Theatre School Alumni Among Tampa Bay’s Best

Creative Loafing’s critics and readers chose favorites in the weekly’s Best of the Bay issue, theatre community weighs in with more wins and nominations.

By Barbara Melendez

      USF News

Tampa, Fla. (Sept. 23, 2014) – Their professors and fellow students are probably not at all surprised but it’s still amazing to find seven names of USF College of The Arts alumni on Creative Loafing’s “Best of the Bay” issue on newsstands. They captured key theatre-related spots in acting, directing, and lighting and set design.

"Creative Loafing"'s critics chose Tia Jemison Best Actress in its annual "Best of the Bay" competition, shown here (far right) in the 2008 production of "Hair!" while a student in the School of Theatre & Dance.

The critics chose Tia Jemison for Best Actress; Frank Chavez for Best Set Designer; Jack Holloway for Best Comedic Performance in a Drama; and Best Reason to Take Theater Seriously was the play “4.48 Psychosis,” which included Nicole Jean Smith in the cast.

The readers chose David Jenkins for Best Local Stage Director; Mike Wood for Best Local Lighting Designer and Brian Smallheer for Best Local Set Designer.

“We take great pride in the wonderful work our alumni produce in theatre throughout the Tampa
Bay area,” said C. David Frankel, assistant director of theatre, in CoTA’s School of Theatre. “The recent Theatre Tampa Bay Award nominations and this week’s Creative Loafing Best of the Bay awards pay tribute to the exciting ways they’ve continued to develop the skills, knowledge and craft learned at TheatreUSF.”

"Creative Loafing" singled out Jack Holloway, shown here in the 2011 production of "The Life of Galileo," for Best Comedic Performance in a Drama. He was also nominated for Outstanding Choreography/Fight Direction by Theatre Tampa Bay.

The thrill of winning went to the following alumni at the first Tampa Bay Theatre Festival: Marlene Peralta for Best Monologue; Tia Jemison once again for Best Short Play and the Best Play winner, “East Lansing,” was directed by Greg Thompson.

Another indication that the School of Theatre is doing something right, the nominations for the Tampa Theatre Bay Awards features numerous USF Alumni and winners will be announced Oct. 6 at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg.

School of Theatre and Dance Director Marc Powers said, “The number of nominations and awards earned by TheatreUSF alumni this year – and for many years – is a clear indication that the work we do at USF is not only serving the community by developing talented theatre artists, but that our productions – the training ground for future nominees and winners – may well be the best-kept-secret, high-quality theatre venue in the Tampa Bay area.”

As it is with the Tony Awards and the Oscars, when it comes to Tampa Theatre Bay’s annual awards, it’s an honor to be nominated, they include: Alex Perez for Outstanding Featured Actor in the play “Shipwrecked!” at the New Stage Theatre & Conservatory; Nicole Jeannine Smith and Gi Young Sung for Outstanding Featured Actress in the play “The Divine Sister” at Stageworks Theatre; Jaime Giangrande-Holcom for Outstanding Featured Actress in the musical “Return to the Forbidden Planet at the Jobsite Theater; Mike & Kathy Buck Designs for Outstanding Costume/Wig/Makeup Design in “Around the World in 80 Days” at the American Stage Theatre; Mike Wood has three nominations for Outstanding Lighting Design in “The Burnt Part Boys” at freefall Theatre, “The Divine Sister” at Stageworks Theatre and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” also at freefall Theatre; Steven K. Mitchell for Outstanding Set Design in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” at freefall Theatre; Jack Holloway’s name shows up again for Outstanding Choreography/Fight Direction in two Hat Trick Theatre Productions plays, “Land of the Dead” and “Unnecessary Farce” and for Outstanding Lead Actor in the play “All New People” at the Jobsite Theater; USF Theatre Professor Fanni Green for Outstanding Lead Actress in the play “Steel Magnolias” at the American Stage Theatre Company along with Rosemary Orlando who appeared in “The Sugarbean Sisters” at the Stageworks Theatre; Ami Sallee, for Outstanding Director for the play “An Iliad” at the Gorilla Theatre.

Congratulations all around!

Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563