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What's happening on Tampa Bay stages: 'Man of La Mancha,' Big Jay Oakerson, Rock of Ages

Starting Tuesday, a national tour of Rock of Ages returns to the Straz Center in Tampa. [Courtesy of Jeremy Daniel (2018)]
Starting Tuesday, a national tour of Rock of Ages returns to the Straz Center in Tampa. [Courtesy of Jeremy Daniel (2018)]
Published Jun. 5, 2019

MOVING PICTURES: Live on Stage/Changing Identities

Photographer James Lennon has been capturing live performances of local musicians, dancers and actors for 30 years in a project called On Stage. He has shot the Florida Orchestra, jazz shows at the Palladium and "numerous incarnations of Paul Wilborn." His fourth exhibition of the project "Live on Stage" is on display now at the University of Tampa's Scarfone/Hartley Gallery. Lennon is married to dancer Susan Taylor Lennon, who will perform Changing Identities: A Moving Memoir after the opening reception and again a few times in June. The exhibition remains on display through July 7. Reception from 5-7:30 p.m. Friday, performance at 8. Free. For more showtimes, visit

DON QUIXOTE: Man of La Mancha

The musical based on Miguel de Cervantes' epic novel Don Quixote takes a clever approach of including Cervantes himself in the story. Presented by Mad Theatre, the play-within-a-play sees Cervantes imprisoned and put on trial by his fellow prisoners, who want the contents of a trunk he has. He persuades them to let him put on a play and casts the prisoners as the characters in his unfinished masterpiece. Comedy, heartbreak and musical favorites including Dulcinea, I Really Like Him and Little Bird made it a Broadway smash. $26 and up. Opens Thursday and runs through June 23. Shimberg Playhouse at David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. For showtimes, visit

LOVE HURTS: St. Pete Opera's Season

Love is a tricky emotion and the perfect topic for opera. Indeed, St. Petersburg Opera Company's 14th season is themed "The Things We Do for Love." It includes three full-length operas, an expanded holiday show and a new Independence Day show. Returning as well are the popular Mornings and Cocktails with Maestro Mark Sforzini events and the Creative Collaborations project. All performances are at the Palladium, 253 Fifth Ave. N, unless otherwise noted.

Here's a peek at the season:

The Merry Widow (Oct. 18, 20, 22): A glamorous widow worth a fortune only has eyes for one of her prospective suitors, spurring misunderstandings, jealous rages, comic relief and a scheming ambassador in Franz Lehar's operetta. Sung in English with supertitles.

Pinocchio (Nov. 16, 22, 23): The entire family will enjoy the moralistic fairy tale brought to life with music by Verdi, Mozart, Offenbach and Donizetti, with easy-to-understand lyrics in English.

Holiday Sparkle (Dec. 12-15, 19-22): Seasonal cheer abounds with holiday favorites from soloists, a chorus and the orchestra.

Rigoletto (Jan. 24, 26, 28): Expect trickery, tragedy, revenge and redemption in Verdi's opera about a manipulative duke who attempts to seduce the court jester's daughter. Sung in Italian with English supertitles.

La Fille du Regiment (May 29, 31; June 2, 5 and 7, 2020): Donizetti's masterpiece set during the Napoleonic Wars is full of twists and secrets. Sung in French with English supertitles.

Pops Spectacular (July 3-5, 2020): Celebrate Independence Day with a concert of patriotic and popular tunes.

Broadway Cabaret (Jan. 18, May 23): Performers from the season's operas perform selections from the Great White Way.

STILL MOTORIN': Rock of Ages

The title has proved prophetic: Rock of Ages may really be one for the ages. Since debuting in 2005, the hair-metal musical (which, fun fact, starred Chris Hardwick as the original Stacee Jaxx) ran for more than 2,300 performances on Broadway, spawned a movie starring Tom Cruise and likely inspired a bunch more jukebox musicals. And as the huge success of the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody showed, sometimes people just want to sit in a loud theater and hear some awesome rock songs. (We will not, at this time, be accepting arguments that Whitesnake's Here I Go Again isn't awesome.) $25 and up. Opens Tuesday and runs through June 15. Straz Center, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa.

HEAVY HITTER: Big Jay Oakerson

The least important thing to know about Big Jay Oakerson is that he's big. That's true, but it's not as important as his vicious comedy chops, finely honed in clubs up and down the East Coast and on various podcasts and Sirius XM shows. He's a tough but self-aware former bouncer who has worked with the likes of Dave Attell, Colin Quinn and Louie C.K., and he can get into it with audiences when need be. You never want to cross a big guy, and that goes double for a guy like Big Jay. $15 and up. 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, 7:30 and 10:30 p.m. Saturday. Improv, 1600 E Eighth Ave., Ybor City. (813) 864-4000.


  1. Hillsborough County Tax Collector Doug Belden (left) and Public Defender for the 13th Judicial Circuit Julianne Holt received the Tampa Tiger Bay Club's fourth annual Lifetime Achievement Award on Monday. [ANASTASIA DAWSON  |  Times]
    Public Defender Julianne Holt and Tax Collector Doug Belden were awarded the Tiger Bay Club of Tampa’s fourth annual Lifetime Achievement Award Monday.
  2. Police are seen near the location where a dog was shot by police after attacking a police horse along the Gasparilla parade route Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020 in Tampa. (Courtesy of Laura Josephson) [Photo courtesy of Laura Josephson]
    The dog broke free from a tether and charged the horses, deputies said. It died from its injuries outside the 345 Bayshore Condominiums tower.
  3. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. [Times]
    Police say a motorcycle and another vehicle collided on W. Boy Scout Boulevard Saturday afternoon. At least one person was killed.
  4. This poster was seen January 21 inside a Brandon pet shop owned by All About Puppies, one of two pet retail businesses in Hillsborough County that were granted an exception from county laws prohibiting commercial pet stores from selling animals that came from breeders. [ANASTASIA DAWSON  |  Times]
    The proposed ordinance would ban all commercial pet retailers and impose strict regulations on breeders operating within the county.
  5. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. [Times]
    All residents were safely evacuated from the Villa Sonoma Condominiums at International Plaza after a fire broke out Saturday morning.
  6. County commissioners agreed Wednesday to pursue a local ordinance establishing a needle exchange program in Hillsborough County. [C.M. GUERRERO  |  Miami Herald]
    If approved, used syringes could be swapped for free, sterile ones
  7. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. [Times]
    Police say the attacker, Lonnie Lavine, lives in a detached shed behind the victim’s home.
  8. The Museum of Science and Industry, 4801 E Fowler Ave., moved to a smaller venue on the property in 2017 after a brief closure due to the museum's financial distress. [Times]
    Staff say a move to downtown’s Water Street is still “up in the air," but efforts are also afoot to keep the museum in the heart of the new Uptown Innovation District near the University of South...
  9. Off-duty detention Deputy Leighton Ricketts, 32, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol early Saturday morning. A four-year veteran of the Sheriff’s office, Ricketts was placed on unpaid administrative leave pending the results of an internal affairs investigation. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office] [ANASTASIA DAWSON  |  HCSO]
    Detention Deputy Leighton Ricketts, a four-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, was placed on unpaid administrative leave pending the results of an internal affairs investigation.
  10. A Brinks security guard and a Good Samaritan who came to his aid were shot during a robbery attempt at GTE Financial credit union in Brandon on Friday. [Tony Marrero, Times Staff]
    The search continued into the evening Saturday for the shooter, who is believed to be a serial bank robber.