Why Should You Become a freeFall Member?

matthewNovember 24th, 2015UncategorizedNo Comments

We’re kicking off our annual membership campaign, and we need you to join the freeFall family!  Here’s why you should make your contribution today:

1)     Membership comes with lots of benefits – fun events, money-saving perks at the theatre and around town, behind-the-scenes experiences, all kinds of cool stuff.

2)     But the biggest benefit?  Knowing that you’re doing your part to sustain professional live theatre in our region! Like most non-profit theatres, our ticket sales only cover half the cost of operating the organization – we rely on charitable contributions for the rest of our $1.2 million budget.

3)     Do you love the magic you see on our stage? Well, quality professional theatre is expensive!  Peter and the Starcatcher will cost nearly $90,000 to produce.  For freeFall to continue our bold, daring ways we must have a broad base of financial support from our community.

4)     We’re a 501c(3) non-profit, so your contribution is tax-deductible. Was 2015 really good to you?  Make freeFall and your CPA happy with a year-end gift.

Now that we’ve convinced you, would you like to know how we’ll spend the funds you contribute?  The short answer is “very frugally!” But here are a few examples of what your gift will pay for:

$7000: One week of cast salaries and union health and pension payments

$6000: Construction materials for one set

$4000: Costumes and props for one show

$3000: One month’s rent for theatre property

$1500: Show tickets, customized curriculum materials and a session with a teaching artist for one class and their teacher

$1000: One month’s property and liability insurance premium

$750: Actor housing for one production

$500: A musician for one week of performances

$250: One day of theatre camp for five children or teens

$100: Tickets for three low-income seniors to attend a matinee

And you’re supporting our new outreach and educational programming!

This year, we’re expanding freeFall’s educational and outreach offerings – more seminars and lectures for audience members and community groups; new classes, workshops, and camps for children and teens; and most critically, programs for at-risk kids and low-income schools.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that participation in theatre education results in dramatically improved outcomes for at-risk students, including higher rates of graduation and college attendance and lower rates of juvenile crime.  freeFall is currently developing a program based on the highly successful 52nd Street Project in New York, which matches kids with theatre artist mentors for participation in playwrighting workshops and other activities.

With your help, freeFall’s teaching artists can make an enormous impact on our community!

There are lots of ways to join:

  • Visit www.freefalltheatre.com/join to see the perks at each membership level.  Once you’ve  decided, just hit the big green “Become a Member” button and you can pay with a credit card.
  • Call the box office at 727-498-5205 and we’ll be thrilled to set you up.
  • Mail or deliver a check to 6099 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, FL 33710.
  • Or if you’re interested in a different type of support (corporate partnership, show sponsorship, program advertising), call Cheryl Forchilli at 813-966-8466 or send her an email at cheryl@freefalltheatre.com.

freeFall’s board, staff, artists, volunteers, subscribers, and members extend heartfelt gratitude for your support!


Read More

Little Bits of Hope by Kelly Pekar

matthewNovember 17th, 2015UncategorizedNo Comments

Sending you love and peace today, Celebrationists.

1.) I am grateful for an energizing first week of rehearsal for Peter and the Starcatcher

2.) I am grateful for this lovely day off – filled with FaceTime dates, happy hours of creativity, chiropractic wonders, delicious curry, and delightful company

3.) I am grateful that healing is finding its way to a very close family member and friend who have had medical emergencies in the past few weeks

Today, for obvious reasons, I feel compelled to talk about violence and non-aggression. Sometimes we come together as a community during challenging and tragic times, creating powerful bonds of love and support – and sometimes we are overcome with a desire to shame, blame, and projectile-vomit our anger. Both of these impulses make sense, certainly. What breaks my heart though is when we project that shame and blame onto each other, when really, what we all want is the same, isn’t it?

If you’ve read this blog before, you may remember that I’m a huge fan of Pema Chodron. If you aren’t familiar with her work, I can’t recommend “When Things Fall Apart,” enough – it’s perfect for…well, you can tell from the title. But it is my humble opinion that everything she writes is pure gold, and you can find her many precious jewels of wisdom, here.

In response to recent horrific world events, Pema says the following:

“When I think about the tragedies in Paris and in Lebanon and in fact in many places in the world, It seems to me that’s it’s very clear that the cause is hatred. Therefore I feel for people that are committed to waking up and being of benefit to others, the key is for us is to not nurture hatred in our hearts. It may seem beyond many of us to feel compassion for the perpetrators, but probably the most important thing is for us to not add any more aggression to the planet, but to add as much open kindness and open heartedness as we can.”

If it’s true (and I believe it is) that the common root of all acts of violence is hatred (and fear), then I think it’s worth examining how hatred starts. When it’s just a tiny seed of a thing. Pre-hatred, practically. Like:

  • A shame-filled facebook status
  • An unkind or slanderous word about another, that makes us feel better about ourselves
  • A harsh judgement about someone we don’t understand or who we’re a little afraid of
  • An unwillingness to forgive
  • Pitting people against one another for our personal advantage
  • Shaming another person’s best efforts, in any area
  • Condemning anyone who disagrees with our way of thinking because it makes us feel vulnerable

How often do we stop to consider how these tiny acts of day to day violence might have a larger impact beyond the present moment? It’s just so easy to break another person’s spirit. And what can a broken spirit lead to?

I have to say that one of the most disheartening Facebook statuses I came across in response to the recent attacks had to do with there being “no hope for humanity”. It made me deeply sad. If we have the power to cause each other to lose faith in humanity, don’t we also have the power to restore it? We can’t control other people. We can’t undo global damage. We can’t reacheveryone. But we can start with our own day to day contribution, and the ripple effect it has. How are we ever to know how far that ripple goes – in either direction?

If you could inspire one person through your actions – give one little bit of hope that goodness in humanity does exist, what might they be inspired to do? And on the other end, how do our little acts of unkindness eventually turn into not-so-little seeds (and then big honking plants) of hatred? And once that hatred has formed and hardened, what happens then?

And look. When such GIANT things are happening in the world, I think it’s also easy to feel some of the following:

  • I can’t even begin to be able to make an impact
  • The things I love/bring me joy (the sports I play, the art I make, etc) don’t matter and seem a little silly in all of this
  • The world is a terrible place
  • People are awful. I wish I were a Corgi.

But to that I say:

  • We can make an impact. People do, every day
  • The things that bring us joy can also bring joy to others – and our experiencing happiness and light does not dishonor the tragedies of the world. By sharing our gifts and our passions, we inspire others to do the same. By creating in the face of hardship and sadness, we provide the opportunity for others to experience beauty, escape, empathy, and connectedness
  • The world is what we make it, and we can make it something different and new in our own small corner, every day
  • Corgis are awesome, but humans have language and we can use that power for SO much good

Here’s what I think. Through the many complexities in these times, there’s a small kernel that I believe to be true, and it is that Peace being with ourselves, and change begins with me.

If you feel like spreading a little bit of hope this week – here are some acts of non-aggression, just a few ideas that might be worth trying (I’ll be trying!) They may not seem like much in the face of such enormity, but how do we really know what our impact is? And how small is too small to start?

  1. Reach out to someone who is having a hard time, and surprise them with something personal and meaningful
  2. Remind someone what they mean to you. Pick someone you haven’t told in awhile, or maybe ever
  3. The next time someone shares a view you don’t agree with, see what happens if you just listen and ask questions, instead of immediately jumping to a place of aggression and judgement
  4. Really consider the content you put out into the universe in the form of social media.  Are you contributing to violent or peaceful thinking?
  5. Exercise patience with a person who drives you insane, and try to put yourself in their shoes
  6. Practice forgiveness – and that includes yourself
  7. When we feel the most vulnerable, explore what happens if we lean into that vulnerability and open-ness, raw as it is. What happens if we don’t engage in our usual habit of closing off, shutting down, and putting up our walls?
  8. When we feel the impulse to take something personally, what if we choose to explore the idea that nothing others do is because of us? That other people’s responses to us are almost always a projection of their own reality? This is a dual kindness to the person we are encountering, and also ourselves
  9. When the impulse to complain arises, practice gratitude, instead. Write things down. Tell people. Verbalize and write your thanks. The more you do it, the more sincere it will become, until it’s habit/part of the fabric of your being
  10. When we feel compelled to make disparaging remarks about the world or other people, consider the power our words have on others. People who respect us, look up to us, or just regard us as peers – our own negativity might awaken some of their own doubts. If we’re going to be spreading something…why not spread hope, instead?

And let me be clear, none of this is meant to exclude everything we can do to make a difference on a larger scale. The ways we can reach out to victims of violence and raise awareness. But I also think there’s value in starting small – right where we are. Right here.

All my love to you this week, Celebrationists.

Subscribe to Kelly’s blog by following this link. http://littlebitsofgoodblog.com/2015/11/week-66-little-bits-of-hope/


Read More

I WON’T GROW UP by Lucas Wells

matthewNovember 11th, 2015UncategorizedNo Comments

“All children, except one, grow up.”


When I initially received an offer to play Peter in this magical prequel, I was entirely overwhelmed with extreme excitement at the opportunity to portray such an iconic character. After all, I had auditioned for the show (and more specifically, the role of Peter) in New York several years ago as the show was making its Broadway transfer to the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. It was a dream, a chance to dive deep into the wonderful world of Neverland, pirates, fairies, lost boys, ticking-crocodiles, and never growing up (I’m still working on that one). Unfortunately, that initial excitement was short-lived. Crippling anxiety and horror over the daunting task of being Peter consumed me. Every one of us has a preconceived notion of who or what Peter should be and I did not want to mess that up or let anyone down. So, I dug in deep. I read the original Starcatchers book, the original play and subsequent novel by J.M. Barrie, and watched any film adaption of the Peter Pan mythos I could get my hands on. In that cathartic research, I revisited a part of my inner-self, which had been neglected for some time. I saw the child that lives inside of all of us, tugging at our heartstrings every so often to say, “Can you come out and play?” Looking deep into the brown eyes of the curly-haired boy with dimples, I was able to answer, “Yes!”


“I suppose it’s like the ticking crocodile, isn’t it? Time is chasing after all of us.”


A childhood fantasy is alive in everyone. It is a huge part of why many actors, myself included, decide to pursue a life of putting on the guise of someone we are not. It is why many of us see movies, read fiction, or go to live theatre. We use it as an opportunity to escape, to quench the thirst of the inner child. This show implores you to do exactly that. It is story-theatre at its finest, using the creative minds of the director, actors, and audience to suspend their disbelief for a couple of hours and remember what it is like to be young.


Luckily, we have one of the greatest directors at the helm, guiding us along the way (Side note: freeFall truly is a gem. It’s not just ‘good theatre for Florida,’ it’s great theatre compared to anywhere in the country). Having worked with Clinton Harris and Nick Lerew in Bright Lights, Big City, and having read all about the incredible work the other actors in the cast have done at freeFall and elsewhere, there is no doubt in my mind that Eric Davis has assembled a perfectly wonderful group of actors and designers to tell the story of the orphan boy who came to be called Peter Pan. Starcatcher will be silly, touching, exciting, dreamy, tear-jerking, and unlike any version of Pan you have seen or come to know.


As Mr. Barrie said, “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.” I hope you’ll allow yourself to journey down the path to a magical world where anything can happen. Forget what you thought you knew about Peter Pan and come see the story of a nameless boy “as I remember it.”


“To live will be an awfully big adventure.”

To read more about freeFall’s upcoming production of PETER AND THE STARCATCHER, keep an eye out for freeFall’s Fast Foreword newsletter arriving in your mailbox soon.




Read More

Lucas Wells, Kelly Pekar and Chris Crawford headline freeFall’s PETER AND THE STARCATCHER! FULL CAST ANNOUNCED!

matthewNovember 3rd, 2015UncategorizedNo Comments

ST. PETERSBURG, FL. (November 3, 2015) – – freeFall has announced casting for their upcoming holiday production of PETER AND THE STARCATCHER, which begins on December 5 and runs through Christmas Eve.

freeFall’s PETER AND THE STARCATCHER cast features Lucas Wells (Boy), Kelly Pekar (Molly) and Carbonell Winner Chris Crawford (Black Stache). STARCATCHER also stars Craig Sculli (Smee), Daniel Schwab (Lord Astor), Chris Metz (Ted), Clinton Harris (Fighting Prawn, etc.), Taylor Simmons (Prentiss), Nick Lerew (Slank), Bonnie Agan (Mrs. Bumbrake), Chris Jackson (Captain Scott) and Christopher Rutherford (Alf).

PETER AND THE STARCATCHER, the swashbuckling prequel to Peter Pan, takes a hilarious romp through the Neverland you never knew. PETER AND THE STARCATCHER is the innovative and imaginative comedy based on the best-selling novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. A company of a dozen actors play more than a hundred unforgettable characters, all on a journey to answer the century-old question: How did Peter Pan become The Boy Who Never Grew Up? This epic origin story of popular culture’s most enduring and beloved character celebrates the child in all of us.

PETER AND THE STARCATCHER won five 2012 Tony Awards (the most of any play of the 2011-2012 season) and was named one of New York Times, New York Magazine and New Yorker’s Top 10 Shows of the Year.

FreeFall’s Artistic Director, Eric Davis, will direct PETER AND THE STARCATCHER.
The design team includes Charles Murdock Lucas (Scenic Design), Eric Davis (Costume Design), Mike Wood (Lighting Design), Eric Davis (Sound Design) and Blake Braswell (Fight Choreography).

STARCATCHER also features a score by Wayne Barker musically directed and supervised by Michael Raabe.

Tickets can be obtained by contacting the freeFall box office. There are discounts for seniors, teachers, students and members of the military. Group rates and information can be obtained by contacting Matthew at 727-498-5205 X 7.

For more information and tickets visit www.freefalltheatre.com or call (727) 498-5205.

Read More

Astonishing, Daring, and Provocative Performance: FreeFall Theatre Packs the House in Tampa Bay

matthewOctober 28th, 2015UncategorizedNo Comments

Presenting a wide array of classical and contemporary works that are bold, daring, and diverse, freeFall Theatre has uplifted Tampa Bay’s cultural legacy to lofty heights.

There are some things that only theatre can achieve. Since its magical opening night, freeFall Theatre has both maintained and innovated the idea that theater is a singular artistic experience, introducing new audiences to this enduring art form while enhancing the strength of the Tampa Bay community.

Audiences at freeFall expect to be welcomed, entertained, and challenged night-in and night-out. The Theatre has been known to take risks: both in their selection of material and in the way this material is presented. Some of the nation’s boldest playwrights, directors, actors, composers, lyricists, and designers have contributed to freeFall’s visceral, authentic, and provocative performances.

Each season at freeFall explores a fresh and daring thematic tone created by Artistic Director Eric Davis. “This season explores the human memory,” says Outreach/Marketing Director Matthew McGee. “From individual memory to collective memory, from the things we remember to the things we forget, from the truth to how we revise history, this season is peopled by characters looking to their pasts in order to face the future.”

In recent years the St. Petersburg community has become an arts destination because of its many galleries, and two highly successful regional theatres. Through the nuanced, enriching experiences of its performances, freeFall Theatre has greatly enhanced the cultural and economic landscape of the St. Pete community.

Some of the top shows here have included classics like Cabaret, Spring Awakening, The Normal Heart, Mame, The Buffalo Kings, Harvey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Burnt Part Boys, and The Mikado.

“We attempt to thrill our audiences with surprisingly honest work reflecting our belief that the strength of live performance lies in the fact that it is a real experience that is happening now: an experience shared by the artists and the audience,” says McGee.

Since the opening night, freeFall Theatre has maintained its dedication to increasing the collective awareness, understanding, and enjoyment of live theater in the Tampa Bay area. freeFall’s successful run has taught its community a valuable lesson: how to sit back and enjoy the show.

- See more at: http://www.floridastatehomes.com/articles/astonishing,-daring,-and-provocative-performance-freefall-theatre-packs-the-house-in-tampa-bay#sthash.Un5cFEsV.dpuf

Read More

Jennifer Christa Palmer on ‘Becoming Miss Prism’ in THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST WITH ZOMBIES

matthewOctober 22nd, 2015UncategorizedNo Comments
Great directors make an actor feel part of the team. They collaborate. Rehearsals can sometimes be a mixed bag of questions and answers, joyful discovery, or soul searching insecurity – but ultimately, they serve to plug each member of the cast into the working whole. No matter which character they play, all actors are working toward a common goal with their director, and time spent in rehearsal gets us all on the same page. As Miss Prism, I may be only a supporting character, but I know my role is vital to the story being told onstage. As an an actor in a freeFall production under the direction of Eric Davis, I know that I am, as an artist, vital as well

The atmosphere of collaboration during an Eric Davis rehearsal is unlike any other. He brings such style, and a sense of purpose to the table – and he invites the most talented and interesting guests to the party. This is my third production with freeFall Theatre, and my second serving as fight captain under Blake Braswell’s excellent fight direction. The first fight rehearsal of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST WITH ZOMBIES with Blake also included Zombie movement choreographer Adam Graham. They, guided by Eric, created the action sequences at the end of Acts 2 & 3 in one whirling dervish of an afternoon. We (as actors) already had a clear idea of the blocking and dialogue of these scenes leading up to the staged violence – but that only served as a jumping off point. We also discovered early on that fighting Zombies was going to be tricky – they don’t really fight back. They can be punched, or shoved, or knocked down – but our Zombie “kills” were a real challenge. We couldn’t lop off any of our Zombie actors’ heads or use a shotgun to their faces – those movie-style effects were not practical in freeFall’s intimate space. During a discussion at the start of the day, Eric had the idea for a Zombie electrocution, based off of one of the deadly looking weapons our props master Timothy Saunders had found. He dubbed it the “cranial discombobulator” and once he added a reference to it in the script at the top of Act 2, it became Miss Prism’s favorite weapon of choice. (I carry it on my belt through most of the play). It neatly solved our Zombie “kill” problem and features heavily in the action at the end of Act 3 – indeed a “most ladylike means of dispatch”.

Once Eric, Blake and Adam started working out the particulars, the fast exchange of ideas by all of these creative artists felt electric. By proximity, I was swept up in it, and as fight captain was able to assist – encouraged as a fellow artist and contributor.

As Blake created the fight choreography, he’d bounce ideas off of Eric, who would in turn ask Adam about how the Zombie movement could inform the action. According to Eric’s script, Miss Prism is well versed in both demonology and undead defense, and since Jack Worthing is also a “corpse hunter” named Earnest, we two characters carry most of the Zombie fighting action in Act 2. Since every actor has a different skill set, several moments of action were built around an individual actor’s strength, or flexibility, or skill with a particular weapon. Some of our Zombie actors have a dance background, and that body awareness helped Adam fine tune and specify their physical reactions to our punches and hits. When Adam mentioned that Zombies react sharply to sound, Blake put a whip in my hand, and the moment atop the table that begins the chaos in Act 3 was born. We rehearsed each beat of action slowly, each actor learning their movements carefully with an eye toward safety. Once we found confidence in each of our physical actions, we then could run each segment in its place during the scene. Eric, Blake and Adam would add in adjustments, or further refinements and we’d run it again. Thus, the violence that occurs at the end of both Act 2 and Act 3 was built piece by piece, moment by moment in the most careful, deliberate way.

This adaptation is entirely new (it’s actually the World Premiere) and after only a few hours, scenes that in previous rehearsals had felt intangible now had shape, function and purpose. As an actor on that stage on that particular day, with so many ideas were flying around, even offering up some of my own – I felt like the atmosphere was downright giddy. Ideas and improvements on ideas were welcomed, embraced, and experimented with. These integral scenes were ultimately built using the strengths of each actor, under the care and guidance of two movement specialists and skilled director with a sharp eye. We were all a part of the exciting birth of something entirely new and original. As the day wore on, I was physically tired, but I remember feeling mentally energized. I better understood my character, and the play as a whole – and I knew all of the work ahead of me could grow out of choices and decisions we had made together.

The show (and especially a fight scene) on any given night is living, breathing thing. The audience may not know or ever see it, but the rehearsal process gives the entire play its’ foundation. It binds us together, and when it’s done well, as so often happens at freeFall, it happens because of a great director who leads with an eye toward great collaboration.
Read More

Cutting Words: Stage Combat & Oscar Wilde

matthewOctober 14th, 2015UncategorizedNo Comments


The Importance of Being Earnest is undeniably one of the most quotable plays ever written in the English language. Oscar Wilde made his career out of being the smartest person in the room, and his witty and impossibly clever words can be found in countless collections of beloved quotes. Our production of The Importance of Being Earnest with Zombies has nearly all of the original text of the source material, but with the addition of a refreshing element that has never before been paired with Wilde’s impeccable word play. Sword play.

In the Victorian era, long before television and the internet, one of the most fulfilling forms of entertainment was conversation. A well-stocked arsenal of conversational banter was an absolute social necessity and prized among the aristocracy in England. This elevated elocution was practically verbal fencing, to the extent that sword fighting terms such as touché, a recognition of a hit by one’s opponent in a duel, found their way in to every day conversation. The Importance of Being Earnest with Zombies simply takes this conversational metaphor into the literal realm by incorporating into the story rapier combat, hand-to-hand fighting, and fictionalized steampunk weaponry.

Under the tutelage of our amazing Fight Choreographer, Blake Braswell, and Fight Captain, Jennifer Christa Palmer, we learned how to continue to tell our story while fending off hordes of the undead in what is essentially a highly choreographed dance. We began learning our fight choreography by discussing how the each fight fits in to its corresponding scene. For example, there is a scene in Act I in which my character, Jack, and Algernon (played by Daniel Schwab) engage in a rapier fight. As these two gentlemen are best friends, this exchange is not meant to be a battle to the death, but rather a physical representation of our verbal repartee as we push each other’s buttons. While we were getting the fight into our bodies, we replaced, as an exercise, our lines with laughter and proceeded to go through our choreography. This added a necessary element of play and competition to our duel which, now that we are in performance, helps the audience more completely understand who Jack and Algernon are, and our relationship to each other.

This stage combat experience has been incredibly exhilarating and rewarding, and every night I look forward to dueling with Algernon, both conversationally and physically. The raw energy of eleven actors clashing in an all out melee every performance is enough to get my heart pounding and I hope you have the opportunity to witness our riotously fun romp through zombie infested Victorian England.

For a preview of the excitement check out the video below.

The Importance of Being Earnest with Zombies (sizzle reel)


Resident Company Member- Nick Lerew

















Read More

Reanimating Gwendolen – A Sneak Peek with Resident Company Member Kelly Pekar

matthewSeptember 12th, 2015UncategorizedNo Comments


“In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity is the vital thing.”

Socialite Gwendolen Fairfax shares this essential piece of advice during the second half of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. I found it a useful “actor clue” and delicious jumping-off place for the exploration of her character. As I begin approaching the role of Gwendolen for a second time (after recently playing the role this summer at a theater in Missouri) I’m excited to figure out how this incredibly-mannered, impeccably-groomed woman exists in a world where an army of corpses is ready to pound down the door at any given second.  How will she respond to the disruption of her carefully-manicured life? And how does living in a landscape of flesh-eating, undignified undead raise the stakes of marrying one’s chosen love?

Even though I have Eric Davis’ fantastic adaptation at my disposal already, I won’t know these answers for sure until we begin rehearsals, uncover more about the world of this production, and begin the process of play. But I’m feeling ready to sink my teeth in.

After being so well-acquainted with the original text after this summer, I was delighted to read Eric’s exquisite adaptation, which I feel quite certain Mr. Wilde, were he alive today, would regard with absolute glee. The new text supports and complements the original (which is very largely intact), and I am so impressed with the way that Eric captures the voices originally created by Mr. Wilde. The sentence structure for Gwendolen’s “new” lines for instance, make me grin from ear to ear, thinking, “Well of course she would say that, in this circumstance… amazing!”  I’m also excited to see how even the scenes that have only Mr. Wilde’s text in them will be affected by the new set of circumstances that this adaptation presents. And I mean, how much more tension (and hilarity!) creeps its way into a scene when the finger sandwiches might be… well, finger sandwiches?

Prior to working on this play, I must admit that I have had limited experience with zombie culture, so I’ve been doing plenty of reading and movie-watching to prepare. Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesNight of the Living Dead, Shaun of the Dead, and Day of the Dead have been my recent cold-blooded companions. I’ve created a Polyvore (a really cool collage-building website) of images to help me find visual inspiration for Gwendolen’s physical life, in the context of this adaptation.  Lucky for me, there’s no shortage of zombie research available, and it’s so helpful to keep track of my inspirations as I work on getting the text into my body.

Another piece that struck me about Gwendolen when I first read The Importance of Being Earnest is that she is undoubtedly Lady Bracknell’s daughter. After working with the glorious Donna Donnelly in Harvey last season, I’m so excited to play together again. I look forward to exploring the many ways in which Gwendolen is a product of her cosmopolitan environment and “short-sighted” education. I think it will be a riot to see how these aristocrats (who place a high premium on good manners, protocol, appearances, class, and material posessions) negotiate this landscape of chaos.  Since this is an original adaptation, I’m very much looking forward to experimenting, creating, and diving into Eric’s direction with an eager and open mind, ready for whatever is lurking around the corner.


Resident Company Member Kelly Pekar





Read More

“They’re Coming to Get You, Bracknell! ZOMBIES go WILDE at freeFall!

matthewSeptember 7th, 2015UncategorizedNo Comments

ST. PETERSBURG, FL. (September 5, 2015) – – freeFall Theatre’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest With Zombies begins previews on October 2, 2015 and runs through November 1, 2015 officially opening freeFall’s new season. This world premiere production is adapted by freeFall Artistic Director Eric Davis from the play by Oscar Wilde. Davis also directs.

freeFall’s production stars Nick Lerew and Daniel Schwab as John Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, respectively. The duo will play the two bachelor friends who lead double lives slaying zombies and courting the attentions of the desirable Gwendolyn Fairfax (Kelly Pekar) and Cecily Cardew (Maya Handa Naff). Lerew and Pekar are members of freeFall’s new resident company.

Also appearing are fellow cast members Donna Donnelly (freeFall’s Harvey), Jennifer Christa Palmer (American Stage’s One Slight Hitch), Larry Alexander (Les Miserables on Broadway) and Matthew McGee (freeFall’s Mame). Donna Donnelly will portray the hilarious and social-climbing Lady Bracknell. Palmer will take on the role of zombie hunter Miss Prism, while Alexander and McGee, Bay area audience favorites; will play Reverend Canon Chasuble and Lane/Merriman.

The design and production team includes Amy Cianci (costumes), James Zervas (lighting), Matt Davis (Steampunk weaponry), Blake Braswell (fight choreographer) and Loryn Pretorious (Wigs and Special FX make-up).

Oscar Wilde’s classic satire on societal conventions is even more biting when played against the backdrop of the zombie apocalypse. In the tradition of mash-up lit like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, this evening of impeccable manners, mistaken identities, and corpses rising from the dead will send audiences out of the theatre giggling – or checking over their shoulder.

Whether a fan of Oscar Wilde or The Walking Dead, audiences will delight in this sidesplitting riff on decorum and decay.

Tickets can be obtained by contacting the freeFall box office.  There are discounts for seniors, teachers, students and members of the military. Group rates and information can be obtained by contacting Matthew at 727-498-5205 X 7.

For more information and tickets visit www.freefalltheatre.com or call (727) 498-5205.



Read More

Get to Know Maya Naff!

matthewJuly 22nd, 2015Show NewsNo Comments

by Katie Berger

Hello FreeFall fans!!  I hope that if you haven’t been able to see Mame yet that you have your tickets because they are going fast!  This production has an all-star cast full of veterans and new faces alike.  This week, I have the pleasure of introducing you to my good friend Maya! Maya plays various roles in the show and is fantastic as all of them.  I was able to ask her some questions about this experience — her very first at FreeFall!

1.  How did you find out about freeFall?

I became aware of freeFall through their production of The Burnt Part Boys last season. My partner, Nick Lerew, was playing the part of ”Jake,” and through him I was able to hear about the process of creating that show, and how it seemed to be hitting audiences in a meaningful way. Nick told me how much he was enjoying working at this small, innovative theatre in St. Petersburg, and so we made plans to
attend the 2014/2015 season auditions. While we were down here for the audition, we got a chance to see One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,
which confirmed for me every good thing Nick had said about this theatre.

2. What’s your favorite part about working here?

I love the transformative nature of the black box space. The most interesting, innovative theatrical decisions often come out of having to problem solve, or having the typical avenues stripped away. The basic limitations of an intimate space force imagination to the forefront, and then possibilities are truly endless. I think the artistic team at freeFall really understands the unique magic of theatre, and they continue to push themselves to explore the boundaries of what can be done artistically. It’s an incredibly inspiring atmosphere to create in, and as an actor, I’ve felt encouraged to challenge my own ideas of what I can do.

3. What is something unique to St. Pete that you love?

I grew up in the Midwest, so my favorite part of living in St. Pete is the access to all kinds of spectacular wildlife! I love taking long walks here and stopping to notice all of the different plants and lizards and birds and insects! I can spend hours and hours at the beach swimming and studying seashells. When it comes to nature, I have an insatiable curiosity. Yesterday I went kayaking in Fort DeSoto, and it was such a magical experience! We came up on a manatee who was having a lovely mid-day float, and it brought me to tears.
4. What is a show you would like to see done on the freeFall stage?

I’m really looking forward to this upcoming season, because so many of the pieces I would love to see on the freeFall stage are in the works! I was at the season announcement party in February, and as Eric presented each show, I got more and more excited…The Importance ofBeing Earnest (with Zombies!), Peter and the Starcatcher, Mr. Burns, a post-electric play, Light in the Piazza! I don’t think I’ve ever beenmore inspired by a single theatrical season. Other than those shows, I would love to see a freeFall production of a Chekhov play, perhaps Three Sisters or Uncle Vanya. Chekhov’s stories are meant to be seen close up, and the emotional lives of the characters should seep into the skin of the audience. That’s when they are the most alive, and the most dangerous.

5. Can you share a funny moment that has happened onstage during MAME?

In our show, Younger Patrick, the orphaned nephew who comes to live with his Auntie Mame, is played by the absolutely phenomenal Will Garrabrant, who is 8 years old. I get to have a scene with him at the end of the play, which is my favorite part of the whole show, because he REALLY keeps me on my toes. He has an innate understanding of how to be truthful in the moment, and he is also dangerously aware of how adorable he is. He likes to watch my face for how his lines land on me, and if I’m near laughter, push it just a tiny bit further. More often than not, we end the scene in giggles, which is really lovely and such a great way to close a show all about celebrating life and living to the fullest.


Thanks Maya!!  I hope that all of you get a chance to see Maya and the rest of this phenomenal cast in MAME, closing August 9th!

Read More