REVIEW: ‘Savannah Sipping Society’ Opens at Theatre Jacksonville

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.

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/11/06/review-savannah-sipping-society-theatre-jacksonville/


‘ARSENIC AND OLD LACE’ THEATRE JACKSONVILLE REVIEW

A DUAL CRITICS REVIEW by Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

Theatre Jacksonville began the 2018-19 season with the staging of Joseph Kesselring’s “Arsenic and Old Lace” as the selection for its annual Classic in San Marco series (September 14 —30, 2018). Good reviews followed the play’s debut in 1941 and it has remained popular. It is one of the best dark comedies of all time; a comedy filled with hilarious frenzied activity, and the funniest play we have seen this year.

fri14sep(sep 14)7:30 pmsun30(sep 30)9:00 pmFeaturedARSENIC AND OLD LACE7:30 pm – 9:00 pm (30) Theatre Jacksonville

As we waited for the opening scene, we were impressed by the interior of the Brooklyn mansion created by Tim Watson, the theatre’s Scenic, Lighting and Technical Director. The setting, which portrays a combined dining and living room with a set of stairs leading to a second floor, is beautifully rendered.

The home belongs to two elderly sisters, Abby and Martha Brewster, portrayed by award-winning actors Simone Aden-Reid and Gayle Featheringill. Both have graced our local stages for many years. The sisters are delightful; gentle, and soft-spoken while ironically humorous. They share a secret mission: they offer to rent lodging in their spacious home to lonely elderly men and then serve elderberry wine laced with arsenic to those who accept. The sisters view the hastening of death as an act of charity which ends loneliness.

After each death, the sisters tell their wacko nephew Teddy they’ve discovered still another yellow fever victim, and he buries the body in the cellar. Teddy believes he is President Theodore Roosevelt, believes that the staircase leading to his room is San Juan Hill, and frequently acts out this delusional fantasy by playing loud blasts on his bugle, yelling “Charge,” and rushing up the stairs. C. Michael Porter, who looks very much like the real Teddy Roosevelt, is hilarious in what is his thirteenth role on Theatre Jacksonville’s stage.

The only normal person in this family is Mortimer Brewster, brilliantly played by Rich Pintello. Well — almost normal — Mortimer is a theatre critic for a local paper who hates theatre. He often takes the easy way out by writing his reviews while riding in a taxi on his way to see the play. When he learns about the activities of Abby, Martha, and Teddy, he does enough double takes to disjoint his body for life.

Sara Beth Gerard-Summers appears as Elaine Harper, Mortimer’s fiancée, who is charming and stylish and shows off some fantastic glamour-girl dresses.

photo: Maya Adkins

Things become complicated when Jonathan, a sinister long-lost brother, arrives with his personal plastic surgeon and buddy in crime. They plan to remain and open a clinic offering facelifts to local criminals. Jonathan is portrayed by Alec Hadden, who has an outstanding voice; past performances have included singing the national anthem at major sporting events. Jonathan is indeed scary, he is menacing, mercurial, has multiple scars from botched facial surgery, and has killed twelve people. Kerry Burke-McCloud, making his Theatre Jacksonville debut as Dr. Einstein, is convincing as a hardened criminal.

We won’t go further into the story, other than to say madness ensues. Much of the frantic fun is because of the supporting cast members. Brad Trowbridge, a thirty-year veteran of TJ’s stage, has a wonderful cameo role as Mr. Witherspoon. Jim Warren, in another cameo role as a lonely man seeking lodging, was excellent. We recall seeing Jim previously in his award-winning role in Limelight’s “Grapes of Wrath.” The Rev. Dr. Harper, Elaine’s father, is played by Gary Lee Webber, who appeared as Atticus Finch in TJ’s “To Kill A Mockingbird.” He was perfectly cast for this show; he is the Pastor of Southside Baptist Church in real life.

We have seen this play several times and this production was notable for its convincing portrayal of police officers. The cast members were Kris Fabbro (Officer Klein), Tyler Hammond (Officer O’Hara), Matt King (Officer Brophy), and Brandon Kraut (Officer O’Hara); they looked like and acted like well-meaning policemen.

The marvelous costumes reflecting a past era were created by Curtis J. Williams.

Joe Kemper directed this production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” to perfection. He is the instructor of Musical Theatre at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, and is in demand for his directing talents at theatres in Jacksonville and St. Augustine. After Kemper directed “The Maids” at St. Augustine’s Flagler College in 2016, the play was taken to the Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival and he received two distinguished directing awards. We have seen several of his plays and were impressed by both his direction and his exceptional ability to select cast members who truly fit their assigned roles.

When you see the show, you will receive what is possibly the most comprehensive program you have ever seen. Since the play is TJ’s Classic, it contains a study guide, excellent biographies, and everything you could ever want to know about Joseph Kesselring and the history of his play.



The production team included Joe Kemper (Director), Tim Watson (Scenic Design), Curtis J. Williams (Costume Designer), Brady Corum (Assistant Technical Director), Mae Davis (Stage Manager), Lauren Vonder Muehll (Assistant Stage Manager), Audie Gibson (Light Board Operator), Mae Davis (Sound Board Operator), and Gayle Featheringill (Properties).

Next up for Theatre Jax is a fundraiser to kick off its 99th season. There will be three shows offered on Saturday, October 13, 2018, and you can get tickets for one, two, or all three productions.

The first show begins at 2:00 pm; Ken Fallin, a nationally known celebrity caricaturist and Jacksonville native, will entertain in “Show and Tell” as he recounts highlights of his career.

The second show begins at 4:30 pm; Sarah Boone pays homage to the fair-haired leading ladies of classic film musicals in “Hollywood Blondes.”

The third show begins at 7:30 pm; Linda Purl celebrates the great ladies of the night club era in “Midnight Caravan.”

For reservations and additional information, call (904) 396-4425 or visit www.theatrejax.com.

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/09/18/arsenic-and-old-lace-theatre-jacksonville-review/


From The Water: Dishes of Fishes 🐟 Around Jacksonville & The Beaches of Northeast Florida

Northeast Florida has a strong Southern food game, but we also shine when it comes to dishes from the water, sometimes from unexpected places. While places such as Safe Harbor, The Fish Company, Timoti’s and others that specialize in seafood are local favorites, there are a number of from-the-water dishes that residents love, even in places that don’t have seafood front and center.

From The Water: Dishes of Fishes Around Jacksonville, Blue Bamboo, Ceviche, Chef Dennis Chan
BluTe Bamboo’s Ceviche

At Blue Bamboo on the Southside, there’s three dishes we recommend, depending on what you’re craving. For a lunch item we think their fish sandwich is a winner. It’s served in their bento box with their shoestring fries, which are spiced with a little bit of salt and pepper. It’s also a fantastic item for kids or less adventurous eaters. The tuna ceviche has been on the menu for several years, and it’s a go-to item for a lot of folks, at all times of the day. The recipe for it is in Chef Dennis Chan’s cookbook Hip Asian Comfort Food. It’s a favorite of mine because the citrus doesn’t overpower the fish, which is true of too many ceviches out there. The added ginger and sesame oil take it over the top as one of the tastiest ceviches you’ll find on the first coast. The Velvet Yu Kew combines steamed rice, bok choy, carrots, and straw mushrooms served with a ginger-garlic sauce with a flaky white fish and rice, for a classy-from-the-water stir fry.

Another place with an Asian flair and a recommended item is Timwah’s crispy fried shrimp balls. This dim sum delight might not be for everyone, but it’s a staple on the West Coast. Here in Jacksonville, we do things larger, so these aren’t bite sized. It’s ground shrimp rolled into a ball, bound loosely by strips of wonton wrappers and deep fried.

Cowford Chophouse, Fish of the Day, From The Water: Dishes of Fishes Around Jacksonville
Cowford Chophouse’s Fish of the Day

Downtown’s Cowford Chophouse has a strong fish game, so if you’re going for something high-hat downtown, try the fish of the day. We also love their duck fat cornbread, which is topped with Maine lobster, and lump crab meat, with crème fraîche, dill, tarragon, paprika oil. The seafood and creme balances out the cornbread and the paprika flavor.

Candy Apple Cafe & Cocktail's Shrimp N Grits, Ariel Crawford bar manager, From The Water: Dishes of Fishes Around Jacksonville
Candy Apple Cafe & Cocktail’s bar manager Ariel Crawford with their Shrimp N Grits

Everyone has their go-to menu item, even when they’re at a restaurant they’ve never been to before. Mine happens to be shrimp and grits, an item that has found itself on many a local menu. The best thing about the dish, is that every restaurant has their particular take on it–so it’s familiar, with elements in common, but it’s an excellent way to get to know the flavor profile of a chef. Downtown we can recommend two places to try it– the Candy Apple Cafe and Nola MOCA. At the Candy Apple, there’s a bit of Cajun flair to the dish, with the shrimp sharing the spotlight with sausage, and the grits are served Southern-style topped with a rich roux. The grits at the Nola are served as smoked cheddar grit cakes, and the sauce is white wine and mushroom based. The shrimp keep company with applewood smoked bacon and sun-dried tomato crostini.

BLK SHP, Kale & Smoked Trout Salad, From The Water: Dishes of Fishes Around Jacksonville, Black Sheep Restaurant, 5 Points
Kale & Smoked Trout Salad from Black Sheep

Asking around on social media about fish dishes in unexpected places, Black Sheep at 5 Points’ Smoked Trout salad garnered one of the strongest responses from local residents. The Carolina Rainbow trout has been on the menu for about two years, featured in two places on their menu– in the starter Smoked Trout Rillettes and in the Kale and Smoked Trout Salad.

Although the fish isn’t local, the kale in the salad is–from the outstanding Bacon’s Select Produce. If you haven’t had anything from the Bacon family, you are missing out. The lettuce they sell at Riverside Arts Market that will benefit any salad you make at home. Everything, including the kale, is grown hydroponically.

The Kale and Smoked Trout Salad is popular at brunch, lunch and dinner. Says Chef Waylon Rivers, “It’s a lightly smoked fish, not overly done, which I think is appealing. It’s brined for a few hours ahead of time so there’s some nice background flavors aside from the smoked fish flavor. It’s a well-balanced dish.”

From The Water: Dishes of Fishes Around Jacksonville, Bread & Board's Banh Mi Shrimp Sandwich
Bread & Board’s Banh Mi Shrimp Sandwich

A newer place that’s been heating up because of their stellar sandwich game, Bread & Board has their Banh Mi Shrimp sandwich. Chef Dwayne Beliakoff says they’re inspired by Florida seafood and love using in their recipes “Key West pink shrimp are the perfect match for our spicy homemade chili sauce in our version of the classic Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich. Sweet, spicy, and exotic goodness heaped into fresh bread,” says Beliakoff

We’re sure you’ve got your own favorites from unexpected places, let us know on social media with the hashtag #UnexpectedFlavorJax.

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/08/23/from-the-water-dishes-of-fishes-jacksonville-beaches-florida/


Theatre Jacksonville’s 98th Volunteer Awards

Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom, Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville

On Sunday July 22, 2018, Theatre Jacksonville held its annual celebration honoring volunteers from the 2017 –2018 season. The theatre combines the annual awards ceremony with its membership meeting. This year, the celebration was held at the theatre.

Board President, David Paulk, began by summarizing the past season and its accomplishments. He enthusiastically announced that TJ has once again finished in the black, thanks to the many individuals and groups who have generously contributed funds. Contributors included local foundations and non-profit organizations, businesses, and city and state organizations. New members of the board were unanimously voted in by the subscribers, and can expect an exciting term, as planning for the theatre’s 100th birthday celebration is underway.

President Paulk additionally thanked the staff of Theatre Jacksonville and all of the dedicated volunteers, who had once again donated over nineteen thousand work hours to the theatre’s operations.




OUTSTANDING VOLUNTEER AWARDS

Front of the house: Marcia Pozen

Technical & Back Stage Support: Spencer Carr

Outstanding Teen Volunteer: Savannah LeNoble

Outstanding All Around Volunteer: Rhonda Fisher

ACTING AWARDS

Actress in a Leading Role (Tie): Amy Allen Farmer as Little/Big Edie in “Grey Gardens” & Kacy Hope as Donna Sheridan in “Mamma Mia”

 Actor in a Leading Role: Christopher Watson as Robert in “Boeing, Boeing”

Supporting Actress in a Musical: Sara Beth Gerard-Summers as Tanya in “Mamma Mia”

Actress in a Supporting Role: Cathy O’Brien as Gretchen in “Boeing, Boeing”

Supporting Actor in a Musical: Bill Ratliff as Sam Carmichael in “Mamma Mia”

Actor in a Supporting Role: Geoffrey King in “Wolf Hall”

 Outstanding Performance by a Juvenile: Caitlyn Fennell as Scout in “To Kill a Mocking Bird”

PRODUCTION AWARDS

Outstanding Costumes: “Wolf Hall”

Outstanding Set: “Mama Mia”

Outstanding Properties & Set Dressing: “Grey Gardens”

Outstanding Lighting Design: “Wolf Hall”

Outstanding production: “Boeing, Boeing.

After the presentation of awards, the attendees were wined and dined with delicious food prepared by Anthony’s Gourmet Catering.

Theatre Jacksonville’s Executive Director Sarah Boone concluded the exciting evening with drawings for door prizes donated by many businesses based in San Marco and throughout Jacksonville, to the delight of the many fortunate recipients.

It was a fantastic evening for those who attended; a great opportunity to meet and greet theatre folks and members. Thanks go to the staff of Theatre Jacksonville for making this one of the highlights of the 2017 – 2018 season.

The theatre has another outstanding season planned for the 2018 – 2019 season, which begins with the classic “Arsenic and Old Lace” on September 14, 2018; the productions runs through September 30. Visit theatrejax.org or call 396-4425 for reservations.

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/07/27/theatre-jacksonvilles-98th-volunteer-awards/


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