing a lease there, maybe finding a different spot. Who knows. We’re just taking it day by day for now,” she says, “I’m an optimist so I hope that it is possible. Is it possible in a time frame that I feel is reasonable? Maybe not necessarily. That’s why we just kind of took things into our own hands. We don’t have time to wait around for the city to recognize us. We just have to make it happen. Hopefully it’s that ‘if you build it, they will come’ kind of thing.”

local vendors

– Saturiwa Trading
– Conagree and Penn
– CAMP Craft Cocktail
– Jax Brothel
– Macmaddies CANdles
– Cam.Lee Crafted Co.
– 1748 Bakehouse
– Bee Friends Farm
– The Bread & Board
– Bella Lina Bath
– Pawfection Bakery
– Spoonbill Pottery
– Develins Art


REVIEW: Wait Until Dark at All Beaches Experimental Theatre

ABET, Wait Until Dark

ABET, All Beaches Experimental Theatre, opened its second production of the season, at his new home 544 Atlantic Blvd, Neptune Beach with the classic thriller, Wait Until Dark. This play by Frederick Knott debuted in 1966 and ran for 373 performances. It had star power with Lee Remick in the lead for which she was nominated for a Tony Award. Warner Bros-Seven Arts made a movie that starred Audrey Hepburn who won an Academy Award for her role.

fri26oct(oct 26)7:30 pmsun11nov(nov 11)9:00 pmWAIT UNTIL DARK(october 26) 7:30 pm – (november 11) 9:00 pm ALL BEACHES EXPERIMENTAL THEATRE

This play is an electrifying thriller about a young lady named Susy who is blind due to an auto accident. While in the hospital she meets and marries a freelance photographer Sam (Kyle Reeves) and they live in a small basement apartment. The time is the 1990s.

This nail-biting drama finds three con men intruding into the blind Suzy’s home while Sam is away on a photo assignment. It seems that when in Canada on assignment, Sam accidently brought home a doll which unknown to him is stuffed with high grade heroin and these three bad boys of society want it so badly they would kill to get it.

ABET, Wait Until Dark

While Susy is out shopping, the trio of crooks meets in her apartment. Here we met the head of this trio is Harry Roat Jr. In some very interesting casting, Roat is played by a woman, Milan Alley who arrives wearing a long shoulder length wig, shorts and rose colored glasses. Ms. Alley is from Tallahassee, Florida and made her local debut as a singer in one of the major roles in Madam Bonaparte at Players by the Sea. She also played by two roles dressed as a male in this play and we leave those for your to discover when you see the show. Alley more than captures the psychopathic energy of the villain Mr. Roat.

One of her or his criminals is Mike Talman played by David Girard who is well known for his many outstanding performances on local stages. Mike agrees to visit Susy and pretend that he is an old army buddy of Sam’s and is just passing through the city. He spends his time looking for the doll while talking it up with Susy.

ABET, Wait Until Dark

Conman # 2 is Juan Ocharan who pretends to be Sergeant Carlino of the local police department investigating a murder of a woman in the neighborhood. He of course is looking everywhere for the doll. Mr. Ocharan is doing his first non singing role; has been a student in the UNF chorale.

Another character is the young neighborhood girl Gloria, who lives upstairs, who is a good friend to Susy. Nine years old Tatum Matthews is an excellent actress and very entertaining and engaging in this key role involved in dealing with these undesirable thugs. This is Tatum’s first non-musical role, and she has sung in several musicals at Alhambra Theatre and Dining. She has been cast in the upcoming production of Elf at the Alhambra.

ABET, Wait Until Dark

Actress Jenna Bourne, in the most demanding role of her acting career, is very convincing as a blind woman. She impressed us with her constant attention to finding her way at home as some who has no sight. Facially she expresses the fear, doubt and desperation that she finds herself in and then expertly turns things around in her favor for a thrilling hold-your-breath finish.

Franklin Ritch makes his directing debut with this show. He has been a performer in 3 musicals on local stages with Into the Woods and Madam Bonaparte at Players by the Sea and Celebration at ABET. Mr. Ritch also designed the set that is outstanding considering the small amount of space he had to work with and the incredible number of items on it.

The title of the show is Wait Until Dark, and to forewarn you. Yes, you sit in the dark in the 2nd act, with parts of the show being done in with the lights out but it lasts a very short time.

Don’t miss this true classic of theatre that will keep you spellbound. Call for reservations 904-249-7177 or visit www.abettheatre.com


Franklin Ritch (Director), Ramona Ramdeen (Stage Manager), Maureen Johnson (Assistant Stage Manager), Laura Young (Properties), Bryan Frank (Light/Sound Design) Hunter Steinke (Backstage Crew)


Phantoms of the First Coast: The Faces Behind Northeast Florida’s Most Haunted Tours

With several thousand years of civilization under its belt, the First Coast has experienced its share of trials and tribulation. Ghosts are big business for the curious and thrill-seekers alike, and October’s reprieve from the oppressive heat puts many in the mood for a haunted history lesson. One need not look far to find a ghost tour.

As you board a trolley or prepare to walk along darkened cobblestone streets, consider for a moment the storyteller’s tale. Four local haunted tour guides shared their story and personal experiences with EU Jacksonville. Whether you’re a supernatural enthusiast or a diehard skeptic, get ready for a wild ride.

Phantoms of the First Coast: The Faces Behind NE Florida’s Most Haunted Tours, Tolomato Cemetery, St. Augustine

The American Spinner’s Haunted History of St. Augustine

“When I drove by the cemetery, I swore I saw a little boy in the tree,” Dion Moore recalls, “He had dark hair, dark vest, light colored shirt, and a little black neck tie, just sitting as plain as day. My tour had 20 people and two horses to pull it. All 20 people saw the exact same thing.”

Months later, Moore was researching at the Historical Society when he came across a story that made his hair stand on end. Written in 1924, the article detailed the tragic tale of James Patrick Morgan, a 5-year-old boy who climbed an oak tree and fell to his death. Today his small white tombstone rests alone in a spacious family plot. Legend says he often appears to children, and may be spotted in the tree above his grave or running between tombstones at the Tolomato Cemetery. Moore eagerly shares a photo snapped by a 12-year-old girl on his tour several years ago. Peering from the darkness is a young boy’s stark white figure, dressed in a suit and tie, and perched in a Live Oak. “At that moment, I was hooked,” Moore says, “If it hadn’t been for that story, I probably wouldn’t be telling this story today.”

Dion Moore of Secrets of St. Augustine Ghost Tours prefers to be called The American Spinner because of the stories he spins. Born in New Orleans and raised in the hills of North Carolina, Moore’s been a magician, dancer, pro-wrestler, a stuntman, and even played a role in The Patriot.

Phantoms of the First Coast: The Faces Behind NE Florida’s Most Haunted Tours

Eighteen years ago, a newspaper advertisement caught his eye: horse and buggy drivers wanted in St. Augustine. A history lover looking for a change of pace, Moore took the job. He began working for a small ghost tour company shortly after. Interest in St. Augustine’s ghosts grew immensely after Ghost Hunters visited in 2006. Moore opened his own ghost tour company several years ago, and business is booming.

“You never know what you’re going to get until you are out on the tour. The basics of the tour stay the same, but the night makes all the difference,” he says, “There’s always something different going on. I just love what I do.” An entertainer at heart, Moore puts on a show. His Victorian costume, top hat, deep southern accent, and energetic style engage the crowd on this colorful walking tour through St. Augustine’s ghost stories, tall tales, and legends. Tours occur year-round and last for 75-90 minutes, starting at Matanzas Bay and meandering by multiple haunted hot-spots throughout the city.

Moore makes no promises of supernatural encounters. “This isn’t Disney or Universal,” he warns, “There’s no one staged to jump out and scare you.” But he does believe there’s something to the stories. “People call it ghosts, I call it energy,” Moore says, “I believe there’s something else. I just can’t accept that life is just 80 laps around the sun or 80 Christmases, 80 birthdays and then it’s over. I do believe—I feel—that it’s not over. There’s something else. Energy never dies.”

Amelia Island Ghost Tours,Phantoms of the First Coast: The Faces Behind NE Florida’s Most Haunted Tours

Amelia Island’s Folklore of Piracy, Plunder, and Death

Diane Blanton ambled past a stately old home in downtown Fernandina about six years ago when she felt something inexplicably drawing her toward it. The unlit residence appeared vacant. Yet the sensation was impossible to ignore. Blanton snapped a photograph of the house and was shocked to see an old woman sitting on a rocking chair with a white dog at her side. Startled, she shone her flashlight on the porch once more. Nothing.

Two years later, Blanton volunteered at the same house selling ornaments as part of a local museum’s home tour. The estate’s newest owner was there. This was her family home. “I have a photograph that I took of this home several years ago, and I would like you to look at it and see if you recognize anyone,” Blanton asked the homeowner. “Do you recognize her?”

“Yes, it’s my Nana!” the woman replied, tears streaming down her cheeks.

“Your Grandmother?”

“No, my great-grandmother, and I was named after her,” she exclaimed. The old woman had lived in the home for many years, and passed away in 1993. The new homeowner recognized her immediately and fondly recalled playing with the dog too.  

“It’s confirming when you’re able to take a photograph, and a family member can validate who that person you photographed is,” Blanton says. Her tour is all about forming personal connections, educating, and inspiring interest in local culture and history. “I’m not here to convince anybody,” she says, “It is what it is.”

Amelia Island Ghost Tours’ Diane Blanton stumbled into life as a ghost tour guide after retiring from a corporate job in Downtown Jacksonville, where she worked for 34 years. One day, the retiree picked up the local newspaper and noticed an unusual help-wanted ad: “If you can walk for 2 hours on Friday and Saturday nights for 1-1.5 miles, give us a call.”  

She called and was intrigued to learn that the job was as a guide for a small ghost tour company. Blanton had never seen a ghost in her life, though she’d always felt “energy” on Amelia Island. She loved local history too. “I was going to walk and make a little bit of money. It would get me off the couch,” Blanton laughs, “So I took the job, and I’ve loved it. I’ve met a lot of great people and taken a lot of great photographs. I’ve never experienced anything ugly in Fernandina.”

The retirement diversion turned into a job she loves, and she’s been leading tours year-round for over 14 years now. Blanton walks guests past Fernandina’s historic district, cemeteries, and homes, regaling the island’s rich history, paranormal activity, and local legends for 90-120 minutes. She enjoys sharing photographs she’s captured of spectral images with her guests.

“We get business, but we’re not overly commercialized like St. Augustine or Savannah. We really don’t get the traffic they get,” Blanton says, “We’re more up front and personal. Fernandina is a quaint little town, and it’s beautiful.”  Blanton encourages guests to be prepared for a night of walking and to bring a camera or recording device. There are no costumes, gimmicks, or special effects. “You never know what you’re going to see, hear, feel, or photograph,” she says.  

Ripley's Believe It or Not

Ripley’s Ghost Train Adventure’s Hair-Raising Experience

Charlie Hanneman’s most vivid supernatural experience occurred at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum, and he truly believes it to be one of the most haunted buildings in St. Augustine. The former Castle Warden witnessed a mysterious fire and deaths in the 1940s when it was a hotel. It has been featured on Ghost Hunters several times. “We had a private group in the castle. We were in the room Mr. X—a violent spirit residing here—had rented out. He had attacked his mistress in that room. The room has a very heavy feeling to it,” Hanneman says, “The lady leading this investigation started getting really frustrated. She yelled, ‘If you’re here, let us know. We’re here for you! Betty, if you’re here let us know what happened to you. Talk to us!’”

A woman’s scream ripped through the silence. “There was nobody else in the building,” Hanneman says, “We were all in this one room. We all heard this with our own ears. This is one of two times I’ve heard a lady scream in that building. It is truly horrifying.”

Phantoms of the First Coast: The Faces Behind NE Florida’s Most Haunted Tours
Phantoms of the First Coast: The Faces Behind NE Florida’s Most Haunted Tours
Phantoms of the First Coast: The Faces Behind NE Florida’s Most Haunted Tours
Phantoms of the First Coast: The Faces Behind NE Florida’s Most Haunted Tours

Hanneman has been a paranormal enthusiast since early childhood. When the South Florida native visited St. Augustine several years ago, he fell in love with the area. Hanneman hoped to find work in the city as a bartender, but his job hunt took an unexpected twist when he spotted an intriguing help-wanted ad on Craigslist: Ripley’s was hiring ghost tour guides for their Ghost Train Adventure. Hanneman applied and began training. He quickly fell in love with the job and the people.

“Our guides are all so passionate, and our tour isn’t scripted,” Hanneman explains, “We don’t put on any fake accents or anything. The outlines are given to us by our bosses, but the other tour guides and I take such an interest in this stuff, we go out and research more. I try to really bring the stories alive and get people into it.”

Standing tall in the front car of the ghost train as it bumps and jostles along St. Augustine’s streets, Hanneman amuses and frightens the packed trolley with stories of the lingering past. Trains depart seven days a week from Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum. Guests use EMF meters and laser grid lights for hands-on ghost hunting at the Old Sugar Mill and Huguenot Cemetery. Tours wrap up at Castle Warden for spine-tingling stories about hotel guests who never checked out. The tour lasts 1.5 hours. Hanneman advises “Make sure your camera’s charged, come with an open mind, and take as many pictures and videos as you can.”  

St. Augustine Lighthouse, Phantoms of the First Coast: The Faces Behind NE Florida’s Most Haunted Tours

Playful Ghosts at St. Augustine’s Haunted Lighthouse

A terrible accident occurred during the construction of the St. Augustine Lighthouse. On July 10, 1873, Hezekiah Pittee’s children were playing on a supply cart when something went awry, and the children careened into the bay. Three girls drowned. Pittee finished the lighthouse and moved on, but the young girls never left.

Joyce Duncan, who leads the Dark of the Moon Tour at the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum, says her experiences with the girls transformed her from a skeptic to a believer. Each tour concludes with investigation time. One evening, Duncan wandered to the Keeper’s House and found two young ladies from her tour there, EMF meters red. “We think we have the girls with us!” they said. “When meters start going off, we start asking yes or no questions. ‘Is there someone here with me? Spike the meter to red if you’re here.’ And the meter spikes to red in response to you,” Duncan says, “It’s communication. I mean, it blows my mind. We are communicating with something,”

The young ladies prompted the spirits, “Girls, you like to have fun, right?”

Their meters surged red.

“Do you like to play games?”

Red again

“Do you like to play hide and seek?”

Red…. Then nothing.

“Girls, where did you go? Ahhh…. Are you hiding?”

Duncan watched one of the women roam around the basement with her meter, chanting “I’m going to find you! I’m going to find you!” She wandered under the steps and her meter spiked red. “Oh, I found you! Do you want to play again?”

Red, then nothing. The game continued.

“I watched her play hide and seek with our girls—the three ghosts—I mean, that’s not just communication, that’s interaction. That happened over a year ago, and I’ve had multiple groups of people over the last year tell me, ‘We got to play hide-and-seek with the girls tonight,’” Duncan says, “And not just in the basement. We have a playscape on the grounds. I’ve had people play with them there, on the front lawn, in the upstairs of the house, on the nature trails. If you can find them, they’ll play hide and seek. It’s incredible.”

The St. Augustine Lighthouse has appeared on multiple ghost hunting shows. But the last thing on Duncan’s mind when she relocated to sunny St. Augustine three years ago from Michigan was ghosts. A help-wanted ad for a Museum Associate caught her eye. She was asked how she felt about doing ghost tours as part of the interview process. Though she’d always felt there was something else out there, Duncan admits she thought the whole ghost thing was a gimmick. “When I was in training, I would follow the other tour guides around and listen to them. Their meters would go off, and I was thinking, ‘I don’t know how they’re doing this.’ I tried to figure it out. How long did I have to work here before they let me in on the secret? How were they rigging this? Then I realized, ‘This is legit.’”

The Dark of the Moon Ghost Tour occurs year-round and lasts for 1.5-2 hours. Guides discuss the history and hauntings of the Lighthouse, visiting the Lighthouse Tower, Keeper’s House, and nature trails. Guests enjoy free investigation time at the end. People may rent EMF meters or often bring their own equipment. Investigation-Only and Private events are also available.

A storyteller at heart, Duncan loves sharing the Lighthouse’s past with her guests. “We try to be accurate. We’re not just making things up,” she says, “I tell historically documented stories from people’s journals, the lighthouse keeper’s logs, newspaper articles, and obituaries. We do try to be authentic.” Working at the lighthouse absolutely changed Duncan’s mind about the existence of supernatural beings. “We treat our tour seriously,” she says, “If you experience something, it’s legit. This is for real. All ghosts, no gimmicks.”

The First Coast’s history is rich with murder and mayhem, pirates and plunder. It’s no surprise that stories linger on. Whether you simply enjoy a dark story or two or actively investigate supernatural hotspots in your free time, there’s no shortage of talented storytellers ready to bring the past alive. An open mind and camera are all you need. Be sure to ask your guide about their personal experiences—sometimes their own tales are even more interesting than the spooky stories and legends they weave.




          New York actors aspire to win a Tony, film actors want to win an Oscar. What do Jacksonville community theatre actors covet most? A role on stage at the Alhambra Dinner Theatre.

          An actor may perform with every theatre group in town, doing a variety of roles but when they finally land a role at the longest-producing dinner theatres in America, Jacksonville’s Alhambra Theatre, you have reached the top in this area.

          Why? As Jacksonville’s full time professional theatre, you know you can perform with the pros. I know this question comes to mind. You thought the Alhambra is an equity house using actors from the actor’s union known as Equity. That is true, but Equity has an agreement with dinner theaters that allows them to use a certain percentage of non-union actors in each production. This is like an apprentice program, developing new actors and giving them an opportunity to earn their equity card by performing so many hours.

wed17oct(oct 17)7:00 pmsun18nov(nov 18)10:00 pm1776 A MUSICAL REVOLUTION7:00 pm – (november 18) 10:00 pm Alhambra Theatre & Dining

          The cast of the current production of the wonderful “l776” has 25 actors and when you read the playbill you will see that Director Tod Booth has selected a number of non-union performers who are making their Alhambra debuts in this play. Some of the new performers are even new to me, as they came from other cities for the opportunity to advance their careers and get “1776” on their resumes.

          The Alhambra performs many musicals and if you audition for one of them, you had better have a better-than-average singing voice that is for sure. The voices in the current production are excellent and when all the men on stage sing together, it seems like the roof of the theatre rises a bit.

          Coming from community theatre to do a show, you immediately notice that the rehearsals to get the show ready are much shorter. Most productions run at least a month, and the only day off you will get will be Monday when the theatre is usually dark. On Saturday and Sunday you may have 2 shows each day.If the musical is one that children like, you may also have a mid-week matinee show as well.

          The current “1776” is loaded with talent. Lee Hamby and Kenneth Uibel are two actors in this show who are doing the exact same roles on this very same stage in April l999, or 20 years ago. Kurt McCall who plays John Hancock is a local actor who earned his equity card through the Alhambra and as a result has been several shows over the years. Mr. McCall also was a costume designer for the Alhambra several years ago.

          Dave Gowan who plays James Wilson and Kevin Roberts as Caesar Rodney are well known for roles in local theatres and has appeared in other Alhambra productions. Rodney Holmes after three outstanding performances on local stages is now in his third Alhambra show in a row as the courier for the Continental Congress. If you go to community theatres, the names of three actors will be familiar to you. Brice Cofield, Alec Hadden and Neal Thorburn all make impressive debuts as first timers on the Alhambra stage in “l776”

          Want to be on the stage of the Alhambra? Then prepare. Do as many community theatre plays as you can. See “l776”, and read the credits of the actors in the show. Contact them for their advice. Most of them have facebook pages and so are easy to contact. Audition! The Alhambra publishes audition notices on their facebook page or check out The Theatre Alliance of Greater Jacksonville on face book for a list of most auditions locally.

          Yours truly did two plays at the Alhambra some years ago in “The Impossible Years” and “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”. It was my “Oscar” and my “Tony Award” and if I never act again, I have had my day in the sun. I played with the “pros”.


“Let’s Do the Time Warp Again!” at the Island Theater

This October, the talented cast of The Island Theater warp right onto the stage and into the minds of the patrons. Directed by Breanna Shuman and Kayla O’Connor, the production does not miss a beat as it draws the audience further and further into the science fiction story widely known as the Rocky Horror Show! The audience is encouraged to dress up and either buy a bag of props or bring your own (see approved prop list below).

Usherette/Magenta (Caitlin Charrier) opens the show with “Science Fiction/Double Feature” as she sets the mood for the entrance of Brad (Daniel Blair) and Janet (Samantha Eigenmann). Blair and Eigenmann have great on-stage chemistry as they romantically perform the duet “Dammit ,Janet!”. Here is the first chance to participate by throwing confetti or rice on the stage. Followed by the duet “Over at the Frankenstein Place” while the phantoms hilariously provide back-up vocals whiling popping out from the curtains. Since the lovebirds are stranded they have no choice but to seek help from a nearby castle. Greeted by Riff Raff (Bobby Bickle) and Magenta, the couple senses that they may have made a mistake as explained by the Narrator (Elizabeth Stitt) in her perfectly eerie deadpan delivery. When Janet and Brad witness the castle’s inhabitants sing and dance “The Time Warp”, the shock that they feel is palpable.

Now is the time to brace yourself because you will be introduced to the star of the show, Frank ‘N’ Furter, expertly performed by Nikloas Wendorf. I strongly believe that his performance rivals the iconic Tim Curry’s performance in the 1975 motion picture version. My jaw actually dropped as Wendorf belted out the tune “Sweet Transvestite” which only was the beginning of his extremely entertaining portrayal of Frank. As Frank reveals his creation, the audience gets another chance to participate by snapping their gloves. The big reveal is the laboratory birth of the ‘perfect’ man, Rocky, played by Chase Lawless who kills it as he flexes his muscles and gazes longingly into his cast-mates eyes when he interacts with them in “The Sword of Damocles”. Once again, the audience is treated with Wendorf’s outstanding vocal performance in “I Can Make You a Man”. Another one of my favorite Island Theater actors bursts onto stage as Eddie (Josh Katzman) singing “Hot Patootie”. Act I comes to a close with the reprise of “I Can Make You a Man”.

During the intermission I had a palm hitting forehead moment when I realized that I should have dressed up for the show. Two audience members were pulled onto stage to compete in a contest for best costume. Therefore, I highly recommend that you attend this limited run in costume with props in hand. The show itself is over the top fun but audience participation brings it to the next level.

Act II really delivers as the pansexual sweet transvestite separately seduces the newly engaged couple explaining to them that pleasure is no crime in his exquisitely seductive voice. Even though Janet thoroughly enjoyed her time with Frank, she is mortified when she witnesses Frank with Brad and runs into the arms of Rocky while crooning “Touch-A-Touch-A-Touch Me”. The newly sensually awakened Brad becomes upset when he sees that as been intimate with Rocky and expresses his feelings in “Once in Awhile”. Meanwhile the audience is throwing toilet paper rolls onto the stage and one gets caught in the rafters. Riff Raff slowly releases the paper from its captor while amusingly scolding the audience for the infraction. Josh Katzman storms the stage again as Dr. Scott. When Frank learns that Brad is associated with Dr. Scott, he accuses them of investigating the castle for the FBI. Dr. Scott reveals, with the support of the full cast, that he is actually searching for his nephew Eddie in “Eddie’s Teddy”. Having seen too much Janet, Brad, Dr. Scott, and Rocky are frozen to the floor by Frank as the crew sings “Planet Schmanet Wise Up Janet Weiss”.

Frank announces that they are all aliens who have deviated from their original mission to explore the delights of earthlings. Magenta declares that it is time to go home but Frank insists on putting on a floor show instead. While still under the control of Frank, Rocky, Brad, and Janet join Columbia on stage in bustiers and garters to perform in the floor show. Frank pleas his case with Riff Raff and Magenta in “I’m Going Home” to no avail since they have had quite enough of Frank’s shenanigans and desire to return to their planet where they can Time Warp Again. Releasing Janet, Brad, and Dr. Scott, Riff Raff and Magenta depart leaving Janet and Brad to ponder about their evening in “Super Heroes”. Delightfully the Usherette returns to recap the events and wrap up the production with “Science Fiction/Double Feature (reprise)”.

Bravo, bravo, bravo! I cannot express how thankful that I am to see classic performed on the stage of The Island Theater. Led by the amazing Nikloas Wendorf, every cast member shined on the stage. Bobby Bickles, once again, displayed his impeccable acting skills while proving that he has the style to expand his range with every performance. Daniel Blair and Samantha Eigenmann blossomed and grew in each scene transforming from innocence to not so innocence with breathtaking ease. Chase Lawless is the perfect man for the role of Rocky and was a pure delight to watch. I could sense the passion that Josh Katzman has for acting in both of his scenes as he throws his entire being into his roles. Breanna Shuman and Caitlin Charrier also shined as they executed their on-stage and behind the scenes capabilities as music director, choreographer, set design, and costume design. Last but certainly not least, the narrators/phantoms Elizabeth Stitt, Kayla O’Connor, and Sophia Sedlak provided the crazy glue that held the whole production together with their amusing contributions. Thank you all for making it a night to remember.

Please join the cast and crew for one of their remaining shows. I promise that you won’t regret and I won’t tell if you won’t! Don’t forget to purchase or bring your own props as audience participation is key to boosting the strong talent of these thespians to higher and higher heights. For a complete list of audience participation guidelines and future productions, please visit www.theislandtheater.com.~Theater Buffette

Approved Rocky Prop List



Rubber Gloves

Cell Phones or Flash Lights

Noise Makers

Playing Cards

Toilet Paper


Brightly Colored Water Guns (Water only)


Upcoming Events

  1. Miami/Brickell Festival of the Arts

    October 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - January 15, 2019 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  2. Comedian Gerry Dee World Comedy Tour in Naples, Florida

    November 21 @ 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm UTC+0
  3. Ocala Balloon Glow

    November 23 @ 5:00 pm - November 25 @ 10:00 pm UTC+0
  4. 9th Annual Shopapalooza Festival, Part 2

    November 24 @ 10:00 am - 5:00 pm UTC+0
  5. Lake Helen Christmas Parade & Santa’s Village

    November 24 @ 4:00 pm - 9:00 pm UTC+0
  6. Christmas in the Country – Lights Display, Hay Ride & Festival

    November 24 @ 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm UTC+0
  7. Soul Beach: The Outdoor R&b / Jazz Concert & Comedy Show on the Water

    November 24 @ 7:30 pm - November 25 @ 1:00 am UTC+0
  8. 15th Annual X-Country Marathon, 30K, Half-Marathon & 5K

    November 25 @ 7:30 am - 2:30 pm UTC+0
  9. FREE TICKETS! Tampa Improv 11/27 Stand Up Comedy Show

    November 27 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm UTC+0
  10. FL Orchestra Happy Hour Concert – Nov 28

    November 28 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm UTC+0

Upcoming Events

  1. Miami/Brickell Festival of the Arts

    October 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - January 15, 2019 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  2. Comedian Gerry Dee World Comedy Tour in Naples, Florida

    November 21 @ 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm UTC+0
  3. Ocala Balloon Glow

    November 23 @ 5:00 pm - November 25 @ 10:00 pm UTC+0
  4. 9th Annual Shopapalooza Festival, Part 2

    November 24 @ 10:00 am - 5:00 pm UTC+0
  5. Lake Helen Christmas Parade & Santa’s Village

    November 24 @ 4:00 pm - 9:00 pm UTC+0
  6. Christmas in the Country – Lights Display, Hay Ride & Festival

    November 24 @ 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm UTC+0
  7. Soul Beach: The Outdoor R&b / Jazz Concert & Comedy Show on the Water

    November 24 @ 7:30 pm - November 25 @ 1:00 am UTC+0
  8. 15th Annual X-Country Marathon, 30K, Half-Marathon & 5K

    November 25 @ 7:30 am - 2:30 pm UTC+0
  9. FREE TICKETS! Tampa Improv 11/27 Stand Up Comedy Show

    November 27 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm UTC+0
  10. FL Orchestra Happy Hour Concert – Nov 28

    November 28 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm UTC+0

Join our Fun Network

  1. Miami/Brickell Festival of the Arts

    October 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - January 15, 2019 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  2. Comedian Gerry Dee World Comedy Tour in Naples, Florida

    November 21 @ 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm UTC+0
  3. Ocala Balloon Glow

    November 23 @ 5:00 pm - November 25 @ 10:00 pm UTC+0
  4. 9th Annual Shopapalooza Festival, Part 2

    November 24 @ 10:00 am - 5:00 pm UTC+0
  5. Lake Helen Christmas Parade & Santa’s Village

    November 24 @ 4:00 pm - 9:00 pm UTC+0
  6. Christmas in the Country – Lights Display, Hay Ride & Festival

    November 24 @ 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm UTC+0
  7. Soul Beach: The Outdoor R&b / Jazz Concert & Comedy Show on the Water

    November 24 @ 7:30 pm - November 25 @ 1:00 am UTC+0
  8. 15th Annual X-Country Marathon, 30K, Half-Marathon & 5K

    November 25 @ 7:30 am - 2:30 pm UTC+0
  9. FREE TICKETS! Tampa Improv 11/27 Stand Up Comedy Show

    November 27 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm UTC+0
  10. FL Orchestra Happy Hour Concert – Nov 28

    November 28 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm UTC+0