Friday, June 28, 2013

Guest blog: In the Big Apple!

Guest blog by Tina James, Patel Conservatory Education Programs Manager for the Patel Conservatory. Tina’s primary responsibilities include overseeing the Conservatory’s Community Partnership program as well as all community-based programs involving Broadway Family Nights, Family First Night, National High School Musical Theater Awards as well as National Broadway League initiatives.

I’m in the Big Apple with Chandler Morehead and Tim Hart, winners of the Straz Center’s Broadway Star of the Future Award. As you may recall from an earlier blog post, Chandler and Tim won this year’s award during the Florida State Thespian Festival in March.

Chandler Morehead is from American Heritage School in Plantation, Fla., which happens to be the same school of Joshua Grosso, who was last year’s overall Jimmy Awards winner! Chandler won for her performance of Meredith Parker in Bat Boy The Musical. She is a 2013 graduate of AHS and will be attending Texas State University in the fall.

Tim Hart is a junior/rising senior from Palm Harbor University High School in Clearwater, FL and he won for his performance of the Baker from Into the Woods.

Chandler and Tim are only two of 62 nominees vying for the coveted Jimmy Award during this year’s National High School Musical Theater Awards. To see a list of the other 60 nominees, visit the NHSMTA website.

Nominees for the national Jimmy Awards participating in the National
High School Musical Theater Awards in New York City this week.
We arrived in NYC on Wednesday, June 26. Since then, we have (or should I say they…LOL) have hit the ground running. The nominees had a chance to get to know one another and meet everyone at a pizza party sponsored by Papa John’s. After the party, they went straight into music rehearsal and began working right away on the opening number until about 10 p.m.

Chandler and Tim on the bus in NYC
The next day they were at it again as early as 8:30 a.m. with medley vocals and solo coaching. During Thursday’s lunch the nominees were treated to a talk-back session with special guest Kirstin Tucker from the Tony®-Winning musical - Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Kirstin has also performed in the national tours of West Side Story and A Chorus Line as well as numerous regional theater productions. 

Later that evening, the nominees had dinner at the world famous Sardi's Restaurant. After dinner the nominees had a night out on Broadway and had a chance to see Annie, starring Jane Lynch of Glee. Following the performance there was a special talkback. 

To see more photos visit the NHSMTA flickr page.

Check back for more updates…write with you soon!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Showstoppers offers memorable performances of popular favorites

Relive some of your favorite Broadway numbers in Showstoppers: A Musical Revue, Thursday and Friday night!

In just two short weeks, Patel Conservatory Theater students have put together an evening of memorable performances!

“It’s all about the process,” said guest instructor Quentin Earl Darrington. “We may only have a short time together, but what they’ve learned here, they’ll be able to use and take with them wherever they go.”

Ian Burns, left, gets tips from guest instructor
 Quentin Darrington in rehearsal.
A Broadway veteran, Darrington joined us this week to work with the students and help with the production.

“I helped the students with the rehearsal process, helped them think about their own process and their choices, that helps them develop their characters,” he said.

Darrington got his start at the Jaeb Theater as part of the cast of the Center Theatre Company while an undergraduate at the University of South Florida. He went on to star in Ragtime on Broadway, and the Broadway touring productions of Memphis: A New Musical, Ragtime, The Lion King and The Color Purple.

As a young performer, the six-foot, broad shouldered actor chose theater over athletics.

“I fell in love with [acting]. I loved the challenge of it - the memorization and analysis of a script. I attacked it just like I would a sport.”

His passion for the arts was clear as he worked with the students in the intimate Jaeb Theater, where he began his career.

Students will get to show off all they’ve learned in this crowd pleasing cabaret-style show this evening and tomorrow at 7 p.m. in the Jaeb Theater at the Straz Center.

Directed and choreographed by Patel Conservatory musical theater instructor Adam Wagner, the show includes a cast of more than 30 students performing popular songs as Under Pressure from We Will Rock You, Seasons of Love from Rent and songs from Evita, South Pacific and more!

For tickets, call 813.229.STAR(7827), or visit

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Patel Conservatory camps featured on Good Day Tampa Bay

Thank you to all Patel Conservatory students who arrived as early as 6 a.m. this morning to be on Fox TV’s Good Day Tampa Bay!

Students from dance, theater and music camps were featured today showing off all of our programs.

From our theater department, students from the upcoming production of Showstoppers Musical Revue gave a sneak peek of their rendition of Blow, Gabriel, Blow from the Broadway musical Anything Goes.

Students from Showstoppers Musical Revue perform a preview of the show.

In the dance segment, Gabrielle Beach and William Dugan of Next Generation Ballet (NGB) showed off solo pieces.

Next Generation Ballet student William Dugan performs a solo.
From our music department, Rock School students performed an original song; Sara Bollinger gave a beautiful rendition of Rihanna’s Love the Way You Lie; and the Vocal Arts Academy gave a preview of Everybody Rejoice from The Wiz.

From left, Rock School students Davin, Matthew and Parker.
Check out clips of their performances on!

And you can see all these groups in upcoming performances at the Patel Conservatory, including Showstoppers Musical Revue, Rock Star Retreat and Vocal Arts this weekend,  and NGB’s Summer Fantasy in July.

For tickets to upcoming shows, click here.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Space available in Rock Star Retreat camps

Attention musicians, spots are still available for the Patel Conservatory’s Rock Star Retreats in August.

The Conservatory’s Rock Star Retreat is a week of classes during which students in grades five through 12 learn performance skills and new techniques on their instruments (guitar, bass, piano, drums, vocals).

Students are placed in a band according to their age and skill level and spend the week learning material for a final concert performance.

Space is available for beginning and intermediate players for the following two camps:

Rock Star Retreat
Aug. 5 through Aug. 9, 2013
9 a.m. to noon

Rock Star Retreat
Aug. 5 through Aug. 9, 2013
1 to 4 p.m.

To participate, interested students must come to a placement audition, which helps instructors place students appropriately.

Auditions for the August Rock Star Retreat camps will be July 26, 2013 from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

For more information, or to RSVP for auditions, please call 813.222.1002 or email

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Next Generation Ballet's summer intensive starts next week

The Patel Conservatory and Next Generation Ballet (NGB) welcomes all the dancers who will be arriving in Tampa this weekend.
Guest artist Kate Kadow will perform along
with NGB students in NGB's Summer Fantasy
More than 250 dancers from throughout the country and beyond will descend upon the Patel Conservatory on Monday as we kick off NGB’s summer ballet intensive.
Peter Stark, artisitic director of NGB and Patel Conservatory dance chair, conducted a 24-stop national audition tour to find the best young dancers to train at the Conservatory this summer.
Talented students from 25 states as well as international students from Canada, Italy and Panama will experience up to five weeks of dance training with NGB faculty. They’ll also get the opportunity to work with guest instructors from renowned dance companies including New York City Ballet and Boston Ballet.
The program will culminate in a performance of Summer Fantasy on July 26. The show will include a suite from Le Corsaire and cutting-edge contemporary work by international choreographers.
Guest artists for the show will be Emily and Kate Kadow.

Emily and Kate are Tampa natives who now dance in California, with San Francisco Ballet and State Street Ballet in Santa Barbara respectively.

Former Next Generation Ballet dancers Drew Nelson and Hannah Bettes will also perform. Nelson and Bettes are both now on full scholarship at the Royal Ballet School (RBS) of England. Bettes is the winner of several international ballet competitions, including Switzerland’s prestigious Prix de Lausanne. In Summer Fantasy, the two will dance the central pas de deux from Le Corsaire.

In addition, the show will include world premieres created by Dylan G-Bowley, Juilliard graduate and award-winning choreographer, and Nelson, who has choreographed for RBS.

Summer Fantasy will be Fri., July 26, 2013 at 7 p.m. in Ferguson Hall at the Straz Center. Tickets start at $15.

Theater Guest Blog: Showstoppers rehearsal offers fun challenges

Guest blog by Stefan Melnyk, Patel Conservatory Summer Theater Apprentice

Students rehearse choreography for Showstoppers: A Musical Revue

Patel Conservatory Theater students are preparing for an upcoming production of Showstoppers: A Musical Revue.

This exciting show will feature a collection of fully choreographed musical numbers from Broadway shows spanning the last several decades.

Rehearsals began on Monday, and the songs rehearsed served as a terrific demonstration of this eclectic approach, including “Seasons of Love” from the groundbreaking Rent, and “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” from Cole Porter’s classic 1934 show Anything Goes.

The first half of the day was devoted to learning the vocals. All the students were unanimous in selecting “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” as the more challenging of the two songs, thanks in large part to its more complex harmonies and considerably faster tempo.

The students and instructors are acutely aware of being on an extremely tight schedule, packing a great deal of material into the intensive two-week production class.

“They put the ‘intense’ in ‘intensive,’” said Gabie Barnes, one of the students performing in the revue.

This pressure, far from defeating the students, clearly galvanized them and fostered a spirit of creative cooperation.

Parker Wilkson, the student accompanist on the production, felt precisely that contrast.

“I’m trying to sight read a lot of [the score],” he said, but added that the pressure would be beneficial in the long run. “I think I’ll get better overall as a musician over the next two weeks.”

The second half of the day was devoted to learning the choreography for the morning’s songs, a task that the students approached with admirable patience and ardor.

While the production is still in its early days, it does seem clear that the performers have more than enough talent and enthusiasm to push the show as far and as high as it can possibly go.

You can come relive some of your favorite show stopping Broadway musical numbers in Showstoppers: A Musical Revue on Jun. 27 and 28, 2013 at 7 p.m. in the Jaeb Theater at the Straz Center. For tickets, click here, or call 813-229-7827.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Theater Guest Blog: Apprentice Boot Camp!

Guest blog by Stefan Melnyk, New York University student and Patel Conservatory Summer Theater Apprentice

Patel Conservatory's Summer 2013 Theater Apprentices

For the first time this summer, the Patel Conservatory theater department offered an Apprentice Boot Camp.

The theater apprentice program began last fall and offers students from high school through college the opportunity to volunteer at the Conservatory and learn about the various backstage departments of theatrical productions.

I have the privilege of being a student in the program this summer, and enjoyed a sometimes frantic but always engaging week of Apprentice Boot Camp, which introduced us to the Conservatory and its upcoming summer productions.

I was born and raised in Columbia, Mo., a college town in the heart of the state. Although my academic pursuits remained (and still remain) quite sober-minded, outside of school I always maintained a love of the theater by participating in various regional and educational theatrical productions. These productions were crucial to my development, both as an artist and as a human being. So when a family member who had been in several productions at the Patel Conservatory told me about the work being done there, I saw it as a terrific way to help bring that kind of formative experience to a new generation of young theater enthusiasts.

After a couple of days of general instructions and guidelines, we set to work meeting the people in charge and learning the basic outlines of the challenges that might face us in the weeks to come as the Conservatory embarks on its summer productions.

We learned the proper way to pack up a rock drum set, how to hook up amplifiers to a system of microphones, how to command stage lights from the control booth, how to build platforms in the workshop for use in scenery. And finally, we were given a fictional scenario in which we had only one morning to construct a serviceable rock concert setup from the platforms we had helped to assemble the previous day.

While the week consisted sometimes of meticulous instruction and sometimes of bustling activity, I learned a great deal about things that I had rarely even thought about before, particularly in the areas of lighting and set construction.

More than anything else, what the Apprentice Boot Camp did for me was provide me with a basic toolbox of skills that will ensure that - whatever crisis may arise - I’ll be able to lend a helping hand.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Camps starting this week: Music, Voice and pre-K!

Summer camps and classes continue this week at the Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center.

Today, we started three new camps, Intro to Performing Arts, Showstoppers Musical Revue and Vocal Arts Academy: Jr. Division.

Our half-day mini Intro to Performing Arts camp helps little ones in preschool and kindergarten explore their imaginations through games and storytelling.

Students in our Pre-K Mini Intro to Performing Arts camp
had a fun first day of camp!
Space is still available in our Intro to Performing Arts camps July 1 - 5 for preschoolers through eighth grade.

In the Musical Revue camp, students in grade five through college will polish their solo and group musical theater skills. They’ll research, rehearse and perform classic Broadway show-stopping musical numbers. We welcome Michael Raabe as our music director for this show. Raabe is a vocal director and music arranger for shows at Busch Gardens, and has done shows with Freefall Theatre and American Stage in the Park.

Students in our Showstoppers Musical Revue acquaint themselves with their songbooks.
Come re-live some of your favorite Broadway showstoppers as they perform Jun. 27 and Jun. 28, 2013 at 7 p.m. in the Jaeb Theater at the Straz Center.

In our Vocal Arts Academy: Junior Division, singers in grades five through eight will work on various vocal techniques. Through daily rehearsals and group voice classes, they’ll have the opportunity to sing in parts, sing in English and other languages, read music, develop a character and work on performance skills. These students will perform Fri., Jun. 28, 2013 at 3 p.m. at the TECO Theater.
Students in our Vocal Arts Academy work on choreography for their performance.
Space is still available in our Vocal Arts Academy: Senior Division for grades nine through college , which will be Jul. 22 through Aug. 2, 2013.
Our ballet Junior Intensive also continues this week and will culminate in a performance this Friday, Jun. 21, 2013 at 4:30 p.m. in Morsani Hall at the Straz Center.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dance for Musical Theater camp teaches techniques for the stage

If you love to perform, and you imagine your name in lights on Broadway, then you’ll need the skills to get you there!

The Patel Conservatory is offering Dance for Musical Theater summer camp to help students interested in musical theater gain the necessary dance skills.

"Students will work on proper body alignment, strength, posture and rhythm,” said Patel Conservatory dance instructor Susan Downey, who will be teaching the camp. “You need all these skills in theater. Dance gives you body awareness that helps you develop your characters.”

During this week-long camp, students in grades two through eight will explore the different forms of dance used in American musical theater including tap, stylized jazz and contemporary ballet.

“The students will be broken into groups according to their skill levels, and each group will learn a musical theater jazz piece to popular Broadway tunes,” explained Downey, a former Broadway performer herself.

The camp will culminate in a performance in which the students get to show off choreography learned throughout the week to songs such as Footloose, Can-Can, Trash in the Camp from Tarzan and Nicest Kids in Town from Hairspray.

“It’s all dance all day for an entire week. Then they get to perform in the Straz Center’s Jaeb Theater. It’s going to be a week of high energy that will be a lot of fun!” said Downey.

Dance for Musical Theater will be Monday through Friday, July 15 to 19 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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

Monday, June 10, 2013

Welcome summer campers!

Music student get to try the flute.

Summer is in full swing here at the Patel Conservatory!

We welcomed our first round of summer campers this morning with the start of both the Junior Intensive and the Instrumental Petting Zoo.

This week, students in our Instrumental Petting Zoo will have fun exploring instruments of a band and orchestra. They'll learn more about woodwinds, strings, percussion and brass, and get to try out many of them!

In dance, we have more than 100 students in the Junior Intensive, our most ever in that camp!

These students will spend the next two weeks focusing on improving their ballet technique. They’ll also get experience in tap, jazz, musical theater and performing arts.

There’s still spots available in many of our summer camps in dance, music and theater! Spend your summer with us, exploring the performing arts! For availability, call our registration office at 813-222-1002.

Junior Intensive students began the day with placement classes in TECO Theater.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Music instructor chosen for Rock and Roll Forever educators' conference

Congratulations to Patel Conservatory music instructor Deborah Lynch for being selected to attend the first Rock and Roll Forever: Summer Teachers’ Institute in July.

Dee Lynch demonstrates vocal technique
during a Rock School workshop.
Created by Steven Van Zandt, actor and musician with the E Street Band, the Summer Teachers’ Institute will teach educators how to incorporate rock history into standard curriculum for middle and high schools.

Lynch is the Patel Conservatory staff accompanist, a member of the music faculty and the coordinator of our Rock School program. She was one of only 22 teachers from across the country selected to participate in the program, which will be in New York on the NYU/Steinhardt campus.

“I’m excited to learn how to train other teachers in the Tampa Bay area on how to integrate rock history into their lesson plans, from history classes to finance, English to social studies.”

Incorporating rock history into other classes engages the students and also helps them learn about the influence music and musicians can have in society and culture.

“Frank Zappa testified before Congress against censorship and recorded Public Service Announcements asking people to vote. Here was this rock music figure, encouraging citizens to exercise their civil rights,” said Lynch.

At the Summer Teachers’ Institute, Lynch will learn skills to train other educators on the institute’s web-based curriculum, which will be available for teachers online beginning in the fall. 

In addition to providing vocal coaching to Patel Conservatory’s Rock School students, Lynch will also be teaching a new class starting this fall called Vox - Voice Rocks!, a vocal training and fundamentals of music class for students interested in singing rock music. Lynch will incorporate rock history into the class.

“A lot of rock musicians are classically trained. Pat Benatar was actually an opera singer before she made it on the pop charts, and Freddie Mercury of Queen was a classically trained pianist,” said Lynch.

“Understanding where a certain style came from, and the music skills behind a song, helps make you a much better performer.”

Undoubtedly, her training this summer will further enhance our Rock School and music programs here at the Conservatory, and academic classes throughout the area!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Auditions for Shakespeare's The Tempest

Patel Conservatory Theater's 2012 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream
The Patel Conservatory is now casting for our summer theater production of Shakespeare's The Tempest.

This Patel Conservatory Theater production offers advanced-level training through nurturing and demanding classes and rehearsals. The summer intensive program is for students ages 14 through 25 who are interested in delving into classical theater techniques and improving their acting skills.

The class culminates in a ticketed production of the play which is open to the public.

The Tempest summer intensive will be taught and directed by Shakespeare veteran Giles Davies.

Davies was a resident company member of the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company for nine years, and also directed last summer’s Patel Conservatory Theater production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The Tempest is set on a remote island, where Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place. Using illusion and skillful manipulation, he conjures up a storm, the eponymous tempest, to lure his usurping brother Antonio and the complicit King Alonso of Naples to the island. There, his machinations bring about the revelation of Antonio's lowly nature, the redemption of the King and the marriage of Miranda to Alonso's son, Ferdinand.

Auditions will be June 15. Dormitory options are available.

Particularly need males to fill the roles of Prospero, Antonio and King Alonso.

If interested, please prepare a Shakespearean sonnet and RSVP to Christen at 813-222-6414

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Students enjoy a master class with the Rockettes

The Patel Conservatory recently hosted a master class with Jeanne Logan Cargill and Deana Brickley of the Rockettes.

Members of the Rockettes visited the Straz Center in anticipation of their upcoming show, Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which will be coming to the Straz Center in December.

While they were here, the two dancers from the famed dance company in New York City shared their expertise with some students from the Conservatory and Blake High School.

The master class, taught by Cargill and Brickley, gave the students the opportunity to practice a Rockette kick line.

“It was really fun. We learned a little bit of Shine, which is their finale number. And we did a kick line with strut kicks,” said Ashlyn Bolton, who explained that there’s various types of kicks in the Rockettes' repertoire.

Bolton is a Conservatory student who has taken the Rockettes summer intensive in New York for two years and will be returning again this summer.

“It’s my home at Patel [Conservatory]. It was great bringing something I love here,” she said.

After the class, the students got the chance to ask questions and hear about the dancers' experience with the show.