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What's happening on Tampa Bay stages: 'Pippin,' Sarasota Improv Festival, 'Constellations'

“Hypnotica,” Aerial Dragons’ new show, will visit the Straz Center this weekend. [Courtesy of Bryan Edward Creative]
Published Jul. 10

PLAY TIME: Sarasota Improv Festival

Improv troupes from across the continent and even the world come to Florida Studio Theatre for the Sarasota Improv Festival this weekend. In addition to performances, some troupes offer workshops that showcase their specific styles. The Times caught up with Ken Hall and Isaac Kessler of 2-Man No-Show, who are performing and leading a sold-out workshop for their theatrical clowning style of improv. The pair met at Second City in Toronto and formed their duo 10 years ago, premiering at the Toronto Fringe Festival. Their physical style is centered around the concept of play.

"We were all children and we all played," Kessler said. "The idea of clown is to tap into the childlike naivete and play and freedom we all had. Improv gives us the ability to do that again."

This will be the duo's first time at the Sarasota Improv Festival, but they are familiar with many of the troupes and say they're at the top of their game. They also praised festival organizers for culling such a great lineup.

"It's lovely to be invited to play," Hall said.

Tickets are $8-$60. Various times Friday-Saturday. See floridastudiotheatre.org for showtimes. 1241 N Palm Ave., Sarasota.

STRAIGHT FIRE: Aerial Dragons' Hypnotica

You won't see any flying dragons at Aerial Dragons' new show Hypnotica. You might, however, see "elegant white tigers, snake charmers, wild monkeys with cymbals and real live mermaids." Ambitious stuff for the Tampa company, which specializes in acrobatic, theatrical circus performances in the vein of Cirque du Soleil. Hypnotica, subtitled "Theater of the Bizarre," has a vintage freakshow/carnival flavor, with fire eaters and "dare-devilish clowns" in the lineup. Enter if you dare, and stare as long as you like. $47.50 and up. 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Straz Center, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.

JAZZ HANDS: Pippin

Pippin is the quintessential 1970s musical, originally choreographed by Bob Fosse, who gave the world jazz hands. We don't know whether they'll make the cut in Freefall Theatre's production, opening Saturday, but we do know Pippin is a beloved musical with a score by Steven Schwartz, who composed Wicked. The story follows Pippin, son of Charlemagne, as he travels around trying to find his way in the world, or his Corner of the Sky, as the song goes. He's helped by a mysterious troupe, led by a Leading Player. The original production was so influential that Michael Jackson and Diana Ross covered songs from the soundtrack. Runs through Aug. 11. $50. 6099 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 498-5205. freefalltheatre.com.

PARALLEL UNIVERSE: Constellations

Love is complicated enough, but imagine if every choice we ever made existed simultaneously in a parallel universe. That's the premise of Constellations, opening Friday at Jobsite Theater, the resident company of the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. The show uses a sci-fi angle to tell the love story between Marianne and Roland, a physicist and an urban beekeeper. As their relationship grows, so do their infinite possibilities. Jobsite has a knack for choosing plays that fit the intimate space of the Shimberg Playhouse. This one feels no different. Notably, it's the last play in their 20th season, which has also been their most successful. Runs through Aug. 4. $34.50 and up. 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 229-7827. jobsitetheater.org.

IT'S ALIVE: Young Frankenstein

When The Producers made Mel Brooks a Broadway sensation back in the early 2000s, which classic script do you think he dug up from the dead and brought back to life next? You guessed it: Young Frankenstein. The farce about the demented doc and his magnificent monster puttin' on the ritz in old-timey Transylvania didn't scale the same incredible heights as The Producers (what could?), but it proved more than worth its neck bolts, reaping several Tony and Drama Desk award nominations. A touring version hits town this weekend, with shows at 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and July 18-20 and 2 p.m. Sunday and July 21. $28.50 and up. Central Park Performing Arts Center, 105 Central Park Drive, Largo. (727) 587-6793. largoarts.com.

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