Here’s what’s behind the curtain this week in Tampa Bay theatre...
THE HARDEST-WORKING PHONE IN SHOWBIZ: Courtesy of the American Stage Company Properties department, a single antique candlestick phone is playing three gigs in less than two weeks: Jobsite Theater’s The Last Night of Ballyhoo (closed Sep. 28), Improbable Athenaeum’s Love All (last Saturday), and Tampa Repertory Theatre’s The Apocrypha of Theodore Roosevelt (opening this weekend). Rumor has it other candlestick, princess and pay phones around the country are packing for Tampa, to cash in on the boom.
THEY SAY THAT WHEN YOU DIE, YOUR WHOLE ELIZABETHAN TRAGEDY FLASHES BEFORE YOUR EYES: The seven-actor Hamlet opening this weekend at New Stage Theatre & Conservatory isn’t any Hamlet you’ve seen before… at least not on stage. The production’s text is based on Laurence Olivier’s 1948 screen adaptation, and just to throw us an extra WTF, the whole story is presented as the dying Hamlet’s final thoughts. Spooooky.
THE BRIDE OF FRANK N. FURTER: Every actor who works the Straz Center’s intimate Shimberg Playhouse sooner or later knows the heartbreak of trying to perform a play over the din of thumpa-thumpa parties at Maestro’s Restaurant, whose floor is the Shimberg’s ceiling. But last Saturday, for once, the noise traveled up instead of down, and took the actors with it. Following M.A.D. Theatre of Tampa’s 8 p.m. performance of The Rocky Horror Show, a bride came downstairs from her reception at Maestro’s to find Riff Raff, Brad, Janet and the rest in front of the Shimberg, accepting kudos from patrons. She managed to shanghai most of the cast up to the restaurant’s dance floor, where she joined them in an impromptu postnuptial dance-off of The Time Warp.
“OVERTURE… CURTAIN, LIGHTS! THIS IS IT, WE’LL HIT…” WAIT, WHERE ARE THE LIGHTS? For Theatre Tampa Bay’s big annual awards ceremony Monday night, organizers choreographed a showstopper opening number featuring cameos from such local luminaries as Meg Heimstead, Jim Sorensen, Brian Shea, Nicole Jeannine Smith, Alison Burns, Lulu Picart, Tia Jemison and Chris Rutherford. Despite minimal rehearsal, the number came off without a hitch, except… There had been insufficient time to work out tech for the number, which was thus at one point briefly performed in the dark.
IN-A-GALA-DA-HOROVITZ: In addition to reconstituted ensemble performances from the company’s record-breaking musicals Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Return to the Forbidden Planet, Jobsite Theater’s 1960’s-themed gala this Saturday night will feature the announcement of which play Obie and Drama Desk winning playwright Israel Horovitz (The Indian Wants the Bronx) will direct in a staged reading at Jobsite this February.
IN-VINCE-ABLE: Actor and USF alum Vincent Stalba (Stageworks’ Biloxi Blues), recently expatriated to New Orleans, just landed a big role in a film starring Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers’ villain Loki). A biopic of country & western legend Hank Williams, I Saw the Light will feature Stalba as Williams’ guitar-pickin’ brother-in-law, Sonny Jones. FUN FACT: After his C&W days, Sonny Jones had a second career as a Hollywood stuntman. He was Roddy McDowall’s stunt double in Planet of the Apes.
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