Meet The Directors

Jessica Rhodes, Current Director

Jessica Rhodes is a native Tampa girl who started her performing career at an early age with her first professional credit in The Florida Orchestra’s production of “The Music Man” at age 8. Bitten by the theater bug she was very active in the community until she auditioned and was cast in the prestigious professional song and dance company, the Entertainment Revue. She was a cast member for 8 years gaining valuable experience performing throughout the state and building important friendships that are still flourishing today.

Wanting to continue her studies in the arts she decided to pursue a degree in Musical Theatre and was admitted to The Boston Conservatory of Music. She trained there for two years before deciding to narrow her major to acting and made the big move to NYC. There she auditioned for the conservatory program at Marymount Manhattan where she received a talent based scholarship and went on to earn a BFA in Classical Theatre with a concentration in Shakespeare as well as a minor in Entertainment Business.

After college, she had the good fortune of working as an actress in NYC and in regional theater. Her two favorite credits during this time include a guest star appearance on the hit Netflix Television series “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” directed by Tina Faye and her dream role “Maureen Johnson” in The Peregrine Theaters' production of RENT in Provincetown MA. She also went through all four levels at The Uprights Citizen’s Brigade Theatre and was invited to join the indie improve team “We Are Yes” which performed in top comedy clubs around the NY area. With a passion for music, Jessica has also consistently performed in bands, most notably “The Highlife Band” that had a 3-month residency at the Venetian Resort and Casino in Macao, China.

In addition to performing she had the opportunity to work for the legendary Barbara Andreadis at her talent agency in NYC. She was with her for 5 years as an assistant and learned the “ins and outs” of scouting talent and how to manage them. She also had the pleasure of working for the Tucker-Myerson Casting office and got a peek at what happens on the other side of the casting table. This made her a well-rounded individual in the arts and from there she has continued to pursue endeavors in both areas of the business.

Another passion of Jessica’s is Yoga. She has been studying for ten years and has been teaching for three. She was a teacher in NYC and taught at prominent studios and also had the opportunity to teach in inner city schools and brought the practice of meditation and yoga to the children. She has found that yoga has not only influenced her everyday life but it has also enhanced her approach to performing and auditioning.

Now back in her hometown of Tampa, she is excited to bring what 15 years of life, education, and experience taught her in NYC and apply it to the thriving performing arts community in the Tampa Bay area!

Cynthia Nekvasil, Founder/Former Director

Cynthia Nekvasil is the founder of Entertainment Revue and served as its artistic director and choreographer for 26 years until retiring in 2015.

Cynthia was a sophomore studying political science at the University of Tampa when she was offered a position as an “after school” music instructor at a small local elementary school. That opportunity led to a summer music camp, which she directed, and Entertainment Revue was born in 1989. During those final years in college, Cynthia developed a presence in the community by becoming active in the Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the Tampa Visitors Association, and successfully secured a corporate sponsorship from the Pepin Distributing Company. In a few short years, Entertainment Revue became a well-known group in the Tampa Bay area and began building a repertoire to fulfill the demands of their new corporate clients.

In 1992, Cynthia formed a non-profit organization and set up an educational scholarship fund. Cynthia’s intention was to provide “need-based” tuition grants, as well as establish a college scholarship fund for cast members. To date, Entertainment Revue has awarded over $500,000 in educational scholarships, which have been paid out to girls in universities all over the country.

Over the years, Cynthia has used her talents to develop television and music projects. In 1997, Cynthia wrote and directed a pilot for a childrens' television show “DIVAS.” The show was optioned by the Fox Family network for development and Cynthia worked alongside the network developing scripts. When the show wasn’t picked up, the plan was to resubmit it to other networks, but the Teen Pop music scene had taken over and Cynthia instead focused her attention on developing music projects. Her first act “PYT” was picked up by Epic Records, and within months the quartet were touring as an opening act for N'SYNC and Britney Spears. Cynthia followed up with the development of 12 year old singing sensation Chloe Lowery, who was signed by RCA records. In those three short years, six of the ER girls signed major record deals and Cynthia split her time traveling with her musical artists and directing the Entertainment Revue back home.

In December of 1999, Cynthia and her husband Bob adopted a child, Zoe, from China. That next year, Cynthia made the decision to end her traveling and activities in the music industry to spend more time with Zoe and refocus on her first love — Entertainment Revue.

Over the years, the group has grown in size and popularity, and has been honored to have performed for two Presidents, at national conventions, charity events, professional sporting events, and maintained a strong presence in the community. ER girls have been featured on shows like American Idol,  America’s Got Talent, and The Voice. 2013 was an exciting year as three of the ER girls landed leading roles in Broadway productions.

2014 marked the 25th Anniversary of Entertainment Revue. Holding her Final Curtain performance in May 2015 featuring notable ER alumni and current casts, Cynthia took her final bow as Director. She remains connected to the group and spearheads the alumni network of former ER girls.

Cynthia is now remarried and enjoying new adventures in her retirement. She loves her life in St. Pete/Cape Cod and enjoys a rich network of friends, boating, entertaining, and spending time with her lifelong friends made through ER.

 

Bob Gries, Advisor

Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Robert Gries is CEO and founder of the Gries Investment Funds.

Mr. Gries has over twenty-five years of investment experience. This experience ranges from being a mezzanine lender to real estate to acquiring companies.

The Gries Investment Funds are most recognized for its investment in and growth of Public Power, a deregulated electricity supplier in Connecticut. The company was acquired in 2009 for $13 million, taken public and sold to Vistra Energy in 2019 for $486 million.

In addition to his business interests, Mr. Gries’s family has a longstanding history with professional sports. Mr. Gries’s grandfather was a founding member and owner of the Cleveland Rams in 1936 and the Cleveland Browns in 1946. The family’s minority ownership ended sixty years later in 1996 when Mr. Gries’s father refused to be part of moving the Browns to Baltimore and sold the family’s ownership interest. Throughout the 1980’s and 90’s, Mr. Gries served on the board of the Cleveland Browns with his father.

Mr. Gries also owned Arena Football teams in Tampa and Orlando and was owner of the Tampa Bay Storm teams when they won championships in 1991 and 1993.

Philanthropy and helping young people are passions in Mr. Gries’ life today. In addition to being an active philanthropist, Mr. Gries has assisted many charitable organizations, including serving as Co-Chair of the Tampa Boys & Girls Club annual fundraising drive in 2018 and 2019 which raised record amounts each year. He has served on many non-profit and civic boards including the University of Tampa, Berkeley Preparatory School and the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

Mr. Gries is the owner of OTVA, one of the largest youth volleyball clubs in the country. OTVA currently has approximately 700 young women, ages 10-18, and is ranked #1 in the state of Florida and #3 in the country.

He is also an advisor to Entertainment Revue. The program, established thirty three years ago, has developed many outstanding performing artists. Eight have signed recording contracts, two have been American Idol finalists and several are currently performing on Broadway.

Mr. Gries has run numerous marathons, including the Boston Marathon twice and the New York Marathon, in which he finished with a time of 2:58:52 (many, many years ago).

Today, he remains an active skier and fan of the Backroads biking trips. He has one daughter, Zoe, 23, who was adopted from Wuhan, China and recently graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree from the Marshall School of Business.