Monday, July 29, 2013

Tony Bennett comes to St. Petersburg's Mahaffey

   One of the classiest singers in music is coming to St. Petersburg.
   Tony Bennett will make his Mahaffey Theater debut on Feb. 12. Tickets go on sale at noon Aug. 9. They'll set you back $65-$150.
Tony Bennett in 2011
   Bennett will be 87 by the time he gets here, but he's still drawing great reviews and enthusiastic audiences for his concerts. He usually tours with a small combo so that he can sing whatever he and his audience are in the mood for.
    For tickets, call 727-893-7832 or go to


Friday, July 26, 2013

Sarasota Opera tickets on sale Aug. 1

   Single tickets for the Sarasota Opera's 2013-14 season go on sale Aug. 1.
   The season opens Nov. 1 with Johann Strauss Jr.’s operetta "Die Fledermaus." It will be sung in English with a translation by Marcie Stapp. Benjamin Britten's "The Little Sweep" follows, opening  Nov. 9.
   The Winter Opera festival opens Feb. 8 with a new production of Giuseppe Verdi’s "Il trovatore."
   "The Barber of Seville" by Gioachino Rossini opens Feb. 15, followed by Richard Wagner's "The Flying Dutchman"  March 1 Jerusalem by Giuseppe Verdi. Verdi's  Jerusalem opens March 8.
   In addition, Sarasota Opera will present four concerts designed to highlight great songs, arias and scenes beyond this season’s repertoire.
   On Nov. 12, singers from "Die Fledermaus" will present the "Operetta Concert,"  featuring some of operetta’s most popular melodies.

Sarasota Opera artistic director Victor DeRenzi

Read more here:
   On March 5, Sarasota Opera will explore the past and present of American opera at the "American Opera Concert," performed by Sarasota Opera’s Apprentice and Studio Artists.
   March 18 brings the annual "Artists Choice Concert." Principal and studio artists will perform their choice of the best of opera and Broadway.
   Bringing the 2014 winter season to a close will be "The Verdi Concert" on March 23.
   For now, tickets will for now be available online only, at For information. call 941-366-8450, ext. 1

Maze, Frankie Beverly reschedule St. Petersburg show

    If you were planning to go see Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly
Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly
at the Mahaffey Theater on Sept. 15, well, we may have some bad news for you.
   They're still coming, but the date has been changed. It's scheduled for 8 p.m. Sept. 27 instead. The original date was a Sunday and the new one's a Friday, so maybe that's a good thing.
   Ticket are on sale now. Prices range from  $49.50 to $79.50. You can get tickets and information by phone at 727-893-7832 or online at at

Read more here:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"Spring Awakening" rocks at St. Petersburg's freeFall

   "Spring Awakening" was kind of the "Rent" of its time -- a rock musical with classical roots that caught fire, especially with younger audiences.
    FreeFall's "Spring Awakening"
   St. Petersburg's freeFall Theatre is ending its 2012-13 season with a stunning production of the groundbreaking 2006 musical.
   In fact, the production, which features a phenomenal cast headed by Pinellas County native/Broadway star Rachel Potter, a great six-piece band scattered around the space and an imaginative in-the-round staging directed by Eric Davis, outshines the play itself.
   "Spring Awakening" takes a 19th-century German melodrama about adolescent sexuality, and adds modern music by Duncan Sheik (with a book and lyrics by Steven Sater). Part of the appeal is the unabashed anachronism, as 19th-century school kids grab microphones and belt out contemporary pop-rock show tunes.
   The songs are great but the emotional impact of the story is blunted. The presence of some 20 songs interrupts the narrative, and the plot is so extreme and so dated that the characters' very real tragedies, which include suicide and a death from an illegal abortion, can leave you shocked but not genuinely saddened. Besides, it's hard to buy these 20-something actors as school children who don't make the connection between sex and pregnancy, even after they've had sex and gotten pregnant.
   Still, the plot's involving, the songs are catchy and smart and the acting, singing, dancing and staging make for a powerful evening.
   Potter (who had healthy roles in "The Addams Family" and "Evita" on Broadway and in the national tour of "Wicked") and Chase Peacock (who was in "American Idiot" on Broadway) head a phenomenal cast of charismatic and athletic young actors with gorgeous voices. And Lisa Kay Powers turns in a typically wonderful performance. (Powers and Steve Garland, who's also good, play all the adult roles.)
   The in-the-round staging is effective and involving, but it has a drawback. Some people if the audience end up with bright white light shining directly into their eyes through much of the shows. For long stretches, some audience members had to shield their eyes and peer through their fingers to watch the action.
  It runs through Aug. 18 at freeFall Theatre, 6099 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.  7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $39 and $46. For information call 727-498-5205 or go to

Read more here:


Monday, July 22, 2013

Queen, Green Day shows visit St. Petersburg

   The music of Green Day and Queen is coming to the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. Green Day and Queen are not.
   The Mahaffey has just announced that the touring production of "American Idiot," the musical based on the Green Day album, is stopping in for a one-night stand on April 8. 
"American Idiot"
   The next week, on April 16, Gary Mullen & the Works, a tribute band with a solid reputation, will offer "One Night of Queen."
   We can't tell you a whole lot about Gary Mullen & the Works, but "American Idiot" (which came through Tampa earlier this year) is a wonderful show, with inventive staging and, of course, lots of great songs.
   Tickets for both go on sale at noon Aug. 2. "American Idiot" starts at $39.50; the Queen thing start at $37.50. Call 727-892-5767 or go to

Buzz Worthy's 10 best songs about babies

Apparently we're all supposed to be jazzed today about the impending birth of the first baby in the new generation of British royals. We're not, but William and Kate seem like decent people and we're happy for them, so let's mark the occasion by listing some of the best songs about babies. Please feel free to add your favorites.

1. "Isn't She Lovely," Stevie Wonder.
2.  "Beautiful Boy," John Lennon.
3. "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby," Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer.
4. "Sweet Baby James," James Taylor.
5. "Stay Up Late," Talking Heads. 
6. "Nancy With the Laughing Face," Jimmy Van Heusen and Phil Silvers (recorded by Frank Sinatra).
7. "Mammas Don't let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys," Ed Bruce.
8. "Kooks," David Bowie.
9. "Cleo" Built to Spill.
10. "You're Having My Baby," Paul Anka.

 (We know, it's one of the worst songs ever, but we couldn't resist.)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Gala celebrates Manatee Performing Arts Center opening

   After nearly five months, a couple of musicals, a movie and some private events, the Manatee Performing Arts Center is finally ready for its grand opening.

The center's lobby
   On Aug. 3, the Manatee Players will host a Crystal Gala to celebrate the grand opening of the center at 502 Third Ave. W. in downtown Bradenton. The gala starts at 5:30 p.m. and will include a reception with hors d’oeuvres and an open bar, followed by entertainment from John and Alexandra Nock, who are contestants on "America's Got Talent" this season. After the performance, dinner prepared by Pier 22 will be served, followed live music and dancing. 
   The Manatee Performing Arts Center opened in March with a production of "Miss Saigon." The Manatee Players' first full season in the center begins Aug. 8 with "Les Miserables."
   Tickets for the gala are $175 per person and are available at or by calling the ticket office at 941-748-5875. Black tie is preferred.

"The Underpants" extended again at Sarasota's FST

   "The Underpants" is such a huge hit that Florida Studio Theatre is extending its run for a second time. It's now set to run through Aug. 11.
   Steve Martin took a 100-year-old German play and adapted it into a farce with some hilarious moments and a hint of social commentary. (Don't let that scare you off, though; it's essentially merriment, not message.)
A scene from "The Underpants"
   The story's about a beautiful young married woman who's watching the king pass by in a parade. When she rises up onto her toes to get a better look, her underpants fall to the ground. It causes a minor scandal, and two men become obsessed with her.
   FST is
at 1241 N. Palm Ave. in downtown Sarasota. Tickets are $18-$24. Call 941-366-9000 or go to

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly comes to St. Petersburg

Maze featuring Frankie Beverly
   When you're in the mood for some sweet '70s soul music, you can't do much better than Maze featuring Frankie Beverly.
   The group behind such classics as “Lady of Magic,” “Workin’ Together" and “Traveling Man” will be at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg Sept. 15. 
   The band became a staple on "quiet storm" radio stations in the late 1970s and continued to produce gold albums into the '90s.
Tickets go on sale July 12. They'll set you back between  $49.50 and $79.50. You can get tickets and information  by phone at 727-893-7832 or online at at

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

More of Steve Martin's "Underpants" in Sarasota

   Florida Studio Theatre's staging of the "The Underpants," a farce adapted by Steve Martin from an obscure 100-year-old German play, is such a hit that FST has added more shows. It's now set to run through Aug. 3.

Read more here:
   The story has to do with a woman who's watching the king pass by in a parade. She rises up onto her toes to get a better look, and her underpants fall to the ground. Two men who see it happen become obsessed with her.
   It has messages abut feminism and celebrity, but director Bruce Jordan says that at its heart it's meant to be pure comic entertainment.
    Tickets start at $32. Call 941-366-9000 or go to

Manatee Players single tickets on sale Monday

   The Manatee Players' first full season at in the gorgeous Manatee Performing Arts Center is only about a month away. Individual tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. July 8.
   The season gets going Aug. 8 with the highly anticipated staging of "Les Miserables." Given the company's spectacular staging of "Miss Saigon" last season, audiences can reasonably expect "Les Miz" to be something special.
    The season features 14 plays and musicals in the center's two theaters. Tickets for shows in Stone Hall range from $26-$36. Shows in the more intimate Bradenton Kiwanis Studio Theater will set you back $26.
    Here's the schedule for Stone Hall:
    Aug. 8-25: "Les Miserables."

Stone Hall
    Sept. 12-29: "Grease."
    Oct. 24-Nov. 10: "Young Frankenstein."

    Dec. 5-22: "Peter Pan."
    Jan. 9-26: "The Mystery of Edwin Drood."
    Feb. 13-March 2: "Shrek: The Musical."

    March 20-April 6: "Man of La Mancha."
    May 1-18: "My One and Only."

   And in the Bradenton Kiwanis Studio Theater:
   Sept. 19-Oct. 6: "Always... Patsy Cline."
   Oct. 31-Nov. 17: "Our Town."
   Dec. 5-22: "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever."

   Jan. 16-Feb. 2: "Stepping Out."
   Feb. 27-March 16: "Beehive." 

   April 10-27: "Greater Tuna." 

   The Manatee Performing Arts Center is at 502 Third Ave. W., Bradenton. Call 941-748-5875 or go to for more information or to order tickets.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Vanilla Fudge to play Tampa next month

   Sixties psychedelic soul greats Vanilla Fudge have scheduled a concert for Tampa Aug. 17.
   Unlike a lot of bands that have been around since the '60s, Vanilla Fudge has its classic lineup almost entirely intact: Singer/vocalist Mark Stein, guitarist Vince Martell and drummer extraordinaire Carmine Appice are all still Fudging. They're joined Pete Bremy, who replaces bassist Tim Bogert.
Appice, Martell and Stein
   Vanilla Fudge are best known for their uber-emotional version of the Supremes' "You Keep Me Hangin' On," but they had some strong albums and a few other great singles. They were prone to the excesses of their era -- including seven-minute singles with long, indulgent solos -- but their musicianship was  impeccable and they created great reworkings of other bands' hits.
   They'll be at Friday Morning Musicale, a small, historic concert venue in a residential neighborhood, at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17. Tickets are $55-$100. (The high-priced tickets include a meet-and-greet.) The Musicale is at 809 W. Horatio St. Call 813-251-1990 or go to
   Before the show, outside at 6 p.m., you can hear a local tribute band called the Sting Police. In case it's not obvious, they do songs by Sting and the Police.