Window on Arts & Entertainment: March 16, 2023 | Diversions

Early Bird presents ‘Mom’s Gift’

CLEARWATER — A production of “Mom’s Gift,” by Phil Olson, is currently being presented at Early Bird Dinner Theater, 13355 49th St. N., Clearwater.

The production will run through April 23. It is directed by Janice Creneti and features Brianna Alfieri, Mike Arce, Colleen Coughenour, Donna Donnelly, Andrew Hughes and Amanda Kronhaus. Alan Mohney Jr. designed and constructed the set and Becky Broadwater is stage managing.

Elizabeth Bell, Rick Bronson, Alaina Rahaim Miller, Judy Wilson and Lonzell Wilson will understudy.

“‘Mom’s Gift’ is hilarious,” said Susan Fletcher Linardos, producer. “The cast is so talented, and I am delighted to be working with director Janice Creneti. It is my favorite kind of play that combines humor and heart.”

“Mom’s Gift” introduces us to the Swensens. Dad and the daughters are doing their best to manage their family conflict while recovering from the untimely death of Mom. As if things aren’t complicated enough, Mom’s ghost shows up needing help from her eldest daughter to get her into heaven.

“We’re having so much fun in rehearsals exploring all the layers of relationships between the characters,” Creneti said. “The actors are doing an outstanding job bringing all the nuances of these family dynamics to life.”

The price for buffet and show is $45 including tax. Catering onsite by Banquet Masters. Call 727-446-5898 for reservations. Visit or email [email protected] for specific availability.

In May, Early Bird will present the comedy “Casserole,” directed by Dan Kelley.

Coachman Park venue gets name

CLEARWATER — Susan M. Crockett, Ruth Eckerd Hall president and CEO, recently announced the new concert venue to be operated by Ruth Eckerd Hall, at Coachman Park in downtown Clearwater in partnership with the city of Clearwater, has been named The Sound.

In making the announcement Crockett said, “It is truly exciting to be able to share the name which has been under wraps these past weeks. This will be an iconic venue offering a one-of-a-kind experience in Tampa Bay. The Sound will host great entertainment in front of Clearwater’s breathtaking sunset and is sure to be an artist favorite.”

Megan Brennan, vice president and chief marketing officer at Ruth Eckerd Hall, added, “We wanted something special capturing not only the venue’s purpose and gorgeous coastal location, but the unforgettable sensory experiences it will provide for concert goers.”

In conjunction with this announcement, Crockett also announced the addition of upcoming concerts including Chicago, Kenny Loggins and Billy Currington with Jessie James Decker, going on sale soon. Previously announced concerts include The Sad Summer Festival on Friday, July 7; Michael Franti and Spearhead on Friday, July 21; and the Goo Goo Dolls with special guest O.A.R. on Monday, July 24.

In May 2022, the Clearwater City Council selected Ruth Eckerd Hall to operate the concert venue in downtown Clearwater. The council votes were based on three exclusive criteria that could be considered: demonstrated experience of company and personnel; project methodology, approach and schedule; and references.

For more information, visit

Clearwater celebrates launch of ARTours

CLEARWATER — The city of Clearwater and University of South Florida recently unveiled ARTours Clearwater, a partnership presenting a new cutting-edge augmented reality walking tour of the city’s downtown murals.

ARTours Clearwater is a self-guided walking experience using a new app that takes viewers to four vibrant murals along a .7-mile route through downtown Clearwater, the first augmented reality tour of its kind in the Tampa Bay region.

Opening the ARTours Clearwater app and pointing a device’s camera at the selected murals provides a view of a new world of animations, graphics, videos, and audio, making the murals come to life. Each mural contains several interactive visual experiences, including seeing flowers blooming, alligators walking, spaceships landing, and paint buckets spilling. The free app can be accessed by downloading the ARTours Clearwater app on Google Play and Apple App Store, beginning March 9.

ARTours Clearwater is the result of a multi-year collaboration between the Clearwater Community Redevelopment Agency and University of South Florida’s Access 3D Lab and Advanced Visualization Center. At the heart of this collaboration is a shared desire to beautify public spaces with innovative arts and culture projects.

USF joined forces with the Clearwater CRA in 2019, bringing expertise in digital innovation and app design, creating detailed 3D scans of each mural with powerful Faro Focus lidar scanners, then adding multimedia imagery and animations in Unity — a video game design engine.

For information on the tour and to view photos of all the murals, visit

Arts Summer Camp Grants continue

LARGO — Creative Pinellas again will offer the Arts Summer Camp Grant, created to make it possible for more young people, ages 5 to 18, in Pinellas County to have arts and cultural experiences at area arts summer camps this year.

Applications will be accepted through May 25. Those eligible include students who attend Title I schools, receive a reduced or free lunch, live in designated neighborhoods or meet certain other requirements.

“This is our fourth year of the summer camp program,” Creative Pinellas CEO Barbara St. Clair said. “Most of the young people who receive grants from us have never, ever gone to a day camp before or experienced a high-quality arts experience. And then, when they go to an arts summer camp, because they got a grant from us, and we ask them ‘Okay, now that you have been to an arts day camp (for the first time) what do you want to do next?’ They say, ‘I want to go to an art museum’ or ‘I want to go hear the Florida Orchestra,’ or ‘I want to see a show at American Stage,’ we can see the value in what we have done.”

There is an online application on the organization’s website at and links to organizations that offer arts related camp programs.

For more information, visit or email [email protected].

Downtown art walk set

CLEARWATER — The Downtown Clearwater Art Walk is offered third Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. The next walks will take place on Saturday, March 18. Participants meet their guide at the Ring Canopy Sculpture in front of the Old City Hall at 112 S. Osceola Ave. Free parking is available in the Old City Hall parking lot. The docent-led walk covers the Cleveland Street corridor and nearby areas.

Attendees will stroll through downtown Clearwater while learning about the city’s vibrant public art scene. During the hour long walk, participants will see at least 20 art installations including sculptures, murals, art wrapped signal boxes, pavement art and storm drain murals.

Tours are organized by the Clearwater Arts Alliance.

Tickets are for the Downtown Clearwater Art Walk are $10 in advance or $15 the day of the tour. To register, visit For information about the organization, visit or email [email protected].

DeMent, Duarte shows added to calendar

LARGO — Two shows were recently added to the entertainment lineup at the Central Park Performing Arts Center, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo.

Iris DeMent will perform Sunday, April 16, at 7 p.m. Chris Duarte will take the stage Saturday, May 20, at 8 p.m. Tickets are on sale now and are available at or by phone at 727-587-6793.

DeMent is on tour in support of her new record “Workin’ on a World.” She is known for her unforgettable melodies rooted in hymns, gospel, and old country music. Tickets start at $29.50.

Duarte is a sorcerer of tone, a master at channeling the spirits and sounds of great musicians of our past while remaining completely recognizable in his own sound. He has shared the stage with many of the greatest musicians of our time as well as the multitude of local musicians he meets on the road. Tickets start at $14.50.

Arts students to stage ‘Anastasia’

ST. PETERSBURG — Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School will present “Anastasia the Musical,” created by Tony winners Terrence McNally, Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens.

The production will run April 19-21 with performances at the PCCA Gibbs High School Grande Theatre, 850 34th St. S., St. Petersburg. Tickets are $20 a person. Visit

This PCCA student-driven performance will showcase the talents of performers from musical theater, theater tech, music, theater visual art and dance. It is a dazzling show that transports its audience from the twilight of the Russian Empire to the euphoria of Paris in the 1920s. A brave young woman sets out to discover the mystery of her past. Pursued by a ruthless Soviet officer determined to silence her, Anya enlists the aid of a dashing con man and a lovable ex-aristocrat. Together, they embark on an epic adventure to help her find home, love and family.

PCCA is a four-year magnet program. Students must complete an audition during the application review period to be accepted into the program. PCCA allows students to choose a major area of study in dance, music, theater or visual art that is modeled after college arts conservatory programs.

For information about the PCCA program, visit

Florida Orchestra CEO to leave

ST. PETERSBURG — Mark Cantrell, the Florida Orchestra’s president and CEO, will depart in May to become CEO of the Colorado Symphony in Denver.

“This is a bittersweet moment for me,” Cantrell said. “I’m so proud of all we’ve accomplished together at TFO, but I’m excited for the new challenge of a larger orchestra in an area that holds great meaning personally. In addition to music, my life has been dedicated to the great outdoors, and since I was a little boy, I have dreamed of living in the mountains. While I will miss working with Michael Francis, the musicians and the entire TFO team, this is an opportunity of a lifetime for me. I have no doubt the orchestra will continue to grow and make a positive impact on this community.

TFO’s senior staff will continue to run the day-to-day operations of the organization with oversight by TFO’s board of directors. The board has initiated a national search to identify a new CEO.

Board Chair Gregory Yadley expressed his appreciation for Cantrell’s contributions during his four years with TFO.

“Mark’s leadership during the Covid pandemic was critical to our success,” Yadley said. “Mark galvanized TFO together as a team in partnership with Michael Francis and TFO’s board to boldly keep TFO performing when almost no other orchestras did. TFO played 86 concerts for live audiences in the 2020-21 season alone, before returning to full strength the following year. The orchestra emerged in a solid financial position, thanks to Mark’s oversight, Maestro Francis’ creative programming, and the steadfast support of donors and patrons.”

Gordon Lightfoot reschedules

CLEARWATER — The Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre recently announced the sold-out Gordon Lightfoot concert on Wednesday, March 22, at 7:30 p.m. has been rescheduled.

Tickets will be honored on the new date, Thursday, June 15, at 7:30 p.m.

For more information, visit

Jake-ann Jones to present final ArtMaker Talk

LARGO — Jake-ann Jones will present her final afroQuantum Experiences: ArtMaker Talk as Creative Pinellas Artist Laureate with her ninth episode on Tuesday, March 21, from 7 to 8 p.m.

The ninth talk will feature nine guests in celebration of Women’s Month, including Jai Hinson, choreographer, educator, founder and executive director of Artz 4 Life Academy and Dundu Dole Urban African Ballet; Ancestral Funk’s Siobhan Monique, Ashanti Dey, and Melissa Roland; Shundra Allison, owner/operator of Urban Drinkery Wine Bar and co-founder Power Plug Radio Ent. Corp.; Sharlene Emmanuel Edwards, CEO of My Better Living Health and Wellness; Tiffany N. Moore, CEO of Moore Eventful; and Lorielle J. Hollaway, founder of Cultured Books and Cultured Books Literacy Foundation. This conversation themed on Women’s History Month: Scene makers, Culture Creators & The Black Goddess will be streamed live on Facebook, YouTube and Twitch.

A playwright, journalist, visual artist, poet and social justice activist, Jones’ credits include the play “Portrait of the Artist as Soul Man,” co-writing the Urban World Film Festival’s grand prize-winning screenplay “Spook City,” and authoring the recent book “Sometimes Farmgirls Become Revolutionaries; Notes on Black Power, Politics, Depression and the FBI,” about civil rights activist Florence L. Tate. Jones describes the project as “reimagining Black art, social issues, and politics in Pinellas’ space-time-continuum.”

Said Creative Pinellas CEO, Barbara St. Clair: “These conversations created a space for leading artists, thinkers, critics, and creators about arts and artists in the Black and Brown community to talk about their amazing work that they are doing in Pinellas County. Jake-ann’s dedication and passion as an amazing thinker, artist, community advocate, journalist, playwright was indeed well-needed at this time.”

In March 2022, Jones received the Creative Pinellas Artist Laureate Grant in part with the Professional Artist Grant. The Artist Laureate is recognized by Creative Pinellas as being a model partner and collaborator, sharing their skills and expertise and supporting the organization’s mission over the course of the grant period, and will receive an additional $5,000 Artist Laureate grant.

For more information, visit

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