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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]
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. The cast of American Stage's production of "Vietgone" includes Sami Ma as Tong and Jeff Kim as Quang. Courtesy of Joey Clay Studio
    An immigrant story with voice offers a fresh perspective.
  2. On Saturday, J.B. Smoove will perform at Ferguson Hall, part of Tampa's Straz Center. RICHARD SHOTWELL  |  Invision/AP
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  3. The cast performs 'On The Deck Of A Spanish Sailing Ship, 1492' in the Stage West production of 'Songs for a New World', which will be presented Oct. 17-27. Pictured at top, from left: Paris Seaver, Anthony Agnelli and Nicki Poulis. Standing in front: Jay Garcia. Timothy Rooney
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  4. Wayne Brady will perform at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg on Sunday. Courtesy of Mahaffey Theater
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  5. Emilee Dupre and Eric Davis star in Freefall Theatre's production of "The Turn of the Screw." Courtesy of Thee Photo Ninja
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  7. Music director Michael Francis leads the Florida Orchestra in the Star-Spangled Banner on Friday during the season-opening program at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. JAY CRIDLIN  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Friday’s opening night portrayed Tampa as a melting pot, delivering diverse pieces pulled from around the world. | Concert review
  8. Bernadette Peters is pictured at Radio City Music Hall in New York in 2015. CHARLES SYKES  |  AP
    Peters follows the likes of Sting and Seal playing with the orchestra.
  9. Aldo Lopez-Gavilan, shown performing "Rhapsody in Blue" with the Florida Orchestra at St. Petersburg's Mahaffey Theater in January, will join the orchestra for its 2019-20 season-opening program this weekend. J.M. LENNON  |  Lennon Media
    Plus, SuicideGirls at Tampa Theatre and comedian Bryan Callen at Tampa Improv.
  10. Ned Averill-Snell, Ami Sallee, Emilia Sargent and Alan Mohney, Jr. in Tampa Repertory Theatre's Dinner With Friends, 2019. Courtesy of KLGold, LLC
    The Pulitzer-winning play illustrates the aftershocks of divorce on marital friendships. | Review
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