Friday, January 31, 2014

Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota changes schedule

  Florida Studio Theatre has made a change in its mainstage season.
   The fourth show was supposed to be "Two Point Oh," drama about a technology mogul who virtually returns to life after a fatal car crash. That's out and in its stead is the world premiere of "Tom Jones" by Mark Brown, the writer of "Around the World in 80 Days." It's based on Henry Fielding's comic novel "The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling."

  It will open in the Gompertz Theatre April 9 and run through June 1, which is exactly the same time "Two Point Oh" was supposed to run. Single tickets range from $18-$36. Go to or call 941-366-9000.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Motley Crue plays farewell show in Tampa

   The Motley Crue guys’ recent announcement that they were calling it quits has been met with some skepticism. But fans will still want to keep Sunday, Aug. 17 open.

Motley Crue
   That’s when the long-lived band, which has evolved from glam-metal to hair-metal to just plain old hard-rock its decades-long career, will bring their recently announced “farewell tour” to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa.

    Alice Cooper is opening the show.
  The tour’s called the “All Bad Things Must Come to an End Tour” and tickets go on sale Friday. You can get them online through Reserved seats will run you $119, $79, $49 or $39. You can get lawn tickets $20 through Sunday; after that they’ll be $25.

   The band members made a big deal about publicly signing legal documents saying that they’ll never, ever get back together, and they held a press conference at which they sat behind mock tombstones. They apparently don’t want people to think they’ll be one of those bands that has a half-dozen farewell tours before fading into oblivion.

    The “classic” Crue lineup – Tommy Lee, Mick Mars, Nikki Sixx and Vince Neil -- is still intact. They’ve basically been together for more than 30 years, except for a brief and unsuccessful stint during which Neil was replaced by singer John Corabi.

   Like a lot of big-time bands that have launched a farewell tour, Motley Crue, said they wanted to “go out on top.”

Monday, January 27, 2014

"An Iliad" worth driving to Tampa for

   A lot of people were turned away when Gorilla Theatre's "An Iliad" played at Home Resource in Sarasota recently. No doubt a lot of other people heard how special it was and wished they had had tickets.
   There's still a chance to see it. The production, directed by the great Ami Sallee Corley, has moved to the Springs Theater in Tampa for four shows this weekend. It's only about 90 minutes long, but for people who love smart, singular theater it's more than worth the drive from the Bradenton area.
Ragan in "An Iliad"
   The one-person show is closer to storytelling than to traditional theater. Actor Brendan Ragan, an FSU/Asolo Conservatory graduate is riveting as he condenses Homer's epic poem into into a fast-paced exciting and emotional tale of war and pride, of heroism and frailty.
   He's dressed in modern garb, and serves mostly as a a narrator, occasionally slipping into character as a god or mortal.
   The language is modern, though not without its own kind of poetry, and Ragan, along with writers Lisa Peterson and Denis O'Hare (who directed and performed, respectively, the original New York production) make the ancient story immediate and contemporary, without sacrificing its epic ambiance.
   Gorilla Theatre is one of Tampa's oldest and best professional theater companies. It went on a two-year hiatus after the death of its founder, Aubrey Hampton, led to the company losing its theater.
   "An Iliad" is its first show since that hiatus. Gorilla has performed it at several locations, and it's winding up at
the Springs, a landmark movie theater from the 1920s
that is now a recording studio where artists as diverse as Jenifer Lopez, Joshua Bell and Robert Smith of the Cure have recorded. It's a beautiful and atmospheric place to see a play, with old brick walls, very high ceilings and perfect acoustics.
   The Springs is at 8029 N. Nebraska Ave. in Tampa. The remaining shows are at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets will run you $10-$25. Call 813-879-2914 or go to

Friday, January 24, 2014

Lakewood Ranch student wins playwriting competition

   Joseph Grosso of Lakewood Ranch High School took first prize in Theatre Odyssey’s second annual Ten-Minute Student Playwriting Festival.

The cast of "Elevate My Life"
   Seventeen high school students from three counties submitted short plays to the festival. Festival officials picked their favorite six, and those were produced at the Neel Performing Arts Center at State College of Florida in Bradenton. Four judges picked Grosso's play “Elevate My Life” as the best of the six. He got $300 for winning the competition.
    His play will also be produced at Theatre Odyssey's annual Ten-Minute Play Festival being held this year May 1-4 at the Cook Theatre at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts.

   “Elevate My Life” revolves around a group of disparate people who are briefly stuck in an elevator together.
    Second place went to Jenna Greenfield, also from Lakewood Ranch High School. Her metaphorical drama “The Gate” had two teenage girls communicating through a gate, behind which one of them was imprisoned. Greenfield won $100.
    For more information about Theatre Odyssey and the festival, go to

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Scheduling changes at Sarasota's Asolo Rep

   Asolo Repertory Theatre's performance of "Philadelphia, Here I Come!" scheduled for this past Saturday night was canceled, and "Other Desert Cities" was staged in its place. The result was a very small audience for "Other Desert Cities," which had opened the night before, and lots of ticket exchanges and explanations at the box office.
Asolo's "Philadelphia"
   The official explanation was "just some scheduling changes." Another, upcoming performance of "Philadelphia" has also been canceled.
   On Tuesday, Peter Amster, who's directing "Sasha, and Masha and Sonia and Spike" for Asolo, said that "Philadelphia" was being retooled. It had been edited and it was decided to restore the scenes that had been dropped. The show would go back into rehearsals and would re-open in early February.
 "Philadelphia, Here I Come!" is a Brian Friel drama about young Irish man who's about to leave his home and family and move to America. The Asolo Rep version, directed by Frank Galati, had been pared down to 90 minutes and had dropped one character entirely.
    It opened Jan. 10 and the version Asolo Rep audiences have seen so far was elegant and effective.
   The Asolo Rep website says that on Jan. 29, when "Philadelphia, Here I Come!" has been canceled, the theater will instead stage "Vanya and Masha and Sonia and Spike."
    If you have tickets or plans to see "Philadelphia," you'd be wise to check or call the box office at 941- 351-9010 to get any schedule updates.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Manatee Players add "Spamalot" to 2014-15 season

   Manatee Players announced Friday that they’ll end their 2014-15 season with the award-winning musical “Spamalot.” It’s scheduled to run April 30-May 17, 2015, at Stone Hall in the Manatee Performing Arts Center.
    The company announced its season Tuesday, but it had to withhold news of “Spamalot” because Florida Studio Theatre currently has a production of the show on its stage in Sarasota.

"Spamalot" at FST
(photo by Maria Lyle)

“We weren’t allowed to announce in until the 17th,” Manatee Players producing artistic director Rick Kerby said.    
   “Spamalot” is mostly based on the hit film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” but mixes in other Monty Python songs and references, plus some new material. It was co-written by Python’s Eric Idle.
   For information about “Spamalot” and other shows in the Manatee Players season, call 941-748-5875 or go to
   Meanwhile, The Florida Studio Theatre production has been extended twice, and will run through Saturday, Jan. 25. If you want to see that production, call 941-366-9000 or go to

Rosie O'Donnell reschedules Sarasota shows for March.

  If you have tickets for one of Rosie O'Donnell's five sold-out shows at McCurdy's Comedy Theatre in Sarasota this weekend, you'll have to make other plans.
   But you might want to keep the weekend of March 21-23 open.

   It was big news when McCurdy's Comedy Theatre announced the Rosie O'Donnell, Sarasota's newest celebrity resident, would be performing five shows there this weekend. All five shows sold out quickly.
   On Friday, McCurdy's announced that the shows have been postponed. Rosie has an abscessed tooth. (She has posted close-up photos of her swollen face online.) There were supposed to be two shows on Friday, two on Saturday, and one on Sunday.
   Owner Les McCurdy said the  shows have been rescheduled for March 21-23. 
   "She feels horrible about it," McCurdy said. "But y'know, things like this happen."
  People from McCurdy's will call every person who bought tickets and offer tickets for the corresponding show in March. People who don't want to exchange can get a refund.
  McCurdy said any tickets that will become available will go on sale next week, as early as Tuesday. People who want tickets can call the McCurdy's box office at 941-925-3869 anytime after that. The latest information on ticket availability will be on the McCurdy's website,, and the McCurdy's Comedy Theatre Facebook page. McCurdy will  also tweet updates at
   For this weekend, comedian Frankie Paul will fill in. He was performing mid-week shows at McCurdy's and agreed to stay through the weekend.
   "We had a sold-out show last night," McCurdy said. "Luckily, he had the weekend free. So it'll be him and me and another act or two."