TAMPA — When you step into the world of Disgraced, Ayad Akhtar's taut drama centered on two couples at a Manhattan dinner party, you never feel secure about where you sit. No one really can.
Assimilated Pakistani lawyer Amir Kapoor and his American wife, Emily, begin on a comfortably domesticated note as she paints him in boxer shorts and a blazer, a portrait only from the waist up. Around them lie the trappings of two people who have taste and means but no need to flaunt either....
ST. PETERSBURG — The sun has come out for Freefall Theatre.
A week after Hurricane Irma blew off sections of roof sheeting, a gift has put the theater on the way to a full recovery. Philanthropists Kate Tiedemann and Ellen Cotton have pledged to match all contributions for the theater's fundraising campaign, up to $100,000.
"It was so generous of them," Freefall development director Margaret Murray said. "This was not a gift we had asked them to make."...
ST. PETERSBURG — Hurricane Irma blew sheeting off part of the roof at Freefall Theatre, leading to water damage that will cost an estimated $90,000 to repair and forcing a shift in performing space and the season schedule.
The world premiere of White Fang, Jethro Compton's adaptation of Jack London's tale of a hybrid sled dog, has been moved from Sept. 30 to Oct. 7. The British playwright Compton, who is also directing the show, will take White Fang to London after the production at Freefall, which will employ puppetry reminiscent of the Broadway hit War Horse. ...
HIGH HOPES: FLYING
In the 1940s, the military knew women weren't cut out to be pilots — except when they were. Flying, St. Petersburg playwright Sheila Cowley's examination of the Women's Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs), combines that history with a love triangle, when the marriage of two pilots is tested by a war buddy. It's Tampa Repertory Theatre's promising season opener. "They have all returned to their small town and are trying to adjust to post-war life, having had this incredible opportunity and liberation experience," said Becca McCoy, who plays former WASP pilot Susan. "As our director put it, the play is really about that space between what used to be and what is not yet." Justin Smith, best known for television roles in The Vampire Diaries, Underground and A Good Day to Die Hard, plays the injured serviceman who comes to stay with Susan while waiting for her husband to return from the war. Rosemary Orlando and Holly Marie Weber round out the cast, and Robin Gordon, who directed Tampa Rep's Hamlet, directs this one....
ST. PETERSBURG — For local theaters, the biggest drama over the weekend was happening well off stage, as Hurricane Irma threatened the Tampa Bay area.
Monday's blustery aftermath left most feeling relieved. Freefall Theatre emerged the hardest hit, with a section of roof sheeting missing from above its offices at 6099 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg.
Producing artistic director Eric Davis said the theater would have a statement after it had a chance to survey the damage. Exposed tar paper, commonly used as a layer between plywood and a roof's outer covering, was visible from the ground along the building's east side....
SOMBER REMINDER: THE GUYS
A New York firefighter captain calls a newspaper editor after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, asking for help preparing eulogies for the men he lost. The Guys, which journalist Anne Nelson based on a true story, took just nine days to write. Jobsite Theater performed the show in 2003 and has renewed it periodically with husband-and-wife actors Paul and Roz Potenza, including this weekend in Clearwater....
STILL FRESH: TAMPA BAY THEATRE FESTIVAL
Rory Lawrence's idea for a inclusive theatrical melting pot, a showcase for budding playwrights and hub of encouragement for players on stage and off is no longer just a dream. The Tampa Bay Theatre Festival kicks off its fourth year this weekend at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. The first show (7:30 p.m. Friday), a new play by Lawrence, I Think She's the One, grew out of the long-standing banter between Lawrence and a friend, David Best....
FIGHTING FASCISM: GEORGE AND RUTH
In 1936, Spanish nationalists led by Gen. Francisco Franco staged a successful revolt against a democratically elected leftist government, beginning the Spanish Civil War. Para-military socialist and communist forces of the International Brigades rallied to help the government in a losing cause. Among them was 23-year-old George Watt, right, who left New York in 1937 to join the Abraham Lincoln Battalion and later led morale-boosting and political education efforts for fellow volunteers. He corresponded with Ruth Rosenthal Watt, bottom right, an equally passionate activist he had married earlier that year....
ST. PETERSBURG — Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, the Tampa Bay area's largest family-owned funeral company, has been sold.
Foundation Partners Group, an Orlando company, has completed the acquisition of Premier Care of Florida, the Anderson-McQueen portfolio which consists of two namesake St. Petersburg locations, E. James Reese Funeral Home, A Life Tribute Funeral Care, Sunnyside Cemetery, Affordable Memorials, and Pet Passages....
JUST POPPED UP: 321 IMPROV FESTIVAL
Justin Peters and Kelly Buttermore know how to live in the moment. The improv duo From Justin to Kelly specializes in "radical simplicity," spending 25 to 30 minutes in a location suggested by the audience.
"Unlike most improv shows, which are very talkative, we spend most of the show in silence; this forces us to make emotional choices rather than strictly cerebral choices," said Peters, who co-founded New York's Countdown Theatre with Buttermore....
TAMPA — Opera Tampa has named guest conductors for the 2017-2018 season, a move made necessary by the resignation of previous artistic director Daniel Lipton.
Jorge Parodi, now a vocal coach and music director of the Senior Opera Theater at the Manhattan School of Music, will conduct Rossini's The Barber of Seville (Feb. 2 and 4). The current music director of opera theater, a required program for seniors at the Manhattan School of Music, Parodi has been hailed for his expressive style....
TAMPA — The show starts at the ticket counter, where audience members walk away wearing female name tags.
The gesture continues from the opening moments of 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche, as proud leaders of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein address the crowd as fellow members. It's 1956; women attend civic clubs in floral print dresses, heels and hats, and you can practically smell the perfume and powder from the seats in Stageworks Theatre....
TAMPA — The Supremes are supreme. The Marvelettes deliver with Please Mr. Postman. The machine that is the record industry, and was most certainly Motown, opens full throttle as the careers of the Temptations and the Four Tops, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and dozens of other careers blossom and are soon set upon by record labels as cutthroat as the Daytona 500.
Motown: The Musical, running at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, is an extravaganza of nostalgic hits, some 50 of them over two and a half hours, wrapped loosely around the persona and career of producer Berry Gordy, who more or less built that engine. This show's objective is as straightforward as the title, its discovery-to-stardom pieces moving reliably along a conveyor belt....
COMEDY RETURNS: 5 LESBIANS Eating a Quiche
Members of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein have a lot on their plates. There's a cold war stirring fears of nuclear annihilation. Then you've got their own sometimes conflicting personalities coupled with an emerging solidarity as women.
But Thursday the members will focus on the society's annual quiche-tasting contest. That includes you, if you take the recommendation of last year's audiences and see 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche, brought back to Stageworks Theatre by popular demand. The 75-minute play by Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgood treats the show as a meeting. All customers get female name tags....
ST. PETERSBURG — Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, one of the oldest and largest family-owned funeral businesses in the Tampa Bay area, could be on the brink of a sale.
Foundation Partners Group reportedly has a deal to buy the 65-year-old independent chain, which owns five locations in Pinellas County and one in Hillsborough County.
A report that Anderson-McQueen had signed a non-binding letter of intent appeared in a recent Funeral Service Insider, a trade publication. Foundation Partners, an Orlando company founded in 2010, operates 60 locations in 17 states, including Sun City Center Funeral Home and Right Choice Cremation in Brandon....