Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Comedian Kevin Hart adds second Tampa show

Kevin Hart
   Kevin Hart's "What Now" tour has been filling huge arenas all over the country. More than a dozen cities along the tour have added second shows to accommodate demand.
   Tampa is the latest.
   Hart will now perform two shows at Tampa's Amalie Arena on May 8 -- the originally scheduled 7 p.m. show and a just-announced 10:30 p.m. show.
   Tickets for the second show go on sale at noon Friday, Feb. 27. They'll run you $56.25, $61.25, $76.25 or $127.25, plus service charge. Call 813-301-2500 or go to Tickets for the early show are already on sale.

Sarasota Opera to perform live on WSMR Thursday

   If you're thinking about seeing the upcoming Sarasota Opera production of "Don Carlos" but you're just not sure, you can get a free sample Thursday morning (Feb. 26).
   At 11 a.m., Maestro Victor DeRenzi, the Sarasota Opera's artistic director, will be in the studios of classical music station WSMR (89.1 FM) with cast members from "Don Carlos."
A scene from "Don Carlos"
(Photo by Rod Millington)

They'll chat with host Russell Gant and perform live selections from the opera.
  Selections will include such famous arias as Eboli’s “O Don Fatal” and Élisabeth’s "A Toi qui sus le néant." Artists who will sing on-air include Jonathan Burton (Don Carlos), Michelle Johnson (Élisabeth de Valois), Mary Phillips (Eboli) and Marco Nisticò (Rodrigue). They'll be accompanied on piano by John Spencer IV.
   "Don Carlos" is Giusseppi Verdi's powerful drama, set in Renaissance Spain at the time of the Inquisition, about the ill-fated attraction between Don Carlos and Élisabeth, the wife of his father, King Philip of Spain. It's considered one of opera’s masterpieces.
   The live production of "Don Carlos" opens March 7 and continues in rotation with other operas in the Sarasota Opera Winter Festival through March 24. Tickets prices range from $19 to $130. Call : 941-328-1300 or go to

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Alanis Morissette schedules St. Petersburg concert

  Alanis Morissette is coming to St. Petersburg.
  The Grammy-winning Canadian singer-songwriter (and former child actor) first hit the big time in the mid-'90s with her ferocious hit "You Oughta Know" and her debut album "Jagged Little Pill." The album spawned several other hits and some popular videos. 
   She's kept busy as a musician and actor ever since. Among other acting roles, she played God in the Kevin Smith film "Dogma" and she had a recurring role on "Weeds." She was also a "celebrity guest mentor" on the second season of "The Voice."
   Her St. Petersburg show is slated for 7:30 p.m. April 28 at the Mahaffey Theater. Tickets are $49.50, $69.50, $79.50 and $99.50, and they go on sale at noon Friday, March 6. Call 727-892-7832 or go to


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Opening night delayed for Asolo Conservatory show in Sarasota

   There's been a bit of a change to the schedule of the upcoming show from the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training in Sarasota.   The musical "(title of show)" was supposed to open Wednesday. But one of the actors is "very ill," a conservatory spokeswoman said, so opening night has been pushed back to this Friday, Feb. 20.
The cast of "(title of show)"
 The actor is apparently quite the trouper, though, because he's going on with the show Wednesday and Thursday. But the people at Asolo Conservatory are now calling those performances "previews," because the actors won't be in top form. He expects to be fine by Friday's opening night.
   Here's what that means for the ticket-buyer: Wednesday is a "pay what you can" show, and tickets for Thursday's performance are $27. Starting Friday, tickets go to the regular price of $29.
   It runs through March 8 at the Cook Theatre at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Call 941-351-8000 or go
   "(title of show)" is a quirky hit musical by Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen. They wrote it in three weeks, and the plot is all about their writing a musical in three weeks. When the show moved to Off-Broadway and Broadway, the writers added segments about the show moving to Off-Broadway and Broadway.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sarasota's Florida Studio Theatre extends 'Dancing Lessons'

   Mark St. Germain is a favorite playwright of Sarasota audiences. His plays “Freud’s Last Session,” “Becoming Dr. Ruth” and “Best of Enemies" have all been big hits with patrons of Florida Studio Theatre.
   FST has another hit on its hands with St. Germain's latest play, "Dancing Lessons."
  Vanessa Morosco and Jason Cannon
"Dancing Lessons" (Photo by Cliff Roles)

The romantic comedy-drama about two damaged loners -- an academic with Asperger's Syndrome and a dancer with a physical injury -- has been extended for a second time.

   It's now slated to run through March 14 in FST's Keating Theatre. Single tickets range from $18 to $49. Call 941-366-9000 or go to

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Opera Tampa scores with season-opener 'Rigoletto'

   The winter opera season is in full bloom, and in case Sarasota Opera's current productions of 'Tosca" and "The Marriage of Figaro" aren't enough to satisfy your cravings, Opera Tampa is offering a terrific production of "Rigoletto."
   The Verdi classic kicks off the 20th anniversary season for the company, which performs at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.

   The cast for this production is stunning. On opening night, the most thrilling moments came from soprano Claire Coolen as Gilda, who wielded a gorgeous voice with impressive control and a powerful stage presence, and tenor David Guzman as the Duke of Mantua.  Guzman's rendering of the opera's most famous piece, "La Donna e Mobile," was simpy beautiful, and his duets with Coolen were highlights of the evening.
Guzman as the Duke. Photo by Will Staples
    Sarasota soprano Johanna Fincher was also impressive in a smaller role as  Countess Ceprano. (Fincher will be performing closer to home this spring, in concert with Gloria Musicae in April and the Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota in May.)
   All the design work, especially the  evocative and textured lighting by Chad Jung, is a treat to look at.
   The only downside is that Opera Tampa is only presenting this lovely production twice. The remaining performance is at 2 p.m. Sunday, February 15. Tickets are $49.50-$99.50 plus service charge. If you love grand opera it's well worth the price and the drive. Call 813-229-7827 or go to


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Steely Dan, Elvis Costello announce Tampa date

   An outdoor concert in west central Florida in the middle of August. No way you're going, right? After all, it'll be like 170 degrees outside and it'll probably rain.
Donald Fagen and Walter Becker of Steely Dan
   Maybe you'll change your mind when you find out it's a Steely Dan concert with "special guests" Elvis Costello and the Impostors.
The just-announced concert is set for Tuesday, Aug. 11 at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa. Tickets go sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb 21 at livenation.comThey'll run you between $39 and $159.50 
   Both bands are even better live than on recordings.
   If you can't wait until August, Costello  will be in Clearwater on March 16 at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Tickets for that show are on sale now at for $49.50-$150.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Awolnation, Pretty Lights added to Big Guava

   A bunch of new acts have been added to the lineup for this year's Big Guava Festival in Tampa.
   It's a decent group: DJ/producer Pretty Lights, electronic music stars Awolnation, pop-rock band Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
, rockers Night Riots and Jacksonville band
Pretty Lights
   There's no one on the roster of additional acts that rises to the stature of the previously announced The PixiesThe Strokes, TV on the Radio, Passion Pit, Jenny Lewis, and Ryan Adams. Also on the originally announced lineup are Hozier, James Blake, Cold War Kids, Banks, Run the Jewels, Death From Above 1979, Action Bronson, Big Data and Iration.
   The Big Guava Music Festival is slated for May 8 and 9 at the Florida State Fairgrounds and the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre.
   You can get two-day passes for $115. You get access to all the stages and unlimited midway rides for that price.
   Go to for tickets and information.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Ramsey Lewis concert moved to St. Petersburg's Palladium

   If you have tickets to the the upcoming concert featuring jazz great Ramsey Lewis and R&B great Philip Bailey, you're going to have to drive a few blocks farther than you planned.
Ramsey Lewis
   The Feb. 24 shows was supposed to be at St. Petersburg's Mahaffey Theater, but it's been moved to the Palladium.
   The Palladium's a great venue, older and much more intimate than the Mahaffey. It's at 253 Fifth Ave. N.
   Bailey, who's best known as the lead singer from Earth, Wind & Fire, will perform with Ramsey Lewis and His Electric Band. They'll be doing some Earth, Wind & Fire stuff, and the band will no doubt offer "The In Crowd" and other classic Lewis instrumentals.
   Tickets run $49.50-$69.50. Call 727-893-7832 or go to for tickets. (Student tickets are available for $35 at the door only, with a valid student ID.) If you want to know more about the Palladium, go to

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Bradenton-area actor sparks "The Buffalo Kings"

   When the world premiere of "The Buffalo Kings" opened at freeFall Theatre in St. Petersburg a few weeks back, two well-known Bradenton-area actors were part of the ensemble cast. Now there's only one, Katherine Michelle Tanner. The other, Jenny Aldrich, had to drop out for some personal reasons.
   The play, by Natalie Symons, has been a huge hit for freeFall. I runs through this weekend, and tickets are reportedly scarce.
   The acting's impressive all around. (Aldrich was replaced by long-time Tampa Bay area favorite Mimi Rice, who stepped in at the last minute and performed one show with script in hand.)

Tanner (left) and Aldrich (right)
   The script, about a family on New York state facing several crises, some of the  everyday variety and others life-shattering, has tons of delicious great moments and some good laughs, but it's unfocused. It's packed with inconsequential subplots (one about a bad hairdo takes up a lot of the 80-minute first act and then is simply dropped) and extraneous characters (one houseguest who nobody can stand has to stay because his car is snowed in, while everyone else seems to come and go at will.) Meanwhile, the most compelling relationship, the one between a teenage boy recovering from a hate crime and his grandfather who's in the early stages of dementia, never gets developed -- and then turns out to be the raison d'etre for the entire story.
    Tanner and the rest of the cast (which also includes the always terrific Brian Shea) make it pretty easy to overlook the script flaws. This is a handsomely mounted and wonderfully acted production of a play that's overflowing with promise but seems not quite finished.
   There are two shows Saturday and one Sunday at freeFall. Tickets are $21-$44. FreeFall is at 6099 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. 727-498-5205,

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sarasota Ballet changes March program

"Shostakovich Suite"
   There's been a change in an upcoming Sarasota Ballet program. 
   The performance that's scheduled for March 27-30 was supposed to include Sir Peter Wright’s "Summertide."   That's out, and in its place is a revival of resident choreographer Ricardo Graziano’s "Shostakovich Suite."        The other pieces on the revised program are Paul Taylor's "Company B," which is based on music by the Andrews Sisters, and the world premiere of a new work by Graziano.
   "Summertide" is now slated for the November program.
   Call 941-359-0099 or go to if you want to know more.