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Playing Around

Men and women are different. It’s the plain-as-day punch line of much relationship-driven comedy.

Lethargic men want to watch sports; fickle women desire undivided attention. Selfish men sweep problems under the rug; badgering women invent problems for the sake of discussing them.

The reason for all the tension? Men are from Mars, women are from Venus. Luckily, there’s manual for this sort of thing, and Peter Story, our “friendly resident Martian,” is here to bridge extraterrestrial barriers between the sexes. He’s traveled from afar to the Times Union Performing Arts Center, Jan. 14-17, to take this tired comedic formula a step further and bring something fresh to the relationship monologue — solutions.

Story takes the audience along on a recent date, a botched evening at the opera house ending in disdain from his wife because of his preoccupation with sports.

It’s a familiar scenario for many, and knowing glances between couples and nods of affirmation from Martians and Venusians alike show that Story’s quips and jabs are landing close to home.

While Story was mid-joke on Tuesday, Jan. 14, a woman who at first appeared to be part of the show approached the stage and set flowers at his feet. The resulting nonsensical exchange between her and the comedian revealed she was a heckler with too much liquid confidence.

Story appeared ready for anything on opening night for the four-show run, Jan. 14-17 at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Jacksonville.

One of the biggest laughs of the evening came from a 30-year veteran of marriage in the audience who, when asked what date he and his wife’s anniversary falls on, answered “Memorial Day.”

Further into the show, Story receives a phone call from his wife, which he takes. He plays it off as a surprise, but the resulting conversation segues seamlessly into his next bit about communication in a …   More


New Yorkers make great pizza and dreadful tourists. They claim their city as the center of the universe, and won’t let anybody forget it. But for one night on Feb. 1 at the Times-Union Performing Arts Center, we were the tourists, given a glimpse into the world of Broadway, a world that indeed has influenced our universe of entertainment.

"Broadway Rox," an ensemble of six talented singers and a backing band of authentic New York musicians brought Big Apple charm to the River City, promising to take the audience on a musical journey through 50 years of Broadway.

Half a century of ubiquitous, influential music is an ambitious journey, and "Broadway Rox" wasted no time getting into the thick of it. The show opened up with a medley of hits, ranging from rocker Jason Wooten’s "Jesus Christ Superstar," to Ashley Loren’s energetic rendition from "Footloose," to Green Day’s "21 Guns."

The performers encouraged the audience to sing along, and sometimes they did. On slower songs, like the haunting group a cappella of the Beatles' "Because," the audience stayed silent while the singers exercised their impressive range.

During his rendition of Jersey Boys’ "Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You," the charming Darren Ritchie serenaded one lucky lady in the audience — concluding with a quick apology to the gentleman she was with.

"Broadway Rox" got the audience fired up with the energetic, slightly campy "Time Warp" from "Rocky Horror Picture Show." From the first few notes, the performers were able to get much of the crowd — ranging from older couples to children — grooving and pelvic thrusting along to the signature dance from the Broadway hit.

The performance was moved to the more intimate Terry Theater at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. With a capacity of 600, the theater was packed, but no one seemed to mind.

While the first half of the show mostly kept the very tight and professional backing band in the periphery, the …   More


The smell of alcohol and fried food was in the air for the Jacksonville Jazz Festival on May 24. The streets were lined with chairs as festival attendees staked out their places. When Jacksonville residents show up for an event, they really show.

The Stooges Brass Band's jazzy sound straight out of New Orleans had people dancing in the streets. The festival crowd had a peaceful, laid-back vibe, and one had to laugh at the over-50 set dancing to Pharrell’s “Happy.”

On the Breezin’ Stage at the Jacksonville Landing, it was standing-room-only, as the Katz Downstairz went off. They serenaded the crowd with covers of R&B and hip-hop classics, such as The Isley Brothers “Between the Sheets” and OutKast’s “So Fresh, So Clean.” The band looked to have a pretty big following judging by the size of the crowd and fans sporting tank tops with the band’s name in the fashion of the Run DMC logo.

At the jazz festival, it's the norm that about 60 things are going on at once. As evidence, Average White Band played the Groovin’ Stage while the Katz Downstairz kept the Landing crowd moving. I caught bits and pieces of Average White Band’s solid set, but I completely missed Al Jarreau, and I’m really not sorry about it. (Note to self after shuffling back and worth between stages: Don't wear flip-flops next year.)

As the clock struck 11 p.m., the jazz fest began to shut down with vendor tents being dismantled. But the night was still young and local favorites were just getting started for Jazz Fest After Dark.

The Band Be Easy kept the crowd satisfied with covers of recent hits like Bruno Mars’ “Treasure” and Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie." They didn’t even shy away from rapping Jay Z’s verse.





Even heavyweights in the DJ remix world get flak from music purists for not treading new ground in songwriting. But a true remix, one that takes a song’s core element in a completely new direction, is a legit discipline on its own. Lars Behrenroth, host of the global weekly radio show Deeper Shades of House, has mastered that discipline, and he brings beats he uses to move and groove audiences the world over to Northeast Florida. Presented by The Garage, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. July 19, St. Augustine Amphitheatre, $15.   More


An audience arriving for opening night of "Flashdance —The Musical" is bound to expect amazing moves.

Jacksonville native Ryan Carlson, playing a break dancer, and the rest of the cast exceeded all those expectations as the eight-show run kicked off Tuesday night. The Douglas Anderson graduate, possibly energized by his hometown crowd, showed some smooth steps and an aerial move that appeared to unwind in slow motion.

The dancing delivered, but the surprise that got the Moran Theater rocking was that star Jillian Mueller had a show-stopping voice to match her grace.

Mueller's Alex Owens and Corey Mach's Nick Hurley sparred well in a story as old as time, if time began in the '80s. The plot of rich guy woos tough girl probably extends even earlier, but this is the 30th anniversary tour of "Flashdance" — the movie. Fans might feel nostalgic for Jennifer Beals in the 1983 film, but they're unlikely to forget Mueller.

Alex welds by day, flash dances by night and dreams of making it into Pittsburgh's top dance academy. Nick — Alex's boss at the steel mill — chases Alex while also trying to fend off his family's attempts to lay off workers.

The main shortcomings of "Flashdance" are in the story. Supporting characters are given time on stage, but they deserve more plot with which to work. They have the talent but only some of the tools.

Alex's friend Gloria (Ginna Claire Mason) imagines herself as a dancer on MTV, then decides to join a strip club. Her boyfriend Jimmy (David R. Gordon) leaves for New York, chasing his own dream of standup comedy, then comes home before anyone can miss him.

While trying to offer comic relief, his "timing" is on, but his writers have offered him hits as well as misses.

Those writers fare better in scenes involving seasoned dancers Kiki (DeQuina Moore) and Tess (Alison Ewing). Moore nearly steals the show with her vigorous voice and intense acting.

Though not perfect, "Flashdance The …   More


You might have seen her guest star in big name shows like "Desperate Housewives," "Homeland," "Matlock" or "The Office.' Of course, that doesn’t include her extensive career in theater productions including "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," "The Baby Dance" and "Getting and Spending." She has also released several albums of jazz music.

Is there anything Linda Purl can’t do?

Her most recent endeavor involves performing in a one-woman play, "The Year of Magical Thinking," directed by Jenny Sullivan. The show is staged for three performances, 8 p.m. Jan. 17 and 2 and 8 p.m. Jan. 18, at Theater Jacksonville in San Marco. The production is part of Theatre Jacksonville's Guerilla Show Series.

The play is about one woman’s emotional journey after unexpectedly losing her husband and their only daughter. Purl describes her character as “brutally honest, a formidable talent and intellect, and very exacting of herself in her writing.”

Purl faced a common fear when preparing for the play. “This play is so brilliantly written, it is such a truthful piece that my primary fear of doing a one-woman play is that it would be crushingly boring to watch one woman talk on an empty stage. I happily discovered this was unfounded.”

While there is quite a bit of grief and mourning in this play, Purl believes that it’s much deeper than that. “There’s a good deal of humor and I can tell you, from having done the play and spoken to a number of audience members after the show, that for many, the play has deep tides of healing in it.”

Purl’s preparation for this play did not solely entail memorization and acting lessons. It was an emotional journey that took a lot of strength. It’s a story that happened behind-the-scenes. And it is one of the reasons that Purl’s character, Joan Didion, really comes to life.

“The journey to the play was life meeting art. My friend and wonderful actress Bonnie Franklin was slated to do the role. However, she …   More

Playing Around

Hailing from Troy, Mich., We Came As Romans features an interplay of clean singing and brutal screaming vocals over punchy guitar riffs, tight drumming and electronic sections. Vocalists Dave Stephens and Kyle Pavone and guitarist Joshua Moore spoke with Folio Weekly before their set on the opening day of Welcome to Rockville.

F.W.: Your latest album, “Tracing Back Roots,” came out in July 2013, what do you think is different about this album, in relation to “To Plant a Seed” or “Dreams EP”?

D.S.: It’s definitely more melodic. We went with a different producer this time. On our last two records, we used Joey Sturgis. This time around we went with John Feldman. Feldman is so focused on melodies and stuff like that, so it really shines through.

F.W.: Are you currently writing?

D.S.: We’re brainstorming some ideas, but nothing too crazy right now. We’re still on the album cycle for “Tracing Back Roots," so we’re still focused on touring.

F.W.: When you do write, do you usually set aside some time to write or do you work on ideas on the road?

J.M.: It’s kind of both. Usually we’re on the road, and we’re kind of crunched, you know? But we’ll start pulling out ideas and stuff like that. Then we’ll take those ideas and work on them in rehearsal. Hopefully, on the next record we’ll be able to sit down and work things out together, like we did on the last one.

F.W. When touring, do you prefer to play big festival shows like Welcome to Rockville, or do you prefer the smaller, more intimate club shows?

K.P.: Both have their ups and downs. We like the smaller shows, because we get to see our fans close up. But we also like the bigger shows at the same time, because we like seeing all the energy, and it pulls in new fans too.

F.W.: Do you notice any difference between the shows you play here and your international tours?

D.S.: They like to circle pit a lot in Europe. They’ll circle pit to anything. It could …   More


The Gateway Shopping Plaza, once a popular shopping hub on the Northside, is now a drab town center where the main attraction is Publix. But something inside the Gateway Mall is attracting an audience of its own.

Through the vision of founder Darryl Reuben Hall, Stage Aurora Theatrical Company has been bringing productions to the stage since 2001 and showcasing arts on the Northside.

Stage Aurora continues to make an impact in the community through its Black Arts Festival, now in its seventh year. The festival gives participants an opportunity to show their talents in a variety of art forms. This year’s festival features an Oceanus Tae Kwan Do exhibition in which students will display the teachings of Master Joseph E. Morgan, and a production of the Tony award-wining musical The Wiz featuring 100 Youth Voices. According to Anntoinette Jones, who works for Stage Aurora, the actors (who are mostly students between the ages of 6 and 18) have been working on the production for about two and a half months. She also says that the students won’t be the only ones who will be given the chance to display their talents. Kids of all ages are welcomed to show off their artistic ability to the Stage Aurora audience at the 2014 Youth Talent Explosion.

Though Stage Aurora offers local actors a chance to express themselves on stage, they have also hosted nationally recognized performers at past Black Arts Festivals. Jones says T'Keyah Crystal Keymah (from That’s So Raven), Tony Award winner Melba Moore and Ella Joyce (in a performance of A Rose Among Thorns) were three highlights from past festivals.

The Black Arts Festival spans the July 18-20 weekend, beginning with the Oceanus Tae Kwon Do exhibit on Friday and ending with the 2014 Youth Talent Explosion on Sunday. Performances of The Wiz are Friday and Saturday.   More

Playing Around

Among his CEO duties helming self-started Grand Hustle Records, rubbing elbows with the likes of Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe in Hollywood films, and serving two stints in county clinks, it’s undeniably impressive that Atlanta-based rapper T.I. (pictured) has found time to write and release eight studio albums, nearly all to chart-topping reception. The three-time Grammy-winning rubberband man brings his brand of hip-hop street cred to Jacksonville’s Aqua Nightclub. Say what you will about one-dimensional songwriting, objectification of women and migraine-inducing grammar – this man knows how to top charts and fill clubs.



Jacksonville filmmaker Damian K. Lahey can be a bit of a recluse at times, so — being the annoyingly prodding journalist friend that I am — I attempted to crack open his oyster shell and, in the spirit of All Hallows' Eve, ask him to give me a list of his favorite horror films. For those not familiar with Lahey from his award-winning Indie film work, his feature-length movies include Cocaine Angel and The Heroes Of Arvine Place, both shot here in picturesque Cowford. Arvine Place, a Christmas holiday-themed movie, is currently finishing up its festival run after winning several awards, and will be released this December on Blu-ray and all major digital platforms. The tireless Lahey has also just completed post-production on a lil' horror/comedy short that he shot in L.A. in July called Soccer Moms In Peril, and is in pre-production on his next feature, which will be shooting in Jacksonville at the beginning of 2015.

Anyway, Lahey agreed to churn out the list at my behest. Curiously (and I would say criminally) missing from his compilation is Tales From the Crypt: Bordello of Blood, featuring a post-relevancy Corey Feldman and pre-right wing Dennis Miller. I'll now step aside and let Mr. Lahey take over the scene from here: 

Lahey: When RDS3 asked me to shoot him a list of my favorite horror movies, I was already tired from a long day of work and writing. Nonetheless, I threw back a can of HyperFizzics (a potent locally produced energy drink) and marched forth. Suddenly, it was 4 in the morning and I had not only finished this list, but had also nearly completed the construction of a fully operational time machine in the basement of my apartment building AND finished reading all of Dave Sim's Cerebus tomes.

Now, this is a purely subjective list. This is not what I believe are the best horror movies or the most influential horror movies. This is a list of MY …   More