Hippodrome Holiday Treats Worth Savoring

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The Hippodrome Theatre presents Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for the 39th consecutive year and The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged) for the first time, just for laughs.


From left, David Patrick Ford, Matthew Lindsay and Mark Chambers offer tidings of good cheer during The Ultimate Christmas Show Abridged)

From left, David Patrick Ford, Matthew Lindsay and Mark Chambers offer tidings of good cheer during The Ultimate Christmas (Abridged) at the Hippodrome Theatre. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

No one can accuse the Hippodrome Theatre of being part of the so-called “War on Christmas.” Not when both holiday shows opening this weekend have Christmas in their titles.

On Friday night at 8, the Hippodrome debuts The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged), a madcap comedy about three men scrambling to stage a Christmas variety show after the scheduled performers pull a no-show. On Saturday afternoon at 2 and 4, the Hipp continues a Gainesville holiday tradition with the opening performances of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

The Ultimate Christmas Show (Abridged) will have seven performances a week through Dec. 18. A Christmas Carol will have two performances each Saturday through Dec. 17 and then have six additional performances Dec. 19-22. (The company also performs the play 15 times for Alachua County schoolchildren on weekday mornings.)

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Final Weekend Ahead for Market Street Pub

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The bar and nightclub on Southwest 1st Avenue will close its doors following Saturday night’s one final burlesque show.


dscn3055The owners of Market Street Pub & Cabaret, home to weekly burlesque shows and an eclectic mix of other entertainment for the past two years, have decided not to renew their lease.

The club at 112 SW 1st Ave., next door to Loosey’s, will close Saturday night after the Market Street Revue burlesque troupe performs one final time under that name.

“It’s going to be sad,” said Market Street Pub co-owner Tony Grezlik, who said it cost upward of $10,000 a month to run the place. “Money is the biggest issue.”

Grezlik and Jill Dumas took over the location in March 2015 and were determined to take the historic building and create a bar space where performance art thrived. They succeeded by lining up burlesque acts, circus sideshow acts, aerialists, magicians, puppeteers, comedians, live bands and singing troupes.

The only problem, Grezlik said, was that people generally visited Market Street Pub only during shows and didn’t patronize the bar at other times. Karaoke and trivia nights never generated strong interest. Also, a weekly comedy show struggled to find an audience.

“If we didn’t have a show, that space did not make money,” he said.

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‘Telling Gainesville’ Brings War Stories Home

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Just in time for Veterans Day, the Actors’ Warehouse offers a stage production in which five Gainesville area residents — none with formal acting experience — share their heartfelt military experiences.


Veterans

From left, veterans Victor Lopez, Scott Camil, Rafe Johnson and Andrew Moore “recite the oath” during Telling Gainesville. (Photos by Gainesville Downtown)

Every soldier returning home from war has a story to tell. Andrew Moore will tell you about attending 20 memorial services in three weeks for fallen comrades in Iraq. Victor Lopez will tell you how he was scared of being shot in Afghanistan. Rafe Johnson will tell you about the racism he encountered serving his country in the Navy. Scott Camil will tell you how he defended his country with honor in Vietnam only to feel betrayed by that same nation upon his return home.

Sue Dudley

Sue Dudley gives the perspective of a military wife during Telling Gainesville.

Now, all Gainesville has to do is sit. And listen.

The four U.S. war veterans, along with former military wife Sue Dudley, will be on stage sharing their stories beginning this week in Telling Gainesville: A Soldier’s Narrative of War, a series of performances at the Actors’ Warehouse, 608 N. Main St.

There will be a preview performance Thursday night at 8. Opening night is Friday. Five additional performances will take place over the next two weekends. Free tickets are available by reserving them on the Actors’ Warehouse website. (Only Friday night’s performance is sold out so far. Seating is limited.)

Each two-hour performance will conclude with a discussion moderated by Dr. Paul Ortiz, director of the award-winning Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at UF.

Presented by the UF Center for Arts in Medicine and the UF Center for European Studies, Telling Gainesville is the latest effort of The Telling Project. The national organization uses theater to further the understanding of the military and veterans’ experience.

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Downtown Festival Attracts Best in Art, Artists

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The 35th Downtown Festival & Art Show will not only showcase 240 visual artists competing for $20,000 in prizes but also put the spotlight on a variety of performance artists on four stages.


"Life Imitates Art," an acrylic painting by Miriam Novack.

“Life Imitates Art,” an acrylic painting by Miriam Novack, will be on display this weekend.

Miriam Novack said being an artist is “a solitary job.” Working in a studio can be a lonely task with little interaction with other people.

Jim Harrison's poster design.

Jim Harrison’s poster design depicts a sand hill crane.

That is why Novack and many other artists enjoy displaying their work at art festivals such as the 35th Downtown Festival & Art Show, which takes place this weekend on the streets of downtown Gainesville.

“It’s the payoff,” she said. “It’s so exciting because people are generally kind and appreciative and make you feel like a million bucks. That’s why I never get tired of doing shows.”

Novack will be one of some 240 artists displaying their works in all mediums during the Gainesville show, which is consistently ranked among the top art shows in the nation. Upward of 100,000 people are expected to attend the two-day event, which is open Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

“And it looks like the weather is going to cooperate!” said Sunny Andrei, events coordinator for the City of Gainesville and in her first year in charge of the art festival. “It’s going to be beautiful.”

The forecast calls for clear skies with high temperatures in the 70s both days. A light breeze might give the air an autumn-like chill.

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Alpin, Tamal Add Flavor to Local Restaurant Scene

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Are you sure about building that wall? In the past two weeks, a pair of family-owned eateries have expanded downtown Gainesville’s dining options well beyond our borders. 


Rachel and Nicholas Iannelli in front of their former food cart at Tamal. Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Rachel and Nicholas Iannelli behind their former food cart at Tamal. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Unbeknownst to each other, two determined couples spent the long, hot summer putting love, sweat and tears into a pair of dining establishments that are now helping to give downtown Gainesville more of an international flair.

Romain Challandes in the open-air kitchen he built inside Alpin. Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Romain Challandes in the open-air kitchen he built inside Alpin. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Alpin, a French bistro owned by Romain and Sita Marlier Challandes, opened earlier this month at 15 SW 2nd St., in a space formerly occupied by the Motor Room lounge.

Tamal, a storefront tamale shop owned by Nicholas and Rachel Iannelli, is now open for business four days a week at 439 Main St., in the complex that also includes the Civic Media Center and Wild Iris Books.

“This is Mom and Pop comfort food — nothing fancy,” Rachel Iannelli said about her 15-seat eatery that opens at noon Thursday through Sunday and closes each day whenever the last tamale is sold.

During the first two weeks of operation, Tamal has sold out of that day’s supplies of handmade tamales by 5 p.m.

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Actors’ Warehouse Ready to Begin Fifth Season

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The intimate playhouse on North Main Street opens its 2016-17 season with a Sunday matinee of Beautiful Thing, a coming-of-age story set in 1990s’ London.


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From left, Kevin Anderson, Paulina Oswald, Anna Marie Kirkpatrick and Jonah Stokes in Beautiful Thing. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Traditionally, theaters open shows on Friday nights to get the most attention. The Actors’ Warehouse, however, likes to do things in an unconventional manner.

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Ste (Kevin Anderson) and Jamie (Jonah Stokes) are friends who fall in love with each other in Beautiful Thing. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

The intimate, 60-seat theater at 608 N. Main St., begins its fifth season today with a Sunday matinee performance of Jonathan Harvey’s coming-of-age story Beautiful Thing. The British play, with its gay theme, also helps kick off Gainesville Pride Week, which culminates Saturday with a noon parade down University Avenue and Pride Festival to follow at Bo Diddley Plaza.

Beautiful Thing is the story of two teenage boys, one an introvert and the other an athlete, who live in the same East London housing project during the 1990s as the AIDS crisis is sweeping the globe. Over time, the boys become aware of their sexual attraction to each other.

“I believe this play is so important,” director Kathy Byrne said, “because, even though it is far easier to come out as a homosexual or gender-different individual in our current generation, there is still a lot of fear and misunderstanding on this topic.”

Beautiful Thing continues through Oct. 30 with performances on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15, $10 for students, seniors and groups of six or more.

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‘Commander’ Just the Ticket This Political Season

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Can’t get enough political divisiveness these days? Try tossing an openly gay man into the presidential race and see what happens. The Acrosstown Repertory Theatre does just that in its latest production. 


From left,

From left, Ned Worley (Adam Lishawa), his partner Richard (Milo Brooks) and political consultants Frank (Michael Glover) and Zack (Joshua Evangelista) discuss campaign strategy in Commander. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

America took more than 230 years to elect its first black president. Now most indications point to the U.S. choosing its first female president within the next month.

Ned Worley Adam Lishawa) ponders his decision to run for president. Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Ned Worley (Adam Lishawa) ponders his decision to run for president. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

And that raises a valid question: Does the possibility exist for an openly gay person to occupy the Oval Office?

Such is the premise of Commander, a dark comedy making its Florida debut this week at the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre (ART), in the Historic Baird Center at 619 S. Main St.

The play has a $5 cash-only preview performance Thursday night at 8. Opening Night is Friday, when tickets are $15 ($13 for students, seniors, veterans and retired military). The play continues through Oct. 30 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 and on Sundays at 2 p.m.

“It’s a wonderful time to do a play about an interesting candidate for president,” said Karelisa Hartigan, who is directing Commander. “We definitely wanted it to run before Election Day.”

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Hippodrome’s ‘Baby Jane’ Ventures Into Dark Places

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Bryan Mercer and Mark Chambers channel Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, respectively, in a stage parody of the 1962 psychological thriller Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?


Baby Jane Hudosn Bryan Mercer) serves up trouble to sister Blanche Mark Chambers) in Whatevre Happened to Baby Jane?

Baby Jane Hudson (Bryan Mercer) serves up trouble to sister Blanche (Mark Chambers) in a scene from Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? at the Hippodrome Theatre. (Photograph by Gainesville Downtown)

As a teenager, Bryan Mercer got one of the biggest thrills of his young life when he and his mother attended a lecture by film legend Bette Davis in Daytona Beach.

Baby Jane Bryan Mercer) senses trouble with the neighbors Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Baby Jane (Bryan Mercer) senses the neighbors getting a little nosy. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Although Davis was well beyond her prime as one of Hollywood’s most beloved leading ladies, the two-time Oscar-winning actress made a lasting impression on Mercer.

“I remember her power!” Mercer said. “I was struck by how small she was physically, but she seemed to fill the stage. At 14 I had no vocabulary for it, but I remember the feeling of awe I had.”

That was in 1974. More than 40 years later, Mercer is paying the ultimate homage to Davis by inhabiting one of her classic film roles on stage at the Hippodrome Theatre. For the next four weeks, Mercer will amp it up as the adult Baby Jane Hudson in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

The production has previews tonight and Thursday night at 7 on the Hippodrome mainstage before Friday’s Opening Night at 8. The play continues through Nov. 6 with eight performances a week.

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Dance Alive Set for Entertaining Season

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With their first half-century behind them, Dance Alive National Ballet is surging into the 2016-17 season, beginning with a Meet the Dancers event on Saturday at Pofahl Studios.


Many members of the Dance Alive National Ballet company at Pofahl Studios. (Photo by Gainesville downtown)

Members of the Dance Alive National Ballet company pose at Pofahl Studios. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

One of the first things that people familiar with Dance Alive National Ballet (DANB) will notice about the new season is that the company’s roster has grown from 12 to 16 principal dancers.

Kim Tuttle, left, Judy Skinner and principal dancer Jessie Dominguez.

Kim Tuttle, left, Judy kinner and principal dancer Jessie Dominguez Reyes. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Accomplished dancers have arrived from Brazil, Ukraine, Cuba and, yes, Virginia, to give the Gainesville-based professional dance company one of its strongest ensembles ever.

“They’re all wonderful dancers with beautiful techniques and lines,” said Kim Tuttle, executive/artistic director and choreographer-in-residence for DANB. “They also have great performability and are very hard workers. We couldn’t be happier.”

On Saturday at 2 p.m., the public can get up close and personal with many of the performers during the DANB’s annual Meet the Dancers event at Pofahl Studios, 1325 NW 2nd St. Tickets are $25 and available at the door, although seating is limited.

Attendees will be able to watch vignettes from upcoming productions of Dracula, Vampyra, Rhapsody In Blue and L’Amour plus a work created for DANB’s new Cuban principal, Jessie Dominguez Reyes, by Gainesville’s Ani Collier. A catered reception will follow.

Tuttle, who took over the DANB’s artistic reins 30 years ago, said the strength of her principal dancers is their versatility and balance.

“It’s hard to believe that there are people from all over the world here in Gainesville that are international award-winning stars,” she said.

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Thomas Center Exhibit Explores Womanhood

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EVE :: Woman from Archetype to Abstraction, featuring more than 35 works from a wide variety of local and regional artists, opens this week at the Thomas Center.


"Releasing Pink," by Amy Freeman

“Releasing Pink,” by Amy Freeman

In Amy Freeman’s large-scale painting titled “Releasing Pink,” more than a dozen flamingos have seemingly taken over the living room of an apartment.

Curator Anne E. Gilroy wipes down the frame of a painting.

Curator Anne E. Gilroy wipes down the frame of the painting “I Am No Bird,” by Brianna Angelakis.

A quilt pattern dominates the left side of the painting. On the right, a pregnant woman leans back against a wall and stares at the viewer, the exhausting task of imminent motherhood etched on her tired face.

“The woman is pregnant with a girl,” Freeman said. “The pink flamingos represent the weight of that child. The quilt pattern is taking over, creating this child.”

The captivating painting is one of 36 pieces that will be on display through Jan. 10, 2017, as part of the exhibit titled “EVE :: Woman from Archetype to Abstraction” in the Mezzanine Gallery at the Historic Thomas Center, 302 NE 6th Ave.

An opening reception for the exhibit takes place Friday night from 7-10 as part of Artwalk Gainesville. There will be open waltzing downstairs in the Spanish Court with the Gainesville Old-Time Dance Society and Thomas Royal at the piano. Refreshments will be served. The public is invited.

The exhibit spotlights 30 artists, including 11 from the Gainesville area. “EVE :: Woman from Archetype to Abstraction” includes paintings, sculpture, photography, mixed media, drawings, collage, mosaic, digital art and etchings.

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