An air compressor did most of the talking as the small crew stapled down flooring to the stage. A master carpenter kept unskilled but eager workers on track, telling them where to line up edges. An astringent smell of glue permeated the set of A Raisin in the Sun, opening Jan. 26 at American Stage.
To these apprentices in an American Stage program and their bosses, learning how to build a set counts just as much as acting, which is on par with brainstorming marketing ideas or selling tickets. Already, one of them says he wants to run a theater company some day. The program has been around a couple of years....
RIVERDANCE AT 20: CIARA SEXTON
She's a former world champion in Irish dance, and now Ciara Sexton, center, is leading Riverdance in Tampa. A lead dancer and soloist with the troupe, Sexton said she has felt comfortable touring the states.
"What really shocked me here was the Irish community," said Sexton, 29. "There are so many Irish in America. And they're so accepting , so willing to help. I was blown away." Sexton was born in England to Irish parents. She is a five-time world and All-Ireland champion. Rehearsals are grueling....
With Zev Buffman at the creative end, Ruth Eckerd Hall brings Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer to the stage01/12/18Stage
An actor famous for playing a radio station manager will star this week in the world premiere of a radio play.
Mike Hammer: Encore for Murder brings Gary Sandy, who played Andy Travis on WKRP in Cincinnati, to Ruth Eckerd Hall. And the star power was summoned to Clearwater by a phone call from the very top.
The show brings Zev Buffman, who produced 41 Broadway shows, into the creative end of a play for just the second time since he took over as Ruth Eckerd's CEO in 2012. It also represents an expanded use of the 200-seat Murray Theatre, now home to Hat Trick Theatre and youth productions, since it was refurbished two years ago. The theater has been one part of Ruth Eckerd's sweeping, multimillion dollar expansion, and so far, has been under-utilized. Encore for Murder will introduce the "Mike Hammer Series," Buffman said, as well as expand the reach of the Murray....
Daniel Lipton, Opera Tampa's most recent artistic director, is being sought by Canadian authorities in connection with a sexual assault.
The alleged assault took place in the late 1980s, a woman the Times is not naming told the Hamilton Police Service in Hamilton, Ontario. Police have narrowed it to between January 1988 and January 1990, Detective Sgt. Dave Dunbar of the service's sexual assault unit told the Times. That is when, according to police, Lipton assaulted a woman at his Hamilton residence....
The dancers kept moving, spinning, pausing for arabesques or stretches. Over most of a December afternoon at the Mirror Lake Studios, they rarely stopped, whether rehearsing specific routines or not.
Choreographer Lauren Ree Slone also moved and as she talked to the women, developing some ideas and beginning others. Her words sounded clear, about transitions, things that continue, overlays, trees — yet her sentences could not be understood only by hearing. ...
TAMPA — The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay has ended its relationship with visiting artistic director Doreen Rao. The announcement on Tuesday continues an ongoing uncertainty about leadership for the chorale, which has not had a permanent artistic director since 2016.
Beth Gibbs, the chorale's assistant conductor, will prepare the chorale through the season's final concert, Celebrate Broadway, April 27-29. Meanwhile, the chorale's statement hinted that the search for a permanent director could be nearing an end. ...
OPENING: KEELY AND DU
With 17 award-winning plays in 36 years, the writer under the pen name Jane Martin has become the "best unknown playwright in America." Now the new Innovocative Theatre in its second production has produced Martin's 1994 Pulitzer finalist, Keely and Du. The play centers on an oddly civil confrontation by anti-abortion kidnappers with a woman they are trying to influence. ...
TAMPA — With a genial wave and a smile, the Florida Orchestra's second music director greeted a Tampa Bay audience, the kind he used to see over 14 seasons here. By the time Jahja Ling left the area in 2002, the orchestra had more than found its footing. On Friday he conducted Jean Sibelius' Symphony No. 2, a piece of personal significance.
In the early 1980s, Ling conducted the San Francisco Symphony's youth orchestra in that symphony to enduring raves. In 1985, he debuted with the Cleveland Orchestra, again with the Sibelius No. 2, the start of a 30-year relationship. And in 1987, his mastery of the symphony brought out the best in a struggling Florida Orchestra that was looking for a new music director, a performance that led to his being hired the next year....
SMILE: PETER FUNT
The gags that fueled Candid Camera never get old. That car that heads straight for a police officer, then splits in half and drives around him. The classy New York restaurant that charged top dollar for an "exiguous steak," then explained to outraged patrons that "exiguous" means very small. Other ploys were less ha-ha and borderline disturbing. In a famous 1963 episode, federal "authorities" turned back traffic at the Delaware border, telling drivers from Pennsylvania that "the state is closed." Most motorists fell for it....
From Andrew Lloyd Webber's most recent musical, we may conclude several things.
School of Rock was a pretty good movie. The 2003 movie written by Mike White, on which this 2015 adaptation is based, came with an exuberant plot, a solid chassis around which to redesign a car. The touring show, which has come to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, also completes an across-the-pond marriage between an American film and a British musical, which might contain clues. ...
Jahja Ling was both a sideline coach and cheerleader for musicians of the Florida Orchestra, a man who would wring out every last ampere of dedication, then recharge their batteries with praise.
This weekend, another milestone in the orchestra's 50th season, marks a sweet reunion of the orchestra and Ling. The music director from 1988 to 2002 saw the orchestra through some of its rockiest economic times while laying a foundation for growth. ...
Highlights of Tampa Bay's performing arts scene this year ranged from solo shows to intense dramas to musicals. They all brought realness to the stage, sometimes in fanciful dimensions. And they surpassed expectations, in so doing creating the most delightful experience for a theatergoer — that of being surprised.
Here's my top 10 list for local professional theater in 2017.
10 Grounded (Tampa Repertory Theatre)...
SCHOOL OF ROCK: ROB COLLETTI
Rob Colletti has done well playing misfits, from the spectacularly out-of-step Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon to a the lead role in School of Rock — The Musical, which opens next week. His character in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, based on the School of Rock movie, is a wannabe rock musician who steals his roommate's identity as a substitute teacher and stumbles into a real educational situation — teaching young aspiring musicians how to rock out for real....
EVERY VALLEY: HANDEL'S MESSIAH
After Carmina Burana, the superstar Sting and an ongoing appetizer of three-minute fanfares by Florida composers, what will the Florida Orchestra do next to mark its 50th anniversary season? The answer is a mega round of Handel's Messiah in three large halls for a record possible 10,000 patrons. Handel composed his most famous masterpiece in less than a month, often writing from dawn to dusk. Messiah debuted April 13, 1742, in Dublin, with a chorus of 26 hand-picked boys and five men from two local cathedrals. Music director Michael Francis will lead the orchestra, the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay and the audience in the Hallelujah chorus. 8 p.m. Thursday, Idlewild Baptist Church, 18333 Exciting Idlewild Blvd., Lutz. $30. 8 p.m. Friday, Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. $15-$45. 8 p.m. Saturday, First Baptist Indian Rocks, 12685 Ulmerton Road, Largo. $30. (727) 892-3337. floridaorchestra.org....
Weeks after pulling a scheduled play due to sexual misconduct allegations against celebrated playwright Israel Horovitz, Tampa's Jobsite Theater has announced a replacement. Hir by Taylor Mac will run March 9-April 1, the period originally scheduled for Horovitz's Man in Snow.
Mac is a playwright of growing renown, a Pulitzer finalist (for A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, a show that lasted 24 hours) and the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" grant. Hir is a comedy that follows an aging mother who has decided, with the help of her transgender son, to take out the patriarchy. The title also mirrors the gender-neutral pronoun (pronounced hee-ir)....