Sunday, September 23, 2018
Stage

Stage planner: Seasons open with 'Good People' at American Stage, 'The Underpants' at Jobsite

BOSTON STRONG: GOOD PEOPLE

American Stage Theater Company launches its season this weekend with Good People, a play by David Lindsay-Abaire that captures the rhythms of Southie as only a native Bostonian could.

The show starts off darkly, with Margie getting fired from her cashier's job. She's a paycheck away from broke, with an adult disabled daughter, Joyce, to support. Margie seeks help from her ex-boyfriend, a physician everyone suspects is Joyce's father. It doesn't go well. The show is funny; it's not a comedy.

"She certainly does have what one of the other characters describes as the 'mouthie from Southie,' " said Rebecca Dines, top, who plays Margie. "There's a potty mouth and a motormouth. Right from the first scene, there's a verbal scrambling to try and save her job that she's about to lose.

"But in my mind, in playing the character, there are also many softer and more vulnerable qualities. That's certainly my goal as well, to bring that into relief."

Dines previously played Margie at Capital Stage Company in Sacramento, Calif., a theater co-founded by American Stage producing artistic director Stephanie Gularte, left, who also directs this production.

"The play is really posing questions around the role of personal choice, versus the role of luck, in determining our ability to succeed and get ahead in life," Gularte said.

The show starts at 8 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, and 7 p.m. Wednesday. It runs through Oct. 2 at American Stage Theatre Company, 163 Third St. N, St. Petersburg. $39-$59. A preview at 8 p.m. Thursday costs $29. (727) 823-7529. americanstage.org.

STEVE MARTIN FARCE: THE UNDERPANTS

A woman's drawers fall to her ankles during a parade. Louise, the unlucky woman, pulls them back up quickly, but the incident sets off a chain reaction of events ripe for a farce. Jobsite Theater opens its season Friday with The Underpants, an adaptation of Carl Sternheim's 1911 play Die Hose, by Steve Martin (yes, the comedian and musician).

What starts off as a silly non-event mushrooms into a chaotic cloud of 1910 social codes and slut-shaming, people worried about their job security and the threat of permanent censure.

"I think that the underlying issue in the play is less about propriety and more about the place of women in society at the time," said director Karla Hartley, who is more frequently seen as the producing artistic director of Stageworks Theatre. "At the end of the day, Louise is trapped by her role in her marriage and controlled by the whims of the men that are brought into her life. She wields the only power she has — her sexual allure."

Hartley does not consider the The Underpants a farce in the usual sense.

"Farces typically have a lot of door work, a highly driven and predictable pace, a little mistaken identity — that sort of thing," she said. "This play has some of those elements but it is more of a hybrid of several different styles."

David Jenkins, Jobsite's producing artistic director, agrees.

"It's not textbook farce," he said. "I like that it really does get at some issues of feminism, celebrity, respectability. Sternheim was really critical of German society at that time. … Martin comes at this with not as heavy a hand as Sternheim, and maybe that makes this a bit more farcical than satirical."

Jenkins and Hartley go way back. He will return the favor in February, directing The Aliens at Stageworks. The trade-off is not a gimmick.

"One day I'll get Karla on my stage," Jenkins said. "But for now we're lucky to have her do things like design lights and of course, most recently, direct brilliantly. Another thing I like about this exchange in particular is that it shows collegiality and solidarity. … We're all in this thing together."

The show starts at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 4 p.m. Sunday. It runs through Oct. 2 at the Straz Center's Shimberg Playhouse, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $28. A preview at 8 p.m. Thursday costs $14. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.

SINGERS GIVE BACK: ONE VOICE ORLANDO

Tributes and support for victims of the Orlando shootings continue. On Sunday, 150 opera singers will unleash those rare voices in Orlando to benefit Orlando Health's trauma center, the Orlando LBGTQ Community Center and other organizations.

Performers for One Voice Orlando: A Celebration in Song represent opera companies across Florida, including Opera Tampa, St. Petersburg Opera Company and the Sarasota Opera. The evening's hosts include famed baritone Sherrill Milnes, right. Conductor David Charles Abell will direct an orchestra and singers including sopranos Ana María Martinez, Sarah Joy Miller and Cecilia Violetta López; mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano; tenors Javier Abreu and Chad Johnson; and baritones Davis Gaines and Mark Walters.

Highlights include the world premiere of a composition by Pulitzer winners Paul Moravec and librettist Mark Campbell, Light Shall Lift Us.

The Orlando Ballet will also perform. The concert starts at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, 445 S Magnolia Ave., Orlando. $25-$125. (844) 513-2014. operaorlando.org.

   
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