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Capitol Theater to show Alan Bennett's new hit play "Habit of Art"

Habit of Art, set in 1972, has Alex Jennings, left, as composer Benjamin Britten and Richard Griffiths as poet W.H. Auden.

Special to the Times

Habit of Art, set in 1972, has Alex Jennings, left, as composer Benjamin Britten and Richard Griffiths as poet W.H. Auden.

To see a new hit play by Alan Bennett, the place to be Sunday is the Capitol Theater in downtown Clearwater. Habit of Art, the story of an imaginary meeting between poet W.H. Auden and composer Benjamin Britten, is the latest production of NT Live, a new initiative by Great Britain's National Theatre to broadcast live performances of plays to theaters around the world.

Habit of Art, directed by Nicholas Hytner, features Richard Griffiths as Auden and Alex Jennings as Britten. It's set in 1972, late in the lives of both men, and Britten is seeking advice on his new opera, Death in Venice. "Artists in their late work often feel free to digress and experiment," Michael Billington wrote in his review for the Guardian. "Alan Bennett takes full advantage of this license in a multi-leveled work that deals with sex, death, creativity, biography and much else besides."

The play opened in London in November. It was beamed live in April to venues in Britain and Europe, and shown later in other countries. It's the fourth NT Live play presented by Ruth Eckerd Hall at the Capitol, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. 2 p.m. Sunday. $20. (727) 791-7400; rutheckerdhall.com.

American Stage gets a big draw, exhibit

• American Stage set an attendance record with Driving Miss Daisy, which drew of 5,614 over a six-week run in March and April at the St. Petersburg theater. It broke the previous record of 5,391 for Fences in the fall.

• "A Celebration of 25 years of American Stage in the Park" runs through June 3 at the St. Petersburg Museum of History, 335 Second Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. The exhibit includes costumes from productions like Romeo and Juliet and Little Shop of Horrors and a scale model of the set for the now-playing Hair. Admission is $8, with a $2 discount with a park ticket stub. There will be a "wrap party" for American Stage's quarter century in the park at 5:30 p.m. May 25 at the museum, with a suggested donation of $10. Call (727) 894-1052 or visit spmoh.org for more information.

Opera on the air

Richard Eyre's Carmen, which updates the Bizet opera to fascist Spain, airs at 1:30 p.m. Sunday on WEDU-Ch. 3. The Metropolitan Opera production features Elina Garanca in the title role and Roberto Alagna as Don Jose.

Tale of two benefits

• Opera Tampa is throwing a gala that honors composer Carlisle Floyd with the Anton Coppola Excellence in the Arts Award. Floyd, 83, who taught at Florida State University from 1947 until 1976 and still lives in Tallahassee, is known for operas such as Susannah, Of Mice and Men and Cold Sassy Tree. Soprano Elizabeth de Trejo and her husband, tenor Mauricio de Trejo, will sing during the gala at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. $250. Call (813) 222-1275 or visit operatampa.org.

• Three Tampa Bay productions are headed to the Orlando International Theatre Fringe Festival May 20-31: The Dumb Show, improv with Gavin Hawk and Ricky Wayne; Aleshea Harris' Oddlie; and Reefer Madness, a play by T. Scott Wooten from the cult film. Excerpts will be performed during a benefit at 7 p.m. Monday at the Studio@620 in St. Petersburg. $15. Call (727) 895-6620.

John Fleming can be reached at fleming@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8716. He blogs on Critics Circle at blogs.tampabay.com/arts.

Capitol Theater to show Alan Bennett's new hit play "Habit of Art" 05/11/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 11:34pm]

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