Saturday, April 21, 2018
Stage

Here's how critics reviewed all 10 August Wilson cycle plays at American Stage

Here's a rundown of 10 seasons of American Century Cycle plays at American Stage, and what our reviewers said at the time.

RELATED: St. Petersburg's American Stage one of 12 theaters worldwide to complete the August Wilson cycle

Gem of the Ocean, 2007-08

In the 1900s, a young man from Alabama is carrying guilt for a crime that cost another man his life. He travels to Pittsburgh to see 285-year-old Aunt Ester for spiritual healing.

It is a brilliant production that goes to the heart of why Wilson was an American playwright to rank with Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller. — John Fleming

King Hedley II, 2008-09

An ex-convict dreams of buying a video store. He sells stolen refrigerators to raise the money.

At the end of King Hedley II, when cast members take their bows, they look shattered, as if they have just gone through a war. In a way, they have ... King Hedley II may be Wilson's bleakest play, and American Stage steps up to the challenge. — John Fleming

Fences, 2009-10

Troy Maxson tries to reconcile his past potential in the Negro Leagues and his present as a sanitation worker in 1957 Pittsburgh.

I'm still not sure why I was so moved by Fences, stylishly directed by Timothy Douglas. It is in some ways one of Wilson's lesser plays, more commercial potboiler than deeply felt work of art, but there are scenes between Troy, his wife, children and best friend that have the weight of Shakespearean tragedy. — John Fleming

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, 2010-11

The fictionalized account of blues singer Ma Rainey explores the friction between artists with a unique form and a studio that wants to package their product.

Wilson loved hanging around musicians, and his warm portrayal of these guys is a joy. — John Fleming

Seven Guitars, 2011-12

Recently released from prison in 1948, blues singer Floyd "Schoolboy" Barton balances the elation of his surprise hit song with some baggage from his past.

The title refers to the seven characters, each given at least one sizzling solo ... (an) engrossing production. — John Fleming

The Piano Lesson, 2012-13

In Depression-era 1936, a brother and sister clash over what to do with a family heirloom, a piano on which two distant relatives have carved their names. One argues for keeping it, the other to sell the piano and buy land once farmed by their slave ancestors.

It's pure pleasure to take in the exchanges between (Alan Bomar) Jones and (Kim) Sullivan, Wilsonian veterans: Doaker is a slyly comedic presence, while Wining Boy's charismatic flash fades into alcoholism. — John Fleming

Two Trains Running, 2013-14

A diner owner in 1969 frets over the fate of his restaurant, which is threatened by eminent domain.

Director Bob Devin Jones draws fine performances from a strong cast. Many of them have worked together in the previous Wilson plays at American Stage, and it shows. — Colette Bancroft

Radio Golf, 2014-15

Wilson set the last play he wrote in 1990 Pittsburgh, where developers wants to demolish the home of Aunt Ester.

You know Pittsburgh through these characters and this staging, even if you've never been there. — Stephanie Hayes

Jitney, 2015-16

The owner of a gypsy cab service in 1970s Pittsburgh faces the possible loss of his business and a turbulent relationship with his son.

There is humor and heart in Jitney, and some surprises too. Wilson's work speaks to characters of all races who are seldom seen but should be. — Andrew Meacham

Joe Turner's Come and Gone, 2016-17

In 1911 Pittsburgh, transients in a boardinghouse try to put their lives back together. Opening this weekend at American Stage. Look for a review this week at tampabay.com.

     
         
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