Wednesday, April 24, 2013

St. Petersburg's freeFALL offers "John & Jen"

   If you saw "The Addams Family" at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall recently, and it whetted your appetite for songs by composer Andrew Lippa, you can hear more next week.
   Lippa's first musical, "John & Jen," is next up at freeFALL Theatre in St. Petersburg.
 Katie Zaffrann, Chris
Crawford as "John & Jen"
   It's not nearly as well known as "The Addams Family" or even  "The Wild Party," but "John & Jen" is what brought Lippa to the attention of the theater world in 1995. It's a chamber musical, with just two actors and three musicians.
   It starts in 1952. Jen is a young girl and John is her baby brother and she protects him from their abusive father. In the '60s, she become a free spirit and he joins the Navy and dies in war. She later marries and has a son, whom she names John.
   It's not often staged, but it's respected in theater circles for its warmth and intelligence. A New York critic called it   "the little show that packs a big punch."
   Besides, just about everything that freeFALL does is interesting. In just a few years of existence, freeFALL has developed to the point where it rivals American Stage as the best theater company in St. Petersburg and maybe even in the Tampa Bay area,
   "John & Jen" runs May 3-26. Show times: 7 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: $39. freeFall is at 6099 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Information: 727-498-5205 or

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