TARPON SPRINGS — The soprano sang an aria from The Marriage of Figaro about lost love, but she could have been asking the devil not to steal her soul. A couple dozen opera fans watched, including a silver-haired man with leonine features leaning back in his chair.
It was impossible to tell whether Sherrill Milnes was happy, annoyed or made indifferent by what he heard from 12 singers on opening night of the Florida Voice Project's summer festival. Mariana Carnovali, who had come from Argentina, attacked the aria of lost love with ardor....
SMOKIN' DUO: PREMIUM BLEND
Florida Orchestra musicians Brian Moorhead and Mark Sforzini sat next to each other for 15 years. Moorhead was the orchestra's principal clarinet, Sforzini its principal bassoon. They knew each other's moves so well, they gave their musical partnership a name: "Premium Blend."
"You can become very attuned to the person next to you, and we often breathed and shaped phrases as one," Sforzini said....
TAMPA — A new company debuts with Proof, David Auburn's Pulitzer-winning play. Innovocative Theatre, founded by Dunedin native Staci Sabarsky, is currently running productions out of Stageworks Theatre space. Sabarsky also directs and performs in the show.
The story, in which the subjects of mathematical genius, family dynamics and mental illness are intertwined, was by 2002 the most widely produced play in the country. A 2005 film followed, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins. For Innovocative, the launch shows a bold new venture standing on shaky legs, taking a shot at Sabarsky's stated mission of diving into thought-provoking and controversial issues....
TAMPA — Daniel Lipton has resigned as artistic director of Opera Tampa, the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts announced.
Lipton, 76, was the company's second artistic director, succeeding 17-year director Anton Coppola in 2012. He had completed five years of a six-year employment agreement, said Judith Lisi, president of the Straz Center, where Opera Tampa is based. His resignation is effective immediately....
TAMPA — Seven actors and a doll play 17 roles in Cloud Nine, Jobsite Theater's last production of the season. The farce by British playwright Caryl Churchill was a local hit in 2003, one that helped establish Jobsite as the resident theater at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, in part due to the crazy complexities it embraces and the social conventions it lampoons....
MEET INNOVOCATIVE THEATRE: PROOF
A new professional theater takes a major step forward this weekend with Proof, a Pulitzer and Tony winner in 2001 that explores the lines between genius, mental illness and family dynamics. Innovocative Theatre was established by Staci Sabarsky, who directed a well-received one-woman show at the recent Tampa International Fringe Festival, Dark Vanilla Jungle. It aims to make audiences think with quality material....
ST. PETERSBURG — Freefall Theatre's Marie Antoinette takes audiences back in time and maybe forward. This interpretation of David Adjmi's play casts the historically maligned title character as a real person while not diminishing the vacuous detachment the world saw, perhaps rightly, as arrogance.
This production does so much more, however, than render a lively version of history. There's a visually arresting continuous palette of color. There's a running montage of video imagery that either represents events of the French Revolution and an abundance of luxury or speaks to the constructs of Marie's mind. And there are some very solid performances in leading roles. It all combines for as serious a statement as you're likely to find on topics that will strike many as timely, even presciently so....
ST. PETERSBURG — As might be inferred from the title, Sex With Strangers is about seduction.
The meaning of that word changes over the course of the play, the last of the season at American Stage, from flirtation to persuasion and from right now to something more long-term and contractual. The story by House of Cards writer Laura Eason tracks a whirlwind relationship between two very different sorts of writers. Janis Stevens directs this smart, introspective romance that prompts reflection on how our means of communication in the digital age have altered the messages we relay to each other and who is listening....
SARASOTA IMPROV FESTIVAL: BLANK! The Musical
The idea was so crazy it had to work. Get in front of an audience to perform a musical. Get there on time, sell the tickets, all of that.
The only thing you don't need is the musical. No script, no lines and no music. It's the premise on which Blank! The Musical got its start. The country's hottest improv troupe, with bases in Chicago and New York, where it's in the midst of a second off-Broadway run, is headlining this weekend's Sarasota Improv Festival. You'll even have a chance to create characters and throw out song ideas....
TAMPA — Like the pre-fixed ideas Disney's the Little Mermaid tries to fight, the show itself resists labeling.
This touring version comes to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts significantly tweaked by director Glenn Casale, who aimed to improve the show that ran on Broadway nearly a decade ago. The changes update a story that began as a Hans Christian Andersen fable, about a mermaid who trades away her voice to live on land with a prince....
TAMPA — For a while now, the Heather Theatre has been one of the Tampa Bay area's best kept secrets. The professional company holds shows in a converted office suite in a nondescript park behind a Popeye's restaurant on W Hillsborough Avenue.
Its selections favor intense content that draws the maximum out of small casts, the actors usually coming from a school the theater runs four nights a week. In a space that can hold about 30 seats, actors don't have to "project," let alone wear microphones. They can just talk....
Turn out the lights, the party's over. Almost.
For three theaters, the season draws to a close this weekend, and the variety of subjects covered should make local fans feel pretty good about our scene. They transport audiences from the French Revolution to the digital age, offering glimpses of the past and some unsettling implications about our collective future. The artistic directors of American Stage, Freefall and Jobsite theaters have managed to stay afloat with content that always says something about the way we live. They won't please all of the people all of the time, and thankfully, don't aim to....
PART OF OUR WORLD: DIANA HUEY
A recent trivia game with theater friends reminded Diana Huey of her passion for Disney movies.
"I am not one of those people who is like a Rolodex for every actor or director that ever was," said Huey, who plays Ariel in Disney's The Little Mermaid, which opens Tuesday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. "But I am more nerdy on the Disney end."...
ST. PETERSBURG — The St. Petersburg Opera Company closes its season with Stephen Sondheim's musical, Into the Woods, an ambitious undertaking for which it is ill-suited.
The problem is not that it's a musical. The company produces musicals every summer, including Putting it Together and West Side Story, which were written or co-written by Sondheim. Last year's production of South Pacific was perfectly fine, as well acted as it needed to be and, of course, beautifully sung. Opera has always been mostly about singing, never much about acting. Whether that is regrettable or inevitable is a topic for another day. But we understand those things going in and accept the trade-off — singers parading around in rented costumes, by turns offering lifeless or ham-handed portrayals while singing gloriously. If they want to have some fun and end the season with a musical instead of an opera, why shouldn't they? ...
After a yearlong effort, the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay and the Florida Orchestra have abandoned their search for a conductor capable of leading both groups.
Instead, the chorale recently named Doreen Rao visiting artistic director for 2017-2018. Rao lives in Chicago, and has long associations with the Chicago Symphony Chorus and Orchestra, the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and Buffalo Master Chorale. ...