LOCAL TALENT: ROSHARRA FRANCIS
The Tampa tour stop of Beautiful —The Carole King Musical, now running at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, is giving one ensemble member a chance to reconnect with family and friends. Rosharra Francis, above, was born in St. Petersburg and grew up singing in Prayer Tower Church of God in Christ, where her grandfather, Elder Clarence Welch, was pastor. Welch's son, Ricardo Welch, preaches there now. David Welch, an uncle, is a former St. Petersburg City Council member; and Ken Welch, David's son, is a Pinellas county commissioner.
Her high school alma mater, the arts magnet at Gibbs High, has left her with fond memories.
"Our high school at a whole was full of amazing dancers, amazing visual artists, crazy singers, so much talent," said Francis, 27.
She studied classical voice at Southern Methodist University, then earned a master's degree in musical theater and vocal pedagogy at New York University. Her role in the ensemble of Beautiful has brought her back to the Tampa Bay area for the first time as a performer. It is a part-time position for now, with Francis performing only for Thursday's performance.
"I'm excited for my friends and family who watched me grow up to come see what I'm doing now," she said. Going on tour did come with a sacrifice. She had to say goodbye her to Winston, her Yorkie, at least for now.
"My mother currently is taking care of my dog and probably will not give him back," Francis joked.
Beautiful runs through May 1 in Morsani Hall at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $70-$155. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.
POWER PLAY: THE MAIDS
In 1933 in France, sisters Christine and Lea Papin killed the woman who employed them as maids and her adult daughter. The Maids, Jean Genet's play based on the story, opened in Paris in 1947.
"It's an incredibly psychological piece and very primal in emotion while poetic in wordplay," said David Jenkins, the producing artistic director of Jobsite Theater, which opens The Maids this weekend. The cast includes Katrina Stevenson, Roxanne Fay and Georgia Mallory Guy. "This is an intense hour and a half that I guarantee people are going to be talking about for a while after they leave," he said.
The Maids runs Friday through May 22 at the Shimberg Playhouse at the Straz Center. $28. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.
FLORIDA ORCHESTRA: BEETHOVEN'S 'EROICA'
Ludwig van Beethoven composed his Symphony No. 3, better known as the "Eroica," in 1804, a time when his hearing had already been declining for years. The Florida Orchestra will perform the influential work this weekend, with music director Michael Francis, left, conducting for the last time this season. The orchestra will also play John Adams' City Noir. Concerts start at 8 p.m. Friday in Ferguson Hall at the Straz Center, 8 p.m. Saturday at the Mahaffey Theater and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall. $15-$45. (727) 892-3337. floridaorchestra.org.
APOCALYPSE NOW: MR. BURNS
The worst has happened, starting with the failure of the power grid, in Anne Washburn's Mr. Burns: A Post-electric Play, opening Saturday at Freefall Theatre. As time passes, the Earth's few survivors can only try to remember fragments of popular culture which once seemed so significant. Susan Haldeman and T. Robert Pigott headline a cast featuring Nick Lerew, Kelly Pekar, Christopher Rutherford, right, Hannah Benitez and Kaylin Seckel.
The show runs Saturday through May 22 at Freefall Theatre, 6099 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $43-$48. (727) 498-5205. freefalltheatre.com.
ALSO OPENING: STAGEWORKS, STUDIO@620
Ricky Cona is back for a third helping in the role of Eugene in Neil Simon's Broadway Bound, after playing the same character in Brighton Beach Memoirs and Biloxi Blues earlier at Stageworks Theatre. The show runs Friday through May 15 at 1120 E Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. $30-$40. (813) 374-2416. stageworkstheatre.org.
The Studio@620's latest new production is Lovefool by Joseph Alan Johnson in which a journalist investigates a love potion. The ensemble includes William Bryant, Tia Strachen, Brad Minus and Larissa Carbaugh. The show starts at 7 p.m. tonight-Saturday plus 3 p.m. Saturday at the Studio@620, 620 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg. $25, $20 students and seniors. (727) 895-6620. thestudioat620.org.