Sunday, April 22, 2018
Stage

Our performing arts critic’s top 10 Tampa Bay shows of 2017

Highlights of Tampa Bay’s performing arts scene this year ranged from solo shows to intense dramas to musicals. They all brought realness to the stage, sometimes in fanciful dimensions. And they surpassed expectations, in so doing creating the most delightful experience for a theatergoer — that of being surprised.

Here’s my top 10 list for local professional theater in 2017.

10 Grounded (Tampa Repertory Theatre)

Emilia Sargent’s one-woman show about a pilot fighting PTSD burned, laserlike, into memory.

9 Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (American Stage, St. Petersburg)

The whole was greater than the sum of the parts in this 10th play of the August Wilson "century cycle" for American Stage, making American Stage only the 12th theater in the world to have completed all 10.

8 Marie Antoinette (Freefall Theatre,
St. Petersburg)

The costumes and lighting alone were two cuts above. This understated show about conspicuous wealth and cluelessness was simultaneously rich, tacky and marvelous.

7 The Invisible Hand (American Stage)

In a climate of terrorism, a band of opportunists kidnap an American finance expert, who teaches them to play the stock market. Grimly funny rendering of a play by Ayad Akhtar.

6 Fun Home (David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa)

Alison Bechdel’s coming-of-age (and coming out) musical makes small cruelties seem normal without losing humanity.

5 The Aliens (Stageworks Theatre, Tampa)

Slackers ponder things, endure long silences and die unexpectedly in this perfectly tuned Annie Baker play.

4 Finding Neverland (Straz)

We try not to pay attention to hype, only to be disappointed when a show doesn’t measure up. This charming story about creativity had none and benefitted.

3 Gloucester Blue (Jobsite Theater, Tampa)

Another reason to be angry at playwright Israel Horovitz, whose alleged worst actions according to nine women have deprived us of his best for the foreseeable future.

2 Squeeze My Cans (solo, performed
at Stageworks)

Cathy Schenkelberg’s one-woman show about her two decades in Scientology, which she performed at Stageworks, should move anyone with a heart and an unchained mind.

1 Disgraced (Heather Theatre, Tampa)

The tiny theater served up a taut and finely acted psychological thriller (a Pulitzer winner by Ayad Akhtar) disguised as a dinner party.

Contact Andrew Meacham at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248. Follow @torch437.

     
                 
Comments
The Holocaust connection that makes the Florida Orchestra’s Verdi ‘Requiem’ concert special

The Holocaust connection that makes the Florida Orchestra’s Verdi ‘Requiem’ concert special

The Florida Orchestra puts another exclamation point on its 50th season with Verdi’s Requiem, this weekend’s concert series, a major presentation of an iconic work. Composed by Giuseppe Verdi, Requiem debuted in 1874 but took on a new layer of signif...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Freefall flavors 2018-2019 season with comedies and a pair of musicals

Freefall flavors 2018-2019 season with comedies and a pair of musicals

ST. PETERSBURG — In the coming season, Freefall Theatre is rolling out a world premiere, a different take on Christmas, a sharp comedy and a recent work by Pulitzer winner Lynn Nottage. The theme for the 2018-2019 season, "A Brighter Tomorrow," color...
Published: 04/19/18
Desi Oakley savors pie making in ‘Waitress,’ orchestra does Verdi’s Requiem

Desi Oakley savors pie making in ‘Waitress,’ orchestra does Verdi’s Requiem

HEAD WAITRESS: DESI OAKLEYThe blue collar mother who drives the plot of Waitress never thought she could win a pie-making contest, let alone start a business."She doesn’t even have the capacity to understand that she could do this," said Desi Oakley,...
Published: 04/18/18
American Stage sets the table for a splashy park musical ‘The Producers’

American Stage sets the table for a splashy park musical ‘The Producers’

ST. PETERSBURG ­— Think early evening, daylight saving version. The earth turning away, light fading in Demens Landing Park — everywhere except the stage, which is trying its best to resurrect midday. "It looks like New York City at nigh...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Brooksville’s Live Oak Theatre presents ‘ReUnKnighted,’ a medieval misadventure

Brooksville’s Live Oak Theatre presents ‘ReUnKnighted,’ a medieval misadventure

BROOKSVILLE — How about a story about two knights who gain their knighthood, lose it, then gain it back, only to lose it again?That was the concept Kyle Marra pitched nearly three years ago to Randi Olsen, founder and creative director for the Live O...
Published: 04/17/18
Bilingual ‘In the Time of the Butterflies’ shines a light on brutal regime

Bilingual ‘In the Time of the Butterflies’ shines a light on brutal regime

TAMPA — Tampa made its cigars with indispensable help from Cuban immigrants. Today, 22 percent of the population is of Hispanic origin, as defined by the U.S. Census. The Tampa Bay area has increasingly and proudly defined itself as a thriving perfor...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Review: ‘I’ll Be Back’ at Stage West mixes creepy with shocking

Review: ‘I’ll Be Back’ at Stage West mixes creepy with shocking

The murder mystery/thriller I’ll Be Back Before Midnight is loaded with potential. Playwright Peter Colley’s spooky, sometimes creepy, script has lots of surprises, scary moments and a few jokes to break the tension.And the production at Stage West C...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Review: ‘Menopause the Musical’ brings the heat to Show Palace in Hudson

For years, Show Palace Dinner Theatre patrons have begged owners Vicki and Tommy Marasciullo to bring Menopause the Musical to their Hudson venue. To be sure, the longtime showbiz couple wanted to, and the 400+ sold-out crowd opening night, followed ...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Monthly dessert theatre opens at CARES

Monthly dessert theatre opens at CARES

NEW PORT RICHEY — A collaborative agreement between CARES (Community Aging and Retirement Services) and local entertainer Jimmy Ferraro will bring Jimmy Ferraro’s Dessert Theatre, a series of monthly variety shows, to the CARES Elfers Center stage, 4...
Published: 04/16/18
New opera by Anton Coppola, 101, highlights Opera Tampa’s 2018-2019 season

New opera by Anton Coppola, 101, highlights Opera Tampa’s 2018-2019 season

TAMPA — Last year’s lavish 100th birthday party for composer and conductor Anton Coppola might have seemed like the capstone of a long career in opera. Turns out that Opera Tampa’s co-founder was not finished. The maestro’s latest opera, Lady Swanwhi...
Published: 04/14/18