Friday, March 29, 2013

Join us for Summer Splash 2013!

Summer is on the horizon, and it’s time to start thinking about summer camps!

The Patel Conservatory is co-presenting the annual Summer Splash summer camp event next weekend!

If you’d like to learn more about summer camps, both at the Conservatory and around Tampa Bay, please join us for our open house and Summer Splash event!

Summer Splash
summer camp fair
April 6, 2013
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Glazer Children’s Museum
$5 per person
(includes admission to the children’s museum,
free for museum members)

The Summer Splash event at the Glazer Children’s Museum is your one-stop shopping for summer camps around Tampa Bay.

The event will feature more than 75 summer camp booths, interactive games and activities, health and wellness resources, safety demo’s and information on all the summer camps going on in the Tampa Bay area and beyond.

The Patel Conservatory will provide entertainment throughout the day.

Our Rock School students will be performing in two free outdoor Rock School Blowout concerts at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and our theater and music departments will provide workshops and entertainment inside the museum.

Everyone who enters Summer Splash will receive a passport to fun! Visit all stops on the passport at Glazer Children’s Museum and the Patel Conservatory to play in the bounce house at the Conservatory and enter to win tickets to see War Horse at the Straz Center!

In conjunction with the Summer Splash event, the Conservatory will be open for tours throughout the day.

Come visit our campus and discover all the wonderful opportunities for your kids in the performing arts this summer!

Register for summer camps and classes before April 13 to save 10% on tuition with the Early Bird Discount!

Dance class of the month: Jazz

Julie Kierstein describes herself as a bunhead.

A dancer since she was nine years old, at 43, Julie still reads Pointe magazine cover to cover.

“I just absolutely love dance, it’s something I’ve done all my life,” she said.

Originally from Naples, Julie is an occupational therapist from Clearwater who minored in dance in college. She also performed with a local modern dance company while in school.

After college, she taught ballet, jazz and modern in the Naples area for a number of years, but when her studio got sold, she felt she lost her dance home.

“As a dancer, the studio you belong to becomes your second home,” said Julie.

Sad and discouraged, she quit dancing for long while.

A friend encouraged her to open her own dance studio, which she did. But being an owner didn’t allow her much time to teach or dance, so she sold the business after a year.

She traveled the country as an occupational therapist for a few years, and ended up in Clearwater three years ago.

When she moved to the Tampa Bay area, she missed dance and searched for a studio, but didn’t find that sense of “home” until she found the jazz class at the Patel Conservatory.

An avid ballet fan, she attended the Youth America Grand Prix competition and Ballet’s Greatest Hits, held in conjunction with one another at the Straz Center in January. When she was here, she picked up a schedule for our Patel Conservatory open dance classes.

Julie in a dance production several
years ago.
"I knew the Straz Center had shows, but I didn't even realize they had classes," said Julie. She tried the jazz class and she was hooked.

“The teacher [Susan Downey] is phenomenal,” said Julie. “The first thing that struck me is that she really seems to enjoy teaching adults.”

In Julie’s experience, many dance studios specialize in children’s classes, and it was hard to find a studio with classes tailored to adults.

“Susan brings a high level of professionalism that I’ve never had before as an adult dancer. She’s very respectful of us. She relates to you as a person, and she’s very approachable,” said Julie.

The jazz class is open to students from grade nine through adult, from beginners to experienced dancers. Downey helps students adjust to their own level and take it at their own pace.

“She brings that level of perfectionism, but in a nice way. I respect her so much. She’s so skilled as a dancer and a teacher,” said Julie.

The Open Jazz Class enhances students' skills in popular styles of jazz dance, including lyrical jazz, Broadway/Fosse and jazz funk. Students work out to a variety of music, from contemporary pop to Broadway.

Mondays from 5:45 to 7:15 p.m.
Current session runs through May 18
Summer session runs from June 3 - Aug 5, 2013

For more information, or to register, please call 813-222-1002.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Announcing the 2013 Broadway Star of the Future Award winners!

The Patel Conservatory and the Straz Center announces this year’s winners of the Straz Center’s Broadway Star of the Future Award!
The 2013 Broadway Star of the Future Award goes to Tim Hart and Chandler Morehead.

Now in its fourth year, the Broadway Star of the Future Award is given to one male actor and one female actor in recognition of their outstanding performance in a musical theater production.

The winners are chosen through the Florida State Thespian Festival, which took place last week at the Straz Center. The 2013 winners were announced during the closing ceremonies of the festival on Sat., Mar. 23, 2013.

Morehead, of Sunrise, is a student at American Heritage School in Del Ray Beach. During the competition, she portrayed Meredith Parker in Bat Boy: the Musical.

Hart, of Clearwater, is a student at Palm Harbor University High School in Palm Harbor. During the competition, he portrayed the Baker in Into The Woods.

Both students were chosen for their singing and acting ability and their commitment to their characters.

As recipients of the award, Morehead and Hart have won the chance to travel to New York City in June to represent Florida and the Straz Center in the National High School Musical Theater Awards (NHSMTA). 

“The Straz Center for the Performing Arts is known for community service and its commitment to helping talented youth thrive in the world of the performing arts. Sponsoring this contest and enabling these students to compete in New York is just one way we demonstrate this commitment,” said Wendy Leigh, vice president of education at the Straz Center. 

Congratulations and break a leg, Chandler and Tim!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Ballet's Greatest Hits opens in movie theaters next week

Ballet’s Greatest Hits will be opening in movie theaters around the country soon!

Don’t miss your chance to relive the magic of Ballet’s Greatest Hits and see the Conservatory’s dance studios and the stage of Carol Morsani Hall on the big screen!

The Youth America Grand Prix gala, Ballet’s Greatest Hits, was filmed here at the Straz Center in January and will be shown around the country on March 31 and April 2, 2013 for a limited-run engagement.

Check out the film trailer on You Tube.

Locally, the film will be showing at Carmike Royal Palm 20 in Bradenton on Mar. 31 at 2 p.m., and Apr. 2 at 7 p.m.

Click here to read about the movie in the Los Angeles Times.

More information about the film:
Youth America Grand Prix is proud to present its latest and its most ambitious project to date. “Ballet’s Greatest Hits” is a filmed Gala evening showcasing six of the most beloved classical ballets: Don Quixote, Flames of Paris, Giselle,La Bayadère, The Nutcracker, and Swan Lake.

Hosted by “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance” Executive Producer, Nigel Lythgoe, “Ballet’s Greatest Hits” presents an all-star cast from the world’s leading dance companies.

For added insight into the history and meaning of classical ballet, the film offers exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, rare archival materials, and exclusive interviews with choreographers, film producers, critics and luminaries of the dance world, such as Alexei Ratmansky, Benjamin Millepied, Edward Villella, and many others.

The live performances were filmed by five-time Emmy Award winner, Clemente D’Alessio at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, Florida.

Don’t miss your chance to see classical ballet like you’ve never seen it before!

Florida State Thespians converge on Tampa

Mobs of teenagers have taken over downtown Tampa, including the Straz Center and Patel Conservatory - which can only mean one thing - the Florida State Thespians are here!

The Florida State Thespian Festival is a weekend full of theater performances, competitions and workshops. Approximately 7600 theater students from around the state have converged for their chance to shine.

Performances often spontaneously erupt around campus
from thespian troupes attending the Florida State Thespian Festival
Workshops and performances have been taking place throughout the Patel Conservatory campus, and our own theater instructors, Adam Wagner and Christen Petitt-Hailey, are among the workshop leaders.

Wagner is leading the Song Interpretation Master Class, in which participants work on an audition song of their choice. And Petitt Hailey led the Body, Mind and Spirit Warm-up for the Actor workshops, in which students learned how to mentally and physically prepare for a performance.

Theater students from the festival participate in a workshop in TECO Theater.

As part of the Florida State Thespian Festival, the Straz Center will be awarding one male actor and one female actress with the Broadway Star of the Future Award in recognition of their outstanding performance in a musical theater production.

The selection process began last fall at district competitions. Schools with one-act mainstage productions were adjudicated, and the top students were chosen as nominees for the award.

This year’s nominees are:

Chandler Morehead
American Heritage School
Bat Boy

Amanda Springer
Palm Harbor University High School
Into the Woods

Ruby Quindongo
Gateway High School
In the Heights

Jonah Stabinski
American Heritage School
Bat Boy

Tim Hart
Palm Harbor University High School
Into the Woods

Winners will be announced during the closing ceremony of the Florida State Thespian Festival this Sat., March 23, 2013.

The winners will have the opportunity to represent the state of Florida and the Straz Center at the National High School Musical Theater Awards this summer in New York City.

Stay tuned to find out the winners!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Auditions for summer 2013 theater productions

Patel Conservatory Theater announces auditions for our summer 2013 productions.

Auditions for A Straz Musical Revue, Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr., Little Shop of Horrors and The Tempest will be:

Sat., April 27
Beginning at 1 p.m.
Sat., June 1
9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Patel Conservatory Theater productions offer advanced-level training in acting and musical theater. The rehearsal process is both nurturing and demanding and culminate in ticketed productions at the Straz Center that are open to the public.

This year, the Conservatory announces a new dormitory option for our summer theater intensives, allowing students who aren’t local to the Tampa Bay area to participate in our summer theater programs. Dormitory options are available for students in grades 5 and up.

A Straz Musical Revue
Grades 5 - college
Jun. 17 - 28, 2013
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Mon. - Fri.)
Students looking to polish their solo and group musical theater skills will research, rehearse and perform songs from the Straz Center’s 2013-2014 season. A dormitory option is available.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.
Grades 3 - 8
Jul. 22 - Aug. 10, 2013
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Mon. - Fri.)
Explore the entertaining story of Ariel the Mermaid as told by Disney®. Intense music, theater and dance rehearsals culminate in a full production of this classic tale. A dormitory option is available for grades 5 to 8.

Little Shop of Horrors
Grades 9 - College
July 1 - July 20
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Mon. - Fri.)
Students spend three weeks putting together this full-length musical. Rehearsals will challenge music and danc skills while critical-thinking skills are required to explore the script and theme in this famous Broadway musical. A dormitory option i s available.

The Tempest
Grades 9 - college
Jul. 22 - Aug. 9, 2013
9 a.m. - 4 p.m. (Mon. - Fri.)
Students learn to comprehend and deliver Shakespearean text, taking a vigorous approach to one of the Bard’s classic tales in this theater intensive camp. A dormitory option is available.

Auditions are by appointment only and RSVP is required. Please be sure to review audition requirements for each show. To schedule your audition appointment, contact Christen at 813-222-6414 or

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Free movie nights at the Patel Conservatory

Join us for our FREE Musical Movie Nights at the Patel Conservatory.

In anticipation of our summer theater productions, the Patel Conservatory will host two free movie nights.

Come see The Little Mermaid and Little Shop of Horrors on the big screen.

If you love the movie and the music, then come to the auditions for our summer productions!

Movie nights are open to all Patel students, families and friends, and free popcorn will be served!

Disney's The Little Mermaid
Thurs., March 28 from 7:30 - 9 p.m.
TECO Theater
Film synopsis: Based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the same name, the 1989 animated Disney film The Little Mermaid tells the story of Ariel, a beautiful mermaid princess who is dissatisfied with life under the sea. After falling in love with a human Prince she sees on a ship, she dreams of becoming human. The sea witch, Ursula, makes a deal with Ariel to transform her into a human for three days in exchange for Ariel's voice.

Little Shop of Horrors
Tuesday, Apr. 23 at 7 p.m.
TECO Theater
Film synopsis: The 1986 cult movie musical classic, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS stars Rick Moranis as Seymour Krelborn, a nerdy florist who finds his chance for success and romance with the help of a giant man-eating plant who demands to be fed.
Please note, this film is rated PG-13 and has an approximate running time of 95 minutes.

Auditions for our summer theater productions will be Sat., Apr. 27 and Sat., June 1. To RSVP for auditions, please contact Christen at 813-222-6414 or

Sulpher Springs students prepare for upcoming show

Students at Sulphur Springs Elementary recently learned about character development through some theater improvisation exercises.

It's all part of a weekly theater class at the school that's part of the Patel Conservatory’s outreach program.

Our outreach program provides arts education to underserved areas in Tampa Bay through community partnerships with schools and organizations.

The theater class at Sulpher Springs, taught by Audrey Seigler, offers students the opportunity to explore their imaginations and work on theater and performance skills.

In a recent class, students learned about character development through improvisation exercises and physical and vocal expressions. Students were asked to move, speak and react to various circumstances and situations.

The exercises helped the students learn acting techniques in preparation for their upcoming production of Sleepy Hollow, which they’ll perform in May in the TECO Theater at the Patel Conservatory.

Instructor Audrey Siegler, right, leads students through theater exercises.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Patel Conservatory presents the Straz Student Jazz Festival

If you’re a musician who’d like to learn more about jazz from professionals in the industry, please join us for a unique educational experience!

Straz Student Jazz Festival
Saturday, April 13

Dave Rudolph is one of many jazz
professionals teaching at the Straz
Student Jazz Festival.
The Straz Student Jazz Festival provides student musicians the opportunity to work and perform together, and to learn from the best.

Student jazz ensembles from area schools, including Boca Ciega High School in Gulfport, Durant High School in Plant City and Lakewood Ranch High School in Bradenton, will improvise and jam together throughout the day in workshops.

“The student jazz festival is a great example of what the Straz and Patel are made for. It’s really a great way to share our resources with arts students and educators in the community,” said Wendy Leigh, vice-president of education at the Straz Center.

One of the guest instructors for the workshops will be Noah Bellamy, the trombonist for K.C. and the Sunshine Band

Other workshop leaders include jazz musicians T.J. Glowacki, James Crumbly, Jr., Butch Thomas, Dave Rudolph and Valerie Gillespie. Band clinics will be led by Chris DeLeon, and Frank Williams.

“People studying music are all on the same path,” said Patel Conservatory percussion instructor Dave Rudolph.

“Whether you’re a beginner learning the basic vocabulary... or an advanced student ready to take on solo concepts...It’s all about lifelong learning. As a teacher, I try to draw students a little further down that path, wherever they may be,” he said.

Rudolph performs regularly with jazz artist Valerie Gillespie and her trio, and he’ll lead the rhythm session of the breakout sessions.

Breakout sessions in the afternoon for brass, woodwinds, rhythm and vocals will allow musicians to focus on their areas of expertise.

Patel Conservatory music and vocal arts students are encouraged to attend the breakout sessions, which are open to individual musicians.

The festival will culminate in a free concert by the students, open to the public, on the Riverwalk at the Straz Center at 4 p.m.

The evening will end with the Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour, playing at the Straz Center in Ferguson Hall at 7:30 p.m.*

Pre-registration for the Straz Student Jazz Festival is required.

The cost for individuals registering for the breakout session (from 2 to 3:30 p.m.) is $15 per student.

For more information or to register, please contact Dee Lynch at 813.222.1002 or

*Tickets to the Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour are included for ensembles registered for the student festival. Individuals who wish to attend the show can purchase tickets through the Straz Center box office at 813-229-7827 or

Support the 2013 Spotlight Awards

Planning is under way for the 2013 Spotlight Awards!

Now in its third year, the Spotlight Awards is the Patel Conservatory’s end-of-the-year awards show. It’s like our very own Oscar night, complete with a red carpet, fabulous performances and awards for outstanding achievements. Save the date!

Thursday, May 23, 2013
Show begins at 6:30 p.m.
Dinner and dancing begin at 8 p.m.

The Spotlights Awards celebrates the 2012/2013 Patel Conservatory season with highlights from our shows in dance, theater and music. This year’s show will be directed by our dance department chair, Peter Stark, and the event will include dinner and dancing after the show.

The Spotlight Awards is also a fundraiser to help us continue in our mission of providing excellence in performing arts education.

In order for this event to be a success, we need the support of our parents and students, and that’s where you come in!

Here are ways you can get involved...

Sponsor the event!
Help us reach our fundraising goal by becoming a sponsor. Sponsorships start at $1000 and include reserved seats for the show and a VIP table for the dinner.

Pre-event volunteers:
  • Volunteers needed to distribute information in TECO lobby at all upcoming shows, including The Music Man Jr. and The Good Doctor.
Fundraising needs:
  • Seek sponsorships from parents and businesses. (Parents can pool their resources and share a sponsorship.)
  • Help secure donations, including printing services for the event program.
  • Buy a Dedication ad to congratulate your performer.
  • Donate auction items of large value, such as a stay at a resort, waterfront condo or cabin in the mountains, VIP box seats for sporting or concert event, Family 4-pack to a theme park, etc. All auction items should be valued at $500 or more. 
Event needs: 
  • Paper products (Purchase or get donated)
  • Drinks (Purchase or get donated)
  • Desserts (Purchase or get donated)
  • Event day set up and clean up 
Help us celebrate the exceptional level of talent at the Patel Conservatory by becoming involved with this event in support of the Patel Conservatory’s performing arts classes, outreach and scholarship programs.

If you would like to be a sponsor or volunteer for the 2013 Spotlight Awards, please contact Beth Miller at 813-222-6425 or

Friday, March 8, 2013

Conservatory students in La Boheme this weekend

Congratulations to the Patel Conservatory vocal arts students who are performing this weekend in Opera Tampa’s La Bohème!

Jacob Fleming in his Parisian
costume for La Boheme
Students in our Junior Choir, Junior Ensemble and Musical Theater classes are portraying the children in this classic opera, playing at the Straz Center through March 10, 2013.

“The set is really beautiful. There’s old buildings with lights, and it’s very realistic,” said Jacob Fleming, 13, who is both in our vocal arts program and our Rock School program.

The students play the children on a street in Paris in the second act, and had to attend rehearsals with the Opera Tampa cast. Fleming said he was thrilled to have such an opportunity to work with professional artists.

“They’re all amazing, it was so cool to work with them and hear them,” he said.

Fleming began at the Patel Conservatory with an arts sampler camp in the summer when he was about six years old. He’s since taken musical theater classes and has participated in Rock School for nearly three years.

From rock to opera, he doesn’t care the style, he just enjoys being on stage and performing.

“It’s been a fantastic experience and I love it,” said Fleming.

The following students are also performing this weekend with Opera Tampa:

LaNora Barber, Paige Crockett, Isabella Falber, Emma Hurlburt, Alexa Lowrey, Taliyah Marullo, Samantha Money, Joshua Nelson, Abigale Pfingsten, Bianca Rivera-Irions and McKayla Whiteside.

Also performing in the show as part of the Opera Tampa Chorus are instructor Allison Novak, Kavanaugh Gillespie, Rachael Marino and Ruthie Nelson. Music instructors Catherine Michelsen, Hollis Hammonds, Lowell Adams, Dee Moses, and Jim Petrecca play in the orchestra.

Congratulations to all these students and instructors and have a great run!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Rock School Band to perform at Gasparilla Music Festival

Matthew Sichterman, left, and Parker Wilkson
If you’re planning on getting out to enjoy some of the best from Tampa's music scene at the Gasparilla Music Festival this weekend, look for our Patel Conservatory students on stage!

Four of our Rock School students will be performing along with other local bands at the festival, which will be this Sat., Mar. 9 at Kiley Garden and Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa.

The Gasparilla Music Festival is an annual event featuring local bands and musicians from a wide variety of genres on several stages, and cuisine from the region's top restaurants.

The Patel Conservatory's Rock School band 'Nfin8 will perform two original songs, Every Time I Think of You and Smile, both with music and lyrics by the band’s keyboardist and vocalist Parker Wilkson.

The band worked together on the musical arrangements for both songs.

Alex Smith, left, and Davin Norman
Band members also include Davin Norman, bass and vocal harmonies; Alex Smith, drums, percussion and vocal harmonies; and Matthew Sichterman, guitar, percussion and vocal harmonies.

The group will also be performing at the upcoming Rock School Blowout concert, which will be Sat., Apr. 6 at the Glazer Children's Museum.

‘Nfin8 will perform at about 11:20 a.m. on the Kiley Garden stage on Saturday. Best of luck to the group!

Monday, March 4, 2013

On-camera acting workshop with Ellen Jacoby

Would you like to get one-on-one time with Florida casting director Ellen Jacoby?

The Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center in downtown Tampa is hosting a two-day workshop with the Miami-based casting director who has worked on such feature films as Ace Ventura, True Lies and There’s Something About Mary, and television shows such as Burn Notice, Miami Vice and CSI: Miami.

If you work, or aspire to work, in the film business, this is the workshop that can jumpstart your career.

“Ellen Jacoby is an actor’s casting director, she loves working with actors and helping them hone their skills, and has a knack for getting the best out of the actor,” said Eugenie Bondurant, Patel Conservatory’s on-camera theater instructor.

As a Florida-based film actor, Bondurant has worked with Jacoby throughout the years.

Jacoby will conduct a two-day intensive workshop that will cover important aspects of on-camera work.

You’ll learn how to maneuver through the film business, dissect copy for auditions, and develop reliable on-camera acting techniques. And, Jacoby will offer valuable recommendations on what your next step should be.

“Ellen really goes to bat for talent she believes in. She values actors who have worked hard on their craft,” said Bondurant.

On-Camera Acting Workshop with Casting Director Ellen Jacoby
Grade 5 through Adult
Sat., Mar. 30 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sun., Mar. 31 from 12 to 4 p.m.
$135 for Saturday only
$200 for both Saturday and Sunday. 

Patel Conservatory on-camera students receive 20% off.

Space is limited. Pre-registration is required.
For more information or to register, call 813-222-1002.