Q: Stageworks Theatre is Tampa’s longest-running theatre company, celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. Why do you think the company has resonated with the Tampa Bay community over the years?
A: Stageworks has always had a connection to the community by providing art education to segments of the society that either cannot otherwise afford it or access it. That kind of commitment to the community engenders trust and commitment in return.
Q: Each season’s lineup of shows has a theme, and the 2019-20 season’s is “Connections.” What does “Connections” mean to Stageworks?
A: I had been thinking a lot about how our society has become fractured and siloed along political, social or other lines. Stageworks felt it was very important to circle back to the notion that we are more alike than not and that genuine connection is the soul of our collective humanity. Each play this season speaks to either that fracturing or meaningful connections.
Q: What would you like to see change or continue with the Tampa Bay area’s performing arts scene in the next five to 10 years?
A: I think it can only get bigger and better. With the wealth of talent in our area and more folks moving to our community to work and live, I can see us growing into a magnet for the arts and arts lovers in the Southeast.
Q: When you leave work for the day, where are you heading downtown for a great dinner or happy hour, and what are you ordering?
A: When I don’t go straight home, I am fond of downtown’s Bamboozle Café as well as Hotel Bar.
Q: What is your favorite authentically Tampa restaurant (anywhere in the city)? Why? What are you ordering?
A: La Segunda Central Bakery is the epitome of old Tampa — classic Cuban staples with a nod to new tastes like avocado toast. I am getting the Elena Ruz sandwich and a café con leche.
Q: After a show, where does the Stageworks team head out in the urban core to celebrate?
A: We are blessed to have several amazing options right at our doorstep in the Channel District — Pour House, City Dog Cantina and Maloney’s are favorites only steps away. With a poké shop and the gelato store also opening in the [Grand Central at Kennedy] courtyard [next to the theatre], as well as the new Publix across the street, I may never leave.
Q: Where is your favorite place for coffee or tea downtown, and what are you ordering?
A: The best nitro brew in town is offered at Ginger Beard Coffee in the Channel District. If it’s after GBC hours or I’m looking for a great lunch, Victory Coffee on 12th Street is the way to go.
Q: Where do you take guests from out of town to show off Tampa?
A: Ulele is always a highlight for dinner. Armature Works is fun to wander, as are the grounds of the University of Tampa and the Ybor City Museum Society, and of course the world class Florida Aquarium is always on the list.
Q: Other than Stageworks, what are your favorite local cultural institutions?
A: I love the feel of the Rialto Theatre and the grandeur of the Tampa Theatre. My friends at Jobsite Theater, American Stage and FreeFall Theatre do very good work. I am also in awe of the Tampa Museum of Art and the work that is housed there. As a native of Tampa myself, the Tampa Bay History Center has a special pull for me as well.
Q: What is your favorite downtown hidden gem?
A: The Henderson Chapel at The Portico is very peaceful.
Q: Stageworks Theatre is right in the middle of all kinds of exciting new development. What excites you most about where Tampa, and more specifically downtown, is going over the next five to 10 years?
A: I was born in Tampa and have seen such a glorious expansion of the downtown base in my years here. The growth of the Channel District has been particularly gratifying. Thanks to the dedicated developers such as Mercury Advisors and Strategic Property Partners, this area is blowing up, and I look forward to Stageworks’ growth matching the growth that is around us.