One of the quintessential St. Petersburg experiences happens every spring at Demens Landing Park, the downtown waterfront spot that hosts American Stage in the Park. The annual outdoor event brings to life a full production on a stage the theater company constructs in the middle of a field.
This year’s show is “Ragtime,” a Tony-winning musical that debuted on Broadway in 1998 and tells the story of three American families in the early 1900s. The ambitious show boasts a large cast and a score that bops between three distinct motifs, weaving the eponymous ragtime music throughout. Fair warning, if you’re thinking of bringing kids to the show: It deals with mature themes, especially racism, and features adult language including racial slurs.
The show opens April 12 and runs through May 14. To help you prepare for an evening of live outdoor theater, we’ve rounded up this year’s must-knows (new rules, theme nights and more), plus tried-and-true tips.
Pack a picnic for American Stage in the Park
Reserved chair seating was introduced a couple of years ago, but half the fun of the event is getting there an hour before the show starts, sprawling out on a large blanket and feasting on snacks.
There are on-site concessions and a drinkery, featuring charcuterie boards (vegan options available), snacks including popcorn in a commemorative “Ragtime“ bucket, and beer and wine from local vendors. You can preorder a picnic pack at americanstage.org.
But you can also bring in your own food. Need inspiration? A few years ago, we came up with ideas for three different kinds of picnics to bring. Think: easily packable pasta salads and make-ahead bruschetta, meats and cheeses and fruits.
What kind of seating is allowed?
There are a couple of different seating areas for the park shows: a general blanket area that allows blankets and chairs with no legs. There’s also a premium blanket option for those who want to be closer to the stage; chairs with no legs are also allowed in this section. All other chairs will be seated in the general chair section. The final section is for those who want to purchase a reserved chair seat.
Where to park near Demens Landing Park
Demens Landing Park is on the waterfront in downtown St. Petersburg, at Bayshore Drive and Second Avenue S. These are the two closest parking options: Southcore Garage, 101 First Ave. S, $1 per hour (max $7); and Al Lang parking lot 1, 230 First St. S, $5 per day. For more downtown St. Pete parking, visit discoverdowntown.
Will bad weather cancel a show?
According to American Stage, the show will go on with a little rain, but if “weather conditions look serious enough to cancel or abruptly discontinue a performance, ticket-holders will be able to exchange their tickets for another performance.” If it’s looking like bad weather, check American Stage’s Facebook page for the latest updates on whether the show is canceled. If you have any questions, call the box office at 727-823-7529 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Themed nights for 2023
April 14 is the Gala Under the Stars fundraiser. Don your tweeds, parasols and other turn-of-the-century apparel, enjoy a catered dinner and drinks and bid on items in a silent auction. Tickets are $200; tables are $2,200. Benefits artistic and educational programming. Starts at 5:30 p.m.
In the Press Pride Night is April 23. Wear your best rainbow attire, pack a picnic and enjoy the show. 7:30 p.m.
Bring your furry friends for Wagtime in the Park on April 30. 7:30 p.m.
How to get tickets
“Ragtime” opens April 12 and runs through May 14. Tickets are $23 general blanket and general chairs, $28 premium blanket, $45 reserved chairs. 727-823-7529. americanstage.org.