Spring Arts 2018 — Anchors: Theater

Must-sees at the area's leading venues.

click to enlarge Matthew McGee. - Courtesy Matthew McGee
Courtesy Matthew McGee
Matthew McGee.


Must see: The Producers

APRIL 18-MAY 13: Matthew McGee leaps out of drag to play schemer Max Bialystock, who produces a play so bad it’s brilliant. Mel Brooks’s mega-hit adaptation of his own classic comedy is a classic in its own right, its sheer over-the-topness likely a perfect fit for American Stage in the Park. Also see: Raisin in the Sun, Jan. 24-Feb. 18: Having pulled off the rare feat of staging (impeccably) all 10 plays in August Wilson’s Century Cycle, AmStage turns to another seminal play about the African-American experience. Marjorie Prime, March 7-April 1: Jordan Harrison’s play is set in a future not so far away when deceased loved ones can be recreated as holograms. 163 3rd St. N., St. Petersburg. Call 727-823-PLAY (7529) re subscriptions. americanstage.org. —David Warner

click to enlarge Carole King - Angela George/Creative Commons
Angela George/Creative Commons
Carole King


Must see: The Color Purple 

MARCH 6-11: Based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, this stirring restaging of the popular musical (book by Marsha Norman) shows us the evolution of Celie, an uneducated, much-abused African-American girl in rural Georgia, into a self-reliant, strong and admirable woman. $31-$128. —Mark Leib. Also see: Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, March 27-April 1. The story of Carole King from high school days to her emergence as one of the best loved singer-songwriters of her time. Features “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “You’ve Got a Friend,” “Up On the Roof” and a score of other great songs. Straz Center, Tampa, $46-$150, strazcenter.org. strazcenter.org. —Cathy Salustri 

E.M. Forster - Dora Carrington/Public Domain
Dora Carrington/Public Domain
E.M. Forster


Must see: The Machine Stops

MAY 4-27: In his 1909 short story “The Machine Stops,” E.M. Forster, the  writer famous  for the epigraph “Only connect,” turns out to have predicted the technological advances that would eliminate the need ever to connect in person. It’ll be exciting to see what Eric Davis does in his adaptation. Also see: Stephanie Lynge as the overbearing mama Amanda Wingfield in Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie, Jan. 27-Feb. 18, and the 2015 Off-Broadway musical Daddy Long LegsMarch 17-April 8, based on the 1912 novel that inspired the 1955 movie with Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron. freeFall Theatre, 6099 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-498-5205. Info on freePass five-ticket flexible subscriptions at freefalltheater.com. —DW

click to enlarge Taylor Mac - Travis Amiel/Creative Commons
Travis Amiel/Creative Commons
Taylor Mac


Must see: HIR

MARCH 9-APRIL 1: Jobsite’s previous choice for this slot — Man in Snow, by famed playwright Israel Horovitz — was upended after Horovitz was accused of sexual assault and rape. So it seems like poetic justice that the playwright taking Horovitz’s place in the lineup, Taylor Mac, is a MacArthur genius known for theatrical inventions like the “subversive comedy” HIR that play with our preconceived notions of gender and performance. Also see: The Tempest, Jan. 19-Feb. 11: The prospect of the formidably talented Roxanne Fay as Prospero has made this show a very hot ticket. And with its adaptation of 1984, Apr. 25-May 20, Jobsite takes on the granddaddy of dystopias. Jobsite Theater, Shimberg Playhouse at the Straz, 813-229-STAR. Info on season subscriptions available at jobsitetheater.org. —DW

click to enlarge Butterfly garden - CMY/Creative Commons
CMY/Creative Commons
Butterfly garden


Must see: In the Time of the Butterflies

April 13-29: Stageworks returns to the world of acclaimed Dominican-American writer Julia Alvarez with a drama by Caridad Svich based on Alvarez’s novel about the ‘Butterflies’ — three sisters who dared to resist the ruthless Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. In  a first for the company, a select number of performances will be in Spanish.  Also see: Kimber Lee’s critically acclaimed 2014 play brownsville song (b-side for tray, Feb. 9-25. Stageworks, 1120 E. Kennedy Blvd., West Building #151, Tampa. 813-374-2416. For info on flex passes and 3-play subscriptions, go to stageworks.org.  —DW

About The Authors

Cathy Salustri

Cathy's portfolio includes pieces for Visit Florida, USA Today and regional and local press. In 2016, UPF published Backroads of Paradise, her travel narrative about retracing the WPA-era Florida driving tours that was featured in The New York Times. Cathy speaks about Florida history for the Osher Lifelong Learning...
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