LIFE AND DEATH: FUN HOME
Every year, the Straz Center tries to mix it up a little, injecting a not-quite-so-safe show into an otherwise bankable lineup. Last year, that was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. This year it's Fun Home, a coming-of-age musical set in a family-run funeral home. Based on Alison Bechdel's autobiographical graphic novel, the story plumbs the depths of the inevitable and the business that promises in its advertising to "remove all signs of trauma."...
KIKI OR BUST: BENJI BROWN
Wherever Benji Brown goes, Kiki follows. The comic, known for his work on the Rickey Smiley Morning Show, created the fast-talking female character on the fly when he called a girl's house in high school and her boyfriend picked up. Kiki has thoughts on everything from wigs to tax refunds, and is now a regular in Brown's popular YouTube skits. Brown, a Miami native who has worked with Chris Rock, Steve Harvey and Monique, brings his national stand-up tour of observations and impressions to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts at 8 p.m. Saturday. $25-$29.50. 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. (813) 229-7827. strazcenter.org....
11/10/17 Human Interest
TAMPA — He had dreamed about returning to comedy in odd moments, between meetings with the lawyer, the lonely trip to the correctional institute, picking up trash on state roads while a guard stood by with a rifle. This nightmare would make him stronger because that's how it works; pain is the irritant in the oyster that produces the pearl, and art is the muscle that can create good of our worst experiences, even our worst actions....
AMERICAN STAGE: MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
Two couples nearly come apart at the seams for different reasons, the premise for Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, opening at American Stage. This version is set in Key West in the 1940s, the end of World War II. The comedy has traditionally been billed as a "battle of the sexes," a framing the theater is navigating its way around....
What's on stage this week: 'The Year of Magical Thinking,' Florida Orchestra milestone concert, John Cleese11/01/17Stage
MINING GRIEF FOR HEALING
The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion's no-frills memoir of loss and recovery, opens at Stageworks Theatre this weekend. The essayist and screenwriter adapted the one-woman stage play herself. Didion wrote the piece while mourning the loss of her husband, fellow novelist and screenwriter John Gregory Dunne, and a daughter, Quintana, within two years. ...
TAMPA — Even people who aren't music fans have heard of the 1812 Overture. Tchaikovsky's booming showpiece lives on a mezzanine level of the mass mind, somewhere between Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and Chopin's Études. In the prolonged celebration of the Florida Orchestra's 50th season, they picked something martial and glorious, reflective and effervescent for the second masterworks concert, hinting at the mood that should continue through May. ...
He's the Thomas Kinkade of classical music, painting nostalgic castles of sound with an orchestra he named after the king of waltzes and his own violin, a sound that warms the soul.
Critics have called André Rieu sentimental, even saccharine, a musician who has watered down great music until it is palatable for the masses. He has cried all the way to the bank.
Now the Dutch conductor brings his spectacle to the Amalie Arena, where he will conduct the Johann Strauss Orchestra in famous film and Broadway scores, operatic arias and waltzes. You might hear White Christmas or the Ave Maria sung by an opera star, see the odd comedy bit, dancers gliding to the Blue Danube Waltz or extravagant lighting that paints sunsets and picks up slivers of confetti shot from a cannon....
TAMPA — At 17, Gloria Fajardo had the world at her fingertips. Bright and driven, with strong family support and a chance at success in the United States, the Cuban immigrant stood only to gain.
Alas, the very circumstances that frame her improved fortune since leaving Cuba with her family as "opportunities" also circumscribed her limitations; to borrow from one of her own tunes, they "cut both ways." Record producers in her newly found destination as a singer-songwriter saw the act she and boyfriend Emilio Estefan offered as a niche market. ...
FIRE THE CANNONS: 1812 OVERTURE
The Florida Orchestra brings out the big guns with Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, best known for the 16 cannon shots symbolizing Russia's defense against Napoleon. "It's just a sensational piece of music, not just a blockbuster for the end of a pops concert," music director Michael Francis told the Tampa Bay Times.
Also cued up: Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 2, the "Little Russian," and contemporary Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra....
TAMPA — As the house lights dimmed for the second act, burglars and pickpockets, prostitutes and scam artists weaved between the little tables of the Jaeb Theater, warning customers they'd best wind down their talking and silence their phones. This was done with a wink but the point was made. This is elitism flipped on its head, "opera" for the underclass. From the stage, Chris Jackson as Macheath, namesake of Mack the Knife, tossed out asides, schmoozing with all of the oily charm he had exhibited thus far....
TAMPA — Charles Gounod's Faust sets the table early. The world-weary philosopher immortalized in a dramatic poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is in his study, lamenting his state of affairs. He's willing to give away everything he has to be young again, even his soul.
Mephistopheles steps out of the shadows with a bow. "Je voici," he says, only in a mellifluous bass.
With that, the St. Petersburg Opera Company begins its season. It's an extremely careful production, congruent from casting to execution and seemingly aligned with the original intent of Gounod and librettists Jules Barbier and Michel Carre. There are several such moments and scenes throughout, signalling that we're in good hands with this opera. ...
For those who saw Taylor Trensch grow up in Tampa, his rise from promising student to star is heartwarming and entirely predictable. In January, Trensch, 28, will be moving into the title role of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway, one of the hottest tickets in theater.
The 2007 Blake High graduate is as nimble with roles as he is on his feet, and is currently playing Barnaby Tucker in the revival of Hello, Dolly. His position as an established performer at the highest levels doesn't surprise Eric Davis, who taught Trensch at Blake for three years....
NEW TOUR: ON YOUR FEET!
Gloria Estefan launched a stellar career on talent and heart, becoming a role model.
"I remember my mother playing Gloria's CDs in the car," said Christie Prades, the Cuban-American actor who is playing Estefan in On Your Feet! The musical is as lively as they come.
Estefan and husband Emilio met extensively with Prades to help her prepare for the role. Prades, of Miami, also worked on the Broadway show that wrapped in August....
CLEARWATER — Since establishing itself in the 1980s as a key player in the Tampa Bay performing arts scene, Ruth Eckerd Hall has staked out a niche with popular music, jazz and hit musicals. That formula appears to be working.
The venue Thursday announced record-breaking ticket sales for the second consecutive year, or $18.4 million for the year ending Sept. 30, 2017. That's up more than $1.5 million from 2015-16, the previous record....
STOMPIN' POPS: SWING IS THE THING
The Florida Orchestra opens its pops season with some of the most ebullient tunes from the swing era. With Swing Is the Thing, conductor and arranger Jeff Tyzik will lead the orchestra in the danceable tunes that would influence the development of pop music, jazz and blues.
The production revs up with dancers, singers and clarinet virtuoso Dave Bennett. Though Bennett is just 33 and swing peaked in the mid 1940s, he's considered one of the foremost interpreters of Benny Goodman, et al. The concert will allow the genre to pay it forward, tracing swing's influence into the 1950s and 1960s with tunes from Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy to Tuxedo Junction to Rock Around the Clock....