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Stage Planner: Opera season ends with South Pacific, Matt Ballassai at Side Splitters


It's always fun to see what the St. Petersburg Opera Company is going to uncork for its summer musical. This year it's South Pacific, so figure there will be somebody who can do dignified and tender in the male lead, a bass who can dig Ezio Pinza deep, yet still float on those Frisbee-like, "never let her go" moments.

The production, St. Petersburg Opera's last of the season, may have found its answer in Todd William Donovan, left who brings a deep resume in musical theater and opera to the role of Emile De Becque. He is pleased to work in a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that pushed boundaries when it opened in 1949.

"It caused quite a stir back in the day," said Donovan, a worship and fine arts pastor at Northside Baptist Church in St. Petersburg since 1996. "It has a lot to do with racial prejudice."

A rich bass-baritone, Donovan has recently played Alfred Doolittle in My Fair Lady, the Baker in Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods, and Count Carl Magnus in A Little Night Music.

He also has played Figaro in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Leporello in Don Giovanni and Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus. Donovan's daughter Arwen, 10, will play De Becque's daughter in the opera.

Molly Mustonen will play Navy nurse Nellie Forbush, the plucky "cockeyed optimist" played over the years by the likes of Florence Henderson, Cloris Leachman and Kelli O'Hara. The Finnish-American singer has earned high marks from critics for her performance as Nellie, plus numerous operatic performances. Mustonen has played Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Mimi in La Bohème and Frasquita in Carmen.

South Pacific starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. July 7 and 9, and 2 p.m. July 10 at the Palladium Theater, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $22-$67. (727) 823-2040.


Matt Bellassai, who is among the first standup comedians to emerge from social media, performs Tuesday in a one-night engagement at Side Splitters. A master of Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram, Bellassai has attracted 125 million viewers the past six months alone. Before that, he amassed 1.5 million followers on Facebook and was the writer, producer and star of Buzzfeed's Whine About It, which drew millions of viewers each week.

Bellassai's humor draws on his experience as a 25-year-old single gay man living in New York, and shows little mercy toward others or himself. His frequent tweets of late have promoted his tour, which he described two weeks ago as a challenge "to try desperately not to throw up on stage for the next 6 weeks."

A more recent tweet is for audiences: "sending me donuts before a show is the best way to welcome me anywhere please take note OTHER CITIES"

Shows start at 8 and 10 p.m. at 12938 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, but the 8 p.m. show is sold out. $25-$45. (813) 960-1197.


Jobsite Theater offers some of the most reasonably priced theater previews in the area. For $14 (half price), you can watch what amounts to a pair final dress rehearsals. Time Stands Still, by Donald Margulies, who won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Drama (Dinner with Friends), runs July 8-31. The story centers on a war photojournalist and her foreign correspondent boyfriend, who are trying to adjust to civilian life after returning from Iraq. Directed by Summer Bohnenkamp-Jenkins, it stars David Jenkins (who is also Jobsite's artistic director), Maggie Mularz, Brian Shea and Joanna Sycz. Previews start at 8 p.m. Wednesday and July 7 at the Shimberg Playhouse at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 229-7827.

Stage Planner: Opera season ends with South Pacific, Matt Ballassai at Side Splitters 06/24/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 29, 2016 10:46am]
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