Saturday, May 31, 2014

'Jesus Christ Superstar' national tour canceled abruptly

   Lots of people got really excited about the prospect of hearing Johnny Rotten sing Andrew Lloyd Webber at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Lots of people are now disappointed.
   On Friday, the entire national arena tour of "Jesus Christ Superstar" was abruptly canceled without explanation. It was supposed to come to Tampa on June 15.
Johnny Rotten Lydon
   The cast -- including Brandon Boyd of Incubus as Judas, Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child as Mary Magdalene, and Rotten (here going by Johnny Rotten Lydon) of the Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd. as King Herod -- was still rehearsing as recently as Thursday, and the cancellation apparently caught them off-guard. Pictures of cast members gathered together making obscene gestures directed at the show's producers were ubiquitous on Facebook Friday.
    As of Saturday morning, there was no reference to the show or the cancellation on the Tampa Bay Times Forum website, but a statement from the production company said all tickets will be refunded.
   If you have tickets, call the Forum at 813-301-2500 or check If you bought tickets online or by phone, the production company says you'll get your refund automatically.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota showcases singers

   If you're an opera fan, or if you're merely opera-curious, and you haven't compltely booked your weekend yet, Here's a suggestion.
   For its final concert of the 2013-2014 season, Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota is offering "Opera and More," a concert of some of the best-known solos and duets from opera and Broadway. Selections will include songs from "Carmen," " La Bohème," "Man of La Mancha," "My Fair Lady" and "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." 
Jeffrey Hill
Richard Ollarsaba
     The featured singers are tenor Jeffrey Hill and bass-baritone Richard Ollarsaba, two young singers with impressive credentials. They'll be accompanied by pianist Avis Romm.
   Hill has been a featured young artist at  Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Music Academy of the West and has made several  appearances at Carnegie Hall.
   Ollarsaba has performed with the Piedmont Opera, Opera Cleveland and Aspen Music Festival. He also was the bass soloist in a performance of Beethoven's "Choral Fantasy" at the gala celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Tanglewood Music Festival, which was broadcast on PBS' "Great Performances" series.

    Performances are at 7:30 Saturday, May 31 and Sunday, June 1, at the Historic Asolo Theater, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota. Tickets are $25 to $45. Go to  and or call 941-360-7399.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

St. Peterburg theater opens Shepard's 'True West'

   It can be hard to satisfy your theater cravings this time of year, but here's a promising show for you, if you don't mind driving across the Skyway.
   The Tampa Bay Actor’s Theatre is staging "True West," probably the best-known play by the great Sam Shepard, at the Studio@620 June 5-8.
   "True West" is a substantial and powerful drama that premiered in 1980. It has had a couple of  legendary productions. Gary Sinise and John Malkovich played the two leads in a Steppenwolf Theatre production, directed by Sinise, that was filmed and shown on PBS. In 2000, John C. Reilly and Philip Seymour Hoffman had the leads in the Broadway production, and switched roles frequently during the run. Audiences didn't know which actor would be in which role until they got to the theater.
   The list of formidable actors who have performed "True West" is impressive: Besides Sinise, Malkovich, Reilly and Hoffman the big-name actors who have starred in "True West" include Peter Boyle, Tommy Lee Jones,  Peter Coyote, Bruce Willis, Jim Belushi, Gary Cole and both Quaid brothers.
   Studio@620 is a very cool intimate space that's home to a lot of great small and ad hoc theater companies, including the Tampa Bay Actor’s Theatre. This production is directed by Keven Renken, who's very reliable and who heads the theater department at the Pinellas County Center for the Arts.
    Tickets are $20 or $15 for students and seniors. Curtain is at 7 p.m Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
   The Studio@620 is at 620 First Ave. S., in downtown St. Petersburg. Call  727-895-6620 or go to


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Erasure concert slated for St. Petersburg's Mahaffey

   Erasure was one of the biggest synthpop bands of the 1980s and the early '90s. Unlike most of their colleagues in the genre, they've thrived through decades of changing musical tastes and they've kept releasing quality albums to appreciative audiences.
   Their latest is "The Violet Flame," which is slated to come out in September. They'll no doubt be playing selections from that album, along with songs such as Oh L’amour,” “A Little Respect,” and  “Victim Of Love” and “Blue Savannah,”  from their previous 15 studio albums, when they come to the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg on Sept. 14.
   Tickets go on sale June 6. They'll set you back $29, $39, $49 and $59. Call 727-893-7832 or go to

Friday, May 23, 2014

Sarasota's WBTT announces two-show summer season

   Sarasota’s Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe has announced a two-show summer season featuring a couple of returning WBTT favorites.
   The first show is called “Black Is the Color of My Voice.” It’s a one-woman show written by and starring Apphia Campbell, a founding member of WBTT who has gone on to perform all over the world. It opens June 10 and runs until June 22.

   The second is “Marvin Gaye: Prince of Soul,” which was a hit for the theater in
Apphia Campbell
2011. It features Sheldon Roden. That one runs July 16-Aug. 10.
   “Black is the Color of My Voice,” is fictional story about a jazz singer reflecting on her life, and it’s “loosely inspired” on the story of Nina Simone. Campbell first performed it in China, and it has also had a New York run.
   Tickets are $21.50 for “Black Is the Color of My Voice” and $29.50 for the Marvin Gaye show. Call 941-366-1505, or go to

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Artistic director Todd Olson leaves American Stage

   Todd Olson is leaving American Stage after 11 years as artistic director.
Todd Olson
   The theater announced Thursday that Olson has accepted a new position as executive director of the Columbia Festival of the Arts in Maryland.
    There’s only been one person, company co-founder Victoria Holloway, who had been artistic director of the 37-year-old company for longer than Olson.
    He’s directed more than 30 plays during his tenure, including last year’s “The Amish Project,” which featured Sarasota actor Katherine Tanner playing an assortment of characters involved with a mass murder in an Amish school house.
    “He’s always been so committed,” Tanner said. “I always so enjoyed coming to work with him. I brought in a lot of ideas and he always let me explore and find new things.”
   Olson’s departure doesn’t change plans for him and Tanner to take “The Amish Project” on the road to a theater in Oklahoma City in April.
   American Stage will conduct a national search for a new artistic director. There may be an interim artistic director taking over during the search an American Stage official said.
    American Stage is currently staging “Steel Magnolias.”

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Eclectic duo Johnnyswim perfoms in Tampa

   Johnnyswim is a terrible name for a band, but it’s a really good band. Husband-and-wife team Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano write beautiful songs and sing them beautifully, with voices that blend in a stunning way.
   They’ve been knocking around the music scene for years, but with their new album “Diamonds” – their second full-length release, which came out last month -- and some high-profile TV appearances in recent months, they seem as though they may be on the verge of breaking
   They’re coming to Jaeb Theater, one of the smaller spaces in the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, at 7:30 p.m. July 26. It should be an ideal venue for their ethereal music.
   Tickets are $20 plus service charge. Call 813-229-7827 or go to
   Sudano, by the way, is the daughter of Donna  Summer, and toured with her mom as a backup singer for several years.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Disney On Ice brings 'Frozen' to Tampa

   It's such a natural concept you had to suspect it was in the works: "Frozen" on ice.
   Feld Entertainment announced today that a new Disney On Ice show based on the spectacularly popular Academy Award-winning animated musical will come to the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa.

  Unfortunately for "Frozen" fans, the ice show won't open for almost a full year. It's scheduled for seven shows, May 14-17, 2015.
   Tickets will be on sale in just a couple of weeks, though. You can order by phone (800-745-3000) or online ( starting at 10 a.m. June 3. Tickets start at $18 plus service charge.
   The familiar songs (“Let it Go,” “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” and “Fixer Upper," among many others) and characters from "Frozen" will be part of the ice show, the Feld people say, but the new show makes some additions to the story. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse take the audience through the magical story, and there will be special appearances by Disney characters from "Toy Story," "Finding Nemo" and "The Lion King."

Monday, May 19, 2014

'Shut Up and Laugh' returns to St. Petersburg

Mike Epps
   “Shut Up and Laugh,” the popular summer comedy tour, is coming to the Mahaffey Theater in downtown St. Petersburg for the third straight year.
    The lineup this time includes Mike Epps, Jo Koy and Michael Che. The show’s set for 8 p.m. Aug. 22. 

   Mike Epps, who’s perhaps even better known as a film actor than as a stand-up comic, has appeared in “Sparkle,” “All About the Benjamins” and “Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins.” He also starred in a stand-up special “Mike Epps: Under-rated and Never Faded” on Comedy Central and Showtime. His comedy rap album, “Funny Bidness: Da Album,” features Snoop Dogg, Kid Rock and Slim Thug.
   In 2007, Variety named Koy one of the “10 Comics to Watch.” Che was named one of Rolling Stone’s “50 Funniest People” and Buzzfeed's "50 Hottest Men in Comedy."

   Tickets go on sale at noon May 23. They’ll set you back $49.50, $59.50, $69.50 or $89.50. Call 727- 893-7832 or go to

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sarasota's Gloria Musicae announces 2014-15 concert season

    Gloria Musicae, the Sarasota-based professional choral group, has announced the concert schedule for its 36th season. 
   The 2014-15 season gets underway Nov. 23 with a concert at the Sarasota Opera House titled “In Thanksgiving.” The concert’s centerpiece will be George Frideric Handel’s “Foundling Hospital Anthem,” a composition written to benefit a hospital that served London’s impoverished women and children. 
  The concert will also feature music by Vivaldi, Ola Gjeilo, Arvo Part and Glenn Burleigh.
Joseph Holt
   The second concert of the season is “Old and New” (April 12 at First United Methodist Church in Sarasota). It  will feature “Sunrise Mass” by the contemporary Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo and Puccini's “Messa di Gloria.” 
   Gloria Musicae will celebrate Independence Day with a tribute to American composers in “An American Tapestry,” on July 4, 2015, at First United Methodist Church.
   The Gloria Musicae singers will also partner with the Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota in a number of concerts next season, including a December holiday concerts, an Edvard Grieg Festival in January and a Gilbert and Sullivan revue in May of next year. All those concerts will take place at the Historic Asolo Theater in Sarasota.
    For more information about Gloria Musicae, visit

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Pretty Reckless plans St. Petersburg show

   The Pretty Reckless, purveyors of the huge current hit "Heaven Knows" are coming to St. Petersburg. They'll perform at The Mahaffey Theater at 8:30 p.m. Sept. 19. 
   The Pretty Reckless' most famous member is frontwoman Taylor Momsen, the actress from "Gossip Girl."
Taylor Momsen
Their second album, "Going to Hell," came out in March. It debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 200 chart and got rave reviews. The videos for the title song and "Heaven Knows" have garnered millions of online views.
   Tickets for the Mahaffey show are $22.50 and $100. The $100 VIP package includes early entry into the venue, a meet-and-greet, tour merchandise items and other perks.
   Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday. Go to, or call 727-893-7832.