Thursday, July 3, 2014

"Return to the Forbidden Planet" adds a performance

   Tampa’s Jobsite Theatre has scored by far the biggest hit in its history with “Return to the Forbidden Planet,” and it has added an extra performance for this weekend.

The company could probably sell out several more shows, but this will probably be the last added performance. Jobsite has another show, “Inventing Van Gogh,” opening next week.

   A couple of Bradenton-area actors, Jonathan Harrison of Parrish and Owen Robertson of Sarasota, are the male leads in “Return to the Forbidden Planet,” and they’re both standouts in a large and excellent cast.

   If you’ve been following local theater or music for any length of time, you’ll probably know Harrison’s work. He fronts the band Vodkanauts and he’s done tons of theater in the Tampa and St. Petersburg area, including American Stage’s Shakespeare in the Park series.

Jonathan Harrison and Amy Elizabeth Gray
   His charismatic performance and great singing in this show are no surprise, but Robertson, who seldom performs in musicals, is a revelation. He has a powerful voice and an even more powerful stage presence.
    The show itself is a slight but very fun jukebox musical that takes pop and rock sings from the late '50s and early '60s and interjects them into a story vaguely based on “The Tempest.”
    The whole cast in the Jobsite production is strong, and so is the onstage band. (The show, which dates back to the 1970s, was originally staged with the actors playing their own instruments.)
    Director David M. Jenkins turns the show into a bit of a “Star Trek” spoof, with help from a nicely done set by Brian Smallheer.
  The only real weakness is the choreography, which ranges from mediocre to embarrassing.

   It’s not a well-known show outside of theater circles, and it’s a difficult one to do. But it’s done often around here (this is at least the third production just in Tampa) and it’s always been a crowd-pleaser. Jobsite,which usually performs in the Shimberg Playhouse at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, has moved next door into the much larger Jaeb Theatre for this show, and has been selling out most performances.

   The added performance is at 7:30 p.m Sunday, July 6. The other remaining shows are at 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday.
     Tickets are $29.50 plus service charge. If you’re going to that show at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, and if you order online, you an save $10 by using the promo code ASTEROID. Go to or call 813-229-7827.

   The Straz Center is at 1010 N. MacInnes Place inTampa.

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