Dingbat Theatre Project Joins the Club

Dingbat Theatre Project Joins the Club

What does a creative, imaginative theatre junkie do during a pandemic? Well, establishes a new theatre company on the Suncoast, of course!
Come join the founder of the new Dingbat Theatre Project, Luke McFatrich, and the project's choreographer, Brian Finnerty, as they share with us the mission, philosophy, and purpose of the Dingbat Theatre Project, as well as tell us all about Dingbat's second production, Shrek, being performed at the Bazaar on Apricot & Lime May 6 through May 15.
Come along and join the club!

• Dingbat Theatre Company WebsiteFacebook & Instagram

• The Bazaar at Apricot and Lime Website & Facebook & Instagram & YouTube

• Venice Theatre Website & Facebook & Instagram & YouTube & Twitter & Trip Advisor

• The Players Centre for the Performing  Arts Website & Facebook & Instagram & YouTube

• Music Compound Website & Facebook & Instagram

• Asolo Repertory Theatre Website & Facebook & Instagram & YouTube

• Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe Website & Facebook & Instagram & YouTube

• Urbanite Theatre Website & Facebook & Instagram & YouTube

• Florida Studio Theatre Website & Facebook & Instagram & YouTube

• Manatee Performing Arts Center Website & Facebook & Twitter & YouTube

• Sarasota Ballet Website Facebook Instagram 

• The Pops Orchestra of Bradenton and Sarasota Website & Facebook & Instagram

• Venice Symphony Website & Facebook & Twitter & YouTube

• Hamlet’s Eatery Food Truck Website & Facebook & Instagram & Twitter

• MADE Restaurant Website & Facebook & Instagram & Twitter & YouTube

• Valentina Pizzeria Website & Facebook & Instagram

• Made in Italy Website

• Caragiulos Website

• The Reserve Website

• Pastry Art Bakery Café Website & Facebook & Twitter

• Sage Restaurant Website & Facebook & Instagram

• Art Ovation Hotel Website & Facebook & Instagram & Twitter

• State College of Florida Music Program Website & Facebook Instagram

• SCF Theatre ProgramWebsiteFacebook Page & Instagram

• State College of Florida Foundation Website & Facebook & Instagram



Robyn Bell: Okay. One of the best things about being in the cultural arts community on the Suncoast of Florida, is that if you want to start a new initiative or organization, there's nothing stopping you. In fact, there are so many consumers of the arts here that you usuallyI have an automatic built in audience, a group of people who love to be entertained, to be told a great story and who respect, the talent, skill, and quite frankly, expenses of putting on  cultural arts events or running an organization. So when Luke McFatrich reached out to me, need to tell me about the Dingbat Theatre Project, something I'd never heard of, I was thrilled to schedule a podcast interview with him. When I read on their website, that this is a new theatre company that was established in 2020. Yes. The year of the pandemic, I was even more Intrigued.  Included in their mission statement is that this organization strives to be Sarasota's quirky arts organization, looking for new stories to tell, new ways to present classic and contemporary works of theatre, and new ways to engage the audience in the arts. And so today I'm going to visit with Luke McFatrich, the founder and director and Brian Finnerty the choreographer of Dingbat Theatre Project, Luke and Brian, welcome to the club. 

Luke McFatrich: Thank you for 

Brian Finnerty: having a seat. 

Robyn Bell: No, I tell people, listen, there's no merch. There's no swag. You know, you just get to say "I'm in a club." 

Luke McFatrich: Make t-shirts and then I'll send one to you.

Robyn Bell: We have a deal. 

Luke McFatrich: We should do that. 

Robyn Bell: Should  who doesn't love a good t-shirt. We are very excited to hear about this new theatre company and the upcoming performance of Shrek. But first tell us how you both got to this point in your career, where you came from, how you landed here on the Suncoast and what prompted you to start a new theatre company from scratch during a pandemic, Luke, let's start with you.

Luke McFatrich: Okay. I actually was born and raised in little Rock, Arkansas, and I went to college at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi, and I followed my family down here after that. And after a year of being down here, I got a job at Venice Theatre, which is down in Venice and my family moved to South Carolina and I just stayed.

Robyn Bell: Okay. So the, you got transplanted for familial purposes. They left you here and you said I'm staying very nice. All right. Good. How about you, Brian? 

Brian Finnerty: So I actually grew up in this area. I grew up in North Port and I ended up going to school at Booker in Sarasota. And then I went off to college in Pittsburgh, but then I came back and started working on my choreography stuff. So this place really helped me build that up. 

Robyn Bell: Yeah.  When you say this place, because we are on location, we are right now in the Rosemary District at the Player's Center. Above the  Sarasota Ballet's Contemporary Dance Studio. So when you say this place, what exactly are you speaking about? 

Brian Finnerty: I mostly just mean the Sarasota area, so The Players helped me out a lot. I got some work at Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, Manatee, and Venice have also given me some choreography work as well. So I got very lucky. 

Robyn Bell: Yeah, say so. So when you moved here, like with your family and you growing up here, you immediately saw the huge opportunities there were for performances.

Luke McFatrich: Oh my gosh. It's insane. 

Robyn Bell: Yeah. 

Luke McFatrich: Like it's really, really crazy going from an arts barren. 

Robyn Bell: Oh, Mississippi 

Luke McFatrich: area.

Robyn Bell: Yes. It's called Starkville for a reason. 

Luke McFatrich: Huh. Very stark. But I had a company there and we were like the only educational company theatre arts organization in that area. And so we're able to  fill a huge hole that was there. So when I came down here to see that there was just so many opportunities for performance for education, every arts organization has a thriving education program. It's just really cool to see how much of a priority it is for this community. 

Robyn Bell: And you've done it all.  You've acted. You've directed. You've produced. You've done the whole gamut. 

Luke McFatrich: Yes.

Robyn Bell: Yeah. And Brian.  As a choreographer, you've also done many performances. I'm sure. 

Brian Finnerty: Yeah.

Robyn Bell: What all have you been in that? We would know? 

Brian Finnerty: Well, I did Bubbling Brown Sugar at Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. I was in that my first community theatre show in the area was actually Young Frankenstein at Manatee Performing Arts Center.

Robyn Bell: Yup. 

Brian Finnerty: And then I started doing a lot more choreography at direction. Mostly here. We just did Head Over Heels last year. And that was the last show in the actual old building. So that was kind of  neat. Luke was in that with me. 

Luke McFatrich: I was in that it actually closed a week before COVID shut the world down.

Robyn Bell: Well, that's good timing. Most everybody else was shut down in the middle of the production. How about that? 

Brian Finnerty: I know. 

Robyn Bell: And I saw it on Facebook. this last couple of weeks where Jeffery Kin was like, Oh my gosh, they're taking our building down. Did you, go watch any of the bulldozing? 

Brian Finnerty: Yeah, I went over there. They were actually  supposed to let us know when that was happening and that didn't happen. So it was kind of a surprise. We saw it from one of our patrons on Facebook who posted it, who lives in the condos right above. And it was like, look, the ceiling isn't there anymore. So we all kind of went over and checked it out. It was a surprise. 

Luke McFatrich: That's really sad. 

Brian Finnerty: It's very sad. 

Robyn Bell: It's very sad. Yeah. I know. They're going to be very excited about their new performing arts center though. In Lakewood Ranch, it looks like that's just going to be fabulous. So, you know, there is that nostalgia of being in a place for so many memories are held. And if these walls could talk kind of thing, but there's also that excitement of a new community and the smell of it, dry wall, and you know, that kind of thing, technology that you can add in. So it's a double-edged sword. I think The Players are in good. Good spot though, especially in Lakewood Ranch, because they need something out there. Yeah. So I was really proud of seeing that. Are you guys involved still with The Players in that move? 

Brian Finnerty: So Luke works at Venice and I do, I work at the players. I'm our social media manager, and I'm also an instructor here at the studio. So 

Robyn Bell: very nice. 

Luke McFatrich: And I sometimes volunteer as an actor here and I'm going to be teaching some classes over the summer here too.

Robyn Bell: Great. And what exactly do you do at the Venice Theatre? 

Luke McFatrich: I am the Digital Development Associate. So I worked with our Development Department for online fundraising and I work in tandem with our marketing director for social media, things like that. 

Robyn Bell: And boy, during the pandemic online, 

Luke McFatrich: Right.

Robyn Bell: Fundraising is huge, 

Luke McFatrich: Especially for the giving challenge. That was huge. That was insane. And then I also am an instructor down there. I run our teen improv programming at Venice Theatre, and I teach some classes and I'll be working for our Musical Theatre Summer Camp this summer as well. 

Robyn Bell: Very nice. So you're,  making it go. Both of you full-time employed in the arts.

Luke McFatrich: Yes. It's a huge blessing. And it's crazy. 

Robyn Bell: It's really crazy. 

Brian Finnerty: Especially right now. We're very, very lucky. 

Luke McFatrich: I think like, what was it? 5%. of people in the industry kept their jobs 

Robyn Bell: Really that low a number. 

 Luke McFatrich: Yeah, 

Brian Finnerty: I think it was 5%. 

Luke McFatrich: I think it was actually 

Brian Finnerty: really sad number 

Luke McFatrich: and we're really blessed enough to be in that 5% that we still have.

Robyn Bell: Do you mean 5% nationwide? Wow. 

Brian Finnerty: Yeah.

Luke McFatrich: Who weren't like completely furloughed, 

Robyn Bell: right?

Luke McFatrich: Yeah. So we were both kept on salary at The Players and at Venice the entire time, even when we weren't running programming. 

Robyn Bell: Wow. Maybe we head over to Hyde Park Steak House after this. She brought me dinner. No, no, I'm teasing, teasing 

Luke McFatrich: Still a non-profit Robyn!.

Brian Finnerty: Don't get too excited now. 

Robyn Bell: Yes, I'm quite familiar. Well, we are very excited to hear about  the upcoming performances of Shrek, but tell us  about the Dingbat Theatre Project. Was this a brainstorm long time in the making kind of a go for broke adventure.

Luke McFatrich: Yes, actually like I said before, I had a company in Mississippi and I absolutely loved self-producing. We were able to create our own work. Everything that we did was original and that was just so creatively fulfilling. So I knew eventually in my life  that was something that I would want to return to in my career. I just didn't know it was going to be so soon. I've had this business pla for Dingbat Theatre Project for a long time since I graduated. And then when I moved here, I was like, Oh, this is such a great area. I don't even need to do that. You know, there's so many opportunities. 

Robyn Bell:  You didn't feel like when you moved here,  there was a place for your idea here.  There was no maybe room for it or they just didn't need it. 

Luke McFatrich:  More like there's no room for it right now because  it's just so packed full of events all the time. And  in a normal year in the Sarasota, there's always something going on, shows running for months. And then when that show closes, another show opens and my slate was just completely filled and Brian's slate is completely filled. He goes from directing Hello, Dolly to directing Head-over-heels to like being in Chicago, right. at Venice Theatre. 

Robyn Bell: And we do get so busy in the arts. When you're in it, there's no time really for your own initiatives. 

Luke McFatrich: Right.

Robyn Bell: And  this was another barrier, probably . 

Luke McFatrich: And so when the pandemic happened and everyone canceled all of their programming, I saw it and was like, Oh, I don't have anything to do for the first time in my life ever. And I went back to this idea that I had and thought, okay, if we're. Aren't back to normal  by the fall. Then I'm going to pursue doing  theatre in a safe way. So we can provide programming and a safe way for people to enjoy  

Robyn Bell: And now that we're getting vaccinated and we're coming out of that. Where do you see then Dingbat Theatre Project going from there? Because unlike some of the other theatres, you don't really have a home.   You only have an outside home, which is,  where 

Luke McFatrich: Right now it's at the Bazaar at Apricot and lime. That is where me and Brian did our Christmas show in December and where we will be producing Shrek as well. 

Robyn Bell: And that's all outdoor. 

Luke McFatrich: Yes, it's in the courtyard. It's really, really cool. They have an elevated stage platform. They have a food truck out there. Hmm. Yeah. So it's really great. 

Brian Finnerty: Yeah. They've been really wonderful.  We did all of our season shows for The Players out there as well this year. And they've just been very gracious in helping us bring the arts back 

Luke McFatrich: now. They're awesome.

Brian Finnerty: Yeah.

Robyn Bell: Yeah, nobody's wanting to hold the arts down here in Sarasota and Bradenton  what can we do to make this happen? So that's great. So as the vaccinations roll out, things, get back to normal. Where do you see your productions going from there? 

Luke McFatrich: We have some ideas for things that we'd like to do in the future. But  our full-time jobs are at the Player Center and then mine is at Venice Theatre. So that's going to take precedents if they ask us to do something 

Robyn Bell: right.

Luke McFatrich: But we love doing this so. We have some contracts in, from MTI to license for their shows. And in case we want to do that in the late summer.

Robyn Bell: Now you're taking shows and you're kind of rearranging them. Right. Okay. So how does that work with the copyright rules and with MTI and all that? How do you go about. Those workarounds to get the rights to do what you're doing. 

Luke McFatrich: It's really interesting. And a really good question. We aren't changing the words at all.

Robyn Bell: Okay. 

Luke McFatrich: So MTI, when they licensed the show, they license the words and the music and the lyrics. We aren't changing any of that. We are just changing how it is being presented. 

Robyn Bell: Got it. 

Luke McFatrich: Yeah. So normally Shrek the musical, which is our current project that we're doing is produced with 30 plus people. And we're doing it with eight people. So that in and of itself requires us to take a different creative look at how we are going to present those words and that music in a way that works for who we have. 

Robyn Bell: I see. And there's fewer people to manage. 

Luke McFatrich: Yes. There's fear people to manage, but that also means that everybody plays 12 characters. 

Robyn Bell: It's a lot of work for those eight people.

Luke McFatrich: And sometimes people play three characters at once, so they will run around on the stage and then change their hat. And then I'm an ugly duckling now. And then they'll put on sunglasses and I'm a little pic now. So that's been, 

Robyn Bell: And  doing these outdoor performances? I mean, obviously at the, ASOLO they have more money than anybody in the world, so they can do, you know, all the lights and the sound and stuff. How are you navigating the, lighting? I mean, there's an expense to that kind of stuff. What's going on with that? 

Luke McFatrich: The Players Center has been really gracious  to sponsor this production.  So Brian is in the show. He works here, Alyssa Gowdy who's the production manager is also in the show and Matt Neier , and Joshua Linderman, who also work at the Theatre are our sound and light men. And they will be helping provide lighting equipment and sound equipment for your show. It's been very kind of them. 

Robyn Bell: And when is opening night, 

Brian Finnerty: May 7th, 

Robyn Bell: May 7th. And we're recording this. What is today? I don't even know. April's something 27th is the 26th, 26th. Okay. So we're about 10, 12 days out. If only we had video right now, rehearsal, production schedule look like.

Brian Finnerty: Okay. So it's kind of how long have we been rehearsing this now 

Luke McFatrich: we started the last week of February. 

Brian Finnerty: And at that point, we were just doing weekend rehearsals because Amanda Heisey, who's our marketing director here at The Players and she's in Shrek as well. And myself and Alyssa were all in the show. We were all in Sylvia at the Bazaar. So our rehearsals and performance dates kind of made things a little tricky. So we had weekend rehearsals then, and now we're to weekday rehearsals and Now, we're getting to the point where it's almost all the time, because we're down to the wire, we got a show to do. 

Robyn Bell: And  I'm sure it's been a challenge,  not having much of a backstage area, you know,  costume changing and stuff like that. How are you handling that part of it? 

Luke McFatrich:  There's only eight of us. So everybody's basically on stage the whole time. So there's not much need for a backstage area. So I think amount of space that we'll actually have is probably a four foot wide between our back curtain and the wall of The Bizarre. And everybody is just going to be running like crazy to get to their next spot. And the things that changed our characters are so small, so I'm going to wear a jacket when I'm Papa Bear, and then I'm going to change it into another coat for when I'm the dragon. So things are just so quick and they happen in 30 seconds that there's no space to even need a backstage. 

Robyn Bell: And as an audience member, I'm not going to be confused. It's definitely, I'm going to tell when there's a character change, 

Luke McFatrich: very clear, and the actors are so good that even if the costume pieces aren't very detailed, the physicality is there and the voice changes there. Which makes it just so much fun. 

Brian Finnerty: Yeah. It's been very clear. It's been really cool to see,

Luke McFatrich:  and we've been bringing in people to watch the show and everyone is saying that the story is very clear, which has been nice because that's been our biggest concern. 

Robyn Bell: Yeah. Yeah.  I would imagine. Yeah, we, we did something similar with my Pops Orchestra. We did the reverse, so there's this really great. It's really a musical Broadway show written by a composer named Bob Christianson in New York. And it's,  Christmas Carol.  But it's presented as a concert production and it's designed for a full orchestra on stage and just five actors in four of them play well, there's Scrooge. And there's the narrator. Which E. Faye Butler did in the original production at this. Right. This is how I knew her. Yeah. Yeah, totally. So then there's Scrooge, but then the other actors all play Tiny Tim goes to Christmas, past future, you know, and  like you were saying, they just kind of switch out a hat or they put a scarf on it's exactly what you're describing. So when we decided to do this with the Pops and our Musical Theatre class at the State College of Florida, we blew it up so that every, you know, we had enough people so that everybody had their own part and put in a dance, you know, there's this tune, called Dance Your, Christmas in there. And they didn't do a dance in their original production, but Oh lordy, we threw in a dance. Yeah. So I understand exactly what you're saying. The concept of the  one person playing several characters on how easily that flips and flops and , it is easy for the audience to understand that. And is that the ongoing idea of Dingbat Theatre Project of this kind of re-imagining or is this just the pandemic version with the eight people?

Luke McFatrich: This is Dingbat Theatre Project, regardless of whether or not we had a pandemic, we would produce Shrek this way. 

Robyn Bell: Okay.  You're not looking for 30 people to be involved. Right. Yeah, 

Luke McFatrich: Not right now. 

Robyn Bell: And what are tickets selling for? 

Luke McFatrich:  We have two ticket options. One is a general admission and those are $25 and you come and we give you a chair and you get to sit in it, which is, which is important because the other ticket option, we don't give you a chair.

Robyn Bell: Okay. 

Luke McFatrich: So the other option is a picnic blanket section. Those are $50 and you can bring up to four people, four $50 total, and you bring your own, your picnic blanket brings some pillows and you get to sit down in the front. And watch the show that way. 

Robyn Bell: Oh, so you get maybe a better experience or closer to the stage?

Luke McFatrich: Yes, it is closer to the stage. Yeah. 

Robyn Bell: Okay. But you're sitting on the ground, 

Luke McFatrich: But you're on the ground and you have to bring your own pillow, but 

Robyn Bell: People like that, though, 

Luke McFatrich:  It's a more affordable option for people if they need it. And if people wanted to bring their families, we didn't want them to have to pay a hundred dollars to bring their husband and then  two kids to the show. So 

Robyn Bell: Basically it takes it down to a $12.50 ticket. If four people that's pretty smart guys. 

Luke McFatrich: Thanks.

Brian Finnerty: It was Luke pretty. 

Robyn Bell: Yeah. My dad, you say pretty fart smelters. I mean pretty smart fellers. 

Brian Finnerty: My dad says the same. 

Robyn Bell: Oh, it's a  total. Dad. 

Brian Finnerty: You have to say it. If you're a dad, it's like a rule. 

Robyn Bell: We might have the same dad, Brian.

Brian Finnerty: Wow.

Robyn Bell: But that'd be so that's awesome. Okay. So I thought maybe Shrek was your first production as Dingbat Theatre Project, but no, it sounds like you did some previous ones. 

Luke McFatrich: One in December. We did Brian and Luke's Amazing. Terrific. Jaw-dropping Fantastical Spectacular, Tremendous Success of Live Holiday. Jamboree. 

Robyn Bell: How do you fit that on an Instagram post, 

Brian Finnerty: Christmas magic, 

Robyn Bell: and the fact that you guys did that in stereo there, that was impressive 

Brian Finnerty: practice

Luke McFatrich: to memorize it for the show. So, 

Robyn Bell: Okay. And so this was an original show evidently. Okay. And how did that go? 

Luke McFatrich: So fun. Yeah, 

Brian Finnerty: it was great. We sold out people had a great time.

Robyn Bell: Good. 

Brian Finnerty: Yeah. People needed it at that time.  There was no theatre happening at all. It was 

Luke McFatrich: just except for fresh Christmas Carol, at The Players 

Brian Finnerty: that  we were starting to start to do stuff around that time.  Just kind of starting back up. 

Luke McFatrich: Right. But in terms of like local, Sarasota talent doing musical theatre, that was all that was offered. 

Robyn Bell: Okay. Okay. I see. And what is your target audience? Who are you marketing to and hoping to sell tickets to. 

Brian Finnerty: Everyone who wants to come. 

Robyn Bell: Okay. Let me see. There's what kind of people are you finding coming to the show?

Luke McFatrich: A lot of artists are coming to see the show, which is great because that's not always the case. 

Brian Finnerty: Right.

Luke McFatrich: So a lot of younger people, which is great people in their twenties and thirties and early forties are coming, which is. Awesome to see. 

Brian Finnerty: I really think that  we've hit pretty much every demographic which is really,  cool to see, because as you know, that's not always the case here. 

Robyn Bell:  Yeah. And if you're getting 20, 30, 40 year olds  that's a really,  powerful statement to who you are attracting audiences from, 

Luke McFatrich: And they're bringing their kids. Which is just so cool 

Robyn Bell: Who doesn't want to see Shrek? 

Luke McFatrich: I know, right. 

Brian Finnerty: I know. 

Robyn Bell:  did see on the website that it is full production, two and a half hours with an intermission. That sort of thing. It is because of the MTI rental. I guess you have to do it. Note for note, word for word 

Luke McFatrich: Everything. Yeah. 

Brian Finnerty: Yup.

Luke McFatrich: That's crazy. 

Brian Finnerty: The whole shebang.

Luke McFatrich:  I know somebody asked me like, are you doing the full version? I was like, Oh, Yeah, we are, I guess, 

Robyn Bell: Is there another version? Is there like a kiddie version or something? 

Luke McFatrich: Yeah. Yeah, there was a kiddie version, but no, I'm shutting it down now. We're doing the whole, 

Brian Finnerty: We're not kiddies now.

Luke McFatrich: We're grown 

Brian Finnerty: on the outside at least

Luke McFatrich:  on the inside. 

Robyn Bell: So tell me, what are you doing for music? Is it, canned recorded music of live musicians, 

Luke McFatrich: live bands. 

Robyn Bell: Really?

Luke McFatrich: Yeah.

Robyn Bell: Tell me about the live band. 

Luke McFatrich: Do you know Michelle Kasonofski?

Robyn Bell:  I don't. 

Luke McFatrich: Okay. Michelle Kasonofski is one of the best music directors ever.

Robyn Bell: How do I not know her? 

Luke McFatrich: She's awesome. She worked at Port Charlotte High School for a very long time and was the 2013 Charlotte County Teacher of the Year. 

Robyn Bell: Wow. 

Luke McFatrich: Yeah, she music directs a lot at Venice Theatre. She was the music director for the off Broadway production of always Patsy Cline. So we got. 

Robyn Bell: Yeah. Okay. So she's the director keep playing keyboards, but keys. Okay. 

Luke McFatrich: Conducting and her son, Michael Mansini is our second keyboard and our bass player and we have a drummer Joel Broom. And then we have a guitarist who plays acoustic, electric and ukulele. 

Robyn Bell: And what's his name? 

Luke McFatrich: Judah. . He's a student at Booker High School.  

Robyn Bell: Are there  not some amazingly talented high school students around here. 

Luke McFatrich: It's crazy. 

Robyn Bell: It is insane. We just had scholarship auditions at the State College of Florida on Saturday, and I was you just blown away at the level of talent coming from our public schools. So it's good that you're tapping in particularly a Booker and,  Scott Keys is retiring. 

Brian Finnerty: Yeah, I know. He just wrote a show and that's just like closing farewell. 

Robyn Bell: I know. It's amazing. Really amazing. So it's going to be some tough shoes to fill there. 

Brian Finnerty: Absolutely. He's incredible. 

Robyn Bell: Yeah. Well I am excited. I do have tickets to May 13th, Melodie Dickerson, and I are coming.  We're going to see the show  and I have yet to go to this venue  this would be my first time. there 

Luke McFatrich: awesome.

Robyn Bell: Yeah. 

Luke McFatrich: It's really cool. 

Brian Finnerty: During the day it's an indie market. So if you go inside, there's all these different booths and they have a lot of  young entrepreneur events and it's just a really awesome place.

Luke McFatrich: Yeah. And Music Compound has a location. 

Robyn Bell: I was about to say Music Compound is doing stuff there. That's a good place to tap into musicians as well for your pit orchestras is euros. Yeah. Very cool. You grew up here, Brian, you were a transplant, but you immediately got thrown into the cultural arts Luke in the Venice area, I guess first, but tell us some things that you guys like to do on the Suncoast when you're not.  Working. What are some of your favorite things? Brian? What do you like to do? 

Brian Finnerty: I love to go to the Bazaar on Apricot and Lime and enjoy a meal from Hamlets Eatery Food Truck,  to meat or not to meat because they have vegan options for every regular menu item, which is pretty cool. 

Robyn Bell: All right.

Brian Finnerty: Now, aside from that food truck, right. There'll be open before the show. So come check them out. There you go. Kim Livingood. I gave you a shout out. And then  I love made restaurant, which is in downtown Sarasota. 

Robyn Bell: Yes. I've heard many of our guests on the podcast have talked about 

Brian Finnerty: their scallops.

Luke McFatrich: I've never been there. 

Brian Finnerty: Well, we'll go after this.

Luke McFatrich:  Oh, perfect. 

Brian Finnerty: Okay. Valentino's has a great calamari pizza

Robyn Bell: Calamari pizza. 

Brian Finnerty: God, it is so good. 

Robyn Bell: Life get any better than calamarie pizza. 

Brian Finnerty: I know it does not. 

Luke McFatrich: I believe I had it at your apartment. It was very, 

Robyn Bell: Is the sauce like the calamari  dipping sauce? Yeah. Wow. 

Brian Finnerty: And it's wonderful. 

Robyn Bell: What a great idea. 

Brian Finnerty: Yeah. Highly recommended. 

Robyn Bell: There putting a Valentino's in near my home, so we're excited about that and we will be trying the calamarie pizza. 

Luke McFatrich: That's exciting. 

Robyn Bell: I know. What about you? What do you like to hang out? 

Luke McFatrich: I live in Venice. 

Robyn Bell: Oh gosh. That's a trek. 

Luke McFatrich: It is a track 

Robyn Bell: it's track for Shrek 

Luke McFatrich: every minute drive every day. And sometimes it's an hour and sometimes it's 20 minutes. Who knows? 

Robyn Bell: Do you take the interstate or 41? 

Luke McFatrich: It depends. My car doesn't have air conditioning right now. So sometimes when I'm driving faster The air will blow. So for that reason, I've been taking the interstate Robyn. 

Robyn Bell: I see you have the ventilation system 

Brian Finnerty: Whatever works

Robyn Bell: Maybe we start a GoFundMe page for your air conditioning. 

Luke McFatrich: Oh my gosh. That'd be lovely, right? No, 

Robyn Bell: It's only going to get worse. It's the end of April. 

Luke McFatrich: I know. I need a new car. Hopefully we'll see. See what happens? I like to go to the North jetty a lot. That's like my favorite place to go and just veg even when I lived in Sarasota for a year during the pandemic. And then I literally moved at the beginning of the pandemic and then moved back to Venice at the end. 

Robyn Bell: Okay. 

Venice is a neat town. It's a great community. Yeah.  We go there. They have this thing on, their big, main drag called Christmas in July and all the stores have these sales, like it's Christmas time and there's Christmas music playing and we start the Crow's Nest and we have lunch there. And then we work our way all the way up and ended the Daiquiri Deck on the way back. 

Luke McFatrich: Oh

Robyn Bell: yes. Yeah. As I like  Venice and there'd Venice Symphony has come a long way and  we had a John Denver tribute artists with our Pops Orchestra. And I saw him at the Venice Theatre 

Luke McFatrich: Back Home Again, I think.

Robyn Bell: Yes, Tom Becker. 

Luke McFatrich: Yeah. He's very talented. We had him a couple of weeks ago and I was in there listening. I was, I was going to come and say, Tom, I know I was like, who's gonna come see a John Denver tribute. And then I sat and listened. I was like, Oh, okay. 

Robyn Bell: And then another connection we have is at the State College of Florida for the past two years now, our new sound guy is Dorian Boyd. He used to work down there with you guys. 

Luke McFatrich: He's great. 

Robyn Bell: Oh, yeah. He's, he's been spectacular through this whole pandemic. Our performances at the college have just been live stream. We haven't been able to have an audience. We've had no rentals of the Neel, but I think our Neel staff has worked twice as hard as they would have. You know, even with regular shows. So he's, I'm going to tell you, I need this. Yeah. You're amazing. 

Luke McFatrich: He's awesome. His dad's really talented too. I know. A little bit better. Yeah, yeah, 

Robyn Bell: yeah. Yeah. His dad's a  good bud. All right. So we got a couple of rapid fire questions here for you guys. So either, or there's a big prize. If you get all the right answers. 

Luke McFatrich: Oh, there's correct answers. 

Robyn Bell: Oh, you can't get them wrong.  As I say, you get a paid trip for two to Cancun.

Luke McFatrich: Okay.

Brian Finnerty: Love that. 

Robyn Bell: The restaurant. 

Luke McFatrich: Oh,

Brian Finnerty: Hey, we'll take it. 

Luke McFatrich: Hey, whatever. Like I said before, non-profit Robyn. 

Robyn Bell: Okay. And here's the order because I'm going to say. The question and Brian, you're going to go first. You're going to give your answer and then Luke, you're going to give your answer, but you can't like don't feed off each other, you know? Oh, I'll take his answer. I want your true answers. Okay. Okay. 

Brian Finnerty: Don't look at me. Look, don't look at me. 

Luke McFatrich: I don't even know who you are. 

Robyn Bell: You go. Number one, your favorite Theatre space in town, 

Brian Finnerty: The Bizarre at Apricot and Lime 

Robyn Bell: Is that true? 

Brian Finnerty: It has been this past year. It's been our only Theatre space this whole year.

Luke McFatrich: Yes, it's true. Yeah. I do like the Bizarre at Apricot and Lime,  however, I liked the Pinkerton Theatre at Venice Theatre. I love to perform there. That's our black box space. 

Robyn Bell: Okay. Very nice. Very nice. But you've been to the Asolo you've been to Florida Studio Theatre. You've been to The Players out of all of those spaces. That's what you would choose. 

Luke McFatrich: Yep.

Brian Finnerty: Yep.

Robyn Bell: Outstanding. Good. Okay, Luke, you go first on this one. 

Luke McFatrich: Okay.

Robyn Bell:  Best Italian food in town. 

Luke McFatrich: Ooh. I likeMade in Italy, but that's in Venice. 

Robyn Bell: That counts. It's the Suncoast. 

Luke McFatrich: Cool.

Brian Finnerty: Caragiolos.

Robyn Bell: Oh! Caragiolos!? Yes, that place is fantastic. 

Brian Finnerty: Very good. Nice atmosphere too. 

Robyn Bell: Good choices, boys. Good choices. Okay, Brian, your first here West Side Story or Hamilton. 

Brian Finnerty: Hamilton. So easy Hamilton. We both hate West Side Story. 

Robyn Bell: Oh wow. 

Brian Finnerty: like one of the only things we agree 

Luke McFatrich: on. Yeah. We don't agree on a lot of things. 

Robyn Bell: This is a very generational answer because you guys are young, but older generation, they all see West Side Story.

Brian Finnerty: Of course. Yeah, I believe it. 

Robyn Bell: Yeah. I was fortunate. I saw Hamilton in Chicago. I said the Chicago production. Good. Didn't ever got to see the New York production, but on the podcast we've had the concert master for the pit orchestra for Hamilton. Yeah. And they spoke to her, she and her husband, he placed a trombone in a beetle juice and King Kong. And some other Broadway shows. They spoke to our music students and I said, can you podcast? It was really fun. Anyhow. I, I might agree. I like Hamilton.

Luke McFatrich: Yeah. That's 

Robyn Bell: okay.  The Reserve or Pastry Arts. 

Luke McFatrich: I've only been to the Reserve. 

Robyn Bell: So here's the answer. 

Brian Finnerty: I'm going to also say the Reserves. 

Robyn Bell: Cool space. Cool. 

Brian Finnerty: Pastry art too, though. 

Robyn Bell: Yeah, those are the best blueberry muffins. 

Brian Finnerty: That's something about the Reserve, where it is and just the building itself and the atmosphere is really, really good.

Robyn Bell: Totally. The two buildings in the courtyard and the location.

Luke McFatrich:  I think it'd be cool to do a show out there too. 

Robyn Bell: You got to hook up there and do a show. 

Luke McFatrich: Yes. I'm manifesting it through the podcast. 

Robyn Bell: Yeah, it'll happen. I think they listen. I'm telling you, they listen to every podcast as soon as they're downloaded.

Luke McFatrich: Yeah, exactly. 

Robyn Bell: They're like the Suncoast who that would be awesome. Their open mic night. I have friends that go and perform there and I think they're serving food now. But the Reserve is a really cool place. We'll put a link to all that. Okay.  This one may be kind of tough because you guys have, I think a biased answer here, but just be honest with yourself and Brian, you're going to go first professional theatre or community theatre.

Brian Finnerty: I'm kind of in between. Hm. I think there's great perks to both, and that's kind of why I love what we're doing with Dingbat so much. 

Luke McFatrich: Yeah.

Robyn Bell: That's a great answer. 

Brian Finnerty: Thank you. 

Luke McFatrich: I'm going to break the rules and say that that is also my answer.

Brian Finnerty: That was the first time we used that one, 

Robyn Bell: no trip to Cancun for you. 

Luke McFatrich:  I love the quality of professional theatre getting to like sit in an Asolo production. And I'm just bawling from the beginning to the end, just like watching Sound of Music or Murder on the Orient Express. Oh my God. I would have paid whatever they charged me to go see it, just to see their transitions with that train. 

Robyn Bell: Right?

Luke McFatrich: Oh my God. 

Brian Finnerty: Yeah. Production value and all that stuff. Costume lights, like it's just, 

Robyn Bell: it's the wow factor. 

Brian Finnerty: Yep.

Luke McFatrich: I love the flexibility and the family atmosphere of community theatre. And like Brian said, that's kind of what we're accomplishing here. We feel like we're producing a professional quality. Everyone is getting a stipend. Everyone involved is getting paid. So it is technically a professional production. However, it is not equity, so not everybody's getting the equity rate. But everybody is doing it out of their love for the art and for the project. So it's really good. Amalgamation. 

Brian Finnerty: We've also just gotten so lucky with community theatre here because you go places up North or smaller towns, and it's like, the set is made of cardboard. And we have like a flashlight theatre here is like another level. 

Luke McFatrich: There's an 80 year old playing an eight year old.

Brian Finnerty: Right,

Robyn Bell: Right, right here. It is stepped up a notch. The bar is really raised for community Theatre here. And there's really, I mean, there's a difference, but it is minuscule. You know, the price is not minuscule difference. I mean, you can spend a lot more for professional theatre than community theatre here where the production value and the venues that we have to go in, sit and perform and listen as an audience member is really fun.

Luke McFatrich: It is really cool. And it's really cool for the local artists here who get to performance in such a high quality like they, before with The Player Center to perform in a house for 450 people. In a community theatre production. That's insane. 

Brian Finnerty: Venice is production. I mean, Tim whisker off, he's helping us out with our backdrop and some other scenic elements. Venice is helping us a lot with that kind of stuff. And just every time I see a show there, I'm just blown away. I feel like I watch a good professional production when it comes to the production value. Yeah, the lighting and the costume and the sets, it's just, 

Robyn Bell: And it's really meaningful to the patrons. They know they're coming to a community theatre and that these community members are just performing their hearts out for the love of doing it. Same with my Pops Orchestra, we have professional musicians in the first chair, but all the rest are community members and our patrons say there's something really special about watching your dentist up there playing her violin, but doing it for the love of making music, not for trying to get a paycheck. That's huge. It's huge. 

Luke McFatrich: I used to do theatre with I did a production of Drowsy Chaperone in Starkville, Mississippi at a community theatre with a pediatrician as Adolfo who was like the Latin lover of the show. So that was really fun. 

Robyn Bell: It's great. Okay. I made in my little head a list of all of the theatre places in town, and I wanted to do like a, like a rapid fire. See , how many of those that you get? Right. 

Luke McFatrich: Okay.

Robyn Bell: Okay. So we'll go one at a time. Brian, name it, theatre, Manatee Performing Arts Center. Good.  Luke 

Luke McFatrich: Venice Theatre. 

Robyn Bell: Yes. Brian. 

Brian Finnerty: Players Center for Performing Arts 

Robyn Bell:  Got it. 

Luke McFatrich: Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. next. 

Brian Finnerty: Florida Studio Theatre. 

Robyn Bell: Yes. 

Luke McFatrich: The Asolo Rep. 

Robyn Bell: Yes. 

Brian Finnerty: Urbanite.

Robyn Bell: Yes. 

Luke McFatrich: That's a good one Dingbat Theatre Project. 

Robyn Bell: Yes, I have you on here. 

Luke McFatrich: Oh my goodness.  

Robyn Bell: I've got two that you don't have. They're tough. 

Luke McFatrich: Can I go? 

Robyn Bell: Yes. 

Luke McFatrich: Theatre Odyssey. 

Robyn Bell: Oh. I didn't have that one. My God, we have so many. Okay. There's one you're not going to get, but I'm hoping there'll be it on your radar when I tell you. 

Luke McFatrich: Oh, perfect. 

Huh? No. I want to get this so bad. 

I know this is frustrating me now. 

Brian Finnerty: And it was just Suncoast. So we're not thinking of St. Petersburg or anything? 

Robyn Bell: No. 

Brian Finnerty: Okay.

Luke McFatrich: Where have I worked? I said the opera.

Robyn Bell: Does the opera count 

Luke McFatrich: Rise Above Performing Arts? 

Robyn Bell: Oh, I don't know that one. 

Luke McFatrich: They are a youth community theatre 

Robyn Bell: Rise Above. Okay. I'm going to write that down. Okay. I'm going to, I'm going to give you a hint. Anna Maria. 

Brian Finnerty: Oh,

Luke McFatrich: the the Island players, 

Robyn Bell: The Island players, right?  I don't know how. Active. They are. It is totally, yeah. That little space. And then the one that yeah, everybody forgets about and I'm hoping to put us more on the radar is the State College of Florida Theatre program. 

Brian Finnerty: We were counting education. 

Robyn Bell: They might tell you, they do some amazing shows there. 

Luke McFatrich: Really pretty 

Robyn Bell: Well that's musical theatre yet, but I'm talking about our Theatre Program, like like Amanda Schachter and Craig Smith. Oh yeah. She's amazing. And she's, full-time now. And so yes. And we do a fall musical with Melodie Dickerson. We do the musical theatres. We did Children of Eden.   But our Theatre just, it just. Straight out plays in the Howard Studio theatre is amazing. So put that on your radar and come up and see us. Cause we've got a wonderful black box. 

Brian Finnerty: Cool.

Luke McFatrich: We should do that. 

Brian Finnerty: All the pictures that I see from that look awesome. They made all those masks for that. Like Mythos things that look really cool. She's actually teaming up with artistic director, Jeffery Kin and she's running our new play festival, 

Robyn Bell: new play festival. We do have a little advertisement for that. 

Brian Finnerty: So we love Amanda. 

Robyn Bell: Oh yeah. She's fantastic. Been a great addition to our faculty. So let's give there's your ding, Amanda. Good, 

Luke McFatrich: Amanda.

Robyn Bell: Okay. Luke a day at the beach or a day by the pool. 

Luke McFatrich: A day at the beach. 

Robyn Bell: Yeah. Brian? 

Brian Finnerty: Pool.

Robyn Bell: Yeah. Yeah. That'd be just kind of dirty. Yeah. All right, Brian, you go first coffee at sunrise or cocktails at sunset.

 Can I say both? No. You have to choose 

Brian Finnerty: Coffee at sunrise 

Luke McFatrich: is diet Coke at noon and option. 

Robyn Bell: That's a first. Okay. 

Brian Finnerty: We're never going to get that. No. 

Robyn Bell: Okay. How about this one? The best rooftop bar in Sarasota.

Brian Finnerty: I like Art Ovation, 

Robyn Bell: Art Ovation, 

Luke McFatrich: The Westin 

Robyn Bell: is nice. 

Luke McFatrich: It's really scary though. 

Robyn Bell: I know. You'd like, don't jump. 

Luke McFatrich: I know. I try to stay 10 feet away from the ledge at all times. 

Robyn Bell: Yeah. Sage has a really cool rooftop bar too. 

Brian Finnerty: I haven't been to Sage. We were just we'd pass it yesterday. I was like, we need to go to Sage.

Robyn Bell: Yeah. We try to go there for, I think dinner on a Sunday. It was for my birthday, but they only do brunch.  They're not open for dinner. So I was like, man, yeah, we got to reschedule that one. Okay. Here's your last one? 

Luke McFatrich: Okay.

Robyn Bell: This is my favorite question. I ask everybody. All right, Luke, your first stoplights or roundabouts?

Luke McFatrich: Roundabouts.

Brian Finnerty: Roundabouts.

Robyn Bell: Really?

Brian Finnerty: I wish people knew how to use them, but I do prefer them. 

Luke McFatrich: It's not the roundabout fault. It's idiots fault. 

Robyn Bell: Well, I feel like I'm going to die in one, but 

Brian Finnerty: I do too well. That's the thing is like, They just plopped on there without like training people. How to use that.

Luke McFatrich:  I know 

Brian Finnerty: They were like, surprise! Don't die.

Luke McFatrich: There should've been an educational video, 

Brian Finnerty: Right. Or something. 

Robyn Bell: I could show it in the roundabout. Here's how to do it. 

Brian Finnerty: Yeah. Let's put a TV screen in the middle of the round. 

Luke McFatrich: That'll fix it. 

Robyn Bell: Maybe we have Dingbat Theatre Project produce 15 seconds show. 

Luke McFatrich: Stop. Stop stop.

Robyn Bell: Well, congratulations, Luke and Brian 

Luke McFatrich: studio audience has been very kind this whole time, except for those two times they booed me. 

Robyn Bell: No, forget the Dingbat Theatre Project. You are now officially part of the club. So tell us where we can go to find out more about your organization to buy tickets to your shows and support your efforts in this new quirky theatre company?

Luke McFatrich: Gosh, we're at Dingbat Theatre with an R e.org and then everything else will go from there. 

Robyn Bell: Okay. You think you'd link to Instagram and Facebook and Snapchat and Twitter and YouTube and everything. 

Luke McFatrich: We're at Dingbat Theatre on everything.  

Robyn Bell: Okay. DingbatTheatrer,  R E. 

Luke McFatrich: Yeah. That's how. 

Brian Finnerty: Yeah, the tray, the artistic way to say it.

Robyn Bell: So I'll go and I'll get all that and put it in our show notes. So people that might be listening on the web, they can just, as I say, click and go right to the show, 

Luke McFatrich: they could follow us, follow us. 

Robyn Bell: And if you want to join me on May 13th, I got my tickets. You can come and be a part of the Suncoast Culture Club.

Luke McFatrich: All day, so everybody should come and hang out with Robyn up. 

Robyn Bell: Listen, dude, that'd be the most fun thing you do all day. It is so wonderful to hear about a new and different theatre company opening on the Suncoast. And those of us in the Suncoast Culture Club are rooting for your success in all of your endeavors. Thanks for sharing your stories with us today and for sharing your talents, vision, and productions with the Sarasota and Bradenton area. 

Luke McFatrich: Thank you. 

Brian Finnerty: Thank you. I really appreciate it. 

Robyn Bell: Best of luck guys. 

Luke McFatrich: Thanks for having much.