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'The Great Gatsby' and 'Avenue Q' highlight Stageworks' 2016-2017 lineup

TAMPA — Stageworks Theatre will offer a blend of suspense and camp, probing discontent and a throwback to Tampa's wrestling past in its 2016-2017 season.

The theater, tucked into an intimate space above Powerhouse Gym on Kennedy Boulevard and Meridian Avenue, opens with Psycho Beach Party (Oct. 6-23), by Charles Busch. This campy throwback to 1962, billed as "Beach Blanket Bingo meets Sybil," casts a Malibu surf set as unwitting victims of "Chicklet Forrest," the tomboy who wants to fit in with them. Unfortunately for them, she suffers from multiple personality disorder. Her alters include a checkout girl, a radio talk show host, a male model, an accounting firm, and a "sexually voracious vixen" who wants to take over the world.

Things take a more traditional turn with The Great Gatsby (Dec. 1-18), Simon Levy's adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald book. The novelist's tale of romantic obsession, greed and glamour transcends the Jazz Age with the novelist's language intact.

The Aliens (Feb. 9-26), by Annie Baker, features two young men philosophizing behind a Vermont coffee shop. A high-school student stumbles upon them, enters into their world, and finds himself drawn into a discussion about art, life, love and death.

The theater follows with a musical, Avenue Q (May 4-21, 2017). Based on a book by Jeff Whitty, with lyrics and music by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, Avenue Q is an empathetic nod to a generation raised on feel-good messages in shows like Sesame Street that told them they were special. Life in the workplace, with adult challenges and disappointments, can hardly compete. Puppets, manipulated by undisguised puppeteers, are the characters.

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (June 1-18, 2017), an Obie winner for best new American play and a Pulitzer finalist, turns the theater into a professional wrestling arena. Life imitates art in this play by Kristoffer Diaz, as Macedonia "Mace" Guerra longs for the championship belt, but knows his storyline and charisma can't match that of the champ, Chad Deity. Mace discovers a young Indian-American he thinks can generate enough buzz to knock off his rival. The producers agree, but with a twist— they want to exploit the racial differences between the wrestlers as a way to hook viewers in a story about race, class and power.

Contact Andrew Meacham at or (727) 892-2248. Follow @torch437.

'The Great Gatsby' and 'Avenue Q' highlight Stageworks' 2016-2017 lineup 05/09/16 [Last modified: Monday, May 9, 2016 1:46pm]
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