I was surprised to see that Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center will be doing the clever little musical Forever Plaid at the same time it's is being done at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre.
The Show Palace version opened Friday night and goes through July 27; the Tampa Bay show opens July 9 and goes through Aug. 17. That's a more than two week overlap.
Once in a while, two community theaters will be doing the same show within driving distance of each other, but I can't remember another time when two professional theaters did the same show at the same time.
In past years, the licensing agents have been pretty persnickety about giving performance rights to neighboring theaters or even to a local theater when a touring company is doing the show on the road.
Remember a few years ago when Stage West Community Theater couldn't add presentations of its successful run of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat because of a touring company production scheduled to come to Tampa within the year? The Stage West producers had to do some fast talking just to retain the theater's rights to do the show in the first place, once that touring company formed — never mind that Stage West had obtained rights before the tour group and had already sold many season tickets based on Joseph being in the lineup.
But as economic times have gotten tighter, the licensing companies appear to be getting looser. Or perhaps nobody in the New York office noticed. Yeah, that's the ticket.
Both Tampa Bay and the Show Palace have done Forever Plaid before, and always with increasing success. It is an adorable little show that you can see over and over and never tire of.
Interestingly, it is the suburban theater in Hudson, not the theater in Tampa, where all four actors in the cast are members of Actors' Equity Association, the gold standard for professional quality.
Equally interesting is the ticket pricing, which at first blush appears similar, but really isn't.
A ticket for the show in Tampa is $31.50; show only at the Show Palace is $32.95, which looks like a $1.45 savings to drive to Tampa.
But if you add on the 7 percent Tampa tax and the $6.50-per-ticket handling fee, the Tampa ticket goes to $40.20, compared to $35.26 for a show-only ticket and tax at the Show Palace — a $4.94 savings.
Even sweeter, if you're a season ticket holder (buy three or four shows at a time) at the Show Palace, you pay just $40.39 for the show and a huge salad and entree buffet dinner, including tax.
In other words, season tickets holders will pay just 19 cents more to get dinner with their show than they would to get show only after tanking up and driving to Tampa.
And that doesn't even count the $4 to $6 parking fee in Tampa versus the free parking in Hudson.
This is all said to make the point how lucky we are to live in and around beautiful Hudson.
Please note that you may want to take advantage of this bargain while you can. With rising costs, it's likely that the Show Palace will increase its prices in July, just as it has in years past. For now, you can buy shows through Viva Vegas! — The Sequel that ends on May 31, 2009, at the current price. After July, who knows?
Whatever happened to Jimmy Ferraro?
Longtime theatergoers will remember Jimmy Ferraro, who had three different theaters in Pasco County between 1991 and 2004 (the Flamingo Dinner Theatre in Bayonet Point; Angel Garden Cafe Theater in Holiday and Angel Cabaret in New Port Richey), was artistic director at the Show Palace from 1998-2000 and tirelessly donated his singing and master of ceremonies talents to worthwhile causes around this area.
Ferraro and his wife, Dee Etta Rowe, moved west for more theatrical work a few years ago, to the dismay of their many local fans.
Now comes the news that Ferraro has been named executive director of the Darien Arts Center, a large complex for performing and visual arts in the charming town of Darien, Conn.
The center was founded in 1975 and houses the Darien Players, the Connecticut Choralier, the Darien Dance Center, Darien Music Center, Darien Kids' Theatre and the Visual Arts Center, with classes for almost 800 students each week and hundreds more involved in the programs — now all of them under the guidance of Ferraro.
The singer/actor/director just finished a stint in Arizona as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, the very show in which he made his Broadway debut in 1981.