Monday, April 23, 2018
Features and More

Tampa Bay theater picks beginning May 3: 'In the Next Room'; 'Biloxi Blues'

In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)

Sarah Ruhl has been the playwright of the moment for a while, and she has the half-million-dollar MacArthur Fellowship (the "genius" grant) to prove it. Her 2009 play, In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play), opens Friday and runs through May 20 at freeFall Theatre, 6099 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. It is a comedy of manners about women's sexuality, set in Victorian times when all sorts of female problems were explained as "hysteria." Enter the vibrator (invented around 1878 and one of the first electric appliances) to provide relief, though suggesting it had anything to do with sex was taboo. With a cast that includes Trenell Mooring, Chris Swan, Nichole Hamilton and Meg Heimstead, Next Room is directed by Lisa Powers, fresh off her tour de force starring in 2.5 Minute Ride at American Stage. Performances are at 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. $37-$44, with $3 discount for students, teachers, seniors and military. Preview tonight is $20. (727) 498-5205; freefalltheatre.com. This Saturday night's performance is a benefit for Planned Parenthood; patrons interesting in attending should call (941) 365-3913 or visit myplannedparenthood.org.

Biloxi Blues

After he'd made his name with comedies littered with snappy one-liners and punch lines, Neil Simon wrote an autobiographical trilogy, including Biloxi Blues, which opens this weekend and runs through May 20 at Stageworks, 1120 E Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. Set at an Army basic training camp in 1943, it tells the story of Eugene (Ricky Cona), who wants to achieve three things during World War II — become a writer, lose his virginity and stay alive. Karla Hartley, who directed American Stage in the Park's Rocky Horror Show, also is in charge of the Stageworks production of the Simon play, which has performances at 8 tonight through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. $24.50. (813) 251-8984; stageworkstheatre.org.

TAMPA WRIGHTS

Tampa Repertory Theatre's incubator company has a show of five one-act plays by Tampa playwrights that opens tonight and runs through May 20 at the Silver Meteor Gallery, a small performance space by the railroad tracks in Ybor City. Two of the plays are by Sheila Cowley (operations manager at WMNF radio): Almost Like Croatia and Wait. Also on the agenda are Something New by Amanda Buck, The Imaginary Man by Landon Green and Uncharted Feelings by Megan Lamasney. Matthew Ray and Greg Milton share directing. Performances are at 8 p.m. today through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Silver Meteor, 2213 E Sixth Ave., Tampa. $15. Information: tamparep.org.

John Fleming, Times performing arts critic

Comments
Taste test: vanilla wafers

Taste test: vanilla wafers

When it comes to cookies, our judges are all in. When it comes to vanilla wafers, most of them admitted to reaching for the familiar Nilla Wafers in the bright yellow box. Surprisingly, they liked the well-known brand least of the seven wafers sample...
Published: 04/23/18
Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

The Tampa Bay area’s hotel occupancy rate rose to 87.5 percent in March, the highest level in three years. The rise was fueled by spring break vacationers as well as insurance adjusters and hurricane cleanup crews flooding the state to restore it aft...
Published: 04/20/18
In Bhutan, gross national happiness more important than GDP

In Bhutan, gross national happiness more important than GDP

Associated PressLAYA, BhutanPrayer flags whip in the wind, flying across steep valleys and roads. Buddhist temples, stupa shrines and majestic fortresses called zhongs dot the landscape. Giant water-powered prayer wheels spin from tumbling falls. Far...
Published: 04/20/18
The Holocaust connection that makes the Florida Orchestra’s Verdi ‘Requiem’ concert special

The Holocaust connection that makes the Florida Orchestra’s Verdi ‘Requiem’ concert special

The Florida Orchestra puts another exclamation point on its 50th season with Verdi’s Requiem, this weekend’s concert series, a major presentation of an iconic work. Composed by Giuseppe Verdi, Requiem debuted in 1874 but took on a new layer of signif...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
On its 20th anniversary, Disney's Animal Kingdom credits conservation with longevity

On its 20th anniversary, Disney's Animal Kingdom credits conservation with longevity

ORLANDO — When Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened 20 years ago, it was light on thrills and heavy on conservation. On April 22, 1998, Earth Day, the Orlando park had a single thrill ride, Countdown to Extinction, and a handful of shows like ...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
On 4/20, a Tampa distillery is releasing hemp-infused Touch Vodka

On 4/20, a Tampa distillery is releasing hemp-infused Touch Vodka

TAMPA — Appropriately enough, a local distillery is releasing a hemp vodka on Friday, 4/20.After more than a year of planning and research, Fat Dog Spirits — the parent company of Touch Vodka — is releasing its new Nirvana vodka.Served in 750-millile...
Published: 04/19/18
Graze all day at Armature Works

Graze all day at Armature Works

TAMPA HEIGHTS— Graze 1910 upholds the comfortable and relaxing, yet elegant setting of Armature Works with its "comfort food" offerings and dedication to serving breakfast all day."It’s the way I eat. I graze all day," said owner Raymond "Ray" Menend...
Published: 04/19/18
Tampa Bay disciples of 'Wild Wild Country' guru remember Oregon commune

Tampa Bay disciples of 'Wild Wild Country' guru remember Oregon commune

SPRING HILL Joe Lemieux sat on the cream sofa near several relics from another era in his life, out of place in this retiree’s pastel-tinged living room and brought into the morning light specifically for this occasion. There was a beaded nec...
Published: 04/19/18
Persall: Upon retirement, a look back at a star-quality career

Persall: Upon retirement, a look back at a star-quality career

Do you see what I did there? The comma and extra "E" in my byline? One last pun, just for fun. It’s the end, fin in French, and something unfortunately ruder in Swedish. Time to retire, nearly 25 years to the day after starting work as the T...
Published: 04/19/18
Freefall flavors 2018-2019 season with comedies and a pair of musicals

Freefall flavors 2018-2019 season with comedies and a pair of musicals

ST. PETERSBURG — In the coming season, Freefall Theatre is rolling out a world premiere, a different take on Christmas, a sharp comedy and a recent work by Pulitzer winner Lynn Nottage. The theme for the 2018-2019 season, "A Brighter Tomorrow," color...
Published: 04/19/18