Thursday, February 22, 2018
Features and More

Stage West gives prime production of 'Proof'

This has been a stellar season for singer, dancer and actor Jessica Virginia at Stage West Community Playhouse. She was terrific as the cynical Velma Kelly in the blockbuster musical Chicago, and now she's scored another triumph as the troubled young Catherine in David Auburn's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Proof, playing weekends through Feb. 19.

Ms. Virginia is simply brilliant as a daughter who has devoted her life to caring for her mentally ill father, and now that he's gone, wonders where her life will go from there.

But she's not the only bright light in this shining production. Director Patty Villegas' four-member cast is exceptional across the board: multi-HAMI Award-winning George Dwyer as Catherine's father Robert, a mentally unstable mathematical genius; Dan Brijbag as Robert's worshipful protege Hal; and Stage West newcomer Alyssa Stevenson as Catherine's over-protective and sometimes clueless sister Claire, who fled to New York City five years earlier for an exciting and lucrative career, leaving Catherine to cope with their quixotic father all by herself.

These four keep the tension alive throughout the 2 hour, 20 minute show, but it's not an exhausting tension; it's one that earns rapt attention and involvement and delivers a totally satisfying intellectual and emotional experience.

I advise arriving early and studying the timeline of the scenes listed in the program, so that you can clearly see what's a delusion and what's a flashback.

As the play unfolds, Robert has died, Claire is back home, urging Cathy to move to New York so she can keep an eye on her and Hal is rummaging through Robert's old notebooks, hoping to find something of value. And he does: a mathematical proof that will revolutionize the way the world thinks about prime numbers.

The question is: Who will take credit for the proof?

But that's not the meat of the show, it's just the skeleton. The substance is the relationships among these four and the issues brought up by Robert's death: sister rivalry, guilt and love; academic competition; physical attraction; emotional involvement; anger, blame, passion.

This is heavy, heady stuff, but the Stage West production handles it all with grace and seeming ease, with nary a misstep or lost opportunity to shed light on the inner workings of the characters' minds. The mood is enhanced by the interludes of music between scenes, chosen from recommendations by Dwyer, and by the dappled, moody lighting by Jeffrey Germann that sometimes leaves faces in shadows at key moments, but still does the job in the small Forum auditorium.

Though the subject matter is serious, without a laugh in sight, and the personal encounters gut-wrenching at times, this play is by no means a downer. It's just a great story told by a gifted playwright and performed at Stage West by a sublime group of actors.

Comments
Clearwater police chief forms special unit for repeat offenders

Clearwater police chief forms special unit for repeat offenders

CLEARWATER — Police Chief Dan Slaughter started this month a new unit to target repeat offenders and nuisance properties.The Special Enforcement Unit consists of six police officers and a sergeant from within the department to focus on the small grou...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Jolley Trolley offers free rides to Clearwater Beach

Jolley Trolley offers free rides to Clearwater Beach

CLEARWATER — Spring break kicked off this week with a program offering free rides on the Jolley Trolley between downtown and Clearwater Beach until April 29.The Park N Ride service will pick up riders at two lots downtown every 15 minutes and drop th...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Ruth Eckerd Hall asks Clearwater for $3 million toward renovations

Ruth Eckerd Hall asks Clearwater for $3 million toward renovations

CLEARWATER — Ruth Eckerd Hall is requesting a $3 million grant from the city to help complete the $21 million renovation of its facility on McMullen Booth Road.The Expanding the Experience project began in 2015 with a renovation of the Murray Theatre...
Updated: 1 hour ago
This week food fests celebrate collard greens and Jewish foods

This week food fests celebrate collard greens and Jewish foods

FIELD OF GREEN: COLLARD FESTOn Saturday you can devote your whole day to the beauty of collard greens. Well, that’s the jumping off point. Collards are the "central ingredient" at the Tampa Bay Collard Green Festival at St. Petersburg’s Historic Deuc...
Updated: 6 hours ago
As spring approaches, parties, food festivals bloom at Florida’s theme parks

As spring approaches, parties, food festivals bloom at Florida’s theme parks

Can you feel it? The air is gradually thickening with humidity and the layers of clothes are getting thinner. Spring has almost sprung and with it brings a bumper crop of festivals in Florida’s theme parks full of food, wine, concerts and parades. Th...
Published: 02/21/18
An original clarinet and bassoon composition highlights Tampa Bay Symphony concert

An original clarinet and bassoon composition highlights Tampa Bay Symphony concert

ST. PETERSBURG — After the National Anthem and some introductory remarks by the maestro, a teacher from Chattanooga, Tenn., addressed a crowd at the Palladium Tuesday about the short work they were about to hear from the Tampa Bay Symphony."This piec...
Published: 02/21/18
Clearwater Beach named No. 1 in U.S. by TripAdvisor

Clearwater Beach named No. 1 in U.S. by TripAdvisor

A reigning champion for sand and sunshine, Tampa Bay is once again home to what’s been deemed the best beach in the country. Clearwater Beach was named the best beach in the U.S. for 2018 by the popular travel site TripAdvisor reclaiming the crown tw...
Published: 02/21/18
Evangelist Billy Graham, preacher to presidents, dies at age 99

Evangelist Billy Graham, preacher to presidents, dies at age 99

MONTREAT, N.C. — The Rev. Billy Graham, who transformed American religious life through his preaching and activism, becoming a counselor to presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, died Wednesday. He was 99. Graham, who l...
Published: 02/21/18
Orchestra debuts commissioned work, slam poet Neil Hilborn performs in Ybor

Orchestra debuts commissioned work, slam poet Neil Hilborn performs in Ybor

FLORIDA ORCHESTRA: NEW BLOODOne of the more significant Florida Orchestra events of the season, the world premiere of a commissioned piece, is this weekend. The orchestra, with personal financial backing from music director Michael Francis and his wi...
Published: 02/21/18
Explore mayo's upscale friend: aioli

Explore mayo's upscale friend: aioli

Mayonnaise does not have to be pedestrian. Mayonnaise, like life, is what you make of it. The link below is devoted to America’s love-hate relationship with the white stuff in the jar. Yours truly provides a defense for using it as a cooking a...
Published: 02/21/18