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New theater company, Innovocative Theatre, opens at Stageworks with 'Proof'

Dennis Duggan plays Robert while Marie-Claude Tremblay plays his daughter Catherine in the play Proof at Innovocative Theatre.
Dennis Duggan plays Robert while Marie-Claude Tremblay plays his daughter Catherine in the play Proof at Innovocative Theatre.
Published Jul. 19, 2017

MEET INNOVOCATIVE THEATRE: PROOF

A new professional theater takes a major step forward this weekend with Proof, a Pulitzer and Tony winner in 2001 that explores the lines between genius, mental illness and family dynamics. Innovocative Theatre was established by Staci Sabarsky, who directed a well-received one-woman show at the recent Tampa International Fringe Festival, Dark Vanilla Jungle. It aims to make audiences think with quality material.

"I think there's a niche for more edgy, thought-provoking, controversial scripts, which is the kind of thing I'm going for now," said Sabarsky, 48, who for now is using facilities of Stageworks Theatre in Tampa.

Originally from Palisades Park, N.J., Sabarsky moved to Dunedin at 10 and graduated from Dunedin High. She then moved away, and moved back to Tampa Bay two years ago.Proof, by David Auburn, follows Catherine, who is coping with the death of her father, a mathematical genius for whom she had provided extensive care. After his death, groundbreaking work on prime numbers is found in his office. Her father's deteriorating mental state prompts questions about her own genetic vulnerability, that stress compounded by her own mathematical gifts and the difficulty in communicating her complex ideas.

"When this show was written, we knew about so many of these issues — bipolar (disorder), ADHD, dyslexia, autism, Asperger — but they weren't as commonly talked about as they are today," Sabarsky said. "I think people are a lot more open about neurodiverse issues than they were 10 or 15 years ago. The fact that people are talking about it makes this play even more relevant."

Sabarsky is directing the show and playing the role of Claire, Catherine's older sister. Other cast members include Marie-Claude Tremblay as Catherine; Dennis Duggan as Robert, their father; and Devin Devi as Hal, a young math professor. The theater is hosting an audience talkback after Sunday's performance with Karen Fredricks, president of the Hillsborough chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and psychiatrist Marketa Wills.

"I am excited, I'm anxious," Sabarsky said of starting her own company. "I'm really proud of the work that we're doing. And I really am looking forward to sharing it with an audience."

Runs Friday through July 30. 1120 E Kennedy Blvd., Suite 151, Tampa. $30-$35. A preview at 8 p.m. Thursday costs $15. (813) 374-2416. stageworkstheatre.org.

Innovocative's next show, Keely and Du, about a woman's right to choose, will run Jan. 11-21 at Stageworks.

TOMORROW'S OPERA TALENT: VOICE FESTIVAL

Yes, it's a guilty pleasure to watch Adam, Gwen, Alicia and Blake rate aspiring stars on The Voice. But if this year's Opera Voice comes anywhere close to its hosts' expectations, young classical singers could put some of those NBC winners to shame. The competition at Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum pits 16 singers from as far away as Argentina before the scrutiny of judges, including legendary baritone Sherrill Milnes and his wife, soprano Maria Zouves, pictured. The contest is at 7:30 p.m. Monday.

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Milnes, 82, of Palm Harbor, performed for more than 30 years with the Metropolitan Opera and stages around the world. He and Zouves founded the nonprofit VOICExperience Foundation in 2001, which produces the VOICExperience Summer Voice Festival. He will host a master class at 7:30 p.m. July 27 at the museum, and lead An Evening with Sherrill Milnes and the Ghosts of Savannah at 7:30 p.m. July 28 at the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center.

The festival runs Monday through July 30 at Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum, 100 Beekman Lane; and Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center, 324 Pine St. $14-$20. (727) 942-5605. tarponarts.org.

>BALLET SHOWCASE: NEXT GENERATION >

Every year, students from Next Generation Ballet learn their art at an intense level. The two- to four-year program at the Patel Conservatory chooses 150 or so students from international auditions. Once a year, they get the chance to show their stuff. Next Generation's Summer Intensive Showcase starts at 7 p.m. Friday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, Ferguson Hall, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $15 and up. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org.

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