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Cult TV hit 'Mystery Science Theater 3000' bringing live tour to Tampa

Jonah Ray stars in the reboot of “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” [Photo by Darren Michaels, SMPSP]
Jonah Ray stars in the reboot of “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” [Photo by Darren Michaels, SMPSP]
Published Jul. 10, 2019

Fans of the cult TV hit Mystery Science Theater 3000 will get one last chance to see original host and creator Joel Hodgson don his jumpsuit and host a live show on a tour stop at Tampa's David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts on Dec. 3.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 (known as MST3K to its fans) originally ran from 1988 to 1999. It was hosted by Hodgson and later Michael J. Nelson and an assortment of kooky robots. The premise: A human prisoner is forced to watch painfully terrible movies like Teenagers From Outer Space. He and the robots preserve their sanity by mocking each film ruthlessly.

The new tour comes on the heels of tours in 2017 and 2018, which celebrated the show's 30th anniversary.

The series recently returned with new seasons streaming on Netflix thanks to a fan-funded campaign. It has the same basic premise, with Jonah Ray as Jonah Heston, Patton Oswalt as Max and Felicia Day as Kinga Forrester.

"This is our third national tour, and it's bigger than the first two combined," Hodgson said in a statement announcing the tour. "I really wanted to do something special since it's my farewell tour with MST3K Live. Also, Tom, Crow, and Gypsy have become such great live performers, I decided to give them the ultimate challenge: a movie riffing robot circus!"

The crew will switch between No Retreat, No Surrender and Circus of Horrors at each tour stop. Tampa will get No Retreat, No Surrender, a spokeswoman said. No Retreat, No Surrender is a 1986 film about a self-conscious teen who becomes a martial arts master under the tutelage of Bruce Lee's ghost. It features a fresh-faced Jean-Claude Van Damme as a brooding hit man and a Bruce Lee lookalike who looks nothing like Bruce Lee.

Both stops include all of the show's signatures: a cheesy B-movie, hilarious riffing, wisecracking robots, silly sketches and Hodgson as host Joel Robinson.

Tickets, priced between $39.50 and $59.50, go on sale at noon Friday at the Straz Center box office, (813) 229-7827 or strazcenter.org.

Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at swynne@tampabay.com. Follow @SharonKWn. Information from the Los Angeles Times was used in this report.

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