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What's on stage this week: 'Topdog/Underdog,' and memories of the Holocaust

Photo by Cornelio Aguilera Willie Hannah, left, plays Booth and Josh Goff plays Lincoln in the debut of a new theater, Fluid Expressions.
Published Nov. 6, 2018

FLUID EXPRESSIONS:

TOPDOG/UNDERDOG

India Davison and Cornelio Aguilera want to give a bigger stage to minority actors. So they started a theater. Fluid Expressions opens with Topdog/Underdog by Suzan Lori-Parks.

"Fluid Expressions came from me seeing art put in a box, and boxes have sharp corners and you're not able to move," said Davison, 25. "People of color in our community are overflowing with talent, but they've never had a chance to be exposed in the forefront of a theater."

The idea hatched in January when Davison, who is black, and fellow artistic director Aguilera, who is Latino, were in rehearsal for The Tempest.

"We were looking at how we could provide more opportunities long term," said Aguilera, 38. "Before we knew it we began organizing weekly-type rehearsals. It just ballooned into having sort of a company." Topdog/Underdog follows rival brothers named Lincoln and Booth. The play won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for drama. Friday through Nov. 17 at Hillsborough Community College Ybor City campus, Studio Theatre, 1411 E 11th Ave., Tampa. $30, seniors and students $15. facebook.com/FluidExpressionsTampa.

FLORIDA ORCHESTRA: A CHILD OF OUR TIME

British composer Michael Tippett began writing A Child of Our Time the day Britain declared war on Germany. Structured around five Negro spirituals, the piece emphasizes shared connections and laments mob violence. The Florida Orchestra, in partnership with the Florida Holocaust Museum, performs the work in remembrance of the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, in which crowds destroyed Jewish-owned businesses.

Soloists include soprano Janice Chandler-Eteme, mezzo-soprano Susan Platts, tenor Dominic Armstrong, bass Kevin Deas and the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay. The chorale also performs in the concert's opening piece, selections from George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. 8 p.m. Friday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, 8 p.m. Saturday at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. $18-$48. (727) 892-3337. floridaorchestra.org.

THE COST OF WAR: LAST OUT

Retired Green Beret Lt. Col. Scott Mann, a 23-year Army veteran, stars in a play he wrote about combat, reintegration and recovery. The cast of Last Out features former Army Airborne infantryman Bryan Bachman and former Green Beret Leonard Bruce. 7 p.m. Saturday at the Tampa Waterside Marriott Hotel and Marina, 700 S Florida Ave., Tampa. $25. (813) 221-9400. lastoutplay.com.

THEATER IN SCHOOLS:

WINNIE THE POOH

Half of Pinellas County elementary schools saw Rikki-Tikki-Tavi last year, part of a 35-year-old program by American Stage. The theater is treating the other half to Winnie the Pooh.

"It's cool to see young people experience theater for the first time," said Tiffany Ford, the theater's director of education and outreach. "Then sometimes their teachers will come up and say, 'I remember American Stage came to my school.' "

As for kids, Ford said, "They love to talk about how funny Piglet is or ask why Eeyore is sad. They talk about the characters they connected with."

Pinellas students may see the show at 11 a.m. Dec. 15 at American Stage. Schools can arrange that by calling (727) 823-1600, ext. 208. americanstage.org.

DEBUT ALBUM: CALIDORE STRING QUARTET

The Calidore String Quartet, which includes St. Petersburg native Ryan Meehan, passes another milestone on a road paved with accolades — a debut album, Resilience, released last month.

Since winning the M-3 international chamber music competition and the prestigious Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship in 2016, Calidore has won the 2017 Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award and a 2018 Avery Fisher career grant. Meehan attended public schools in St. Petersburg before moving to Chicago in high school to study violin. Other musicians are violinist Jeffrey Myers, violist Jeremy Berry and cellist Estelle Choi. The album includes works by Felix Mendelssohn, Sergei Prokofiev, Osvaldo Golijov and Leos Janacek, and is available under the British label Signum.

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