DICKENS MEETS DRAG: A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Mark Chambers returns to American Stage this weekend, reprising a performance he gave 20 years ago, as everyone in Everett Quinton's A Tale of Two Cities. It's a variation of the Charles Dickens novel, to say the least, in which Jerry, an aging drag performer, finds an abandoned infant on the doorstep.
After getting over his shock ("What the gay hell?"), Jerry accepts his role, plunging into the heart of the French Revolution with a baby in tow.
Quinton debuted the one-man show he wrote at New York's Ridiculous Theatrical Company in 1989. Chambers, a San Francisco actor with a deep resume, said he believes society has not changed all that much since.
"It parallels 1989 in a lot of ways," he said. "In Quinton's own life, there was the oppression of gays and the AIDS crisis. There is an oppression of the poor right now."
Playing a drag queen, the psychotic revolutionary Madame Defarge, the insufferable aristocrat Marquis St. Evrémonde and many more roles keeps Chambers busy for the 90-minute show.
"I know I need my sleep at night," he said. The show starts at 8 p.m. Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 8 p.m. Wednesday and June 9. A preview at 8 p.m. Thursday is $29. It runs through June 26 at 163 Third St. N, St. Petersburg. $39-$59. (727) 823-7529. americanstage.org.
PRIDE MONTH: TALES OF TRANSFORMATION
Mark Chambers isn't the only performer at American Stage with something to say about LGBT experiences, some frustrating and others inspiring. The theater marks Pride Month with Queen: Tales of Transformation, a thoughtful effort to advance understanding and tolerance today. Based on interviews with two drag performers, these monologues raise issues the audience can address directly in a discussion after the show. Questions include assessing how far the LGBT community has come and what moving forward would look like. The show starts at 7 p.m. Monday at American Stage. $12. (727) 823-7529. americanstage.org.
FRENCH FAVE: LA BOHEME
One of the most romantic operas ever pits hungry artists against a callous world and each other. The St. Petersburg Opera Company performs Giacomo Puccini's La Boheme this weekend. Set in Paris in 1837, the opera stars Kyle Tomlin, right, as the poet Rodolfo. He has played Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet with the Virginia Opera and the Toledo Opera.
Danielle Talamantes, right, plays his neighbor Mimi, a seamstress. In her debut season last year, Talamantes played Frasquita in Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera. She will reprise the role of Frasquita at the Met in January. The opera starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Sunday and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Palladium Theater, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $22-$67. (727) 823-2040. stpeteopera.org.
Asolo Repertory Theatre's season ends with the U.S. premiere of Hetty Feather, which has thrilled audiences in the United Kingdom with aerial and circus feats. Based on Jacqueline Wilson's bestseller and billed as "Charles Dickens meets Orphan Annie meets Cirque du Soleil," this kid-friendly musical cheers on a foundling who searches for roots while traveling with a circus.
The show starts at 8 p.m. Friday, 3:30 p.m. Saturday, 1 and 5:30 p.m. Sunday, and 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesday. A preview starts at 7 p.m. Thursday. Shows June 10, 17 and 24 start at 7 p.m. It runs through June 26 at the Asolo Repertory Theatre, 5555 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. $18-$62. (941) 351-8000. asolorep.org.
EXTENDED: LIGHT AT THE PIAZZA
Due to demand, Freefall Theatre has extended the musical Light at the Piazza before it has even begun. The show opens June 18 and now runs through July 17, a week longer than envisioned.
Melissa Minyard, left, stars as Margaret, who takes her daughter to Florence, Italy, then frets when the daughter falls for a handsome stranger. Minyard was a cover for the role of Cosette in Broadway's Les Misérables for years, then moved into the role in the closing performances. $20-$48. (727) 498-5205. freefalltheatre.com.