Saturday Night Fever Still 'Stayin' Alive' Print E-mail

 WFIT (NPR - Melbourne)

April 15, 2017

He's back. That's right, Tony Manero. The down-on-his-luck, street-wise kid from Brooklyn who hungers to escape his dead-end job and reign as the "disco king" at the local club.SNF 1

Flash back to the late 1970s when shiny polyester shirts open to the waist, bell-bottom pants, platform shoes and the disco "four-on-the floor" beat were all the rage. Wrapping up its 2016-2017 season, Vero's Riverside Theatre serves up the soaring sounds and pulsating rhythms of Saturday Night Fever, running through April 30.

The musical is framed on Nik Cohn’s New York Magazine story, “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night,” which turned into the culture-bending blockbuster 1977 film, starring John Travolta. It follows the lives of a group of working-class Italian-Americans in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn in 1976, who despaired at their jobs and lived for their local disco called 2001 Odyssey where they madly danced the night away.

First performed on stage in London in 1998, the musical ran for sixteen months and received three nominations for Laurence Olivier Awards. Directed and choreographed by Arlene Phillips, Saturday Night Fever opened at the Minskoff Theatre in New York City on October 21, 1999 and ran for 501 performances.

Child Prodigy in the Spotlight with Space Coast Symphony Orchestra Print E-mail

WFIT (NPR - Melbourne)

April 3, 2017

Meet Jacob Velazquez. He's got a busy weekend. The nine-year old boy from Pembroke Pines won't be zooming around on his scooter or dialing up his favorite video games.Jacob 1

Jacob has a date with to perform Haydn’s piano Concerto No. 11 in D Major in two concerts with the Space Coast Symphony Orchestra. Diagnosed with high functioning autism in 2012, Jacob will be playing the 25-minute movement from memory in his orchestral debut on Saturday, April 8 at 7 p. m at Vero Beach High School PAC and Sunday, April 9 at 3:00 p. m. at the Scott Center for the Performing Arts at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy.

Shortly after Jacob's fourth birthday, Tina Velazquez heard a song coming from the family piano at their south Florida home. Her husband had been playing the night prior, but Willie was now at work. When Tina entered the room, it was Jacob playing.

"I was shocked, couldn't believe my eyes. So I asked, 'How did you do that?' Jacob turned and looked at me and said, 'I watched Daddy.'"

The Christians: Hell to Pay Print E-mail

 WFIT (NPR - Melbourne)

March 21, 2017

Inspiration for an actor travels down many avenues.Chris 2

Take Vanessa Kai. A number of years ago she joined a few friends from the Discovery Channel who were filming a segment for "After Dark in New York City." Their mission: bungee jumping 16 stories at 3:00 in the morning off the Manhattan Bridge that crosses the East River. It's illegal, but also an adrenaline seeker's dream.

Kai walked to the bridge's edge, said an expletive. Then jumped. Scanning the twinkling Manhattan skyline, it was a five-second freefall, tied only by her ankles, flying through the darkness toward the river. Once the chord was stretched to its limit she rocketed back skyward toward the bridge. Kai bounced up and down on the elastic cord until the energy of the fall was exhausted and then a "yank 'em up" rope was tossed down. She attached it around her waist and was hoisted back to the bridge by the other jumpers.

"I took a break from acting and found I had fallen into an uninspiring routine,” Kai recalled from her hotel in Vero Beach. “I wanted to create lifelong, lasting memories. When the moment came, I remember looking down and all I saw was a sea of blackness. And I asked myself, ‘Am I really going to do this?’ You know what, pride is a powerful thing. I needed to let go. It was an experience that nurtures you as a human and as an artist. I think it’s important to keep your spirit alive.

Timeless South Pacific Lights Up Surfside Print E-mail

 WFIT (NPR - Melbourne)

March 6, 2017

Who doesn't love the catchy tunes of this blockbuster musical that debuted nearly seven decades ago?SP 1

Cocoa Beach's Surfside Playhouse brings to life one of the most celebrated American musicals in their current production of South Pacific where the sky is a bright canary yellow, the water an idyllic clear blue and love can happen at first glance. It's a sweeping romance with a storyline that tells the story of two couples whose love is tested by the dangers of war and prejudices of their times.

It's adapted from the 19 interconnected stories that James Michener wove into his Pulitzer Prize-winning Tales of the South Pacific, which in turn inspired Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s Pulitzer Prize-winning musical, South Pacific. It is set on a Pacific island paradise during World War II in 1944.

Hammerstein’s script remains remarkable for its simultaneous simplicity and subtlety. Under the stellar direction of Bryan Bergeron, the Surfside production hits all of the themes, its plot and music addressing two parallel love stories and universal issues like racial prejudice, sexism, war, fear, and uncertainty.

Mame Wows Riverside Audience Print E-mail

 WFIT (NPR - Melbourne)

March 1, 2017

Director James Brennan told Michele Ragusa she was born to play the role of Mame Dennis. She thinks he just might be right.Mame 1

"I just love her zest for life. I'm all about that myself, enjoying life to the fullest, having a good time and making everyone around me have one as well," says a vivacious Ragusa in a telephone interview from Plainfield, New Jersey home.

After starring as Dolly Gallagher Levi in Hello Dolly! last season, Ragusa returns to Vero's Riverside Theatre in the lead role of the classic Jerry Herman musical Mame, which runs from March 7 through 26.

Ragusa nails the free-spirited 1920s New Yorker, taking to the role with gusto. With a mighty voice and a brash sensibility, Ragusa superbly conveys Mame's ravenous optimism in such numbers as "Open a New Window" and "We Need a Little Christmas."

Directed and choreographed by Brennan, the company will be headed by Ragusa whose extensive Broadway credits include Young Frankenstein, Urinetown, A Class Act, Ragtime and Cyrano.


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