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Andrew Meacham, Times Performing Arts Critic

Andrew Meacham

Andrew Meacham is the performing arts critic for the Tampa Bay Times, covering the growing local venues for theater, orchestra, opera and dance. Andrew previously served as the Epilogue obituaries writer for the Times. He grew up in St. Petersburg, graduated from Eckerd College and holds a master's degree in journalism from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

Phone: (727) 892-2248


  1. With Zev Buffman at the creative end, Ruth Eckerd Hall brings Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer to the stage


    An actor famous for playing a radio station manager will star this week in the world premiere of a radio play.

    Mike Hammer: Encore for Murder brings Gary Sandy, who played Andy Travis on WKRP in Cincinnati, to Ruth Eckerd Hall. And the star power was summoned to Clearwater by a phone call from the very top.

    The show brings Zev Buffman, who produced 41 Broadway shows, into the creative end of a play for just the second time since he took over as Ruth Eckerd's CEO in 2012. It also represents an expanded use of the 200-seat Murray Theatre, now home to Hat Trick Theatre and youth productions, since it was refurbished two years ago. The theater has been one part of Ruth Eckerd's sweeping, multimillion dollar expansion, and so far, has been under-utilized. Encore for Murder will introduce the "Mike Hammer Series," Buffman said, as well as expand the reach of the Murray....

  2. Canadian cops hunt former Opera Tampa maestro Daniel Lipton in connection with sexual assault


    Daniel Lipton, Opera Tampa's most recent artistic director, is being sought by Canadian authorities in connection with a sexual assault.

    The alleged assault took place in the late 1980s, a woman the Times is not naming told the Hamilton Police Service in Hamilton, Ontario. Police have narrowed it to between January 1988 and January 1990, Detective Sgt. Dave Dunbar of the service's sexual assault unit told the Times. That is when, according to police, Lipton assaulted a woman at his Hamilton residence....

  3. Beacon 2018 brings professional dancers and choreographers to the Palladium



    The dancers kept moving, spinning, pausing for arabesques or stretches. Over most of a December afternoon at the Mirror Lake Studios, they rarely stopped, whether rehearsing specific routines or not.

    Choreographer Lauren Ree Slone also moved and as she talked to the women, developing some ideas and beginning others. Her words sounded clear, about transitions, things that continue, overlays, trees — yet her sentences could not be understood only by hearing. ...

  4. Master chorale and visiting artistic director Doreen Rao part ways


    TAMPA — The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay has ended its relationship with visiting artistic director Doreen Rao. The announcement on Tuesday continues an ongoing uncertainty about leadership for the chorale, which has not had a permanent artistic director since 2016.

    Beth Gibbs, the chorale's assistant conductor, will prepare the chorale through the season's final concert, Celebrate Broadway, April 27-29. Meanwhile, the chorale's statement hinted that the search for a permanent director could be nearing an end. ...

  5. What's on stage this week: 'Forever Plaid,' 'Keely and Du,' 'Gnit'



    With 17 award-winning plays in 36 years, the writer under the pen name Jane Martin has become the "best unknown playwright in America." Now the new Innovocative Theatre in its second production has produced Martin's 1994 Pulitzer finalist, Keely and Du. The play centers on an oddly civil confrontation by anti-abortion kidnappers with a woman they are trying to influence. ...

  6. Jahja Ling and his pianist wife, Jessie Chang, delight with Sibelius and Beethoven


    TAMPA — With a genial wave and a smile, the Florida Orchestra's second music director greeted a Tampa Bay audience, the kind he used to see over 14 seasons here. By the time Jahja Ling left the area in 2002, the orchestra had more than found its footing. On Friday he conducted Jean Sibelius' Symphony No. 2, a piece of personal significance.

    In the early 1980s, Ling conducted the San Francisco Symphony's youth orchestra in that symphony to enduring raves. In 1985, he debuted with the Cleveland Orchestra, again with the Sibelius No. 2, the start of a 30-year relationship. And in 1987, his mastery of the symphony brought out the best in a struggling Florida Orchestra that was looking for a new music director, a performance that led to his being hired the next year....

  7. What's on stage this week: Candid Camera, Florida Orchestra, Sleeping Beauty ballet



    The gags that fueled Candid Camera never get old. That car that heads straight for a police officer, then splits in half and drives around him. The classy New York restaurant that charged top dollar for an "exiguous steak," then explained to outraged patrons that "exiguous" means very small. Other ploys were less ha-ha and borderline disturbing. In a famous 1963 episode, federal "authorities" turned back traffic at the Delaware border, telling drivers from Pennsylvania that "the state is closed." Most motorists fell for it....

  8. Andrew Lloyd Webber lets his freak flag fly with 'School of Rock' at Straz



    From Andrew Lloyd Webber's most recent musical, we may conclude several things.

    School of Rock was a pretty good movie. The 2003 movie written by Mike White, on which this 2015 adaptation is based, came with an exuberant plot, a solid chassis around which to redesign a car. The touring show, which has come to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, also completes an across-the-pond marriage between an American film and a British musical, which might contain clues. ...

  9. A figure of calm encouragement, Jahja Ling returns to conduct the Florida Orchestra


    Jahja Ling was both a sideline coach and cheerleader for musicians of the Florida Orchestra, a man who would wring out every last ampere of dedication, then recharge their batteries with praise.

    This weekend, another milestone in the orchestra's 50th season, marks a sweet reunion of the orchestra and Ling. The music director from 1988 to 2002 saw the orchestra through some of its rockiest economic times while laying a foundation for growth. ...

  10. Our performing arts critic's top 10 Tampa Bay shows of 2017


    Highlights of Tampa Bay's performing arts scene this year ranged from solo shows to intense dramas to musicals. They all brought realness to the stage, sometimes in fanciful dimensions. And they surpassed expectations, in so doing creating the most delightful experience for a theatergoer — that of being surprised.

    Here's my top 10 list for local professional theater in 2017.

    10 Grounded (Tampa Repertory Theatre)...

  11. What's on stage this week: Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'School of Rock,' Harry Potter orchestra show



    Rob Colletti has done well playing misfits, from the spectacularly out-of-step Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon to a the lead role in School of Rock — The Musical, which opens next week. His character in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, based on the School of Rock movie, is a wannabe rock musician who steals his roommate's identity as a substitute teacher and stumbles into a real educational situation — teaching young aspiring musicians how to rock out for real....

  12. What's on stage this week: Florida Orchestra does 'Messiah,' ballerina Sara Mearns at the Straz



    After Carmina Burana, the superstar Sting and an ongoing appetizer of three-minute fanfares by Florida composers, what will the Florida Orchestra do next to mark its 50th anniversary season? The answer is a mega round of Handel's Messiah in three large halls for a record possible 10,000 patrons. Handel composed his most famous masterpiece in less than a month, often writing from dawn to dusk. Messiah debuted April 13, 1742, in Dublin, with a chorus of 26 hand-picked boys and five men from two local cathedrals. Music director Michael Francis will lead the orchestra, the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay and the audience in the Hallelujah chorus. 8 p.m. Thursday, Idlewild Baptist Church, 18333 Exciting Idlewild Blvd., Lutz. $30. 8 p.m. Friday, Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. $15-$45. 8 p.m. Saturday, First Baptist Indian Rocks, 12685 Ulmerton Road, Largo. $30. (727) 892-3337.

  13. Jobsite Theater selects 'HIR' by Taylor Mac to replace 'Man in Snow'


    Weeks after pulling a scheduled play due to sexual misconduct allegations against celebrated playwright Israel Horovitz, Tampa's Jobsite Theater has announced a replacement. Hir by Taylor Mac will run March 9-April 1, the period originally scheduled for Horovitz's Man in Snow.

    Mac is a playwright of growing renown, a Pulitzer finalist (for A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, a show that lasted 24 hours) and the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" grant. Hir is a comedy that follows an aging mother who has decided, with the help of her transgender son, to take out the patriarchy. The title also mirrors the gender-neutral pronoun (pronounced hee-ir)....

  14. The Phantom never dies, orchestra doings this week



    Turns out, the Phantom survived that angry mob. We know that because the antihero of Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 musical The Phantom of the Opera re-emerges in the 2010 sequel, Love Never Dies.

    It opens in 1907 New York, where the Phantom has re-invented himself as Coney Island impresario. Without revealing his true identity, he secures a leading role for Christine in Paris. The set, costumes and lighting create some astonishing visuals, the style borrowing from burlesque and Broadway with a nod to the Viennese operetta. Meanwhile, the story line of Love Never Dies follows the unexpected resurgence of a doomed romance. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p. m. Sunday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $45 and up. (813) 229-7827.

  15. Sting rocks the house with old and new hits in Florida Orchestra gala


    ST. PETERSBURG — In some ways, the Florida Orchestra's gala with Sting looked like other concerts of a mega-star. Most of the fans who packed the Mahaffey Theater bought their tickets the day they went on sale. They cheered and sang along at the opening strains of the singer-songwriter's instantly recognizable hits.

    A couple of times they stood for the duration of a song. The gala, the orchestra's only major fund-raising event of the year, raised a record $1.5 million, money that will be used for securing soloists and expanding community work in such areas as schools and hospitals....