ST. PETERSBURG — When neatnicks retire, they leave no trace behind. Their desks are clean, like a runway after the plane has taken off.
On Thursday, her last day of classes, Karen Bail's desk still looked like the airport. Fake flowers stood in vases next to coffee cups and papers. On a bulletin board, posters of musicals she's directed at the Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High maintained prominence, as if announcing next weekend's production....
I have lost and gained weight several times in my adult life. It wasn't a problem when I was younger and working construction. An "ideal" office job 30 years ago started the yo-yo effect. I don't have any more weight to lose, but the potential of gaining it back is always there.
Over the last dozen years, my weight has fluctuated within a 150-pound range. I have never liked to talk about it much either way. If I was doing well by my standards, I didn't want to jinx it by hearing someone else's experience. If I wasn't, I certainly didn't want to go there....
NO FEAR OF FLYING: BILLY HARRIGAN TIGHE
Peter Pan, his tale immortalizing childhood, is now part of Western mythology. Playwright J.M. Barrie has since become the subject of a musical about creativity and courage. Finding Neverland opens Tuesday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.
Finding Neverland zeroes in on Barrie's story, about a man who finds the child in himself through the four sons of a widow he is dating. It's a sanitized version of Barrie's more tumultuous love life. His real marriage to Mary Ansell ended in divorce following an affair she refused to give up. In the 1890s, he became close with the Llewelyn Davies family. He invented Peter Pan to entertain two of the couple's five sons, in part by telling them that their younger brother, Peter, could fly....
TAMPA — Sometimes a show comes along that does everything. It engages the senses on every level, tells a story that feels real and keeps you guessing to the end.
Gloucester Blue at Jobsite Theater is such a play. This production, the latest to emerge out of a partnership between producing artistic director David Jenkins (who also directed this show) and the always interesting playwright Israel Horovitz, carefully brings to life a story of human savagery, revealed through layers of deception. It's also darkly funny and contemporary (there's a reference to Donald Trump's hair in the early going), even in musical references by the 78-year-old playwright....
TAMPA — The Florida Orchestra ends its 49th season with a complete set of three qualitatively different pieces. They joined Beethoven and Tchaikovsky with a brand new work on a weekend that signals the departure of one of its longest-serving musicians and the ascent of first-year principals.
The orchestra under the baton of music director Michael Francis delivered a stunning Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5, bringing a full-house audience to an ovation lasting several minutes Friday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. It was as good as anything the orchestra has done all year....
CLEARWATER — For its last production of the season, Hat Trick Theatre has chosen an adaptation of The Three Musketeers. Two of its own, original director Joe Winskye and photographer Bianca Badia, wrote this farcical interpretation, which takes this baroque adventure by Alexandre Dumas and mashes the accelerator to the floor.
The comical story has survived several retellings, including a Broadway musical and multiple movies. This one, directed by Winskye, might be the first that focuses primarily on the sword fights and other slapstick, or attempts such a dizzying pace....
TAMPA — He's had the same dream lately. Brian Moorhead is waiting for a bus carrying fellow musicians of the Florida Orchestra.
He's a meticulous guy. He likes things written out, nailed down. The orchestra's principal clarinetist has enjoyed jazz on occasion, but only what's on the score, no improvisation. He tells his students success is a point on a graph where preparation and opportunity intersect. If either fails, so does the mission....
Three years ago, Florida arts and culture organization celebrated a windfall. Gov. Rick Scott approved $42.9 million in grants through the Department of State's Division of Cultural Affairs. A wide swath made out, from the Tampa Theatre to the Clearwater Jazz Holiday, the Florida Aquarium to the Lowry Park Zoo.
But each year since then has been a downhill slide. The latest budget released by the legislature, not yet signed by the governor, continues that trend. This year, funding for cultural organizations and projects stands at $24.5 million through Cultural Affairs. ...
ORCHESTRA FINALE: EMPEROR CONCERTO
The Florida Orchestra ends its season this weekend with Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5, also known as "the Emperor Concerto." Dejan Lazic will play the composer's last piano concerto, with music director Michael Francis conducting. The concert also features Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 and opens with Deconstruction of Anger, the winning entry in a composers' competition. Francesco Sclafani, a 23-year-old University of South Florida junior, beat out 13 other young composers. Francis, who judged the competition with other orchestra personnel, called Sclafani's music "vibrant, exciting and compelling." Concerts start at 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. $15-$45. (727) 892-3337. floridaorchestra.org. ...
Stageworks Theatre has dubbed its 2017-2018 season the "Year of the Woman." It was to open with Beehive, the '60s Musical, which celebrates female singers and groups. But the theater can't secure rights to the music, producing artistic director Karla Hartley said, so in its place, Stageworks will put on a similar musical revue Sept. 22-Oct. 8.
More selections include an adaptation of Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking (Nov. 3-19) starring Vickie Daignault in a one-woman show about grief and loss. A new play, Brownsville Song (B-side for Tray) (Feb. 9-25) by Kimber Lee, follows an African-American family coping with the death of Tray, 18. Then Julia Alvarez's novel about activist sisters in the Dominican Republic, In the Time of the Butterflies (April 13-29), comes to the stage in a highly visual adaptation. The season closes with Blithe Spirit (June 1-17), Noel Coward's comedy about seances and unintended consequences. ...
STARS AND BARS: THE AMERICAN SONGBOOK
Blink and you'll miss another concert. It's almost a shame the Florida Orchestra has been so prolific, with guilty pleasures passing by almost weekly.
Jeff Tyzik conducts this weekend's pops concert, The American Songbook: Then and Now. It's a vehicle made for pianist and singer Tony DeSare, who never met a jazzy standard he didn't love....
Transforming Ybor City from abandoned warehouses to the bohemian, artsy district it is today took decades.
Another quantum leap in that direction could take just a weekend. The Tampa International Fringe Festival, a brand-new event, aims to turn revelers into repeat customers for what could turn out to be the most eclectic group performers this area has ever seen.
That's what fringe is, and why the free-form, anything-goes style is growing. You never know what you're going to get. ...
Perennial hit musicals — including Jersey Boys, A Chorus Line, Cabaret and Chicago — plus another round of holiday favorites fill out the coming Broadway season at Ruth Eckerd Hall, the venue has announced. Tickets for Ruth Eckerd's 2017-2018 season go on sale May 19.
The season opens with A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage (Dec. 16), a stage version of the animated television special and the only show to run at the Capitol Theatre, a Ruth Eckerd venue on Cleveland Street in downtown Clearwater....
TAMPA — The concepts that made Avenue Q a hit have lived on more than a dozen years later. The blend of real-life-sized adult problems and Sesame Street-style puppets tends to win American audiences over, and the local run at Stageworks Theatre is no exception.
This is a fun show, a boisterous musical that throws eight performers together to play 11 roles, but that number stays intriguingly fluid. Ambiguities include the fact while three in the cast are exclusively human, the rest appear either as puppets or as undisguised actors manipulating puppets, which draws the eye to both the prop and the person behind it....
TAMPA — There are things about The King and I, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical on tour this week at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, to enjoy.
The music rings as sweetly as ever, with ample help from talented cast. The quaint story, as directed by Bartlett Sher in the recent Broadway revival, is as much an indictment of autocracy as a celebration of the former Siamese (now Thai) people, and thus dodges a charge of romanticizing iron-fisted rulers or "exotic" cultures....