Saturday, December 16, 2017
Stage

Stage planner: 'Into the Woods,' Havana Cuba All-Stars, an AIDS memorial

LOCAL TALENT: BONNE KRAMER

As a singer in the chorus at Tampa's Blake High, Bonne Kramer performed at what is now the Straz Center. Kramer went on to graduate magna cum laude from the University of Tampa's musical theater program in 2003 and has been a working actor ever since. She returns to the Straz as a performer Tuesday, where she'll play two roles in Into the Woods, the James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim musical.

She plays Cinderella's stepmother and mother of Jack (of beanstalk fame) in Into the Woods, a whimsical yet deeply psychological look at fairy tales. In another first, Kramer, an accomplished bassoon player, plays her instrument on stage. (Other actors play the piano and cello.)

In between, Kramer has played the role she was born into, a natural ham who imitated all of her teachers since elementary school and lists a pot-bellied pig named Bagel and Craigslist shopping among her interests. A recent music video on her website, Ungrateful Cat, parodies Ungrateful Heart and laments the one-way devotion known by cat lovers.

The daughter of a colonel who retired as "a Jewish Christmas tree farmer" in Dover, she always gravitated to the funny.

"Ever since I was a kid, I've been imitating movies and impersonating, trying to mimic people," Kramer said. "My mom was really good at it, and as a kid she would tell us stories and do the accents. I think I kind of just got it from her. So growing up I was always trying out different characters and the accents and working on different types of characters. Then as I started working professionally in the theater, I kind of just getting cast a lot in comedic roles, which I was all about."

The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Dec. 1; 8 p.m. Dec. 2; 2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 3; and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4 at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Morsani Hall, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $29-$93. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.

U.S. DEBUT: HAVANA CUBA ALL-STARS

Cuba has been producing highly original music for years, but that knowledge is generally limited, known mostly by aficionados and the Cuban people. Those opaque days might be ending.

The Havana Cuba All-Stars, an explosive 11-piece ensemble, is touring the United States for the first time. Its program, Cuban Nights, runs Sunday only at the Straz Center. They play son cubano music, the elemental Afro-Cuban form that gave birth to many other styles, including salsa. Son often uses at least two vocalists in a call-and-response pattern, backed up by congas, cajons, guitars, trombones, trumpets, maracas, claves, bongos and other percussion instruments. The show starts at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Straz Center's Ferguson Hall, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $35-$50. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.

COVER SONGS: TALES OF THE QUILT

With more than 48,000 panels weighing 54 tons, the AIDS Memorial Quilt is the world's largest community art project. But most of the 3-by-6-foot panels only list a few names each. That's how the quilt works, linking more than 94,000 lives. To commemorate World AIDS Day, the Suncoast AIDS Theatre Project on Monday performs Tales of the Quilt: An Evening of Songs and Stories.

Local performers will remember people who died of HIV/AIDS, including some whose names are on the quilt. Storytellers include Eve Caballero, Sara DelBeato, Steve Garland, Katherine Michelle Tanner, Matthew McGee, Becca McCoy, Joey Panek and more.

The NAMES Project Memorial Quilt was founded in 1987, a time when there was no cure in sight for HIV/AIDS. Tales of the Quilt is directed by Larry Alexander and music director Emi Stefanov. Its proceeds benefit Metro Wellness and Community Centers. The concert starts at 7 p.m. Monday at Freefall Theatre, 6099 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $20. (727) 498-5205. freefalltheatre.com.

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