SCENE BREAKER: Gibbs kids hit skids, a cellist flies her freak flag and maybe you can see Cumming at Stageworks

Red and The Tempest open, Annapurna gets posthumous notice

click to enlarge "I THINK I SEE A TONY VOTER IN THE BALCONY." Andrew Joseph Perez and Gregg Weiner in AmStage's Red. - Chad Jacobs
Chad Jacobs
"I THINK I SEE A TONY VOTER IN THE BALCONY." Andrew Joseph Perez and Gregg Weiner in AmStage's Red.


Here’s what’s behind the curtain this week in Tampa Bay theater…

MISBEHAVIN’ UNPLUGGED: An audience member reports that at the final performance of Stageworks Theatre Company’s Ain’t Misbehavin’ at Clearwater’s Murray Theatre last Sunday, a misbehavin’ lightnin’ strike knocked out the building’s electricity in the middle of a song & dance number. Despite the popping on of dim emergency lights, the cast soldiered on in near-total darkness, to the steady accompaniment of whichever band instruments required no juice. The stage lights returned just in time to catch the cast, all on their marks, in the applause-break tableau at the end of the number. Well played, Misbehavers.

THIS SHOW CONTAINS VIOLIN CONTENT THAT MAY OFFEND SOME PATRONS: A three-piece combo of guitar, percussion and cello adds aural texture to freeFall Theatre’s now-playing The Tempest: Esta Isla es Mía, an original one-man mashup of Shakespeare and Cuban independence politics written and performed by freeFall Artistic Director Eric Davis. But the musicians add more than notes. When one of the many characters — Shakespearean and otherwise — played by Davis takes a beat-down from another, cellist Rose Mallare puts down her fat fiddle and picks up a belt to provide whipping noises. Sources at freeFall report that Mallare says this brief gig as a Foley artist is her favorite part of the show.

MOST SCENERY DOESN’T LOOK THIS CHEWED BEFORE THE ACTORS EVEN SHOW UP: Some of you don’t know that American Theatre magazine is to not-for-profit theater professionals what Guns & Ammo is to crazy people: the community’s de facto official journal. AT is mailed to all 172,000 members of the Theatre Communications Group, a service organization dedicated to boosting professional nonprofit theater in the US. So it’s kind of a deal that this week, the mag is interviewing Jobsite Theater Producing Artistic Director David Jenkins and Technical Director Brian Smallheer about Smallheer’s gloriously tacky scenery — the rotting interior of an ancient Airstream camper — for Jobsite’s just-closed Annapurna. The article and, no doubt, glossy photos of that ugly-pretty set will appear in the July/August issue, which hits the street in late June and the magazine’s website at around the same time. This is not the first national attention little Tampa-based Jobsite has earned; as SCENE BREAKER reported in September, the company was one of only 40 finalists nationwide for last year’s prestigious “American Theatre Wing National Theatre Companies” designation.

EXTRAORDINARY (YOUNG) PEOPLE: If you remember Judith Guest’s 1976 novel Ordinary People or the 1980 Robert Redford-directed film adaptation of same, you may recall that the story’s dramatis personae includes a high concentration of teenagers, some (but not all) suicidal. For its production of the Nancy Pahl Gilsenan stage adaptation, St. Pete City Theatre is capitalizing on the concentration of talented teens at nearby Gibbs High School, home to the Pinellas County Center for the Arts magnet program. Rising 11th-grader Nico Hendricks plays the pivotal role of Conrad, the part in which 20-year-old Timothy Hutton scored an Oscar for the film version. He’s joined by four other Gibbs students and a quartet of adult actors onstage, plus an assistant stage manager, sound designer and stagehand all from Gibbs. The family drama opens Friday.

CUMMING AT STAGEWORKS? SCENE BREAKER has received a tip that Stageworks Producing Artistic Director Karla Hartley has been dropping whispers all over town that those who attend Stageworks’ big Tony Awards Party on June 7 will have a chance to snap a selfie with stage luminary and B-team X-Man Alan Cumming. This story is suspicious for multiple reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Cumming is slated to be in Manhattan that night co-hosting the ceremony with fellow Tony winner and singing hamster Kristin Chenoweth. Then again, given that Hartley has cranked out two full-scale plays on two different stages in the last five weeks (In the Heights and Red), it’s entirely possible that she possesses secret interdimensional travel and/or cloning technology that could indeed empower her to bring about a climax as powerful as Cumming at Stageworks. Still, SCENE BREAKER feels compelled to rule “shenanigans” on this rumor, and reminds patrons still planning to attend the party based on the potential of Cumming that Florida health regulations forbid having a cigarette afterward.

SPEAKING OF THE TONYS, John Logan’s Red, about turbulent abstract expressionist Mark Rothko’s struggles with being turbulent abstract expressionist Mark Rothko, won six mounted gold medallions at the 2010 ceremony, putting it just one Tony short of tying the record set by Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia in 2007. In fact, Red won all seven of the Tonys for which it was nominated save Best Actor in a Play, which lead Alfred Molina lost to Denzel, which would ordinarily be a huge disappointment except DENZEL, and anyway Molina is the only actor to have three different Lego Minifigures modelled after his likeness, which Denzel doesn’t have and which is way better than a Tony. American Stage Company’s new production of Red opens Friday.

Got a tip for SCENE BREAKER? Email Scene Breaker in care of A&E Editor Julie Garisto, [email protected]

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