Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween from the Straz Center and Patel Conservatory!

From our Halloween make-up workshop last weekend to Spiderman, the Mad Hatter and Mary Poppins, the Patel Conservatory and Straz Center students and staff got into the spirit of the holiday.

Check out these pics of students and staff...

Theater staff Sarah Berland teaches
students how to do ghoulish make-up
effects at last week's Behind the Curtain
A theater student gets a new look at
last weekend's make-up workshop.
 Staff and students alike enjoying dressing up for some treats today!

Happy Halloween from our team to yours!

Vocal arts students enjoy an array of performance opportunities

Patel Conservatory Vocal Arts students are enjoying a busy fall season!

Patel Conservatory's Vocal Arts kick off event at Al Lopez park
Students from the Junior and Senior Choirs and Ensembles recently kicked off the season with a welcome back picnic at Al Lopez Park, as well as their first fall concert last month.

This Sun., Nov. 2, they’ll perform at the Jaeb Theater as part of the Tampa Jewish Book Festival, with a special rendition of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen in honor of the event’s featured book.

The Conservatory’s vocal arts program continues to grow under the leadership of instructor Kavanaugh Gillespie. In both the Choirs and Ensembles, students work on proper singing technique and music reading and develop solo and group singing skills through rehearsal and performance of various styles of choral music. On Dec. 6, they’ll get the opportunity to learn from professionals as they participate in a master class with touring vocal artists the Medieval Babes, who will be performing at the Straz Center.

December also brings plenty of performance opportunities. Check out our vocal arts students these fun, family-friendly events that will get you in the holiday spirit!

Dec. 6 - Junior and Senior Choirs and Ensembles perform in the City of Tampa’s Santa Fest event at Curtis Hixon Park.

Dec. 10 - Patel Conservatory’s vocal and instrument students perform in a Holiday Concert, featuring a dessert bar, audience sing-a-long, and classic holiday tunes.

Dec. 14  - Vocal arts students help set the holiday mood with caroling in the Ruth Silbiger Lobby before the Sunday matinee of Next Generation Ballet’s The Nutcracker.

Come sing with us! If you’d like to join our vocal arts family, there’s room for you!

Auditions for the spring session will be Jan. 6, 2015 from 5 to 8 p.m. and Jan. 10, 2015 from 10 a.m. to noon. Placement auditions help instructors recommend the best class or ensemble for each student.  For more information, or to schedule an audition, contact or call 813.222.1002.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Free audition workshops

Want to perform, but tentative about auditions?

Auditioning is part of the process for all actors, but it can be intimidating. However, it can also be a lot of fun. Every audition offers a chance to perform, learn, gain experience and connect with other actors. And if you’re prepared, it’s a lot easier!

The Patel Conservatory is offering two free audition workshops to help students in grades two through adult learn how to prepare for an audition and what to expect.

Audition Prep Workshop
Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center

Grades 2 to 4: Sat., Nov. 15, 2014
10 a.m. to noon

Grades 5 to Adult: Sat., Dec. 6, 2014
1 to 3 p.m.

Cost: Free!

In these workshops, students will work with Patel Conservatory theater faculty to gain knowledge and understanding of how to be successful and confident in auditions.

The workshops will include lecture and coaching on the process, requirements and expectations for a musical theater audition. Topics include selecting material, memorization, creating resumes, slating, headshots and much more.
On Nov. 15, instructors Matthew Belopavlovich and Audrey Siegler will work with students in grades two through four.

On Dec. 6, instructors Sean Paris and Matthew Belopavlovich will work with students in grades five through adult.

Both workshops will include an informational session for parents to help them understand the process and how to help their students succeed in auditions.

These workshops are a great way to prepare for the Conservatory's upcoming auditions for our spring theater productions of Winnie the Pooh, Kids and Fiddler on the Roof. For more info on audition dates, click here.

RSVP is required. For more information, or to RSVP, please contact Audrey Siegler at 813.222.1073 or

Auditions for Winnie the Pooh, Kids and Fiddler on the Roof

The Straz Center’s Patel Conservatory will host auditions for our spring theater productions of Winnie the Pooh, Kids and Fiddler on the Roof.

The shows are performance-based production classes through which students put into practice the skills they gain in the classroom. They’ll build theater, music, and dance skills while participating in a nurturing, yet demanding, rehearsal process that culminates in public performance.

In order to participate, students must also be registered for an approved Patel Conservatory class. For more information on classes, click here.

Auditions for Winnie the Pooh, Kids
Open to students in Grades 2 to 4
Wed., Dec. 3 from 4 to 6 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 5 from 4 to 6 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 6  from 10 a.m. to noon
Callbacks Dec. 11 from 4 to 6 p.m.
Click here for production info
Students should prepare for 16 bars of a song from musical theater, a 30 second monologue or poem, and should come prepared to dance. Sheet music is preferred.

Auditions for Fiddler on the Roof
Open to students in Grades 5 through Adult
Mon., Jan. 12 from 5 to 8 p.m.
Tues., Jan. 13 from 5 to 8 p.m.
 Callbacks Wed, Jan. 14  from 4 to 6 p.m.
Click here for production info
Students should prepare and provide sheet music for 16 bars of a song from musical theater, a 60 second monologue, and should come prepared to dance.

RSVP is required. For more information, or to RSVP, please contact Audrey Siegler at

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Spotlight On Madison Potantus in A Year with Frog and Toad

When Madison Potantus moved to the Tampa area with her family last year from Ohio, she was concerned that she wouldn’t be able to find a dance studio or theater to suit her passion for performing.

Madison and Jacob Potantus
“I started dancing when I was about two and a half,” said Madison, 13, from Harbour Island.

“When I was little, I started singing a lot. That led to trying a vocal class, which led to trying a theater class.”

After recently playing Miss Hannigan in a local production of Annie, she was hooked on theater and wanted more, which led her to the Patel Conservatory.

When she started classes this fall at the Conservatory, she dove right in, taking six classes in dance, theater and music, including Junior Choir, Acting, Just for Kicks and Show Team.

“This is actually the first studio we’ve come to that has everything,” she said.

She performed last week in the Vocal and Instrumental Concert, and plays a Lady Bird in our upcoming theater production of A Year with Frog and Toad.

“I’m loving it here, it’s awesome. It seems like a big program, but really it’s like a really tight family. My first class, everyone was so welcoming,” said Madison.

Madison’s 10-year-old brother Jacob is also enrolled, taking chorus and theater classes. Jacob, who has autism, surprised his family with a solo part at last week’s vocal concert.

“When he was little, we didn’t think he was going to talk at all, so it was awesome to see him get up there,” said Madison.

“I was blown away by the concert, the level of professionalism, the technique,” said their mom Heather Potantus. “You could see the talent in [instructors] Kavan [Gillespie] and Aaron [Cassette] and their ability to work with the children. They respect the kids. The way they interact with the children is so special.”

One of the things Madison enjoys about the instructors is how they encourage the students to make their own creative choices.

“I love all the faculty... it’s amazing to see how well they communicate with us,” said Madison.

In A Year with Frog and Toad, Madison was surprised by how director Matthew Belopavlovich added his own unique touches to the show, playing up his vaudeville experience.

“When I first saw it, I thought it was going to be crazy, but it works,” said Madison.

A Year with Frog and Toad is a fun, family-friendly show about friendship through the seasons. Performed by students in grades 5 through 8, it's a great way to introduce kids to live theater.

“Some of these kids are blowing my mind, giving their own take on these characters. Overall, I think it’s going to be amazing and I’m so excited to see the finished product.”

The show runs Nov. 6 through Nov. 9, 2014 in TECO Theater.

Patel Conservatory students receive 50% off one ticket with their Patel Conservatory student ID badge at the Ticket Sales Office. For tickets, click here, visit our Ticket Sales Office, or call 813.229.STAR (7827).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

On-camera workshop with Ellen Jacoby

Do you want to work in the film and television industry?

The Patel Conservatory is hosting a two-day workshop with Miami-based casting director Ellen Jacoby, one of the most in-demand casting directors in the Florida film and television industry.

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

Jacoby 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.

In this two day workshop, students will hear real life accounts of life in the world of film and television as Jacoby shares the ins and outs of the business of on-camera acting.

In Saturday’s introductory workshop, students will learn firsthand what casting directors are looking for and how to prepare for auditions. Sunday’s more advanced workshop will provide more details on self-taping, being aware of current trends, and understanding how to best represent yourself and your talents.

On-Camera Acting Workshop with Casting Director Ellen Jacoby
Patel Conservatory at the Straz Center, Tampa
Sat., Nov. 15, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 16, 2014 from 1 to 5 p.m.
$200 for both Saturday and Sunday
$100 Saturday only
$135 Sunday only

Space is limited and pre-registration is required. For more information, or to register, call 813.222.1002.

Dancers inspire kindness and acceptance

Like any sport, the dance world can be competitive.

Jake Tribus
But Next Generation Ballet dancers Jake Tribus and Jonathan Fahoury hope to show that even though dancers may compete against each other for titles, they can still support each other without judgement or criticism.

Tribus, 16, from Raleigh, N.C., and Fahoury, 14, from Boulder, Colo., are part of group of dancers from around the country trying to inspire kindness and acceptance through their non-profit organization Artists Giving Hope.

“Kindness changes everything is our motto,” said Tribus, “we want everyone to understand and accept one another regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc..”

Founded by Tribus and fellow dance competitor Christina Ricucci, in March, the group performs and offers master classes to raise awareness and help support like-minded charities. They recently offered a master class at a studio in Birmingham, Ala., which raised approximately $500 for Dancers Fighting Cancer. Their next goal is to raise enough to fulfill a dance-related wish for Make-A-Wish.

Tribus and Fahoury met in 2013 at the New York City Dance Alliance convention.

“It’s a week-long national dance competition and workshops,” said Tribus.

Tribus won the National Teen Male division, and Fahoury won the National Male Junior division. As title winners, they toured the country with the organization, performing and assisting faculty.

“It was a great experience teaching me how to be more of a professional,” said Tribus.

Both dancers recently moved to Tampa with their families to train at the Patel Conservatory.

Jonathan Fahoury
Fahoury attended NGB’s summer intensive and found the training exceeded his expectations.

“In three weeks, I improved so much. I wanted to improve more,” said Fahoury. “I know I want to do this as a I want to be as well trained as possible in various styles.”

Tribus, whose background is predominantly in contemporary and jazz, joined NGB to improve his ballet technique.

“I’ve never had a ballet class with all men...I can already see my technique growing in just the month and half I’ve been here,” said Tribus. “Definitely having multiple classes a day filled with kids of the same passion and same pushes me.”

Tribus will play the Mouse King, lead Russian and lead Arabian in Next Generation Ballet’s upcoming production of The Nutcracker. Fahoury will play the lead Chinese and a Russian dancer.

Come see Tribus and Fahoury in this year’s The Nutcracker, Dec. 13 and 14, 2014 at the Straz Center.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Want to look like the walking dead? Check out our make-up workshop!

Want to add some ghoulish effects to your Halloween costume this year?

Join us for a new workshop at the Patel Conservatory:

Behind the Curtain: Stab Wounds, Scars and Scares! Oh, My!
Sat., Oct. 25
10 a.m. to noon
Cost is $25

As part of our Behind the Curtain workshop series, theater make-up enthusiasts Audrey Siegler and Sarah Berland will teach participants how to create frightening looks for Halloween. This fun workshop will include a basic introduction to make-up and design, an application demonstration of wounds, scars and painting, and a portion where students will apply learned skills to create a simple wound.

Students will be provided with all materials to create in-class applications as well as how-to and material guides to take home for reference.

This workshop is designed for anyone in grade five through adult. The cost is $25.

For more information, or to register, call 813.222.1002 or click here.