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Stage Planner: 'It's a Wonderful Life' at American Stage, 'Peter Pan' at Freefall

NO STATIC: RADIO PLAY

It's a Wonderful Life, an evergreen holiday story, gets a fresh coat of paint in a two-week run at American Stage. It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play brings a classic story to life in a play within a play.

The actors (Jim Sorensen, Colleen Cherry, Whitaker Gardner, V Craig Heidenreich and Becca McCoy) play radio actors narrating the tale made famous in the Frank Capra movie, setting a casual tone as they greet each other and the audience. Of the five, only Sorensen as George Bailey does not play multiple roles.

Stephanie Gularte, the producing artistic director at American Stage who is also directing this show, said she found a way to work some singing into performances by Cherry and McCoy.

True to the genre, the story as adapted by Joe Landry includes a Foley sound artist. Thus audiences will both see and hear the sounds of crackling ice, breaking glass or the creaking boards of an old house.

Radio dramas, which peaked from the 1920s through the 1940s, have been enjoying a comeback in recent years, a development some attribute to the success of podcasts.

"There is so much storytelling available now in which the stories are big and loud and fast," Gularte said. "Radio plays represent a pure distillation of storytelling. There is something about that which we innately crave."

The show starts at 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, 7 p.m. Wednesday and 8 p.m. Dec. 15. It runs through Dec. 24 at American Stage Theatre Company, 163 Third St. N, St. Petersburg. $30. (727) 823-7529. americanstage.org.

A TALE OF TWO: PETER PAN

Freefall Theatre charmed audiences last year with Peter and the Starcatcher, about a teenager who has a chance to forgo adulthood entirely — but at what cost?

The theater is bringing the show back in time for the holidays, with a twist: Productions will alternate between Starcatcher and the 1904 play to which it is prequel, J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan.

You can see the shows in either order or see both on Saturdays (matinee and evening).

Chris Crawford returns as Captain Hook and his corollary in Starcatcher, Black Stache. Also returning are Daniel Schwab, Clinton Harris and Christopher Rutherford. All actors will take on roles in both shows.

Peter Pan starts at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Peter and the Starcatcher starts at 8 p.m. Dec. 16, 2 and 8 p.m. Dec. 17, and 2 p.m. Dec. 18. The shows run on alternating weekends through Jan. 29 at Freefall Theatre, 6099 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $25-$52. Previews for Peter Pan are at 8 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday and cost $25. (727) 498-5205. freefalltheatre.com.

SPIRITS BRIGHT: FLORIDA ORCHESTRA

Singer Doug LaBrecque has performed on Broadway (Showboat) and regional theater, and soloed with more than a dozen symphonies. Now LaBrecque leads the Florida Orchestra's Holiday Pops concert with a slew of favorites. The concert, conducted by Jeff Tyzik and featuring the Lumina Stele youth choir, includes Sleigh Ride, White Christmas, What Child Is This and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Carol of the Bells. Concerts start at 8 p.m. Friday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa; 2 and 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. Correction: An earlier online version of this story listed an incorrect time for Sunday's concert. It is 7:30 p.m.

NEW KID ON THE BLOCK: SOUTH SHORE SYMPHONY

For five years, the nonprofit South Shore Symphony Orchestra has been playing classical music in and around Sun City Center. Musicians auditioned for their spots and were paid for performances. But no one knew about them.

That has started to change over the last year, thanks in large measure to Gina Hebert, a former marketing specialist whose husband, Roger, plays the violin. She launched a website and started a Facebook page.

"We have everyone from college students who are music majors, to professors and retired professional musicians making music all around Tampa Bay," she said.

Conducted by founding artistic director June Hammond, the orchestra performs its Christmas Pops concert this weekend. Susan Giles Wantuck of WUSF-FM 89.7 will emcee. The concert starts at 2 p.m. Sunday at South Shore United Church of Christ, 1501 La Jolla Ave., Sun City Center. $15. (813) 600-8777. SSSOTampaBay@mail.com.

Stage Planner: 'It's a Wonderful Life' at American Stage, 'Peter Pan' at Freefall 12/07/16 [Last modified: Thursday, December 8, 2016 12:42pm]
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