Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Catch play Saturday at amphitheater near Curtis Hixon — probably

Nicole Jeannine Smith is one of two actors set to perform Anything’s Dream, a riff on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in the amphitheater at Kiley Gardens, just south of Curtis Hixon Park.

Alley Cat Players

Nicole Jeannine Smith is one of two actors set to perform Anything’s Dream, a riff on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in the amphitheater at Kiley Gardens, just south of Curtis Hixon Park.

TAMPA — If everything goes according to plan, a seldom-used amphitheater along the downtown banks of the Hillsborough River will come to life Saturday with an acclaimed playwright's skewed take on Shakespeare.

Alley Cat Players plans to stage Mac Wellman's Anything's Dream in the amphitheater at Kiley Gardens, just south of Curtis Hixon Park.

The play, which director Jo Averill-Snell calls a "riff" on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, runs only about a half-hour and features two actors.

"You'll have the sounds of the Hillsborough River and trees from the University of Tampa behind you," Averill-Snell said. "The setting will be perfect."

But there could be a big snag in the theater company's plans.

Any "organized event" in a city park requires a permit, said Tampa Parks and Recreation Department spokeswoman Linda Carlo.

That was news to Averill-Snell. She said a parks official told her three years ago that her company didn't need permits if it didn't use sets and lighting. In that case, she said she was told, the performers were "just like any other people in the park."

Based on that information, Alley Cat Players, the nonprofit company that Averill-Snell co-founded 10 years ago, has produced several performances in city parks, all without permits and all without objection from the city.

As of press time Wednesday, she planned to go ahead with the free performance at 8 Saturday. Updates will be posted on the company's website,

The permit issue wasn't the first problem the theater group encountered while trying to stage the production.

The free performance was to take to the stage at 11 p.m., but officials from Tampa's Parks and Recreation Department said the park is closed at that hour. Even though that came as surprise to the people from Alley Cat Players, they moved the performance to 8 p.m., so it will be over by the 10 p.m. closing time listed on the department's website.

"I don't even know what their definition of 'closed' is," said Averill-Snell, who has been rehearsing with her cast (Dahlia Legault and Nicole Jeannine Smith) at the amphitheater and visiting after 11 p.m. to get a feel for the ambience. "There's no fence. There are lights, and there are people around."

Despite the scheduling snags, Averill-Snell hopes the play will go on as planned. Local theater audiences should be familiar with Wellman, an Obie Award-winning playwright from New York City. Several local companies have produced his work, including Bad Penny, which was staged on and around the Hillsborough River in Sulphur Springs Park in the early 1990s.

Wellman also wrote a surrealistic history of Ybor City called Why the Y (in Ybor)? that was produced at the Italian Club in the mid '90s.

"I think he has a soft spot for Tampa," Averill-Snell said. "When we approached him about getting the rights to do this play, he said we could do it for free."

The play combines Wellman's take on the Shakespeare play with his impressions of several paintings. Audience members who have iPhones will get to look at the paintings on their phones during the performances. Others will get printed copies of the paintings.

Marty Clear can be reached at

This story has been changed to reflect the following correction: The Alley Cat Players will perform Anything's Dream at 8 p.m. Saturday in the amphitheater at Kiley Gardens. An earlier story gave the wrong time.

Catch play Saturday at amphitheater near Curtis Hixon — probably 07/15/10 [Last modified: Thursday, July 15, 2010 11:27am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Quiet college dropout turned bomber: Who was Salman Abedi?


    LONDON — He was quiet and withdrawn, a college dropout who liked soccer — and, some say, showed alarming signs of being radicalized years before he walked into a pop concert at Britain's Manchester Arena and detonated a powerful bomb, killing himself and 22 others.

    Salman Abedi was identified by British authorities as the man behind Monday’s attack.
  2. Soldiers launch attacks in besieged Philippine city


    MARAWI, Philippines — Backed by tanks and rocket-firing helicopters, Philippine troops launched "precision attacks" Thursday to clear extremists linked to the Islamic State group from a city that has been under siege since a raid that failed to capture one of Asia's most-wanted militants.

    Soldiers fire at enemy positions Thursday while trying to clear the city of Marawi, Philippines, of armed militants.
  3. Back to .500, Rays feel ready to roll (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Who wants to be mediocre? Middling? Average? Run-of-the-mill?

    Rays catcher Jesus Sucre tags out the Angels’ Mike Trout trying to score from second base after a perfect peg from rightfielder Steven Souza Jr. in the first inning.
  4. Seminole man accused of fracturing 8-month-old baby's leg


    Deputies arrested a Seminole man Thursday after he fractured an 8-month-old baby's bones, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said.

    Gary G. Gibeault of Seminole was arrested on a charge of aggravated child abuse.
  5. St. Petersburg's ballooning sewage debt could threaten credit rating (but there's a Hail Mary plan to avoid that)

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The city needs a lot of money — $435 million over the next five years — most of it to fix its leaky sewer pipes and aging sewer plants.

    In September 2016, signs at St. Petersburg's North Shore Park warned people to stay out of the water due to contamination from sewage released by the city's overwhelmed sewer system. The City Council on Thursday learned that the very expensive fix for its sewage woes could hamper the city's credit rating. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]