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Stage planner: Late-blooming comic Steve Miller, Mark Chambers does Truman Capote, improv classes

LOCAL TALENT: STEVE MILLER

Just before social media took off, Steve Miller was giving up on the sketch comedy group he had organized with friends. What seemed like a good idea in theory was harder to pull off week to week.

"I came to the realization that if I wanted to do something, I had better do it on my own," said Miller, 40, a Gaither High graduate who appears at Side Splitters this weekend.

In 2007, he started participating in open mic nights at comedy clubs. He has since shared the stage with the likes of Jim Jefferies, Amy Schumer, Brian Posehn and Ralphie May. Earlier this year, Miller made the final four in Side Splitter's yearlong comedy contest. He ranted about the way people behave on the Internet, including a commenter on Yelp who panned a national park because of fog.

"I am obsessed with watching us as a culture, the entitlement we feel," Miller said.

Catch him at 6 p.m. Saturday at Side Splitters Comedy Club, 12938 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. $10. (813) 960-1197. sidesplitterscomedy.com.

ON A CLOUD: LES MISÉRABLES

The Patel Conservatory is heading into the final weekend of Les Misérables. Kevin Lisske, 18, who plays Marius, finds the musical inspirational.

"All of the characters, whatever they do, they just keep on living and they try to survive," he said. "These days, when most people are like, 'Yeah, I could do this or that but I'm too tired,' it really shows that people have to survive, that there are still people on this planet who have to survive and to fight for it."

Lisske, a native of the Lucerne area of Switzerland, hopes to train next in London.

Les Misérables starts at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Patel Conservatory's TECO Theater, at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $20. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.

Patel students are also putting on a abridged workshop production of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. It's the culmination of the conservatory's eight-day summer camp for theater students. That show starts at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Straz Center's Jaeb Theater, and is free.

OTHER VOICES: TRU@620

Truman Capote probably did more to invent narrative journalism than any other writer. He was a superbly gifted writer, a gadfly who seemed to know everyone and an alcoholic who eventually alienated as many friends as he had made.

Throw in a penchant for gossip, the fedora and a distinctive speaking voice and you have a ready-made subject for a one-character play. Mark Chambers, right, who recently played all of the roles in Everett Quinton's A Tale of Two Cities at American Stage, takes on that challenge in Jay Presson Allen's Tru, at the Studio@620. The show starts at 7 p.m.Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. It runs through July 24 at the Studio@620, 620 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg. $25, $20 students and seniors. (727) 895-6620. thestudioat620.org.

A DEEPER DIVE: SUNDAY TALKBACKS

Jobsite Theater is opening its PTSD-themed show Time Stands Still to talkbacks following matinees this week and next. On Sunday, "Seeing the Other" features guests Laila Abdelaziz, Muaaz Hassan and Katherine Heffner from CAIR Florida. Questions include cultural representations of the "Arab-Islamic world, as well as all non-Anglo Americans," the theater said, and how we might see past stereotypes.

On July 24, a discussion will tackle challenges facing journalists. "News, Art and Ethics" will address "how we represent and digest unimaginable events, whether in photography, in writing or in popular culture." Guests are former WFTS-Ch. 28 news anchor Brendan McLaughlin and the Times' Susan Taylor Martin and Ben Montgomery. Both discussions are led by David Jenkins, Jobsite's producing artistic director, and include the show's cast and artistic team.

Time Stands Still starts at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 4 p.m. Sunday. Talkback sessions start at the conclusion of the Sunday matinee (after 5:45 p.m.) this week and next. The show runs through July 31 at the Straz Center's Shimberg Playhouse, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $28. Admission to talkbacks is included with a show ticket. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.

TRY IT YOURSELF: IMPROV 101

Improv is hot. The high-stakes art of not just thinking, but creating on your feet has inspired a cottage industry from comics to business consultants.

American Stage Theatre Company runs a series of improv classes, and now is a good time to jump in. Intro to Improv is an eight-week course led by professionally trained performers with roots in improv and sketch comedy groups such as Second City and the Groundlings. The theater assures life-changing results from the training, on stage or off. Classes culminate with a showcase performance for family and friends. There are two class times opening soon: 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, and 10 a.m. on Saturdays at American Stage Theatre Company, 163 Third St. N, St. Petersburg. $180. (727) 823-7529. americanstage.org.

Stage planner: Late-blooming comic Steve Miller, Mark Chambers does Truman Capote, improv classes 07/13/16 [Last modified: Friday, July 15, 2016 11:50am]
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