Tampa Bay weekend stage picks: John Williams tribute, the Illusionists, ‘La Boheme’

Plus, the Tampa Bay Symphony give classical fans a full program.
Published April 24

NOW YOU SEE THEM: The Illusionists

One magician is entertaining enough, but get five together and now you have a show. The Illusionists — Live From Broadway comes to Ruth Eckerd Hall next week. Each magician specializes in a different branch of magic, including stage illusions, escape artists, comedy magic and mind reading (freaky!). Expect bright lights, smoke, sharp costumes and dramatic flare at this show for all ages. $35-$150. 8 p.m. Wednesday. 1111 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.

A CLASSIC: La Boheme

When you’re dealing with a beloved and well-known work like Puccini’s La Boheme, you can only tinker so much. “Our challenge is making it feel spontaneous,” said Frank McClain, stage director of Opera Tampa’s version that rounds out its 2019-20 season this weekend. “Trying to reinvent the wheel with this one is going against the grain of what the music is trying to say.” While Opera Tampa’s version is “fairly traditional,” McClain said, it’s also “a good gateway into opera” for fans whose only knowledge of La Boheme comes from Rent, the blockbuster starving-artist musical it inspired. (Marcello is Mark! Rodolfo is Roger! Mimi is, um, Mimi!) The opera will be sung in Italian with English supertitles, but the gusto and tenderness with which Raquel Gonzalez (Mimi), Todd Wilander (Rodolfo), Ashley Kerr (Musetta) and Keith Harris (Marcello) inhabit their roles transcends any language barrier — much like La Boheme itself. $67 and up. 8 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N W.C. MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.

PERFECTLY COMPOSED: The Music of John Williams

Try and imagine the last 50 years of pop culture without John Williams’ music blaring through your mind. Star Wars. Indiana Jones. E.T. Jurassic Park. Harry Potter. Superman. Jaws. Throw out names like Copland and Gerswhin all you like, but at the end of the day, Williams is probably the greatest American composer of all time. And at 87, he’s nearing the end of his run. He’s said December’s Star Wars installment The Rise of Skywalker will be his final film score. That makes this weekend’s tribute by the Florida Orchestra the perfect time to celebrate his work. Daniel Black will lead the orchestra through performances of all those big, thrilling scores at 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday at the Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. $18 and up. (727) 892-3337. floridaorchestra.org.

SPRING TO IT: Tampa Bay Symphony

With the Florida Orchestra staging something of a light week, local classical musical fans should turn to the Tampa Bay Symphony for their fix. The volunteer orchestra’s spring concerts take place this weekend under the direction of conductor Mark Sforzini, with a program that includes Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2, Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F and Waking Up Down at the Bottom of the Sea by Alejandro Ruddy, the winner of the symphony’s Call for Scores Composition Competition. $20 and up. 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the St. Petersburg College Arts Auditorium, 2465 Drew St. in Clearwater; 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N in St. Petersburg; 2:30 p.m. May 5 at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. (727) 827-8087. tampabaysymphony.com.

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