Monday, July 16, 2018
Stage

Stage West production of musical 'I Do! I Do!' features bold casting move

SPRING HILL — The director of Stage West Community Playhouse's musical Jesus Christ Superstar, made a daring casting decision for its production of that show last season: She cast a female in the role of Judas Iscariot, a role traditionally played by a male, usually a black male.

It was an inspired move. Actor/singer Victoria Primosch did a magnificent job with the role and went on to win a coveted HAMI Award, the single HAMI given to the show in a tough season that included the musicals Ragtime and Little Shop of Horrors.

Now director Kathy Capelle is making a similarly bold move with the musical I Do! I Do!, playing Thursday to Oct. 23 on theater's Main Stage. The two-person musical follows a married couple through their ups and downs from their wedding day in 1895 to their golden anniversary in 1945.

The bold move? Capelle cast a black woman as Agnes and a white man as Michael.

It makes sense. Dorothy Ferguson and Keith Surplus are two of the most proficient singer/actors who have ever performed at Stage West. Ferguson won HAMI Awards as Sarah in Ragtime and as Calpurnia in To Kill a Mockingbird. Surplus has performed professionally at Jimmy Ferraro's Studio Theatre, played the title role in Stage West's Jesus Christ Superstar, lead male in Little Shop of Horrors and Younger Brother in Ragtime and has had several lead and supporting roles at Richey Suncoast Theatre, where he picked up a Tommy Award (now Charlie Award) for his performance as Cornelius in Hello, Dolly!

I Do! I Do!, based on the play The Fourposter, debuted on Broadway in 1966, starring Robert Preston and Mary Martin. It was nominated for seven Tony Awards in 1967, and won for Preston's performance. Seven years later, it toured the United States with Carol Burnett and Rock Hudson in the leads. It was proposed as a movie, but was never made. Instead, it became a television production with Lee Remick and Hal Linden. It's sometimes done with an eight-person cast, most recently at the Ocala Civic Theatre.

It has become a favorite of regional and community theaters, especially those catering to mature audiences, mainly because of what was once dubbed as its "remarkably plain-spoken" song lyrics.

It begins on Agnes and Michael's wedding day and follows them through the decades as they set up house, have children, quarrel, make up, separate, reconcile and, finally, look back on their lives together. The music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones produced one hit, Ed Ames' version of My Cup Runneth Over, though critics generally praised the entire score. The composer/writers also wrote The Fantasticks, the long-running Off-Broadway musical.

Comments
What’s on stage this week: ‘Bad Jews,’ ‘Red,’ ‘It Shoulda Been You’

What’s on stage this week: ‘Bad Jews,’ ‘Red,’ ‘It Shoulda Been You’

AMERICAN STAGE: BAD JEWSWe know that death draws family members closer together. Except when it drives them further apart. A grandfather’s valuable heirloom shifts relatives from grief to competition, questions about who was closer to the deceased an...
Published: 07/11/18
Paul Reiser on 'Mad About You' revival: 'My guess is it won't happen'

Paul Reiser on 'Mad About You' revival: 'My guess is it won't happen'

Paul Reiser has some bad news for Mad About You fans hoping for a series revival. "It’s kind of stuck in the business end of it now," the comic, actor and co-creator of NBC’s Emmy-winning sitcom said by phone Monday. "Sony is trying to f...
Published: 07/10/18
Review: Confident brush strokes paint an eminently watchable ‘Red’ at Heather Theatre

Review: Confident brush strokes paint an eminently watchable ‘Red’ at Heather Theatre

TAMPA — You can always count on the Heather Theatre to do one thing. And that is to produce meaningful plays, and find within each the burning ember that gives off heat and light.So it is again with Red, John Logan’s deconstruction of a brilliant art...
Published: 07/09/18
Updated: 07/10/18
This week on stage: ‘Cinderella,’ ‘So Long Life,’ American Stage previews ‘Bad Jews’

This week on stage: ‘Cinderella,’ ‘So Long Life,’ American Stage previews ‘Bad Jews’

THE BALL IS BACK: CINDERELLAThe national tour of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella comes with flamboyant colors, ebullient music and lavish costumes."My favorite song is a huge ball scene at the end of Act 1, when Ella and the prince fall in love ...
Published: 07/05/18
St. Petersburg Opera finishes season with an energetic ‘The Music Man’

St. Petersburg Opera finishes season with an energetic ‘The Music Man’

ST. PETERSBURG — Musically, the creative team behind the St. Petersburg Opera’s season-ending musical, The Music Man, were clearly going all out. Meredith Willson’s paean to small-town Americana outdid West Side Story in the 1958 To...
Published: 07/02/18
This week on stage: Cindy Williams in Menopause the Musical, The Music Man at St. Petersburg Opera

This week on stage: Cindy Williams in Menopause the Musical, The Music Man at St. Petersburg Opera

STRAZ CENTER: MENOPAUSE THE MUSICALCindy Williams has made a career of saying yes. When producer Garry Marshall asked Williams and Penny Marshall, his sister, to parlay the success of their roles in Happy Days into a spin-off series, Williams agreed....
Updated one month ago
Parody and theater trivia combine in Freefall’s light-hearted of ‘Musical of Musicals’

Parody and theater trivia combine in Freefall’s light-hearted of ‘Musical of Musicals’

ST. PETERSBURG — Forgive yourself if you recognize only a portion of the dozens of musicals being lampooned in The Musical of Musicals — The Musical!, Freefall Theatre’s season closer. This mash-up of the works of five celebrated composers reads like...
Updated one month ago
On stage this week: Freefall Theatre’s ‘The Musical of Musicals,’ Jay Pharoah

On stage this week: Freefall Theatre’s ‘The Musical of Musicals,’ Jay Pharoah

SENDUP: MUSICAL OF MUSICALSFive composers, a talented cast, choreography by Cheryl Lee and music directed by Michael Raabe — that’s Freefall Theatre’s recipe for a laugh-filled, season-ending summer musical, appropriately titled The Musical of Musica...
Updated one month ago
Jobsite’s ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ should be more gripping than it is

Jobsite’s ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ should be more gripping than it is

TAMPA — The virtues of Dancing at Lughnasa, with which Jobsite Theater closes its season, are many. This drama by the celebrated Brian Friel opened in 1990 to much acclaim. It captures a family’s joys and sadnesses, and the quickness with which one s...
Updated one month ago