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What's happening on Tampa Bay stages: Kristin Chenoweth, Billy Gardell, 'Kinky Boots'

In this 2016 photo, Kristin Chenoweth performs at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater in New York. The musical theater treasure revisits Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall on Friday. [Sara Krulwich/The New York Times]
In this 2016 photo, Kristin Chenoweth performs at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater in New York. The musical theater treasure revisits Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall on Friday. [Sara Krulwich/The New York Times]
Published May 15

SHE'S SO UNUSUAL: Kinky Boots

Kinky Boots ended its Broadway run in April, but lucky for us, the musical hits the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts this weekend. With music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper and a book by gravelly-voiced theater legend Harvey Fierstein, it won the Tony Award for Best Musical and a Grammy. It's based on a true story of the unlikely friendship that develops between the owner of a failing shoe factory and a fabulous drag queen named Lola. When the pair collaborate on a line of stilettos with serious strut power, their lives are changed. $43 and up. Friday-Sunday. 1010 N MacInness Place, Tampa. (813) 229-7827. For showtimes, visit strazcenter.org.

A GOOD WITCH, INDEED: Kristin Chenoweth

Kristin Chenoweth could probably get on stage and read scripts from her old show The West Wing and still make it entertaining. The Tony- and Emmy-winning actor is just that entertaining, whether she's playing Glinda in Wicked or Maleficent in Descendents. She has become a regular at Ruth Eckerd Hall, singing Broadway and Great American Songbook standards and dipping into her repertoire of songs from Glee. See why she's still a musical theater treasure. $37.50 and up. 8 p.m. Friday. 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.

GET THEM BILLS: Bill Bellamy, Billy Gardell

A couple of blasts from TV comedy's past breeze into Tampa comedy clubs this weekend. In Ybor City, MTV veteran and longtime TV talking head Bill Bellamy will issue a booty call to the Improv. $25 and up. 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, 7:30 and 10 p.m. Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday. 1600 E Eighth Ave. (813) 864-4000. improvtampa.com. And over at Side Splitters, it's an old familiar face on the Florida standup circuit: Billy Gardell, best known as Melissa McCarthy's better half on Mike and Molly. $30 and up. 7 p.m. Friday, 6 and 8:45 p.m. Saturday. 12938 N Dale Mabry Highway. (813) 960-1197. sidesplitterscomedy.com.

BOSS MOVES: Haley Swindal

Haley Swindal returns home to Tampa fairly often. But never quite like this. On Sunday, Swindal will star alongside Jana Robbins in We Just Move On: The Songs of Kander and Ebb, a cabaret featuring the music of the duo behind Chicago, Cabaret and other musicals. "There's a certain element of excitement and maybe a little bit of fear when you come back somewhere, when you haven't ever done it," Swindal said by phone recently. "I can go out and perform for 5,000 people, no problem, every single night. But when it's a room full of people that know me and what I've done, that's nerve-racking and exciting." That's true for anyone, but especially Swindal, who grew up in a bit of a spotlight as the granddaughter of George Steinbrenner. The Straz Center is where she grew up going to plays, falling in love with the theater. She's still a successful actor, having just wrapped a stint as Mama Morton in Chicago on Broadway. This show will give her old friends and family a chance to see how far she has gone. $25 and up. 2 p.m. Sunday. 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.

COMEDY AND TRAGEDY: St. Pete Opera

One's a tragedy, the other's a comedy. One stars all women, the other mostly men. Puccini's Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi were made to go together, like cappuccino and biscotti. Which is why St. Pete Opera is pairing them up for three shows in the coming week. Susan Spatafora handles the wrenching title role in Suor Angelica, the tragic story of a nun coming to terms with her illicit past, while SeungHyeon Baek is the titular, chest-puffing baritone of Gianni Schicchi, a comedy about a family bickering over an inheritance. Gianni Schicchi ends the night, so you'll walk out with a smile on your face. But you'll feel a spectrum of emotions before you do. $20 and up. 7:30 p.m. Friday and Tuesday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 823-2040. stpeteopera.org.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Criss Angel will bring his Raw: The Mindfreak Unplugged tour to Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on Dec. 13. [Courtesy of Jerry Metellus Photography]
    It’s the Christmas season at the Florida Orchestra and St. Petersburg Opera.
  2. Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta, shown here in the 1978 film "Grease," will make an appearance in Tampa on Dec. 14 for a film sing-along and meet and greet with fans. [AP]
    The forever Sandy Olsson and Danny Zuko will reunite for a sing-along screening on Saturday at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre.
  3. Paul Reubens, a.k.a. Pee-Wee Herman, arrives for a Comic-Con panel in 2011 in San Diego. [GREGORY BULL  |  AP]
    The actor (Pee-Wee himself!) will accompany the 35th anniversary celebration at Tampa Theatre.
  4. Charlie explains to his parents and sister, Beth, that the best thing about church is that there are no Herdmans there. Pictured, from left: Sarah Krug as Mother (Grace Bradley), Amber Marino as Beth, Frank Miller as Father (Bob Bradley) and Jude Mys as Charlie. [Kristina Mitten]
    Live Oak Theatre presents ‘Best Christmas Pageant Ever'
  5. Benjamin Ismail, left, and Susan Maris star as Peter Shaw and Henrietta Leavitt in American Stage's "Silent Sky." [Joey Clay Photography]
    Parts of it play like a romantic comedy, but you will learn a thing or two about the woman who mapped the universe. | Theater review
  6. Sutton Foster accepts the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical at the 65th annual Tony Awards in New York in 2011. [JEFF CHRISTENSEN  |  AP]
    Plus, the Florida Orchestra, ‘Straight Up With Stassi’ Live and ‘A Tuna Christmas.’
  7. Nick Offerman will perform at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa on Dec. 7. [Matt Winkelmeyer]
    The ‘Parks and Recreation’ star, who performs at Tampa’s Straz Center on Saturday, knows his face is everywhere. He can’t stop it.
  8. The cast of "The Lion in Winter" at Freefall Theatre: Eric Brandon Davis, Joseph Michael-Kenneth, Alicia Thomas, Rob Glauz, Robert "Spence" Gabriel, Stephanie Dunnam and Joe Lauck. [Courtesy of Thee Photo Ninja]
    Freefall Theatre’s production of James Goldman’s script tells a medieval tale of family dysfunction. | Review
  9. Joel Hodgson and his robot pals - from left, Gypsy, Crow and Tom Servo - will bring their live tour of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" to the Straz Center in Tampa on Dec. 3. [Shout! Factory]
    The show creator’s final live tour hits the Straz Center in Tampa on Dec. 3.
  10. Chris Tucker will perform at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg on Nov. 29. [Courtesy of Mahaffey Theater]
    ‘Nutcracker’ shows, an ‘America’s Got Talent’ star and other holiday performances fill out this week’s calendar.
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