Monday, January 22, 2018
Stage

Stage planner: Patel's 'Showstoppers,' Tampa playwrights in New York Fringe Festival

GOING PLACES: PATEL'S BEST

Just how talented are Thursday's high school performers? One of the last shows of the summer season at the Patel Conservatory might provide answers.

This weekend's Showstoppers: A Jukebox Musical Revue, created and choreographed by Scott Daniel, pushes a promising ensemble of members to the top of their game.

A veteran of national Broadway tours and cruise ships, Daniel is perhaps better known in the Tampa Bay area as half of the Scott and Patti Show, a slick variety show with Matthew McGee. Showstoppers, which he also directs, serves up classics by Billy Joel, Queen, Carole King, Elvis Presley and the Four Seasons.

Daniel debuted the show three years ago with a cast of 60. He has since trimmed the roster to 20 evenly divided male and female performers.

"They are all triple threats," Daniel said of his students' acting, singing and dancing skills. "They are the cream of the crop."

This year, Daniel has also added a story line, albeit in a kind of overarching way rather than by using literal characters.

"We're taking music from all these different genres to tell a story about love," he said. "Having it, losing it and the heartache that comes with love."

The show starts at 7 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Patel Conservatory, at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $20 and up. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.

REPRESENTING TAMPA: New York FRINGE FESTIVAL

Two local playwrights are performing in original works at the New York International Fringe Festival, which opens this week.

The musical Full by Tampa's Katie Berger, below, with music by Berger and Alan Blake Conley, stars Berger as a woman working her way through feelings of powerlessness and recovery from abuse.

The performance represents a full-circle return for Berger, who began writing it in New York while in treatment for an eating disorder.

"The first people to hear the songs were my roommates in the Harlem apartment I was subletting," she said. "I wrote so many scenes on the subway or sitting in Central Park, as cliche as it sounds. So it feels great to come back there with a finished product. I can't wait to be there. It feels like a dream come true in a lot of ways."

Sean Ryan Paris directs the show, which runs for five performances at the Fringe Festival, starting Tuesday. Jobsite Theater workshopped Full in 2015 and will again, scheduled for Jobsite's mainstage in 2017-18.

J. Elijah Cho, below, also performs his solo comedy Mr. Yunioshi. Cho, an actor and songwriter, plays the computer coder Wonderboy in AMC's Halt and Catch Fire. Cho has appeared in productions by Stageworks, Jobsite and Hat Trick theaters, and performs with the Tampa sketch comedy group Some Kind of Show. Mr. Yunioshi is a fresh take on Mickey Rooney's widely reviled performance in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany's, which embodied unflattering stereotypes of the Japanese.

Mr. Yunioshi, which Cho wrote, explores whether an Asian actor could have somehow pulled off the role, which cast a shadow over Rooney's career. Jack Holloway, the artistic director of Hat Trick Theatre, directs, and Jobsite's resident stage manager Matthew Ray will keep everyone on track starting Saturday at the festival.

TAMPA BAY THEATRE FESTIVAL: HARRY LENNIX RELOADED

Some spots remain for one of the biggest draws at the Tampa Bay Theatre Festival, but you might want to reserve a spot sooner rather than later. Harry Lennix of NBC's The Blacklist returns to lead a free workshop on the fundamentals of creating and holding character.

Lennix has appeared in movies such as Superman: The Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman and The Matrix Reloaded. Have a prepared monologue that doesn't exceed two minutes or a scene with a partner that doesn't exceed three minutes.

The theater festival runs over Labor Day weekend at the Straz Center and other locations. The Harry Lennix Workshop runs from 3:30 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 2 at the Mainstage Theater, Hillsborough Community College, 2112 N 15th St., Tampa. tampabaytheatrefestival.com.

   
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