BETTER THAN EVER: TAMPA BAY THEATRE FESTIVAL
If you haven't been to a Tampa Bay Theatre Festival yet, you really don't know what you're missing. The festival, now in its fifth year, offers a ton of original entertainment, learning and networking opportunities.
"I've learned from my peers in the community that people have love for theater and acting, but they don't know how to get involved," said Rory Lawrence, left, who founded the festival five years ago on a vision of inclusiveness and accessibility. "That's one of the things we're looking to change."
A packed schedule will force participants to make hard choices between improv and playwriting workshops, a master acting class by The Blacklist star Harry Lennix, short and long plays, a monologue competition and more. The festival is based at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, with some events at Stageworks Theatre, Carrollwood Players and Hillsborough Community College's Ybor City campus. tampabaytheatrefestival.com.
MORE TBTF: DRAMAS AND MUSICALS
The festival kicks off with Neighbors, Lawrence's latest. Family members looking for an escape find anything but in an odd assembly of neighbors. Between a militant activist, hectoring spouses and stoners lost in their own world, will they ever get relief? 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Straz, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $27.50 and up. (813) 229-7827. bit.ly/2OYTg3l.
NOT My Brother's Keeper, by Tracey J, right, asks questions about the virtue of family loyalty, and its limits: What lines separate us from our closest kin? Can they ever be crossed? 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Stageworks, 1120 E Kennedy Blvd., Suite 151, Tampa. $20. (813) 374-2416. bit.ly/2wbvPNo.
Bad Manners at the Dinner Table, which bills itself as a "Christian murder mystery," serves up the seven deadly sins, any of which might be responsible for a young woman's death. 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Carrollwood Players, 4333 Gunn Hwy, Tampa. $15 and up. bit.ly/2Lpv0W2.
Four drivers connected by their phones form the basis of Conversations in the Car because that's "where life happens," according to this comedy by Gretchen Suarez-Pena. 3 p.m. Saturday at Stageworks. bit.ly/2LpygR4.
The generosity of a wounded vet is tested when a buddy seeks him out to ask forgiveness in Toby's Game, by Lab Theatre Project's Owen Robertson. 3 p.m. Saturday at Carrollwood Players. $20.
Keeping My Brother, by Donte A. McClaine, explores "love, brotherhood, tragedy and forgiveness." 3 p.m. Sunday at Carrollwood Players. $15.
Gabe Flores, top right, started his musical with a half-dozen songs his rock band used. By the time he and writing partner Taryn Alexander had finished Call It in the Air, the song list in this musical about musicians and life choices had grown to 19, the cast to eight, and a live band to full strength.
"You don't always get what you want," Alexander said about the show's message. "But you get something that works for you." 2 p.m. Saturday at Hillsborough Community College's mainstage theater, 1411 E 11th Ave., Ybor City. $15. bit.ly/2wmNi4A.
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Asterisk Theatrical Company's F--- Boys, woman-to-woman advice about the bar scene, starts at 8 p.m. Saturday at HCC, 1411 E 11th Ave., Tampa, $15. bit.ly/2o8fYL9.
A women's singing group pulls out all the stops trying to break the glass ceiling in Amazing Wild Knights, by Martha Velez. 3 p.m. Sunday, also at the HCC theater. $22.50, students $11.50. bit.ly/2o75Odr.
HELD OVER:GIVE 'HEDWIG' AN INCH …
Guess that worked out. Jobsite Theater's Hedwig and the Angry Inch, originally scheduled through Sept. 9, will run an extra weekend. The rock musical about a transgender performer starts at 8 p.m. Sept. 13 and 14, and 10:30 p.m. Sept. 15. That final show includes a preshow music set (time to be determined), fronted by Colleen Cherry, Amy Rose and David Jenkins, all at the Straz Center. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.