ST. PETERSBURG — Mahaffey Theater has announced its 2010-11 Broadway Plus! series, which is topped by Garrison Keillor, the Monty Python musical Spamalot and Rhythm of the Dance, yet another show capitalizing on the craze for Celtic music and dance.
Having struggled to find its niche in the Tampa Bay entertainment marketplace, the city-owned Mahaffey is taking an eclectic approach. "The philosophy is … a little something for everybody," general manager David Rovine said. "By putting out a wide swath of shows … we will be able to gauge what the audience is looking for."
Last year, Mahaffey put together its first Broadway Plus! series on short notice in the wake of Broadway Across America pulling out of the theater because of abysmal attendance for shows like Sweeney Todd and The Wedding Singer that played for a week. This past season's five presentations of mostly one-night stands had just 130 subscribers, but Rovine said several of the shows — he cited Rain, a Beatles tribute, and Hal Holbrook in Mark Twain Tonight! — did decent business.
Several of next season's shows have loyal followings, including Keillor, who sold out Mahaffey in 2008; the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas tour (though it comes to Mahaffey almost two weeks before Thanksgiving); and Drumline Live, inspired by the 2002 movie on marching bands.
Rovine said he's excited about Romeo and Juliet, a tour by the Acting Company of New York that adapts a Guthrie Theater production directed by Penny Metropulos. "I think that's kind of stepping outside of the box to bring in Shakespeare and doing a play in a series like this," he said.
Here's the 2010-11 schedule: Cirque Shanghai: Bai XI, Oct. 15-16; Christmas Music of Mannheim Steamroller, Nov. 13; Garrison Keillor, Nov. 18; Drumline Live, Jan. 20; Pink Floyd Experience, Feb. 11; In the Mood, March 13; The Wizard of Oz, March 18; Rhythm of the Dance, March 19; Romeo and Juliet, March 20; Spamalot, April 19.
Tickets go on sale to the general public in June. Information: mahaffeytheater.com.
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In another season announcement, St. Petersburg Opera has released details of its 2010-11 schedule. It opens with a Stephen Sondheim musical, A Little Night Music Sept. 17-19, with a cast that includes Kenneth Derby and Buffy Baggott. Verdi's Rigoletto will be staged Jan. 21-25, and Puccini's Madama Butterfly is on the agenda June 10-14, 2011, with Lara Tillotson in the title role. All performances will be conducted by artistic director Mark Sforzini at the Palladium Theater, St. Petersburg.
The opera company winds up its current season with Bizet's Carmen June 4-6 at the Palladium.
John Fleming can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8716. He blogs on Critics Circle at blogs.tampabay.com/arts.