School is letting out, it's officially sweltering, so let's call it summer. Checklist of sweaty-season essentials: Coppertone? Check. Pool float? Check. Tickets to a memorable show or happening? Don't worry, that's where we come in. If you haven't mapped out your summer fun yet — you know, the stuff worth leaving the air-conditioning for — we have the full look ahead. Herewith, our top 10 must-do concerts, events and hot-hot-hot happenings in the Tampa Bay area this summer.
Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Sean Daly, Stephanie Hayes, Janet Keeler and Laura Reiley
1. Katy Perry
Yes, Perry might have ditched her infamous whipped cream-cannon bikini, but something tells us she hasn't matured that much. (Although dating, and dumping, John Mayer can sap anyone's spirit.) The playful pop princess will fill the Tampa Bay Times Forum with both her hitmaking Roar and her saucer-eyed high jinks when the Prismatic World Tour arrives June 30 (with Capitol Cities opening). Tickets are $25.25-$124.50. (813) 301-2500.
2. Comic geekery
Avengers assemble — and geeks of all ages, too! Marvel is teaming up with the folks behind the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for Marvel Universe Live, an arena show featuring its iconic comic book characters July 10-13 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Produced by Feld Entertainment, this first-ever live Marvel tour makes its 85-city debut in Tampa, with special effects, pyrotechnics, aerial stunts, martial arts, motorcycles and, oh you know, SPIDEY, HULK AND IRON MAN! You can get a free comic book "prequel" of the show if you preorder tickets ($40-$120 through Ticketmaster) by Sunday. And if that's not enough for you, Tampa Bay Comic Con returns to the Tampa Convention Center on Aug. 1-3 with Game of Thrones star Richard Madden (who also is set to play Prince Charming in Disney's 2015 reboot of Cinderella), Evan Peters of X-Men: Days of Future Past, Chloe Bennet of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Brighton Sharbino of The Walking Dead and a large exhibit hall filled with vendors, writers and illustrators. Tickets are $20-$250 at tampabaycomiccon.com.
3. St. Pete Pride
One of the country's largest gay pride events, St. Pete Pride is growing this year into a three-day bash. It kicks off Friday, June 27, with a concert at the State Theatre with headliner Mary Lambert, the woman who co-wrote Same Love, the Macklemore & Ryan Lewis gay-rights anthem that earned multiple Grammy noms ($25; showclix.com). June 28 is the big parade, for the first time at night to ward off the oppressive heat. Then the next day, on June 29, longtime gospel singer-turned-dance diva Vernessa Ann Mitchell will headline the daylong St. Pete Pride Festival.
4. Tampa Bay Rays
Win or lose, our battling boys of summer will (hopefully) be inspired by those large summer-concert-season crowds when Weezer (June 7), the O'Jays (June 21), Joan Jett (July 12) and the Imagination Movers (July 27) turn up the volume. Oh, and even better than I Love Rock 'n' Roll? On Aug. 2, it's Joe Maddon Mr. Potato Head giveaway day, perhaps the greatest collectible since the adorable-terrifying Zim Bear. For tickets, visit tampabay.rays.mlb.com.
5. Lionel Richie
"She's a brick" — wait for it — "howwssse!" Fans will be dancing on the ceiling, or at least the amphitheater lawn, when the legendary singer-songwriter — Commodores hits! Solo hits! Perhaps even a viewing of that still-creepy video for Hello — returns to Tampa for his first public show in years. Joining him is freaky-deaky teddy bear CeeLo Green, ensuring the party will go on — wait for it — all night long. The show is July 14 at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. Tickets are $31-$131 at livenation.com.
6. Jesus Christ Superstar
Prepare the way, flock, for a stage performance of biblical proportions. The Jesus Christ Superstar Arena Spectacular comes to the Tampa Bay Times Forum on June 15 with a cast that will send 1990s teenagers into a holy tizzy. It stars 'NSync's JC Chasez as Pontius Pilate, Destiny's Child's Michelle Williams as Mary Magdalene and Brandon Boyd from Incubus as Judas Iscariot. Rounding out the cast is John Lydon (better known as Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols) as King Herod and newcomer Ben Forster as the title character. Tickets are $44.50-$174.50 at tampabaytimesforum.com.
7. New generation art
The Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg and the Tampa Museum of Art have teamed up for an exciting show that will bring works by young Chinese artists to the Tampa Bay area. "My Generation — Young Chinese Artists" features work by artists in mainland China since 2000, a period marked by increased openness to the West and compelling experimentation. Each museum will feature different artists June 7 through Sept. 28. For information, go to tampamuseum.com or www.fine-arts.org. Running concurrently at TMA will be "Poseidon and the Sea: Myth, Cult and Daily Life," which offers a glimpse into the power and beauty of marine life and the ancient art it inspired. It runs June 14 to Nov. 30.
8. Summer suppers
Early this summer will see the debut of an ambitious new restaurant in Tampa's 1906 Water Works Building, a collaboration among Richard Gonzmart and the Columbia Group, managing partner Keith Sedita and the city of Tampa. Ulele's executive chef Eric Lackey will oversee a 10-foot round barbacoa featuring four cooking stations that produce citrus-wood grilled oysters, meats, sauteed items and seafood. The menu pays tribute to early Florida American Indian fare as well as that of later Florida pioneers and emigres, with an emphasis on fresh-from-Florida produce and proteins. And in St. Pete Beach there's a Florida tribute of a different sort: The new RumFish Grill & Bar at the Guy Harvey Outpost opens for business with its 33,500-gallon "snorkel aquarium" built by the team behind Animal Planet's series Tanked and filled with gulf species.
9. Motley Crue farewell tour
The hell-raisin' potential of this goodbye party has scary-fun, and just plain scary, potential. I mean, lovable hair metalists Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee & Co. raise an R-rated ruckus at normal shows. What will their farewell adieu be like when they having nothing left to lose? We advise earplugs, some light body armor and maybe extra Purell. Alice Cooper will be the opening act Aug. 17 at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. Tickets are $20-$119 at livenation.com.
10. Dancing sibs
Brother and sister twinkle toes Julianne and Derek Hough bring their all-new dance production to Ruth Eckerd Hall on June 10. (Anybody else think it's a little creepy when they do those "smoldering" dances together?) The 8 p.m. production featuring the Dancing With the Stars alums sold out fast, so Ruth Eckerd has added an earlier show at 5 p.m. The sibs and their team of dancers will tackle everything from ballroom to tap to salsa to hip-hop. Tickets are $35-$125 at rutheckerdhall.com.