SPARK Awards – 2015

2015 Spark Award Recipient Narratives

A Simple Theatre

Jacqueline MacNeil and Paul Carder

Since its inception five years ago, A Simple Theatre has received unwavering support from two fantastic people, who also happen to be married to one another. From our initial launch fundraiser at The Studio@620, to our transition to a partnership with Eckerd College, and through our rebranding from a summer producing company to a company that produces year round staged readings, they have been there, giving us whatever we needed. They not only donate funds for productions, they broker partnerships with other Tampa Bay organizations, they recruit and serve on our board, they run our social media campaigns, they place signage; heck they even run the ticket booth and refreshment table! Without them, this company would have folded years ago. I can think of no two people more deserving of this award than Jacqueline MacNeil and Paul Carder.

American Stage Theatre Company

Matthew Conigiliaro

In 2014, American Stage was faced with one of a theatre’s greatest challenges when its artistic director resigned after twelve years as the organization’s leader. Board chair, Matthew Conigliaro, led the trustees and staff through a thoughtful process to determine the leadership structure of American Stage going forward, to name an interim artistic director, and ultimately to identify the company’s next leader. His behind-the-scenes, forward-thinking and strategic leadership positioned the company to make this change one of tremendous opportunity for the organization.

freefall Theatre

Mike Miller and Robert Jenkins
Mike Miller and Robert Jenkins are not only longtime freeFall members and subscribers, but they have also given freeFall many hours of their time as volunteers. As a volunteer, Mike is in charge of Will Call and very often will come in during the week to straighten up front of house, clean windows and 2015 Spark Award Recipients print out tickets for us. Mike and Bob are also presenting sponsors at the highest level for Harvey and Peter and The Starcatcher. They have also contributed a great deal of time and resources to beautification and enrichment projects that benefit not only freeFall, but also the community as a whole. These two gentlemen personify the kind of excitement that Tampa Bay residents feel about freeFall. They attend all of our shows and bring numerous friends. These friends almost always become subscribers and freeFall fans. It is not uncommon for Mike and Bob to pick up promotional materials that they carry with them in their car and on their person. We love Mike and Bob! Every theatre should be so lucky as to have these diehard fans and friends.

Ghost Light Theatre

Molly Healy
Molly acted as stage manager and starred in our Halloween production “A Haunting at The Meteor” October 2014. She learned her lines and gave an excellent performance while simultaneously running lights, sound and set changes for 6 separate plays. Molly never complains, always gives 100% effort and has an amazing attitude. We are happy to acknowledge her compassion and patience as well, as Molly is a great friend to April and Kim. Subsequent to her performance at Ghost Light, Molly has performed in shows at American Stage (Laughter on the 23rd Floor) and Stageworks Theater (Birds of a Feather). We are proud to recognize that this is due to her passion and commitment to acting and look forward to seeing her on stage more next season.

Gypsy Stage

Alicyn Sanborn Weber and Mary Locarni
Mary Locarni – Second in command at Gypsy stage. Head Stage Manager – Director – Teacher- Gatherer of Props – Herder of cats and all around Jill of all trades. Moreover the best kept acting secret in Tampa Bay. Basically, Lil would roll up into the fetal position and die without her.

Alicyn Sanborn Weber – The Gypsy Mother of Costumes – Prop Master Extraordinaire- Finder of the best bargains in the land. Give her $20 bucks and she will outfit an entire show and bring back change. Some say that the props closet at Gypsy Stage is a magical place where anything you think of simply appears. If that’s true, it’s because of Alicyn. Thank you for allowing Gypsy Stage to honor both of these women who have formed a bond and an alliance over the years that cannot be broken. They are Gypsy Stage’s Yin and Yang and we love them with all our gypsy hearts.


Matthew Ray
Matthew is the Company Stage Manager of Jobsite and frankly my right hand in all things. He coordinates between cast and crew, production and administration, is the first one in and the last one out. He’s also the face that most of our regulars have become used to seeing before and after the shows. Matthew is a one-man gang and we are fortunate to have him and thrilled to honor him with this award.

St. Petersburg Opera

Dr. Nancy J. Preis
A Ph.D. from the Univ. of Michigan in accounting and finance, Nancy was an associate professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Business and was an investment banker in New York. She serves on the board of the St. Petersburg Opera and led the company’s initiative both financially and administratively to purchase and renovate a building for SPO. She volunteers hours to SPO in many capacities that are the equivalent of a full-time job or more. She won the 2011 Cultural Award from the Florida Suncoast Opera Guild and has been recognized by Leadership St. Pete for her volunteer activities.

Silver Meteor

Vivian Rodriguez
In appreciation of her brilliant and dedicated stage management of our production of “Bones” by Peter Straughan, Silver Meteor Gallery thanks the vivacious Vivian Rodriguez for making it an enjoyable and rewarding artistic success. While the crew built the skeleton and the cast literally gave muscle, Vivian provided the body and soul to our show.


Mariana Rocha Hunt
Every theatre has any number of extraordinary individuals working for it that deserve recognition. It is never a matter of having someone to recognize, it is always a matter of deciding which extraordinary individual to recognize. Mariana Rocha Hunt has been involved with Stageworks for the last five years. At various times she has served as Production Stage Manager, Rentals manager, House manager, box office manager and chief laundress as well as custodian. I first met Mariana as an international student at the University of Tampa who was assigned to me as an assistant director for a production of Falsettos. At the time she didn’t know what to make of me and I certainly didn’t know what the hell to do with an Assistant Director. Now years later, we climbed one mountain after another together. Countless shows and meetings, immigration, staff changes, a very special wedding and a lot of beer. Stage Managers spend their life behind the scenes, never achieving wide recognition out side the artistic circle. SO tonight Stageworks chooses to honor Mariana Rocha Hunt as our Spark Award Recipient.

Stages Productions

Eric Swearingen
The day that Eric Swearingen walked into the first rehearsal for Sleeping Beauty was a very good day for Stages Productions. To say that this actor is a consummate professional is an under statement. From Uncle Sam to Mark Twain to Templeton the Rat, Eric’s characterizations take the audience on a wonderful journey that always leaves them better off in some way. A disciplined musical theatre performer, his passion for the arts is evident whether on stage, rehearsing, or even loading sets; all done with no attitude, no ego, no drama! Eric has the uncanny ability to make all the actors on stage with him better performers. That is the mark of a true leader and that is why Eric deserves the Stages Productions Spark Award.

Tampa Repertory Theatre

Crystal Solana Bryan
The Tampa Repertory Theatre is proud to present Crystal Solana Bryan a 2015 Spark award. Crystal joined TampaRep as the assistant director for
our second production, Cold Storage. She has been involved in every production since, up through Imagining Madoff. In 2012, Crystal became the company’s production manager, and has proved invaluable in that role.She has also provided choreography and movement direction for I Do! I
Do!, The Glass Menagerie, and others. Although she is leaving us to move to Florida’s east coast, she will always be an honored member of our

Venue Theatre

Mary Kay Cyrus
Venue Theatre would like to recognize the contribution made by Mary Kay Cyrus over the past 7 years. Mrs. Cyrus produced at over 20 shows, directed many of them and performed as an actress. Her contribution to our success was immeasurable and without her Venue Ensemble Theatre would not have existed. Mary Kay came to us from Virginia in 2007, where she had worked to organize a small theatre group, and found Venue in need of tender care to rejuvenate a stagnant ensemble performance 2015 Spark Award Recipients program. With her drive, energy and expertise Venue Ensemble Theatre was born again and thrived until we unfortunately lost our lease in 2014. Venue will always regard Mary Kay as one of our best experiences and worthy of much more than we will ever be able to give back.

Hat Trick

Not able to attend but would like to recognize the Tech crew for The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged)

WIT Improv

Bonnie Smith
WIT Improv would like to honor Bonnie Smith with a Spark Award for her ongoing support and love (of the company has a whole, not just her husband Billy) She is at every show and fills in wherever she is needed. Many of the photographs posted from our live performances are thanks to Bonnie. She has helped with taking tickets at the door, cooking and playing hostess for our company meetings and is always supporting the work of WIT Improv publicly. She is a brash blonde bombshell who is always on our side.