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St. Petersburg hosts and boasts some of the best talents

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[Publicity photo]
Tiffany Snyder, left, Kiley Holder, Alan Mohney Jr., Kim Wiggins, Dan Reda and Patricia Bates Smith are among the cast of the favorite Hello, Dolly!, presented by the Clearwater City Players this weekend.

By JOHN FLEMING

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 28, 2000


Another recital, another sellout. It's getting to be old hat for pianist Brian Ganz at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg.

Ganz's latest program, to be played Sunday afternoon in the 225-seat Marly Room, was sold out by Tuesday. Since 1985, the pianist from the Washington, D.C., area has given nearly annual recitals at the museum.

Part of the reason for Ganz's popularity is his relative informality. He speaks from the stage and makes the audience feel at home, mixing in some instruction -- sonata form explained, for example -- with remarks about what he is about to play.

This year's edition is an all-Chopin program that includes nocturnes, preludes, the Second Sonata in B-flat minor and other works by the composer once described by Ganz as "my absolute, perennial favorite."

In June, Ganz was one of the pianists featured in the National Symphony Orchestra's celebration of the piano series, to mark the 300th anniversary of the invention of the instrument.

And to what does Ganz owe his success in St. Petersburg? "I guess I could say I owe it to the level of music loving in the community," he said. "I also have kind of a love affair going with the audiences down there. I adore them, and I guess they like me, too."

WILSON -- People can say they knew him when: Patrick Wilson, who grew up in St. Petersburg, has principal roles on a pair of first-rate new musical theater recordings, plus he's in a show headed for a Broadway opening in the fall. Wilson plays an American newspaperman in Paris in the 1920s in Lucky in the Rain (DRG), a new musical of old standards by Jimmy McHugh with lyrics by Harold Adamson and Dorothy Fields, among others. It's from a production conceived and written by Sherman Yellen that premiered at Connecticut's Goodspeed Opera House in 1997. The cast includes Barbara Cook, Lillias White, Malcolm Gets and Debbie Gravitte.

Wilson, again playing a reporter, and Gravitte also star in Tenderloin (DRG), the 1960 musical comedy by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock about a preacher (played by David Ogden Stiers) who wants to clean up a raffish section of 1890s New York. The show was revived in an Encores! concert production in New York, with Rob Fisher conducting the Coffee Club Orchestra.

In October, Wilson is scheduled to be in the Broadway opening of The Full Monty, a musical by Terence McNally and David Yazbek based on the popular film. Its stripping steelworkers have been transplanted from Sheffield, England, to Buffalo, N.Y., for the stage version. Wilson has been with the production since its debut this year in San Diego.

DOLLY -- This summer's Clearwater City Players' production is Hello, Dolly!, with Patricia Bates Smith as matchmaker Dolly Levi. (Smith, a longtime Clearwater resident and performer in community theater, is a sister of Oscar winner Kathy Bates.) Directed by B.J. Pucci, the Jerry Herman musical has shows at 8 tonight and Saturday night and 2 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Tickets are $12. Call (727) 791-7400.

PEOPLE -- The Florida Orchestra's resident conductor, Thomas Wilkins, leads the National Symphony Orchestra Saturday evening as part of its Summer in the City series in Washington, D.C.

Bass Gabor Andrasy, a Holiday resident, had to drop out of Seattle Opera's summer production of Das Rheingold. Andrasy, who was to sing Fafner, needs surgery to replace a faulty cardiac valve. His prognosis is excellent, said his wife, Theresa Andrasy, a mezzo-soprano and voice teacher at the University of South Florida.

Burton H. Wolfe has been named executive and artistic director of the Players, the 71-year-old community theater in Sarasota.

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