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Family moves to Tampa for Patel Conservatory and sports, daughter stars in musical | Arts & Culture

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Family moves to Tampa for Patel Conservatory and sports, daughter stars in musical
Family moves to Tampa for Patel Conservatory and sports, daughter stars in musical

When Rey and Belkis Rodriguez decided to leave California for Florida, they wanted to be sure their four children would be happy in their new environment.

The parents did some research and discovered the Patel Conservatory at the David A. Straz Center, Jr. for the Performing Arts would be a perfect place for their daughter, Angela, to receive theatrical training. When they found baseball fields and hockey rinks nearby for their three athletic sons, they decided to call this area home. So they packed up their family, both sets of grandparents, three dogs and a cat and came out to Florida.

Then five months ago, only three months after they had moved to Florida, the Rodriguez family had a terrible scare when Belkis experienced a heart attack and actually died, before being brought back to life. Now she has a Pacemaker and is doing fine. And she’s looking forward to seeing Angela perform at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. 

 “The Patel Conservatory was a big reason why we came to this area. I researched it online and then we visited it. We thought ‘What a great setting! The conservatory right next to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts!’  We love it,” Belkis explains.

Because Mr. Rodriguez is a truck driver and his wife is studying to get her realtor license, the family can pretty much live anywhere.  Now the family lives in Seminole and Angela makes the commute regularly to the Patel Conservatory, where she is currently preparing for the role of Queen Aggravain in “Once Upon a Mattress.”

Angela has had theater experience before, namely at a college in California. But it was mostly for college students, so she only landed small roles. Angela is delighted to have a lead role in “Once Upon a Mattress,” which runs April 12-14 and 19-21 in the TECO Theater at the Straz Center.

“I love it. I absolutely love it….I come here, the costumes are amazing, the set is my favorite thing in the whole world and I’m on stage the whole time!” Angela exclaims.

Performed by 21 students in grades five through eight directed by Emilia Sargent, “Once Upon a Mattress” is the hilarious musical adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, “The Princess and the Pea.” Unexpected twists and turns keep the audience guessing in this freshly updated version of the show, which originally opened on Broadway in 1959 with Carol Burnett, followed by a 1996 revival starring Sarah Jessica Parker.

Explaining Queen Aggravain, Angela says, “My character is really rude. She’s the bad guy in the play. All she cares about is her son not getting married because her son is all she has. If he gets married, she’ll have to give up her crown and her son. She tests all the princesses unfairly so they can’t pass (and marry the prince).”

Joining Patel Conservatory Youth Theater “has helped me meet people; it’s like a blessing really. If I didn’t have school and the Patel Conservatory, I wouldn’t have so many friends,” Angela says.

Tickets to “Once Upon a Mattress” start at $15 and may be purchased by calling 813-229-STAR (7827) or 800-955-1045 outside Tampa Bay, in person at the Straz Center Ticket Office or online at www.strazcenter.org.

For more information about the Patel Conservatory and to register for any of the dozens of summer camps and summer classes offered in theater, music and dance, call 813-222-1002 or visit www.patelconservatory.org.

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