The opening moments of A Show Palace Christmas Spectacular, playing through Dec. 25 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson, seem more like a Christmas cantata than Christmas spectacular.
Yes, Todd Everest's set is gorgeous — oversized toys, running lights framing the stage, Christmas tree, shimmering red curtain, even a couple of discreet Stars of David topping the stage arches and a menorah perched on a theater side rail to suggest a little religious diversity. And Pat Werner's costumes are colorful and bright, ranging from traditional dance outfits to Victorian bonnets, top hats and hoop skirts as lovely as a Currier and Ives greeting card....
SPRING HILL — From time to time over the years, discord has simmered at Stage West Community Playhouse, something not all that unusual in theater, where feelings and emotions are often close to the surface and volunteers sometimes misunderstand, or overestimate, the limits of their authority.
It flared up 15 years ago, when two Stage West stalwarts left the theater and started raising money to build a $10 million performing arts center in Hernando County that could have been direct competition for Stage West customers. The project fell apart, but not until after the group dropped $220,000 in donations on public relations and architect fees, an amount that many at Stage West wistfully say could have gone far in wiping out the theater's debts....
HUDSON — Unlike the whimsical, funny, religiously diverse or semineutral holiday shows presented at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in years past, this year's show, "A Show Palace Christmas Spectacular," which opens Saturday, is largely religious and will likely warm the hearts of those who prefer a Christ-centered show.
The first act sets the mood and is called "That Magical Feeling of Christmas." About half of its numbers are secular — Winter Wonderland, Jingle Bells, (There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays, Frosty the Snowman, among others — and the Santa-dominated 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, with a couple of rap breaks. But the rest of Act 1 and all of the second act, "The Nativity," could have come straight out of the Broadman Hymnal....
NEW PORT RICHEY — Jimmy Ferraro's Studio Theatre celebrates its second holiday season since opening in June 2014 with the musical comedy take on the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, this one named What in the Dickens Happened to Scrooge?
In the 1843 original, the stern taskmaster Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by ghosts and convinced to end his abuse of his employees....
NEW PORT RICHEY — Every holiday season for the past couple of decades, Richey Suncoast Theatre's Christmas show has been a locally written show with a story.
Sometimes, it has featured the harridan Mrs. Artiluke, head of the CAVE-dwellers (Citizens Against Virtually Everything), a unabashed parody of homeowners associations and their attempts to spoil Christmas.
Other times, it has been stories about Santa Claus or the North Pole. In 2013, it was a touching story about how theater executive director Marie Skelton is coping with the death of her late husband, Charlie, through the love and support of the RST family. The Skeltons are largely credited with saving the theater when it seemed to be on its last legs back in the late 1990s....
How do you create a near-perfect little musical?
Ask director, music director and costume designer Carol Ballard, who did what needed to be done to create two hours of laughter and fun with the darkly funny musical Little Shop of Horrors, playing through Sunday at Stage West Community Playhouse in Spring Hill.
Start with a terrific cast, topped by five of the Tampa Bay area's best performers filling roles it seems as though they were born to play....
SPRING HILL — Can a show be ghoulish and funny at the same time?
Is it really okay to laugh at a man-eating plant or a sadist who beats up his girlfriend?
Are you el-sicko if you think a killer is charming?
That's the challenge for Little Shop of Horrors, a comedy horror rock musical opening Thursday at Stage West Community Playhouse.
It's the fanciful tale of how nerdy Seymour Krelborn (Keith Surplus, Charlie Award as Cornelius in Hello, Dolly! at Richey Suncoast Theatre) finds success and true love while working at the Skid Row Florists, thanks to a mysterious plant that thrives on human blood and carcasses....
In the era of ribald comics like Chris Rock, Amy Schumer and Lena Dunham (to say nothing of Howard Stern), it's difficult to be shocked by dirty words said from a stage.
But back in the early to mid 20th century, to hear four-letter words, including the f-bomb, live and in person, was enough to make some people swoon and some cops raid the joint.
It was even more startling when the words came from the rosy lips of the female persuasion....
NEW PORT RICHEY — Jimmy Ferraro's Studio Theatre has made a name for itself since it opened 16 months ago with mostly new-to-us musical revues, musicals with stories, comedies, mysteries and farces, and now it adds another kind of show to its roster, a "revuesical," a show that combines musical revue with a light story.
It's Sophie, Totie & Belle, a mythical meet-up at the pearly gates of three of showbiz's most daring women — singer/comedians Sophie Tucker, Totie Fields and Belle Barth. It plays Oct. 30 through Nov. 22....
If you like good laughs, a clever script and likable though roguish characters, then the comedy/farce Key for Two is for you. It plays weekends through Nov. 1 at Richey Suncoast Theatre.
It's by British playwrights John Chapman and Dave Freeman, but it travels well to the United States, seeming as comfortable in New Port Richey as it would be anywhere in the world. Area theater patrons may remember Chapman's collaboration with audience-favorite playwright Ray Cooney on There Goes the Bride and Move Over, Mrs. Markham....
If you go see the Stage West Community Playhouse production of the 1966 Woody Allen farce Don't Drink the Water, prepare for some fun chuckles and a few good belly laughs.
It's the tale of the hapless Hollander family's vacation-gone-wrong as they visit an unnamed country in Europe, and Russian police mistake them for U.S. spies. They flee to the U.S. Embassy for safety and, through sheer bumbling, end up making things worse, both for themselves and for the embassy....
NEW PORT RICHEY — If there's one thing Richey Suncoast Theatre audiences seem to like, it's a good, old-fashioned sex farce. That's one big reason every season has at least one, sometimes more.
This year, it's British playwright John Chapman's Key for Two, complete with door slamming, mistaken identities, a zany plot with twists and turns — and plenty of fibbing, some scantily clad women and lots of innuendo and double entendres....
SPRING HILL — This must be nostalgia season, as two area theaters present plays from the 1960s by last-half 20th century playwriting icons.
At Jimmy Ferraro's Studio Theatre in New Port Richey, it's Neil Simon's 1969 comedy Last of the Red Hot Lovers.
At the Forum at Stage West Community Playhouse, it's Woody Allen's 1966 farce Don't Drink the Water.
Don't Drink is a return engagement for Stage West. It was first presented during the 2004-05 season, when lead actor Dalton Benson won a HAMI award as Walter Hollander, the bumbling American who has to take refuge in a foreign embassy to save his own hide — the same role he is doing in the current production....
It's the late 1960s, the sexual revolution is cresting, and 51-year-old, faithfully married, charming-but-naive Manhattan restaurateur Barney Cashman feels that life is passing him by. And he's just not going to let that happen.
That's the setup for Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Neil Simon's sometimes poignant 1969 comedy about life, love, sex and, yes, death — or the dread of death — playing weekends through Oct. 18 at Jimmy Ferraro's Studio Theatre in New Port Richey....
Pick a number, any number (as in Broadway tune), and it's likely you'll hear it during the musical revue Give Our Regards to Broadway, playing through Nov. 8 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson.
Whether it's the get-up-and-dance sound of You Can't Stop the Beat from Hairspray, or the tenderly sweet Memory from Cats, the super-talented 13 singers and dancers do them up right. Indeed, director/choreographer Jill Godfrey capitalizes on the talents of each carefully chosen performer to showcase Broadway's best songs and to tell Broadway's story....