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Fall Arts Preview: Mean Girls, Fiddler, Shakespeare and more on Tampa Bay stages

From modern Shakespeare to plays that tackle race, the stage is set.
Mean Girls comes to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts as part of their 2019-2020 Broadway series. [Photo by Joan Marcus]
Published Sep. 5
Updated Sep. 6

WANT MORE? Check out the rest of our Fall Arts Preview

As summer draws to a close, local theaters are swinging in to full gear.

Hamilton is a tough act to follow, but Broadway venues are giving the people what they want: musicals. The David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts’ lineup is heavy on revivals, including Fiddler on the Roof, My Fair Lady and Jesus Christ Superstar. But it also includes new productions that resonate with younger viewers, including Spongebob the Musical, Aladdin and Mean Girls, based on the film written with razor sharp wit by Tina Fey. Ruth Eckerd Hall is banking on musicals based on musicians, including Beautiful: The Carole King Story and Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles.

Regional theaters are bringing another round of thought-provoking plays. American Stage’s season, dubbed American Dreamscape, is full of stories reflective of our society, tackling immigration, mental illness and white privilege. Jobsite Theater has a solid mix of drama and comedies, and will continue its tradition of updating Shakespeare. Freefall Theatre’s season is heavy on fantasy, with ghosts and a new take on Oz. Stageworks Theatre’s varied lineup gets hyper local with a play set in Ybor City. And the Studio@620 will continue to offer an eclectic mix of performances.

Here’s what you’ll find for the fall and beyond.

DAVID A. STRAZ JR. CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS

1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.

Spymonkey’s Hysteria (Sept. 17-Nov. 3): Expect absurdity and physical comedy from the international troupe’s farce.

International comedy and theatre troupe Spymonkey bring Hysteria to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts as part of the 2019-2020 Broadway series. [SEAN DENNIE | Straz Center]

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Oct. 8-13): Roald Dahl’s beloved story, with songs from the 1971 movie including Pure Imagination as well as a new score from the songwriters of Hairspray.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory comes to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts as part of the 2019-2020 Broadway series. [JOAN MARCUS | Straz Center]

Fiddler on the Roof (Nov. 5-10): Ten-time Tony Award-winning musical gets a fresh update from Bartlett Sher, who won a Tony for best director for South Pacific.

Fiddler on the Roof comes to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts as part of the 2019-2020 Broadway series. [JOAN MARCUS | Straz Center]

Once on This Island (Nov. 19-24): 2018 Tony Award winner for Best Revival of a Musical follows Ti Moune, a peasant girl who is guided by the gods of the Antilles islands on a sojourn to reunite with her true love.

Once in this Island comes to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts as part of their 2019-2020 Broadway series. [JOAN MARCUS | Straz Center]

Aladdin (Dec. 19-Jan. 5.): Based on the hit Disney film, the musical has the potential to be just as visually spectacular as The Lion King, with all the favorite songs from the movie (A Whole New World) as well as new music written by powerhouses Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice.

Disney's Aladdin comes to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts as part of their 2019-2020 Broadway series. [DEEN VAN MEER | Straz Center]

Mean Girls (Feb. 18-23): The tale of teenage angst, cliques and bullies told with wicked humor, from Tina Fey, who wrote the movie script; composer Jeff Richmond (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt); lyricist Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde); and director Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon).

Jersey Boys (March 13-15): The Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

Miss Saigon (March 24-29): The New Yorker called it a “dynamite Broadway revival.” It’s the love story of a Vietnamese woman and an American G.I. who are torn apart by the fall of Saigon.

Miss Saigon comes to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts as part of the 2019-2020 Broadway series. [MATTHEW MURPHY | Straz Center]

Summer: The Donna Summer Musical (May 5-10): It traces Summer’s path to stardom from her beginnings in a gospel choir to disco diva. The score features classic hits including Hot Stuff and the steamy Love to Love You Baby.

Summer: The Donna Summer Musical comes to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts as part of the 2019-2020 Broadway series. [MATTHEW MURPHY | Straz Center]

Jesus Christ Superstar (May 26-31): A new production of Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice’s musical in celebration of its 50th anniversary.

Jesus Christ Superstar comes to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts as a special engagement part of the 2019-2020 Broadway series. [EVAN ZIMMERMAN | Straz Center]

My Fair Lady (June 2-7): The classic is promised to have an unusual twist on the story of transformation but keeps the classic songs I Could Have Danced All Night, The Rain in Spain and Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?

My Fair Lady comes to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts as part of the 2019-2020 Broadway series. [JOAN MARCUS | Straz Center]

The SpongeBob Musical (July 21-26): The Nickelodeon cartoon comes to life, set in Bikini Bottom with the familiar antics of its beloved characters.

SpongeBob the Musical comes to the Straz Center for the Performing Arts as a special engagement part of the 2019-2020 Broadway series. [Straz Center]

RUTH ECKERD HALL

1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Dec. 12): The true story of the prolific songwriter features beloved songs including I Feel the Earth Move and (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. [Courtesy of Beautiful Tour, year four.]

Masters of Illusion (Feb. 13): Magicians perform grand illusions, comedy magic, sleight of hand and acts of escape.

The Office! A Musical Parody (Feb. 28-29; Bilheimer Capitol Theatre): Based on the television show, a documentary crew captures the antics of the staff at paper company Dunder Mifflin in Scranton, Pa.

The Office! A Musical Parody. [JEREMY DANIEL (WWW.JEREMYDANIELPHOTO.COM) | Courtesy of Jeremy Daniels]

Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles (April 19): In celebration of the anniversary of Abbey Road, a showcase of Beatles favorites.

Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles [MATT CHRISTINE | Ruth Eckerd Hall]

A Bronx Tale: The Musical (April 20): The musical based on the film based on Chazz Palminteri’s autobiographical one-man show follows C, a boy caught between the father he loves and the mob life he admires, set to a doo-wop soundtrack.

A Bronx Tale: The Musical. [Courtesy of Joan Marcus]


AMERICAN STAGE THEATRE COMPANY

163 Third St. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 823-7529. americanstage.org.

Vietgone (Oct. 2-Nov. 3, 2019): Vietnamese playwright Qui Nguyen’s biographical story about his parents meeting and falling in love after tragedy as new immigrants to America.

Silent Sky (Nov. 20-Dec. 22): A look at the life and career of Henrietta Leavitt, part of a group of unsung women known as “computers” who worked for an astronomer at the Harvard Observatory in 1900.

Skeleton Crew (Jan. 22-Feb. 3): This Obie Award-winner for Best Play is set in a failing Detroit auto plant in 2008, capturing the effect it has on blue- and white-collar workers.

The People Downstairs (March 11-April 5): An aging funeral home director tries to guide the fate of his middle-aged daughter, who lives at home writing letters to prison inmates.

Admissions (May 27-June 28): This timely play sees the conflict that two white, liberal educators face when their son’s Ivy League chances are put in jeopardy.

Next to Normal (July 15-Aug. 6): The rock musical dealing with mental illness won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and three Tony Awards.


FREEFALL THEATRE

6099 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 498-5205. freefalltheatre.com.

The Turn of the Screw (Sept. 28-Oct. 27): Based on the story by Henry James, a new governess takes over the care of precocious Miles and quiet Flora. But when she learns what happened to the previous woman, she becomes suspicious that they are under the influence of malevolent forces.

The Lion in Winter (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): A dark comedy for the holiday season about family dysfunction. King Henry II lets his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, out of her prison for Christmas. The bickering begins when the couple disagree about which son will become heir to the throne.

Marie and Rosetta (Jan. 18-Feb. 16): Set on the eve of the tour that would establish them as an important duo in popular music, a fly-on-the-wall moment of the first rehearsal between Sister Rosetta Tharpe, considered the “godmother of rock and roll,” and protege Marie Knight.

Lone Star Spirits (Feb. 29-March 29): When Marly brings her hipster boyfriend to the small Texas town she grew up in, there’s a collision between her past and present. Her ex-beau, an old friend and the ghost of the bear-wrestling pioneer who founded the town, show up.

Dear World (April 25- May 24): The musical reimagining of The Madwoman of Chaillot, in which Countess Aurealia launches a campaign to stop the greedy corporate presidents who want to blow up the streets of Paris in search of oil.

Oz (June 27-July 26): Freefall artistic director Eric Davis and music director Michael Raabe’s new musical takes theatergoers on a different adventure through L. Frank Baum’s Land of Oz.


JOBSITE THEATER

Shimberg Playhouse at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. (813) 229-7827. jobsitetheater.com.

Meteor Shower (Sept. 6-29): Steve Martin’s absurdist comedy follows the unexpected happening between two couples having dinner during a meteor shower.

The cast of Steve Martin's Meter Shower, playing the Straz Center in downtown Tampa starting Sep. 6, 2019. Jamie Jones (Gerald), Jonelle M. Meyer (Corky), Jordan Foote (Norm), and Amy E. Gray (Laura). [Courtesy of Pritchard Photography]

The Thanksgiving Play (Oct. 25-Nov. 17): A group of “woke” teachers attempt to throw a pageant that can honor both the holiday and Native American Heritage Month in this satire.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Jan. 17-Feb. 9): Shakespeare’s comedy gets a cool original score by the Florida Bjorkestra’s Jeremy Douglass along with aerial and circus elements.

Doubt: A Parable (March 13-April 5): The Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play is set in a parochial school in 1964 where a nun is suspicious of a priest’s relationship with a student.

The Resistible Rise of Arturo UI (May 15-June 7): Written while in exile in 1941, Bertolt Brecht reimagines Hitler’s rise as a 1930s gangster’s takeover of Chicago’s green grocery trade.

Animals Out of Paper (July 17-Aug. 9): A depressed, famous origami artist’s world turns around when a fan introduces her to a teen prodigy.


STAGEWORKS THEATRE

1120 E Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. (813) 374-2416. stageworkstheatre.org.

Wait Until Dark (Sept. 27-Oct. 13): A blind woman inadvertently gets caught up in a cat and mouse game laden with murder and secret identities.

Ordinary Days (Nov. 1-17): A musical celebrating the big impact of a small encounter in a massive city.

Morningside (Feb. 7-23): The limits of family and friendships are tested when nine Atlanta women hiding secrets start getting loose at a baby shower.

12 Angry Men (March 20-April 5): Tensions run high in this courtroom drama as a lone juror argues the innocence of a teenager accused of murder.

Anna in the Tropics (May 1-17): The 2003 Pulitzer Prize-winning play is set in the cigar factories of Ybor City, where a lector’s reading of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina sparks love, longing and betrayal among the workers.


TAMPA REPERTORY THEATRE

Hillsborough Community College (Ybor City campus) Studio Theatre, 1411 E 11th Ave.; or Studio 120, Theatre Centre, University of South Florida, 3837 USF Holly Drive, Tampa. tamparep.org.

Dinner With Friends (Sept. 13-29): The Pulitzer Prize-winning drama looks at friendship in the age of divorce.

The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence (Jan. 9-26): The comedy spans three centuries and follows three guys and a computer named Watson.

King Lear (May 29 -June 14): Shakespeare’s tragedy about betrayal and regret.


HAT TRICK THEATRE

Murray Theatre in Ruth Eckerd Hall. (813) 400-0428. rutheckerdhall.com.

And Then There Were None (Oct. 10-20): Agatha Christie’s dark thriller sees a group of strangers, all marked for murder, summoned to a remote island. They go down one by one to the lines of an eerie nursery rhyme.

Rumors (Feb. 6-16): When a group gathers for a 10th wedding anniversary celebration, miscommunications and confusion cause the evening to descend into insanity in Neil Simon’s farce.

Cyrano (April 30-May 10): American adaptation of the French classic about the man with a poetic soul as large as his legendary nose.


INNOVOCATIVE THEATRE

Performs at Stageworks Theatre, 1120 E Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. (813) 374-2416. innovocativetheatre.org.

A Shayna Maidel (Jan. 9-19): Luisa is reunited with her father and sister in America after surviving World War II. She explores the joys and sorrows of her life before the war through a series of memories and fantasies.

Boy Gets Girl (July 31 - Aug. 9): A successful woman’s sense of security is shattered by a disturbed admirer.


THE STUDIO@620

620 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 895-6620. thestudio@620.org.

Radio Theatre Project: Performed monthly October through May.

Thrice to Mine (Oct. 26-27): Actor and playwright Roxanne Fay’s one-woman-show based on the real royal who inspired Shakespeare’s Lady MacBeth.

Shakespeare in the City: The Taming of the Shrew (Nov. 7-17): The free production is held in Williams Park.

And He Shall Reign (Dec. 12-13): An original marionette Christmas pageant by local puppeteer and playwright William Lorenzen Sr.









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