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A newsletter for members of Ruth Eckerd Hall at the Richard B. Baumgardner Center for the Performing Arts • Fall 2011


Friends of Music founders and members stream into the Capitol Theatre in downtown Clearwater to experience an intimate performance by Rob Thomas, one of modern music’s most compelling and commercially successful artists for over a decade. Photo credit: Cameron H Photography

Meet Our New Director of Marketing

Friends of Music Continues Funding for Arts Education

Members Experience Exclusive Access

Corporate Partners Enjoy Special Benefits

Meet Kasey Yates, An Exceptional Hoffman Institute Student

Publix, Verizon & the Rays Foundation Support Hoffman Institute Programs

Remembering Robert Challener and Barbara Engelhardt

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1111 McMullen Booth Road • Clearwater, Florida 33759 • Telephone 727.791.7060 •


lead Meet Our New Director of Marketing Eric Blankenship is the new Director of Marketing at Ruth Eckerd Hall. He has accumulated over twelve years of marketing and sales experience in the sports and entertainment industry with experience in Brand Marketing, Advertising/ Media Buying, Promotions, New Media (Internet, E-mail, Text, Database and Social Networking), Media Relations, Public Relations, Community Relations, Ticket Sales and Service, Premium Seating Sales and Service, Sponsorship Sales and Service, Merchandise Sales, Game Presentation and Live Events and Broadcasting. Eric was born and raised in Tampa, FL. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing. Eric has worked for a variety of organizations with increasing responsibilities including the Tampa Bay Lightning, the St. Pete Times Forum, Comcast-Spectator in Philadelphia, PA, the Everett, WA Events Center, the

Portland, OR Rose Quarter, Global Spectrum and the Philadelphia 76ers. “Ruth Eckerd Hall is pleased to have Eric join our team. Both his knowledge of our local market and his years of industry experience are a great asset to our strong team of professionals,” said Robert Freedman, Ruth Eckerd Hall President and CEO. “He brings an energy and love for the entertainment industry that will serve our community well.” Eric commented, “I’m proud to be a part of the team at such a loved and respected venue in the Bay area and around the world. The many facets of Ruth Eckerd Hall and the Capitol Theatre allow me to apply my past experience in entertainment in a variety of areas – and I’m looking forward to that.” Eric is married to his wife, McKenzie and they have a son, Jackson.

Meet Our New President & CEO

Look for information about Zev Buffman in the next issue of Applause.



thrill The second season of Friends of Music from Ruth Eckerd Hall continued with a high energy concert by Lifehouse, an intimate birthday celebration following country star Darius Rucker’s performance and an acoustic night with Rob Thomas. Friends of Music members enjoy three concerts per year encompassing a variety of genres; shows range from acoustical performances to full-blown, amped-up rock ‘n’ roll extravaganzas!

One of the most accomplished singer/ songwriters of his generation, Rob Thomas performed at the Friends of Music concert in August held at the Capitol Theatre in downtown Clearwater. Photo credit: Cameron H Photography

Country powerhouse Darius Rucker performed at the Friends of Music concert held in May at the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa.

Friends of Music provides the funding to bring performing arts into the lives of children who otherwise would not experience it. Ruth Eckerd Hall aspires to ignite the creative spirit in all of us. Together, we’re making a difference for the children in our community. Rock band Lifehouse performed hits from their decade-long career to a sold-out Friends of Music crowd in April at the Capitol Theatre in downtown Clearwater.

For membership information, call 727.712.2720 or visit



become a 1up member 1UP is a social concert club for Tampa Bay’s young professionals (21 – 35 years old) who are seeking a venue where they can “co-create” modern, musical experiences. Upcoming 1UP events include: Sondre Lerche, Voxare String Quartet, MEMPHIS and Pilobolus Dance Company. Lucky St. James, pictured above, joining 1UP at the after-party following comedian Jim Gaffigan’s performance. To join, sign up at



Members Experience Exclusive Access Don’t forget as a Circle of Stars member ($1,500 per year and above), you get access to the many exclusive VIP experiences offered at the Hall such as Broadway Night Cast Parties, Meet and Greets, photo opportunities, sound checks and so much more! So the next time you purchase your tickets through our VIP Line don’t forget to let our team know that you are interested in

participating.* *Some restrictions may apply.

Pictured above: Beth England (far left) with Brian Wilson, best known as the leader and chief songwriter of the group The Beach Boys, and John England (far right). The England’s have been members of Ruth Eckerd Hall’s Circle of Stars since 2010.

APPLAUSE is Changing

Circle of Stars Members Are Invited To An Exclusive Reception

 Next Generation Meet Their Favorite Performers Emma and Riley Kramer, whose parents Steve and Holly Kramer have been members since 2010, met Selena Gomez (center) actress and singer. Meet and Greets are a benefit for Circle of Stars members and a great way to introduce the next generation of audience members and supporters of the arts to their favorite performers!

Circle of Stars members ($1,500 per year and above) can experience one of the many member privileges when they join us at the Circle of Stars Reception prior to, during intermission and after the performance of ABBA: The Concert. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres, champagne, wine and soft drinks will be provided. Hope to see you there! Wednesday, January 25, 2012 6:30 pm Margarete Heye Great Room Artist attendance at reception is not implied or guaranteed.

As you read through this issue of Applause, you will notice a number of changes - a fresh new look and feel and shorter articles and larger photos to go along with our new signature-inspired logos, which pay tribute to several of our major founders and benefactors who have helped us become what we are today: Ruth Eckerd and the Eckerd Family, Marcia P. Hoffman and the Hoffman Family and Nancy and Ray Murray. Robert A. Freedman, Ruth Eckerd Hall President & CEO said, “In this fast paced, communications at our fingertips world we live in, we hope this new format entices you to read Applause and learn about the many exciting shows and events at Ruth Eckerd Hall and the Capitol Theatre in an easier-to-read and more dynamic format.”

For membership information, call 727.712.2720 or visit


engage meet one of our partners

Community Partner Gets All Dressed Up Joyce Cotton, (second from left) Ruth Eckerd Hall Board of Directors member and Director of Marketing & Community Partnerships with WEDU and her husband Larry Cotton enjoyed being in costume during the sixth annual Hippiefest Marketplace and Hippiefest performances. WEDU is west central Florida’s leading PBS TV station and has partnered with Ruth Eckerd Hall on many performances over the years. Joyce and Larry are pictured with artists Rick Derringer (far left), best known for his rock anthem Rock ‘n’ Roll, Hoochie Koo and Mark Farner (far right) formerly of Grand Funk Railroad.



Thanks to a continuing in-kind partnership with IM Events, who specializes in state-of-the-art LED lighting and uniquely designed events, members have experienced a new level of décor at Ruth Eckerd Hall events over the past three years. IM Events is the official in-house event décor company for Ruth Eckerd Hall. As part of their partnership, IM Events helps Ruth Eckerd Hall produce many events at no cost saving the Hall thousands of dollars each year. IM Events décor items have augmented the look and feel of many events including an all pink lounge for Legally Blonde, a hazy haunted room for Young Frankenstein, an 80s rock ‘n’ roll lounge for Rock of Ages as well as many other exciting uniquely-designed events for Ruth Eckerd Hall. To thank IM Events for their generosity and support of the arts in our community or to have them help you with décor for a party, please contact Glenn Goodman at 727. 492.4342 or at

Corporate Partners Enjoy special Benefits Become a Corporate Partner and show your support for the arts while targeting an affluent audience and getting to meet some of your favorite performers!

Bonefish Grill guest Brenda Little (far left) and Bonefish Grill Senior Manager of Field Marketing, Beth Hammer (second from right) experienced an exclusive members-only Meet and Greet with Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork from the 1960s pop rock group, The Monkees. Bonefish Grill has been a corporate partner and has supported the arts at Ruth Eckerd Hall since 2002.

Thank You To Ruth Eckerd Hall’s Corporate Partners 2011 - 2012 Season Sponsor Support our partners because they support the Hall and the arts in our community!


® ®


Annica Keeler (center) St. Petersburg Times representative with husband Jay Keeler (right) and Stanley Clarke of Return to Forever (left) jazz musician and composer. The St. Petersburg Times has supported Ruth Eckerd Hall and the arts since 1980.

Become a Corporate Partner, receive exceptional exposure, recognition and visibility, as well as the knowledge that you are helping to make the Tampa Bay community a better place to work, live and play.

For membership information, call 727.712.2720 or visit


SHINE Meet Kasey Yates Six year old Kasey Yates (far left) has spina-bifida but he didn’t let his disease prevent him from having a great summer being a regular kid. His family was unable to find a summer program/camp that could accommodate his needs, so The Marcia P. Hoffman Performing Arts Institute at Ruth Eckerd Hall stepped up! He joined the Institute this summer in the following classes: Princesses and Wizards, Green Eggs and Ham, Mermaids and Pirates, Mr. Popper’s Penguins and Storybook Stew. He was a tuition assistance recipient with funding provided through the generosity of the St. Petersburg Times Fund, Inc. Kasey and his mom, Loyda Yates (third from left), joined Sharon Reid-Kane (far right), Associate Director of Education, Marcia P. Hoffman Performing Arts Institute at Ruth Eckerd Hall on a recent Positively Tampa Bay segment of Action News 10 with Lissette Campos (second from left) to highlight the summer programs/camps that can accommodate children with special needs. We hope to have Kasey return to the Institute for future classes!

Rhythm & Sole Tap Ensemble For the third year, tap dance students from the Rhythm & Sole Tap Ensemble at The Marcia P. Hoffman Performing Arts Institute at Ruth Eckerd Hall were accepted into one of the finest tap dance programs in the country, Tap City held in New York City. They are (from left to right, back row) Kaela Byrne, Ashley Caprio, Jackie Rosenstein, Ashley Bigley and Kara Saunders and (from left to right, front row) Jessica Sullivan, Kristin McCranie and Claire Gallo. Only 20 tap dancers are selected from across the U.S. to participate in this program; all eight tap dancers from the Hoffman Institute were selected! The Rhythm & Sole Tap Ensemble was one of only three performances selected to perform in the Tap City Showcase on Broadway. Additionally, the ensemble performed at the Tap 2 You tap dance competition and received the Gregory Hines award for Best Performance.

Time Together with Family & Friends Series

November 12 Alex & The Kaleidoscope Band; 11 am 13 Clearwater Chorus Fall Concert: Spirit of America; 2 pm; (featuring presentation of the Fred Travalena scholarship) December 3 ETC* presents A Thousand Cranes; 2, 5 & 7 pm 10 ETC* presents A Thousand Cranes; 5 & 7pm

Evening at the Murray Series

December 16 Mike Desselle: A Gift of Blues, Jazz, Bluegrass & Country; with Special Guest Melissa Nolan; 7:30 pm *ETC=Eckerd Theater Company.



Thank you to Ruth Eckerd Hall’s Grantor Partners

Meet our new leading ladies president

Support for Ruth Eckerd Hall is provided in part through the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, the National Endowment for the Arts, the City of Clearwater and the Leading Ladies of Ruth Eckerd Hall. The Marcia P. Hoffman Performing Arts Institute and the Eckerd Theater Company are supported in part by Bank of America, South Arts, The St. Petersburg Times Fund, Inc., Publix Super Markets Charities, Inc., Verizon Foundation, the Pinellas Community Foundation, Eckerd Family Foundation, Wells Fargo, The Rays Baseball Foundation, New York Life, The MetLife Foundation, The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, Roy M. Speer Foundation, Target and the Volunteer Fund.

Jan Harroun (center) new Leading Ladies President supplements her support of the arts education programs at the Hall by attending the Kenny Vance performance at the Capitol Theatre. She attended an exclusive Meet and Greet with Kenny Vance’s back-up singers, Frenchie and Jimm with The Planetones.

Jan Harroun, came to Ruth Eckerd Hall with a long list of previous volunteer and fundraising experience. No task is too big or too small for the ambitious Leading Ladies President. She has enjoyed the challenge of grant writing and chairing successful fundraisers for a local clinic and various foundations. Her professional life found Jan working for the U.S. House of Representatives as the District Administrator for a member of Congress from Michigan. Retirement did not slow this family down. Jan and her husband, Bill, have three grown children and four grandchildren. The Leading Ladies of Ruth Eckerd Hall and the challenge that the Presidency brings is another feather in her cap!

editorial credits Fall 2011

Applause is published three times per year for the friends of Ruth Eckerd Hall located at the Richard B. Baumgardner Center for the Performing Arts. Every effort has been made to include all of those that should be included in each article and in each issue. If you have any inquiries, comments or suggestions, please contact Applause, Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater, Florida 33759, 727.791.7060, All rights reserved.

Ruth Eckerd Hall, Inc.

Richard E. Bouchard, Chairman, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Inc. Robert A. Freedman, President & CEO, Ruth Eckerd Hall, Inc. Writer / Editor Tami Alderman, Development Associate

Staff Contributors

Eric Blankenship, Director of Marketing Maggie Ciadella, Social Memberships Manager Nancy Dietrich, Special Events Manager Cathy Nold, Graphic Design Specialist Joyce Pemberton, Director of Corporate Partnerships Sharon Reid-Kane, Associate Director of Education Suzanne Ruley, Grants Manager Heather Wilson, Development Research Analyst

Mission Statement

Ruth Eckerd Hall engages the community to master, experience, discover and explore quality performing arts.

For membership information, call 727.712.2720 or visit


reach Publix Supports Arts Education

Publix Super Markets Charities’ representatives Christi Nelson, Shannon Patten, Michael Abrams, Roger Hinckley and Gustavo Nordelo (first through fifth from the left in the back row) presented a $15,000 donation to Ruth Eckerd Hall representatives Joyce Bonomoni and Karen Jubrail (first and second from the right in the back row) in support of arts education programs. Also present were numerous summer arts education students from The Marcia P. Hoffman Performing Arts Institute at Ruth Eckerd Hall, who were using the skills they had learned in classes to perform for their friends and family. Last year the Institute touched the lives of 86,000 adults and children with 163,000 hours of arts experiences.

Verizon Supports PASSport Verizon Director-External Affairs, Debby K. Kampert (second from left) presented a $20,000 contribution to Ruth Eckerd Hall President & CEO, Robert Freedman (fourth from left) in support of PASSport, a school-based educational partnership between The Marcia P. Hoffman Performing Arts Institute at Ruth Eckerd Hall and the Pinellas County School District. According to Debby, “Education and literacy are at the core of the Verizon Foundation’s initiatives. The Foundation focuses on preparing children to be successful and enabling teachers, parents and caregivers to help them learn.” Also on hand for the presentation were Florida House of Representatives Jim Frishe (third from left) and Ed Hooper (third from right). Also present was Carlen Peterson, Chair of the Advocacy Committee and Board Member (second from right) and several former and current PASSport students.

Rays Foundation Awards Grant The Rays Baseball Foundation presented a $5,000 Community Fund Grant to Robert Freedman, Ruth Eckerd Hall President & CEO (third from left in the back row) and Ken Hamilton, Ruth Eckerd Hall Board and Education Committee member (fourth from left in the back row) in support of the arts education programs at The Marcia P. Hoffman Performing Arts Institute at Ruth Eckerd Hall. “The Rays Baseball Foundation is committed to supporting youth and education programs throughout the Tampa Bay region. Ruth Eckerd Hall’s PASSport program infuses art into the curriculum at several Tampa Bay area schools engaging children through the arts. The students gain self-confidence in their ability to learn and they find that education can be enjoyable,” said Suzanne Murchland, Executive Director, Rays Baseball Foundation. Also in attendance were members of the Tampa Bay Rays including Third Baseman, #3 Evan Longoria.



legacy Tribute To Robert Challener Robert Challener served on the Board of Directors at Ruth Eckerd Hall and The American Stage. He also served as Chairman of the Education Committee at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Bob was a supporter of the arts and education in our community for over 40 years and of Ruth Eckerd Hall since its inception. After serving in the Signal Corps as a Second Lieutenant in World War II, graduating from Carnegie Mellon with two degrees in Drama and Speech and heading the Drama and Speech departments at Transylvania University and the University of Kentucky, he came to Clearwater, Florida in 1952. Once in Florida, Bob taught Drama and Speech for 27 years at North East High School, where he was Chairman of the Fine Arts Department for 15 years. Bob was a co-founder of Harvesting for Scholarships and the Florida Orchestra Chamber Players. For nearly 15 years, he co-produced and underwrote a Chamber Concert for the Florida Orchestra and The North Suncoast Associates. Bob received the Marcia P. Hoffman Arts in Education Award and the National Society of Arts & Letters Community Award. The Challener-Morrow Production Studios on the campus of Ruth Eckerd Hall was named in honor of his long-time support in 2005. Bob passed away in late September and he will be missed. Our deepest sympathies go to Nelson Morrow, Bob’s lifetime partner.

Landon Remembered New Scholarship Fund Keeps Memory Alive In August, Former President of Ruth Eckerd Hall’s Leading Ladies, Barbie Engelhardt, passed away. Barbie also served on the Education Committee, Membership Committee and Special Events Committee. She was honored in 2008 with the Marcia P. Hoffman Arts Education Award. Barbie was extremely dedicated to bringing opportunities to young people who want to experience the performing arts. Barbie’s family members asked, in her memory, that contributions be made to a new fund to help support access to the arts for all, no matter what their circumstances. This new scholarship fund is named the Barbie Engelhardt Scholarship Assistance Fund. It is a very special way to remember Barbie as well as show support for all the positive energy she put forward. We hope you will consider a donation to this fund.

The Landon Korabek OneLove Memorial JamFest was established to celebrate Landon's young 17 year old life, his love of music and to shine a light on prescription drug abuse among teens. The event was a musically filled afternoon of music and dancing. A portion of the proceeds from the event were donated to The Marcia P. Hoffman Performing Arts Institute at Ruth Eckerd Hall for music scholarships. The Marcia P. Hoffman Performing Arts Institute was chosen because Landon was a talented musician and through donations in his memory, his love of music will live on through songs played by others. An afternoon of music, silent auctions and giveaways is planned for May 2012 to continue to raise funds for music scholarships. Landon’s parents, Greg and Susan, have been members of Ruth Eckerd Hall since 1998.

For membership information, call 727.712.2720 or visit



Richard B. Baumgardner Center for the Performing Arts

1111 McMullen Booth Rd.,Clearwater, Florida 33759

For membership information, call 727.712.2720 or visit

Wanda Sykes Dec 12 • 8pm

All dates and times are subject to change. For a complete calendar, up-to-date information or to purchase tickets to any of our great shows, please contact the Ruth Eckerd Hall Ticket Office at 727.791.7400 or visit our website at Circle of Stars members, please contact us on the VIP Line or at Here’s how you can contact us to get involved: To support the Hall’s fundraising events or to host a Charity of Choice event to benefit the Hall’s arts education programs, please contact Nancy Dietrich, Special Events Manager at 727.712.2760 or To support the Barbie Engelhardt Scholarship Assistance Fund, please contact the Development Department at 727.712.2720. To become a corporate partner of the Hall, please contact Joyce Pemberton, Director, Corporate Partnerships at 727.712.2716 or For more information on becoming a grantor and supporting arts education programming, please contact Suzanne Ruley, Grants Manager at 727.712.2761 or To start, continue or increase your support of any of Ruth Eckerd Hall’s fundraising efforts or arts education programs or to learn more about our Legacy Society, please contact Robert Freedman, President & CEO at 727.712.2704 or Interested in becoming an usher, please contact Sandy Villasuso, Senior House Manager at 72.712.2707 or Interested in becoming an administrative volunteer, please contact Deb Vermeer, Director of Human Resources at 727.712.2719 or A COPY OF THE REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING 1-800-435-7352 WITHIN THE STATE. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Registration #CH-1562. 100% of each contribution goes to Ruth Eckerd Hall, Inc.



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Melissa Manchester; 8pm (CAP) Todd Rundgren; 8pm (CAP) The Austrialian Pink Floyd Show; 8pm The Breakfast Club – Movie (CAP) Richard Marx; 7:30pm (CAP) Benise; 8pm Sondre Lerche; 7:30pm (CAP) Shelby Lynne; 7:30pm (CAP) Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience; 8pm Alexander String Quartet; 8pm (CAP) Sarasota Ballet; 8pm Kathy Mattea; 7:30pm (CAP) Queensryche; 7pm Joe Bonamassa; 8pm George Thorogood & The Destroyers; 8pm Dave Koz and Friends Christmas Tour 2011; 8pm

(CAP)= Capitol Theatre in Downtown Clearwater

Daryl Hall & John Oates; 8pm Paul Simon; 7:30pm Celtic Woman: A Christmas Celebration; 8pm Bowzer’s Holiday Rock ‘n’ Roll Party; 8pm Michael McDonald & America; 8pm Wanda Sykes; 8pm Tony Orlando’s Great American Christmas; 1pm Flavor of Jazz VI: Peter White Christmas; 7:30pm Miracle on 34th Street; 7pm Judy Collins & Arlo Guthrie Home For The Holidays; 8pm Dar Williams; 7:30pm (CAP) Steve Solomon’s My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish and I’m Home for the Holidays . . . the therapy continues; 2 & 8pm; 3 & 7pm (CAP) Irish Tenors; 7:30pm A Christmas Carol; 2 & 7pm Woody Allen and His New Orleans Jazz Band; 8pm The Nutcracker; 7pm The Nutcracker; 2 & 7pm Tedeschi Trucks Band; 8pm Salute to Vienna A New Year’s Eve Celebration; 8pm

Exploring Ruth Eckerd Hall’s website is easy. Simply download a QR tag reader to your smartphone and snap a picture of this QR tag. Then browse concerts, dates, musician bios, membership options, buy tickets and more. Connect With Us


1UP Parties

Member Photo Opportunity

Family Connections

Circle of Stars Receptions

Applause - Fall 2011  

A newsletter for members of Ruth Eckerd Hall at the Richard B. Baumgardner Center for the Performing Arts • Fall 2011

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