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Stage Planner: Piano and trumpet at MFA St. Petersburg, comics Brad Williams, Ward Smith, Paul Venier




It's been a little quiet lately. A few shows are running, but most performing arts venues are lying low, at least for another couple of weeks.

It's a great time to appreciate one of our performing arts amenities, the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg. The museum's Music in the Marly series this weekend brings pianist Rachel Kudo and trumpeter Brandon Ridenour to the Marly room.

Both halves of the duo are already shepherding distinguished careers. Both have studied at the Juilliard School and soloed with orchestras in major American cities and abroad. Kudo has won two consecutive Gina Bachauer International Piano Competitions and several prizes, including a 2009 Arthur Rubinstein prize.

Ridenour's accolades include a Morton Gould Young Composer Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. He recently performed with Sting and James Taylor in Carnegie Hall. The concert starts at 2 p.m. Sunday. 255 Beach Drive NE. $20, $10 students. (727) 896-2667.




Last week's planner recognized two local talents, Katie Berger and J. Elijah Cho, acting in shows they also wrote at the currently running New York International Fringe Festival. Now, there's a third Tampa native who is pretty charged up about his premiere at the Fringe.

Hillsborough High grad Todd Fernandez has created That's Miss Fits, to You! Billed variously as a drag extravaganza, a queer mystery musical, a "layered pastiche" of art forms and a "trans-poly tale of radical liberation spirit," the show follows Miss Fits as she guides other trans people to freedom. Jonathan Warman directs a cast of at least 15, including numerous well known drag performers.

After graduating from Boston University and its law school, Fernandez directed the state of Massachusetts' Brownfields Program, which redevelops contaminated sites. He lives in New York.




As a member of the glitzy 1970s rock band Stark Naked, said to be a forerunner of Kiss and Alice Cooper, Paul Venier faced a bright future. He was playing to sold out venues, and planning ahead. Venier and the other band members, all buddies who grew up on Long Island, were socking away their money through their manager, who had promised to send it back home.

Instead, according to Venier's website biography, the manager and their savings disappeared together. Crushed, Venier left the band. In 1980 he started playing at a piano bar at a Lavallette, N.J., night spot, Ye Old School Inn. Venier discovered that interacting with the audience was just as important as playing, and the feeling was mutual.

He started performing at comedy clubs in New Jersey, integrating his piano with vocals, guitar and laughs. The result is more in line with his style than the pyrotechnics and flashy lighting during his fast-track days.

Venier performs at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 7 and 9:30 p.m. Friday, and 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday at Snappers Grill and Comedy Club, 36657 U.S. 19 N, Palm Harbor. $12. (727) 938-2027.

Also in the mix for comedy: Brad Williams whose hourlong special on Showtime, Fun Size, topped the comedy special charts for 2015. Williams, born with a type of dwarfism, draws material in part from his stature, often making light of his interactions with people who do not know how to deal with it.

Williams performs at 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, 7:30 and 10 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday at the Improv Comedy Theater, 1600 E Eighth Ave., Tampa. $20. (813)864-4000.

Ward Smith and Friends return to the Palladium in St. Petersburg for a last stop of the summer. Smith will perform with comics Tiffany Barbee, Chris Gorges and Tarik Lewis. 8 p.m. Friday at the theater's Side Door, 253 Fifth Ave. N. $15 advance, $18 day of show. (727) 822-3590.

Stage Planner: Piano and trumpet at MFA St. Petersburg, comics Brad Williams, Ward Smith, Paul Venier 08/17/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 17, 2016 12:10pm]
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