03/03/15 Music & Concerts
Ask a diehard John Williams fan to pick his top five pieces, and he'll probably say it's just not possible. • Such is the case for Bob Bernhardt, who visits the Florida Orchestra this weekend to conduct an all-John Williams concert spanning everything from Superman to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to E.T. And, of course, Star Wars. • "This is tough," said Bernhardt, principal pops conductor of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, the Louisville Orchestra and the Grand Rapids Symphony. "Because for one, he's my hero." • Williams, 83, is the prolific American composer behind some of the best-known music in our modern culture. While some Williams work is omnipresent, some may surprise you. • "He's been writing basically for half the century, and other than Richard Strauss and Giuseppe Verdi, you're hard-put to find any great composer still writing music of incredible value in their 80s." • Still, Bernhardt was willing to confront our challenge in some way. He agreed to narrow down his five favorite sections from the concerts he's conducting in Tampa Bay this weekend, explained below in his words. He couldn't rank them, though. • That would just be crazy....
By Stephanie Hayes
Times Performing Arts Critic
What if you swapped genders, literally overnight, and were forced to live in a new skin for hundreds of years? Orlando, Virginia Woolf's novel about an English nobleman who wakes up as a woman, gets the Jobsite Theater treatment starting Friday. Orlando has been adapted for the stage by MacArthur Fellowship winner Sarah Ruhl, exploring gender roles throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. This is the Jobsite mainstage directorial debut for Giles Davies, previously seen on stage in Twelfth Night, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Macbeth, Fahrenheit 451 and Quills. It stars Emily Belvo, Jonelle Meyer, Ami Sallee, Nicole Jeanine Smith and Katrina Stevenson. See it at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays through March 29 at the Shimberg Playhouse of the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. $28. (813) 229-7827. jobsitetheater.org....
In the first half hour of Bright Lights, Big City at Freefall Theatre, you feel like you're in a heavy, plodding rat race in New York City. The characters are so close to you, so crowded and raucous on the small stage, you start to feel claustrophobic, like you might not like this very much at all.
But as the show progresses, as it opens up and the stage airs out and characters start to breathe, you realize all that initial claustrophobia was probably pretty sly and intentional (kind of like when you use second person in a review of Bright Lights, Big City)....
Stephanie: Hey, Michelle.
Stephanie: What color is this dress?
Stephanie: Come on, what color do you see?
Michelle: I'm not doing this dress thing. I was up all night watching people talk about it on Facebook. I'll never get those years back.
Stephanie: Blue and black? Or white and gold. It's so weird!...
It's safe to say whoever stole this famous gown has no designs on wearing it to, say, dinner at Chilis. The thief would be immediately found out.
Someone apparently lifted the custom Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein dress Lupita Nyong'o recently wore to the Academy Awards, according to the Los Angeles Times. You the one. Made of 6,000 pearls. Worth $150,000. Previously seen only on angels....
02/25/15 Music & Concerts
If you still harbor any preconceived notions about age and classical music, this weekend might change your mind.
The latest Florida Orchestra masterworks program features a lineup of young, fresh faces, including Canadian violinist Karen Gomyo, 33. She started playing at 5 and went on to play with everyone from the Los Angeles Philharmonic to the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra.
Gomyo will be playing Mozart's Turkish Concerto, the most difficult of the five violin concertos Mozart composed in his teen years. The program also includes Adès' three studies from Couperin and Brahms' Symphony No. 4, conducted by 27-year-old Joshua Weilerstein, who opened the orchestra's season with a rousing program back in October. Concerts are at 8 p.m. Friday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 8 p.m. Saturday at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg and 7:30 p.m. at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. $15-$45. (727) 892-3337. floridaorchestra.org....
Bright Lights, Big City
If anything could make the nightclub and cocaine whirl of Jay McInerney's 1984 novel Bright Lights, Big City feel more stimulating, it's music. The story of one man's spiral into the excesses of New York City takes the stage at Freefall Theatre with artistic director Eric Davis directing Paul Scott Goodman's rock musical adaptation. In classic Freefall style, the team is turning the black box theater into a 1980s nightclub setting, with high-top table seating for the guests. The production stars a veteran of the national tour of Spring Awakening, Lucas Wells, as Jaime, plus Scott Daniel, Nick Lerew, Clinton Harris, Kara Konken, Sarita Amani Nash, Heather Cleveland, Amy Marie Stewart and Katie Berger. And Michael Raabe, currently working on Off-Broadway's Disenchanted in — where else? — New York, will direct the show's music. Bright Lights, Big City runs Saturday through March 22 at Freefall, 6099 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. $21-$46. (727) 498-5205. freefalltheatre.com....
In his latest tour, tap master Savion Glover takes his flying feet to sets of staircases, slamming the bass line and surfing the melodies of everyone from funkmaster Prince to Russian composer Shostakovich.
It's STePz, coming to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday. Even if the materials seem disparate, they have all inspired Glover in some way.
"It's just giving people a chance to hear the musicality through tap and see how that's matched with today's sounds," Glover said on a call before heading to Florida....
I need some help, friends.
Literally, I just spent five minutes trying to recall the name of Naomi Watts, repeatedly typing "Natalie" on the page, as if I kept typing it enough her name would somehow become Natalie and I would finally be correct. After a weekend of working, running to baby showers and birthday parties, working, working some more, pushing my cat off my computer and then finally watching dozens of celebrities saunter around narrowly varying shades of white, my brain is a mush of wage equality and Adele Dazeem and Michael Keaton's tighty whities....
02/23/15 Music & Concerts
Classical music is always so grand, magnificent and moving when performed by a full orchestra. But music can be just as powerful on a more intimate scale.
Evidence are the popular Palladium Chamber Players, kicking off their new season Wednesday at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg. The group features Florida Orchestra concertmaster Jeffrey Multer, violist Danielle Farina, cellist Edward Arron and pianist Jeewon Park interpreting classic chamber repertoire....
We've done our stretches. We've practiced our deep breathing exercises.
Wait. This is starting to sound like childbirth. It is, I guess, in a way. Tonight, fashion has a big, sparkly, over-the-top baby named THE OSCARS. It's pretty much our favorite night of the year. And now that we have more Deal Divas blogging than ever before, it should prove to be a fantastic eve of jokes about double-sided boob tape and wind tunnel hair coming from all corners of the Diva compendium...
TAMPA — Everyone wants to hear Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. It's the one everyone knows, the one that transcends space and time. Beethoven was confronting his worsening deafness in the Fifth, and it's tinged with doom and madness, and finally, victory!
Symphony No. 4? It's the kid eating pudding alone at lunch, not played nearly as much. Thankfully, the Florida Orchestra took up the task Friday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, because it's certainly worthy. It capped a night of fluid storytelling across generations....
02/19/15 Music & Concerts
Fan favorite Beethoven gets the spotlight at the Florida Orchestra's latest masterworks concert this weekend, conducted by Perry So. The program starts with Wagner's overture to the opera Tannhauser followed by Saint-Saens' Piano Concerto No. 2. The night wraps with Beethoven's Symphony No. 4, which composer Hector Berlioz compared to the breath of the archangel Michael. See concerts at 8 p.m. Friday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, 8 p.m. Saturday at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. $15-$45. (727) 892-3337. floridaorchestra.org....
TAMPA — If you're taking in a performance of Annie, leave your cold, crusty, cynical hearts back in the meat locker. It's about to get real cute.
The tour playing at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts is made of dollar signs wrapped in rainbows dipped in marshmallow fluff and sprinkled with positivity glitter, and that's just how the people like it.
This is not the Annie revived on Broadway in 2012, the one that looked more at the harsh realities of the Great Depression. Nor is this the Annie of late on film, the modern one starring Cameron Diaz and Quvenzhané Wallis....
When the email arrived, David Jenkins was certain. Someone was messing with him. • There was no way Israel Horovitz, prolific writer of more than 70 plays, creator of films starring the likes of Maggie Smith and Al Pacino, celebrated theater figure as far away as France, had emailed and asked to work with Tampa's Jobsite Theater. • After investigating all possible pranksters, Jenkins realized it was true. • "He seemed game to do anything," Jenkins said. "He has been really easygoing about everything. He gave me maybe about six different scripts and was like, 'These are ones we can do, or we can do something else.' They were kind of accessible pieces in his mind."...