Red Soul Days Sheds Light on Abuse Victims

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A week of events begins tonight with the Joss Whedon Burlesque Show at Market Street Pub & Cabaret. Other events are planned at The Midnight and Maude’s Side Car Bar. 

Joss Whedon surrounded by many of the characters he created in Buffy the Vampire slayer, Angel and other shows.

Joss Whedon surrounded by many of the characters he created in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and other shows.

Rachel Wayne has personal reasons for organizing Red Soul Days, a semi-annual pop-up art festival that raises awareness about sexual and gendered violence while empowering victims.

“I was bullied as a kid, albeit not badly, but it leaves a mark on you,” Wayne said. “As an adult, I am a survivor of intimate partner abuse.”

joss-posterWayne added that her situation is not rare. Many more people are sexually assaulted than ever gets reported to police. One reason is that many people don’t consider themselves victims because they know their assailant or because of the shame they feel.

And that’s where Red Soul Days come in. The series of events in downtown Gainesville use art, music, performance art, spoken word and theatre as means of getting the message out about sex and gender/race and ethnicity issues of violence and discrimination in the workplace, schools, the media, and interpersonal relationships.

The activities begin tonight with what is being billed as Sequins, Stakes and Starships: The Joss Whedon Burlesque Show at Market Street Pub & Cabaret, 112 SW 1st Ave. Doors open at 9 p.m. and the Vaudeville-style show begins at 10. There is an $8 admission, with a portion of the proceeds going to support Red Soul Days and local charities.

Wayne said that the theme was chosen because Whedon is a Hollywood screenwriter and director known for introducing nontraditional characters in his TV shows and films, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse.

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Hippodrome Family Says Goodbye to Rusty Salling

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Family, friends and colleagues shared heartwarming stories and humorous tales about the late Hippodrome actor during a Celebration of Life on the stage where he performed for 43 years.


In 35 years at UF, Dr. Albert Wehlberg taught more than 45,000 students in the School of Theatre and Dance. One of those students, a wiry youngster from Jacksonville by the name of Rusty Salling, entered his Stagecraft 1 classroom in September 1969 and never truly left the building.

Hippodrome artistic director Lauren Warhol Caldwell shares a story about Rusty Salling. Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Hippodrome artistic director Lauren Warhol Caldwell shares a story about Rusty Salling. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

“He enjoyed class, but mostly when I dismissed class early,” Wehlberg said of his former pupil, who would go on to a long career in theatre.

“Technical theatre wasn’t his favorite subject,” Wehlberg said later. “In fact, he probably thought it was a pain in the ass because I made him work.”

But Wehlberg, now 79, came to admire his pupil’s work and said as much on Monday night during a Celebration of Life for Salling at the Hippodrome Theatre. About 200 people, including family, friends, fellow actors and admirers, attended the two-hour tribute on the mainstage where Salling performed for more than four decades.

“He did well,” Dr. Wehlberg said of Salling. “He always used to make a funny sound whenever I complimented him on a production. I don’t know where that sound came from!”

Wehlberg was one of more than a dozen speakers to share a story or two about Salling on a night that included some tears but mostly laughter for a man who was bigger than life on stage but otherwise a humble and private individual. Dan Jesse, a longtime friend of Salling, emceed the Celebration of Life.

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Patticakes’ Grand Opening Sweet News for Plaza

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The new café/bakery at Bo Diddley Plaza will have a grand-opening celebration on Tuesday morning with giveaways and a special cupcake as a fundraiser for Pace Center for Girls.

Some of the cupcakes selection offered at Patticakes. Photograph by Gainesville Downtown)

Some of the homemade cupcakes offered at Patticakes. (Photograph by Gainesville Downtown)

Downtown Gainesville finally has a cafe dedicated to providing coffee and tasty breakfast items six mornings a week. Patticakes opened last week in a brand-new building on the northeast corner of Bo Diddley Plaza, at 185 E. University Ave.

The entrance to Patticakes on East University Avenue.

The entrance to Patticakes on East University Avenue.

“I think working professionals appreciate the ability to enjoy a good breakfast before heading to the office,” said Erin Leigh Patterson, whose parents, Jan and David Patterson, have operated Patticakes at Haile Plantation Village Center for the past five years.

The new Patticakes, adjacent to Alachua County Civil Justice Center, also serves paninis, cold sandwiches, salad, baked goods and ice cream throughout the day and evening.

On Tuesday, Patticakes will celebrate its grand opening with a 9 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Gainesville City Manager Anthony Lyons and other dignitaries. Those attending will be able to sample coffees and breakfast goodies. There will be hourly giveaways of coffee and merchandise.

A “Toast to Patticakes” will take place from 5-7 p.m. with free mini-cupcakes being handed out. Also, Patticakes will be selling a special Mocha Cappuccino Crunch cupcake all day for $3.50 that includes a free small house coffee. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Pace Center for Girls.

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Hippodrome Costume Sale Offers Some Surprises

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During a two-day sale this weekend, the Hippodrome is giving the public a rare opportunity to purchase clothing items used in various mainstage productions over the years.

Shoes in all sizes and shapes will be for sale during the Hipp Costume Extravaganza. Photo by Gainesville downtown)

Shoes in all sizes and shapes will be for sale during the Hipp Costume Sale Extravaganza. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

On Thursday afternoon, the basement of the Hippodrome Theatre resembled a cross between a thrift shop and a movie studio’s wardrobe department.

Stacie and an owl costume

The Hippodrome’s Stacie Danahy poses with an owl costume. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Everything from furs and wedding gowns to men’s jackets and military uniforms lined several clothing racks. Nearby, dozens of pairs of shoes, headpieces and masks were arranged on tables. Almost all the items were worn in performances on the Hippodrome mainstage. Each told a unique story.

For example, a mermaid outfit from last season’s production of Peter and the Starcatcher is available for purchase.

“That’s my favorite costume of all!” said Ansley Pentz, an intern with the Hipp’s Public Programs department.

For the first time since 2010, Gainesville’s only professional theater company has cleaned out its closet. This weekend, the Hipp Costume Sale Extravaganza will offer shoppers the opportunity to buy the theater’s historic wardrobe inventory, including handmade accessories.

The Hipp event will feature pieces fit for every budget and style. Items start at $10. Others are in the hundreds of dollars. Continue reading

‘These Shining Lives’ Heartfelt, Heartbreaking

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The Acrosstown Repertory Theatre begins its 36th season with a sorrowful play by Melanie Marnich that dramatizes the perils many women once faced in the workplace.

From left, Emma Grimm Catherine), Jessica Arnold Pearl), Norma Berger Frances) and Carlyn Howells

From left, Emma Grimm (Catherine), Norma Berger (Frances), Jessica Arnold (Pearl) and Carlyn Howells (Charlotte) star in These Shining Lives opening Friday at the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre. (Photograph by Gainesville Downtown)

“This isn’t a fairytale, though it starts out like one. It’s not a tragedy, though it ends like one. It’s something else. We’re something else. …”

Tom Adam Lishawa) examines a gift from his wife Catherine Emma Grimm)

Tom Donohue (Adam Lishawa) examines a foreboding gift from his wife, Catherine (Emma Grimm), in a scene from These Shining Lives. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

And with those opening lines from character/narrator Catherine Donohue, the tone is set for These Shining Lives, the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre’s (ART) 2016-17 season-opening production that will take audiences on an emotional journey into the lives of four ill-fated women.

The play tells the real-life story of four female workers who, in the 1920s, painted the tiny numerals on the faces of watches for the Radium Watch Dial Company only to discover that the luminous compound gave them radiation poisoning.

“They’re good, honest women and, through no fault of their own, they lose everything,” said Laura Jackson, who jumped at the opportunity to direct These Shining Lives for the Acrosstown. “It’s a very touching story.”

The play opens Friday night at 8 at the theater located in the Historic Baird Center, 619 S. Main St. Performances will take place Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through Oct. 2. Tickets are $15, with discounts for students, seniors, military personnel and veterans.

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Matheson Exhibit Examines Area’s Healthcare Legacy

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A new exhibit at the Matheson History Museum will cure your curiosity for knowledge about the storied history of medical practice in Gainesville and the region.

Matheson Museum Executive Director Peggy Macdonald and museum board member Mae Clark in front of a display case that is part of the Medical Milestones exhibit. )Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Matheson Museum Executive Director Peggy Macdonald, left, and museum board member Mae Clark in front of a display case of medical items from the collection of Dr. Mark Barrow. (Photographs by Gainesville Downtown)

A display case in the Matheson History Museum’s newest exhibit holds a fascinating assortment of vintage tins, bottles and small cardboard boxes that once contained medications used to treat just about every malady.

A midwife's uniform from the early 20th century.

A midwife’s uniform from the early 20th century.

One wooden box is imprinted with the words “Cocaine and Epinephrin” and once contained 100 capsules (or “carpules”) intended to treat toothaches. For obvious reasons, you won’t find such a product on today’s drugstore shelves.

Another corner of the exhibit hall includes a midwife’s uniform from the 1930s. The white cotton dress has visible stains from the birthing duties once performed by its owner.

Those are just two gems to be discovered in an informative exhibit titled “Medical Milestones: Transitions in Health and Wellness in Alachua County.” The exhibit opened this week and can be viewed Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. through Dec. 23 at the Matheson Museum, 513 E. University Ave.

The exhibit, curated by Matheson Museum Executive Director Dr. Peggy Macdonald, examines the rich history of medicine in the area, including the use of nearby natural springs for their healing powers, the evolution of the medical community here, the founding and growing significance of the UF College of Medicine, and the rise of natural childbirth in and around Gainesville.

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Local Author Showcase Strictly by the Book

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The Alachua County Library District is hosting an event on Saturday that shines the spotlight on a dozen area writers who have been published.

Hugh E. Suggs, with his wife of 35 years, Janet, in front of their Gainesville home. Photo by Raphael Michael/Gainesville Downtown)

Hugh E. Suggs and wife Janet in front of their Gainesville home. (Photo by Raphael Michael/Gainesville Downtown)

Hugh E. Suggs has performed many duties in his life to put food on the table for his family of six. He’s worked construction, laid down carpet, managed restaurants, sold cars, taught grade school and done landscaping work, among other things.

local authors showcaseBut not anymore. Now, Suggs is a writer.

Earlier this summer, the Gainesville resident self-published “Stepping on Cracks,” a creepy novel about a serial killer lurking around the University of Florida. Suggs is preparing to release two more books in the coming year — one containing poetry and the other a series of short stories based on his life.

“Writing is what I love to do,” Suggs said the other day from his home in the Duckpond neighborhood of downtown Gainesville.

On Saturday, Hughes will be one of 12 writers featured during the Local Author Showcase at the downtown Headquarters Library, 401 E. University Ave. The others are Stephen Smitherman, Theodore Josiha Haig, Sandra Gail Lambert, Caroline Anaya, Nancy Rankie Shelton, Stephanie Smith, Terri Depue, Sandra “Lee” Phillips, Glenn Vellekamp, Richard Gartree and Melinda Grimmage.

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New Pizza Restaurant Spelled V for Victorious

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V Pizza, which opened last week in a prime spot in downtown Gainesville, has gone to great lengths to bring authentic Neapolitan-style pizza to town. All the way to Italy, in fact.

Executive Chef Matt Kepp in front of one of two wood-fired ovens at V Pizza Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Executive Chef Matt Kepp in front of one of two wood-fired ovens at V Pizza (Photos by Gainesville Downtown)

Most everyone can agree that Gainesville has its share of pretty decent pizza joints. After all, this is a college town, where pizza plays an essential role at the top of many students’ food pyramid.

Now we’re pleased to report that downtown Gainesville has a great pizza restaurant.

A pepperoni pizza from V Pizza.

A pepperoni pizza from V Pizza.

V Pizza is the new guy on the block, and it’s a premium location at 115 SE 1st St., on the ground floor of the Hampton Inn in the large, open space formerly occupied by Vello’s.

“When you think of pizza, you think of greasy and fattening, right?” said Matt Kepp, executive chef for V Pizza. “With our pizza, you can eat the whole pie and feel good about eating it.”

That’s because V Pizza uses only premium ingredients with no preservatives and chemicals. Better yet, the dough, cheese, tomato sauce and most other toppings have Italian connections.

And everything the restaurant cooks, including piping-hot calzone and stromboli, is baked in massive wood-fired ovens made from clay molds and soil from the base of Mount Vesuvius. Yes, that Mount Vesuvius!

“We get the ovens up to 900 degrees, and that allows us to cook our pizzas in 90 seconds,” Kepp said. “The intense heat allows the pizza dough to puff up and become nice and airy. It all translates into great flavor.”

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Less Than Jake Home for Wake N Bake Weekend

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The Gainesville-based band has been around the world more than a few times, but on Labor Day weekend you can count on them to perform for their hometown fans at High Dive. 

Less Than Jake relaxes at a hometown hangout, Satchels Pizza.

Less Than Jake relaxes at everybody’s favorite hometown hangout, Satchel’s Pizza.

Does it really seem like Less Than Jake, which began its rise to stardom from simple Gainesville roots, is beginning its 25th year as a band?

“Absolutely not!” said Vinnie Fiorello, the band’s drummer and co-founder with Chris DeMakes. “It feels like the blink of an eye.”

Chris DeMakes performs with Less Than Jake.

Guitarist and band co-founder Chris DeMakes performs with Less Than Jake.

That’s because Less Than Jake, the five-member ska punk band, has maintained a fast and furious pace for the past quarter-century, recording eight studio albums, keeping a tour schedule that would burn out many musicians and creating what Fiorello calls “an unshakable bond.”

“What I do know is that we’ve been through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows together, and that the rest of the dudes that I share a stage with may not be blood, but they are most definitely my brothers and they’re most definitely my family,” Fiorello said.

To show appreciation to their hometown fans, the band is hosting its fifth annual Less Than Jake Wake N Bake Weekend over the Labor Day holiday at High Dive in downtown Gainesville.

The fun begins tonight with Less Than Jake headlining a Night 1 concert that also includes Morning Fatty, Kash’d Out and Dr/veways. On Saturday night, the Night 2 lineup includes LTJ, Peelander-Z, The Busdrivers and Bothering Dennis. Tickets to each night are $15 in advance and $18 at the door.

“It’s all to celebrate Gainesville, man!” Fiorello said. “It’s a simple thing. A few years ago, we found that while we were touring a lot, we were neglecting our hometown, that we were neglecting Gainesville.

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Hot, Heavy ‘Stage Kiss’ Begins Hipp’s 44th Season

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Prepare yourself for an excess of kissing and laughter as the Hippodrome Theatre and UF School of Theatre + Dance present a romantic comedy by Sarah Ruhl.

Stephanie Lynge and David Patrick Ford embrace in Stage Kiss. Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

Stephanie Lynge and David Patrick Ford embrace in a scene from Stage Kiss. (Photos by Gainesville Downtown)

There’s plenty of chemistry going on during the production of Stage Kiss, which kicks off the 44th season of the Hippodrome Theatre this week in downtown Gainesville.

The steamy story by Sarah Ruhl involves two actors who rekindle a torrid love affair after discovering they’ve been cast as lovers in a new play. What follows is a two-hour smooch-fest sprinkled with witty dialogue and topped with a poignant message that should leave audiences feeling warm and fuzzy.

hipp logoBut the most impressive chemistry is not between the actors, but rather between the Hippodrome and the UF School of Theatre + Dance. For the fourth year in a row, the two Gainesville institutions are partnering their resources to present a production the entire community can fully embrace. (But not that way!)

“The annual co-production formalizes what has long been a strong relationship between the two,” said Tim Altmeyer, the UF acting professor directing Stage Kiss. “In the words of Beyonce, they put a ring on it —and it’s a mutually beneficial marriage!”

Stage Kiss will have previews tonight and Thursday night leading up to Friday’s Opening Night performance. There will be eight performances a week through Sept. 25 at the Hippodrome Theatre, 25 SE 2nd Place.

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