Category Archives: The Arts

The Wait is Over for A-town’s ‘Waiting for Godot’

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The Acrosstown Repertory Theatre is staging Samuel Beckett’s absurd classic beginning this week. According to director Jessica Arnold, it’s a play that might make you question your very existence.

Pozzo (Esteban Alvarez) has a whimsical encounter with Vladimir (Adam Lishawa) and Estragon (Dean Carvalho) in a scene from Waiting for Godot. That’s Lucky (M. Reagle) face down on the ground. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown).

When playwright Samuel Beckett introduced his tragicomedy Waiting for Godot to audiences in Paris in 1953, it created an uproar in the literary world. The play was so different and intriguing to critics that they coined the phrase “Theater of the Absurd” to describe it and similar plays that followed.

Dean Carvalho (Estragon), left, and Adam Lishawa (Vladimir) reunite onstage in Waiting for Godot. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

The minimalist play features two eccentric characters, Vladimir and Estragon, who spend the entire performance under a withered tree on a remote path waiting for the arrival of someone named Godot. While patiently waiting for the play’s namesake to arrive, the two men engage in lively conversations about everything and nothing. They also encounter three other characters.

Beginning this week, the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre presents its own take on Waiting for Godot starring Adam Lishawa as Vladimir and Dean Carvalho as his long-time friend, Estragon. The play is directed by Jessica Arnold.

Performances begin tonight with a $5 preview at 8. Opening Night is Friday at 8. Tickets are $15 for the general public with discounts available for seniors, students with IDs, veterans and active military. The production continues through Feb. 5 with performances on Friday and Saturday nights at 8 and on Sunday afternoons at 2.

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Satanic Sock Puppet Rules Hilarious ‘Hand to God’

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The Hippodrome Theatre’s outrageous stage production, which opens this week, might make you wince or laugh with guilty pleasure. Just be sure to leave the kids at home!

Jason (Jon Kovach) and his sock puppet Tyrone don’t always see eye to eye. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

If Tyrone, the foul-mouthed antagonist in the play Hand to God, were a child, his disruptive behavior simply wouldn’t be tolerated. Under normal circumstances, he surely would spend most of his days alone in time-out.

The cast of Hand to God, including evil Tyrone. (Photo by Gainesville Downtown)

But these are not normal circumstances, and Tyrone is not a child. He’s not even human. He’s a sock puppet who speaks his mind without a filter. And, oh, that temper!

In the Hippodrome Theatre’s newest production, which opens Friday night, Tyrone transforms from Elmo cute to Chucky ugly before your very eyes. Whether you grin or grimace at his antics might just reveal the kind of person you are — or at least the mood you’re in at the moment.

“If you were to ask 15 people what they thought the play was about, depending on where we are in our lives, I think you’ll get 15 answers,” said director Lauren Warhol Caldwell. “That’s really great writing. And this is a really smart play.”

Leading up to Opening Night, Hand to God will have preview performances tonight and Thursday at 7. The production continues through Feb. 5 with eight performances a week. Tickets range from $30-$35, with discounts for students, seniors and military. (All tickets for the Tuesday, Jan. 17, show are only $10.) Continue reading

Dance Alive Continues ‘Nutcracker’ Tradition

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For the 51st year in a row, Gainesville’s professional ballet company presents the holiday spectacle — featuring Tchaikovsky’s iconic music — onstage at the Curtis M. Phillips Center on the UF campus.

Fhilipe Teixeira and Carla Amancio in Spirits of the Forest Photo by Monica Nielsen)

Dance Alive principals Fhilipe Teixeira and Carla Amancio in The Nutcracker’s “Spirits of the Forest.” (Photo by Monica Sue Nielsen)

When Gainesville’s Dance Alive National Ballet first performed The Nutcracker in the mid-1960s, Judy Skinner and Kim Tuttle were teenagers in the middle of all the action during the magical “Kingdom of the Sweets.”

The Nutcracker Prince Photo by Monica Sue Nielsen)

The Nutcracker Prince (Photo by Monica Sue Nielsen)

“Kim was ‘Russian’ soloist and I was ‘Spanish’ soloist,” Skinner said. “And we both danced ‘Waltz of the Flowers’ – my favorite at the time.”

Fifty-one years and hundreds of performances later, the sisters remain actively involved with The Nutcracker, albeit away from the spotlight. Tuttle is Dance Alive’s executive artistic director while Skinner serves as the company’s choreographer-in-residence.

Both will again be in the wings of UF’s Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts this weekend, orchestrating three performances of The Nutcracker — Friday night at 7:30 and Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2. Tickets range from $17-$45 and can be purchased at the Phillips Center box office or online at UF Performing Arts (

The Nutcracker, first performed in Russia in 1892, has been a Gainesville tradition for more than half a century — and for good reason, Tuttle said.

“The music, the story, the time of year,” she said. “Christmas is the biggest international holiday that is common to so many countries, so [The Nutcracker] is popular virtually everywhere.”

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Acrosstown Theatre Puts Playwrights in Spotlight

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Six stage readings, all created by local playwrights, will take place over four days this weekend at the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre on South Main Street.


Fans of local theater are in for a treat beginning Thursday when the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre presents its fourth annual installment of the Gainesville Homegrown Local Playwrights’ Showcase.

The Showcase gives local playwrights an opportunity to see how their plays work with real actors and real audiences so that they can tweak them before submitting them for consideration as mainstage events.

“It’s an opportunity to be the first ones to hear a new work that hasn’t been spoken anywhere else,” said Meagan Reagle, one of the organizers of the four-day event held at the theater at 619 S. Main Street, in the Historic Baird Hardware Center.

Reagle is also directing one of the plays, Bond, which is scheduled for Friday night at 8. Written by Aliza Einhorn, Bond is a tragic comedy about family dynamics following the bizarre death of a family pet. The play stars Reagle, Adam Lishawa, Wilfredo Gonzalez and Carolyne Salt, who happens to be president of the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre.

Although Reagle didn’t provide any spoilers, she did say that in Bond, “Everyone’s waiting for this one moment to happen, and when it does, it’s ‘Thank you!'”

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Holiday Artwalk Features DNA Gallery Reception

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Nava Ottenberg and Eric Bushnell will be among the artists showcased tonight during Artwalk Gainesville. They will have an opening reception at the DNA by the Hand of Man Gallery. 

Fishbone sculpture, by Eric Bushnell, on display at the DNA by the Hand of Man Gallery.

Fishbone sculpture, by Eric Bushnell, on display at the DNA by the Hand of Man Gallery.

If not for Nava Ottenberg and Eric Bushnell, it’s quite likely that downtown Gainesville would be void of public artwork. Together, they were instrumental in the installation of 22 sculptures that grace the sidewalks and courtyard of Union Street Station and the Sun Center.

Horses II, by Nava Ottenberg

Horses II, by Nava Ottenberg

Tonight, Ottenberg and Bushnell will collaborate again — this time for an art exhibition of their own works. An opening reception will take place for their show at the DNA by the Hand of Man Gallery, 218 NW 2nd Ave.

Ottenberg will display 40 of her paintings, many of which were created during a three-month visit to Italy earlier this year. Bushnell, a metal fabricator, will display nine sculptures he fashioned out of steel, aluminum and other materials.

“The exhibit is my way of thanking these two wonderful artists for all they have done for beautifying our community,” said Gerard Bencen, a lawyer who opened the DNA by the Hand of Man Gallery earlier this year.

The exhibit is one of the highlights of Artwalk Gainesville, which is taking place at 16 galleries and art spaces tonight around the downtown area. The self-guided tour combines visual art, live performances and other events.

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Giving Thanks Where Thanks is Due

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thanksHave you taken a look around downtown Gainesville lately? New eateries and other small businesses are opening on an almost-weekly basis. Fascinating exhibits are on display at museums and galleries. Memorable performances are taking place at local theaters.

There is also excitement in the air with the opening of Depot Park and the reopening of Bo Diddley Plaza this year. People are gathering downtown like never before.

Simply put, downtown Gainesville is a better place today than it was a year ago not because of large corporations and big money, but because of individuals who are passionate about what they do.

Today we recognize some of the individuals who have made and continue to make downtown Gainesville worth visiting and enjoying. (We have listed them alphabetically so as not to show favoritism, but we love them all!)

If we have left someone out, our apologies. Please let us know who also deserves our thanks! Continue reading

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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‘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.


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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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.


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.


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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