Axios Tampa Bay

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It's Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday.

⛅ ​​Sunny. 80°/57°.

🎂 Happy early birthday to our Axios Tampa Bay member April Marie Atkins!

Today's newsletter is 850 words, a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: 🎤 New theater company takes the stage

Amaral, left, singing with fellow "Disney Parodies On Ice (Not On Ice)" performers. Photo: Courtesy of Pedro Amaral

Tampa-based upstart theater company Breakroom Entertainment — which rose to online fame through its "Disney Parodies On Ice (Not On Ice)" parody show — rolls out its first season this May in Ybor City.

Why it matters: Breakroom adds another option to Tampa Bay's musical theater scene, falling between a community theater with volunteer actors and professional theater, like the Straz Center, co-founder Pedro Amaral tells Axios.

  • Ticket prices are affordable — a season pass, for example, costs $100 for four shows — and actors are paid.
  • This season kicks off with the musical comedy "The Andrews Brothers."

Plus: While three of the season's shows are licensed scripts, the fourth is another Amaral original playing off their viral success: "Broadway Parodies On Ice (Not On Ice)."

Flashback: Breakroom burst onto the internet last year with a parody of "Poor Unfortunate Souls" from Disney's "The Little Mermaid."

  • "I admit that in the past I've been miscast, yes. I've been given many roles I did not fit," Amaral sings in the video.
  • "On the stage I have been thrown singing bass and baritone and therefore my performances were sh*t."
  • The audience, gathered in a theater in Plant City last August, breaks into laughter.

Stunning stat: Clips from the Disney parody show have gleaned more than 10 million views, cementing Breakroom's place in TikTok virality.

Behind the scenes: Amaral, 37, has been in the local music scene for years. He went to University of Tampa for theater and writing, and sang around town with local band Actual Bank Robbers.

  • He met his husband, opera singer Ricky Marenda, while they were both working as performers at Busch Gardens.
  • And it was old Busch Gardens colleagues they called on to perform in the Disney parodies show last year as Amaral and Marenda were getting Breakroom off the ground.

The show was supposed to be a fundraiser, and Amaral expected mostly friends and family of the performers to come out.

  • Instead, they sold out. A member of the audience took a video, and Amaral posted it on TikTok, not thinking much of it.
  • "I went to sleep and woke up to pandemonium," Amaral says. They decided to do an encore show that November.

💭 Kathryn's thought bubble: That's when I found out about Breakroom. A friend of mine saw a video on TikTok and "laughed so hard my fingers bought 4 tickets. Whoops," he said.

  • And we can confirm: It was hilarious.

What's next: Tickets for the "The Andrews Brothers" go on sale April 17. The show runs from May 17-May 26 at the Italian Club in Ybor. View the complete season here.

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2. 💃 A fashion blast from Easters past

An April 1941 Easter fashion ad in the St. Pete Times via

To quote a 1923 ad in the St. Pete Times, "Easter is Fashion's own day." So, folks, it's time to dust off your straw hats and flutter-sleeve shirts.

Why it matters: Easter is only a few days away. If you want to turn heads at the family brunch, get off Pinterest and take in some fashionable Easter styles we pulled from vintage Tampa Bay newspapers.

Zoom in: Fellas, here's a tip from the '20s: accessorize. That means silk neckties and linen handkerchiefs.

  • "A flower in the buttonhole takes 10 years off a man's life," reads a 1928 article.
  • Meanwhile, for women who want to make "fashion news" this Easter, a 1941 article suggests "light-bright coats, sportsy in fabric and cut," and a wool cape over a print dress.

Here are a few other ideas:


A 1967 ad for "Girls' Easter dresses and Little Boys' Eton Suits."
A 1967 ad for "Girls' Easter dresses and Little Boys' Eton Suits."


A 1980 ad for "blouse charmers" with a "flourish of crystal-pleated flutter sleeves with dainty lettuce edging."
A 1980 ad for "blouse charmers" with a "flourish of crystal-pleated flutter sleeves with dainty lettuce edging."


A 1995 ad for linen coats, denim shorts and more.
A 1995 ad for linen coats, denim shorts and more.

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3. The Pulp: Solar industry dims

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

⚾️ Wander Franco will not be playing for the Rays until at least June, but he'll still be getting paid. (Tampa Bay Times)

🌥️ Tampa-based AC/DC Solar is one of many companies to file for bankruptcy, as the residential solar industry buckles under the pressure of higher interest rates, even with federal support. (Tampa Bay Business Journal)

🦈 Scientists are baffled by the fish kill affecting the lower Florida Keys, including the endangered smalltooth sawfish. Anglers began noticing odd spinning behavior of sick and dying fish back in November. (Miami Herald)

4. ✉️ Manatees meet snail mail

Stamp image courtesy of the United States Postal Service

What do manatees and envelopes have in common? They could both be in your mailbox soon.

Driving the news: To celebrate Manatee Appreciation Day earlier this week, the United States Postal Service dedicated its "Save the Manatee" stamp in Silver Springs.

Why it matters: Our beloved gentle giants are impacted by red tide and cold stress, and are regularly hit by boats.

Threat level: It's "exceedingly rare for an adult manatee to not be struck [by watercraft] multiple times in its life," according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission research.

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Sponsored event listings

Stay booked and busy

📅 Upcoming events around the city.

  • 14th Annual Crawfish Festival at Winthrop Town Centre on April 13: Experience the taste of the bayou with crawfish straight from the source, enjoy local craft beer, indulge in delicious food, and rock out to live music from "Den of Thieves." Bring your family and furry friends for a day of fun and support local businesses and non-profits in the community at this free event.
  • Dr. Kiran C. Patel High School - Golf Tournament - 2024 on April 14: Patel High School is hosting its first-ever golf tournament, fundraiser! 12 pm check-in, 1 pm scramble. Proceeds benefit high school improvement efforts. All skill levels are welcome. Sponsorships available. Contact [email protected] with any questions. $150 Individual player, $600 for team.

Hosting an event? Email [email protected].

5. Snaps for you 🫰

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Next time we see each other it'll be National Poetry Month!

Flashback: Early readers of Axios Tampa Bay will remember when we started publishing your poems in April and kept it going year-round.

  • We'd love to share your beautiful words with the world again.

📬 If you're a poet and you know it (or know someone who is) hit reply! You might see your work in a future newsletter.

🎶 Kathryn is missing her old A cappella group extra hard.

🤦🏽‍♀️ Selene learned you cannot use raw black rice to make risotto, after spending more than an hour at the stove ruining this recipe.

😴 Yacob is taking some time off.

This newsletter was edited by Jeff Weiner and copy edited by Azi Najafi.