ST. PETERSBURG — It isn't often someone even tries to accomplish what Lee Hall has done in writing The Pitmen Painters, a discussion of a serious subject — in this case art — built into a storyline people are meant to watch and enjoy.
The show, with which American Stage closes its season, is therefore an ambitious undertaking. Five men take a course in art appreciation in the 1930s. That is the premise....
CLEARWATER -- Apart from a boisterous few, the crowd nearly filling Ruth Eckerd Hall on Saturday to see rocker Ted Nugent seemed remarkably calm, even a little sedate at first. Many were regulars, their loyalty praised by Nugent, who has been passing through for decades.
Some wore American flag shirts, flag bandanas or even flag pants, the couture matching two flags on the stage and a gigantic flag backdrop that appeared as Nugent appeared in the fog, playing the National Anthem. Nugent loves America, a fact he underscored repeatedly over two very fast-paced hours. ...
TAMPA — Nancy Sears, who took several high school plays to the Florida State Thespian Festival and was twice nominated for Pinellas County Teacher of the Year, has been named the new theater chairwoman at the Patel Conservatory at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.
Sears brings a career in theater to the position, from her days running the Los Angeles children's entertainment company she created to chairing theater programs in District 4 of Pinellas County Schools. The 21-year educator also coordinated college transfer auditions for the Florida Theatre Conference....
SEASON CLOSER: PITMEN PAINTERS
Once again, Gregg Weiner performs at American Stage playing an artist. The Coral Springs actor, who turned heads last year with his portrayal of artist Mark Rothko in Red, is back at American Stage, playing a coal miner in The Pitmen Painters. The play by Tony winner Lee Hall is directed by Brendon Fox.
The final play of the season for American Stage is based on a true story about a group of English miners in the 1930s who discovered a passion for art through a government education program. The painters, who had no formal education in art, became world sensations. ...
SARASOTA — The Sarasota Improv Festival, a three-day event that brings in some of the biggest names in improvisational theater, kicks off Thursday at the Florida Studio Theatre.
This weekend's main attractions include the Los Angeles-based Impro Theatre, which has taken its brand of spontaneous composition and performance worldwide; ImprovBoston, a staple of late night television and fount of inspiration for acclaimed comics, producers and directors; and North Coast Improv, named one of the top 10 best comedy shows by Time Out New York. ...
LOCAL TALENT: STEVE MILLER
Just before social media took off, Steve Miller was giving up on the sketch comedy group he had organized with friends. What seemed like a good idea in theory was harder to pull off week to week.
"I came to the realization that if I wanted to do something, I had better do it on my own," said Miller, 40, a Gaither High graduate who appears at Side Splitters this weekend....
ORLANDOO -- Cast members of the Broadway musical Fun Home will perform a concert July 24 at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, following the Pulse nightclub shootings.
Fun Home won five Tony awards in 2015, including one for best musical. Based on Alison Bechdel's graphic novel memoir about growing up with closeted father in the family's funeral business, it is the first Broadway show with a lesbian protagonist....
It can be hard to find a theater experience that treats audiences as equals, not as children with short attention spans or as rubes in need of consciousness raising. Instead we get slick entertainment, pedagogical lectures or some form of farce.
That is one of the reasons why Time Stands Still, with which Jobsite Theater closes its season, is such a delight. The play by Donald Margulies invites us into the living room and bedroom of a couple in the middle of a difficult transition. Margulies provides a fine script, peppered by the kind of dialogue that won him a Pulitzer a few years ago for Dinner With Friends. Credit Jobsite for choosing the play and a tight ensemble that keeps you focused on the story....
TAMPA — Unless you hit the equivalent of a theatrical Lotto or were willing to pay a king's ransom to ticket scalpers, chances are you missed the original cast of Hamilton, the hit musical that walked away with 11 Tony awards in June.
There is, however, a silver lining. The same success that crowded out the box office also tempted several of the show's leads, including its creator and star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, to pursue other ventures once their contracts expired in July....
YELLOW BRICK ROAD: SARAH LASKO
Sarah Lasko, above, grew up on The Wizard of Oz. Now she plays Dorothy in Andrew Lloyd Webber's stage production, coming next week to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.
"It reaches for that little bit of nostalgia that we all hold for it," Lasko said.
A native of Rockville, Md., Lasko is a triple threat, classically trained in acting, singing and dance. A diverse resume includes roles as Abigail Williams in The Crucible and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, singing at New York's Kennedy Center and dancing in The Nutcracker. She started with the North American tour of The Wizard of Oz in December. The show pays homage to the Oscar-winning film, with new songs by Webber and lyricist Tim Rice....
The St. Petersburg Opera Company again closes its season with a musical, this time running two weeks. The extra week for South Pacific anticipates healthy crowds at the Palladium, but also does justice to a serious production.
The show allowed me to indulge long-standing curiosities about the acting potential of opera singers and the singing versatility of musical performers. South Pacific shows there are plenty of performers who can do both, including local St. Petersburg talent Todd W. Donovan, who plays Emile de Becque. All of the principals have experience in musical theater and opera. The difference between this show and a South Pacific you might expect to see at a traditional venue for musicals seems pretty clear cut....
ENCHANTED EVENING: SOUTH PACIFIC
It's always fun to see what the St. Petersburg Opera Company is going to uncork for its summer musical. This year it's South Pacific, so figure there will be somebody who can do dignified and tender in the male lead, a bass who can dig Ezio Pinza deep, yet still float on those Frisbee-like, "never let her go" moments.
The production, St. Petersburg Opera's last of the season, may have found its answer in Todd William Donovan, left who brings a deep resume in musical theater and opera to the role of Emile De Becque. He is pleased to work in a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that pushed boundaries when it opened in 1949. ...
LIFTOFF FOR NEW PLAY: ROCKET SCIENCE
A NASA scientist prepares himself a dream trip into space, but life gets the way.
The premise of Rocket Science, a Lab Theater Project show opening this weekend, sounds Twilight Zone-ish but without the mothballs, even fresh. Maybe that's because Lab Theater Project, which held its first production in March, puts on only new plays....
ST. PETERSBURG — In the soul-breaking hours before dawn, the same cluster of longtime friends readied the boat and headed south, to Longboat Key.
Or north to Homosassa. Or to Louisiana, to fish the bayous. The men and women pulled the equivalent of workday shifts, multiple times a week for years, out of a quasi-religious zeal for fishing.
They were good at it, often taking home prize money in tarpon and kingfish tournaments....
Dozens of Broadway stars have pooled their resources for a passionate tribute to those affected by the Orlando shootings. Broadway for Orlando is a cover of Burt Bacharach's What the World Needs Now is Love. Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley assembled the cast and chorus, which features some of the most recognizeable voices show business alternating lines of the 1965 hit. It's available on BroadwayRecords.com for $1.99, and on iTunes. Proceeds go to the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida. ...