Best Of 2006

For WMNF’s Who tribute/fundraiser at Skipper’s, the Vodkanauts decided to raise the bar on these recurring shindigs by playing the rock opera Tommy all the way through (save for a few disposable pieces). For the occasion, the quartet beefed up with extra singers (notably Brian Merrill and Ed Woltil, to complement regular member Jonathan Harrison). The ensemble strutted through the myriad songs and sections with nary a blip, executing the wide range of dynamics with particular aplomb. These folks must’ve had to woodshed the material extra-hard — and all for a fundraiser, making it all the more of an achievement. For about an hour, The Vodkanauts and guests had a blast, as did the audience.

Arts & Entertainment

Arts & Entertainment 2011

There doesn’t seem to be a part that Steven Clark Pachosa can’t play. But this versatile actor gave the performance of a lifetime as Martin Gray, the celebrated architect who falls in love with a goat in Jobsite Theater’s version of Edward Albee’s The Goat: Or, Who Is Sylvia? Pachosa managed the part with the utmost seriousness; his Martin was so infatuated with his four-legged lover, he couldn’t bear to hear her disparaged as a dumb animal. Begging for his wife’s understanding, pleading for his best friend’s tolerance, Pachosa forced us to consider our own deepest beliefs about what is acceptable, what is forgivable. And he made this shocking, challenging play impossible to forget.

Bender, who’s worked mostly for Hat Trick Theatre, is easily one of the most exciting — and many-sided — actresses on any stage. Just look at the range she’s shown in one season: In Private Eyes, she was Lisa, a deceptively sexy woman whose penchant for brinksmanship made her dangerous to any lothario. In Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You, she was Diane, a badly wounded rape victim still trying to understand the role of justice in the universe. And in When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder? she was Clarice, a usually demure violinist whose self-restraint gave way to rage when she realized that her husband couldn’t protect her from a vicious drug smuggler. All were complicated characters, and Bender played each one with full respect for their complexity. Call it by its name: pure talent.

There’s a reason why this set of Gainesville siblings has become a local live favorite and why the seriously local-scene-minded New Granada Records reached beyond the boundaries of the Bay area to grab up Dear & Glorious’ eponymous debut CD for national release. It’s because the group rocks with both guts and brains, to produce a smart, catchy, wiry, subtly dark-hearted take on underground rock that resonates all over, as opposed to just hitting hard or being infectious or successfully setting off the Hip Meter. I’m not saying the best band currently working the Tampa scene actually comes from Gatorland or anything, but Dear & Glorious Physician is definitely up there among the top acts — from anywhere — hitting our small-venue stages.

A sunny spring weekend in March saw the streets of downtown Tampa fill with over 300 artists and craftspeople of all stripes and thousands of visitors from near and far. In airy white tents, painters, sculptors, wood-carvers, potters, jewelry makers and others displayed their wares, rotating pieces in and out as they sold and hustled entries off to the fair’s judging room (where the winners of $61,500 in prize money were chosen). Booty, a separate contemporary art offshoot, debuted this year in a train of white PODS on Franklin Street. Curated by Covivant’s Carrie Mackin, the fair-within-a-fair brought together works by some of the area’s edgiest groups, from Experimental Skeleton’s whimsical fountain of wishes to an inscrutable adventure in taxidermy from the Fluff Constructivists. Underground Rising weighed in with black-and-white photography and mixed-media works, and Iron-On Resistance rocked the AIA gallery space a few blocks away with screen-printed gear.

Formerly at 4906 N. Florida Ave., Tampa (now closed)

Runners Up: Craftsmen House, Florida Craftsmen Gallery

For a nonprofit, a moneymaking sideline like merchandising can spell the difference between staying open and closing the doors. Creative Clay, the St. Petersburg arts center that specializes in serving people with developmental disabilities and mental health challenges, deserves kudos for creating a snappy line of playfully hipster-ish accessories, like temporary tattoos, T-shirts and wrapping paper, to help bring home the bacon. Students draw the images printed on each item, like the screaming “beauty queen” cartoon that decorates beer and martini glasses, and earn a cut of the profits. (The remainder is channeled back into product.) Not only are the items fun and totally gift-able — they serve as a distinctive visual calling card for Creative Clay in stores around town. Now that’s smart

With tireless willpower, vision and good humor, David Jenkins has turned Jobsite Theater, once a dark horse in Ybor City, into the resident theater company at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center and one of the most important producing organizations on either side of the Bay. While some artistic directors search for balance by scheduling mindless fluff next to serious drama, Jenkins’ form of balance never compromises on quality. So last season he gave us an Off-Broadway drama (Frankie and Johnny), love among the 30-somethings (Phyro-Giants!), a Pulitzer Prize-winner about two African-American brothers (Topdog/Underdog), a Tony award-winning shocker (The Goat), an Italian economic comedy (We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay!) and a homegrown riff on Grimm’s Faery Tales. The 2006-2007 season looks even better.

Enter the Castle of Outrageous Fantasies. Anything goes here. Be the most extreme person you want to be or just an adventurous boy or girl looking for a scene far from the ordinary. You’ll find yourself jumping and grooving to pop new wave, ’80s industrial and Goth like you just jumped out of a coffin. Ain’t no judging here if you want to be weird and daring. The bondage door guys proudly advertise their frisky behavior in the photos that greet you at the entrance. Don’t forget to catch a glimpse of the Senator poking around each corner in his lacy teddy. Sssssexy! The dancers fiercely claim their respect on the podiums as they shake, sway and stroke their way into the heart of each song. Hot, sweaty, sticky bodies are everywhere. Word of advice: The bartenders don’t play. Order efficiently and tip well or risk being body-slammed by a tall, muscular woman in a short skirt. Follow these simple rules and The Castle should be a downright awesome experience.