tampabay.com

Theater hopes to revive past with flicks

By BARBARA FREDRICKSEN
Published February 17, 2007


Grab your umbrellas.

It seems that Singin' in the Rain will be all over Pasco County in the coming weeks.

Not only will the musical favorite be splashing around live at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre for eight weeks starting Feb. 23, the 1952 movie itself is going to be shown on the new screen at Richey Suncoast Theatre at 7:30 p.m. March 3.

The beloved musical is kicking off a classic movie series at the old theater, which was once named the Meighan Theatre in honor of silent movie

idol Thomas Meighan, who lived in New Port Richey and dreamed of making it the film capital of the world.

The movie is free, thanks to Friends of the New Port Richey Library, who paid the $350 performance rights.

It's all part of a growing partnership between the library and the theater, which also joined to do the Shakespeare by the River festival that continues today and Sunday in Sims Park, at the library and at the theatre.

It's also part of theater manager Charlie Skelton's dream of having something going on at the theater as many days and nights as possible.

Earlier this week, he was playing host to a string of building contractors who came from all over the Tampa Bay area to bid on the interior renovation job being underwritten by the theater and the city of New Port Richey. It's the next-to-last element in a total makeover of the theater, which started in earnest five years ago and has continued almost nonstop since then.

(Backstage, dressing rooms, green room and storage areas will be the final phase.)

"It's so this great old building will be in her former glory," Skelton said of the downtown landmark.

Skelton is already thinking about future movie events. For starters, he'd like to have a "Marilyn Monroe Weekend" featuring one or more of her movies and a live Marilyn Monroe impersonator and entourage for a Hollywood-style reception.

Maybe we could all go in vintage dress, which, come to think of it, is mostly what's in my closet anyway.

Time warp again

Patrons at Stage West Community Playhouse saw him as the bigamist John Smith in 2002's farce, Run for Your Wife.

Those at Richey Suncoast Theatre saw him as the Artful Dodger in Oliver! and about a dozen other roles.

Those at Mitchell High School saw him as Nicely-Nicely Johnson in Guys and Dolls.

And now Justin Sargent's growing fan base can see him as Riff Raff, the demented "slave" to the creepy Frank N. Furter in the cult classic, Rocky Horror Picture Show, at the University of Central Florida.

Performances are March 29-31 and April 1, 3-5 and 11-15. Keeping with Rocky Horror tradition, four of the productions will be done at midnight on March 30 and 31 and April 13 and 14. The show is at the UCF Mainstage on the UCF campus. Google Maps has the best directions.

Tickets are $15 adult, $13 seniors, $10 for students. Call (407) 823-1500.

Music, music, music

I was delighted to get a notice that the Tarpon Springs Recreation Department will soon be revving up its annual season of concerts on Sunset Beach, starting March 1 with the band The Classics.

Like robins, the beach concerts seem like harbingers of spring and give me hope that this dreadful, bone-chilling weather will soon be gone.

The concerts go from 7 to 9 p.m., usually March through November, when the season ends with a big bonfire on the beach.

People come with beach chairs, blankets and picnic baskets. The rec department sells popcorn, hot dogs, hamburgers, soda and bottled water if you don't want to bother to take your own.

There are few things more enjoyable that sitting in a lounge chair, listening to live music and watching the sun go down over the gulf.

The concerts are free, but most people drop a couple of dollars into the basket when the Friends of Music on the Beach pass the hat.

The whole experience is well worth a long drive and a few bucks.