Thursday, December 14, 2017
Stage

What's on stage this week: 'The Year of Magical Thinking,' Florida Orchestra milestone concert, John Cleese

STAGEWORKS:

MINING GRIEF FOR HEALING

The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion’s no-frills memoir of loss and recovery, opens at Stageworks Theatre this weekend. The essayist and screenwriter adapted the one-woman stage play herself. Didion wrote the piece while mourning the loss of her husband, fellow novelist and screenwriter John Gregory Dunne, and a daughter, Quintana, within two years.

"It’s like running a marathon by yourself," said Vickie Daignault, who acknowledged doubts about taking on the role at first. Neither she nor director Karla Hartley wanted a 90-minute monologue.

"I think the first challenge was making it theatrical," she said. "Making it live in a theatrical reality. The tendency is always to kind of drop back into that narrative, literary-lecture sort of space. So we really had to fight against that. The next challenge is that it really is about some of the deepest, wrenching emotions that any of us go through." Opens Friday and runs through Nov. 19. 1120 E Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. $30-$35. Preview 8 p.m. Thursday, $15. (813) 374-2416. For showtimes, see stageworkstheatre.org.

LIFE BEGINS AT 50:

ORCHESTRA MILESTONE, CONCERT

The Florida Orchestra turns 50 Thursday. Mini cupcakes in the lobby before this weekend’s concert, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, mark another note in a season-long celebration, this time to observe the anniversary of the orchestra’s articles of incorporation, signed Nov. 2, 1967.

The composer considered the symphony among his best work, with its instantly recognizable second movement, a pulsating, rhythmic line that splits into two separate melodies. This Allegretto commanded its own encores from its debut in 1813.

The concert features Alain Lefevre playing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 4 (the rarely performed unedited version), Bartok’s Dance Suite and the second of five winners of the orchestra’s Florida Fanfare Project. Running on Rooftops was inspired by Batman and Spider-Man, childhood superheroes to Florida Atlantic University composer-in-residence Kevin Wilt. Wilt’s other works have been recorded by the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera. 8 p.m. Friday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa; 8 p.m. Saturday at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg; and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. $15-$45. (727) 892-3337. floridaorchestra.org.

NOT-DEAD PRINCE: JOHN CLEESE

After more than 40 years, it seems safe to say that Monty Python’s comedy will long outlast its original members. If you’ve already seen their masterpiece, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, hearing that it’s getting another screening might move you or it might not. But have you ever watched the movie with John Cleese (right)? That is the proposition.

The founding member of the British troupe that changed comedy will be on hand to take questions after the show. "Only absurd and/or ridiculous questions are requested, please," the comic has advised. 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Straz Center, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $55 and up. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.

Read an interview at bit.ly/cleesetbt.

LOCAL TALENT:

TAMPA BAY SYMPHONY

The Tampa Bay Symphony only puts on three concerts a year, each of which require months of work. Led by Mark Sforzini, left, the St. Petersburg Opera’s artistic director and a former longtime principal bassoon with the Florida Orchestra, the symphony aims to become the "bay area’s finest community orchestra," and may already be there. This fall concert, "Black Forest Cake," features Johann Strauss Jr.’s Fruhlingsstimmen (Voices of Spring Waltz); Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss (Pamela Armstrong, soprano); and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6. Concerts start at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, St. Petersburg College, Clearwater campus, arts auditorium, 2465 Drew St.; 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Palladium Theater, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg; and 2:30 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Straz Center. $20. (727) 827-8087. tampabaysymphony.org.

OPERA TAMPA: FREE PARK CONCERT

Bring a picnic lunch to Curtis Hixon Park on Sunday to hear singers performing Broadway favorites and operatic gems. Opera Tampa’s Straz Live! in the Park returns from 3 to 5 p.m. (activities start at 1:30 p.m.). Free. Tables available for $125. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.

Comments
Straz Center reviewing Tavis Smiley theatrical tour in wake of sexual misconduct allegations

Straz Center reviewing Tavis Smiley theatrical tour in wake of sexual misconduct allegations

The theatrical tour about the death of Martin Luther King Jr. that broadcaster Tavis Smiley is slated to bring to Tampa in March is still on schedule, according to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, though it is under review.PBS s...
Updated: 10 hours ago
The Phantom never dies, orchestra doings this week

The Phantom never dies, orchestra doings this week

PHANTOM REDUX: LOVE NEVER DIESTurns out, the Phantom survived that angry mob. We know that because the antihero of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical The Phantom of the Opera re-emerges in the 2010 sequel, Love Never Dies.It opens in 1907 New York, w...
Published: 12/13/17
Is Gilbert Gottfried really that annoying in real life?

Is Gilbert Gottfried really that annoying in real life?

A new documentary about comedian Gilbert Gottfried reveals someone more mild-mannered than his stage persona, married with children, verging on dull.His voice doesn’t grate, dropping half its nasal quality and all of its foul-mouthed bluster. Shy win...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Sting rocks the house with old and new hits in Florida Orchestra gala

Sting rocks the house with old and new hits in Florida Orchestra gala

ST. PETERSBURG — In some ways, the Florida Orchestra’s gala with Sting looked like other concerts of a mega-star. Most of the fans who packed the Mahaffey Theater bought their tickets the day they went on sale. They cheered and sang along at the open...
Published: 12/10/17
What’s on stage this week: Florida Orchestra happy hour concerts are back, Book of Mormon lottery

What’s on stage this week: Florida Orchestra happy hour concerts are back, Book of Mormon lottery

BACK ON TAP: HAPPY HOUR CONCERTSWith an opening year on the books, it looks like Happy Hour Concerts are here to stay. The Florida Orchestra figured last year it was time to create a user-friendly atmosphere geared to 9-to-5 commuters who could use t...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Live Oak Theatre Company presents Christmas show Dec. 15-16 in Brooksville

Live Oak Theatre Company presents Christmas show Dec. 15-16 in Brooksville

BROOKSVILLE — Singing Christmas carols, listening to stories while sitting in front of the fireplace, watching twinkling Christmas lights. For many, these are the feelings that trigger memories of Christmases past.Such memories will be reignited when...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/09/17
Musical take on miserly classic

Musical take on miserly classic

Photo courtesy of Jimmy FerraroThe new Millennium Theatre Company will present a musical production of What in the Dickens Happened To Scrooge? weekends, Dec. 9-17, at 10005 Ridge Road, New Port Richey. Show times are at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17
How to get $25 tickets to ‘Book of Mormon’ at the Straz Center

How to get $25 tickets to ‘Book of Mormon’ at the Straz Center

The Book of Mormon’s producers have made lower-priced tickets possible for a few lucky fans.To win a $25 ticket (that’s less than half of the starting price for seats), it’s safest to show up two and a half hours before curtain. One lottery entry per...
Published: 12/05/17
Orchestra delivers a stirring Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2

Orchestra delivers a stirring Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2

TAMPA — Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and enjoy a concert. I mean really, you can work yourself to death trying to figure out every nuance, as a critic or music aficionado. I don’t think Sergei Rachmaninoff, who described music as nonverbal po...
Published: 12/02/17
Our music critics wonder, how will Sting mesh with the Florida Orchestra?

Our music critics wonder, how will Sting mesh with the Florida Orchestra?

I was working construction the year Roxanne peaked on the Billboard charts and was playing all the time. With some of the more monotonous jobs, such as grading slabs, the radio is an important part of getting through it. I wasn’t into the Polic...
Published: 11/30/17