HOROVITZ RETURNS TO JOBSITE: LEBENSRAUM
What would happen if a German chancellor promised jobs and citizenship to 6 million Jews? That is the premise behind Lebensraum, a dark comedy opening this weekend at Jobsite Theater. The play by Israel Horovitz pits the magnanimous chancellor against residents who see the newcomers as a threat to their jobs.
It's a coup for Jobsite because Horovitz, a celebrated playwright with an international reputation (and also, notably, father to Beastie Boys member Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz), will attend the show and participate in a talk-back with the audience after Friday's opening night performance. He first visited Jobsite in 2015, spending a week in residence and directing a staged reading of his play Sins of the Mother.
Troubles over immigration, Syrian refugees and ongoing clashes over the meaning and consequences of racism make this year's play especially relevant. Lebensraum's cast of three (Derrick Phillips, Ned Averill-Snell and Katrina Stevenson) play dozens of characters, adding a comic touch to what is at heart a dark story.
"I'm thrilled that they're doing Lebensraum," Horovitz said, "because of what's going on in the world. It's set in the world of the Holocaust, but it's about immigration. It's about people coming to a new country looking for work. If you want to know how World War II started, go see the play." Read a full interview with Horovitz at tampabay.com/things-to-do/stage.
The show runs through Jan. 31 at the Shimberg Playhouse at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $28. (813) 229-7827. jobsitetheater.org.
LOCAL TALENT: DANIEL ULBRICHT AT YAGP
Daniel Ulbricht was attending Bay Point Middle School in St. Petersburg when he signed up for a class at the Judith Lee Johnson Studio of Dance. With the help of instructor Lenny Holmes, he soon realized dancers aren't anonymous figures wearing uniform-like leotards.
"I wore shorts, hooded sweatshirts and a backwards baseball cap," said Ulbricht, 32, now a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet. "My level of intensity increased. Now it's a fire."
In 2008, Ulbricht founded a program to pass that fire on to a new generation. Stars of the American Ballet tours internationally, bringing top-level ballet performers to a wide variety of audiences, but especially targeting the young. He is also a consultant to the Youth America Grand Prix ballet competition, which will bring hundreds of young dancers to the Straz Center this weekend. On Saturday, the YAGP Gala brings the winners of that competition together with visiting ballet professionals. Ulbricht will participate in this event, "Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow."
"Tampa Bay is a very tough market for art," Ulbricht said. "There have been at least a half-dozen attempts to start companies there. It just doesn't work, outside of the Nutcracker format. We need to cultivate a sense of ownership."
The Youth America Grand Prix competition runs Friday through Sunday. The YAGP Gala starts at 8 p.m. Saturday at Ferguson Hall. Tickets start at $35. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.
TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE: TRUE WEST
Sam Shepard's comedy about two brothers, True West, opens tonight at Tampa Repertory Theatre. Jack Holloway will play Lee, a drifter and a thief. Dan Granke will play Lee's younger brother, Austin, who holds down a screenwriting career while raising a family. Megan Lamasney directs.
On Friday, Granke will play Lee and Holloway will play Austin. It's a twist made famous in 2000, when John C. Reilly and Philip Seymour Hoffman alternated the same roles.
"In this instance, it was Megan who approached the actors with this idea, and they jumped at it," said C. David Frankel, Tampa Rep's artistic director.
More than a gimmick, "Lee and Austin both want some of what the other has because we idealize what is going on for other people," Lamasney said in a press statement. "We see Facebook statuses people have made and assume that everything is going so much better for them than it is going for themselves."
Holloway and Granke will continue alternating roles throughout the run. True West runs through Jan. 24 at the University of South Florida Theatre Center Studio Theater (TAR 120), 3837 USF W Holly Dive, Tampa. $20. tamparep.org.
FLORIDA ORCHESTRA WELCOMES CELLIST
Florida Orchestra music director Michael Francis conducts cello soloist Maximilian Hornung for Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme. The program includes Ravel's Valses nobles et sentimentales, Strauss Jr.'s Wiener Blut, H.K. Gruber's Charivari and Richard Strauss' suite from Der Rosenkavalier. Concerts start at 8 p.m. Friday at the Straz Center, 8 p.m. Saturday at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. $15-$45. (727) 892-3337. floridaorchestra.org.
ALSO CATCH: RAGTIME, SHEN YUN
Ragtime, the musical based on an E. L.Doctorow novel, follows the differing experiences of suburbanites and black and Jewish Americans in turn-of-the-century New York. The show runs at 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater. $35-$100. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com. And Shen Yun Performing Arts, a pageant of traditional Chinese dance and orchestral music, appears at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Mahaffey Theater, 400 1st Street S, St. Petersburg. $81-$158. (727) 892-5798. themahaffey.com.