What’s on stage: The Illusionists, ‘Dancing at Lughnasa,’ G. David Howard

Published June 13 2018


Irish playwright Brian Friel, who died in 2015 at 86, won’t be traveling anymore. But I’ll bet he packed a tidy suitcase. Dancing at Lughnasa, Jobsite Theater’s season closer, manages to address a lot of issues: race, religion, disease, economic anxiety, family dynamics, war and media.

All of that merely just sets up the primary plot, following the romances of five sisters in 1936 Ireland. The ability of audiences to decide what to focus on is one thing that makes the play great, said producing artistic director David Jenkins, who is directing this show.

"Lughnasa is for sure loaded," Jenkins said. "We were led to it mostly because of its ability to show off the strengths of our ensemble, particularly our women (Nicole Jeannine Smith, Katrina Stevenson, Jonelle Meyer, Caitlin Eason and Emily Belvo), and because we’ve historically had a sweet spot for Irish plays and so felt audiences would be on board for it."

Opens Friday and runs through July 8 at the Shimberg Playhouse, David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $29.50 and up. Previes at 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday cost $18. (813) 229-7827. jobsitetheater.org.


Look away from the Illusionists for even a few seconds and there’s a chance you’ll miss something incredible. They nearly drown each other, upside down in a claustrophobic glass tank. They saw each other in half. For materials, they draw on their own fears and phobias, Kevin James ("The Inventor"), right, told the Times.

"I have a routine that explores childhood nightmares and another one that is about death," James said. "They are not in this version of the Illusionists, but I do like to choose topics that will hopefully resonate with the human condition."

Starts at 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Carol Morsani Hall at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $35 and up. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.


The Tampa Bay area has a vibrant comedy scene. But no matter how big it gets, no one will ever threaten the position occupied by G. David Howard, at least for as long as he is performing, which is 40 years and counting. The man who once told jokes for 16 hours straight, setting a Guinness world record, headlines a Ward Smith and Friends event.

"He’s our comedy godfather," local comic, actor and director Smith said of Howard. "When I was starting out 30-odd years ago, we’d go see his long shows and he would let us do guest sets while he took a break. We’re lucky to get him."

Smith has been hosting comedy events the last couple of years at the Palladium, thanks to the support of executive director Paul Wilborn.

"The crowds are always fantastic," Smith said. "For the performers, it’s always great to get a break from the club environment and work a first-class room like the (Palladium’s) Side Door."

8 p.m. Saturday at the Palladium Theater, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $15 in advance, $20 day of show, $30 reserved. (727) 822-3590. mypalladium.org.


As the St. Petersburg Opera Co. prepares its season-ending musical, maestro Mark Sforzini, right, makes the rounds in a series of lectures on The Music Man, which runs June 29 to July 8 at the Palladium. The opera’s artistic director will talk about what makes the show special, with singers on hand for selected songs. Set in 1912, the story about small-town America cleaned up in the Tony Awards for 1957, beating out West Side Story for best musical and in three out of four acting categories. This show stars Peter Kendall Clark (as Professor Harold Hill), Molly Mustonen, Lucas Levy and Paula Broadwater. The lecture titled "Trouble With a Capital T" starts at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Music Gallery, 5990 Ulmerton Road, Clearwater; 11 a.m. Friday at the Museum of Fine Arts, 255 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg; and 3 p.m. Sunday at Peace Memorial Presbyterian Church, 110 S Fort Harrison Ave., Clearwater. $20, $17 seniors, $10 students. (727) 823-2040. stpeteopera.org.