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Stage planner: American Stage's 'The Pitmen Painters,' Scott and Patti, Bjorkestra

SEASON CLOSER: PITMEN PAINTERS

Once again, Gregg Weiner performs at American Stage playing an artist. The Coral Springs actor, who turned heads last year with his portrayal of artist Mark Rothko in Red, is back at American Stage, playing a coal miner in The Pitmen Painters. The play by Tony winner Lee Hall is directed by Brendon Fox.

The final play of the season for American Stage is based on a true story about a group of English miners in the 1930s who discovered a passion for art through a government education program. The painters, who had no formal education in art, became world sensations.

"It's funny and incredibly insightful," Weiner said. "There's not a scene where there isn't a laugh line."

As for the discussions about the meaning of art interwoven throughout, he said, "It's not trying to be this great opus. It's a very honest retelling of a true story."

Oliver Kilburn, his character in The Pitmen Painters, is leaving a familiar role as a miner for a world he knew little about.

"He's finding a part of himself he didn't know existed," Weiner said.

The show starts at 8 p.m. Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday. The play runs Wednesdays to Sundays through Aug. 14 at American Stage Theatre Company, 163 Third St. N, St. Petersburg. $39-$49. Preview at 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday costs $29. Opening night includes reception and dessert and costs $59. (727) 823-7529. americanstage.org.

UNFORGETTABLE: SCOTT AND PATTI

One of the Tampa Bay area's most popular shows of its kind, if there is anything else of its kind, returns to its launch site this weekend. The Scott and Patti Show, originally a cabaret act developed for Freefall Theatre, has become a variety show that could spice up any event or carry an evening alone.

Scott Daniel, well known for his song and dance talents as well as the wigs he designs, plays a child prodigy. Actor Matthew McGee, who has played a variety of male and female roles, is his assertive mother, Patti.

The pair promises "classic songs, bad jokes, and more sequins, wigs and beads than Dolly Parton's tour bus." The show starts at 8 p.m. Saturday at Freefall Theatre, 6099 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $25. (727) 498-5205. freefalltheatre.com.

COMEDY ROOTS: WARD SMITH AND FRIENDS

When it comes to comedy, Pinellas County has Coconuts Comedy Club in St. Pete Beach and Snappers Grill in Palm Harbor — but not much in St. Petersburg. Ward Smith, right, is trying to change that. The actor and comedian organizes occasional summer shows at the Palladium, and the one he has lined up looks like a nice mix of talent.

Of his own comedy, Smith said, "It's a trip, not so much down Memory Lane as Amnesia Boulevard."

The son of late longtime WTVT-Ch. 13 news anchor Hugh Smith, he has performed with some of the greats, including Jay Leno, Jackie Mason, Jerry Seinfeld and Rodney Dangerfield. He's got stories for all of them.

"Dan Whitney, now known as Larry the Cable Guy, used to open for us," Smith said. "Now he makes $2.5 million a performance and I work in a church basement." (The Palladium is a former Christian Science church.)

Also performing are comics Lou Angelwolf, whom Smith called a "spiritual leader of the Tampa Bay comedy community"; and Amanda Jordan, above, who brings a "vivid edge" to her work. Longtime musician Jerry Outlaw, former leader of the Frank Zappa tribute band Bogus Pomp, will entertain with the HubbTones.

The show starts at 8 p.m. Friday at the Palladium Theatre's Side Door, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $15 advance, $18 day of show. (727) 822-3590. mypalladium.org.

FULL OF LOVE: BJORKESTRA

The name alone sells it: the Florida Bjorkestra.

Since its inception, the 15-piece ensemble that pays homage to the popular singer has delivered an eclectic mix of quirky harmonies and chamber-pop renditions of Bjork favorites including Human Behaviour, Hyperballad and Army of Me. Bjorkestra unleashes strings, horns, guitar, percussion and piano to drive its unconventional sound home behind vocalist Jamie Perlow.

The fare ventures outside the Icelandic singer. Whitney James will also perform sing selections from the work of Kate Bush, whose diverse influences and singular style have been compared to that of Bjork.

The show starts at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Palladium. $15 advance, $18 day of show. (727) 822-3590. mypalladium.org.

Stage planner: American Stage's 'The Pitmen Painters,' Scott and Patti, Bjorkestra 07/20/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 20, 2016 11:08am]
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