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On stage this week: ‘Chicago,’ ‘The Guys,’ Ginger Minj of RuPaul fame

Photo by Jeremy Daniel Dylis Croman plays Roxie Hart in Chicago, which runs at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts Sept. 18-23, 2018. (Photo by Jeremy Daniel)
Wednesday 12 September 2018 11.00

RAZZLE DAZZLE: CHICAGO

Broadway returns to Tampa in Chicago, the jazzy Bob Fosse cynical celebration of corruption and longest-running American musical revival of all time. Style is substance as Velma and Roxie compete for the limelight of a jaded public that craves sensationalism, sympathetic with women who kill their no-good husbands or lovers, fight over lawyers and even steal ideas for eye-catching courtroom attire.

Amra-Faye Wright and Dylis Croman, above,star as rivals Velma and Roxie, belting and tapping and jazz-handsing to Cell Block Tango, Funny Honey, We Both Reached for the Gun and All That Jazz. The show has won six Tony awards, two Oliviers and a Grammy with a crowd-pleasing combination of song and dance and story. The musical by John Kander and Fred Ebb originated with a 1926 play by Chicago Tribune crime reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins, who parlayed the Broadway success of the stage play Chicago into a career writing for the stage and screen. Tuesday through Sept. 23 at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $31 and up. (813) 229-7827. For showtimes, go to strazcenter.org.

REMEMBERING  SEPT. 11: THE GUYS

Unlike any other act of terrorism in history, the Sept. 11 attacks unfolded on live television in one of the largest cities, before tens of millions of witnesses. Who is left to tell about it?

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Journalist Anne Nelson found a way. She wrote The Guys, about the challenges of writing dozens of obituaries for New York firefighters, within a week in October 2011. Based on a real experience, the two-character play stars Joan, an editor, and Nick, a fire captain who has lost most of his crew. It’s an elegant play (and very New York), a kind of endlessly unwinding conversation that touches love of craft, the tango, grief and refusing to drown in it.

Frank Mondaruli plays Nick and Heather Budzian is Joan in the Heather Theatre’s 2018 season closer, directed by Ward Smith.

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"I think this piece lives because that day was so horrific and indelible," said Smith, the Heather’s artistic director. "Everybody was affected by it, some more than others, and some in ways they don’t even know. Those guys who answered the call, and the theater in this case serves one of its original purposes providing oral history." Friday through Sept. 29 at the Heather Theatre, 8313 W Hillsborough Ave., Suite 250, Tampa. $25. For showtimes, go to heathertheatre.org.

NOT JUST A RU GIRL: GINGER MINJ

Fan favorite Ginger Minj has converted her success on RuPaul’s Drag Race, reaching the Season 7 finals, into a one-woman show. Crossdresser for Christ traces Minj’s roots and evolving spiritual quest, learning to reconcile a strict Southern Baptist upbringing with self-acceptance. Before adopting her drag persona she was Joshua Allan Eads, a child actor who starred in Christian movies and books on tape. 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday at the Straz Center’s Jaeb Theater. $27.83 and up. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.

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LATE SUMMER DREAM: MADNESS

St. Petersburg playwright Sheila Cowley, who has workshopped other plays with good results, offers a staged reading of Madness, her latest. The multidisciplinary show is a "carnivalesque exploration of gender stereotypes and gender fluidity, inspired by the humans in A Midsummer Night’s Dream," Cowley said. "It’s a comedy that celebrates transformation and the arts with dance, humor, abstract art and an improvised score."

Thanks in part to a Creative Pinellas grant, the full retinue includes a professional cast of seven (Susan Haldeman, Derrick Phillips, Jim Wicker, Eugenie Bondurant, Stephanie Roberts, Eddie Gomez and Tonia Krueger), four dancers and two musicians who produce sound effects.

Cowley, 51, whose Flying was produced by Tampa Repertory Theatre last season, recently became one of five winners of the British Theatre Challenge, an international contest, for Teatime. Jim Moss of Tampa also won for his play Tagged, making two winners from the Tampa Bay area, out of 274 entries. 7 p.m. Saturday at the Studio@620, 620 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 895-6620. thestudioat620.org.


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