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- 2012 - September - 7th -

Joyce DeWitt finds company at Alhambra Theatre

by Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

Joyce DeWitt, the stage and screen actor best known for her work on ABC’s “Three’s Company,” is starring in Alhambra Theatre & Dining’s current production, a romantic comedy called “Remember Me.”

“It is a romp,” DeWitt, 63, said Tuesday during a telephone interview. “Audiences will spend a couple of hours laughing until their sides hurt.”

In “Three’s Company,” which aired 1977-84, DeWitt starred with the late comedians John Ritter and Don Knotts and with Suzanne Somers, with whom she recently shared a reunion on Somers’ Web show.

At the Alhambra, the cast includes her niece, Katharine.

DeWitt lives in New Mexico. She grew up in Indiana, majored in theater at Ball State University in Muncie and earned her master’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.

“Remember Me” has its gala opening tonight and runs through Oct. 7. Visit www.alhambrajax.com for more information.

We asked DeWitt five questions.

Have you been in Jacksonville before? What do you think?

It’s my first time ever to be in Jacksonville. I am really looking forward to getting the play up and running so I can check out Jacksonville. I am looking forward to spending time out and about. Certainly at the ocean, spending time by the water is so good for you. And then the museums and cultural history of the city and then being around the people of Jacksonville, find some holes in the wall to find a bite to eat. You become a member of society for a while and you blend in. I like to do that.

What questions are you asked most often?

Yes, John Ritter was absolutely fabulous to work with. Don Knotts was one of the most precious human beings you would ever hope to know. And yes, we had (even) more fun than it looked like. We had such fabulous writers. We started at the beginning of every week with a new script that was really strong. We made it even sillier. On Friday night, we shot with a live audience. I was very, very lucky to have worked with all of them.

Do you prefer stage or screen?

I love them all. I’ve done a number of independent films and TV. And theater, I started at 13, so it will always be the place I love the most. I really find each very interesting and fun to do. The medium shifts, but the work is the same. When I am offered a project, I ask, what is the gift? What is it we want to give them (the audience)? What do we want to send them home with?

In an ensemble telling the story, the cast and crew have to be on the same page to agree this is what we are trying to give and everyone has to give their best effort toward that single offering.

When did you know you would be an actor?

When I was little. I fell in love with old movies and I just thought that is really what I would like to do. I auditioned for the theater when I was 13 and the first time I walked onto a stage I felt at home. The theater became my home.

Do you have advice for others who aspire to become professional actors?

Don’t even think about it unless it’s the thing you want to do more than anything else in the world and you would do it for free. A very practical pragmatic thing is create for yourself a way to make a living so that you never have to depend on that for your income. If you are one of the lucky few who can make your income from that work, God bless you.

In the early days, I worked as a legal secretary. I was able to work 15 hours a week and support myself. That was a gift.

Jacksonville’s size doesn’t fit IKEA

Company spokesman Joseph Roth said Thursday that the IKEA home furnishings chain recognizes that Jacksonville area customers would like an IKEA here, but the population needs to expand first.

Roth said IKEA chooses locations with a population base of 2 million people within 40-60 miles.

“You’re not quite there yet,” he said.

According to U.S. Census figures for 2011, the seven-county Northeast Florida area had 1.5 million people.

Adding in five Southeast Georgia counties bumps that up to 1.65 million.

Roth said the Orlando IKEA is the closest for the time being. There’s also IKEA.com.

IKEA is based in Sweden. Its U.S. headquarters office is near Philadelphia.

IKEA announced in August that it was submitting plans for a Miami-Dade store in the City of Sweetwater. It will be the second South Florida IKEA store and the fourth in the state.

IKEA said that pending approvals, construction could begin in the spring and the store could open in fall 2014.

IKEA’s other Florida stores are in Sunrise, Tampa and Orlando.

The new IKEA is planned on 14.6 acres and will be a 417,000-square-foot store to be built above two levels of parking, totaling 1,500 spaces.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit plans October opening

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit intends to open its first Jacksonville location in October at 9825 San Jose Blvd. We reported Thursday about the construction permit application.

The Dallas-based company said the Jacksonville location is owned by David and Bridgette Lowe, who originally intended to open in Orange Park, but instead will open along San Jose Boulevard.

A news release issued Thursday morning said “World’s Largest Barbecue Franchise Signs Lease in Florida.”

“It was important that we found a franchise that supported the military and was highly involved in local communities and charities,” said David Lowe in the release. “Dickey’s fit our needs and we’ve had a great experience throughout the process.”

The release said that the Lowes live in Middleburg and have been married for 13 years. It said David Lowe served in the U.S. Air Force and the Florida Air National Guard as an E-8 senior master sergeant.

Dickey’s plans to open additional Florida restaurants this month in Boca Raton and Fort Myers.

The company was founded in 1941 in Dallas and has more than 250 locations in 43 states. Its website is www.dickeys.com.

Guest hosts filling in at First Coast Connect

First Coast Connect host Melissa Ross has assembled a group of former broadcasters as guest hosts for the days she will be out over the next few months.

Ross is a member of the current class of Leadership Jacksonville, which takes up some of that time. Donna Deegan, who just left First Coast News to run her philanthropic causes, hosted Thursday.

The guest hosts include:

• Sept. 13 — Charlene Shirk

• Oct. 11 — Jay Solomon

• Nov. 8 — Harry Reagan

• Dec. 6 — Deborah Gianoulis

First Coast Connect airs at 9 a.m. weekdays on 89.9 WJCT-FM. The one-hour call-in program features local newsmakers, civic and community leaders, arts, activities and more, along with spot news features and a weekly roundtable of local journalists.

It also features First Coast Success, a partnership with the Daily Record, twice a month. First Coast Success features interviews with top business leaders in Northeast Florida.

Bid canceled

The City canceled a bid invitation for the Lonnie Miller Water Park on about 2 acres at 5080 Soutel Drive. The scope of work was to construct a “fully functioning water park” and specific elements included a lazy river, kiddie pool, elevated water slides and tower, pool decking and other features.

Presidential historian Goodwin scheduled at UNF

Just three weeks before the November election, historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin will discuss “Former U.S. Presidents and Their Mark on the World” at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 17 at the University of North Florida Arena. The event is free and open to the public.

Goodwin served as an assistant to Lyndon Johnson in his last year in the White House and authored “Lyndon Johnson & The American Dream,” which became a New York Times best-seller. Her most recent work is the history of Abraham Lincoln, “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” published in October 2005. It reached No. 1 on The New York Times best-seller list.

Her presentation, co-hosted by UNF and Stein Mart, is a Presidential Lecture and is part of the UNF Distinguished Voices Lecture Series. Tickets are required. For information, visit www.unf.edu/lectures or call 620-2117.

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

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