Sunday, January 21, 2018
Stage

Pick your pleasure from Straz's new season

The Broadway lineup was set. The opera lineup was set. Now, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts has filled out the rest of its 2014-15 season, welcoming a slate of salty pop culture theater, music, dance, comedians and celebrity speakers.

The big Broadway acts, which the Straz announced earlier this year, are Pippin, Dirty Dancing, Motown the Musical, Phantom of the Opera, Beauty and the Beast, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella and The Book of Mormon. And Opera Tampa's selections for this season are Puccini's Madama Butterfly and Verdi's Rigoletto.

But man cannot live on showstoppers alone. Here are the other choices you'll have for a full year of entertainment at the Straz.

Theater

You thought you were done with the 50 Shades of Grey thing, didn't you? Not so fast. SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody (Nov. 5) joins a stage lineup that includes even more twisted pop culture fare like Evil Dead: The Musical (Nov. 13-15), Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience (March 13-15) and One Man Star Wars Trilogy (April 24-26). They join Seth Rudetsky's My Big Fat Broadway Show (Jan. 17 and 18) and Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus LIVE! (Dec. 11-13).

Add to that a one-woman multimedia show from producers Ben Affleck, Chay Carter and Matt Damon called One Drop of Love (Nov. 8) and Tea for Three: Lady Bird, Pat & Betty (Nov. 13-15), a play that explores what it's like to be first lady. And a new musical called First Date (Feb. 3-April 12) explores the risks we take in finding love.

Returning to the Straz are Swiss mask theater troupe Mummenschanz (Feb. 24 and 25), and the bendy, twisty Peking Acrobats (March 8).

Music

Musical styles all of ilks come to the Straz this season, including Tiempo Libre (Oct. 11), Zap Mama and Antibalas (Jan 22), the Hit Men (Feb. 11), Irvin Mayfield and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (Feb. 12) and René Marie (Feb. 25), paying tribute to her idol with I Wanna Be Evil (With Love to Eartha Kitt).

Returning for repeat engagements are classical crossover acts Black Violin (Jan. 30) and 2Cellos (May 9). And come Santa time, catch Mediaeval Baebes Christmas (Dec. 6) with a slate of sacred holiday choral songs.

Every Monday night for eight months, the Straz's Jaeb Theater transforms into an exhibition of hand-picked folk, Americana and alt-country music. The lineup this year includes Brendan James (Oct. 27), Heather Maloney (Nov. 17), Chris Pureka (Dec. 8), Jeffrey Foucault (Jan. 12), Seth Glier (Feb. 9), Kris Delmhorst (March 2), John Gorka (April 20) and Lief Vollebekk (May 11). Come early for snacks and drinks before the show.

Comedians and speakers

Funny folks coming through town include Jay Mohr (Sept. 20), Anjelah Johnson (Oct. 16) and Ron White (Nov. 8), who will host a concert after-party in the Jaeb Theater featuring his wife, singer Margo Rey.

They join Animal Planet host Jeff Corwin with his "Tales from the Field" (Nov. 1) and travel expert Rick Steves with Europe through the Back Door (Nov. 12).

And the fifth season of the National Geographic Live series will feature presentations from photographers including "On the Trail of Big Cats" with Steve Winter (Jan. 20), "Extreme Planet" with Carsten Peter (Feb. 17) and "Islands of Obsession" with Jim Richardson (March 31).

Dance

The Diavolo Dance Theatre (Nov. 2) and Spain's Soledad Barrio & Noche Flamenca (Nov. 16) join contemporary ballet company Alonzo King LINES Ballet (Jan. 15), tap dancer Savion Glover's STePz (Feb. 26) and Tango Buenos Aires (March 29). And fear not, holiday traditionalists — the Straz's own Next Generation Ballet presents The Nutcracker (Dec. 13 and 14).

Kids

The Straz's Wee Folk series for kids age 2 to 4 will feature Katie Adams' "Animal Safari Stories" (Oct. 4), John Tartaglia's ImaginOcean (Nov. 9), The Sandi Sylver Puppet Show (April 11) and Silly Sam the Music Man in Silly Sam's Music Box (May 2). The Kid Time series for kids age 5 to 8 includes Choo Choo Soul (Sept. 21), Fly Guy and Other Stories (Jan. 24), Ivy & Bean (Feb. 15) and "Dinosaur Train – LIVE! Buddy's Big Adventure" (May 16).

Tickets for most events go on sale to the public Aug. 30 at the Straz Center box office and online. Visit strazcenter.org or call (813) 229-7827.

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8716. Follow her at @stephhayes.

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