Thursday, January 18, 2018
Stage

Ruth Eckerd Hall's Broadway season features 'Kinky Boots,' 'Mamma Mia!' farewell

CLEARWATER — Ruth Eckerd Hall has announced a new lineup for its 2016-2017 touring Broadway season, with several hit musicals and the premiere of a new one.

The hall broke records this season, helped by eight sold-out performances of The Book of Mormon. Next season is serving up a lot of singing and dancing.

The season opener, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical (Dec. 22), blends the nostalgic effects of a television special that originally aired in 1964 with up-to-the-minute video imagery, set design, costumes and puppets. The story line is an extension of the children's song: After Rudolph is so rudely ousted by those other cliquish reindeer, where does he go? And can he save his family and friends from a snowstorm that threatens to demolish Christmas?

Stop, children, what's that sound? It's STOMP (Feb. 25), an inventive eight-member percussionist band creating electrifying rhythms out of household objects. We're talking about matchboxes, brooms, garbage cans and hubcaps, even Zippo lighters.

The 20th anniversary world tour of Riverdance (Jan. 20-21) comes to town, drawing on Irish traditions. The Irish themes return with Once (March 18), the tale of a street musician who gets a chance to follow his dreams and discover the love of his life. Just who that turns out to be might surprise you in this musical, in which the actors play their own instruments.

The hall is anticipating large crowds for Kinky Boots (April 11-16), the Tony-winning musical about exotic footwear. Based on a true story set in Northern England, Kinky Boots zeroes in on the overburdened Charlie Price, who is duty bound to save his father's floundering shoe factory. A cross dresser gives him some life-changing advice.

After setting attendance records worldwide, the musical about the pop group Abba is taking its final bow with Mamma Mia! — Farewell Tour (April 21-22). It's a feel-good musical in the most unapologetic sense imaginable, packing the Swedish group's hits (Dancing Queen, S.O.S., Super Trouper, The Winner Takes It All and more) into a story about a well planned wedding gone awry.

But if there were ever a winning formula for feel-good, it's an underdog story. That, plus performers with a high level of physical movement, is what you get with Dirty Dancing (May 5-7). The young lovers dance to timeless oldies and fight to keep their independence.

The season also includes the world premiere of Welcome to Heaven by Ron Clark Jan. 10-15 at the Capitol Theatre, which is managed by Ruth Eckerd Hall. This one is set in the afterlife, where there are a lot fewer rules to worry about. Smoking, for example, is permitted (because you can't die twice). Elvis sings with Frank Sinatra, Mahatma Gandhi argues with Richard Nixon (yes, he made it to heaven) over food portions, and a wayward astronaut overshoots Mars and finds himself in heaven. This presents problems, and, wouldn't you know it, some of them include love.

Contact Andrew Meacham at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248. Follow @torch437.

Comments
What’s on stage this week: Riverdance, ‘Mike Hammer,’ ‘The Tempest’

What’s on stage this week: Riverdance, ‘Mike Hammer,’ ‘The Tempest’

RIVERDANCE AT 20: CIARA SEXTONShe’s a former world champion in Irish dance, and now Ciara Sexton, center, is leading Riverdance in Tampa. A lead dancer and soloist with the troupe, Sexton said she has felt comfortable touring the states."What really ...
Published: 01/17/18
Steve Martin and Martin Short talk touring together and ‘newfangled old-fashioned’ variety show

Steve Martin and Martin Short talk touring together and ‘newfangled old-fashioned’ variety show

It’s barely been a year since Steve Martin and Martin Short last brought their roadshow to town. But there was never a doubt in their minds they’d be back."We thought — and I seriously mean this — we’ve got to play Florida more." Martin said in a pho...
Published: 01/17/18
Tampa Rep’s ‘Gnit’ is a sharp commentary on narcissism in the age of selfies

Tampa Rep’s ‘Gnit’ is a sharp commentary on narcissism in the age of selfies

By JULIE GARISTOTimes CorrespondentTAMPA — Tampa Repertory Theatre’s Gnit strikes gold for theatergoers who appreciate deadpan wit, clever wordplay and incisive commentary on the human condition.First produced in 2013, the retread of a Scandinavian c...
Published: 01/16/18
A play about Miami’s Cocaine Cowboys is becoming a reality

A play about Miami’s Cocaine Cowboys is becoming a reality

MIAMI — The idea seemed outlandish, maybe even impossible at the time: a one-man play about Miami’s infamous Cocaine Cowboys of the 1980s. Some 15 years ago, the Miami-raised Billy Corben was deep into research for what would become Coca...
Published: 01/15/18
Updated: 01/16/18

Review: Show Palace’s Pippin daring and dangerous

HUDSON —If you saw the musical Pippin when it first hit Broadway in 1972, or a high school drama club version, or even a touring company rendition a decade ago, it’s not exactly the Pippin you’ll see if you’re wise enough to go see the spectacular mo...
Published: 01/15/18
With Zev Buffman at the creative end, Ruth Eckerd Hall brings Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer to the stage

With Zev Buffman at the creative end, Ruth Eckerd Hall brings Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer to the stage

An actor famous for playing a radio station manager will star this week in the world premiere of a radio play.Mike Hammer: Encore for Murder brings Gary Sandy, who played Andy Travis on WKRP in Cincinnati, to Ruth Eckerd Hall. And the star power was ...
Published: 01/12/18
Updated: 01/13/18
Here’s how to sing along to the entire Hamilton soundtrack at a Tampa library

Here’s how to sing along to the entire Hamilton soundtrack at a Tampa library

If you’re already singing along to the entire Hamilton soundtrack alone, why not meet like-minded folks and do it together?A Hamilton singalong goes down tonight at the Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library in Tampa. Fans will gather to sing the entire — y...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18
Beacon 2018 brings professional dancers and choreographers to the Palladium

Beacon 2018 brings professional dancers and choreographers to the Palladium

ST. PETERSBURGThe dancers kept moving, spinning, pausing for arabesques or stretches. Over most of a December afternoon at the Mirror Lake Studios, they rarely stopped, whether rehearsing specific routines or not.Choreographer Lauren Ree Slone also m...
Published: 01/11/18
Canadian cops hunt former Opera Tampa maestro Daniel Lipton in connection with sexual assault

Canadian cops hunt former Opera Tampa maestro Daniel Lipton in connection with sexual assault

Daniel Lipton, Opera Tampa’s most recent artistic director, is being sought by Canadian authorities in connection with a sexual assault.The alleged assault took place in the late 1980s, a woman the Times is not naming told the Hamilton Police Service...
Published: 01/10/18
Updated: 01/11/18
Master chorale and visiting artistic director Doreen Rao part ways

Master chorale and visiting artistic director Doreen Rao part ways

TAMPA — The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay has ended its relationship with visiting artistic director Doreen Rao. The announcement on Tuesday continues an ongoing uncertainty about leadership for the chorale, which has not had a permanent artistic direc...
Published: 01/09/18
Updated: 01/10/18