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'A Tuna Christmas' would be great choice for Show Palace

They've done it again.

The comedy team of Matthew McGee and Candler Budd have set a new attendance record at the prestigious American Stage in St. Petersburg.

This time it was A Tuna Christmas, which sold 4,453 tickets during its 34 performances in the tiny theater. The duo had helped set records in 2006 with their two-man show, The Big Bang, a musical that was so popular that American Stage brought it back for an encore in 2007.

McGee and Budd are favorites at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre. They sold more than 1,000 tickets a week for their rendition of Greater Tuna, the forebear of A Christmas Tuna, last summer.

McGee is artistic director for the Show Palace. Budd, who lives and performs in New York City, is a frequent performer.

Both actors are in the Show Palace's current show, The Producers, McGee as the flamboyantly gay director Roger DeBris, Budd as the wide-eyed Nazi who still reveres Adolf Elizabeth Hitler.

For years, I've been asking Show Palace owners Nick and Sal Sessa whether the Show Palace might ever do A Tuna Christmas, for the very selfish reason that I was tired of driving to Gainesville each year to see it at the Hippodrome Theatre.

The Sessas are understandably reluctant to schedule the show during the Christmas season because the Christmas shows they do now are always packed to the rafters. Besides the regulars, a lot of businesses and professional offices have turned that dinner show into an annual Christmas outing — something the owners don't want to mess with.

I'm not giving up hope. Maybe they'll do A Tuna Christmas in mid summer and call it "Christmas in July."

It's magic!

I'm usually rather tepid about magic shows, but I have to say I had a good time at one given by the youthful (hey, at my age, everybody is youthful) Nathan Coe Marsh at Richey Suncoast Theatre on Wednesday. It's the first of three he'll do. (The others are at 2 p.m. Feb. 4 and March 4.)

It was exactly one hour long, which is just about right for a Wednesday afternoon diversion, and the tickets are $9 — a buck less than originally announced and the going price for a movie ticket in this area.

Marsh often performs at trade shows, casinos, resorts, book stores and country clubs, so most of his act involves people from the audience.

Richey Suncoast board president Charlie Skelton says that each of Marsh's three shows will be different.

The magic shows are the latest in the Wednesday matinees that Richey Suncoast will present this season. The Frank Parsons BIG Band will continue its series on Jan. 21, Feb. 18, March 18, April 15 and May 13 ($9 a show). And the Florida Keys (keyboard performers) will do a three-show series on Jan. 28, Feb. 25 and March 25 ($6 each, or $15 for all three).

Skelton's goal is to have a live Wednesday matinee each week, and he's getting there.

Grammar don't count

When I was a very young girl, I used to listen to baseball games with my dad on his workshop radio. Our favorite broadcaster was Dizzy Dean, who murdered the English language but could call a ball game like no one else.

So I'm delighted to see that a baseball play is named Nobody Don't Like Yogi, a title that has so many double negatives it's a game itself to figure out what it means.

The show is a co-production of Gorilla Theatre in Tampa and EDPAC Stage Co., the resident company at the Eleanor Dempsey Performing Arts Center on the campus of Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School, 13651 Hays Road, Hudson, where it will be presented at 8 p.m. Feb. 6 and 7 and at 3 p.m. Feb. 7 and 8.

In it, C. David Frankel, the assistant director of theater at the University of South Florida, plays Yankee legend Yogi Berra, who is returning to Yankee Stadium for Old-Timers Day in 1999, where he'll see Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, the man who had fired him as manager 14 years earlier.

Yogi had sworn never to return as long as Steinbrenner owned the team. So what's he doing there? That's what Yogi is trying to figure out as he prepares his speech for the big reunion.

This sounds like a natural for baseball buffs, if not necessarily for members of POEM (Garrison Keillor's fictional Professional Organization of English Majors).

Tickets are $5 to $14. Call (727) 857-2604 or visit

'A Tuna Christmas' would be great choice for Show Palace 01/09/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 9:45am]
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